Zhuang Bei guesses that Zi Qiu likes Jian Jian, though he tries to deny it. Ling Xiao doesn’t return on time, but Jian Jian is forced to put on a smile and entertain her relatives for her mother’s death anniversary.
Ran shows up at Zi Qiu’s coffee shop again to meet with a friend. He comments on how empty the coffee shop is and how that’s a good thing — he’ll feel more comfortable chatting with his friend. Zi Qiu is annoyed to see him, but can’t do anything about it.
Zhuang Bei guesses that he’s Jian Jian’s boyfriend, and thinks that Zi Qiu is overexaggerating his dislike for the guy. He asks what kind of man would be a good boyfriend for Jian Jian. Zi Qiu retorts that Jian Jian doesn’t need a boyfriend. He tries to clarify himself by saying that she’s still young and should focus on her career.
But Zhuang Bei can tell that Zi Qiu doesn’t think she needs anyone by her side. Zi Qiu says that she has him and Ling Xiao. Zhuang Bei asks if Zi Qiu ever dated or liked anyone when he was abroad. Zi Qiu says no. Was he waiting to come back for Jian Jian? Zi Qiu says of course and Zhuang Bei smiles, having cracked the case. Zi Qiu likes Jian Jian.
Zi Qiu sputters, trying to deny it, but Zhuang Bei starts interrogating him on whether his mind is constantly on Jian Jian. He suggests that it’s a good thing if he and Jian Jian were to marry. After all, it’s practically his destiny, since he was sent to Jian Jian’s family and raised with her (an old tradition for children whose marriage is arranged by their parents).
Later, Jian Jian catches Zi Qiu in the hallway just as he’s opening his apartment door. She asks him if he’s been able to contact Ling Xiao, worried. Zi Qiu stammers out some quick responses without looking at her, then hurriedly steps into his apartment.
He thinks about what Zhuang Bei said — that he likes his sister — while brushing his teeth. He leaves his bathroom and walks straight into Jian Jian, who holds a half watermelon up to him asking if he wants some. Zi Qiu scrambles to hide his bare chest with his shirt and, flustered, says he’ll go put on some clothes. Jian Jian seems completely unfazed. Zi Qiu almost accidentally goes into Ling Xiao’s room.
He quickly slams his bedroom door shut and slides to the ground with a sigh, remembering a day from his high school years when Jian Jian pantsed him with a laugh. At that time, Ling Xiao had quickly shielded her eyes.
Now, Zi Qiu and Jian Jian both brood over their separate issues on the couch. Jian Jian wonders if Ling Xiao’s phone is broken. Zi Qiu thinks that would be too much of a coincidence, but also tells Jian Jian not to worry too much — he’s coming back tomorrow, after all. Jian Jian is worried that he won’t be able to overcome his mother.
She offers the watermelon to Zi Qiu. He takes her spoon and eats some, but she protests at his using her spoon. She hops up to get a new one, saying no one wants to eat his spit. He stares down at the spoon in his hand, perhaps realizing that now he’s eating her spit.
Dinner at Chen Ting’s home starts silently. Mei Yang wordlessly takes over scooping the rice from Ling Xiao. Ling Xiao points out that Chen Ting hasn’t eaten anything in over a day. She already has a weak stomach — this isn’t good for her. She asks why he cares whether she lives or dies.
Ling Xiao says that if she dies, then who will take care of Mei Yang? Chen Ting says maybe it’ll be good if she dies — then he’ll have to take Mei Yang with him. Mei Yang says that she would just go to her grandmother’s house. She doesn’t want to go with Ling Xiao to a father who isn’t hers. Chen Ting shames her for not appreciating all these years that Ling Xiao cared for her. Mei Yang responds that no one asked him to take care of her — he did it because he wanted to.
Chen Ting asks Ling Xiao if he must leave. He asks her for his papers back. She starts crying and says that he doesn’t want them anymore. He denies it, saying that he just wants to go back and live near his family.
Jian Jian cringes and rolls her eyes while Du Juan and Zhou Miao sing together at work. They invite her to go out singing with them after work, but she declines, saying she has to wait for her brother. Du Juan teases her about only talking about her brothers since they’ve gotten back. Zhou Miao comments that she seems to be pretty aimei (have an ambiguous, not quite friends but not yet lovers relationship) with them. Jian Jian glares at him, but he keeps rolling with it until Du Juan sends him off to go make her coffee.
Ming Yue is surprised when Jian Jian gets home so early from work. Jian Jian is surprised that she’s already preparing for dinner. Ming Yue kneads dough to make dumplings, saying they haven’t made dumplings in a while. Jian Jian teases her, calling her mom-like. Ming Yue asks if Ling Xiao’s flight has arrived yet, but Jian Jian glumly tells her that his phone seems broken. Ming Yue can tell that she’s upset and says they can deal with him when he gets back. Jian Jian sighs that she can take care of him herself; Jian Jian is done with him. Ming Yue smiles giddily to herself.
It gets late. Jian Jian, Ming Yue, and Tang Can wait at the dinner table for Ling Xiao to return, letting dinner get cold, but he doesn’t show. Tang Can and Ming Yue try to suggest perfectly reasonable scenarios for why Ling Xiao isn’t back yet, but Jian Jian goes to her room and slams the door shut.
The doorbell rings and Tang Can and Ming Yue jump up to answer it, thinking it’s Ling Xiao. Instead, it’s just Zi Qiu, who seems surprised that Ling Xiao isn’t back yet. Ming Yue tells him to go check on Jian Jian. Tang Can says that Ling Xiao should just not come back, calling him a troublemaker. Ming Yue gets defensive on his behalf and also storms into her room, angry.
Zi Qiu hovers in the doorway to Jian Jian’s studio, saying that Ling Xiao probably missed his plane for a perfectly normal reason, like the weather or maybe he lost something. Jian Jian doesn’t respond and keeps working on her piece of wood, then says that it’s not like there’s only one flight coming back from Singapore. He could be on the one the next morning. But she also refuses to eat anything. The only thing she wants to eat is the pear tart near Ling Xiao’s college campus that he promised to bring back for her.
The next morning, Jian Jian and Zi Qiu light incense for Jian Jian’s mother’s death anniversary. Ling Xiao still isn’t back. They go down to the noodle shop and make their rounds talking to all of Jian Jian’s extended family and old neighbors. Marriage is on everyone’s minds. One of Jian Jian’s aunts tells Zi Qiu he should marry Jian Jian. A great-aunt tells Jian Jian she should get married soon and have some children. Another aunt tries to set Zi Qiu up with her daughter, despite her daughter already having a boyfriend (whom she thinks is too poor.)
Jian Jian escapes up to the building’s rooftop, tired of smiling so much. Zi Qiu finds her, also taking a break from her relatives trying to matchmake him. He still remembers how they used to look down on him when he was younger and didn’t have a rich biological father. His eyes suddenly fixate on Jian Jian’s half-eaten ice cream cone. She offers it to him and he’s about to take a bite before she pulls it away, saying it has her saliva and he probably won’t want to eat it.
Hai Chao, Zi Qiu, and Jian Jian send off her relatives. Only one set is left behind, and Jian Jian gets assigned the task of taking her young cousins to the amusement park, something she’s not happy about. Hai Chao and Zi Qiu are quick to disappear, leaving her on her own with the kids.
At night, Zi Qiu and Jian Jian burn money for her mother on a riverbank. She gets started drinking some of the baijiu she’s supposed to pour for her mother. Zi Qiu also gives it a try, having never had baijiu before. He winces at the taste.
Jian Jian says that He Ping always calls the taste of baijiu the taste of life. In life, the sweetness comes first and the bitterness last. The liquor represents the bitterness in life. Only adults can taste it and only adults know about it.
Jian Jian and Zi Qiu finish their glass. She pours another one, takes a sip, then pours the rest out for her mother. Zi Qiu watches her with a smile while she stares pensively into the flames.
Zi Qiu ends up giving Jian Jian a piggyback ride home after she drinks too much. He warns her not to vomit on him. She drunkenly murmurs to him that he can’t leave. He promises that he won’t ever leave again. If Ling Xiao doesn’t come back, she still has him.
He Ping returns home to find Hai Chao slightly tipsy from drinking by himself. He sits down to drink with Hai Chao, having purposely taken off work the next day so they could drink together.
Hai Chao sighs, marveling at how twenty one years have already passed by. Normally, the years just blur together, but today, after having so many around and having all of them leave, he feels a bit empty. He Ping points out that they’ve known each other for twenty years now. The kids used to be so small. Now they’re old.
Hai Chao reminds He Ping to take care of himself. If he falls ill, he’ll just be burdening Ling Xiao more. He asks He Ping what Ling Xiao said when he called him earlier in the afternoon.
Supposedly, Ling Xiao missed his first flight and had a long layover for the second. His cell phone broke so he borrowed someone else’s to call He Ping. But He Ping thinks he’s blatantly lying. He guesses that Chen Ting probably wouldn’t let him leave and smashed his phone. He gets riled up thinking about how Chen Ting didn’t want anything to do with Ling Xiao when he was younger, yet now she refuses to let him go.
There’s a knock at the door: it’s Ling Xiao. Hai Chao wants to make some noodles for him, but Ling Xiao tells him there’s no need. He’s just here to light some incense for Jian Jian’s mother, and hopes he’s not too late. It’s not yet midnight, so he still has time.
Afterward, Ling Xiao asks Hai Chao when Jian Jian and Zi Qiu left. Hai Chao tells him that Jian Jian waited the whole day for him, leaving to burn money for her mother only when it got dark. He Ping realizes that he forgot to tell Jian Jian that Ling Xiao was coming home tonight. Ling Xiao rushes out to go home.
Hai Chao gets annoyed with He Ping for forgetting to tell Jian Jian and making her wait. He Ping wants to stay and drink together but Hai Chao pettily dumps out his liquor.
Ling Xiao goes straight to Jian Jian’s apartment and watches her sleep. He gently brushes her hair out of her face, then leans down to kiss her on the forehead.
Ming Yue leaves her room to grab some water late at night. She spots Ling Xiao’s backpack on the couch and sees the door to Jian Jian’s room slightly ajar. She goes over with a smile to check on Ling Xiao, but then her eyes widen and she ducks away when she sees Ling Xiao leaning in to kiss Jian Jian on the cheek.
Ling Xiao leans in toward Jian Jian, lips hovering over hers, but pulls slightly away before actually kissing her. She opens her eyes, staring straight at him. He stares back. She snaps her eyes shut. He says her name, but she squeezes her eyes closed even harder and turns away. He sighs and leaves. After he’s gone, Jian Jian opens her eyes wide, staring up at the ceiling.
The next morning, Zi Qiu heads over to Jian Jian’s apartment to make breakfast, running into Ming Yue, who is just leaving. He greets her but she doesn’t acknowledge him and instead walks away, seemingly in a bad mood.
Jian Jian lies awake in bed, staring up at the ceiling. She touches her forehead, remembering how Ling Xiao brushed her hair and kissed her there. Was that a dream? She touches her cheek and remembers being kissed there, then ducks behind her covers. She frowns; he probably didn’t mean it that way, right? Then she remembers how she opened her eyes right as he was hovering very close to her mouth. She hides under the covers, letting out a sound somewhere between a cry and a laugh.
Zi Qiu tells Jian Jian to hurry up and come to breakfast. Ling Xiao looks slightly nervous. Tang Can gets a text from Ming Yue, saying that her mother suddenly wants her to stay home for a few days. Zi Qiu thinks that explains the sour look on Ming Yue’s face when he ran into her this morning. Does Ming Yue even know that Ling Xiao is back? He and Tang Can exchange a conspiratorial smile.
Jian Jian comes out to the dining table. She and Ling Xiao make eye contact. She sits down without acknowledging him. Tang Can takes advantage of Ming Yue’s absence to interrogate Ling Xiao. For how long has he had his eye on Ming Yue?
Zi Qiu chokes with laughter. Ling Xiao looks confused. Tang Can says that dating is probably more comfortable than being aimei. Ling Xiao still looks confused, but Tang Can just keeps going. Now that Ming Yue has confessed, shouldn’t they move on to the next step?
Ling Xiao is still stuck on the mention of aimei. Zi Qiu gets stuck on the confession. He didn’t know she had confessed or that they had been in an aimei relationship. Zi Qiu and Tang Can giggle gossip together about Ming Yue’s crush on Ling Xiao. Ling Xiao looks at Jian Jian, who keeps her head down and eats her toast.
Ling Xiao finally says that he wanted to clear things up with Ming Yue and tell her that he already likes someone. Jian Jian freezes but keeps her eyes fixed on her plate. Tang Can keeps laughing, thinking that the person he likes is Ming Yue. Then she pauses, realizing that it isn’t.
She stares at Jian Jian as she starts to connect the dots and gasps, “Oh my gosh.” Jian Jian looks up at her.
So… knowing Tang Can, she probably thinks the person Ling Xiao likes is herself! But what an awkward meal.
I am a sucker for longing looks paired with dramatic music, so that scene with Ling Xiao longingly watching Jian Jian sleep. Ugh. My heart! If you think too hard about it and take the music out of the equation, it could be viewed as kind of creepy rather than romantic, especially if we’re not sure whether Jian Jian likes Ling Xiao back (probably not at this point…?) But let’s not do that. 🙂