Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: Falling Into You (Ep. 1)

I didn’t plan on watching or recapping Falling Into You (因為我喜歡你, lit. “Because I Like You”), a currently-airing 2020 Taiwanese idol drama starring Puff Kuo and Jiro Wang, but I started it because I adore Puff. At 13 episodes, it doesn’t look to be a large commitment, and it comes from directors and writers with a strong track record of popular idol dramas under their belts. The premise doesn’t seem super special, but I like what I’m seeing of the lead character and her relationships. Puff Kuo is Chen Zi Tong, a former taekwondo star whose career ended because of an injury and who now works as a courier for a delivery startup. Jiro Wang is Fang Zhi Sheng, CEO of said delivery startup.


Recap

Prologue

Chen Tian Lin (Desmond Tan), a journalist, is the first to race up to a police line that has formed under a high-rise office building. He asks a police officer friend what’s going on — why is the person threatening to jump? A flock of other journalists race up and start crowding the police line, but Tian Lin’s source mutters to him that it sounds like the person is depressed and can’t take the pressure anymore.

All of a sudden, there’s a commotion as someone falls from the rooftop toward the inflatable jump cushion that has been set up on the ground.

Chen Zi Tong (Puff Kuo) falls toward the ground, wondering if this is it for her. Her eyes suddenly widen as a man, Fang Zhi Sheng (Jiro Wang), falls toward her with a yell. She starts yelling too. They collide mid-air and he clings to her in a hug.


Xu Hao Ping (Allen Chen) gives Zi Tong a pep talk before a championship taekwondo match against her former training mate, Wu Qian Ni (Xi Wei Lun). Zi Tong’s training mates and Hao Ping seem worried about her facing Qian Ni, who knows her better than anyone, but Zi Tong is confident she will win.

Her boyfriend, Ke Ting Wei (Nick Yang), shows up and Zi Tong’s teammates clear the room for them to talk. Ting Wei wants to tell Zi Tong something, but she talks over him, assuming he just wants to celebrate after the match.

Qian Ni also shows up in the locker room. Zi Tong greets with her a smile, saying she won’t go easy just because they’re friends. Qian Ni looks much more serious and warns Zi Tong that she’s here to win. She also cryptically tells Zi Tong to take care not to get injured. Zi Tong tell her to cheer up, but Qian Ni doesn’t smile. She says that their relationship won’t be the same after this match.

Zi Tong hugs Ting Wei before sauntering off to go find her mother. He doesn’t smile, and after she leaves, he and Qian Ni make eye contact.

When the competitors enter the ring for the sparring match, Zi Tong looks out of it. She glares at Ting Wei, who refuses to make eye contact with her. Her mother, He Cai Feng (Lang Zu Yun), who doubles as her coach, gives her a pep talk, but Zi Tong isn’t listening. Instead, she glares at Qian Ni and remembers how she saw her kissing Ting Wei just before the match.

During the match, Zi Tong loses her temper and her rhythm and starts to pummel Qian Ni, much to her mother’s dismay and to the audience’s confusion. Zi Tong tries to kick Qian Ni, who blocks. Their legs interlock and then Zi Tong goes down, yelling in pain as she clutches her knee.

Zi Tong slowly wakes up in a hospital bed after surgery and overhears her doctor telling her parents that her knee can be healed, but it will never be the same again. Returning to competition will be very, very difficult.

There’s a knock at the door: Qian Ni and Ting Wei are here to visit Zi Tong. Qian Ni looks devastated and asks Zi Tong if she’s okay, but Zi Tong tells them to leave. Tears stream down her face. When they don’t move, she knocks over a water glass near her bed, shattering it.

At night, Zi Tong’s mother slips out into the hallway when she thinks Zi Tong is asleep and calls Qian Ni. She tells Qian Ni that they both know her current coach can only take her so far. Cai Feng can take Qian Ni to the next level. Inside, Zi Tong is awake and hears everything.

Fang Zhi Sheng is the quirky CEO of hot delivery startup GoGoVan. He takes a business call while wandering around his office, leaving very specific notes for his assistant. After he hangs up, he turns around with a smile, expecting to see his assistant. Instead, he’s disappointed to find his CTO, Gao Yu Qian (Yan Yu Lin), who tells him that his assistant has run away.

Yu Qian says that Zhi Sheng is looking for an assistant, not a wife — he doesn’t need to be so picky. The HR department is struggling because none of Zhi Sheng’s assistants have lasted more than a month, and Shao Mi Ya, the HR department head, is too afraid to tell Zhi Sheng herself so she asked Yu Qian to speak for her. Yu Qian knows Zhi Sheng too well, though, and knows that Zhi Sheng would rather spend time finding the right person than trying to keep the wrong person.

Zhi Sheng heads out for a run — he had talked about running a marathon at a business dinner, but Yu Qian didn’t realize he was being serious. Yu Qian points out that training for a marathon isn’t easy. Zhi Sheng responds that there’s nothing he can’t do — there are only things he doesn’t want to do.

Zi Tong broods at a park by the water. Earlier, she had gotten into an argument with her mother. She asked why her mother would invite Qian Ni back to her taekwondo studio when she knew that Qian Ni had intentionally injured her. Cai Feng believed Qian Ni when she said she didn’t do it on purpose. All she saw was Zi Tong violating the sparring rules while Qian Ni tried to defend herself.

Zi Tong asked her mother to not let Qian Ni come back. She tried to tell her mother that she could get better and compete again. But Cai Feng was furious that she didn’t focus on the competition and that she let her emotions get the best of her. She had warned Zi Tong that dating would distract her, and now look what happened.

Zi Tong apologized and promised to be obedient and listen to her mother in the future. She begged her not to give up on her. But all Cai Feng said was that there would be no future. She stormed out while Zi Tong wept into her father’s arms.

Now, Zi Tong wonders what would happen if she fell into the water. Will her mother care?

Zhi Sheng jogs by on his run and checks out Zi Tong, who doesn’t notice him. He looks back at her and sees that she’s started to stand up on the wrong side of the railing. Worried that she’s about to jump into the water, he rushes over to try and save her. But all Zi Tong does is turn to pick up her crutches. Zhi Sheng doesn’t expect that and ends up falling into the river himself. He doesn’t seem to know how to swim and splashes around, yelling for help.

Zi Tong is alarmed to see him in the water and immediately calls 911 to report that someone has tried to kill himself and needs to be saved.

By the time Zhi Sheng gets fished out of the water, Zi Tong is long gone and there’s no way of finding out who she is. The paramedic who checks his vitals lectures him on trying to kill himself when he’s so young, handsome, and healthy, saying that killing himself is not the solution. Also, he’s wasting public resources. Zhi Sheng shivers and shouts into the sky that Zi Tong better not let him find out who she is.

Zi Tong’s father, Chen Da Quan, is alarmed when he goes to her hospital room and she’s nowhere to be found. He fears the worst, but then Zi Tong returns, saying she’s thought it through. She tells him that she plans on rehabilitating her knee and returning to competition so she can carry out her mother’s dream. Doctor Du said it would be difficult, but not impossible. So many top athletes have been able to recover from multiple surgeries. If they can do it, then she believes she can do it too. She just needs to put in the effort.

She smiles at her father, full of hope. He hesitates and doesn’t quite encourage her, instead saying that in order to get better, she needs to eat well first. When he turns away to grab the food he’s brought, her smile fades.

One year later…

Fang Qing (Jessie Chang), an elementary school teacher, leads her class in observing some beetles. One of the students opens up a beetle jar and the insect escapes. Zi Tong, now with short hair and a courier for GoGoVan, arrives in the classroom with a delivery for Fang Qing. She catches the beetle midair with one hand, making the students gasp, but then she releases the bug into Fang Qing’s open jar, whole and alive. Zi Tong brusquely has Fang Qing sign for the package before leaving without ceremony.

Fang Qing frowns after Zi Tong leaves, finding her very familiar.

Zi Tong’s phone rings with a notification as she leaves through the halls of the school — she’s received a five-star rating.

Zhi Sheng is invited to speak at a company called Qun Feng about leading a five-star life. Chen Jia Qi (Yuri Chen), a manager at Gogo Van, watches on her phone, while Zhao Ren Guang (Steven Jian), a courier, tries to get her attention. Jia Qi calls out Ren Guang and a fellow courier, Lin Yong Qiang, for hanging out in the break room instead of being out in the field working. Didn’t they say they wanted to get the monthly bonus?

Ren Guang tries to pander to Jia Qi, saying that it’s so nice and homey at headquarters. Also, he and Yong Qiang know there’s no way they can beat Zi Tong’s productivity. Jia Qi beams, saying that it feels homey because she’s done what the CEO has asked her to do and made this office feel like home because they are all family.

Zi Tong strolls in and goes straight to the snack table without greeting anyone. She stuffs her pocket with snacks, then sits down by herself with her phone out. The other employees give her sideways glances. When their phones all ring indicating a new order has come in, Zi Tong is the quickest to claim it and leaves as abruptly as she arrived. The employees gossip after she leaves, saying that she seems to have never greeted anyone in the year she’s worked at the company. They’re not even sure if she knows what the CEO looks like.

A workshop attendee raises his hand and stands up, saying, “I have a question.” The other attendees laugh at him. Zhi Sheng patiently asks him what his question is and addresses him by name, Li Ming Huan, after looking at his nametag. Ming Huan stumbles his way through a question about how his managers constantly pile work on him and how he feels like he will never have any stars in his life. His managers snicker behind him. Zhi Sheng tries to address his question seriously, but then Ming Huan’s managers interrupt with snarky comments for Ming Huan, who flees the room.

Zi Tong shows up at the company where Zhi Sheng is holding his workshop with a delivery for Ming Huan. She gets directed upstairs.

Chen Tian Lin is at the front of a crowd of reporters, aggressively interviewing a lawyer for rich heir who allegedly killed a young child in a DUI accident. The lawyer doesn’t offer up any comments and leaves.

Zhi Sheng’s workshop gets interrupted when everyone starts receiving text messages that Ming Huan is on the roof, threatening to jump. Employees rush out to try and talk to him. Zhi Sheng follows.

Zi Tong is heading toward Ming Huan’s office when a crowd of people rush by her, including Zhi Sheng. She hears Ming Huan’s name being mentioned and recognizes it as the recipient of her delivery. She follows them up to the rooftop.

Some reporters near Chen Tian Lin get reports that there’s a jumper on the rooftop of a nearby building. Tian Lin takes a shortcut to get there first and ask a police friend for details.

On the rooftop, Zhi Sheng tries to talk to Ming Huan, who warns him to keep his distance. He thinks that Zhi Sheng looks down on him like everyone else. Instead of getting down from the ledge, like Zhi Sheng asks, he stands up.

Zi Tong arrives on the rooftop and interrupts, telling Ming Huan to sign first before he jumps. He doesn’t care about his delivery and thinks it’s absurd that Zi Tong is asking him to sign when he’s trying to kill himself. Zi Tong responds that she cares, because she needs his five-star rating in order to get this month’s bonus. If she doesn’t get that 5000 dollar bonus, then she’ll die.

Zi Tong gets up on the ledge next to Ming Huan, who thinks it’s absurd that she would die for 5000 dollars. She says that at least she has a reason for dying — what about him? He points at all the employees on the rooftop, saying that they look down on him and have been bullying him. Zi Tong seems unsympathetic, saying that if he looks down on them, then should bully them back. If he doesn’t care, then he won’t get hurt, and if he doesn’t get hurt, then he won’t feel bad. She holds out his delivery, asking him to sign.

Ming Huan sniffles and says that he’s not brave enough to bully them back. Zi Tong offers to help him if he signs. Ming Huan seems to consider it, but then police burst onto the roof, telling them not to move.

Ming Huan gets startled and starts falling. Both Zi Tong and Zhi Sheng lunge for him. Zhi Sheng manages to grab his hand for a moment, but then gets pulled off the ledge and the three of them fall.

Zi Tong wonders if her life will end like this. Zhi Sheng collides with her in midair and clings to her, crying. Zi Tong realizes that he might be trying to use her to cushion his fall, and wrestles so that they’re flipped around and she’s on top.

All three of them crash onto the inflatable jump cushion. Zi Tong only has work on her mind and scrambles over to Ming Huan, telling him to sign. Zhi Sheng gets helped off the cushion and swarmed by reporters.

Ming Huan, who seems to be in shock, signs with shaky hands, then faints. A couple of firefighters try to check on Zi Tong, but she tells them to treat Ming Huan first, then slides off the cushion herself. She manages to dodge the reporters and gets pulled toward an ambulance for a quick exam.

Meanwhile, the reporters ask Zhi Sheng if Zi Tong is his girlfriend. He manages to turn the situation into a marketing opportunity, saying that she’s an employee, not a girlfriend, and that as CEO, he had to save her because their company motto is “we are family.”

Tian Lin walks over to where Zi Tong is sitting and asks if she’s okay. Then he asks when she’s coming home — Dad is worried about her. Zi Tong responds that there’s no place for her in that home and stands up to leave. A police officer — Tian Lin’s friend — stops her, saying that they need to take her statement. Zi Tong has to work, so the officer lets her go after scanning her ID. After she’s gone, the officer asks Tian Lin if he knows her. Tian Lin responds that she’s his sister.

Zhi Sheng apprehends Zi Tong before she can ride off, asking what her name is and demanding to know why she acted so recklessly. Not only was it dangerous, it could have also affected the reputation of the company. But Zi Tong doesn’t seem to care about what he has to say or who he is and tells him to let go of her helmet. Her nose starts bleeding and Zhi Sheng starts hyperventilating at the sight of blood. He faints. Zi Tong catches him and yells for someone to come help.

They attract the attention of the reporters in addition to the paramedics. The moment Zhi Sheng gets taken away, Zi Tong puts on her helmet and rides off, ignoring the journalists who stick microphones in her face, asking what her relationship with Zhi Sheng is.

Yu Qian meets up with Zhi Sheng at the hospital. He’s concerned about Zhi Sheng fainting, but Zhi Sheng reassures him that he’s fine. He fainted because of the combined shock of falling from the roof and from his old condition. Yu Qian asks why he tried to save the guy when it was such a dangerous situation. Zhi Sheng explains that he had to — if the guy died, he was worried that the media would make it his fault. Yu Qian then asks if his condition really can’t be cured. Zhi Sheng says it can’t, but he’s gotten used to it.

He gets a text from someone saying, “Hurry over!” When Yu Qian asks where he’s going, he smiles and says that he’s off to save his woman.

Zi Tong works at her second job as a waitress and overhears Zhi Sheng’s earlier media interview on a customer’s tablet. She rolls his eyes when he declares that saving his employee was his duty as a CEO.

Fang Qing is on an awkward group blind date at the same restaurant. She manages to connect with her dinnermate when she finds out that he’s a teacher, but then Zhi Sheng shows up with a bouquet to save her. He pretends to be her boyfriend and apologizes to her, asking her to stop trying to punish him by going out on group dates like these. Her dinner partners gape.

Fang Qing stands up to leave, but the man who organized the group date gets upset that she came when she already has a boyfriend. He wants compensation. Zhi Sheng starts boasting about how he has plenty of money to spend. The man grabs a water cup, about to throw it at Zhi Sheng, but Zi Tong intervenes. She twists the man’s arm behind his back and pushes him out of the restaurant, saying he’s no longer welcome here.

Zhi Sheng recognizes her and wonders why she showed up here, too.

Fang Qing returns home with Zhi Sheng and tells him that he doesn’t have to be so extra next time. It’s not like they’re in an idol drama. Zhi Sheng cheekily responds, “Aren’t we filming an idol drama?” (Yes, we see what you did there.)

Fang Qing heads upstairs to shower, then yells Zhi Sheng’s name in frustration. He hurries upstairs — she’s upset at the utter mess his bedroom is. He asks for leniency, sweetly addressing her as his aunt. She doesn’t bite, and warns that if his room is still this messy when she gets back from her business trip, he’s dead.

Zi Tong returns home at night to find her father dozing off on the steps outside her apartment. He’s brought her homemade chicken soup and some supplements and fusses over her before trying to convince her to move back home. Zi Tong still doesn’t want to, so he lets the matter slide. He beams at her, saying that he’ll come back to visit often. Zi Tong watches with a sigh as he struggles down the stairs.

At home, Zi Tong treats her bad knee and looks up at her old taekwondo uniform with a sigh, remembering the days when she would train with her mom.

Da Quan returns home just as his wife is about to head out to stay at the training studio dorms. He tells her that he went to see Zi Tong. Cai Feng freezes for a moment, then continues putting on her shoes without reacting. Da Quan says that Zi Tong seems fine, but she doesn’t want to move back home. Cai Feng acts like she doesn’t care and leaves. He lets out a heavy sigh after she’s gone.

Zhi Sheng stays up late scrolling through the employee directory, trying to figure out Zi Tong’s name. He’s still thinking about her and talking about her with Yu Qian when they work out the next morning. Yu Qian asks what he plans on doing once he figures out who she is. Will he reward her? Zhi Sheng says that he wants to fire her. It’s not good for the company to have someone like her, who will stop at nothing to receive five stars. Yu Qian points out that technically she hasn’t violated any company policies, but Zhi Sheng reminds him that he’s the boss and his word is what matters.

Zi Tong shows up at the gym, dressed as an employee, and tidies up around the space. Zhi Sheng spies on her, watching as she accepts money from one of her coworkers to go buy him some food. He mutters that she loves money too much.

Later, after the workout, Zhi Sheng finally finds Zi Tong’s profile. He’s stunned to find that she has priority status for claiming orders and elite status for safe and courteous delivery. Who allowed that? Yu Qian responds that Zhi Sheng is the one who set all the quotas for the different tiers. He suggests that maybe Zhi Sheng should observe her for a bit to figure out what kind of person she is first.

Zhi Sheng shows up at the operations department, asking if anyone knows Zi Tong and what kind of person she is.

Zi Tong is tidying up at her convenience store job when she catches her coworker letting a friend take some merchandise without paying. (Oh hey, Jie Sen from Lost Romance.) Zi Tong says that the friend has to pay. They both respond that it’s none of her business. Her phone rings with an order for her courier job. She tells her coworker to cover for her. When he asks why he should, she plays his conversation with his friend, which she recorded on her phone.

Zi Tong goes on her delivery route. Other people might find her despicable, but so what? This world is full of bullies and unfairness, what is a little extra underhandedness from her? This world has always been rotten. The most reliable thing in it is money.

It starts thunderstorming when Zi Tong gets to her destination. She goes to ring the doorbell, then notices that the front door is slightly ajar. She hears a thump from inside, and goes to investigate. She’s surprised to find Zhi Sheng, holding a baseball bat and struggling with what looks like a body on the floor.


Commentary

Just to get my idol biases out of the way, since the main draw of idol dramas are, well, the idols: I adore Puff Kuo, but I don’t really care for Jiro. He’s fine. If we’re going to talk about Fahrenheit (throwback!), I was always more of a Wu Chun and Aaron Yan fan.

My immediate impressions from watching this episode:

  • That falling scene! What is up with Taiwanese dramas and these long, dramatic falling scenes this year? It was only a few months ago that Marcus Chang defied gravity by falling off a very similar roof for a very long time in the first episode of Lost Romance. Who did it better? My vote is for Puff.
  • Speaking of defying gravity: I know drama world has its own set of physics but… physics does not check out. Physics 101 will teach that Zhi Sheng somehow catching up to Zi Tong while falling is… not a thing. But okay. 🙂
  • It’s very difficult for me to separate Yan Yu Lin (Gao Yu Qian, the CTO) from his character in Someday or One Day. Every time I see his face I get a little flashback to all his creepy looks. This is going to be a struggle!
  • Apparently GoGoVan is an actual company/startup in Asia so this whole thing feels like huge product placement. (It felt kind of obvious with the zoom-in on the app.) Ironically (or not?) the company apparently rebranded in July, so all the branding is outdated.
  • Along that vein, this is a highly unrealistic overly-glamorous portrayal of what it means to be a courier at a startup.
  • Major Cheng You Kuan from Amensalism vibes coming from Zhi Sheng in that ending scene — not a good thing.

Nitpicks aside, I had zero expectations coming in, but this drama is coming from some idol drama powerhouses, so I’m excited to see what’s in store. Lin Pei Yu, one of the writers, is also behind several of the HIStory series, which I haven’t watched yet but have heard good things about. She also wrote Bromance! Lin Ching Fang, one of the directors, worked on the idol classic Hana Kimi and also several of the KO One shows, for better or worse. Ker Choon Hooi, the other director, was behind The Wonder Woman, Back to 1989, and Just You.

There are a lot of promising bits so far. I’m lukewarm on Fang Zhi Sheng — he seems very classic tech bro, similar to Wes Lo’s character in The Wonder Woman — but I’m intrigued that instead of a love triangle/square with the two lead couples, we’ll probably get a bit of parallel romance with Zi Tong and Zhi Sheng, and her brother and his aunt.

Chen Zi Tong is the reason to watch right now. I love her no-nonsense attitude and the way she just doesn’t care. The way she almost talked Ming Huan down was the perfect combination of callous, yet exactly what he needed to hear. I’m anticipating a deeper exploration of her fraught relationship with her mother as well. To me, it seems like her mother reacted to her injury with a combination of fear and disappointment, and the mother and daughter are much more similar to each other than they seem to realize.

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