I started watching Someday or One Day (想見你) with high expectations and a lot of anticipation and it didn’t disappoint. It is beautiful, poignant, and has a little bit of everything. It is an epic, beautiful love story, a mystery, a sci-fi/fantasy time travel story, all framed around a school/youth drama. Plus, it’s short with only thirteen hour-long episodes and easily bingeable!
Huang Yu Xuan (Alice Ke) is a PM at a tech company in 2019 who is still grieving her boyfriend, Wang Quan Sheng (Greg Hsu), who died two years ago. But she holds onto hope that he’s alive and her desperation to see him again leads her to discover that they each have a doppelganger, Chen Yun Ru and Li Zi Wei, who knew each other as high school classmates in 1998. And then one day, she finds herself transported into Yun Ru’s life in 1998 and she begins to unravel the mystery surrounding how her life is inexplicably intertwined with that of her doppelganger’s.
There’s a lot more to the story that I can’t really get into without giving too much away! I won’t dive too deep into spoilers in this review, but the points I want to discuss that involve spoilers will all be at the end with a spoiler warning.
Someday or One Day has excellent pacing and engaging plot. Each episode kept me engaged and left me with so many thoughts and feelings. For an episode-by-episode glimpse into what was racing through my mind, check out my full episode recaps! But what really won me over was the tonally brilliant execution and presentation of the characters and their stories.
The opening theme, “Someday or One Day” by Shi Shi, really sets the tone for the whole show. The first episode opens with Alice Ke’s character narrating how a song can be like a time machine. Just hearing it can transport you to a different time, a memory, or a person. For me, hearing the soundtrack for this show brings back all the memories and feels for the characters of this show. The song feels like nostalgia tinged with sadness, but also full of hope, which perfectly describes this drama.
The show starts with Yu Xuan still struggling to accept the death of her boyfriend, Wang Quan Sheng. Scenes of her in present day 2019 are interspersed with memories of moments they experienced in their relationship. I was immediately sucked in by the complex mix of hope, grief, and guilt that she felt. The happy memories were so romantic and so sweet, yet also emphasized how empty and alone Yu Xuan’s life was without Quan Sheng. All of it tugged hard at my heartstrings.
Having someone be so close but so far away is a recurring theme of the drama and the characters’ relationships. Chen Yun Ru, Yu Xuan’s 1998 doppelganger, has a crush on Li Zi Wei. And though she starts to become something like friends with him, she also suffers deeply from depression and a feeling of disconnect with the world around her that creates a social distance between her and everyone else that she struggles to shrink. Similarly, Li Zi Wei’s best friend, Mo Jun Jie, has a crush on Chen Yun Ru. He feels a kindred connection with her, but he’s also kept at a distance by her.
And of course, the most painful example of being so close but so far away is when Yu Xuan travels back to 1998 to become Yun Ru. Li Zi Wei reminds her of her boyfriend in looks and demeanor, yet he so clearly is not Wang Quan Sheng. He’s just a painful reminder of the person that she really wants to see.
The time travel aspect of the show is overall rather well done. Time travel is a tricky concept to try and deal with in a plot, because there are always going to be things that don’t quite make sense. In Someday or One Day, I really liked that the lines are blurred between dream and reality. The time travel isn’t jarring, but instead seem like memories or dreams that might be real or might not be real. I liked the concept of Yu Xuan taking over Yun Ru’s identity — essentially becoming her — when she traveled. Which begs the question of what happens to Yun Ru when Yu Xuan is there?
I can’t talk about that without going into spoilers, so the rest of this post will be a spoiler-heavy review and reflection of the plot and execution.
Warning: There may be some spoilers below!
Most of the drama, Yu Xuan and the main plot, are focused on two questions: how is Wang Quan Sheng connected to Li Zi Wei, and who kills Chen Yun Ru? But there are a lot of unasked questions that should be asked that get answered in the finale. Such as, what happens to Yun Ru when Yu Xuan takes over her identity? Is Yu Xuan upending Yun Ru’s life and making her into a different person a good thing?
And in the end, the answer to all the questions is that this whole epic time-traveling, mysterious, murderous, romantic love story of a journey is a chicken and egg problem. There is no real start and no real end. It all happens because Yu Xuan loved and lost Quan Sheng, and in order to see him again, she goes back in time, where she meets Li Zi Wei and he falls in love with her, a woman from the future, and goes to the future to find her, becoming the Quan Sheng that she loved and lost and setting the whole cycle into motion again…
And the fact that there is this mentally ill, murderous attacker from the future who can also time travel is largely irrelevant. He’s a very large, very villainous, red herring of an antagonist in Yu Xuan and Zi Wei’s love story. There isn’t a real antagonist. Perhaps time travel itself is the antagonist. If not for this mysterious time traveling capability, there would be no attempted murder or psycho killer from the future. There would be no Yu Xuan in Yun Ru’s life.
If anything, Yu Xuan may be the antagonist in her own love story, the person whose presence ensures that she and Zi Wei can never have a happy ending. I love that the drama makes it seem at first like Yu Xuan replacing Yun Ru is a good thing. The people around her are happier and she becomes well-liked. But ultimately, Yu Xuan realizes that erasing herself from Yun Ru’s past and future is the best thing that could happen to Yun Ru.
Yu Xuan’s existence makes Yun Ru think she has to be a different person in order to be happy, and her inability to be that person only makes her more depressed. I thought the scene in which she explains her feelings to Mo Jun Jie while begging her to kill him was a dark, but very real depiction of what it’s like to battle depression. Everyone around Yun Ru fails her because none of them understand her. Yu Xuan fails the first time to save Chen Yun Ru because she doesn’t try to understand her and fails to understand her. It’s only the second time around that both Yu Xuan and Yun Ru understand that Yun Ru doesn’t need to be like her to be happy. It’s okay to just be herself.
There are some problems that never really get resolved. For example, what happens to the real Wang Quan Sheng if Yu Xuan never travels in time? It seems so sad that we’re introduced to his story but never given a resolution, but I’m sure he could get a whole drama series on his own. (Good opportunity for a spin-off?)
But the ending of this drama fits the whole tone of the show. It’s nostalgic, tinged with sadness, but also full of hope. Yu Xuan choosing to erase the future she knows and end her and Zi Wei’s love story doesn’t mean it’s all over. It’s just a chance for them to find a new beginning.