Zi Qiu finally speaks face-to-face with He Mei for the first time in twenty years and tries to act like he doesn’t care, but his family can tell how much it affects him. Jian Jian tries to make amends with Ming Yue, but they end up fighting.
Tang Can plays mahjong with Zhuang Bei’s mom again. She loses a necklace to his mom, but insists that she keep it. Afterward, Zhuang Bei’s mother asks her why she does this line of work instead of something else. Tang Can admits that she’s trying to experience life and tells her that she used to be an actress. When she mentions the dramas and commercials she acted in from years ago, Zhuang Bei’s mother’s eyes light up in recognition.
Tang Can is waiting for a taxi to pass by when Zhuang Bei pulls over to pick her up, knowing that it would be difficult for her to flag down a cab.
Zi Qiu is about to head home when he walks out into the coffee shop’s dining room and sees his mother waiting at a table. She meets his eyes with a smile.
Zi Qiu sits down across from her and stares at her face for a moment, before looking down at his hands, which are clenched together in his lap. He Mei comments that he was only up to her waist when she left him. He corrects her, saying that he was actually as tall as her chest. She says she must have misremembered; he says she must not remember at all.
He Mei asks Zi Qiu how Zhao Hua Guang has treated him. He responds that she should know what kind of person he is — there was a reason why she divorced him and hid Zi Qiu’s existence from him. He Mei asks how he managed to convince Zhao to let him come back. From what she knows of Zhao, he would have never let Zi Qiu go. She guesses that Zi Qiu ran away.
Zi Qiu responds that Zhao Hua Guang can’t control him. He Mei tells him that even if Zhao isn’t a good person, at least his money is good. Zi Qiu says he didn’t do it for money. He’s not like her.
He Mei asks why he looked for her. Hai Chao must have updated him on her current situation. Zi Qiu says that he wanted to end things in person with her. He Mei says that she already ended things the day she left him twenty years ago. But Zi Qiu never got his resolution. He has one question for her: when she left she promised she would send for him when she got settled, so why did she later write a letter saying she didn’t want him anymore?
He Mei tells him that Shenzhen wasn’t the place she thought it would be. She could barely take care of herself, much less take care of a child. Zi Qiu blinks back tears and forces a smile. So he was a burden? He Mei thinks that the reason she abandoned him isn’t important, but to Zi Qiu, it is. Was it for his good or for her own? He Mei claims that she had no choice. “So it was for both of us,” he states. She agrees. Zi Qiu accepts that; now that he has an answer, he can consider the matter settled.
Zi Qiu makes one more thing clear. She never raised him, so he won’t take care of her when she’s older. She forces a smile and reassures him that she has a son. She doesn’t need him to take care of her. Zi Qiu forces a smile and nods, glad that they’ve cleared things up.
He pulls out her compact from his bag and puts it on the table, returning it to her. “I’m grateful you gave birth to me. In the future, if we run into each other on the streets, let’s pretend we don’t know each other,” he says, before getting up and leaving. It’s an exact echo of what He Mei told Hai Chao only a few days before.
She calls out to him before he leaves. He pauses. Neither look at the other, but she tells him that she owes him for giving birth to him but not raising him. In the future, if he runs into any trouble, he can let her know. She will still help him.
“No need,” Zi Qiu says, then goes out the door. He cries as he rides home on his moped.
Ming Yue spots Jian Jian crouching outside her mother’s apartment building, swatting away mosquitoes. Ming Yue tries to speed past without acknowledging her, but Jian Jian spots her and tries to stand up, calling her name. But then she suddenly collapses over in pain, having fallen onto a rock. Ming Yue hurries over and tries to help her up, but Jian Jian melts onto the ground, saying that her legs are numb. Then she throws herself into Ming Yue’s arms, trying to drag herself up.
Jian Jian wants Ming Yue to let her in, but instead Ming Yue drags her away from the building. She sits her down outside and applies some medicine to Jian Jian’s leg. Jian Jian asks her to not move away. When Ming Yue finds out that Ling Xiao let her see the text message, she gets annoyed. It was meant for him, not her. Or is Jian Jian allowed to read all the messages on Ling Xiao’s phone now?
Jian Jian tries to explain how Ling Xiao’s phone broke and she was helping him install apps on his new one when she accidentally saw the message, but drifts off when she sees that Ming Yue is still glaring at her. She admits that Ling Xiao let her see the message.
Ming Yue stands up angrily. She tried so hard to get Ling Xiao and Jian Jian to reconcile, and this is how they treat her? Not even telling her about what’s going on between them? Are they laughing at her behind her back?
Jian Jian says that Ming Yue should know this isn’t a laughing matter, but Ming Yue doesn’t listen. She feels like a huge fool. They never needed her help reconciling and now she feels like they were teaming up to trick her. Jian Jian tells her that she didn’t even know until Ming Yue knew. Never in her wildest dreams could she have imagined that both her brothers would like her.
“Zi Qiu likes you?” Ming Yue asks in a quiet voice. Then she accuses Jian Jian of coming here today to show off in her face. She knows that Ming Yue used to like Zi Qiu in high school. She’s probably so happy right now knowing that she’s making Ming Yue miserable.
Jian Jian is offended that Ming Yue would think that of her. They start yelling at each other before Jian Jian finally storms off. Ming Yue sits down and cries.
Zhuang Bei and Tang Can joke about swapping mothers as he walks her home. He’s surprised to hear that Tang Can doesn’t have a good relationship with her mother. In his view, mothers always want what’s best for their children — they’d never do anything to harm them. That’s why he thinks it’s worth trying to consider things from their perspective. Tang Can frowns and he apologizes for being nosy, but she quickly smiles and says that what he said makes sense.
She tells him that she can go the rest of the way by herself, but he claims that he doesn’t mind seeing her to her door, since he… was looking for Zi Qiu anyway. Tang Can beams and invites him upstairs for some tea.
Zhuang Bei casually asks why Ming Yue has been so busy lately. She hasn’t responded to his texts for several days. Tang Can tells him that Ming Yue went home for a few days. He pauses — so she’s not even at the apartment right now?
Once they reach Tang Can’s building, Zhuang Bei says that he should probably head home to finish up some work. Tang Can guesses that he made up the excuse about Zi Qiu, but incorrectly thinks that he made up the excuse just so he could walk her to her building.
When Tang Can gets home, she finds Jian Jian crying under a blanket on the couch. She immediately rushes over and coos over Jian Jian, demanding to know who made her cry like this. Jian Jian keeps crying and doesn’t respond.
Tang Can goes across the hall to bang on Zi Qiu and Ling Xiao’s door, yelling for them to hurry up and come out. When Ling Xiao opens the door, she asks if he’s deaf — how did he not hear Jian Jian crying? She orders him to go check on Jian Jian.
Ling Xiao gently asks Jian Jian what’s wrong. She starts hitting him, then cries and says that Ming Yue called her a dog. Ling Xiao laughs slightly in response. Jian Jian starts hitting him again, saying it’s all his fault, then bites him on the shoulder. Ling Xiao winces and tries to get her to stop. When she pulls away, he takes her back to his apartment to talk.
Jian Jian finally stops crying and Ling Xiao hands her an ice pack to reduce the swelling in her eyes. He gently tells Jian Jian that Ming Yue is probably just embarrassed. They should give her some time to cool off, and then he’ll apologize to her. Jian Jian thinks that apologizing is useless if he doesn’t like her. Ling Xiao responds that liking someone isn’t something that a person can control.
He pulls back his sleeve to show her the bite mark she left, then asks her to massage it. She scoots over to massage his shoulder and he smiles, even when she mutters that he deserved it for bothering her when she was angry at him. He puts his hand over hers, commenting on how cold it is. She pulls away, saying that she was holding ice, of course it’s cold. She tells him to sit still if he wants her to massage him. He nods obediently.
Zi Qiu returns home and immediately notices that Jian Jian was crying. She tries to deny it, but Ling Xiao betrays her and tells Zi Qiu that she had a fight with Ming Yue.
Zi Qiu makes an offhanded comment about how women are always fighting one moment and then friendly the next. As he pours himself some water, he casually mentions that he saw “Aunt He” today. Jian Jian repeats the name. Who? “The one who almost became your stepmother,” Zi Qiu says.
Jian Jian looks questioningly at Ling Xiao, who tells her that Hai Chao told them earlier today that he found He Mei. She turns back to Zi Qiu and hesitantly asks how she is.
Zi Qiu tries to act casual as he tells her about how He Mei has already been in town for two years and is remarried with a 4-year-old son. Jian Jian’s face falls. Zi Qiu continues, saying that if Hai Chao hadn’t gone looking for her, she probably wouldn’t have even thought to come see him.
Zi Qiu maintains his forced smile as he says that he just wanted to clear things up with her that he’s also doing fine and that they have no relationship anymore. He looks up to see Jian Jian and Ling Xiao staring at him with heartbroken expressions. He tries to reassure him that he’s fine.
Later, Jian Jian slips into Zi Qiu’s bedroom with a piece of chocolate. He has the covers pulled over his head, but sticks a hand out for the chocolate. When he’s done, he sticks his hand back out. Jian Jian says she only had the one piece, but keeps his hand out there and she clasps it with her two hands, crouching down by his bed.
She thinks back to how, when they were little, Zhu Peng used to lead the other neighborhood kids in songs making fun of Zi Qiu and the rest of them and how they didn’t have good mothers. Jian Jian would charge them with her toy sword, wanting to fight, and send them scattering.
At night, she would slip into his room, where he’d be hiding under the covers, and slip him some candy. Then she’d crawl into bed with him and hold his hand, and they’d fall asleep like that.
Now, Ling Xiao checks in on Jian Jian and Zi Qiu. He smiles slightly when he sees Jian Jian crouched by Zi Qiu’s bed, asleep, then closes the door.
Du Juan’s English translator drops out at the last minute and she struggles to find a replacement. Zhou Miao suggests asking Jian Jian’s brother, the one who studied abroad. When Jian Jian arrives at the studio, Du Juan asks her to call Zi Qiu. Jian Jian reluctantly agrees.
Jian Jian, Du Juan, and Zhou Miao stare at Zi Qiu when arrives in a suit with sunglasses. He catches them staring and asks if he’s overdressed, but Du Juan quickly reassures him that it’s perfect and asks to take a photo. Zhou Miao looks slightly jealous, especially when Du Juan snaps a selfie.
Du Juan preps Zi Qiu on her expectations for the meeting, then leaves to touch up her make-up. Zi Qiu slides over to sit next to Jian Jian and tells her to smell his hair, asking if it smells good. It does. Then he laughs at her, saying he hasn’t washed his hair for three days.
She starts chasing him around the studio. He runs by the workbench and spots her manga on the table, then makes a comment about how it looks interesting. Jian Jian sprints over and grabs it out of his hand, telling him that it’s Du Juan’s and that he shouldn’t touch her things.
Zi Qiu wants to see it. Jian Jian tries to keep it away from him. Du Juan interrupts them: the client is here.
The client meeting goes successfully and the four go out for a celebratory meal afterward. Du Juan and Zhou Miao start dreaming of big money and ways to market Jian Jian. When Zhou Miao learns that Jian Jian is protege of a famous professor from their university, whose work has sold for millions of yuan, he tells her that she should ask the professor to get her into some artist circles. He thinks that making it in today’s society is entirely dependent on connections. Jian Jian looks bored with the conversation, and makes a snide comment asking if he thinks that connections will mean he doesn’t have to do any work. Du Juan looks uncomfortable.
Zi Qiu speaks up, saying that he agrees with Zhou Miao, and suggests that Zhou Miao should probably go work somewhere with more like-minded people. Jian Jian is someone who is very dedicated to her artwork. Her hands are full of calluses and scars. Looking at Zhou Miao’s hands, he can see that he doesn’t sculpt very often. Zhou Miao frowns at being called out. Du Juan tries to change the subject.
Du Juan and Zhou Miao head back to the studio after they eat, while Jian Jian stays behind to send off Zi Qiu. Zi Qiu comments on Du Juan’s taste in men. Jian Jian sighs that her taste in men is her one flaw: she loves to look for boyfriends in the trash. But she also lets Du Juan have her dreams and her fun. She doesn’t think this relationship will last more than a few months.
Jian Jian pats Zi Qiu on the shoulder and praises him again for his performance today. They smile at each other and she affectionately puts her hands on his back as they head out.
I’m so disappointed that Ming Yue reacted this way! But perhaps I gave her too much credit. It does seem like she lashed out at Jian Jian because she’s embarrassed by her own presumptuousness rather than any real ill will toward Jian Jian.
Up until now, we mainly only saw memories of Jian Jian and Ling Xiao and all the ways in which she cared for him and he for her. Zi Qiu was there, but only ever in the context of looking after Jian Jian. For the first time, we’re seeing more of how Jian Jian was also good to him, and why he feels like he owes her.
Who will be the victor in the end? Most signs point to Ling Xiao, but Zi Qiu could easily be a dark horse. After all, he’s holding her hand in the poster.