Chinese Dramas, Drama Recaps

Recap: Suddenly This Summer (Ep. 30)

We made it! The finale of Suddenly This Summer is here and the story of Zhang Yuan and He Luo finally draws to a close…

Recap

He Luo invites Zhang Yuan in. He tells her that he’s in America to get the rights for Summer Records and stopped by LA on the way. The author of Summer Records lives in Miami, which is pretty far from LA. It’s not really “on the way”. But neither of them say anything.

He Luo makes some food for them. It’s pretty simple because she’s not allowed to use her gas stove anymore. Zhang Yuan tastes the food, then says, “I still like eating fish congee the most.” (The congee that He Luo would make for him.)

Zhang Yuan says that Feng Xiao must be happy being with He Luo. LA is pretty nice too. She doesn’t say anything.

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Zhang Yuan gives her a gift: the author of Summer Records gifted him two of the latest volumes of the manga and he’s passing it on to her. He tells her that he’s leaving for China the next day. She comments that his trip seems pretty brief. He admits that he wanted to visit last year, but couldn’t because of the bird flu. She doesn’t say anything and instead asks how he knew where she lived. He shows her the postcard she mailed Yun Wei.

He Luo walks over to the window and comments that the rain has stopped. Zhang Yuan goes to stand behind her. She receives some texts from Feng Xiao on her open laptop. Then she receives a call. She moves to check it, but Zhang Yuan stops her and wraps her in a hug. She pulls away and says that it’s time for him to leave now.

Feng Xiao calls again and she picks up. He checks on whether she got rained on and how she’s doing. She tells him that a friend from China is visiting. Not Tian Xin. She doesn’t say who and he doesn’t ask, but he seems to have suspicions.

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He Luo decides to send Zhang Yuan off at the bus stop. He hands her an envelope as a way of saying goodbye. She tells him to have a safe trip without looking at him and crosses the street. Inside the envelope are photos of the complex, named after He Luo, where Zhang Yuan has a condo. The bus leaves, but Zhang Yuan is still standing there.

He tells her that he didn’t want to come all this way just to say goodbye. He shows her the promise ring that he’s kept for the last two years and starts telling her the truth about why he broke up with her all those years ago.

“If you didn’t have a boyfriend, would you give me a chance?” he asks. She responds sharply that there is no such scenario. She has a boyfriend and he’s a real and honest person.

But Zhang Yuan is persistent and asks if he still has a place in her heart, even if it’s just a little, tiny part. He tells her that he’s stopped thinking about her, not even for a second. He Luo responds with a story her mom told her when she was little, about how she used to love eating tomatoes, but one day stopped wanting to eat them anymore. No one is at fault — not her, not the tomatoes — and it’s okay to just not want to eat tomatoes anymore. She starts walking away.

“Can we get to know each other again?” Zhang Yuan shouts after her, making her pause. He makes a reference to Doraemon and time travel, asking what if, 80 years from now, he traveled back in time to meet her again.

He Luo gets a phone call and answers in English. Feng Xiao’s been hurt. Zhang Yuan offers to go with her, but she refuses and says this is something she has to handle by herself.

Feng Xiao isn’t injured too seriously and seems to have just hurt his arm. He tells her not to worry too much, that he’ll be better before long and they can get married. She quickly excuses herself, saying she’ll get him some water, but instead takes a moment to take a deep breath outside his room.

He Luo busies herself cleaning Feng Xiao’s apartment and taking care of him. He comments that she’s changed, which makes her startle. But he means it in a good way — she seems more caring toward him than before and their roles seem to have reversed. Back when he first came to America, he was the one taking care of her after her carbon monoxide poisoning. Now it’s the other way around.

He asks her which friend visited her the day of his accident. Without waiting for a response, he says that it was probably Shu Ge, trying to give her a way out, perhaps? She sits down next to him and says it wasn’t Shu Ge. He tries to say it doesn’t matter, but she admits that it was Zhang Yuan. He asks when he left, and He Luo tells him the truth (that he left the same day). Feng Xiao stares determinedly at a magazine, feigning disinterest, but his face says otherwise.

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Later (a few days? A few weeks? Who knows?), Feng Xiao asks He Luo how long she plans on staying. She says she’ll stay until he’s better. He wonders aloud whether that’ll affect her graduation. She checks her phone, then asks to borrow his laptop, saying that she’ll just postpone her graduation for another semester.

She opens his laptop to find a chat with Xiang Bei, in which they discuss whether Feng Xiao should ask He Luo about what happened with Zhang Yuan that day. Feng Xiao sees her expression but only seems resigned. He sighs and says that he was just telling Xiang Bei that they were delaying their marriage. He tells her not to be angry.

He Luo isn’t angry, but in a dangerously calm voice she accuses him of doubting her. But she wasn’t the one who called Zhang Yuan. If he had questions he could have asked her instead of gossiping with his friend. He should trust her.

Feng Xiao forcefully closes his magazine and says that sometimes he feels like he trusts her too much. He doesn’t look at her and talks about how she stayed longer in China instead of returning to America together with him like they initially arranged. He accuses her of wanting to have an extra opportunity to reconnect with Zhang Yuan. In fact, she didn’t want to come back to America at all. He says that she must have already known then that Zhang Yuan would come to America and planned to meet when he would be gone. After all, they were together when Feng Xiao had his accident. He feels like he’s been played for a fool.

He Luo doesn’t say anything while he talks, and he storms out angrily.

Before long, it starts thunderstorming. She tries calling Feng Xiao and he doesn’t respond. She goes outside to look for him, but it turns out he’s just standing in the doorway. He apologizes for his heated words, saying that he wished he could feel more at ease about their relationship, but he can’t.

He tells her that he’s wanted to talk to her about it for a long time, but could never bring himself to, because he was afraid that if he did, there was no way he’d be able to hang onto her. She apologizes to him. He moves to take her hand, but she shifts away.

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He asks her to reconsider, saying that it’s normal to have bumps in a relationship. At a time like this, shouldn’t they try even harder to make it work? Was all their past happiness fake?

He Luo says that she’s been really happy with him, and that she considers him one of her closest friends. Friend being the key word.

He asks if she’s already decided to be with Zhang Yuan. She hasn’t. He asks if she loves him, if she had ever loved him. She doesn’t respond. All she says is that she’s very grateful for everything he’s done for her.

He wishes just once that she would lie to him, at least at a moment like this. But she just apologizes saying she can’t lie anymore.

He Luo returns home to California, where it feels like everything has changed. She gets a call from her mom checking in on her. Her mom lectures her for ditching Feng Xiao while he’s still injured and offers to go to America to take care of him. She tells He Luo that she already considers Feng Xiao her son and tells her to figure things out with Feng Xiao quickly — she wants grandchildren soon.

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He Luo gets a message from Feng Xiao, saying that he felt homesick and decided to go back to China. His mom really liked He Luo and has been talking about how excited she is to finally have a daughter. He didn’t have the heart to tell his mom the truth, so he lied and said that He Luo has been busy. He tells her that he misses her.

In a voice over, He Luo talks about how she has returned to a single life once again, but this time is different because she’s no longer hung up on the past and instead only faces forward toward the future. All she can do is keep moving forward and hope that in doing so she’ll be able to find herself.

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Some period of time later (who really knows how long? It’s been long enough that He Luo has new glasses a new style), He Luo talks with her mom on the phone and gets the news that her father has finally been assigned a position closer to home. He Luo also has a business trip in China soon. He Luo’s mom asks about her love life and also asks how Feng Xiao is doing. He Luo says that Feng Xiao has a new friend, and that her mom should really stop asking about him.

He Luo goes to a conference (or career fair?) on Huaqing’s campus and talks to a Chinese company rep who expresses interest in hiring her for a position back in China. As she leaves, she thinks she hears Zhang Yuan’s voice, but looks around and doesn’t see him. She spots a booth advertising the Summer Records video game and finds out that the rest of the company representatives have already left. She runs outside just in time to see a bus pull away.

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She goes back into the largely empty building to find Zhang Yuan waiting. They stare at each other.

We cut to a beach scene in which they get to meet again and start over. We cut back as they smile at each other. The end.

Thoughts

It’s over! We made it to the end!

In some ways, I feel like it’s a bit of a cop-out to end the show at the beginning of their re-meeting, but I guess it’s also fitting that the ending of the show is the beginning of the next phase of their lives. Also, it’s totally how I would probably end the show if I were the one writing/directing it. It’s so tempting to leave open-ended endings as a creator, but so frustrating sometimes as viewers!

Overall, I liked the ideas behind this episode and this resolution for our love triangle. This whole episode was really focused on He Luo and her journey, and I like that she got the time to “find herself” and be really, truly single before she met Zhang Yuan again. Of course, most of this “finding herself” was just implied through the montages of her running marathons and whatnot and the implied passage of time, but I like the thought! (Even though I wish we got to see more of her being independent.)

Her fight and break-up with Feng Xiao felt so natural. Of course he would be insecure about Zhang Yuan — I highly doubted that he was so selfless that he would break up with He Luo just to hand her over to Zhang Yuan. I like that He Luo said “no” to both boys (even though in drama-land it was for all of 5 minutes.)

Suddenly This Summer deserves a lot of my love because it handled its characters’ relationships SO well and never did anything crazy or off-the-rails with regards to romance. To some, it might be boring, but I loved seeing a healthy dose of reality on screen. I liked the relationships in this show even more than in With You, which is saying a lot because I thought With You was pretty much the best thing ever after watching it. It’s a very idealistic reality, but I like that the show kept the classic, drama-land idea of “true love” while also giving it depth by showing some very real conflict and challenges. Suddenly This Summer isn’t necessarily as cute or captivating or dynamic as some other similar slice-of-life, youth dramas, but it’s just so wholesome and leaves you feeling good.

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