Chinese Dramas, Drama Recaps

Recap: Suddenly This Summer (Ep. 3)

More cuteness in this episode as He Luo and Zhang Yuan get to know each other a bit better and develop some mutual respect for each other.

Recap

It turns out He Luo has taken to heart the idea of asking Zhang Yuan to tutor her. She starts doing little nice things for him — bringing him milk for breakfast and cleaning his desk — in a way that alarms him. (He asks Yun Wei if the milk is poisoned.) He finally confronts her about it, asking if she likes him, because he definitely does not reciprocate and he is not her type at all. He Luo is quick to dismiss this idea and instead admits that she was doing all these nice things because she wanted to ask him something and not be rejected right away. She wants him to tutor her.

He immediately responds with a no and then walks away.

After school, He Luo drops by the manga library and checks on the manga in which she’s been exchanging notes with some mysterious other person. She smiles upon finding a response to a question she had asked earlier.

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During a study session at school, He Luo tries to worm her way into Zhang Yuan’s good graces, first asking for his help, then asking if she can call him shifu like Chang Feng does. She gets soundly rejected again. But she finds her chance when Zhang Yuan accidentally drops an envelope on his chair while packing up. She grabs it and noticing the cute sticker on it, assumes that it’s a love note. She holds it hostage and blackmails Zhang Yuan into tutoring her, threatening to read it if he doesn’t. The letter must mean something to Zhang Yuan because he agrees to think about it after he drops by the teachers’ offices.

In the office, Zhang Yuan drops off his major declaration form, but overhears Director Qiu criticizing He Luo to two other teachers, saying how she doesn’t know the meaning of hard work and how she’s just wasting everyone’s time trying to study science. Zhang Yuan thinks back on all the examples of her working hard in the past few weeks, and confronts Director Qiu, saying that in physics every force has an equal and opposite reaction force. Doesn’t that mean that the more they look down on He Luo, the more room for improvement and potential for growth she has?

Back in the classroom, he asks He Luo why she wants to get into Hua Qing. At first she responds jokingly and he starts to leave, thinking that she’s just doing it out of rebellious pettiness, but her tone becomes more serious when she says that she’s never one to give up on a race and always makes it to the finish line, regardless of whether she’s first or last, and in this race, she just wants to see how far she can go. To her surprise, Zhang Yuan sits down and looks at her exam results. He’s decided to tutor her.

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We cut to a scene from the manga that He Luo is reading, in which the storyline parallels He Luo’s life. Kino gives the heroine a magical staff, helping her unlock her power. But she isn’t able to control it just yet, so he can’t get too close to her without getting hurt.

He Luo and Zhang Yuan head home together after school, which ends up with them taking a walk along the beach. He Luo teases him about how protective he is over the letter and continues to try to use it as leverage, but it seems to lose its effect on Zhang Yuan. He tells her that if she dares open it, she’s dead, then heads off. Trying to regain some control, He Luo threatens to open the letter the moment she gets home. Zhang Yuan responds by threatening to remember her forever, which stuns her into silence.

He Luo heads to the manga library in search of her manga. Unable to find it on the shelf, she asks the owner if he knows where it is. He nods toward a man sitting at a table, eating ramen while reading a manga. With an unhappy look on her face, He Luo approaches him and asks for the manga, then asks if he’s the one who has been writing in the book. To her relief, he says no.

Inside the manga, He Luo finds an encouraging note from her pen pal, saying that she should keep pursuing her goal even if it doesn’t seem possible.

He Luo and Zhang Yuan meet up for a tutoring session. He gives her a preliminary benchmark test that he came up with himself to see what level she’s at. It turns out her science knowledge is worse than his sixth grade cousin’s. He hands her a thick stack of books to review.

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Seeing her dejected expression, he throws her a compliment — even if she can’t do the problems correctly, she has a positive attitude and is willing to work hard, which is enough for now. She gives him a long look and says that it seems like he’s wearing a halo today. He looks away awkwardly but she still manages to get a smile out of him.

It’s dark by the time He Luo gets home and starts studying. She notices the notes on the margins and texts him a thank you. He responds saying that the notes weren’t there for her.

He Luo goes back to studying day and night, impressing even her friends with her dedication. Her hard work pays off — during her next tutoring session with Zhang Yuan, he informs her that she’s finally caught up on all of middle school. She returns the unopened letter to him. He tells her that after the upcoming exams, they probably won’t be classmates anymore, but she should still feel free to reach out to him with any questions. She asks why they wouldn’t be classmates, and he reminds her that her chances of testing into the top class are very slim — and that’s where he expects to be.

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The exam results come out, and He Luo is overjoyed to find out that she made it into the Class 2 (the lower science track class). But she’s surprised to see that Zhang Yuan is also in Class 2 and not Class 1. Feeling like she’s the reason for his poor test score, she approaches Director Qiu, asking him to give Zhang Yuan a second chance and explaining that he must’ve fallen behind on his own studies because of her. Director Qiu says he’ll consider it.

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Zhang Yuan goes to meet with Director Qiu. It turns out that he didn’t get into Class 1 not because of poor test scores, but because he was late for one of the exams, which invalidated his score. That morning, he ran into the same pickpocket that was harassing He Luo earlier on the bus. After confronting the pickpocket and returning the stolen wallet, he was late for class. Director Qiu offers to give him a second chance and pull him up into Class 1 the next possible chance, but Zhang Yuan refuses this offer. He’s perfectly content with the consequences and is okay with staying in Class 2. (Hmm, I wonder why?)

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In the hallway, He Luo tries to apologize to him for ruining his opportunity to get into Class 1. At first he pretends that it was her fault in order to mess with her, but he feels awkward once she starts kowtowing and apologizing profusely. He tries to get her to stop, but she just runs off, saying that she’ll definitely make it up to him. He laughs.

Chang Feng somehow ends up in Class 2 as well, thanks to his father being very rich and very generous towards the school with his money. He Luo asks why he chose their class of all classes, and he tries to play it off like it’s nothing, saying he can just go to whatever class he wants. Meanwhile, Cheng Jie is dejected because he’s no longer in the same class as Tian Xin, one of He Luo’s friends and his crush. Their class adviser is Teacher Lin, the English teacher.

Everyone is surprised after the next round of monthly exams when Class 2’s average ends up beating Class 1’s average by 0.5 points. It’s all thanks to Zhang Yuan and everyone crowds around him marveling at his genius. Meanwhile, He Luo sits with her jacket hiding her face in shame. She had the second-lowest score in the class, just ahead of permanent slacker Chang Feng.

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After their English class, Teacher Lin calls Zhang Yuan and He Luo into her office. Zhang Yuan was excellent in the science exam, but his English scores were barely passing. He Luo is good at English. Teacher Lin suggests that they be study buddies so that He Luo can tutor Zhang Yuan in English while Zhang Yuan tutors her in science. Both are stunned by this suggestion.

Thoughts

I really loved seeing Zhang Yuan and He Luo build up more of a relationship and rapport in this episode. Their interactions are bantering and cute and it’s great seeing Zhang Yuan recognize and acknowledge He Luo’s strengths when no one else will.

I really like how the two moments in which Zhang Yuan decides to tutor He Luo are shown in parallel. The editing was at first confusing because it disrupts the chronology — Zhang Yuan made the decision in the teachers’ office before he approached He Luo in the classroom — but it also shows how Zhang Yuan had already decided that He Luo needed someone to believe in her. Putting the classroom scene in parallel just shows that he needed proof that He Luo believed in herself.

The school values STEM more than humanities so Zhang Yuan is set up as the “smarter” student. But he has his weaknesses and I really like that He Luo is able to complement him with her own strengths.

The pacing of this drama continues to be excellent. I like the use of montage to show time passing by. We get the key scenes and crucial moments to relationship development without having to sit through a lot of slow scenes.

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