Next Stop, Happiness Episode 18 Recap

Conflict, however deeply rooted, dissolves at an eventual point in time. The core of the problem isn’t so much dealing with it but recognizing it and facing it.

Had Guangxi made his insecurity transparent, he would have learned the truth of Mucheng’s feelings instead of letting uncertainty dangle in the air. But he is, understandably, terrified of rejection and must therefore suffer the consequences of his cowardice. That is, paranoia, distrust, and a dispensable detour en route to his happy next stop.

Show Luo – Honestly Speaking [download]

When Mucheng shielded Guangxi from the attack of a crazed client and took the stab for him, a suppressed tenderness superseded his contained coolness. He becames less prickly and almost eager. Eager to bridge six years worth of void, eager for approval and most of all, intimacy. So when Mucheng needs help undressing (her stab wound had made undressing for shower a painful task), Guangxi jumps at the opportunity to be the man whom Mucheng can rely on. Noting her shyness however, he playfully offers to keep his eyes closed but peeks when she doesn’t notice.

The cute scene is curtailed when Guangxi accidentally overhears Mucheng’s phone conversation with Tuoye’s mother. The worried sick mother had called as a last retort and wanted to borrow money. She explains that Tuoye had came back home in a wreck and needed a money for an emergency that he would not disclose. The mother stresses that if the situation didn’t call for urgency, she would not have telephoned. Mucheng comforts the distressed woman and assures her that, “Tuoye is an important person to me, I will do everything within my power to help”. The last bit is heard by Guangxi. Disliking the fact that his needs are always second to that of Tuoye’s, Guangxi starts to distance himself from Mucheng in a fit of jealousy.

Mucheng is startled by the sudden aloofness, which extends to the next morning over breakfast. (Startled as she should be, since the stereotype only characterizes women as creatures of mercurial temperament. HELLO, what about men?) Even Xiao Le notices the difference and wonders aloud if anything went wrong between his parents.

Still crossed with Mucheng, Guangxi replies that sometimes he doesn’t know how to get along with certain people because he doesn’t know what he means to them. “Why don’t you ask them?” Xiao Le proposes. “There are questions you can’t ask because you are afraid that their answer might not be the one you want to hear.” Xiao Le nods and concedes, “It’s like when I want cake and ask Mucheng if I can have some. She always tells me no.”

The walk to school with Xiao Le helps Guangxi take his mind off the unpleasant but a phone call from his assistant Gary drags him right back to the vortex of the drama.

Gary had been assigned to monitor Mucheng’s behavior (euphemism for paying people to stalk) and is reporting back to say that Mucheng is spotted in front of a pawnshop holding her wedding ring.

Guangxi is vexed and takes Gary’s suggestion to go on a vacation with Mucheng to ameliorate the tension. It JUST HAPPENS that Guangxi’s new divorce case with a three-time divorcée (this is her fourth) is taking place at a resort — a perfect vacation spot to reignite the elusive passion.

That night, when Guangxi breaks news of his traveling plan to Mucheng, he notes the absence of her ring and meaningfully suggest that she wears it with her to the resort tomorrow.

When the couple leaves the house the following morning, the ring is back on Mucheng’s finger. The knowledge that Mucheng still has the ring puts a wide smile on Guangxi’s face. Being in a good mood makes him more approachable, even Mucheng has to admit that he’s different today.

But a surprise awaits them at the resort as the couple come face to face with Chen Aili, now donning the English name Alice (though her taste in clothes hasn’t improved over the years). She is, conveniently, Guangxi’s new client.

The awkward reunion proceeds with Alice flirting ostentatious with Guangxi, Guangxi playing along, and Mucheng shifting uncomfortably in her seat. (Don’t you love how Mucheng regards Guangxi sideways when he invites Alice to join him at his their room? Or how she furrows her brow as Alice draws circles on Guangxi’s arm with the tip of her finger in a suggestive manner? The best part, I would argue, is Guangxi’s look of satisfaction when he takes sneaky peeks at Mucheng and finds her upset.)

Occasionally, there would be pointed remarks flinging Mucheng’s way. And she’d shoot right back with reminders of her wife’s status. (You go girl!) For example, when the wine cart arrives and Guangxi makes the point that he still remembers an “old friend’s” preference, Alice chimes in that not only is her taste in wine unchanged, so is her taste in men. (What did I say about her sense of fashion?) To this, Mucheng takes the wine bottle from Guangxi and smiles sweetly, “Honey, you go on talk business. Let me, your wife, handle the small stuff (meaning entertaining the client).” Not pleased with the emphasis on “wife”, Alice turns down Mucheng’s offer fill her cup and turns to Guangxi, “I will set an appointment with you later so we can discuss the details of the divorce in your room.” “Miss Alice, when you come to our room,” Mucheng corrects, “Shall I order the same wine for you?” (AHA!)

Thus retreated, Alice is unfortunately not quite defeated yet. When her bodyguard returns from the paparazzi scout with the extra piece of information that Guangxi had ordered a two-queen bedroom, Alice’s scheming little brain quickly puts one plus one together and arrives at the conclusion that the marriage hasn’t been consummated (on a level, this is true). A (petty) plan spurs out of the blue.

When alone, Guangxi teases Mucheng for acting like the jealous girlfriend. She assures him that he’s reading too much into it. But Guangxi skips over her denial to say that he and Aili are merely friends and they are by far not as outrageously close as Mucheng and Tuoye are. Mucheng clarifies that Tuoye is only a friend and the reason she would accept his marriage proposal was in response to Guangxi wanting to take Xiao Le away from her. Pleased to hear the explanation from Mucheng’s mouth, Guangxi wastes no time to taunt her that the more she explains the more she seems like a worried girlfriend.

As soon as Guangxi starts to change, Mucheng slips away into the bathroom. Once out of sight, she beams, secretly happy about the new development.

Following her plan, Alice first invites Guangxi and Mucheng to dinner and calls to request that Guangxi print out his proposal. Guangxi makes a run to the business center while Mucheng stays behind to get dolled up. She then swings by casually and scolds that Mucheng’s formal wear resembles that of funeral clothes (I’m with her on this one). She then offers to lend some decent clothes from her own closet and leads Mucheng to her own room…

By now Tuoye’s mother is informed of Chixin’s situation as well as the use for the money. Noting that Tuoye has started wearing the good luck charm Chixin got him (more on this later), she begs Tuoye to bring her “daughter” back safely. She will be waiting for them with pig knuckle noodle. (Pig knuckle noodle celebrates good luck and health. It’s often eaten on birthdays and other important days.)

When Mucheng walks out of the restroom all dressed up, the door is locked. Guangxi on the other hand, returns to find Mucheng no where to be seen. He looks all over the place for her and eventually joins Alice at the table in a foul mood. He had gotten a text message from Mucheng’s phone (obviously not sent by her) saying that she couldn’t stand the sight of him and has left the resort to go home early.

Taking advantage of the moment, Alice leans in and rests her head on Guangxi’s shoulder…

Meanwhile, Mucheng triggers the fire alarm by burning a towel. As the maid hurries over to open the door, Mucheng runs out to find Guangxi. And what she sees, is this:

Her face darkens but before she has time to react, Guangxi catches a paparazzi snapping pictures from behind. The two men break into an argument. As the argument reaches an impasse, Mucheng, who asserts herself as the presentable wife, interjects. She tells the reporter,

“You can write about what you saw but please leave my husband out of it. Miss Zhang Aili locked me up so she can make an advance with my husband.” Turning to Alice, she continues, “Miss Zhang, six years ago you kidnapped me as retaliation to my husband dumping you. Six years later, you locked me up in order to seduce my husband. Do you not have any new tricks up your sleeve that you have to resort to such base measures? And yet, your childish tricks make my husband and I closer each time. Perhaps you should reflect on why your past marriages failed instead of trying to break apart other people’s marriages. Relationships obtained through force and coercion are not lasting, as you should know. Maybe you should attribute the failure of your four marriages to your lack of appreciation for your partners.” Facing the reporter again, Mucheng says, “If you insist on writing the story then I’ve given you plenty of materials to go off on. Now, will you excuse my husband and I.”

That speech puts Alice to shame. And off the Ren couple head back to their room hand in hand. Once alone, Mucheng lets go of Guangxi’s hand and fumes sarcastically, “Did I arrive a minute too early? Perhaps I should have allowed more time for you two to reminiscent the old days.”

Ignoring Mucheng’s scathing remarks, Guangxi wants to know if she means what she said to the reporter.

Irritatedly, Mucheng replies that she does but retorts that how she feels has nothing to do with him. She knows her place well but she knows his desire for retribution even better. “That day when we left the hospital together (after she was stabbed), I was naive enough to believe that we could return to the way we were. I told myself that maybe if I try hard enough I could save this marriage.” Her scoff indicates the contrary. After a moment, she continues, “For future reference, you don’t have to bring me to your social events. I’d rather stay with Xiao Le and act the part of a doting mother.” (In passing: look how Van ness pouts in the screencap above right.)

“Why haven’t you told me how you felt before?” (Did you give her the chance? No.) “Would you care if I told you? Did you know that living with you is like living under fear. Each time I take a step closer to you, I have to worry about whether I’m crossing an invisible line. And that line changes every day.” She sniffs and apologizes for her venting but Guangxi walks towards her and puts his hands on her shoulder. “What if I say I feel the same way? I fear so I push you away. I’m scared to know the answer so I run. Only because our past is filled with lies. Facing you, I’m constantly asking myself what’s real and what’s not. Frankly, I’m very happy that you told me how you feel. And you need to know this: nothing happened between Zhang Aili and I.” Mucheng starts to protest, saying he’s not obligated to explain his actions. But Guangxi cuts her off, “No, I have to explain. Because you are Mrs. Ren.”

They both express a willingness to mend their relationship and Guangxi offers Mucheng a chance to come clean with him. “Tonight, at the bar near the beach (more like, a swimming pool) let’s have dinner together.” Mucheng accepts the invitation with a joke, “Then let’s hope neither Zhang Aili nor paparazzi show up for the dinner tonight.”

At the beach, Grandma is playing with Xiao Le. Although at first reluctant, Xiao Le’s innocence moves the normally stern grandma. Forgoing all pretenses, she sheds her shoes and runs around the mud with her grandson.

At the end of the day, Guangxi sits down to enjoy a moment of blissful peace sipping tea. He receives a text message. It’s from Xiao Le, telling him how great a day he’s had with grandma at the beach. Smiling to himself, Guangxi puts down his phone and takes another sip at the tea. Then his phone beeps for a second text. His face hardens as he reads the message…

Comments:

Contrived but cute, this episode is FULL of make-ups and break-ups (which is why I recapped it in the first place). In fact, there is such a heavy feel-good weight to it, I almost didn’t mind Chen Aili’s return as a plot device. Almost.

Little things I liked about this episode:

First it’s the symbolic gesture of Tuoye putting on the lucky charm. He’s not ready to accept Chixin’s affection yet but he is ready to see her as a woman (not just a little sister who never grows up anymore). The gesture entertains the possibility of a future and I wouldn’t mind if it’s left at that. Then, it’s Mama Tuoye’s word choice when she addresses Chixin as “my daughter”. As previously mentioned, I like the drama’s touch on the notion of “family” and expect a consolatory wrap up on Tuoye. Meaning that although he doesn’t get the girl, he’s got something more valuable — an extended family that includes both Mucheng and Chixin.

Xiao Le’s interaction with grandma is another interesting point. I like it because Guangxi’s otherwise unyielding mother is learning through Xiao Le and in the process, redeeming herself. She may be at fault for separating the main couple and even take credit for their later understandings, but watch her change little by little, you can’t continue to blame her and her objective ways.

5 thoughts on “Next Stop, Happiness Episode 18 Recap”

  1. thanks for recapping this episode!

    I really liked Mucheng’s brief but poignant speech to Alice after her (slightly arsonistic but smart) escape from the hotel room. I felt like it was what she wanted to tell GuangXi: that affection for one’s partner allows for the relationship to grow stronger.

    I am waiting for the finale to get subbed… not to spoil anything for people who haven’t watched it ’til ep 20 but I hope to see this couple get a bit lovey-dovey in the last episode. C’mon! this was supposed to be a ROMANTIC drama…

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