This episode is all about introducing us to more of the complicated power dynamics within the Huo family, but leaves me with more questions than answers!
Ting En finally figures out the truth of that drunken night with Qing. She had decided to commandeer his bed as her ship, while he crawled around on the ground, trying to reclaim his bed as a bed. Qing happened to capture the moment he said “Me and you”, which in his slurred state sounds like “I love you” (wo han ni vs wo ai ni).
He laughs delightedly at having figured it out. There was never a confession! He wakes Qing up and starts excitedly explaining how it was all a misunderstanding. Qing is alarmed to find him on top of her and quickly shoves him away. They start bickering about whose fault it is: hers for hearing him wrong, or his for mumbling?
Ting En suddenly looks intently at Qing and asks what she would do if it weren’t a misunderstanding? But, don’t they already know? She already rejected him, after all.
Ting En gets a call that his grandmother is in the hospital. Qing offers to go with him. She has a way of getting him to talk even when he’s not in the mood for it. She chatters on the car ride back to make him feel better, and they end up talking about marriage for a bit. Their mothers both want them married soon.
Ting En’s grandmother seems to be in high spirits despite her fall and has a nice, bougie private VIP guest room as well. It’s clear that she adores Ting En, and she ends up pressuring him to move back in with her for a few days while she recovers. She’s so happy that she acts like a little girl and latches onto him with a hug. Why do I have the feeling that she will be Qing’s biggest rival for Ting En’s affection?
Qing waits outside the hospital room for Ting En. At first, he pops out to tell her that he can’t take her home because he needs to stay, but when she says that she’ll get Ah Wei to pick her up, he quickly switches course and says he’ll take her home.
Qing walks inside her building’s front door to find Ah Wei dozing off at the foot of the stairs. She immediately tries to backtrack but it’s too late: he’s spotted her. He demands to know where she was all night and if she was with Huo Ting En again. She tries to dodge his questions, but he won’t let her go, and tells her that she’s not allowed to spend the night elsewhere anymore. No matter where she is or how late it is, she should call him and he’ll pick her up. (Ew, I hate this kind of possessiveness.)
Qing manages to escape and lock Ah Wei out. Back in her apartment, she wonders why she stayed with Ting En overnight.
Ting En somehow ends up at breakfast with Ru Xi. Ru Xi asks if he has anything he wants to tell her. He does, but is afraid to say the words himself, and instead makes her be the one to say that he’s not interested in courting her. But that’s okay with her, because she’s interested in him and she’s perfectly fine with taking the initiative with him.
She calls Tian Zhi and calls him out for sending her the flowers and card in Ting En’s name. She tells him that she doesn’t need his help; she can chase her own man. He offers to treat her to dinner as an apology, then says a quick goodbye when Yu Qing shows up. Hmmm why do I think there could be some side affair going on with them? Am I reading too much into it?
Ru Xi says to herself that she always gets what she wants.
Ting En’s next stop is Qing’s apartment. She’s surprised to see him parked outside, waiting to pick her up for work. He has a perfectly reasonable explanation for his presence (her motorcycle is still up the mountain), but she still finds a bit odd. Things get even weirder when he starts responding out loud to things she’s only saying in her head.
It starts pouring when Qing gets out of the car. She runs toward the hotel building; Ting En also gets out and shields her with his jacket. She pauses to stare at him. When they finally make it to the building’s overhang, he gently dries her face with a handkerchief.
Why they do this? One of those weird chivalrous, romantic drama scenes that doesn’t really make sense logically. If she had just kept running, she would be the same amount of soaked, and he would not be soaked. Instead, his actions made her pause, soaking them both in the rain. SMH.
When Ting En goes back to the hospital, he gets to spend more one-on-one time with his grandmother. It soon becomes clear that Ting En has never really considered himself a part of the Huo family, despite taking his stepfather’s surname, something that his grandmother has found hurtful, because she considers all three grandchildren her own, even though she’s only blood-related to Tian Zhi. She just wants her family to happy and peaceful, but that doesn’t seem possible…
Ting En’s stepmother, Gong Mei Li, lands in Taiwan and goes straight to Yanisi’s shareholder meeting. It seems like the company isn’t doing so well, and at the end of the meeting, she calls in both Tian Zhi and Ting En for a special announcement. The Brazilian embassy has requested a last-minute menu change for the dinner that La Mure is hosting for them the next night. Instead of the specially crafted menu marrying Brazilian and Taiwanese flavors that Ting En had been planning on, they now want a menu focused on Taiwanese street eats. It’s clearly meant to rattle Ting En. Both Xiao Bin and Ting En’s mother jump to try and turn down the request. Even Tian Zhi speaks in La Mure’s defense, saying the change is too last-minute for such a large and important dinner. But Mei Li has Yu Qing under her wing, who says that an establishment like La Mure should be able to adjust to its guests needs. Ting En is the only one who hasn’t spoken: when all eyes turn on him, he says that La Mure can accommodate the request.
After the meeting, both mothers are upset with their sons. Hai Wei is worried that that Ting En has put himself in a weak position, and has a monologue where she laments that Ting En must always act like the “second” son even though he’s the oldest. The reason she pushes Ting En to date Ru Xi is because she wants him to be supported by real power. Because he is her son and not related by blood to the Huo family, he will always be treated as lesser by them, no matter how successful he is.
Meanwhile, Mei Li insists on seeing Ting En and Hai Wei as the enemy. In flashbacks, we see that she has despised Ting En from day one and constantly reminded him that he isn’t actually a part of the Huo family. Meanwhile, we also see that Tian Zhi has been a precious sweetheart since day one without a mean bone in his body. Even at a young age, he told Ting En, “Ge (older brother), what’s mine is yours!” You can’t teach that! Mei Li tells Tian Zhi that Ting En has been a threat to him and their family since the day he and Hai Wei appeared in their lives. Tian Zhi seems unconvinced, but Yu Qing is on Mei Li’s side. Mei Li dotes on Yu Qing, telling Tian Zhi he’s lucky to have someone as astute as her as his fiancee. It seems like Yu Qing is closer to his mother than he is. Perhaps all is not well in paradise?
It’s pretty clear that neither Ting En nor Tian Zhi want to be pawns in their mothers’ political games, but they seem to be unwilling participants. Ting En is perhaps more politically savvy than his mother is, recognizing that he had to say yes to his stepmother. But he also seems to want nothing more than to hand the reins off to Tian Zhi when the time comes and wash his hands clean of the Huo family.
At La Mure, Xiao Bin frets over how Ting En will pull off the Taiwanese street eats menu. Ting En is a fine chef, but he has classical French training. Taiwanese street eats aren’t his forte. But they do have Miss Wei Fen Qing in their kitchen, who as a night market queen, should know a thing or two about street eats. They try to find her, but Qing is still feeling awkward and weird around Ting En and tries to hide. She ends up overhearing Xiao Bin ask Ting En what he plans on doing now that Qing’s seven day contract is up. Will he purposely fail Qing just to keep her around?
Xiao Bin finds Qing and confronts her on what’s going on between her and Ting En, whom he calls her anata (or “honey”, Japanese-derived term of endearment). Qing refuses to acknowledge that there’s anything going on, but when he provokes her, she starts ranting about Ting En and how he doesn’t see her as girlfriend material. In fact, she says, if not for the curry lobster and this seven day contract she wouldn’t want to be here. Unfortunately for her, Ting En shows up behind her and listens without her knowing. Xiao Bin finds it hilarious.
Ting En takes Qing’s words very seriously and is perhaps insulted, because he gets real quiet and real close to her and tells her that he’ll give her what she wants. He drags her into the kitchen to teach her how to make the final, missing ingredient in his curry lobster dish: saffron risotto. He brusquely instructs her on the steps necessary and slams some bowls around, ending with a “Now you know” before storming off.
Xiao Bin, ever the wingman, appears and explains to Qing that Ting En may have a cold exterior, but he’s actually quite the romantic. The saffron flower holds special meaning, because it’s usually the last flower to still be blooming in autumn, and stands for sincerity and longing. It means, “I will always be waiting for you here.” Xiao Bin adds that no one wants to see her leave. Ting En, most of all.
Qing practices making the saffron rice while Ting En struggles to focus and make his Taiwanese street eats menu. Xiao Bin reports to Ting En that Qing’s saffron rice tastes pretty good and that he’ll send her home early to prep for her test tomorrow. Ting En acts like he isn’t paying much attention, even when Xiao Bin emphasizes that after tomorrow, Qing won’t be around anymore.
But when Qing heads outside to go home, and then remembers that she left her motorcycle up the mountain, Ting En pulls up in front of her and offers take her to get her motorbike. It’ll be the last time he’ll take her. (He says dai, which has numerous meanings and can also mean the last time he will teach her.)
In the car, Qing tries to apologize for her earlier words, but struggles to say so out loud. Which is okay because Ting En can read her mind, right? And he says the words out loud for her, saying “You don’t actually detest me, right?” and “You want to apologize, right?”
Qing asks Ting En what she should do if she passes the test tomorrow. He tells her to leave. But what if she doesn’t pass? He answers with a question: does she want to stay? She responds with a question: do you want me to stay? He asks if she wants him to want her to stay. They could probably keep going forever, except Qing spots a shooting star and immediately runs to make a wish.
It suddenly goes dark in front of her and she gets scared, calling out for Huo Ting En. He walks over to stand by her side and holds her hand, saying that she doesn’t have to be afraid anymore: he is there.
That’s cute! Except I’m going to be ever the skeptic and bring up the fact that, if the car is behind her and its headlights are on, it should actually illuminate everything in front of her, so it shouldn’t actually be so pitch black that she can’t see, so her fear doesn’t really make sense… but hey, it’s drama land I shouldn’t question it too much!
Ting En and Qing have really progressed leaps and bounds in their relationship since just a week (and seven episodes) ago. But the main takeaway from this episode is definitely the family/corporate politics and drama between Ting En’s mother and Tian Zhi’s mother. Hai Wei and Mei Li are each what the other fears, but their sons are not. I’m still a little confused by how the family dynamic worked when the kids were younger: it looks like both mothers lived in the same house with the absentee (presumably dead?) father. But that’s a little weird… did the elder Huo divorce Mei Li and marry Hai Wei but let Mei Li live in the same house? That’s just… weird. Or is there an even more bizarre polygamist situation going on here? That’s what my real questions are…