Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: Lost Romance (Ep. 5)

Living in Ao Ran’s house gives Xiao En more opportunities than ever to rewrite the story in her favor, with a little help from Qing Feng. In the real world, Ming Li realizes that holding onto power isn’t easy, and Tian Jian is forced to step up.

Recap

Xiao En woefully prepares a bowl of plain ramen to eat for breakfast, sighing that the next person to invite her out to eat, she’ll call “Dad.”

She’s just about to take a bite of her ramen when she gets a phone call. She picks up grumpily, then her face lights up and she exclaims, “Dad!”

Qing Feng invites Xiao En out to a restaurant for lunch. He’s surprised by how voracious her appetite is and asks if Ao Ran fed her breakfast. She’s still a bit grumpy that he stole her breakfast, but also recognizes that she misjudged him.

She asks Qing Feng why he invited her out and guesses that he wanted to vent about seeing Chu Chu be nice to Ao Ran, or Ao Ran be nice to Chu Chu, or both. But Qing Feng doesn’t admit to it, so Xiao En is happy to talk about her own problems instead.

She asks him if there’s anything that Ao Ran doesn’t eat. Qing Feng responds that he won’t eat anything that has gua in its name (melon/squash). Xiao En tries another tactic. Is there anything that he’s allergic to? Qing Feng asks if she’s trying to poison Ao Ran. She claims she’s just doing job-related research. He reminds her that she’s there to reconcile with Ao Ran, not antagonize him.

The reminder works. Xiao En almost forgot that she was in a romance, not a story of palace intrigue. If she kills the emperor, then there’s no act left to play.

She asks Qing Feng another question: why does Ao Ran forbid turning off the lights? Qing Feng hesitates, then says that it’s not his secret to tell. He warns Xiao En to never turn off the lights. She nods flippantly in response, and he emphasizes his point. This isn’t something she should use to mess around with Ao Ran.

Qing Feng takes out his wallet to pay, thinking that they’re done eating, but Xiao En turns around and orders another 8-ounce steak. Qing Feng smiles to himself and puts his wallet away.

In the real world, some Tian Liang Group workers go on strike, protesting issues that they say never came up when He Tian Xing was CEO. Ming Li is irritated with the situation, and asks how these things used to be handled. Uncle Hu responds that Tian Liang has never had to deal with a strike before.

Ming Li takes the situation personally, thinking that the workers are trying to antagonize her. She’ll take this opportunity to put them in their place. She orders Qiao Zhi to contact reporters with the story that the striking workers are greedy and demanding three months’ bonus pay for no reason.

Tian Jian is skeptical that people will believe Ming Li’s story and doesn’t think this is the right response to the strike. Shouldn’t they at least try to listen to the workers’ demands? But Ming Li again asks him whose side he stands on. She believes that someone instigated the strike to try and cause trouble for her, and also doesn’t want to give in to worker demands. What’s next, three-ply toilet paper?

Ming Li knows that everyone is watching her next step. This is her first test as chairman. If she acquiesces now, she fears that it will encourage more people to try and extort money from her. She wants to warn everyone that they shouldn’t make an enemy of her.

Tian Jian looks exasperated. Uncle Hu smiles.

After the meeting, Uncle Hu catches Tian Jian so lost in thought that he lets the elevator doors open and close without getting in. Tian Jian asks Uncle Hu if he agrees with Ming Li that someone might be trying to cause trouble from within the company. Hu points out that Tian Xing is still in the hospital. Tian Jian then asks if Uncle Hu knows of any other way to settle with the striking workers. He doesn’t think his sister’s approach is the right one. But before Uncle Hu can respond, Tian Jian gets a call from Chu Chu. When he finds her in the office lobby, she looks worried.

At the end of the work day, Qing Feng asks Ao Ran if he wants to go out for dinner together. He notices Chu Chu’s thoughtfully-folded cookie box, still on Ao Ran’s desk. But to his surprise, Ao Ran smiles and says that he’s going home for dinner today. There’s something surprisingly interesting at home. Before he heads out, Ao Ran asks Qing Feng for a favor: can he not go on the upcoming work trip?

Chu Chu is stunned when Su Shan tells her that she will be accompanying the CEO on his upcoming work trip. She keeps asking why and says that she doesn’t seem qualified enough to go. Su Shan and Qiu Tian both roll their eyes. Qiu Tian mutters through gritted teeth that everyone knows she doesn’t have the qualifications. Su Shan and Qiu Tian are even more annoyed by how obliviously peppy and thankful Chu Chu is about the whole thing.

After she leaves, they sigh and wonder if there is any fairness in this world. Qiu Tian suddenly has a thought: is this all because of the cookie? Is it too late for her to sign up for a cooking class?

Xiao En prepares dinner, annoyed that Ao Ran is so promptly at home from work and watching her. He hovers nearby, tastes her 8-minute pasta and criticizes its done-ness, then makes her overcook her roasted chicken. She finally forces him out of the kitchen, demanding space.

When dinner is ready, Xiao En lays out the plates in front of Ao Ran, then starts to sit down. He fixates her with a look, and she slowly gets back up, then stands at attention next to him while he eats. Internally, she wonders if this is what her life will be like from now on. She vows to eat everything in Ao Ran’s fridge when he goes to sleep.

After dinner, Ao Ran surprises Xiao En by giving her the next day off. She asks him what he’s up to, but he says that it’s not her place to ask such questions. Xiao En sees him looking at a box on the table and her eyes widen as she recognizes another cookie gift box from Chu Chu. She guesses that Chu Chu is the reason for whatever he’s doing tomorrow and asks the universe to give her a sign if she’s right. On cue, there’s a sudden burst of thunder.

Xiao En calls Qing Feng to ask him about Ao Ran’s work trip and why he’s not going along. Even if Ao Ran asked him not to go, he should have insisted. Qing Feng says he’ll keep it in mind for next time, but Xiao En says that next time will be too late.

The doorbell rings and Xiao En goes to answer it. On her way downstairs, she sees Ao Ran sitting in his chair, not moving to go get the door. But then he gets a text from Su Shan, saying that there’s a problem with the contract he’s supposed to sign tomorrow and she’s sent Chu Chu over with the document.

Ao Ran rushes to stop Xiao En, and they end up very close together, pressed up against the wall just inside the front door. Ao Ran tells her to “go back to the room,” which she interprets as “let’s” go back to his room. But instead he tells her to go back to her room by herself and to not make a sound.

Xiao En guesses that Chu Chu is here. He thinks she’s psychic. The doorbell rings again and Xiao En starts to shout, “Coming,” but Ao Ran clamps a hand over her mouth to silence her. She glares at him. He removes his hand once she promises not to shout.

Xiao En says that she’ll go back to her room under one condition. He’s initially resistant, but she threatens to reveal herself to Chu Chu and accuse Ao Ran of harassment. She tells Ao Ran to let her eat with him. He’s surprised that her condition is so simple. Before he can say or do anything else, she opens the door, hiding behind it. Ao Ran is too late to stop her, but his look of alarm shifts into a soft smile when he sees Chu Chu, drenched, on the other side.

Ao Ran brings Chu Chu inside, somehow avoiding Xiao En. When he goes upstairs to get Chu Chu a towel, he finds Xiao En hiding on the first landing. She hands him the towel, ignoring his glare, then continues to spy on him and Chu Chu.

Chu Chu sneezes. Ao Ran offers to let her shower and to find her some dry clothes. While she’s showering, Xiao En graciously brings Ao Ran a hair dryer then only half-sarcastically offers to vacate the premises so that they can spend a romantic night together. He tells her to stop messing around, then asks her to find some clothes of hers that will fit Chu Chu. Xiao En points out that it’d be more suspicious if he happened to have women’s clothes lying around, so he brings her to his bedroom so she can pick something from his closet that will work for Chu Chu.

Xiao En takes the opportunity to fully explore Ao Ran’s closet, but soon realizes that anything in there will make Chu Chu look adorable and seductive. Why is she even helping Ao Ran try and get the girl? She asks Ao Ran if he has any beige sweatpants, but he responds that his closet doesn’t have such tasteless clothes.

Ao Ran drags Xiao En to the kitchen, where he insists she make some ginger soup for Chu Chu. She says that it’s impossible because he’s banned her from buying ginger. He gives her a look and she sighs and digs out some ginger she had wrapped and hidden in the fridge. He tries to help her out by grabbing a pot, but she tells him to stop trying to help if he wants her to make soup.

The soup is just about done when they hear Chu Chu come out of the bathroom, looking for Ao Ran. Ao Ran shoves Xiao En under the counter and blocks her with his body. She crawls away and through a door at the back of the kitchen.

Ao Ran eyes Chu Chu’s clothes, which are quite shapeless, with some skepticism, then glares back at where Xiao En is hiding. When she pokes her head through the door with a smug smile, he jumps to hide her from Chu Chu’s sight.

Chu Chu praises Ao Ran’s cooking abilities and he pulls out his laptop as they sit down at his dinner table. Ao Ran says that they can wait here until Chu Chu’s clothes finish drying. Xiao En looks disgruntled at the thought of being stuck in her hiding spot for so long, and lets out a very un-cat-like meow.

It seems to convince Chu Chu though, because her face lights up and she asks if Ao Ran has a cat. He scrambles for an excuse and claims that it’s probably the neighbor’s, which Chu Chu also believes. He glares at Xiao En, who smiles innocently back.

Chu Chu leans in toward Ao Ran’s laptop screen and asks if everything looks okay. He seems charmed by her sudden proximity. Xiao En notices with a frown and lets out a high-pitched cough. Ao Ran starts coughing to cover up the sound of her cough, ruining the moment. He glares at Xiao En again while Chu Chu gets up to spoon him a bowl of soup. Xiao En smiles back and makes finger hearts at him, then slips back into the room she’s hiding in, which happens to be the laundry room. She begs the laundry machine to wash faster.

In the real world, Tian Jian leaves the office at night to find the group of weary strikers sitting on the sidewalk outside. He asks Uncle Hu for advice on how to deal with the strikers. He doesn’t mind if it means doing something Ming Li won’t like. He thinks that Ming Li won’t be able to stay angry at him.

Uncle Hu suggests that what the strikers want is someone in management to listen to them. Before, Tian Xing acted as that bridge and listened to the workers’ concerns. But being that person isn’t easy. Uncle Hu encourages Tian Jian to step into that role. Tian Jian laughs skeptically, thinking that he can’t do it.

Ming Li returns home to find her mother arranging flowers because she has nothing else to do. Her mother asks where Tian Jian is. Ming Li says he’s probably off partying again. Then her mother brings up the matter of the strike, saying that Ming Li has to take care of it. Ming Li tells her to go back to focusing on her flowers, clearly not wanting her input on company business.

But when her mother says that she should take care of the strikers for Tian Jian, because the company will be Tian Jian’s one day, Ming Li suddenly snaps to attention and frowns. Her mother says that as the only other son of the Tian family, it’s natural that Tian Jian will be the one to take over. There isn’t anyone else. Isn’t Ming Li just paving the way for him? Her mother frowns, suddenly concerned that there might be someone else who might try to steal the company from Tian Jian. She tells Ming Li to protect the chairman role for Tian Jian. It’s her duty as his older sister. Ming Li storms out angrily.

Xiao En spies on Ao Ran and Chu Chu as Ao Ran signs the new copy of the contract. He offers to send Chu Chu home. Xiao En glares lasers as she wills Chu Chu to reject him. She does, but Ao Ran insists. Xiao En frowns to herself. She has to intervene, otherwise Ao Ran and Chu Chu’s relationship will progress too much.

She follows as Ao Ran and Chu Chu go to the garage, where Ao Ran’s car conveniently seems to be missing its windshield wipers. He tries to call a cab for Chu Chu, but can’t connect. Chu Chu offers to walk home instead, which is obviously a no-go. Xiao En is worried that Ao Ran will offer for Chu Chu to stay the night when a car drives up: Qing Feng. She thanks her “Supreme Master” Qing Feng for finally showing up.

(Side note: Xiao En started jokingly referring to Qing Feng as her “Supreme Master” last episode. The title is likely a parody/reference to Supreme Master Ching Hai, the leader of a religious cult based out of Taiwan.)

Qing Feng offers to send Chu Chu home, citing that this is a work-related matter, and they drive off. Xiao En smiles, pleased with herself, and cheerfully goes back upstairs. The electricity in the house suddenly cuts out, and Xiao En praises herself for thwarting this plot point. Clearly, Chu Chu was meant to stay and spend this dark night with Ao Ran.

She suddenly hears a loud sound and turns to find Ao Ran standing in the dark. Xiao En turns on her phone light. Ao Ran tells her to go figure out what happened. She reassures him that a circuit breaker was probably tripped and that with her skills as an electrician/plumber, it’ll be fixed in no time. She starts to head downstairs, but he grabs her by the hem of her shirt to stop her.

Ao Ran says that he needs to make sure she’s not just all talk, and insists on going with her. She tries to get him to let go of her shirt, but his grip doesn’t loosen, so she just shrugs and goes downstairs with him following close behind. He hovers close to her while she inspects the circuit breaker. Xiao En tells him there’s good and bad news. The good news is that the circuit breaker wasn’t tripped. The bad news is that there’s an actual power outage.

She reassures him that she’ll light a candle so he can go to sleep, but he snaps that it won’t work. She asks why he’s angry. He says he’s not. She tries to guess what sort of childhood trauma he had until he makes her stop. They stand in a brief moment of awkward silence and darkness for a moment, neither of them moving, before Xiao En says that if there’s nothing else, then she’s going to go make food. She’s hungry.

Ao Ran continues to hover near Xiao En as she cooks. He seems to want to be helpful, grabbing things as she needs them, but ends up just getting in the way.

Xiao En grabs a beer and sits down to eat the fried chicken she made for herself, trying to ignore Ao Ran, who just sits there and watches her. When she looks at him, trying to catch him watching her, he looks away. She gets up, saying she wants to get some ice, but really it’s just a way for her to catch him in the act of stealing a piece of chicken.

They bicker over the chicken and Ao Ran tries to steal more, but she slaps his hand away and then grabs the whole dish and turns so he can’t reach it.

After Xiao En is done eating, Ao Ran makes her shine her phone light into the bathroom through a crack in the door while he showers, then shine her phone light on him by his bedside while he tries to fall asleep. He calls her out whenever she gets tired and her arm starts to slip. She finally gets frustrated and orders him to fall asleep.

She sits down next to the bed and starts nodding off, but Ao Ran keeps calling her name and then saying, “Nothing,” when she responds. After the third time, she gets exasperated and asks if he needs her to tell him a bedtime story in order to fall asleep. He nods and turns toward her, and she starts telling a story which is basically this current story, of a cruel boss who won’t let his housekeeper go to sleep on a dark, electricity-less night. Ao Ran doesn’t like this story and tells her to tell a different one.

She starts telling a three-sentence version of Cinderella. He doesn’t like it. She tells a tl;dr version of Murder on the Orient Express, then tries to go to sleep on the side of his bed, but he makes her tell him another story. She begs him to let her sleep. She puts her head down on the edge of his bed. He whispers her name again, which sets her off again in an exasperated outburst.

Ao Ran crosses his arms and pouts, then finally says that she has to promise she won’t leave him. She’s not allowed to sneak away when he’s fallen asleep. If she does, the condition he agreed to earlier is off the table. He points a finger at her. He’s taken aback when she grabs his finger, then sleepily puts her head down on his bed and promises not to leave, not even in her dreams.

Ao Ran finally allows himself to relax a little bit. When Xiao En fully falls asleep and her hand slips from around his, he grabs her hand instead.

Xiao En wakes up the next morning, sore from her awkward sleeping position. The bed is empty and she grumbles that Ao Ran really has no conscience, letting her sleep all night like this when his bed is so big. Ao Ran comes back into his room, fully dressed, and orders her to make breakfast. One with a conscience. She forces a smile and says that she’ll make breakfast with a conscience, coming right up.

When he’s gone, she notices the blanket on the ground, which had been wrapped around her when she woke up. She didn’t remember putting on a blanket last night. She dreamily imagines Ao Ran romantically wrapping the blanket around her while she slept, then quickly brushes the thought away. The more likely story is that she stole the blanket from him while he slept.

Xiao En sits down to eat breakfast with Ao Ran. They keep running into each other trying to grab food from the same dishes. Xiao En grabs a piece of pickled cucumber, warning Ao Ran that she won’t let him steal her food just because he’s glaring at her. He grabs the food from between her chopsticks, eats it with a smirk, and says that all of the food on the table belongs to him.

They make a battle of fighting over dishes and competing to see who can get the food first. It only ends when Ao Ran gets up to head to the office with his luggage and a smirk.

Su Shan and Qiu Tian give Chu Chu some final instructions for her upcoming work trip. She gets a call from Ao Ran saying he’s outside waiting, and she heads out. After she’s gone, Su Shan and Qiu Tian fume over how they perceived her to be casually showing off her relationship with Ao Ran. But they tell each other that they can’t be envious. The moment they admit to their envy, they’ve lost.

Xiao En arrives at the office and finds them singing about how much they won’t let themselves give into envy. They’re delighted to see her and invite her up to the office to chat. Xiao En lies about her new job to them, saying that she’s a nanny to a little boy who is terrible to work with. They sympathize with how far she’s fallen.

Xiao En casually asks where Chu Chu is, and they tell her about how Chu Chu is with Ao Ran at a hot spring resort that he’s thinking about signing a contract with. They will both get to experience everything the resort has to offer before Ao Ran makes a decision on the contract. Xiao En tries to tell herself that this trip is purely professional, but can’t help but crumple the resort’s pamphlet in her hands as she thinks about how much quality time Chu Chu and Ao Ran will be spending together.

Qiao Zhi reports to Ming Li that Tian Jian is outside speaking with the strikers. The workers complain to Tian Jian about how overworked they are while Chu Chu looks on, nodding sympathetically. Tian Jian seems to hear them and promises to speak with Ming Li.

Ming Li comes outside and confronts him. Tian Jian says he’ll report his findings later, but she says there’s no need. She fires all the strikers and tells Qiao Zhi to prepare to recruit new people tomorrow. Tian Jian looks stunned.

Commentary

I am loving how Xiao En’s presence makes the rest of the storybook characters seem like multi-faceted people instead of one-dimensional archetypes. I watched an interview with the cast where they were talking about that, and Marcus Chang mentioned how when he was discussing Si Tu Ao Ran’s character with the director, the director specifically told him that Ao Ran’s only personality trait is his looks. At least, to start. It’s clear that more of a real personality comes out of Ao Ran when Xiao En gets involved.

The real world is not nearly as amusing as the storybook world, but the few scenes we saw this episode shed a little more light on some of the characters and motivations.

I don’t agree with Ming Li’s methods, but I do feel for where she comes from. She’s a woman trying to make it in a predominantly man’s world, which is perhaps why she is so insistent on handling the strikers with an iron fist. Maybe she’s afraid that any sort of compromise will be viewed as a weakness that is attributed to her being a woman? It doesn’t help that even her own mother doesn’t recognize her as a true candidate for leading the company. I don’t think any of that excuses her attempted murder, but at the very least it does give her a little more depth.

It seems like Uncle Hu is plotting behind the scenes for his own takeover, and likely has some hand behind the strike. Pitting Tian Jian against Ming Li seems like a calculated move on his part. Tian Jian seems easy to manipulate, and Ming Li seems easy to provoke.

And is it just me or are we getting more of a setup for there to be some sort of romance (one-sided or otherwise) between Tian Jian and Chu Chu?

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