Jian Jian still feels awkward around Ling Xiao and Zi Qiu, but decides to at least pretend to be nice to them, for her father’s sake. Zi Qiu finally returns home and realizes how much he missed while he was gone. Ling Xiao avoids his mother.
Jian Jian tells her friends that her brothers now feel like strangers to her. Tang Can thinks that it’s pretty reasonable that people she hasn’t seen for nine years would feel like strangers — if she were to see any of their high school classmates, she might not even remember their names. But Jian Jian also acknowledges that her brothers aren’t just normal friends — they were her brothers for so long. If she can’t get along well with them, her fathers will be so sad.
But Jian Jian suddenly feels inspired. She remembers how whenever she goes to the countryside to visit her relatives, the ones she’s less familiar with are always the ones who are the warmest and most welcoming. She can treat Ling Xiao and Zi Qiu like those distant relatives and pretend to be warm toward them.
Jian Jian cheerfully goes to bed, pleased that she’s come up with a solution.
The next morning, Zi Qiu is woken up by a knock at the door. When he sees that Jian Jian is the one outside, he gets nervous and spends a few seconds trying to hype himself up.
Jian Jian cheerily invites Zi Qiu to a belated birthday celebration dinner for He Ping and asks him to make a cake. She also suggests that he should probably let them know that he’s returned before tonight. She hopes that he isn’t still planning on trying to surprise his dad — he doesn’t need a surprise. Zi Qiu asks if she was pleasantly surprised. She pauses before saying that she was really pleasantly surprised, with an overexaggerated laugh, then hurriedly says goodbye. He offers to pick her up from work but she puts out her hand to stop him and rushes away. She drops her smile and lets out a breath after she puts some distance between them.
Zi Qiu giggles to himself once she’s gone, but then freezes when he realizes that Jian Jian said “your dad.” What did she mean by that?
Jian Jian admires a large chunk of wood she acquired. Du Juan warns her that after this one, she isn’t allowed to buy more new material. They don’t have the money.
Jian Jian gets a text from the person she was texting the night before, saying, “Li Jian Jian, let’s date!”
Chen Ting calls Ling Xiao several times while he’s in the middle of an appointment. He ignores them all.
After the appointment, he’s washing up when a bawling girl clings to the doorframe of his exam room, unwilling to go further despite her mother’s attempts to calm her down. He grabs a party blower and goes over, calming her down with just a few words. The girl clings to him with a hug, and Ling Xiao ends up treating her instead of her scheduled dentist, who motions her thanks from down the hall.
Later, he’s grabbing a coffee when the other dentist shows up and introduces herself as Feng Xi Xi. She tells him to call her Xi Xi, but he insists on calling her Dr. Feng. Xi Xi comments that he seems pretty good with kids and asks what his secret is. Ling Xiao responds that he has a younger sister. Xi Xi asks if he has extra party blowers she can have. Ling Xiao has three, but he plans on giving one to his younger sister. Xi Xi asks how old his sister is. When Ling Xiao says 25, her smiles wanes. She asks about the other two. Ling Xiao says he plans on giving one to his brother — he admits he’s 27 — and the third he’s already used. Xi Xi thinks he just doesn’t want to give her one.
Zi Qiu steels himself before entering Hai Chao’s restaurant, but instead of finding Hai Chao, he sees the hostess loudly suggesting different options to a foreign-looking man. Hai Chao immediately assumes that the man doesn’t understand Chinese and steps in to explain the menu in English. The man turns to him in confusion and asks in Sichuanese if he can speak Chinese. He’s from Sichuan and doesn’t understand English. He’s just indecisive because he’s a Libra.
After the man orders, the hostess asks Zi Qiu what he wants to eat. She guesses that he wants the sweet and sour rib noodle soup, then shows him a picture of him, Jian Jian, and Ling Xiao that sits on the front desk. They’re the only ones who ever order that dish.
Hai Chao hears the hostess talking from inside the kitchen. He goes outside to investigate, and is overcome with emotion when he sees Zi Qiu.
The hostess jokingly tells Zi Qiu that he should kowtow to his father after not seeing him for so long. Zi Qiu obediently drops to his knees and touches his head to the ground. Hai Chao hastily lifts him up to his feet and embraces him. They’re both crying.
Jian Jian frowns as she stares at her drawing board, unable to find inspiration. Du Juan offers to take her out karaokeing, but Jian Jian says she can’t — relatives are coming over for dinner. Jian Jian suddenly asks Du Juan if she thinks it’s time she dated someone. Du Juan immediately pulls over a chair and says that it’s definitely time Jian Jian dated someone. Dating might also give her inspiration; all male artists have muses who were their lovers. But… where did Jian Jian find a man that Du Juan doesn’t know?
Jian Jian says that this friend is an online friend that Du Juan knows about: Ran. She was supposed to meet up with him at the exhibition the other day, before everything blew up. Du Juan approves, but also doesn’t think he’s right for Jian Jian. From his art, she gets the impression that he seems to worship women, something that can be good, but can also be very fragile. Based on her extensive dating experience, she thinks he’s probably ugly.
Hai Chao brings Zi Qiu back to the apartment, where Zi Qiu looks around nostalgically at the photos on the wall while they chat about his new coffee shop. Hai Chao suddenly looks serious and asks Zi Qiu what he told his father about coming back. Zi Qiu says that Hai Chao is his real father and that Zhao can’t control him. Hai Chao says that it’s fine if Zi Qiu doesn’t feel close to Zhao, but he shouldn’t hurt him either. Zi Qiu claims he understands, but also doesn’t want to talk about Zhao anymore.
Zi Qiu checks out his old room, which has been tidied up and looks the way he left it. He asks Hai Chao if someone is staying there. Hai Chao says that when Jian Jian told him someone extra would be coming tonight, he guessed it was Zi Qiu.
Earlier, Hai Chao had been polishing his framed photo of his kids and wondering when Zi Qiu would come back when his hostess saw the photo. She found him familiar and then placed his face: she’d seen him come by the restaurant — but never come in — multiple times. She pulls up security camera footage showing Zi Qiu’s face.
Now, Hai Chao tells Zi Qiu that ever since he was little, he would always overthink things and put undue burden on himself. Zi Qiu admits that he didn’t come back for so long because the longer he stayed away, the more he felt like Hai Chao had wasted his time raising him.
Hai Chao chuckles to himself and says that as a parent, raising a kid has never been a waste. He would only feel like it was a waste if his kids grew up to harm other people. All he wants as a parent is for his kids to fly a little higher than him. But they don’t even have to do better, as long as they’re happy.
Zi Qiu starts sniffling, but then denies that he’s crying. He wonders how Hai Chao can want something for his kids as simple as being happy, when other parents insist on greatness. Hai Chao says that happiness isn’t simple. Being happy for a whole lifetime? No one can do that.
He notices Zi Qiu picking anxiously at his nails and tells him to help prepare the vegetables. He asks Zi Qiu if he plans on moving back home, but Zi Qiu tells him that he’s renting the apartment across from Jian Jian with Ling Xiao. It’ll be like old times, the two of them taking care of Jian Jian. Hai Chao frowns for a moment, but then smiles, saying that’s good, too. He looks content now that the whole family is back together.
Jian Jian runs into Auntie Qian on her way home. Auntie Qian has heard that both of her brothers are back now — it looks like Hai Chao is now the most fortunate man in their whole apartment complex. She says that she’ll be sure to invite the whole family out to dinner one day.
She turns and sees two kids splashing through a puddle, then smiles nostalgically as she remembers a rainy day from her own childhood. She and Zi Qiu had gotten stuck on one side of a large puddle. She wanted to wait for Ling Xiao, who had gone home to get their rain boots, but Zi Qiu insisted on piggybacking her across, sacrificing his own shoes for her. Ling Xiao got back in time to see Zi Qiu stumble and fall, soaking himself and Jian Jian.
Jian Jian started crying and yelling at Zi Qiu, while Ling Xiao rushed over to lift her out of the puddle. Ling Xiao dragged her out of the puddle, but she kept yelling at Zi Qiu, who just stood in the puddle and started crying.
Now, Jian Jian laughs to herself at the memory, but then catches herself laughing and stops.
Zi Qiu gifts Hai Chao and He Ping matching shoes, then gives Jian Jian a Burberry bag that she reluctantly accepts. Ling Xiao looks at him expectantly, but he doesn’t have a gift prepared for him. Ling Xiao jokes back that he doesn’t have one either.
The family eats hotpot — a family birthday tradition — for dinner. Ling Xiao turns the spicy half of the pot away from Jian Jian, mentioning that he treated her tooth the other day so she can’t eat spicy things yet. The two dads make a big deal about how Ling Xiao became a dentist because Jian Jian always had a fear of dentists. Now, they can all rely on Ling Xiao to take care of their dental needs. Jian Jian toasts him.
Zi Qiu looks jealous and mentions that he made a birthday cake for He Ping, which he brings it out. Hai Chao says that now Jian Jian has to stick with Zi Qiu for the rest of her life because she loves sweets so much. Zi Qiu beams and holds out his cup, hoping Jian Jian will toast him, but instead she points out that there aren’t any candles.
Ling Xiao volunteers to go out and get some. Zi Qiu insists on going instead, grabbing onto Ling Xiao’s shirt to stop him. He accidentally pulls Ling Xiao’s collar back, exposing a large scar on his shoulder. Concerned, he asks what happened. Ling Xiao tries to hide it, but it’s too late. Hai Chao, He Ping, and Zi Qiu all hover around him.
Ling Xiao claims he accidentally burned himself. He didn’t tell them because he didn’t want them to worry needlessly when there was nothing they could do. Besides, last time, when his father fell down the stairs on case, breaking his leg and getting a concussion, they wouldn’t have told him if he hadn’t asked about suspect timing.
Zi Qiu didn’t even know that He Ping had broken his leg and gotten a concussion. Jian Jian says that there was no point in telling him — it’s not like he would’ve been able to come back and care for him. Zi Qiu has nothing to say to that and everyone looks down awkwardly. Jian Jian tries to smooth over the situation by telling everyone to eat.
Zi Qiu and Ling Xiao continue to look bothered. Ling Xiao puts some meat into Zi Qiu’s bowl, like he did when they were younger. Zi Qiu offers him a crab in return. They toast to each other and drink. The fathers smile to see them be on good terms again.
At the end of the night, Ling Xiao wants to see Zi Qiu and Jian Jian off in a taxi, but Zi Qiu casually says that they can just take his car. They both look surprised, but Zi Qiu acts like it’s no big deal. Cars aren’t that expensive. His “car,” though, is just a used moped that has seen better days.
Ling Xiao and Jian Jian smile skeptically at it. Zi Qiu reassures them that it works fine. Ling Xiao tries to take Jian Jian’s hand and says that he’ll get a taxi for her, but her phone rings and she pulls away to answer it with a smile. When they ask who it is, she casually says, “My boyfriend,” and then tells them that she’ll see them later before walking off.
Zi Qiu and Ling Xiao exchange a surprised look. Boyfriend?
Zi Qiu tries to follow, though his moped struggles to start. He manages to keep up with Jian Jian’s taxi for a little bit, but then his moped breaks down.
Ling Xiao sits on the rooftop and indecisively hovers over Jian Jian’s contact in his phone. He finally bites the bullet and calls her, but it goes straight to voicemail.
Jian Jian chats with Ran on the phone about her brothers. The way they look at her now reminds her of how they looked when she first met them as children — they both look forlorn.
Zi Qiu pushes his broken-down moped along the side of the road. At a red light, a car pulls up beside him. He glances at it for a moment, then looks away. Then he looks back again, because a woman who looks like his mother is sitting in the backseat. He doesn’t get a great look, because the light turns green and the car drives off. He drops his moped and takes off on foot, sprinting after the car, but gives up after it gets too far away.
Ling Xiao receives a voice message from his mother, asking how he’s doing. She seems to be under the impression that he’s only here to vacation for a bit before returning home. She tells him that he doesn’t have concern himself with her or her sister; she already told Mei Yang to not bother him with phone calls. She asks him to send her any recipes he wants her to make, and to ask Hai Chao if he has any secret tips. As he’s listening to the one voice memo, several more pop up.
Zi Qiu broods in the dark before bed, holding his mother’s compact.
Ling Xiao and his father eat in Hai Chao’s noodle shop. Ling Xiao plans on moving out today, and He Ping seems sad about it, but reminds him to call whenever he’s free. He puts some food into Ling Xiao’s bowl.
Auntie Qian and Auntie He walk into the restaurant. He Ping invites them over to sit. They marvel at how handsome Ling Xiao has become. Auntie Qian comments that he also has a great job as a doctor — he’s a catch for sure. She asks him if he has a girlfriend and looks ready to try and matchmake him.
Auntie He changes the subject by asking Ling Xiao how his mother is doing. He starts explaining to them how she’ll never fully recover. She’s able to walk, but often gets tired or is in pain, so it’s not easy.
Hai Chao comes over with the aunties’ noodles. Auntie Qian asks where Zi Qiu has been. Hai Chao tells them that Zi Qiu is living across from Jian Jian, and Ling Xiao will be moving in with him. The kids like to stick together.
Auntie Qian, with a glimmer in her eye, suggests that Hai Chao should just pick one of the two sons as a son-in-law. They’re already family. She asks Ling Xiao what he thinks. Ling Xiao smiles and responds that he’ll try his best. They all have a good laugh about it, like it’s a joke, but is it really?
I really like the continued emphasis on how food represents family and affection in this show. At He Ping’s birthday dinner, Ling Xiao and Zi Qiu put food in each other’s bowls as a show of reconciliation and reaffirming their brotherhood. He Ping might not have many words to say to Ling Xiao, but when they eat lunch together, he puts food into Ling Xiao’s bowl. It seems to be the best way he knows how to show he cares without saying it. When things get awkward? Just tell everyone to eat!
But also, I love that Jian Jian has a boyfriend who is neither Ling Xiao nor Zi Qiu. We haven’t seen his face yet, but I bet he’s going to be a huge catch, too. The boys could use someone to keep them on their toes.
It’s pretty obvious that both Zi Qiu and Ling Xiao are keeping secrets. Zi Qiu continues to act like money means nothing to him, but his reality suggests otherwise. Ling Xiao is also hiding things from both his mother and his fathers. Chen Ting doesn’t know that he’s planning to be gone for good, and there’s definitely more to the burn scar on his shoulder than just a simple accident.
I’m kind of excited for more drama to happen surrounding Jian Jian, but also a bit apprehensive. It seems pretty clear that at some point, the drama is just going to be all about the love triangle. Hopefully, in focusing on our main trio, the show won’t forget the family aspect. It’s strength right now is in the family moments and in the way that it’s touching without being melodramatic, and I hope the writing doesn’t lose its way!