Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: Amensalism (Ep. 5)

This episode of Amensalism is all about blasts from the past. We learn more about how our second leads, Ming Fei and Yao Qing, know You Kuan and Ke Wei. Meanwhile, Ming Fei’s opponents at Dong Di Group and beyond start making their move, creating ripple effects that drag You Kuan, Ke Wei, Yao Qing, and Ming Fei into the ever-tightening web of a messy situation.

Recap

Li Yao Qing asks Ming Fei how she knows Bi Ke Wei, but instead of giving an answer, she counters and asks him how he knows Ke Wei.

The Dong Di Group board meeting starts, but it ends up being an ambush for Ming Fei. One of the board members, Director Liu, angrily throws down a tabloid article that suggests Ming Fei hooked up with three different men in one week. The company’s stock price tanked the moment the tabloid was released. He criticizes Chairman Xu for picking Ming Fei, his second daughter, as a replacement CEO after the previous one passed away. Then he initiates a motion to dismiss Ming Fei as CEO. Other board members quickly second it.

Yao Qing tries to change the subject and focus on the original meeting agenda, but the board members all leave. Yao Qing leaves as well, telling Chairman Xu that he’ll look into the matter, leaving father and daughter alone in the boardroom.

Ming Fei tells her father that this is fake news, but her father just asks if she wants to go abroad for a while. As long as she remains in Taiwan, she’ll be a topic of discussion. To Ming Fei, this is just another sign that her father doesn’t take her seriously. If she were her older sister, he would’ve already slapped her. But instead he’s just trying to brush her issues under the rug by sending her abroad?

Xu tells Ming Fei she shouldn’t try compare herself to her sister. She interrupts saying she knows they’re different. She’s not her sister, and she won’t be bullied by the board, she won’t listen to her father, and she won’t go abroad. She storms out.

Yao Qing reports to Ming Fei with his plan for dealing with the tabloid article. Dong Di Group does business with the publisher and can threaten them with contract cancellations. But Ming Fei doesn’t want to handle things his ways. She says that SG’s new lawyer will handle the situation.

Neither You Kuan nor Yao Qing were aware that SG hired a lawyer. Who is it?

Of course, there’s only one person it could be. Ke Wei is waiting at a bus stop after her failed interview with Yao Qing when Ace and Xiao Mi show up. They bring her to the SG headquarters, a fancy-looking mansion we’ve seen before that doubles as You Kuan’s house, where Ming Fei introduces her as SG’s new lawyer.

You Kuan is unhappy with this new development, since SG is his company and he didn’t authorize her hiring, and he didn’t know that Ming Fei even knew Ke Wei. Ming Fei simply responds that she’s the biggest stakeholder in SG, so she should have a say, and she only knew about Ke Wei because of Ace and Xiao Mi tailing You Kuan.

Yao Qing steps in to tell Ming Fei that Ke Wei is highly qualified and is looking for at least $200K NTD a month in salary, a figure that he seems to think will dissuade Ming Fei from hiring Ke Wei, and one that makes Ke Wei widen her eyes. But Ming Fei says that as long as Ke Wei can pass her interview, she’s willing to pay as much as $300K a month.

Ming Fei brings Ke Wei upstairs to You Kuan’s bedroom for the interview. She first rummages around the bed, looking for her bracelet, which she lost last night. She thinks that she may have dropped it when she spent the night in You Kuan’s bed. Ming Fei quickly tries to reassure Ke Wei that she wasn’t trying to be snarky by mentioning that she spent the night here, but Ke Wei tells her that there’s nothing to explain. She and You Kuan aren’t in that kind of relationship. Then what kind of relationship do they have? Ming Fei asks.

Ke Wei asks if Ming Fei is sincere about hiring her — she says she is — then responds that she appreciates Ming Fei’s sincerity, but she’s not going to let Ming Fei pry into her personal life just to get hired.

She turns to leave, but then a bulletin board in You Kuan’s room catches her eye. On it, You Kuan has collected pieces of evidence as part of an investigation into the car involved in her accident.

Ke Wei muses out loud that You Kuan must not be very smart. Ming Fei, watching her, asks why she says that. Ke Wei says that You Kuan is the kind of person who doesn’t ask for help and always tries to do things on his own. He’s stubborn to a fault.

To Ming Fei, it seems like Ke Wei knows You Kuan well. But she says that she doesn’t, she just has this feeling about what kind of person he is. Then what about Yao Qing? Ming Fei asks. Ke Wei responds that they were college classmates. Is Ming Fei trying to background check her?

But Ming Fei just laughs and says she’s spending a lot of money hiring Ke Wei; can’t she just make conversation? Ming Fei shows Ke Wei the tabloid article about her and asks her what she would do if she were her lawyer. Ke Wei asks if the article is true. Did she really sleep with those men? As her lawyer, she knows the truth.

Ming Fei responds that the person in the article isn’t her, an answer that Ke Wei finds odd. She would expect Ming Fei to say that she didn’t send the texts and that she doesn’t know these people, not that the person in the article isn’t her. But Ming Fei says that she has proof.

Ming Fei and Ke Wei decide to do a livestream where Ming Fei proclaims her innocence and gives proof that the person in the article isn’t her. In a coffee shop, a woman wearing Ming Fei’s bracelet sees the notification about Ming Fei’s livestream and cheerfully tunes in, calling her “Fei Fei.”

On her livestream, Ming Fei admits that the woman in the photo’s chest is very similar to hers, but with one big difference: Ming Fei doesn’t have a mole like in the picture. As proof, she exposes her own neckline to the camera, making her employees wince.

The woman in the coffee shop giggles.

Chairman Xu’s driver reports to him that while Ming Fei’s “proof” was controversial, it also worked in the sense that the public now believes her. Xu seems to ignore this matter and asks about Fang Yan Hua. The driver reports that they’ve been watching his house but unable to find him.

But we know where he is: he picks up the woman in the coffee shop, who wears red heels and may or may not be wearing Ming Fei’s missing outfit in addition to her missing bracelet. He asks the woman if she’s ready. She smiles.

Ke Wei finds Yao Qing brooding outside by a koi pond. She knows that he’s unhappy she took the SG job. But other than that, he’s still been acting unlike himself. What kind of person does she think he is? He asks. She says that he’s opinionated and has integrity. He tells her that she’s only half right. He’s always tried to do what he thought was right, but it just happens to be that his opinions line up with societal values. He thinks power is important, but it’s only after climbing up the social ladder of power and status that he realizes what he has isn’t enough. He’s still just an egg.

Ke Wei, perhaps thinking this is about her, tells him that she didn’t accept the job because of the money. Then it’s because of You Kuan? he asks.

Ke Wei asks him to let go of his bias against You Kuan. “If I do that,” he responds, “Will you stay by my side?” They stare at each other. He searches her eyes for… something, but he doesn’t seem to find it. “Does your life have to have You Kuan in it?” he demands.

Ke Wei angrily asks him who he thinks he is to say this to her. Is he saying this as family, friend, or… boyfriend? “Who do you want me to be? Family? Friend? Or boyfriend?”

They continue to stare at each other. She doesn’t have an answer for him and is saved from having to answer when Yao Qing gets invited to dinner by Director Liu. He wordlessly stands up and starts to walk away.

“You’re just going to leave like this?” Ke Wei asks, stopping him. He turns to look at her from across the koi pond. If he stays, will she have an answer for him? It’s pretty clear that she won’t, so he leaves.

You Kuan and his team try to come up with a way to lure out the men who claim to have slept with Ming Fei and see what they know. They need to send in a woman as bait. You Kuan wants to send Xiao Mi, since she’s the only woman on their team, but Chun Xiong says she’s too “man”. Sending her in would be like sending in Ace.

Ke Wei shows up in time to hear the discussion. She’s also been thinking about the three men in the tabloid article, and offers to go in undercover to investigate. You Kuan immediately vetoes, but Ke Wei won’t take no for an answer. She knows that she’s the best person to investigate, because as a lawyer, she knows what questions to ask and what to look for in their reactions. You Kuan just sighs and walks away in exasperation.

Ace and Xiao Mi inspect Ming Fei’s apartment before giving her the all clear to go in. She searches through her closet for her bracelet, then suddenly notices a makeup remover wipe with lipstick on it in her trash bin that she didn’t put there.

You Kuan shows up to check on her. She tries to push him away so she can be alone, telling him to go find his Bi Ke Wei, but he won’t let her. He takes her out to the shore instead to get some fresh air, and they reminisce about their younger days. You Kuan’s father worked for Xu as a driver and would often drive Ming Fei around with You Kuan in the car. He would often drive Ming Fei around whenever she was in a bad mood and fighting with her father, and would occasionally hide out at the Cheng’s house as well. You Kuan always hated it as a child, because she would always take his bedroom from him.

Ming Fei suggests they visit You Kuan’s mother: she misses her. “Do I have to go?” You Kuan asks in dismay.

You Kuan is nervous as he and Ming Fei walk up to his mother’s house. It soon becomes apparent why. They watch as two neighbors yell at Mama Cheng for being nosy and interfering with the neighborhood. She sits quietly and takes it. When they’re done, she yells right back at them until they run away cowering with their tails between their legs.

But Ming Fei doesn’t seem intimidated by Mama Cheng and greets her warmly. You Kuan stands awkwardly and watches them, muttering a “hi” when his mom finally acknowledges his presence by asking, “Are you mute?” But things continue to be tense. His mom shames him for not even calling her “mother” and only coming to see her once a year for Lunar New Year. Ming Fei shoots You Kuan a dirty look upon hearing about how unfilial he is.

Ke Wei and Chun Xiong set up a fake profile for her on the hookup app that they’re using to bait the men in the tabloid article. She’s appalled by the lewd language and images on the platform. But they soon find someone who is likely one of the three men. Chun Xiong takes over the keyboard to convince him to schedule a date.

At dinner, Ming Fei starts to sit down in the chair at the head of the table, but You Kuan stops her. That’s his father’s seat. Ming Fei realizes that Mama Cheng is still searching for Papa Cheng, but it’s been nearly twenty years. You Kuan says that his mother refuses to give up until she sees his dead body.

They seat down to eat and Mama Cheng has just started serving food when You Kuan gets a text from Chun Xiong, reporting that they’ve successfully scheduled a date for tonight and want to go ahead with the plan. You Kuan frowns. He tries to get out of dinner with his mother, saying he has work, but Mama Cheng thinks he’s just trying to make an excuse to leave. His boss, Ming Fei, is sitting right there, so what other work could there be? She says that if he leaves without finishing dinner, that means that he doesn’t view her as his mother anymore and he doesn’t need to bother coming back. Ming Fei tries to help make excuses for You Kuan, but she silently tells him to stay with her eyes.

Ke Wei and Chun Xiong try to wait for You Kuan’s response, but her date gets antsy and threatens to cancel because she’s late. She ends up heading out on her own in order to preserve their chance to get more evidence. Chun Xiong texts You Kuan an SOS. You Kuan apologizes to his mother, choosing Ke Wei over her.

Mama Cheng angrily tells You Kuan he’s just like his father. Putting work first, and family last. It feels pathetic to be their family. You Kuan looks anguished, but doesn’t say anything in response to her and instead tells Ming Fei that he’ll have Ace and Xiao Mi pick her up.

Ke Wei is nervous and jumpy at dinner with Sam, the man who invited her out, dodging away when he tries to touch her. He observes that she’s much more reserved and uptight in person than she was in her texts. She tries to play it off as being nervous in public. She asks him whether he really slept with Ming Fei. He claims to have evidence on his phone, and teases her with it, saying he’ll show her later when they get to their room.

He orders her a drink and must have slipped something in it, because she gets dizzy once they get to the motel room. She tries to unlock his phone when he goes into the bathroom, but her dizziness makes her lose focus. He exits the bathroom with a smile. She asks what he put in her drink. He claims it was just a little bit of alcohol, then starts trying to climb on top of her on the bed to wrestle the phone away from her. She yells as they struggle.

You Kuan and Chun Xiong are listening via Ke Wei’s phone. Upon hearing her yell, You Kuan immediately runs into the motel to try and save her. While he makes his way up to her room, Sam tries to pin Ke Wei to the bed. She continues to struggle but is weak from the alcohol (and maybe drugs too?)

You Kuan bursts into the room just in time to knock Sam out with a kick.

Meanwhile, Yao Qing is out with Director Liu, who has hired a bunch of escorts and is partying up. Liu broaches the topic of Yao Qing being CEO, saying he will support him. Yao Qing plays it cool and doesn’t directly acknowledge any CEO ambitions, but Liu tells the women around him to treat him well because he will be the future CEO of Dong Di Group.

The women ask him what kind of woman he likes. He responds that the woman he likes doesn’t drink. Or more accurately, she can’t drink, because she gets really scary when she’s drunk.

You Kuan’s finding out for himself just how scary that drunk/drugged woman can be. He tries to take Ke Wei home, but it’s like herding cats. She refuses to listen and goes her own way. He manages to convince her to get into his car instead of trying to call a taxi, but when he refuses to drive where she tells him, she unbuckles her seat belt and threatens to jump out.

Ming Fei keeps Mama Cheng company at home. She makes the mistake of reading online comments about herself, which only makes her sad. Mama Cheng notices and asks her if her father has said anything. Ming Fei says that her father doesn’t even care. But Mama Cheng knows otherwise. She says that perhaps he acts like he doesn’t care, but she knows that as a parent, he must be furious and worried for her. When Ming Fei was younger and would run away from home, Chairman Xu would always immediately call the Chengs to make sure she was safe.

Someone rings at the door. Ming Fei thinks that it must be You Kuan coming back. Mama Cheng says it probably isn’t, but her smile is hopeful. And falls when it’s just Ace and Xiao Mi, there to pick up Ming Fei. Ming Fei hugs Mama Cheng goodbye, saying, “Love you,” and heads out.

Ke Wei makes You Kuan take her to a remote bus stop along a winding mountain road. He’s exasperated, but after she waves for him to sit down so she can see cars coming down the road, he realizes why she brought him here. She’s car-watching, waiting for that one car that caused her parents’ car accident to drive down this same stretch of road again.

He tries to convince her to go home tonight, saying that he’ll come back with her some other day, but she refuses to budge. “Do you see how foolish you’re being?” he exclaims, grabbing her by the shoulders.

She sadly responds that she knows she seems foolish. Sometimes she thinks about giving up. But if even she forgets what happened, then who will remember? She says that You Kuan is the same as her, secretly looking for the car without telling her.

You Kuan sits back down next to her with a sigh, then promises her that even if she forgets about this ghost car, he will help her remember. Tears start to fall down Ke Wei’s face, but she shakes her head and says that the car isn’t a ghost. She knows it must exist somewhere in this world. She just hasn’t found it yet. The real ghosts are her parents, who are dead.

You Kuan gently tries to wipe her tears away with his hand, telling her to not cry anymore. He believes her.

She doesn’t stop crying, but she takes his hand and holds onto it, saying she finally understands why he cried that night she helped him save someone for the first time. It’s the feeling of finally finding someone who believes you after the rest of the world has told you that you’re wrong.

You Kuan says that she won’t have to wait on this mountain alone anymore. From now on, he’ll be by her side.

Another car passes by and You Kuan points it out, but Ke Wei isn’t looking. Her eyes close and she passes out on You Kuan’s shoulder, finally sound asleep. He stares at her sleeping face and leans in toward her, lips hovering over hers, but another pair of headlights coming down the mountain ruins the moment.

You Kuan takes Ke Wei back to his house and gently tucks her into his bed.

Yao Qing, slightly drunk after partying with Director Liu, decides to call Ke Wei on his walk home. To his surprise, You Kuan picks up, saying Ke Wei has already gone to bed.

Yao Qing ends up going to You Kuan’s house and pushes his way in when You Kuan opens the door, demanding a midnight snack. You Kuan sets him up with some ramen.

Yao Qing doesn’t like egg whites, so he gives his to You Kuan. You Kuan says that just because he doesn’t like egg yolks doesn’t mean he wants to eat Yao Qing’s leftover egg whites. How does he still have this bad habit? Yao Qing remarks that he forgot You Kuan used to always eat his egg whites for him. No wonder he’s been feeling so wasteful these days.

Yao Qing suddenly asks You Kuan if he remembers when they bought shoes together. Those pair of shoes almost ended up being the last shoes Yao Qing would wear in his life.

He tells You Kuan about how he struggled to make ends meet in college. He accidentally damaged a customer’s car when he worked as a valet, and the angry customer wanted him to pay for the repairs, which would have put him in a lot of debt. Yao Qing later found out that the repairs weren’t as expensive as he feared, but he had already decided he wanted to end his life and his mother’s in a murder-suicide on Lunar New Year’s Eve.

But right as he was about to poison his mother, Ke Wei suddenly showed up at his mother’s room. He didn’t know her well, but she said she was looking for him and came here because it was listed as his address and he wasn’t picking up his phone. She needed his help with an urgent situation.

She takes him to a restaurant, where the “urgent situation” is that the restaurant won’t seat her and her aunt unless they’re in a party of three. Her aunt made her go find a classmate so that they could eat a new year dinner.

The hostess comes looking for them, asking if their whole family is present. Ke Wei grabs Yao Qing’s arm and says, “Yes, we are a family!” She smiles and nods at him earnestly. Her aunt also warmly puts an arm around his shoulder and they herd him into the restaurant to eat dinner.

Yao Qing tells You Kuan that Ke Wei pulled him into her world. For every Lunar New Year after that, she and her aunt would always have him join them, like a real family.

You Kuan apologizes to Yao Qing, saying he didn’t realize that he and his mother had struggled so much afterward. But Yao Qing says he doesn’t need to apologize. It’s not his problem.

Yao Qing tells You Kuan that Ke Wei was the one to pull him out of darkness, yet now he sees her trapped in her own dark hole. He wishes he would do something to help. But You Kuan says that what Ke Wei needs isn’t someone to pull her out. Instead, she needs someone who is willing to go into that hole with her.

“Are you talking about yourself?” Yao Qing asks. Does he think that he and Ke Wei are the same? That because they each have their own dark holes, that they can help each other? How does You Kuan plan on getting out of that hole?

You Kuan responds that he wouldn’t jump into the hole with Ke Wei unless he thought there was a way out.

Yao Qing gets up and paces, saying he didn’t come here to argue. He acknowledges that he was wrong for blaming You Kuan for his mother’s condition. But he also won’t let anything happen to Ke Wei. How can You Kuan guarantee Ke Wei’s safety?

You Kuan admits that he had struggled before, but he also says that once he puts his mind to something, he will do his best to follow through. But for Yao Qing, You Kuan’s best isn’t enough. He wants a promise, a vow from You Kuan that he won’t let any harm come to Ke Wei.

But You Kuan can’t make that promise and doesn’t respond.

Yao Qing says that if You Kuan can’t guarantee Ke Wei’s safety, then he has no choice than to keep being his enemy.

The woman with the red heels enters Ming Fei’s apartment with a key card. She goes inside and finds Ming Fei sleeping on the couch. She gently touches Ming Fei’s cheek, then suddenly grips her face, waking her up.

“Who are you?” Ming Fei asks, staring up into the darkness.

The woman leans in closer, revealing her face, which is an exact mirror of Ming Fei’s. “I’m you, Fei Fei,” she says with a slightly crazed smile. Then she chokes Ming Fei and presses a cloth to her face until she passes out.

Oh boy, this show is really throwing as much drama at us as it can. To be fair, my initial reaction on finishing these episodes is always, “This show is such a mess.” But on rewatch, I can appreciate the nuances of the characters’ conversations a lot more, especially when it comes to Yao Qing, You Kuan, and Ke Wei.

Is this woman with the red heels a doppelganger? Obsessed fan who got plastic surgery? Long lost secret twin? Do we really need to throw an identity swap in here along with everything else?

We learned that Ming Fei grew up with You Kuan, and that his father worked for her father. I think it’s very likely that Chairman Xu had something to do with You Kuan’s father’s disappearance. There can only be so many villains before the plot becomes a tangled mess, right?

Can we talk about how You Kuan lives in a mansion? I know it doubles as an office, but where does he get the money for that? Is being a security firm really that lucrative? I suppose if all your clients are high paying celebrity CEOs like Ming Fei, it can be.

I’m glad that we got to see more of the dynamic between You Kuan and his mother. It definitely seems like a complicated relationship, and there’s an interesting parallel between his mother’s refusal to acknowledge his father’s death and Ke Wei’s stubborn holding onto this ghost car she believes exist. Both Ke Wei and Mama Cheng are holding onto their own ghosts, yet why is You Kuan so willing to believe Ke Wei but not his own mother? Perhaps because he’s afraid of having hope that his father is alive and not a victim of his dreams?

I like this brotherly rivalry between Yao Qing and You Kuan. They both clearly care about and prioritize Ke Wei, but have very different approaches about how best to do that. Yao Qing very much has a savior complex when it comes to Ke Wei, which is reasonable because he thinks that Ke Wei saved him and just wants to do the same. You Kuan also wants to return the favor that Ke Wei has done him, but his approach is more that of an equal and a supporter rather than a savior, and that demonstrates a better understanding of who Ke Wei is and what she needs.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s