Hai Chao and He Ping have created their own ragtag family with Ling Xiao, Zi Qiu, and Jian Jian as their children, but there are definitely some growing pains, especially as Jian Jian gets older. It soon becomes clear to everyone that Jian Jian is not a kid anymore.
Ling Xiao, Zi Qiu, and Hai Chao look at Jian Jian’s outfit with skepticism. She’s in all black with a skull on her shirt. Hai Chao asks if that’s what she plans on wearing to school.
Jian Jian proclaims that she knows her grades are one of the worst in the class. The best she can do is make an impression from the start so people know she won’t be easily bullied. She ties a bandanna around her head, labeling her as not easy to bully, but Ling Xiao points out that it’s upside down.
Jian Jian rolls with it. Zi Qiu reassures her that if anyone dares bully her, she should tell him and they’ll go take care of them together. They’re about to shake on it when Ling Xiao smacks Zi Qiu on the back of his head, reminding him what Hai Chao just said earlier about not causing trouble. Hai Chao makes Jian Jian change into her school uniform.
Jian Jian skips happily between the two boys as they head to school. They run into Auntie Qian along the way. Auntie Qian is with Zhu Peng’s grandma, Granny Zhang, who is visiting. The three teens greet her politely, but then Granny Zhang asks if they ever miss their mothers. Their smiles drop. Ling Xiao is the first to walk away without a word. Jian Jian and Zi Qiu soon follow. Granny Zhang doesn’t seem to realize that she misspoke.
A woman drops by the noodle shop to visit Hai Chao. Hai Chao invites her inside. The mahjong-playing aunties and uncles gossip outside about her. Apparently, she’s Zi Qiu’s aunt, but even she doesn’t know where Zi Qiu’s other went. He Mei disappeared after her mother died, leaving Zi Qiu with Hai Chao and never returning the money she borrowed.
Zi Qiu’s aunt asks if she can see Zi Qiu and Jian Jian, not remembering that it’s the first day of school. Her own son dropped out after graduating middle school and went to Guangzhou to go work with his uncle. That’s the way it is for country kids. She admits that she and her family don’t know what they did to deserve the friendship of someone like Hai Chao. If Zi Qiu had stayed in the countryside with them, he would likely never go to college.
He Ping shows up at Hai Chao’s apartment, having followed his nose and smelled dinner. He slips this month’s living expenses in Hai Chao’s pocket. The kids arrive home shortly afterward. Zi Qiu helps set the table, watching curiously as Ling Xiao slips in and out of Jian Jian’s room. When Zi Qiu asks Ling Xiao about it, Ling Xiao responds evasively.
The five of them sit down at dinner and He Ping beams at how wonderful they are as a family. Initially, when he and Hai Chao decided that they would raise the three kids together, the whole neighborhood had shaken their heads, saying they couldn’t do it without a woman in the family, but look at them now!
Jian Jian clears her throat and says she has something to announce. She stands up, and with a broad smile, announces that she got her period today.
The boys and men all stare at her awkwardly. Jian Jian asks why they’re staring; aren’t they going to congratulate her? He Ping and Hai Chao clear their throats and awkwardly mumble their congratulations.
Hai Chao tries to change the conversation to be about dinner, but Jian Jian insists on talking about periods. When she was in middle school, some of her classmates got their periods but she didn’t. She always thought that maybe there was something wrong with her, that she had inherited something from her mother.
Hai Chao reassures her that she’s perfectly healthy and didn’t inherit anything. She should have asked if she had a problem. But Jian Jian responds simply that they’re all men — what would they know? But she asks them why her stomach doesn’t hurt. All her classmates said that their stomachs hurt when they got their periods.
Zi Qiu tries to change the subject by bringing up that Ling Xiao was in Jian Jian’s room. Maybe he left her a present?
Jian Jian scurries into her room and then comes back out with… a bra!
Everyone makes excuses to leave the table, leaving Hai Chao and Jian Jian alone. Hai Chao tells Jian Jian that in the future, she shouldn’t talk about things like this outside. Jian Jian responds that she doesn’t talk about these things outside — she only talks about it at home.
Hai Chao awkwardly consults Auntie Qian for help. Auntie Qian starts going off on a tangent about how he should’ve let her introduce him to a nice woman who would be able to help with all of this stuff. She lectures him about letting Jian Jian run around wild with two boys.
At school, Jian Jian sprints to the school’s broadcast room. Shortly afterward, an announcement comes on over the loudspeakers, asking for Li Ling Xiao to meet his sister in the back courtyard for an emergency. Ling Xiao sprints out of his classroom. Jian Jian sprints off somewhere, but pauses to pick up a brick.
Zi Qiu is with a female classmate (Sun Yi), arguing with two men who are angry at her for bumping into them and crushing some valuable medicine. The men want to be compensated. Zi Qiu is convinced they’re scammers and things start to get physical when the men get too close.
Jian Jian comes sprinting around the corner and throws her backpack at the men with surprisingly good aim. It seems like it’s full of bricks, because it hits one of the men square in the face and he goes down. Jian Jian tries to attack them, but Zi Qiu physically grabs her to hold her back, while she flails like an angry cat.
Ling Xiao also comes sprinting around the corner, shouting that the police are on the way. That scares off the men.
The three pseudo-siblings start bickering among themselves about getting into a sticky situation, but really it’s more like Ling Xiao yells at Jian Jian, who yells at Zi Qiu, who tries to yell at Ling Xiao but then realizes that… it’s Ling Xiao.
Jian Jian and Ling Xiao exchange a glare and the three of them march off, completely ignoring the girl who had started it all in the first place.
The trio get in trouble with the teachers. The girl from before drops by to apologize for getting them in trouble with her and introduces herself as Qi Ming Yue. She’s in Jian Jian’s class, but Jian Jian doesn’t recognize her.
Everyone is surprised, especially because Ming Yue is the class president. Jian Jian apologizes, saying she never really paid attention. Ming Yue asks why they helped her if they didn’t even know her. All three simultaneously respond that they just did what was right.
At night, Hai Chao tidies up around the apartment and discovers that Jian Jian’s backpack is full of bricks.
The next day, Ming Yue invites Jian Jian out to get ice cream as thanks for helping her. What she doesn’t expect is that Jian Jian has also invited Ling Xiao and Zi Qiu. Ming Yue seems confused when Jian Jian introduces them as her brothers even though they have no blood relation, but she just nods when Jian Jian says that they’re family — they all eat out of the same pot.
Ming Yue watches, seeming slightly envious and also slightly confused, when Jian Jian and her brothers freely share their ice cream flavors among themselves. Jian Jian then offers to let Ming Yue try some of her ice cream and tries a bite of Ming Yue’s ice cream without asking. Ming Yue seems a bit taken aback, then hesitantly tries Jian Jian’s ice cream with a smile.
Jian Jian and Ming Yue become fast friends. On the day of a parent-teacher conference, Ming Yue asks Jian Jian if her father really doesn’t get mad that her scores are so low — both of her brothers are such good students. Jian Jian nods and says her father has very low expectations of her. Ming Yue, on the other hand, is under a lot of pressure from her mother.
Jian Jian spots her father among the parents and brings Ming Yue over to introduce her. Ming Yue’s mother shows up, but when she finds out who Jian Jian is, quickly pulls Ming Yue away to go talk to another student, a girl with the top grades in the class.
Jian Jian and her father gossip and make jokes about the top student and how thick her glasses are.
During the meeting, Jian Jian’s homeroom teacher, Teacher Huang, asks some of the top students’ parents to stand up and give advice about how their children are such good students. When it’s Ming Yue’s mother’s turn, she’s more than happy to start waxing poetic about everything she does to create an academic environment for her child.
Ming Yue and Jian Jian exchange a look while her mother talks. Ming Yue looks uncomfortable and seems to shrink into herself.
Jian Jian and her father start chatting and joking around. When Ming Yue’s mother finally finishes her speech, Teacher Huang leads a round of applause. Then he notices that Jian Jian and Hai Chao aren’t paying attention and are laughing together, so he calls Jian Jian out. He also calls out Jian Jian’s father.
Hai Chao is forced to stand up and awkwardly introduce himself while Jian Jian snickers. Huang asks Hai Chao about Jian Jian’s weekend art classes — does he plan on having Jian Jian major in the arts? Hai Chao admits that he hasn’t thought that far ahead. He encouraged her to take classes because she always loved drawing as a child. Huang suggests that Hai Chao have Jian Jian focus on her studies for now. There will be an opportunity for her to expand her interests later. Hai Chao starts to respond, but the teacher dismissively waves for him to sit.
Jian Jian makes fun of her homeroom teacher while studying with her brothers and Ming Yue later. They start doing homework. Jian Jian pokes around in Ling Xiao’s pencil case and discovers a folded paper heart. She teases Ling Xiao about it, but he immediately grabs it and rips it into pieces. Jian Jian praises Ling Xiao, saying that he should be focusing on his studies and not getting distracted.
Zi Qiu jokes that Ling Xiao is allergic to girls. Ling Xiao teases back about the girls who are always watching him play basketball. Jian Jian reminds Zi Qiu that he was married into her family. Zi Qiu retorts that she and Ling Xiao got married when they were younger. Jian Jian giggles as she explains to Ming Yue that she really wanted Papa Ling to be her godfather and for Ling Xiao to be her brother, but then Ling Xiao dropped to one knee and proposed, so they became betrothed. She leans into Ling Xiao, but he pushes her away and tells her to do her homework.
Ming Yue accidentally drinks Zi Qiu’s drink. He points it out and she focuses on his lips. Flustered, she gets up and offers to buy him another drink, but sneaks glances back toward him. Jian Jian admonishes Zi Qiu for overreacting. Ling Xiao watches it all with a knowing smile.
At dinner, the family eats hotpot and Hai Chao tells Jian Jian that it’s okay if she’s not good at school, but once she becomes a beggar on the streets she better not tell anyone she’s his daughter. Ling Xiao also teases her, telling her not to knock on his door for leftovers. Zi Qiu tells her not to worry — he’ll give her his leftovers.
Jian Jian’s tooth starts hurting again, but she refuses to go to the dentist. Ling Xiao looks at her with concern. Her father wants her to get it checked out and they start bickering. He Ping gently chides Hai Chao not to lecture her at the dinner table. He tells Jian Jian to eat more veggies and puts some in her bowl. Ling Xiao takes them from her without her asking.
He Ping suddenly gets a phone call — it’s his ex-mother-in-law. Ling Xiao frowns at the mention of his mother’s side of the family and abruptly excuses himself to go upstairs. After he’s gone and He Ping is in the other room taking the call, Jian Jian and Zi Qiu start gossiping and badmouthing Ling Xiao’s mother, who is now a rich wife in Singapore, for always looking for validation. Hai Chao shushes them and reminds them to be mindful of their words around Ling Xiao.
When He Ping gets back, he and Hai Chao start bickering over Ling Xiao. He Ping thinks Hai Chao has spoiled Ling Xiao: first, Ling Xiao never called his grandmother, and now he won’t even pick up her calls. But Hai Chao points out that He Ping is responsible for not shielding Ling Xiao from his fights with Chen Ting. They start bickering over the food — Hai Chao says he won’t feed He Ping anymore and won’t let him eat — and only fall silent when Jian Jian calls them both by their full names.
Hai Chao continues to cold shoulder He Ping after dinner. He Ping offers to massage his shoulders and Hai Chao lets him. Hai Chao asks what Chen Ting’s mother wanted.
He Ping tells him that Chen Ting and her new husband will be in the country for six months for work. Chen Ting wants his help in finding a school for her daughter. Hai Chao thinks that Chen Ting should be talking to He Ping directly instead of going through her mother, but He Ping says he wouldn’t know what to say to her anyway. He doesn’t plan on telling Ling Xiao about any of this.
Jian Jian and Zi Qiu try to get Ling Xiao to eat, but he refuses. Zi Qiu starts asking about Ling Xiao’s mother; Jian Jian pinches him to try to get him to stop, but he presses on anyway, not sure why they can’t talk about it. Ling Xiao says he has nothing to talk about when it comes to his mother. To him, she’s just a stranger now.
Jian Jian’s mouth suddenly starts hurting again. The two boys turn to her in concern. Ling Xiao grabs a flashlight and they both peer into her mouth.
Ling Xiao still refuses to eat, so Jian Jian crawls into his bed, saying she won’t leave until he eats. She sniffs his sheets and comments that it smells like him — it smells good. Ling Xiao abruptly pulls Jian Jian out of his bed and sternly tells her to never go on his or Zi Qiu’s beds again. Annoyed, she takes his uneaten bowl of noodles and stomps off, saying he can starve.
Zi Qiu tells Ling Xiao that he didn’t have to be so harsh with Jian Jian — she’s not a kid anymore. But that’s kind of the point. Zi Qiu tries to find some middle ground, saying that they can all install locks on their doors.
Once they’re both gone, Ling Xiao looks down at his bed and sighs.
Here’s a fun fact that makes me feel kind of old: Song Wei Long is only 21! I find it funny that he plays the elder sibling to Steven Zhang, who is 24, and is supposed to be two years older than Seven Tan, who is 30! That’s a trip.
I continue to adore the dynamics in this unconventional family. He Ping and Hai Chao are like an old couple and balance each other out so well, each with their contrasting stern and lax sides. And this trio! I love everything about them. They bicker often but also joke around often and it’s so clear that all three of these kids care about one another so much. But I’m sure that there will also be plenty of future heartbreak…
Jian Jian is such a bright light in this show. I don’t know if I buy Seven Tan playing a sixteen-year-old… but also she’s been playing teenagers for years now and looks like she hasn’t aged a day. I really like how similar Jian Jian is to her father in her generosity and how easily she welcomed Ming Yue into the fold.
I’m going to… not comment on everything going on with gender roles and Ling Xiao feeling this need to look out for Jian Jian’s purity because I think I should let this show develop a little more before judging it on episode 3. 🙂 (Also I admit I am very much a socially liberal American, which will probably clash with whatever goes on Chinese TV, and not everything needs to be viewed with a socially critical lens even though sometimes I want to.)