What does Chic mean to Ai Sha? That’s the question she must ask and answer for herself this episode.
Marguerite goes to Chic for a surprise visit that she live streams on her channel. Before she gets there, Yuki clinches a key deal, and she and Vicky celebrate. Vicky says that Chic would really be lost without the two of them, and shoots Xiao An a dirty look. Xiao An glares back.
Marguerite arrives with coffee for all of the Chic employees, who quickly gather around and hug her. Ni Mo, a huge Marguerite fan, saw her live stream and peers into Chic, hoping to get some face time with the influencer. Vicky immediately senses him and acts as a bouncer, trying to drive him out. Their bickering draws the attention of Marguerite and the rest of the Chic employees.
Yuki accidentally bumps into them while bringing over some coffees to try and smooth over the situation. The collision drives Ni Mo into Vicky, and they somehow end up kissing. And it all gets captured on Marguerite’s live stream.
After work, Xiao An drops by Ye Xuan’s restaurant and tries to muster up the courage to go inside. She’s just about to open the door when Ye Xuan comes out. They’re both startled. She fumbles over an excuse for why she’s there, and Ye Xuan graciously invites her inside — he was just about to whip up some food with his leftover ingredients.
Xiao An watches Ye Xuan longingly while he makes her some soup to make her feel better. While she drinks the soup, he goes back to the kitchen counter, where he looks dejected while drinking a glass of wine. She asks him if he’s in a bad mood, then says that alcohol isn’t good for the body and he should try to drink less.
He nods and sighs, saying he knows that alcohol is bad for him and he should drink more soup instead, yet he still finds himself drinking wine, even though he’s only hurting himself. Why do people always seem drawn toward dangerous things? There’s an underlying meaning to his words, probably something about how he stubbornly likes Ai Sha even though he’s only hurting himself in the process.
He plates some vegetables, but accidentally drops the plate on the ground, shattering it. Xiao An jumps to check if he’s okay. He sharply tells her not to touch the broken pieces, then apologizes for his tone. He stands up and turns away.
Xiao An suddenly throws her arms around him, hugging him from behind, saying that she’s willing to take the place of whoever he’s thinking about. Will he let her take their place?
Ye Xuan takes Xiao An’s hands and turns himself out of her grasp. He continues to hold her hands while telling her that Ai Sha views her like a little sister and he does too. He hopes their relationship will never change.
She pulls her hands out of his and slowly backs away, then whispers “I’m sorry” before running away.
Ai Sha leaves work late and spots Jing Jing struggling with severe stomach pain in the kitchen on her way out. She silently finds her some medication and pours her a glass of water. Jing Jing sits on the couch to rest and ends up falling asleep. When she wakes up, Ai Sha is still there.
Seeing that Jing Jing is awake, Ai Sha starts to leave, but Jing Jing asks her to stay for a bit.
Jing Jing reminisces about the days when Chic was just a three-person startup: her, Ai Sha, and May. Back then, they would often work long hours, share late night eats, drink beer, sleep in the office, then wake up a few hours later and do it all over again.
But now that their office is bigger, their company larger and more successful, it feels like their relationship with each other has gotten worse. And Ai Sha’s employees have become more and more scared of her.
Ai Sha thinks about all the moments when her employees would act jumpy around her, but says that there’s nothing wrong with a little bit of fear. If they’re scared, that means they feel pressure. Pressure yields better performance, which means they company will make more money and everyone will get bonuses. Isn’t that a good thing?
“Don’t you feel lonely?” Jing Jing asks. Ai Sha doesn’t answer for a moment, then turns to look at her, saying, “Are you asking me, or are you asking yourself?”
Jing Jing looks down and smiles at that. She sighs and wonders when they became like this. When did they become rivals who couldn’t get along?
Ai Sha responds that they both know the reason why. Jing Jing asks if Ai Sha doesn’t give anyone the chance to make mistakes. She says that it depends on what kind of mistake. It seems like there’s a story there…
Jing Jing says that she’s thought about what would happen if only one of them could stay at Chic. She admits that she would want Ai Sha to be the one who stays. After all, she has clients who would follow her anywhere, and she could always find some business with them, but… Ai Sha finishes her sentence for her, saying, “You would never do unprofitable business.”
They share a smile. Jing Jing says that they’ve both sacrificed so much for Chic — or more accurately, for May, whom they’ve followed for so long. But was sacrificing their youth working for this small bit of success worth it? She doesn’t know. But until a winner is decided between them, she won’t give an inch.
Ai Sha nods and says, “Same.” She gives Jing Jing a small smile of sorts and stands up to leave. Before she goes, she tells Jing Jing to drink a little less.
Ai Sha glances at the Golden Man office as she waits for the elevator, then checks her phone, thinking of Fei Yang. He still hasn’t returned her calls.
Fei Yang gets a text from Steven, telling him that Ai Sha dropped by with some documents and asked him to return her calls. Then, he gets a phone call. He sighs before answering in a formal voice.
On her walk to work in the morning, Ai Sha finds herself thinking about Fei Yang and missing his presence, even with all the ridiculous things he would do. She pauses in front of the Golden Man office, but then walks past. The Golden Men arrive a few steps behind her, and Fei Yang pauses similarly and looks toward Chic, but at that point, Ai Sha is already gone.
Yuki and the other marketing employees try to convince Vicky to eat some strawberries and erase the memory, as well as make up for, the horrendous accidental kiss with Ni Mo. She makes them work for it, but eventually forgives them. When Ai Sha walks out of her office, they immediately snap to attention and run to their desks. But Ai Sha says that it’s not work hours yet so they should relax and finish their breakfasts. She walks past Xiao An, who has just arrived, and asks if she’s feeling better.
The marketing employees all stare at each other and seem even more scared by Ai Sha’s sudden lenience.
The Golden Men meet in the morning, and there’s a small bit where Xi Jun still can’t remember Sui Lin’s name even though she’s already worked with them for a year. Steven admits that he can’t remember her name either. But the point of the meeting is to confirm the acquisition plan. Is Fei Yang certain this time about moving forward with it?
May calls Ai Sha into her office with some big news. She’s found a big investor for Chic, but as part of the investment agreement, the investor want Ai Sha to sign a five-year contract with Chic. But Ai Sha is reluctant to sign and instead flips through the contract. Seeing her hesitation, May tries to push Ai Sha toward signing, trying tactics like asking if she trusts her, and saying that Jing Jing is getting the same contract as well. May reassures Ai Sha that once they clinch this deal, they’ll be able to do whatever they want and not have to work so hard anymore.
But Ai Sha continues to feel bothered by the contract. The five year term is too similar to what Fei Yang had said while negotiating with her. Could it just be a coincidence?
She runs into Fei Yang at the elevators on the way to lunch. He ignores her, and she does the same at first, but eventually approaches him and asks him about the document she gave Steven. But he acts like he doesn’t hear her. When the elevator arrives, he steps in and closes the doors without looking at her.
In the elevator, Fei Yang sighs and collapses against the back wall, remembering Ai Sha’s earlier words about acting like she’s invisible. He did what she asked, at least. He gets a text from Nan Cheng, asking to meet for dinner.
At night, Ai Sha contemplates the contract at home while drinking a beer. She lifts the overturned mug she had used to hide the shark charm Fei Yang gave her, and starts talking to it like it is Fei Yang. She wonders what he’s up to. When she asks him to leave her alone, he refuses to. But when she tries to talk to him, he acts like she’s not there.
Fei Yang is at dinner with Nan Cheng, who complains about Ai Sha always looking down on his investments. Fei Yang doesn’t say anything and just listens. He glances at his watch, seeming uninterested. Nan Cheng notices, and then claims that he works so hard for Ai Sha, in a way. Fei Yang humors him, asking what he means by that.
Nan Cheng sighs that Ai Sha has always worked so hard ever since she was little. She put herself through college while working at the same time, and she’s been the primary supporter of the family. Nan Cheng just wants to be able to relieve Ai Sha of some of the burden of caring for the family. He hopes to help her find a life partner. Fei Yang doesn’t look like he believes Nan Cheng, but he doesn’t say anything.
Nan Cheng switches the topic back to the subject of investment. He hopes to invest in his friends’ products and it would be so helpful if they could be put on Golden Man’s platform. After all, they’re all their own people, right?
Ai Sha asks shark-Fei Yang, “If you were me, would you sign the contract?” She imagines Fei Yang sitting across from her, asking her why she doesn’t want to sign the contract. Does she have other plans? Does not trust May? Does she want to go to Golden Man instead?
Imaginary Fei Yang tells her to sign. She should just treat it like deciding not to change jobs for five years. Most importantly, even if she doesn’t sign, Jing Jing definitely will sign. Ai Sha acknowledges that there’s a valid point there. If Jing Jing signs before her, it’ll make it seem like she cares more about Chic than Ai Sha.
The thought of Jing Jing signing and May’s earlier words about not having to compromise anymore once they have the money from the investor spur Ai Sha into action. She signs the contract.
The next day, Zhen Zhen is in the parking garage when she overhears May talking on the phone about finalizing an agreement for transferring ownership of the company. She pretends to sweep behind May to eavesdrop more. May doesn’t notice her.
Ai Sha and Jing Jing are both in the restroom when Jing Jing congratulates her on acting so quickly. Ai Sha thinks that she’s talking about the five year contract May had her sign, but Jing Jing doesn’t know anything about a contract. She was talking about the plan Ai Sha sent to Golden Man, which is already being executed. “Didn’t May give you a five year contract?” Ai Sha asks. Jing Jing looks confused.
But they’re interrupted by Zhen Zhen who rushes in to find Ai Sha and drags her off to talk privately. In the stairwell, she tells Ai Sha about overhearing May talking about selling the company. She noted down the time and location of the contract negotiation, and gives the information to Ai Sha.
Ai Sha rushes to the private restaurant, pushing past the host and opening doors to private rooms in search of May. She finally finds May talking to none other than Fei Yang.
Ai Sha is stunned, and wants an explanation right then and there, but May orders her to go back to the company in a stern voice.
The moment they get into May’s office, Ai Sha yells at May, demanding to know why she was with Fei Yang, why she’s selling the company, and why Jing Jing didn’t get a five year contract. May reminds Ai Sha that she is the one who owns Chic and she decides what to do with it. She’s tired. She wants to take her money and reap the profits of Chic and leave it behind.
She blames Ai Sha for making things worse for her. If not for the trouble Ai Sha caused Chic in the media, May would have been able to finalize a deal months ago, at a much better price as well.
Ai Sha is furious, realizing that May told her to apologize to the My Way CEO just so she could sell Chic for a higher price. May tries to say that Ai Sha should’ve done it anyway to clean up the mess she made, but Ai Sha angrily responds that she did it for Chic. “And I’m not?” May responds. Ai Sha tells her she isn’t this for Chic — she’s doing this for herself.
May admits that Ai Sha had to sign the five year contract because that was one of the terms of the sale. “You used me as a bargaining chip?” Ai Sha exclaims. But May says that every employee of Chic is company property. Besides, Ai Sha is someone that May personally groomed. Without May, Ai Sha wouldn’t be successful.
May mockingly applauds Ai Sha, telling her that she’s worth something now. This is May’s payout for her years of investment in Ai Sha. May exasperatedly asks Ai Sha whether she’s getting a bad deal out of this. The arrangement only benefits Ai Sha. She’ll have no change in salary or title. The only difference will be who her boss is and the team she works with.
Ai Sha tells May that she’s changed. Only now does she realize that to May, every person and every thing has a price tag attached to it. What about the dreams they talked about?
May just laughs, saying that dreams can’t feed you. Ai Sha would realize that if she were in her shoes, having to go around begging to borrow money just to pay salaries and keep their balance sheet in the green.
She moves as if to put her hands on Ai Sha’s shoulders, but then doesn’t at the last minute, instead letting her hands drop to her sides. She tells Ai Sha that they’ve been going different directions for a long time. She just realized it before Ai Sha did. One day, when Ai Sha becomes responsible for a company, she will be like her and put a price to everything.
Ai Sha just shakes her head with a sad smile. “I always knew you were practical,” she says, “I just never realized you were this selfish.”
She storms out of the office without a backward glance. Jing Jing watches after her with worry.
Ai Sha stands on the rooftop, where Fei Yang joins her. “Looking for me?” he asks.
She has three questions for him: Why Chic? Why her? And why use such an underhanded method?
He looks at her and says that he told her from the beginning: what he wanted was her. Golden Man has succeeded in such a short time because Fei Yang acquired and merged together smaller platforms, as well as any companies he thought would become a threat. Ai Sha should know better than anyone that talent is what drives success. When he heard that May was courting buyers half a year ago, he knew that Chic was the missing piece that would drive Golden Man to greater success.
He knew that no matter what method he used, Golden Man needed to have Ai Sha. Ai Sha is the only one who can help him achieve his goals. That’s why he moved offices to be near her.
But why did he wait until now to act? She asks.
He admits that he didn’t want to make her unhappy. He wanted her to willingly join his team. He was waiting for her to say yes. He doesn’t know how May convinced her to sign the contract, but he didn’t want to hurt her.
Ai Sha says that May had also said sincere and touching words when she convinced her. He and May are the same: they both lie for personal profit. They both disgust her.
She starts to leave but he hurries to intercept her. “I’m not the kind of person you think I am,” he says. He holds up her contract, then rips it in half.
His plan was to acquire Chic and Du Ai Sha, and that plan was always under control. The only thing he didn’t plan on was liking her.
“I’m sorry for hurting you,” he says, handing her the torn pieces of her contract.
Ai Sha wanders the streets afterward instead of returning to the office. She thinks back on May’s words about how her dreams succumbed to reality, to Jing Jing’s question of whether sacrificing their youth for this company was worth it, to all the sacrifices she made for the company, believing it to be her dream. She finds herself at a literal crossroads in the middle of an intersection. And then she finally picks a direction and commits to it.
The next morning, the marketing employees are all tired and dejected from worrying all night about May suddenly selling the company. But Vicky isn’t worried. The acquisition just means that they’ll have a new boss and new coworkers. She’s excited to have new handsome male coworkers and a handsome new boss.
Jing Jing rushes to catch up with May on her way into the office in the morning. She asks if May really plans on announcing the acquisition already — there’s a press conference planned for the afternoon. May says that the contract is signed so publicizing the acquisition is the smart thing to do, especially because they haven’t received the money yet. This way, Golden Man can’t back out so easily.
Jing Jing asks about Ai Sha. May sighs and asks Jing Jing to help persuade Ai Sha. They both know how she can be. Jing Jing tries to defend Ai Sha slightly, saying that she’s probably upset because May once promised her that she would be a partner in the firm. May responds that she’s also told Jing Jing that, but Jing Jing isn’t throwing a tantrum, is she? Jing Jing tries to laugh it off, saying she didn’t take those words to heart. She says some sugary words about how she’s grateful that May took a chance on her and gave her all these opportunities; she doesn’t dare to want more.
May coos and says that Jing Jing knows how to say the right words. She’s smarter than Ai Sha; no wonder men like her more. Jing Jing pastes on a smile and says that May is flattering her too much, but once May walks ahead, her smile turns into a frown.
Yuki speculates about layoffs after the merger, but Vicky isn’t worried. She knows her own worth, unlike some people who rely on their body and their connections, she adds with a pointed glance toward Xiao An.
Yuki tries to tell Vicky to not say things like that, but Vicky doesn’t back down. Yuki was the one who saw Xiao An and Ye Xuan hooking up in the break room during the promo event, and they all know that Xiao An frequently goes to Ye Xuan’s restaurant. It doesn’t take a genius to know what’s going on. Vicky tells Xiao An that everyone knows who Ye Xuan really likes and warns her not to be so shameless or else karma will catch up to her.
Xiao An shakes with anger and she starts to bring up the scissors in her hand, as if she wants to use them on someone…
But May and Jing Jing arrive, defusing the situation. May acts sentimental, saying she feels like she’s sending off her children. All the women except Xiao An huddle around her and she coos and hugs them. Xiao An watches with a frown. Jing Jing smiles cynically and looks away.
Xiao An goes to find May before the big press conference. She tries to come up with the courage to bring up the promotion that May mentioned last time, but struggles to get a word in and instead ends up letting May talk over her.
Fei Yang broods at home before the press conference, thinking about everything Ai Sha has said to him before about working with him. He stares at her location pin on his projector screen and asks out loud, “Du Ai Sha, what will you do?”
The press conference is about to start, but Ai Sha still hasn’t shown up and is unreachable. They start without her. At the conference, May is forced to answer some uncomfortable questions, like whether she sold Chic to make up for a bad foreign investment, and where Du Ai Sha is.
Ai Sha puts on her power outfit and face — the same outfit she wore to ruin My Way’s launch in the first episode — and walks into the press conference right as May is waffling about Ai Sha’s whereabouts. She makes her way to the front, where May immediately fawns over her and takes her hand. But Ai Sha tears her hand out of May’s grasp.
“I’m resigning,” she says, “I want to be my own boss.”
Fei Yang looks at her with a thoughtful smile.
Yes! I am all about this! To be honest, last episode was one of the less interesting ones to me. It felt like a lot of set up and not a lot of action. But I am all about this episode.
I loved seeing the quiet camaraderie between Ai Sha and Jing Jing. They are perhaps more similar than they are different. They have similar goals and have similarly been used by May; it’s just their approaches to business that are different. They often butt heads at work when other people are around, and it seems like there’s some bigger backstory around why they don’t get along, but it’s also clear that they have a firm mutual understanding and respect for each other. Ai Sha listened to Jing Jing and made an effort to try and be a little nicer to her employees, though that just seemed to scare them more. And Jing Jing clearly looked bothered with the way May talked about and treated Ai Sha.
I wish we could get more context for Fei Yang identifying Ai Sha as someone he needed, but it seems like this story is the best we’re going to get. Still, it’s kind of sweet (and tropey, but in the best way) that everything was according to plan except for his feelings for her. But it also makes sense to not try and force Ai Sha into employment, whether he actually cares for her or not. An unhappy employee, no matter how talented, is not going to help make a company successful.
Poor Xiao An. It seems like she kept her mouth shut because she believed that May would reward her, but now it’s pretty clear that May is very manipulative and insincere. How will this affect Xiao An’s perspective on the business world? Will she be more like Ai Sha, or learn from May?
May’s snake-like behavior also isn’t a surprise. We knew from the beginning that she wanted to reap all the benefits of the company without actually doing any of the work to make the company successful. It does sound like she had to going around courting investors, but the bulk of Chic’s success came from Jing Jing and Ai Sha. May has always played the two women off of each other and has seemed to stoke their rivalry. Perhaps she is the reason why their relationship soured? So it’s not really a surprise that she would essentially trick Ai Sha into a binding contract and manipulate her with some faux-sincere words.