Chinese Dramas, Drama Recaps

Recap: Suddenly This Summer (Ep. 18)


Zhang Yuan goes to find Cheng Jie at his apartment in Beijing. Cheng Jie is surprised to see Zhang Yuan, but welcomes him with open arms. They go out to eat and Cheng Jie asks if he really won’t tell He Luo the truth about why he’s in Beijing. Cheng Jie thinks that it’s great that Zhang Yuan can make a successful game and then come to Beijing just for the purposes of selling that game. But Zhang Yuan repeats that he doesn’t want He Luo to worry. He’ll tell her at some point, just not now. He makes Cheng Jie promise to keep his secret.


He Luo waits at the athletic fields for Zhang Yuan to arrive. She bounces with excitement to see him. He sweeps her up into his arms and she protests while saying that she feels like she’s just traveled back in time to their high school days when she would wait after school for him to finish playing basketball. Zhang Yuan surprises her with the latest edition of their Summer Records manga — she thought they had discontinued the series. They chat a bit about how Brother Wang’s shop has been doing and Zhang Yuan reports that he’s found a girlfriend.

He Luo giggles a little to herself as they walk. When Zhang Yuan asks why, she responds that she can finally be a part of one of those campus couples that go everywhere together and act joined at the hip. Before, seeing them would make her jealous, but now she can be the one to show off her own boyfriend. Zhang Yuan offers to give her a piggyback ride so they can attract even more attention.


Zhang Yuan and He Luo go out for hot pot with Tian Xin and Cheng Jie. The friends joke around, with Cheng Jie saying he loves only two things about Beijing: hot pot and… he glances at Tian Xin, but instead says “all his friends”. Zhang Yuan teases him about exactly which friend he likes the most. He Luo sighs at how different life would be if Zhang Yuan hadn’t tutored her and turned into a good student. She’d probably be back home still, working at the manga store. Zhang Yuan jokes that she’d be so dumb, the Brother Wang wouldn’t even want her to work there.

Tian Xin shows off a magazine cover that she modeled for, then asks Zhang Yuan what kind of exchange program he’s in. He starts responding very vaguely, but Cheng Jie jumps in to say that it’s computer-related and Tian Xin wouldn’t understand because she’s a girl. (Side note: but really? I get that there are cultural differences and I’m from a pretty liberal part of the U.S. — not to mention a woman in tech — but sometimes the explicit sexism in Chinese dramas really gets me.)

He Luo comments on how Cheng Jie seems to know more about Zhang Yuan’s exchange program than even she does.


He Luo and Yun Wei video chat later that evening. Yun Wei seems unhappy — mostly because of Chang Feng. At least Zhang Yuan can turn his video gaming into something productive (she quickly saves herself from revealing too much by clarifying that Zhang Yuan’s good at video games) but Chang Feng doesn’t seem to know what he wants, at one point gaming for money, then saying he’ll sell clothes for money, and in the end having to go ask his family for money. He Luo tells her not to worry too much.

Yun Wei forces a smile and says she’s just ranting. She says she has to leave, but sighs once she hangs up.


Fu Peng and Zhang Yuan get dinner. Fu Peng feels bad that Zhang Yuan has to rough it sharing a room in Cheng Jie’s cramped apartment, but Zhang Yuan admits that what’s more difficult is being so far away from He Luo. Fu Peng offers to pay for a short-term rental for the two of them to stay in. He says that someone like Zhang Yuan will definitely be able to provide a good life for his girl in the future.

Zhang Yuan says that once he makes money, the first thing he’ll do is buy He Luo a place in Beijing.

Fu Peng smiles at his ambition, then closes his eyes an inhales deeply. There’s something different in the air in Beijing, he says, can Zhang Yuan guess what it is? Zhang Yuan guesses grilled meat. (Lol.) Fu Peng laughs and shakes his head, then says that it’s the sense that a miracle can happen at any moment in Beijing. Zhang Yuan smiles and takes a deep breath as well.


Later, He Luo and Zhang Yuan hang out together eating ice cream. Zhang Yuan teases her for eating ice cream when it’s cold out, but then steals it from her to grab a bite anyway. He Luo asks how he can have so much free time while on exchange, and is worried he’s not taking the program seriously enough. Zhang Yuan responds saying that they’re not very strict there, then changes the topic, saying that he’s been thinking about moving off campus so he can be closer to her. Are there any short-term rentals near her campus? he asks. He Luo responds with a yes, a little too quickly.

Zhang Yuan teases her, but He Luo tries to pass it off as just doing her research in order to better accommodate a guest. She drags him off to an internet cafe so they can do some more research.

Several dozens of rentals later, Zhang Yuan and He Luo finally have found the one. He Luo marvels at how much the apartment reminds her of home. She’s impressed by how generous Zhang Yuan’s university is, sponsoring a short-term rental like this. She embraces the couch, saying that having a sofa anywhere gives her a sense of home.

In order to give her a greater sense of home, Zhang Yuan gives her a set of keys to the apartment. It also happens to be the only set of keys and He Luo wonders at how impractical it is for him to give his only set of keys to her, but the sentiment behind it wins her over. He Luo smiles shyly, saying that she never thought she’d be able to have a home in Beijing. Isn’t that great? she asks Zhang Yuan, but his face has suddenly turned serious and sad. She asks him what’s wrong, but he quickly pretends that he was just trying to decide which of the many restaurants downstairs they should eat at.


They end up eating at home, and Zhang Yuan complains over the amount of bowls he has to wash. The couple acts cutely domestic as He Luo says she needs to start training him now to do housework, otherwise what will they do in the future? She checks the time and upon realizing how late it is, starts rushing to leave before the dorms are closed for the night. Zhang Yuan says that she should just stay the night.


He Luo responds that she probably shouldn’t. The two start bickering a little, each implying that the other is thinking some inappropriate thoughts.

But He Luo is pretty easy to convince. Zhang Yuan ends up staying on the couch and He Luo on his bed, but they both find it difficult to sleep. He Luo wanders out to the couch and says that perhaps they should switch spots — she’s pretty used to sleeping on the couch. Zhang Yuan says that he likes the couch too: maybe they should both sleep there. He leans her head on her and they stay like that a bit.

But then He Luo sits up and says that they won’t be able to fall asleep like that either. She asks Zhang Yuan to sing her a song — maybe that’ll make her sleepy. Zhang Yuan starts singing “Later” (Hou Lai 后来 by Rene Liu). He Luo tolerates it for a bit, but then protests for him to stop, saying that he’s a much worse singer than her. They bicker a little about who’s the worse singer, then Zhang Yuan tells her to go to sleep — she has class in the morning.


The next morning, the two end up having to go separate ways. He Luo jokes about how this is a preview of what life would be like if they were working adults. Zhang Yuan uses that as an opportunity to get a goodbye kiss.


He Luo’s roommates confront her when she gets back to her dorm room and get her to confess that she spent the night at Zhang Yuan’s. They tease her, obviously thinking more happened than them sleeping in separate places.


Feng Xiao seeks her out downstairs to invite her to another movie screening. She jumps at the opportunity to bring Zhang Yuan as well.

Zhang Yuan accompanies He Luo to her economics class. She seems bored while Zhang Yuan listens with interest and takes notes, even asking He Luo to translate “non-zero sum game” into English for him. He Luo notes his interest and says that maybe he should consider applying to an economics graduate program.


While alone at home, Zhang Yuan browses online Beijing apartment prices. Cheng Jie messages him saying how it feels kind of weird not rooming with him anymore. Zhang Yuan confides that he wants to buy a place for He Luo. Cheng Jie thinks he’ll be fine once he sells his game. Zhang Yuan admits that the last company they talked to offered a high price but wanted to buy the rights to their game as well so Fu Peng rejected them.

We flash to that memory. Fu Peng angrily walks out of an office building while Zhang Yuan runs to catch up. The price that the company offered was the highest of all the companies they’d talked to, but their goals were not aligned with Fu Peng and Zhang Yuan at all. Selling to them would mean giving up all rights to the game. Fu Peng and Zhang Yuan would not have any control over future versions of the product. Zhang Yuan responds that every other company they talk to will have the same goal. But Fu Peng believes that in the next few years their game can be worth a lot. He doesn’t want to sell out now.

Cheng Jie responds to Zhang Yuan, saying that he should just sell the current game to get the money, then make a new game for Fu Peng. (If only it were that easy!)

He Luo and Zhang Yuan go to the movie that Feng Xiao mentioned earlier. It doesn’t seem very engaging and some of the audience can barely stay awake. He Luo complains about the length of the movie too — if she had known it would be 2.5 hours long she wouldn’t have accepted the job. Now she feels like she just wasted so much time that could’ve been spent doing something with Zhang Yuan.

Feng Xiao shows up just as they’re leaving and He Luo complains to him about setting them up with such a long movie. He hands her a scroll painted by his grandfather to give to her uncle. She accepts it awkwardly while Zhang Yuan’s face turns more serious.

It’s Zhang Yuan’s turn to be jealous and angry and He Luo chases after him, trying to explain that she didn’t know before that Feng Xiao’s grandfather knew her uncle. Zhang Yuan accuses her of bringing Feng Xiao as her date to her uncle’s dinner party. She says that she didn’t, but he doesn’t seem to believe her, saying that she shouldn’t be so worried or defensive if she were telling the truth. He’s angry that she didn’t tell him she saw Feng Xiao there, but she says that she called him only to reach his voice mail. Hearing this, Zhang Yuan apologizes, but his apology is abrupt and insincere. He Luo points this out, and he starts to respond but is interrupted by a phone call. He picks up and walks away a little bit to talk.

It’s Wei Rui, checking where he is and telling him to return to school soon. His professors have started to notice his absence and she’s worried what will happen if he’s gone for too long. Also Fu Peng is scheduling a web conference for them later that night.

After Zhang Yuan hangs up, He Luo asks who called. He pauses for a moment before saying that it was Wei Rui. She doesn’t say anything, so Zhang Yuan quickly tries to explain that it wasn’t important and was just about school. He Luo starts walking without him, saying if it was unimportant then he didn’t need to walk away to hide what he was saying. He rushes to follow her and try to explain himself, saying that he was just continuing to walk down the path. She stops and gives him a long hard glance.


Finally she grabs his arm and says that now he should know what it feels like to make something out of nothing. She trusts him, she says, and he should trust her. Now they’re even. She’s still a little offended that he doubted her, so he promises to buy her some super spicy food to make up for it.


After they eat, Zhang Yuan rushes out for some important matter. He accidentally leaves his phone behind, which starts ringing. He Luo tries to catch him in the hallway, but he’s already gone. It rings again, so she reluctantly picks up. It’s Fu Peng, and before she has a chance to speak, he’s already talking, asking Zhang Yuan to send him something.

He Luo explains the situation to him and asks who he is. He thinks that Zhang Yuan just hasn’t told her about him, not that he had been lying about the whole situation. Stunned, she tries to piece together what’s happening while Fu Peng gives her instructions to relay to Zhang Yuan and then hangs up. She flashes back to everything Zhang Yuan said before and how vague he was about his supposed academic exchange program in Beijing.


When Zhang Yuan gets home, He Luo is sitting stony-faced on the couch, waiting for him. She asks if he noticed that he forgot his phone (he hadn’t). When he sees her face, he can tell something is wrong. He Luo asks if he’s been hiding something from her. He doesn’t respond. She holds up his phone and calls him out on his big lie, her voice dangerously calm.


She calls him a liar and starts to leave. Zhang Yuan bars her way, saying he lied only because he didn’t want her to worry, but that was the wrong thing to say. If he didn’t want her to worry, he should’ve told her the truth, she snaps back. She’s angry that he got Cheng Jie in on the deception as well and repeats her earlier words about how important it is that he focus on getting into graduate school. To her, it’s the only way they can be together in the future. She accuses him of forgetting the promise they made earlier.

Zhang Yuan says that he hadn’t forgotten his promise, but that there are other ways to be together. He tries to explain that this is a critical moment in the gaming industry. It may change rapidly in the next few years and he can’t miss this opportunity. But He Luo doesn’t want to hear anything about the gaming industry. She reminds Zhang Yuan that he’s just a student right now and that he should focus on being a student, not wasting his time on games. She acknowledges that he’s brilliant, but the world is unpredictable and complicated and she just wants him — and them — to have stability.

Zhang Yuan claims that he knows his limits, but He Luo isn’t having any of that. What limits? she demands before storming out. Zhang Yuan watches her leave and then sighs in frustration, blinking back tears.


The next day, he and Fu Peng go back to a company they had spoken to before. Fu Peng notices that he seems off and asks if he had fought with his girlfriend. He tells Zhang Yuan not to fret too much: as a man, his career and business should come first. If they sign this contract today, Zhang Yuan will be able to buy a big gift for He Luo and make up for everything.

Speaking of the contract, Fu Peng finds it strange that this company isn’t asking about the rights for their game anymore, even though they were so adamant about it earlier. Zhang Yuan doesn’t seem to find it as strange, and instead suggests that maybe they just changed their mind. (Hmm… did Zhang Yuan go behind Fu Peng’s back and make a deal, as Cheng Jie suggested he do earlier?)

He Luo is back in her dorm getting ready for bed when she gets a call from an unknown number. It’s Fu Peng, who tells her to watch a video file he just sent her. It’s a video of Zhang Yuan pitching his game. Her roommates come over to watch as well and comment on how good he looks and how smart he sounds.

He Luo watches expressionlessly, but in a voice over says how the Zhang Yuan in the video reminded her of who he was when she fell in love with him in high school. This is the first time in a long time that she’s seen him be so passionate about something. She starts bawling as she continues to watch the video.



Damn, I knew I was right! The biggest issue between He Luo and Zhang Yuan wasn’t the jealousy over other friendships, but more the fact that they aren’t really on the same page with their relationship, and that Zhang Yuan felt like he couldn’t be honest with her. But it’s hard to fault either of them for the misunderstanding.

He Luo is super rigid and stubborn, but it’s also easy to see why she thinks that for their relationship, Zhang Yuan should go the relatively stable route of applying to grad school rather than risk it all in the start-up world. Also, I feel like as someone not in the tech world (and given that this takes place in around 2010, before the start-up scene really took off), it’s easy for He Luo to think that Zhang Yuan is crazy, throwing away his academics to risk it all in business.

But at the same time, she should trust and believe in Zhang Yuan more. Perhaps Zhang Yuan senses that, which is why he felt like he couldn’t be honest with her (though he should have trusted that she would support him). But her immediate reaction upon finding out about his lie kind of justifies why he didn’t want to tell her in the first place…

Still, I’m glad that all the dramas and misunderstandings get sorted out relatively quickly and in reasonable ways. The ending gives me hope that He Luo will learn to trust and believe in Zhang Yuan more and clear up this mess, but knowing that we’re barely halfway through the show, I’m sure there will be more obstacles to come…


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