Chinese Dramas, Drama Recaps

Recap: Go Ahead (Ep. 24)

This episode of Go Ahead is all about conflict and parental involvement. Jian Jian finally gets a second chance to talk with Ming Yue, but then gets into an argument with Tang Can after Tang Can has a fight with her parents. He Mei seeks out Hai Chao, concerned about Zi Qiu but not wanting to let him know.

Recap

Ling Xiao is reading on the couch when there’s a knock at the door. He smiles, thinking it’s Jian Jian, and asks why she’s knocking when she already has fingerprint access. But when he opens the door, he’s alarmed to find Chen Ting, who smiles at him and asks, “Do you not want me or your sister anymore?”

Ling Xiao’s eyes snap open. It was just a dream. He fell asleep on the couch. But then there’s a knock at the door and he hears his mother’s voice, insisting he open the door. His phone starts ringing. He tries to cover his ears, breathing hard. He can’t escape the sound of his mother and sister’s voices.

Jian Jian returns home to find a deliveryman knocking at Ling Xiao’s door with no response. She accepts the delivery and then lets herself into the apartment. When she sees Ling Xiao huddled over on the couch, she tells him that she’ll leave the food by the door and starts to head out, but he asks her, in a shaking voice, to bring it over for him.

She finally notices that he’s not okay and hurries over, asking what’s wrong. He doesn’t say anything, but pulls her into a hug, pressing his head against her stomach. She looks surprised, but then gently pats him on the head.

Jian Jian takes Ling Xiao on another run along the waterfront, explaining to him all the benefits of exhausting himself. Ling Xiao teases her about running too fast and exhausting herself, since she usually doesn’t exercise. She finally stops, acknowledging that she’s tired. He grabs her hand pulls her up, saying it’s not good to suddenly stop after running. They walk along the waterfront, hand in hand.

She asks if he’s really okay and warns him not to lie. Ling Xiao reassures her that he’s fine — it was just a bad dream. Why would he lie? She says that he should know why. He asks her to explain herself.

Jian Jian asks him to explain himself: why did Chen Ting let him come back?

Ling Xiao tells Jian Jian that Chen Ting didn’t want to let him go. She took his passport and hid it somewhere. Mei Yang caught him digging through their mother’s room, looking for it, and asked if he really wanted to go back that much. She had the passport and papers in her hand and tossed it onto the bed for him.

He asked her where she found it. She said that their mother told her to give it to him. He didn’t believe it, but Mei Yang said that it was clear his heart wasn’t here. He was already lying to them and he’d only get worse in the future. Why would their mother want a bad son?

Mei Yang had blinked back tears and told him that she would take care of their mother from now on. He didn’t need to worry about them anymore. He could go live his own life.

Their mother returned home and the first thing she asked Ling Xiao was whether he had bought his plane ticket yet. He asked if she was really going to let him go. She told him that Mei Yang had convinced her. She could hide his papers and that would keep him here for a day or two, but could she keep him here forever? She smiled at him and said that they had burdened him for long enough. Now it’s time for him to do what he wants.

Jian Jian looks up at Ling Xiao with sad eyes. He puts his arm around her with a smile and gently guides her back into a walk. She removes his hand from around her shoulder and instead grabs his wrist and drags him along.

When they get back, Ling Xiao puts some medicine on the cut on Jian Jian’s knee that hasn’t healed yet. Zi Qiu shows up and also goes over to see what’s going on. Jian Jian starts telling Tang Can about how she once fell down the stairs at school, trying to see how many stairs she could hop down at once. Zi Qiu looks at her, confused. Hadn’t she been pushed? Jian Jian says she and Ming Yue lied about it because she was afraid Hai Chao would get mad at her for messing around.

Zi Qiu looks troubled. He thought Zhao Hua Guang had hired someone to hurt Jian Jian as a threat. Ling Xiao realizes that Zi Qiu left with Zhao Hua Guang because he thought that he was threatening Jian Jian. Zi Qiu says that he wasn’t sure that there was a line Zhao Hua Guang wouldn’t cross. After all, he’d caused the restaurant to close, so it didn’t seem like that much of a stretch.

Jian Jian never knew that the restaurant closed because of Zhao Hua Guang. She frowns, upset that everyone knew except her. Tang Can comments that their family has so much drama that even a TV drama wouldn’t dare be written this way.

At night, Jian Jian decides to post her love triangle situation on an anonymous internet forum.

Auntie Qian brings Hong Ying, the teacher she had been wanting to set Hai Chao up with, by the restaurant so that he’s forced to meet her. Auntie Qian has told Hong Ying all about Hai Chao’s history, including that he raised the son of the woman who took his money and ran away. Hai Chao makes awkward small talk.

Suddenly, He Mei shows up at the restaurant, looking for Hai Chao. She tells him that she needs a favor and he all-too-willingly takes leave of Auntie Qian and his blind date. Auntie Qian doesn’t recognize her at first, and it’s only until long after she’s gone that she realizes it was He Mei.

Hai Chao invites He Mei to his apartment, where she looks curiously into Zi Qiu’s room while he prepares some tea. He’s in full hospitable mode and motions for her to sit on the couches in the living room, but she insists on sitting at the dining table, all business-like.

She has a number of things on her mind that she wants to discuss with Hai Chao. She’s still not convinced that Zhao Hua Guang willingly let Zi Qiu return, and points out to Hai Chao that even if Zhao Hua Guang can’t control Zi Qiu, he can come back and make trouble for Hai Chao. Then she switches to the topic of Zi Qiu’s coffee shop. She astutely notes that the only customers he gets are high school students who can’t afford the full-priced menu. She estimates that he’s operating at a loss.

She pulls out her phone and exchanges contact info with Hai Chao. She has a friend who manages a chain of coffee shops and is willing to help Zi Qiu. She’ll pass on the friend’s info to Hai Chao, and asks him to pass it on to Zi Qiu and say that it’s his friend.

Hai Chao asks why she’s going to such lengths to hide her involvement. He Mei acknowledges that she’s overstepping her bounds in this case, but that this is her way of repaying Zi Qiu what she owes.

She stands up to leave. Hai Chao hurries to grab some homemade fish balls from the fridge and insists on giving them to her, saying that children enjoy eating them. If her kid likes it, he’ll make more. She doesn’t move to take it, so he presses it into her hands. She thanks him awkwardly.

Ming Yue arrives at a coffee shop, thinking that she’s meeting up with Tang Can, but in reality, it’s Jian Jian waiting there. Ming Yue’s not happy to see her, but Jian Jian has her hukou papers, which she needs in order to find a new apartment. At first, Jian Jian hands over the pouch with Ming Yue’s papers, but then she takes it back. She refuses to give it to Ming Yue until she sits down and drinks coffee with her.

Ming Yue sits down stiffly, staring at the table and not touching her drink. She’ll let Jian Jian talk.

Jian Jian asks if it’s her fault that other people like her. Ming Yue responds that she never said it was her fault. Everyone falls in love with Jian Jian. This is her own problem. “How is it your problem?” Jian Jian asks. Ming Yue says that it’s her own problem that no one likes her. Jian Jian doesn’t like that — who said that no one likes her? She reminds Ming Yue that she once told Tang Can to not let herself be defined by how men see her.

But Ming Yue says that she understands how Tang Can feels. It’s really hard to like yourself when the person you like doesn’t like you. She doesn’t want to go back and live with them because they’ll laugh at her.

Jian Jian says that no one is laughing at her. She raps her knuckles on the table, asking if they’re even real friends. Ming Yue responds, agitated, that they are real friends and that’s why she wants to keep her distance, for all of their sakes.

She admits to Jian Jian that she feels ashamed of herself and that she’s angry at herself. Jian Jian says she’d rather Ming Yue be angry at her. She feels like she owes Ming Yue an apology. Ming Yue says she has nothing to apologize for. She was the one who unfairly took out her anger on Jian Jian. Jian Jian says she’ll let Ming Yue be angry at her if that means she won’t move away. Ling Xiao wants to apologize to her. No one is laughing at her.

Jian Jian offers to move back home and stay there until Ming Yue is ready to let her back in. Jian Jian understands that Ming Yue’s whole reason for moving out was to get away from her mother. It’s only reasonable that Ming Yue move back in and Jian Jian move out.

Ming Yue sighs and asks Jian Jian if she thinks she’s being difficult on purpose. Jian Jian says no. Ming Yue starts to tear up as she admits that the only people she dares be difficult with are them. She leans back with shaky breaths as tears fall down her face. Jian Jian tries to blink away her own tears.

Ming Yue says, “Forget it. I give up.” She’s always believed that she’ll get something if she’s lucky and if she doesn’t, it’s fate. So this is fate. She won’t force it.

She tells Jian Jian that she finds it really difficult to face them right now, and asks her to not force it. She just needs some time. Jian Jian nods. Ming Yue holds out her hand for her papers. Jian Jian reluctantly hands it over. After Ming Yue’s gone, Jian Jian breaks down and cries.

Tang Can steels herself outside the private room booked for her mother’s birthday dinner. She walks in with a bright smile, greeting all of her relatives and bearing a cake and gift for her mother. Her mother puts on a similarly fake smile. When Tang Can tries to have her mother put on the bracelet she gifts her, her mother quickly declines, saying she’s already wearing one. Tang Can’s face falls for a moment.

An auntie starts admonishing her daughter, Yan Yan, saying she should be more like Tang Can. Tang Can forces a smile, then finds out that her mom lied and told everyone that she’s working at a museum. She glares at her mother, who looks away. Her father gently reminds her to be happy — today is her mother’s birthday, after all.

An uncle asks how much she makes at the museum. She responds that she’s not sure — he should ask her mother. Her mother gives her a sharp look before laughing awkwardly and saying that Tang Can doesn’t make much, but it’s the work environment that’s important for a young woman like her.

The uncle says that if it were up to him, Tang Can should keep being an actress. She was so successful when she was younger. Tang Can looks down. Her mother frowns for a moment, then starts talking about how Tang Can started losing interest in acting as she got older. Tang Can lets out a scoff, but then gives her mother a saccharine smile and sarcastically tells her that she is too right. Her mother frowns.

The auntie, Yan Yan’s mother, seems to sense the tension and tries to add fuel to the fire, saying that it’s such a shame Tang Can didn’t become a star. If only she had booked that movie in high school, then she would be the celebrity instead of that other girl. Then her parents wouldn’t have to continue operating that neighborhood store of theirs.

Yan Yan jumps in to defend Tang Can, saying it’s not that easy to be a star and they should stop ragging on her. Her mother admonishes her, saying that she would totally have her be a star if not for her ugly face. Yan Yan retorts that she’s grateful she’s ugly; at least she had a childhood, unlike Tang Can.

Tang Can focuses on her food while they continue to bicker around her.

Afterward, her parents send off the guests while Tang Can frowns and sits by herself in the banquet room. Her parents catch her leaving and her mother calls out her attitude. Tang Can snidely responds that she needs to go back to the museum for work. Her mother isn’t having any of it, saying that if she continued acting instead of running that online store of hers, then she wouldn’t have been so embarrassed and had to lie in front of her friends.

Her mother reminds her that she was the one who once promised to take care of them so they would never have to work again. So she shouldn’t act like they were forcing her to act. Tang Can’s mother tells her to not act like she never did anything for Tang Can. She was the one who got Tang Can into the final round of auditions, but Tang Can was the one who failed to get the spot. Tang Can’s father tries to get her mother to calm down, but her mother just turns on him instead. Their daughter is 26 and still acting like a useless dreamer.

Tang Can returns home, dejected. Jian Jian is huddled under her blanket, watching ending credits scroll down the TV screen. Tang Can joins her and hugs a pillow, thinking about how much time and effort she had put into her gifts for her mother. She had gotten Jian Jian to teach her how to sculpt the wooden beads for the necklace, and had asked Zi Qiu to teach her how to make the cake, upon which she had written, “Mom, I love you.”

Later, Jian Jian and Tang Can ice their eyelids with spoons. Jian Jian takes responsibility for thinking that a handmade gift could be better than a gold bracelet, but she agrees with Tang Can’s parents that the online store is unsustainable. She thinks that Tang Can should consider the museum job her father suggested for her. She’s worried that some pervert will attack Tang Can when she goes out dressed up for her clients. Tang Can accuses her of victim-blaming — so women should just never leave the house?

Jian Jian says that’s not what she means. But now that Tang Can has no plans of being an actress anymore, there’s no need for her to experience life with the miscellaneous jobs she books. She could sell wares instead. Tang Can lashes out at her, accusing her of looking down on her and her job. Jian Jian denies it, but there’s no stopping Tang Can when she feels hurt and is on a roll. They start pillow fighting.

After the pillow fight, Jian Jian and Tang Can both look ruffled and are still angry with each other. Jian Jian reaches for the TV remote, but Tang Can grabs it before she can. Jian Jian glares at her, then tries to leave. Tang Can puts up her leg to block her way. Jian Jian climbs onto the table in order to get around her, then stomps over to Ling Xiao’s apartment, where she flops down onto the couch.

Ling Xiao asks if she had a fight with Ming Yue again. Jian Jian says no. He asks what happened with Tang Can. Jian Jian starts ranting about all the things Tang Can accused her of. She’s offended that Tang Can could think that of her when they’re such good friends. Ling Xiao tells her that she can’t take her words too seriously. He offers to take her out for ice cream after he showers, but Jian Jian continues to fume, saying that if Tang Can doesn’t apologize tonight, she’ll explode.

Ling Xiao says that he thinks he can do something that will distract Jian Jian. She doesn’t believe him, but he says they might as well give it a try. He grabs her face and kisses her. Her eyes widen but then they close and she doesn’t pull away. When he finally does, she buries her face into the couch.

He tries to pat her head, but she swats his hand away. He smiles and says that they can get ice cream after his shower. Once he goes into his room, Jian Jian gets up and sneaks back to her apartment. Ling Xiao notices, but smiles.

Ming Yue goes out to dinner with her parents. Her mother orders, but then gets annoyed when she asks her husband for opinions and gets no answers. Both he and Ming Yue are on their phones. She calls out Ming Yue and asks her to participate in the order, but then promptly shoots down Ming Yue’s two suggestions, saying that her father doesn’t eat one of them. Ming Yue never knew that and asks her dad if that’s true. He’s distracted by his phone and doesn’t hear her. When she finally gets his attention, he glances at his wife, then says, “Whatever your mother said is right.”

Ming Yue’s mother smiles, saying that he always gets that right, at least. She starts talking about how important that is in a significant other. Ming Yue sighs and turns back to her phone as her mother chatters on about finding the right match.

Her mother tells her to put her phone down and stop pretending she can’t hear. She asks why Ming Yue didn’t text back the man she set her up with the other day. Ming Yue claims she was busy, then says that she has no feelings for him. Her mother asks what happened to the guy she claimed she liked. Ming Yue says nothing and looks down. Her mother shakes her head, saying she knew Ming Yue lied about that.

“He didn’t like me,” she says. Her mother responds that if she were him, she wouldn’t like Ming Yue either. She criticizes Ming Yue’s job, then starts criticizing Tang Can. Ming Yue doesn’t like that her mother is criticizing her friends. Her mother says that she’s afraid Tang Can is being a bad influence and bringing her down.

Ming Yue huffs and turns her attention back to her phone. Her mother comments that she seems to have been in a bad mood the past few days. Is it because she won’t let her go to Beijing? She tells Ming Yue that she should quit her job and focus on the civil service exam, then says Ming Yue should move back home and study for the exam. It’s decided.

Ming Yue frowns, looking stubborn.

Commentary

So! Much! Drama! Relative to normal, that is. Go Ahead has been pretty good about not dragging out or overdramatizing the drama in conflicts, as I would hope for a slice-of-life show.

First of all, Ling Xiao and Jian Jian! That kiss! Jian Jian definitely wasn’t expecting it, but she also didn’t push him away or react with disgust. So… that’s good? Ling Xiao seems to think that it was pretty successful. I live for these moments. I also find it pretty ironic that Ling Xiao didn’t want to be aimei, but they are TOTALLY in an aimei relationship right now! They’re not friends, but they’re not dating. Sometimes they hold hands and Jian Jian is fine with it, but sometimes she gets totally shy.

Ling Xiao finally told Jian Jian the truth about how his mother let him go, but it seems clear that there’s a certain amount of guilt that is still weighing heavily on him and giving him anxiety.

The fact that He Mei actually looked good this episode compared to all the other parents who made appearances says a lot about Tang Can and Ming Yue’s families. My mom would probably say that both of their mothers are just a little luosuo (talk too much), but mean well. Ming Yue’s mother, at least, seems to come from a place of genuine caring, but her intentions don’t absolve her of the impact of her words. But I suppose all parents are imperfect and infuriating and it’s unrealistic to think they are anything but that. Hai Chao is a rare gem, and even he can be infuriatingly good to a fault with his generosity and insistence on seeing the best in everyone, to the point where his expectations of people can feel suffocating.

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