How much drama can one family handle? That’s the question this episode, as the punches keep coming. Ling Xiao must handle a series of crises, while Zi Qiu and Hai Chao separately struggle to decide what to do about the Zhao Hua Guang situation.
Ling Xiao waits silently at the hospital with his father and uncle. There’s nothing they can do but sit and wait. He gets a call from his mother, who keeps crying on the phone. He updates her on what’s happening and tells her not to cry. They can figure things out once she gets here.
The next morning, they’re still waiting. Ling Xiao’s cousin comes out of the ICU after visiting their grandmother and asks where Ling Xiao’s mother is. She thinks that Grandma Chen can’t hang on much longer.
Ling Xiao gets a call from Mei Yang, who is crying. Her uncle takes the phone and tells Ling Xiao that his mother and stepfather got into an accident on the way to the airport. They’re currently in the hospital and it’s not looking good.
Almost at the same time, Ling Xiao’s aunt stumbles out of the ICU, grief-stricken. It looks like it’s the end for Grandma Chen. Ling Xiao stares, frozen, as the rest of his family rushes into the ICU.
Zi Qiu notices that Hai Chao’s eye is swollen. Hai Chao has been experiencing a lot of inflammation lately. Zi Qiu tells him to take care of himself, otherwise he’ll be worried about his father when he goes off to college.
Hai Chao gets a call from He Ping, telling him the news.
Jian Jian, Zi Qiu, and Hai Chao wait up late for Ling Xiao to return home. The kids are just about to go to bed — there’s still school the next day — when He Ping gets home. Ling Xiao isn’t with him; he went to the countryside with his relatives.
He Ping updates them on Chen Ting’s situation. Her husband died at the scene of the accident. She was in critical condition, and is still in the hospital now. He Ping plans on going with Ling Xiao and his uncle to go get visas so they can visit Chen Ting. Ling Xiao also needs to help out with Grandma Chen’s funeral arrangements.
Hai Chao is worried that Ling Xiao won’t be able to handle all of this. He Ping says he must. Even if he can’t, he has to.
Hai Chao gets a visit from Auntie Qian and another neighborhood auntie with some tea and other gifts. They sigh over how much tragedy Ling Xiao has experienced in his young life. Auntie Qian says that a mother is still a mother; Chen Ting may not have had much to do with Ling Xiao growing up, but when something happened to her, he still went to go see her. She says it’ll be the same for Zi Qiu.
Zi Qiu plays ball with Zhuang Bei. Afterward, he asks him whether his college plans are lining up. Zhuang Bei asks Zi Qiu the same thing, but Zi Qiu says he doesn’t know — he hasn’t talked to Ling Xiao about it yet, but it seems like a given that they would go to college in the same city. Zi Qiu suddenly pitches Zhuang Bei the idea of studying abroad for a year. What does he think? Zhuang Bei says he would 100% support him.
Zhuang Bei says that if it were him, he would go and tells Zi Qiu to strongly consider it. He should think of it as saving his own father money, since Zhao is so eager to sponsor him. Zhuang Bei passes on a word of advice from his own father: it’s not worth getting hung up over money in life.
But Zi Qiu feels like life has been especially ominous lately. Whenever he thinks something bad might happen, it does.
Ling Xiao and his uncle go to Singapore, where they give condolences to his step-grandmother. She has to go back to Malaysia to care for Ling Xiao’s step-grandfather and plans on taking Mei Yang with her. But Mei Yang throws herself at Ling Xiao with a hug, saying she doesn’t want to go to Malaysia. She wants to be with her brother and wait for her mother to wake up. Her uncle and grandmother try to convince her to go with them, but then Ling Xiao picks her up, saying she can stay here in Singapore with him. She should be the first person their mother sees when she wakes up.
Jian Jian is dejected, having not seen Ling Xiao for over ten days. He isn’t picking up her calls either. She hops down the stairs, distracted.
Zi Qiu is packing up his textbooks when he finds an old photo album in his drawer. It’s full of photos of him, Jian Jian, and Ling Xiao growing up. He smiles nostalgically.
He gets a phone call from Ming Yue and then rushes to the school infirmary where Jian Jian is being patched up by the school doctor. Zi Qiu demands to know how she fell. Ming Yue and Jian Jian say someone pushed her, but they don’t know who.
Zi Qiu angrily makes a phone call to Zhao Hua Guang, asking if he was the one who had someone push Jian Jian down the stairs. Zhao calls him crazy for thinking he’s responsible for everything, then asks about Zi Qiu’s gaokao scores, but Zi Qiu hangs up.
Zi Qiu gives Jian Jian a piggyback ride home, even though she says she can walk. She sighs, missing Ling Xiao. She didn’t realize being apart from him would be so hard and is worried about what will happen when both he and Zi Qiu go to Beijing for college. Zi Qiu reassures her that she’ll get used to it after a while, and promises to call her every day. She says that once he goes to college, he’ll change and start chasing girls around all the time.
They walk by an ambulance on the way home and have just turned the corner to the noodle shop when an auntie comes rushing toward them, telling them to chase down the ambulance. Inside was their father, who suddenly fainted.
Zi Qiu, still carrying Jian Jian on his back, sprints after the ambulance and to the hospital emergency room where they find Hai Chao, unconscious on a cot. The nurse reassures him that there’s nothing major wrong with him — he fainted from fatigue and malnutrition and is just sleeping right now.
Jian Jian and Zi Qiu insist on supporting Hai Chao home, though he insists he can walk on his own. He Ping is waiting at home to receive them, but then has to head back to work. Hai Chao sleeps some more. Zi Qiu helps Jian Jian change her shoes into house slippers, since she’s still stiff and in pain from her earlier fall.
Hai Chao wakes up later to find Jian Jian asleep next to him and Zi Qiu sitting in a chair watching him. He gets up to cook the kids dinner, and accidentally jostles Jian Jian’s injury, making her yell in pain. Zi Qiu frowns as Hai Chao asks Jian Jian who did this to her and she says she doesn’t know.
Hai Chao is supervising the renovations at the noodle shop when a woman in sunglasses and a red dress walks up the stairs. He calls out an apology to her, saying that they’re under construction, but she stays. “What, you don’t recognize me?” she asks as she takes off her sunglasses. It’s He Mei.
They get tea and sit in stilted silence. He Mei returns the money Hai Chao loaned her all those years ago, plus interest. He asks where she went. She claims she was in Shenzhen, working at a beauty shop. Hai Chao starts to update her on Zi Qiu’s life, but she interrupts him, saying that she’s not here for Zi Qiu. She didn’t come back to return the money, either. She’s only here because of Zhao Hua Guang.
Zhao kept on looking for her, wanting his son. She’s up-to-date on everything that has happened, but tells Hai Chao that he’s too honest to win against someone like Zhao. She thinks it wouldn’t be a bad deal for Zi Qiu to accept Zhao’s money and wants Hai Chao to consider trying to convince Zi Qiu. She recognizes that Hai Chao is his father and that she is just an outsider now, so it’s up to him. He can pretend she never came, and if he wants what’s best for Zi Qiu, he won’t tell him that she came, either.
Hai Chao tells He Mei that Zi Qiu would still want to see her. She responds without looking at him that she has a family now. Her husband doesn’t know that she had a son before. To her, Zi Qiu is nothing more than a burden.
She starts to leave, but Hai Chao tells her to stop. He pulls out the exact amount of money he loaned her from the envelope, then returns the rest, telling her that from now on, she doesn’t need to concern herself with Zi Qiu anymore. She should focus on her own son.
Jian Jian calls Ling Xiao on speakerphone while Ming Yue listens in. She wonders what’s happening to their family these days; everyone seems to be going to the hospital. But when he asks if someone else was hospitalized, Jian Jian lies and says no. Before they hang up, Ling Xiao asks Jian Jian to act cute for him. Ming Yue dies laughing as Jian Jian goes overboard with her adoration, and Ling Xiao says that it seems fake, but it makes him smile.
The doctor reports to Ling Xiao’s family that Chen Ting is past the point of danger, but the road to recovery will be long. There’s a likelihood that she may be paralyzed.
Later, Ling Xiao overhears as his uncle argues with Mei Yang’s uncle. Uncle Chen is frustrated that the Qin side of the family plans on leaving Chen Ting. Uncle Qin says that they’ve done enough — he and his wife are already planning on taking responsibility for Mei Yang. His father is sick and his mother spends all her time caring for him. His older brother left everything to Chen Ting, but now that he’s dead, his family has no relation to Chen Ting anymore. She’s her own family’s responsibility.
Ling Xiao’s uncle asks him what he’s thinking in terms of his mother’s situation. Ling Xiao doesn’t have any opinions, but his uncle says that now that he’s an adult, he’s going to have to make some decisions. His uncle suggests that Ling Xiao come to Singapore for college, that way he can care for his mother without sacrificing his studies, but Ling Xiao is appalled by that idea. Why should he? His mother stopped caring about him, so why should he care for her?
“Because she’s your mother!” his uncle thunders, before catching himself and lowering his voice. Ling Xiao asks his uncle if he plans on taking any sort of responsibility. His uncle has already taken a month off of work, but his wife has been calling to tell him to come home. He says he’s already done all he can.
Hai Chao broaches the idea of sending Zi Qiu abroad to He Ping. He Ping calls him out for his quick change of heart and starts talking about birds that lay their eggs in other birds’ nests. He says Hai Chao is like the other bird that unknowingly raises another’s young, only for the original parent to come back and whisk them away. Hai Chao continues the bird analogy, but says he trusts that the young that he raises will remember the nest they were raised in and come back.
He Ping starts to look convinced, but then shakes his head, saying going abroad is too far. Hai Chao says, “If you love them, then you got to let them go.” He Ping looks torn, calling him heartless, but reluctantly agrees.
At dinner, Zi Qiu ends up being the only one to eat at home, since his friend dropped out last minute and Jian Jian is out and about enjoying summer break. Hai Chao thinks it’s the perfect opportunity to talk to him about studying abroad, but at the last minute, He Ping says he hasn’t made a decision yet, so if Hai Chao wants to convince Zi Qiu, he has to do it himself.
Surprisingly, Zi Qiu is the one who brings up the topic of college selection. His teacher called him today and recommended he list Beijing Jiaotong University as his first choice. He Ping immediately jumps in with his support, ignoring Hai Chao as he kicks him under the table, since Zi Qiu has long mentioned that school. But then, Zi Qiu says that after thinking about it for a while, he thinks that he actually wants to go abroad.
Hai Chao looks up at him, stunned.
The punches really just kept coming this episode for all of our family members.
Considering the native title of this series is literally “In the Name of Family,” it’s quite appropriate that this whole show seems to be trying to figure out what it means to be family. That’s something all of our characters are trying to figure out for themselves as well.
Ling Xiao is perhaps the most trapped right now. His mother is ill and requires long-term care in Singapore, his child half-sister is essentially parent-less right now, and he’s supposed to be going off to college — ideally in Beijing — in just a few months. The question he asked this episode is why he should be responsible for his mother when she completely abandoned him, and that’s such a tough question to answer, because family is sometimes a choice, but sometimes it is not. I think if he chose to abandon his mother, he would regret it for a lifetime, and I think that’s something he’s going to realize, too.
Zi Qiu and Hai Chao have a similar, but separate struggle with Zi Qiu’s biological father fighting for recognition. The root of that struggle for both of them, I think, is the fear that if Zi Qiu accepts his biological father’s money, that will somehow negate his relationship with Hai Chao.
If Zi Qiu does go abroad to study like both Hai Chao and Zhao Hua Guang want, then that’ll be breaking his agreement with his siblings to all study in Beijing together. But that will also make Ling Xiao staying in Singapore for college a more realistic option, if the agreement is already shot anyway. Will Jian Jian be able to handle that, though?
As silly as Hai Chao and He Ping’s bird analogies were, they were also very apt. There’s a reason parents whose kids go off to college are called “empty-nesters.” And as Zi Qiu and Ling Xiao are on the cusp of adulthood, it becomes more apparent than ever that whether they want to or not, it’s time for them to leave the nest and make it out into the world on their own. It’s kind of like what Ling Xiao said, about growing up being just a moment in time when you realize that you’ve grown up. For each of them, that moment is that time when they have to make the leap out of the nest and hope that they can fly.