Chinese Dramas, Drama Recaps

Recap: The Journey from Tonight is White (Ep. 8)

This episode of The Journey from Tonight is White (路从今夜白) is really all about Zi Jian. He’s forced to make some difficult decisions that test his morals, while the rest of our heroes just have to wait and watch.

Recap

Ye Bai and You Yan rush to stop the delivery truck while Zi Jian watches them from beside the car. We finally see Wei Jia’s evil action on-screen, as she pulls Zi Jian’s art case from her trunk and hands it off to him. They manage to get the art case onto this shipment.

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Ye Bai walks You Yan home that night, and they make plans to eat walnuts together sometime. Huai An shows up and asks Ye Bai about his painting. He says that he’s already shipped it off. She asks to see a photo, and seems surprised when You Yan is the one to hand over her phone, but smiles upon seeing the painting. She tells Ye Bai that he’s outdone himself and will surely win the top prize. She invites Ye Bai to dinner, saying she wants to congratulate him and also discuss the matter from before.

You Yan takes the cue and leaves first, but Ye Bai stops her, saying, “We…” She senses what he’s trying to say and reassures him that she’ll reach out to him later about eating walnuts.

Huai An asks Ye Bai again about his thoughts on what he’ll do now that he’s finished his submission for the art contest. He says that he won’t sign with any art gallery after graduation. He has his own path he wants to take. She tries to convince him once again: the path that she’s already paved for him is one that is every graduating artists’ dream. Ye Bai repeats an earlier sentiment of his that he doesn’t want his art to become synonymous with money.

Huai An brings up Chi Zheng’s last painting again. Does he not care about it that much then? He asks how much it’s worth, and she reassures him that he will not be able to afford it. He tells her that he never thought she was this kind of person. She replies that she appreciates art, but is first and foremost as businesswoman. He asks her for three more days to make a decision.

You Yan can’t sleep at night and wakes up her roommates. (I really like this curtain thing they have going on with their bunk beds. So smart!) Shan Shan starts teasing her about how she must be staying up light because she’s too happy, given her progress with Ye Bai. You Yan turns around and teases her about Zi Yan and how close they looked on the island. Shan Shan staunchly denies and says that if anything happened between her and Zi Yan, she would stop eating for three months.

Ye Bai is browsing through an issue of Primary Colors magazine in his apartment when he receives a voice message from Zi Yan. Zi Yan is feeling lonely in their dorm room and asks if he can come over. They joke around, with Ye Bai saying sure, but he’ll charge him rent. Ye Bai then gets a text from You Yan saying goodnight, and telling him to sleep early. He smiles and sends a goodnight text back. (Aw, how cute!)

You Yan is more nervous than Ye Bai about his painting being delivered on time, and anxiously checks her phone, but gets no updates. She tells him how she had a nervous feeling all morning, and feels like it’s a bad omen. Ye Bai says he’ll take her out to eat in order to distract her, but then gets a call from a French number.

It’s the International Young Artists award committee. They received his painting, but saw that there was a coffee stain on it. They wanted to confirm whether that stain was there when he shipped it, or whether it happened during the shipment. They send Ye Bai a picture to confirm.

They look at the photo Ye Bai received and their eyes widen: the painting isn’t Ye Bai’s.

That night, they hold an emergency meeting with Shan Shan and Zi Yan to try and figure out what happened. It’s possible that the shipping company made a mistake. But what if the mistake was in the painting hand-off? They recall that there was already a painting in the trunk of the car with the exact same case. So could this painting be Zi Jian’s? But if it was Zi Jian’s, did he swap the paintings on purpose, or was it an accident? It’s been a few days since they shipped the painting, so Zi Jian should’ve discovered by now that the painting in his trunk is not his. Why hasn’t he contacted them?

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Zi Yan comes up with a plan: he’ll text the picture of the painting to Zi Jian from Ye Bai’s phone without any context. Based on Zi Jian’s response, they’ll be able to figure out how much he knows. If he asks, “Why did you send me a random painting?” that proves the painting isn’t his, and it’s likely a mistake made by the shipping company. If he asks, “Why do you have my painting?” that suggests that he really didn’t know that the paintings were swapped. But if he swapped the paintings on purpose, then he’ll panic.

They wait for a response, and Zi Jian finally calls, asking, “How do you have my painting?” Ye Bai explains the situation, saying that this painting was mistakenly sent to France, and that his real submission must still be in Zi Jian’s possession.

Zi Jian remembers his sister’s inquiries into who Lin is, and her certainty that she will handle this threat to Zi Jian’s career. He tells Ye Bai that he doesn’t have the painting, but he will look for it and contact him.

Zi Jian goes to confront his sister about the painting, telling her that he knows what she did. He asks her why, and she says that she did it for him. Ye Bai is his competition. They’re the same year, graduating from the same college, and only one of them can be successful. If Ye Bai wins this competition, Zi Jian will forever be in his shadow. If it’s discovered that Ye Bai substituted another’s painting for his own, his name will be forever sullied in the art world, and he will no longer be a threat to Zi Jian. Zi Jian expresses his anger with the manipulative lengths that his sister has gone to, and she responds, “If you were more talented, then I wouldn’t have to resort to methods like these!” He says that he still has time and can put in more effort, but she says that some things cannot be fixed with “more effort.”

She has the painting with her in the office, and brings it out for Zi Jian to see. The painting truly is very exceptional, and she’s certain that it would win the award. She says that his classmates are lucky to have discovered the swapped paintings before the actual judging, but the final decision is Zi Jian’s to make. She reminds him that being second to Ye Bai is the same as failing completely. Why would anyone pay attention to him when there is already Ye Bai? If he wants to give up all his chances of success, he can return the painting to his classmate, but if he wants to secure his place as the top young artist of his generation… she hands him a razor cutter. (!!!)

The next morning, You Yan, Shan Shan, Ye Bai, and Zi Yan are still in Ye Bai’s apartment, looking dejected, having stayed up all night with no word from Zi Jian. Shan Shan wonders if he can’t find the painting and is just too embarrassed to tell them. But Ye Bai has even darker thoughts, and is prepared to face the fact that the painting has just disappeared. You Yan is quick to defend Zi Jian, saying that she might not know him very well, but she’s certain that he has a true appreciation for art (and implies that he wouldn’t just destroy a painting.) Ye Bai agrees with her, saying that such petty acts are above Zi Jian. Zi Yan also agrees, saying that Zi Jian is too righteous and condescending to do something like that. Shan Shan smiles at how they actually seem to have a pretty good opinion of Zi Jian.

Suddenly, Ye Bai’s phone starts ringing with a call from Zi Jian.

They meet Zi Jian at the art studio, where Ye Bai’s painting is waiting for them. Zi Yan thanks Zi Jian for being so reliable, and Zi Jian smiles slightly but looks uneasy with the compliment. But, as Ye Bai brings up, they have a problem. It’s probably too late to ship the painting to France now. They could try to fly it there and deliver it personally themselves, but none of them have visas to apply for one would take too long.

Zi Jian suddenly thinks of something and tells them not to worry: he has an idea.

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Huai An meets with her uncle and tells him that she’s seen Lin’s submission for the art competition. She’s confident that he will win and bring glory to their art gallery. But her uncle isn’t quite as convinced. He cautions her against placing all her bets on a single artist. He finds Lin unreliable, and if something happens to him or the art contest, that will mean the end for their art gallery.

Suddenly, Huai An receives a phone call. She tells the person on the other end that she’ll head over to campus right away. After hanging up, she tells her uncle that there’s an emergency and she has to leave, but, she’s certain that this time she will be able to sign Gu Ye Bai.

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She heads to Caffe Bene, where our art students and their friends are waiting. She says that she can help them with their dilemma: the art gallery already has a worker heading to Europe next week. She bought the guy an earlier plane ticket, and he can depart today for France and hand-deliver Ye Bai’s painting to the art contest. The group moves to help bring the painting out to Huai An’s car, but Huai An says that only Ye Bai needs to go with her.

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Outside, Huai An comments that she never thought that he’d one day owe her a favor. He starts to say something, but she interrupts and says that he doesn’t have to be so formal with her. She echoes some of You Yan’s earlier words, saying that in life, there will always be moments in which one needs help, and he shouldn’t feel like he needs to face the world alone. Her trying to sign Ye Bai for her gallery isn’t her trying to tie him down: she’s just trying to give him some certainty so he can focus on creating art, not trying to make a future. She tells him that she will definitely make sure his painting gets delivered, and takes her leave. Ye Bai watches her go with a sigh, looking troubled over her words.

Back in their room, You Yan helps Shan Shan pick out an interview outfit, but seems glum and dejected. Shan Shan asks her what’s wrong–she’s been dejected ever since they finally successfully sent off the painting. You Yan says that she just suddenly feels empty. Shan Shan teases her, saying that she’s probably sad because now she doesn’t have a reason to meet up with Ye Bai anymore. Shan Shan reassures her that in Ye Bai’s eyes, there is only her. Now that they can’t use modeling as an excuse anymore, they should just go and be together! “What do you mean together?” You Yan mumbles. Shan Shan says that anyone can see from Ye Bai’s painting of You Yan how much he loves her. You Yan must be a blockhead if she can’t feel that.

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Zi Jian and Huai An meet by the river, where Huai An asks Zi Jian when he became so familiar with Ye Bai that he would help him in a situation like this. Zi Jian responds that it was his fault the paintings were swapped, so he did it just to help put his heart at ease. Huai An says that in asking Huai An for help, Zi Jian actually did Huai An a big favor. In that case, Zi Jian asks, would he accept an invitation from him for dinner? She looks hesitant, but he mentions that he also invited Ye Bai, which convinces her.

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Zi Jian then makes a call to You Yan, apologizing for the painting mishap, and saying that he wants to invite Ye Bai out to dinner as an apology. He asks You Yan if she’ll also come. You Yan asks if she has to go, and Zi Jian says that he knows she also put a lot of effort into this painting, and it would make him feel bad if she didn’t go. Plus, he invited Huai An, so she can also think of it as a thank-you dinner for her. This convinces You Yan, and she agrees to go.

Shan Shan asks her what’s up, and when You Yan tells her about getting dinner with Ye Bai, Zi Jian, and Huai An, she finds it suspicious, comparing it to the “Feast at Hong Gate” (a historical banquet that was set up with the aim of murdering Liu Bang — think of Game of Thrones‘ “Red Wedding”). You Yan tells her that she’s reading too much into it, then distracts her with promises of bringing home some delicious leftovers.

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Zi Jian finds Ye Bai in the art studio, where it looks like Ye Bai is back to painting again, though Zi Jian notes that at the moment Ye Bai is just applying a shade of blue-gray. Zi Jian tells Ye Bai that he wants him to go to a thank-you dinner for Huai An. Ye Bai responds that he’s not accustomed to fancy venues, but Zi Jian says that You Yan will also be there. Knowing this will convince Ye Bai, he says that he’ll text him the address and to not be late, then leaves.

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The dinner is at a fancy restaurant, with all four present sitting around a large table. Zi Jian toasts Ye Bai as an apology for the whole incident, then mentions that he never thought Ye Bai would be the face behind the prodigal young artist Lin. Ye Bai claims that he’s no prodigy, and that his participation in the art competition was just to fulfill a childhood dream. Huai An switches the subject to talk about post-graduation plans.

Zi Jian mentions that he wants to try going to Europe for graduate studies. Huai An agrees that this would probably be very beneficial for him, and tells him to not forget her small Yi Xin Gallery once he makes it big. She then turns her attention to Ye Bai.

Ye Bai says that he has no real plans, and just wants to continue making art. Huai An tries to give him a reality check, saying that even if he has talent now, if he doesn’t make efforts to do something with it, he’ll just fade to obscurity. Ye Bai doesn’t seem to be listening, and Huai An catches him looking at You Yan. Ye Bai asks You Yan what her plans are.

You Yan says that she has a small short-term goal of saving some money, and then in the future she just wants to experience each day with joy and happiness. Maybe she’ll be a 9 to 5 corporate workers, or go to France to see the Eiffel Tower, or maybe she’ll go to China’s rural areas or Africa to do volunteer work. Both Ye Bai and Zi Jian smile at her plans, but Huai An doesn’t seem as impressed, calling her a dreamer. She starts criticizing her plan immediately: she wants to save money, but has she thought about how exactly she’ll save money? Her wages as an office worker, minus taxes and rent, wouldn’t allow her to save much money. Plus being a 9 to 5 worker wouldn’t give her enough spare time to go to France. Life isn’t as easy as You Yan thinks it is.

You Yan responds to Huai An’s criticism with a smile. She acknowledges that Huai An is right in saying that life isn’t easy, but every life is full of its own happiness. She promises that she won’t let herself be defeated by life.

Ye Bai says that he has the same view of life as You Yan, which Huai An doesn’t look happy about. He wants to be able to do what he wants to do, and doesn’t want his pursuit of art to turn into a pursuit of materialism.

His words make You Yan think of a childhood memory of her mom. A young You Yan cries to her mother, saying that she overheard her classmates’ parents saying how it was such a shame that her mother’s paintings were worth so much, yet she was here teaching children how to draw. They also said… but Chi Zheng already knows this, saying that they probably also said she had something embarrassing to hide, and that she’s wasting her life.

Chi Zheng asks her daughter if she thinks that her painting looks good. You Yan says that it does. Then, Chi Zheng, responds, she is not wasting her life. Chi Zheng’s only wish is that what she creates is art, and that she doesn’t want art to turn into a form of materialism.

The memory makes You Yan look at Ye Bai with a new light.

Huai An says that she was young and idealistic like them when she graduated so she understands their feelings. She too wanted to go abroad, but she also had the option of staying in-country and taking over her family’s gallery. In the end, she chose the gallery.

Zi Jian asks her if she regrets her decision and she says that she doesn’t. Zi Jian proposes they toast Huai An, complimenting her work in modernizing the gallery in the time that she’s been there.

Huai An notices You Yan and Ye Bai smiling at each other and not quite paying attention to the rest of the conversation. She asks You Yan to go to the restroom with her.

On campus, Shan Shan literally bumps into Zi Yan by the Student Activities Notice Board, where she had been dejectedly looking at recruitment flyer after recruitment flyer. Her interview didn’t go so well, and it’s just her luck that she has to encounter Zi Yan now, too. Zi Yan asks her how her interview went, then tries to comfort her when she says it didn’t go well. He lists all her skills and talents, which makes her smile. She shyly asks him if she’s really that great and he says, “Of course! You’re pretty, you’re good at sleeping, you have a great appetite. But for real, you’re way more talented than me.” Shan Shan punches him in a friendly way, saying this is the first time she’s heard a compliment from him in the time that she’s known him. He smiles back at her, and they walk off together.

In the bathroom, Huai An gives You Yan another warning about Ye Bai, saying that Ye Bai has a lot of talent, but that life is painful for talented people who don’t receive the recognition they deserve. It’s not enough to have skill in this world — one also needs to have someone actively promoting them. She’s sure that You Yan wouldn’t want to see him fade into obscurity. This makes You Yan look somber.

Back in the dining room, Zi Jian once again repeats that he never would have thought Ye Bai was such a secret artistic genius. But, he asks, did Ye Bai come here today for an interview? The way he’s dressed is so similar to the waiters there, down to the colors. And then he changes the subject, saying, You Yan’s red dress looked very nice today (You Yan was not wearing a red dress.) And Huai An’s blue dress was pretty nice as well (Huai An was not wearing a blue dress.) Ye Bai looks away uncomfortably and makes a noncommittal sound of agreement. Zi Jian’s eyes sharpen at this response and he nods slightly, as if confirming something to himself.

The next morning at Chez Wei, Wei Jia shows her brother some of Ye Bai’s middle school health records. (How did she get those?! This woman is crazy.) He first experienced color blindness when he was in middle school. Zi Jian asks his sister why she has these documents. She responds that she’s going to mail them to the International Young Artists award committee. “But jie,” Zi Jian protests, “You told me you’d keep it a secret!” (So Zi Jian told his sister? Exactly what did he think he was going to accomplish with that?!)

Thoughts

Wow, that sister of Zi Jian’s is just incredible. When she told him, “If you were more talented, I wouldn’t have to do this,” as if this was his fault, I thought she deserved a good slap in the face. I am amazed at her ruthlessness and complete lack of morality, but against this backdrop of evilness, Zi Jian was allowed to really shine. I am so glad that he didn’t betray himself and his values and stuck to doing the right thing. In fact, not only did he do the right thing by not destroying Ye Bai’s painting, but he also actively helped them come up with a solution to get Ye Bai’s painting to France on time. Is this not a shining moment for him?

But it’s also easy to tell that family and his sister’s approval mean a lot to him, so I’m worried that his sister’s words and actions will eventually wear him down. Hopefully, his right choices in this incident with Ye Bai will help draw the two of them closer. I think Zi Jian could use a strong, family support network of friends. Keep doing the right thing, Zi Jian!

I’m not quite sure what he was trying to accomplish toward the end with testing Ye Bai’s color vision. For one, this tells us that Ye Bai isn’t completely healed yet, but what is Zi Jian trying to do with this information? I think we’ve established that he’s not evil, so what is his end-goal? I’m sure his sister would probably go for the publicize route, although I’m not sure exactly what publicizing Ye Bai’s color-blindness would do. Perhaps it would make more people skeptical of him, but it could easily have the opposite effect of making people more impressed with his abilities. Also, why just why would he tell his sister?! He should know by now that his sister is crazy and confiding in her about anything related to Ye Bai is a huge mistake. Even his sister’s face at the end seemed to express the same thought: what did he think she was going to do with the information?

Huai An is turning out to be a super interesting character. She’s very similar to Wei Jia (Zi Jian’s sister) in a few ways: they’re both businesswomen, and very shrewd and calculating. The way that Huai An treats You Yan makes my skin crawl, but I also don’t doubt that Huai An only has Ye Bai’s best interests at heart (well, the fact that he would probably be a huge boon to Yi Xin Gallery doesn’t hurt). I guess in some ways, Huai An is to Ye Bai what Wei Jia is to Zi Jian. They’re both fiercely supportive of their respective artists and willing to do whatever it takes to help them succeed. I think it’ll be interesting if these two ever come head-to-head over protecting and supporting Ye Bai and Zi Jian. That’s one battle I would love to see.

I am really pleased with pacing and plotting in this show so far. I was really worried at the end of the last episode that this painting mishap would turn into a long, drawn-out, convoluted plot arc, but we actually get a very quick and realistic resolution that I am very impressed with. Let’s hope that this show continues this positive trend!

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