Xiao En and Chu Chu seem to swap places as Xiao En fully takes on the burden of being a female lead and Chu Chu fully takes on the persona of an evil villain. Mo Ran and Tian Jian both start executing on their evil plots in their respective worlds.
Chu Chu accuses Xiao En of being two-faced and purposely sending everyone else away so that she could take pictures with Ao Ran. She pushes Xiao En to the ground, then quickly switches places with her when she realizes that everyone else is about to show up.
The moment Ao Ran, Qing Feng, and the rest of the marketing department show up, Chu Chu beelines for Ao Ran and spins up a sob story about how Xiao En lost patience with her and pushed her for no reason. All the female employees except for Su Shan and Qiu Tian believe Chu Chu and start berating Xiao En for pushing her. Ao Ran doesn’t believe that Xiao En would do something like this, but he also doesn’t try to clarify anything.
Qing Feng notices that Xiao En’s elbow is bleeding and asks if she’s okay, but she shakes herself out of his grasp. The crowd starts chanting for Xiao En to apologize. Ao Ran looks trapped, then suggests that Xiao En should just apologize and they can all move on. Xiao En looks betrayed. Chu Chu smirks vindictively, then quickly puts her sad face back on.
“You believe her?” Xiao En asks Ao Ran. He tries to say that’s not what he means, but a coworker cuts in, saying that Xiao En should apologize if she hit someone. Others make snide comments about Xiao En trying to use Ao Ran as a shield. They collectively tell her to apologize.
Xiao En steps forward. Qing Feng tries to stop her, but she steps around him. She walks up to Chu Chu and slaps her. Everyone looks stunned. “Sorry,” Xiao En says, then walks away.
Qing Feng moves to go after her, but Ao Ran stops him. “I’ll go,” he says, and runs off after Xiao En. Behind him, the employees make rude comments about Xiao En counting on Ao Ran to back her and asking why Ao Ran ran after her: is he afraid she’ll be hit by a car? Qiu Tian loses her temper and yells that they should get hit by a car. Su Shan tries to calm her down.
Qing Feng tells everyone to calm down. There must be a misunderstanding. But Chu Chu takes advantage of the situation to start shedding tears and saying she doesn’t know why Xiao En suddenly got so angry. Her coworkers huddle around her sympathetically. Qing Feng frowns as he watches them.
Ao Ran catches up to Xiao En and finally makes her stop. He asks her why she hit Chu Chu. Is it because he liked Chu Chu before, and she’s jealous? He says that being jealous is normal, but she can’t hit someone because of it.
Xiao En stares at him and pulls her wrist out of his grasp. Does he really think she’s so petty that she would hit someone out of jealousy?
Ao Ran says that he doesn’t think she’s that kind of person and that’s why he’s asking and trying to clear things up.
“You want to know?” Xiao En asks. She tells him that Chu Chu is the one who is messing with her, that she’s shady. They may have been romantic rivals, but Xiao En did everything she could for Chu Chu. Xiao En can handle being messed with by everyone except Chu Chu. She slapped Chu Chu because if she hadn’t, she would’ve been so angry she would’ve caused herself an internal injury.
“So you didn’t push her?” Ao Ran asks. Xiao En says that she’s always true to her word. If she says she didn’t, then she didn’t. But Ao Ran doesn’t understand why Chu Chu would lie. He thinks she doesn’t seem like the type of person to lie.
“So you think I am?” Xiao En demands. He says that’s not what he means, but Xiao En is upset. She’s even more upset that he would fall for a dirty trick like this.
Xiao En says that all men are the same, losing their heads when they see a pretty woman. Ao Ran says that she’s the same, too. She thinks he’s talking about Qing Feng, but he’s not. He’s talking about He Tian Xing.
Ao Ran asks what her relationship with Tian Xing is. He thinks she likes him. Xiao En stammers that she doesn’t have any relationship with Tian Xing. She wouldn’t even say that she likes him. She just respects, admires, and adores him.
Ao Ran seems incredulous that Xiao En would feel so much for someone she doesn’t even know. He tells Xiao En to look him in the eye and answer this one question for him, “Does you actually like me, or do you like that I am like him?”
Xiao En looks away, despite him repeating for her to look him in the eye. She says that it’ll take a long time to explain. He says he has time.
Xiao En starts rambling about how at first, she thought Si Tu Ao Ran and He Tian Xing were the same, but then she realized that they weren’t and that maybe she doesn’t want him to be the same as Tian Xing because she wants him to be alive and well.
Ao Ran asks who she would choose if she could only pick one. She asks why she can’t have both; after all, they’re from different worlds. But Ao Ran says that he’s Si Tu Ao Ran, not He Tian Xing, and he won’t be anyone’s replacement.
Tian Jian checks out his bandaged wrist. His mother asks why he hasn’t reported it to the police. Is he afraid of the triads who attacked him? Tian Jian admits that it was Ming Li who attacked him, not the triad. He pretends to be sympathetic toward his sister, saying that she seems to be under a lot of pressure lately and unable to sleep well. He gives his mom some sleep medication, saying that she should give it to Ming Li to try later. Maybe it will help her sleep.
Uncle Hu is alarmed to hear that Tian Jian has given medication to Ming Li. Tian Jian reassures him that it’ll be fine. It’s just a stronger dose. If she takes too much then there also might be some side effects, he adds with a smile.
Uncle Hu nods and says that he’s improved quickly, but tells Tian Jian to focus on the upcoming board meeting instead. Tian Jian says it’ll be no problem. Uncle Hu keeps nodding, but still looks uneasy.
Ming Li yells at Qiao Zhi over the phone, calling him useless and furious that he’s been unable to reach any board members. Her mother finds her in her room and admonishes her for hitting Tian Jian. What if she killed him?
Ming Li just smiles and says that if Tian Jian died, then at least her mother would finally have to recognize this nonexistent daughter of hers. Mama He shakes her head disapprovingly and gives Ming Li the new bottle of sleep medication.
After she’s gone, Ming Li pops several pills without reading the bottle and washes them down with some liquor.
The next morning when Xiao En arrives at work, her coworkers side-eye her while waiting for the elevator. She tries to ignore them. When the elevator arrives, they go in first. When Xiao En tries to follow, another coworker roughly bumps her aside. Qiu Tian sees and rushes up to defend Xiao En like a guard dog. Xiao En pulls her back.
Qiu Tian frowns sympathetically at Xiao En, saying that her days will be rough from now on. Xiao En puts on a brave face.
Ao Ran and Qing Feng arrive. Qiu Tian greets them both. Xiao En pointedly only greets Qing Feng and avoids eye contact with Ao Ran. Ao Ran pointedly greets Qiu Tian, also ignoring Xiao En. When the elevator arrives, Xiao En insists on taking the stairs instead.
Inside the elevator, Qing Feng asks Ao Ran what’s going on with Xiao En. Ao Ran responds by asking if he’s heard of He Tian Xing. Qing Feng hasn’t. Ao Ran remarks that Xiao En must keep Tian Xing well-protected if even Qing Feng doesn’t know about him. Qing Feng starts interrogating Ao Ran about who Tian Xing is and what relationship he has with Xiao En, but Ao Ran tartly responds that if he knew, he wouldn’t be asking him.
When Xiao En and Qiu Tian finally arrive at the office after taking the stairs, they find that Su Shan is the only one there. No one else has bothered to show up. Qiu Tian wonders if Chu Chu is too afraid to come into the office and face everyone after Xiao En slapped her.
The thought bothers Xiao En as she prints out some documents, but she shakes it away. Qing Feng finds her outside the printing room and blocks her way, asking if she’s avoiding him. She just doesn’t want to be accused of two-timing again. Qing Feng smirks and jokes that if they make the rumors a reality, then she won’t have to feel bad.
Xiao En asks him to stop getting joy out of her pain. Everything hurts for her right now, including her heart. Qing Feng guesses that it’s because she and Ao Ran aren’t talking to each other right now. She worries that Ao Ran is talking about her behind her back, but Qing Feng says that all he asked is who He Tian Xing is. So who is He Tian Xing?
Qing Feng starts guessing a bunch of cliche ex-lover scenarios, but Xiao En says that she can’t explain who he is. Qing Feng says he’s okay with waiting until Xiao En figures out how to explain.
He asks if things are okay between her and Chu Chu. Xiao En admits that Chu Chu didn’t come to work today. Qing Feng reveals that he saw Chu Chu in a car with Mo Ran last night. Xiao En frowns, then pushes her documents into Qing Feng’s hands and takes off running.
She rushes to Chu Chu’s house and rings the doorbell, but no one answers. Chu Chu’s brother walks up and greets her. Xiao En asks why Chu Chu didn’t go to work today. Her brother is confused: they left together in the morning.
Xiao En gets a call from Mo Ran, saying that he has Chu Chu.
At night, Xiao En goes to an abandoned amusement park, looking for Chu Chu. She finds Chu Chu bound and tied in a ferris wheel cabin. But instead of going to Chu Chu, Xiao En hides behind a tree. She sets a timer on her phone and throws it out into the open. It starts ringing. Mo Ran shows up with a baseball bat and picks up her phone, then shouts for her to show herself.
Xiao En rushes to the ferris wheel and frees Chu Chu, but the moment Chu Chu escapes, she slams the door on Xiao En. Mo Ran comes up and adds a hefty-looking lock to the door. He turns to Chu Chu with a smile and says he’ll let her choose what to do now.
Chu Chu says she just wants to lock Xiao En up for a night as a warning to keep her distance from Ao Ran. Mo Ran is disappointed by how tame and boring Chu Chu’s plan is. He throws away the key. Both Chu Chu and Xiao En look alarmed. Mo Ran asks Chu Chu how she plans on repaying him for helping her deal with Xiao En. Chu Chu asks him what he wants to do.
“Call Ao Ran and tell him Xiao En is here,” Mo Ran says with a smile. Chu Chu doesn’t want to, but Mo Ran threatens her, saying that he’ll swap out Xiao En for her and her father instead. Chu Chu pulls out her phone.
Xiao En tries to reason with Chu Chu, saying that if she really loves Ao Ran, then she won’t bring him into this. Mo Ran tells her to shut up and pulls Chu Chu away.
Ao Ran gets the call from Chu Chu and rushes to the amusement park. A sound lures him into an empty building, and then Mo Ran punches him when he turns around. Mo Ran flicks open a lighter with a taunting smile, then attacks Ao Ran. Ao Ran takes a few punches, but then starts fighting back.
Xiao En hears the sound of Chu Chu crying and yells for her to show herself. Chu Chu walks up, sniffling, and says that Ao Ran is here but she doesn’t know how much longer he can hold on. The warehouse is dark. Xiao En tells her to stop crying and to let her out, but Chu Chu keeps crying and says she doesn’t know where the key is.
Xiao En sees that the lock is a U-shaped lock and tells Chu Chu to find a rock and then start smashing the lock. Chu Chu cries and scares herself as she smashes the lock, but eventually manages to break, freeing Xiao En. Xiao En orders her to call the police, then rushes toward the warehouse.
Mo Ran knocks Ao Ran to the ground and starts to leave. Ao Ran lunges after him, telling him not to harm Xiao En. Mo Ran beats him back down, then laughs at him for still thinking about Xiao En at a time like this. “It must be true love,” he says mockingly, before exiting the warehouse and chaining the door shut.
Ao Ran knocks weakly at the door. Xiao En finds the warehouses and calls out his name, then hears him knocking. He’s relieved to hear her voice. She finds a hammer and starts trying to break the chains. It doesn’t work very well. She tells Ao Ran to use his phone as a flashlight, but he responds that his phone was taken away. Xiao En starts scanning the walls of the warehouse and eventually finds a gap in a window. She reaches her hand in and tells him to come over. He grabs it.
Xiao En tells him that she will save him this time. She won’t let him get hurt. She starts to pull away to figure out how to free him, but he holds on. He makes her promise to always stay within an arm’s length distance of her. She agrees, but only if he lets her rescue him first. She returns to trying to break the chains, switching out her hammer for a crowbar lying around.
Mo Ran returns to the ferris wheel to find Xiao En missing. He angrily yells Chu Chu’s name.
Mo Ran returns the warehouses, a tank of gasoline in hand. He yells Xiao En’s name. Xiao En hears him and goes back to grab Ao Ran’s hand, promising she’ll figure out a way to free him. He tells her to run. If they both get caught, then no one will be able to get the police. Xiao En runs and hides.
Mo Ran starts pouring gasoline on the warehouse. Xiao En gasps but tries to muffle herself. Ao Ran distracts Mo Ran by demanding to know what’s he doing and why. Mo Ran wants to burn Ao Ran to ash. He hates Ao Ran for stealing their father and thinks that if Ao Ran disappears, their father will love him. He hates that Ao Ran has stolen the spotlight and that he will always be a “goddamn loser.”
Ao Ran says that Mo Ran just hasn’t succeeded yet. He’s always given him money and unconditional support. But that’s exactly what Mo Ran hates. He thinks Ao Ran is mocking him as he gives his “unconditional support.” He hates how Ao Ran didn’t even bat an eye after agreeing to give him two million, because he knows that Ao Ran thinks he’ll be able to get rid of him with the money. Ao Ran says that’s not what he thinks, but Mo Ran doesn’t believe him.
Mo Ran takes out his lighter and tells Xiao En she has until the count of three to reveal herself. Ao Ran yells for her to not come out, no matter what, if she is here.
On “three,” Xiao En shows herself. Ao Ran tells Xiao En to run and tells Mo Ran to leave her out of this. Xiao En tries to reason with Mo Ran. Killing Ao Ran won’t make his father love him. He will never be able to be Ao Ran. She warns Mo Ran that Chu Chu has already called the police. If he kills Ao Ran, his life will be ruined. If he spares him, Xiao En can tell the police that it was just a fight between siblings.
Mo Ran looks like he’s listening and closes his lighter, but then turns to Xiao En and calls her noisy. He’ll get rid of her first, then deal with Ao Ran. He starts dumping gasoline on her while she screams. Ao Ran tries to kick down the door and finally succeeds. He tackles Mo Ran.
The two start fighting, but then Mo Ran grabs Xiao En and holds a knife to her throat. He tells Ao Ran that he can’t win. Ao Ran offers to exchange himself for Xiao En. Xiao En says no — has he gone crazy? Ao Ran responds that she can treat it like he’s gone crazy. For her, he’ll do it.
Mo Ran pushes Xiao En away and grabs Ao Ran instead. Ao Ran tells Xiao En to run, but instead she grabs Mo Ran’s abandoned lighter and opens it. She tells Mo Ran to let Ao Ran go, otherwise she’ll drop the lighter and they can all die together.
Ao Ran tells her to leave, but she says she’d rather die with him than live without him. He doesn’t like that she’s still arguing with him, even at a time like this. Where did she come from? Why does he like a woman like her?
Xiao En only seems to have heard the part where Ao Ran said he liked her. She never thought she’d hear him say it. Mo Ran gets tired of their back-and-forth. Xiao En smiles sadly, saying now she can die with no regrets.
“But I do,” Ao Ran says. “There are still so many things I want to do with you.” He fights back against Mo Ran and pins him to the ground. The police arrive.
Mo Ran is arrested and taken away by the police. Qing Feng and Chu Chu come running up, but Ao Ran and Xiao En only have eyes for each other. Xiao En asks if he’s okay. Ao Ran responds that as long as she’s okay, nothing hurts.
Xiao En tears up as she treats the shallow cut on Ao Ran’s neck at his home, then breaks down when she’s done. He asks what’s wrong. She’s scared that she almost lost him. He takes her hand and rests it against his cheek, saying that it’s still so warm. He reminds her of the promise she made, that she’d never be farther than an arm’s length away. She says that the person she likes and cares about is him, Si Tu Ao Ran, not He Tian Xing or anyone else.
Ao Ran kisses her. She kisses him back and things get steamy as they go upstairs to his bed and the clothes start coming off.
Ming Li thrashes in bed with a nightmare, hearing a voice in her head that sounds like her own, telling her to open her eyes. She bolts awake to find a version of herself sitting next to her. That version of her says, “I am He Ming Li,” repeatedly, with a smirk.
Ming Li opens her eyes with a gasp and finds that she’s alone outside, by the ocean, in the dark and in her nightgown. She looks around, confused as to how she got here.
Qiao Zhi helps Ming Li home in the morning and asks if she wants to go to the clinic for a check-up, but Ming Li whispers that no one is allowed to know what happened. Her mother is awake and asks what’s happened. Ming Li claims that some urgent work matters came up and goes to her room, but she’s barefoot and trailing sand.
Ming Li arrives at the office to find Tian Jian strolling through the lobby, greeting employees. She demands to know why he’s here. He tells her that she was the one who called him last night, telling him to come back to headquarters. Uncle Hu arrives and backs Tian Jian up, saying that she called him specifically about Tian Jian. Tian Jian peers at Ming Li with concern — does she not remember?
Ming Li starts to respond, then notices the employees around them whispering. She says that she didn’t forget, then keeps walking. Tian Jian and Uncle Hu exchange a smile.
Ming Li takes some time alone in her office and checks her call log, which shows that she made calls to Tian Jian and Uncle Hu. How does she not remember it at all? Qiao Zhi comes in and says that something’s wrong. They go to the employees’ office and see that on everyone’s computer monitors is a video of Ming Li attacking Tian Jian. She yells at everyone to turn off their computers.
Xiao En wakes up in bed next to Ao Ran and realizes that last night wasn’t a dream. But then she notices that Ao Ran seems to be having a nightmare and wakes him up. He wakes up with a gasp and asks her, “Why didn’t you save me?”
Then he realizes that he’s awake. She asks him about his dream and what he saw. He looks at her. She was in his dream? He tells her that he remembers grabbing her wrist — it must have been that night at the hospital — but she didn’t save him and instead just let him be pushed away. Xiao En starts trying to explain herself, but Ao Ran gently pinches her nose and tells her that she should never let go of her hand. She smiles back and nods.
Ao Ran gets up and starts putting his clothes on. Xiao En asks if he dreamed of anything else. He turns toward her with a smile and says that he dreamed of breakfast. He wants her to make breakfast, the way she used to.
She nods and then hides her face under the covers to try and contain her joy.
This episode was such a roller-coaster. I don’t really know what to think.
First off, as much as Xiao En and Ao Ran’s insta-love still defies a bit of logic, I still love to see them together. The steam! The romance! I suppose at this point, they’ve been through enough together that liking each other for real, instead of liking each other because Ao Ran looks like Tian Xing and because Xiao En is now the female lead, makes a little more sense. But I’m not convinced yet.
If there’s anything good I can say about this insta-love between Xiao En and Ao Ran, it’s that at least Xiao En is being forced to consider why she likes Tian Xing, and hopefully also why she likes Ao Ran. Though we kind of skipped the why and went straight to the liking. But also, can we just acknowledge and celebrate that Ao Ran has finally asked the right question and stepped outside the box? Unfortunately, he still seems very much in the box of his character outside of those few right questions. He had so many opportunities to spout his trademark cheesy lines this episode. It’s simultaneously hilarious and vomit-inducing, but also makes me think that it means he hasn’t abandoned his character, either.
Tian Jian hasn’t been making sense lately, but this episode really cemented my opinion of him: I really don’t comprehend his character development anymore. I don’t think we can call it “development.” He took his villainous turn way too abruptly and he and Mo Ran are basically the same. Maybe this is pointing to some greater connection between the book characters and the real world characters, but I feel like I’m giving the writers too much benefit of the doubt.
Speaking of abrupt character changes — Chu Chu! I suppose if Xiao En has become the lead, then it makes sense that Chu Chu would swap places with her and become the villain. But she isn’t fully the villain, as evidenced by her wishy-washiness at the amusement park after she realized that Mo Ran was way more evil than what she signed up for. In the end, it’s just kind of confusing where the boundaries of story-mandated characterization ends and the “real” or at least more humanized and developed character begins. Perhaps these next episodes will bring more clarity, because we know that it’s possible for characters to ditch the original arcs they were given (Qing Feng is the obvious example, but also Qiu Tian and Su Shan.)
Just a note: For those of you who read this far and endure all my commentary! Unfortunately I will be offline next weekend so I probably won’t be able to get my weekly recap post for Lost Romance out until Tuesday or so. I will have some pre-written Go Ahead recaps queued up to post over the weekend, so that activity may be misleading! Sorry to disappoint. 😦