I think the moral of this episode is: don’t post very detailed descriptions of your life online if you don’t want anyone to find out. Anonymity won’t protect you.
Zhou Miao spots an incendiary post while peeking at Du Juan’s phone. Du Juan doesn’t want him to spread it, but they’re speaking so vaguely that it piques everyone else’s interest. Zhou Miao uses Du Juan’s phone to send the link to everyone else. Jian Jian clicks through to find the anonymous post she wrote about two brothers confessing to her. It’s going viral.
Jian Jian tries to put her phone away, but Ling Xiao grabs it from her. The table is silent as everyone reads the post. Jian Jian glances around awkwardly. Du Juan tries to hide her face. Zhou Miao smirks.
Ling Xiao and Zi Qiu look up from their phones to stare at each other. Zhou Miao laughs and asks Jian Jian if she’s two-timing. Du Juan tries to shush him, but the damage has been done.
Jian Jian clings to Tang Can and Ming Yue as they return to their apartment, trying to avoid Ling Xiao and Zi Qiu. But before she can slip into her own apartment, the two men take her arms and drag her into theirs.
Ming Yue and Tang Can sigh once the door to the men’s apartment closes. How foolish can Jian Jian be to write about her situation in such detail? There’s no way it could be anyone else. Ming Yue knew Jian Jian should’ve come clean to her brothers earlier. Tang Can is offended that Jian Jian told Ming Yue but not her, and offended that Ming Yue knew and didn’t tell her.
Ling Xiao and Zi Qiu argue with each other while Jian Jian stands silently in between them. Ling Xiao is appalled that Zi Qiu could like Jian Jian when they were raised as brother and sister. Zi Qiu responds that his mother never married Hai Chao; how is Ling Xiao any different than him? Hai Chao also treated him as his own son. The only difference is that Ling Xiao slept upstairs.
To Ling Xiao, there is a difference, because Hai Chao only recognized him after he saved Jian Jian from the kidnappers. They were basically betrothed. Zi Qiu scoffs. If Ling Xiao’s going to use that as an excuse, then Zi Qiu can also claim to be betrothed (based on a tradition that involves a family adopting a son with the intention of marrying him to their daughter.) He and Jian Jian grew up sleeping on the same bed.
Ling Xiao tells Zi Qiu to go ask Hai Chao if he raised him as a son or a son-in-law. Zi Qiu tells him to go ask his mother if she approves of his being with Jian Jian.
Ling Xiao snaps that he doesn’t need his mother’s approval to be with anyone. All he needs is for the person involved to agree.
Zi Qiu laughs at that. There’s no way Jian Jian would agree. She views them both as brothers. Ling Xiao says that she only views Zi Qiu as a brother. They are already dating, they just didn’t have a chance to tell Zi Qiu yet.
Zi Qiu laughs incredulously, but Ling Xiao puts his arm around Jian Jian and pulls her to his side. She fixes her eyes to the ground. Zi Qiu’s smile falls as he stares at them.
“You’re really together?” he asks. Jian Jian gives a small nod. He asks if she really doesn’t view Ling Xiao as a brother. She starts to say no and try to explain herself, but Zi Qiu interrupts her. If they’re both her brothers, why did she pick Ling Xiao and not him?
Ling Xiao tells Zi Qiu to not intimidate her. Zi Qiu smiles sardonically. He can’t even ask a question without it being intimidation now? They’re silent for a moment, then Zi Qiu’s voice starts to break as he says, “I just don’t get why none of you want me anymore.” He goes to his room.
Ling Xiao and Jian Jian continue standing there in frozen silence. He lowers his arm from around her shoulders.
At night, Zi Qiu lies awake in bed, hugging a pillow. Ling Xiao takes some sleeping pills, but they don’t help. Jian Jian sits upright on her bed in the dark, blankets over her head as she broods.
Tang Can wakes up in the morning to find Jian Jian and Ming Yue both in bed with her. Jian Jian looks like she hasn’t slept all night.
Tang Can curiously asks Jian Jian why she picked Ling Xiao instead of Zi Qiu. Zi Qiu might not actually be rich anymore, but he seems like the better choice. Ming Yue looks up at that — she obviously thinks Ling Xiao is better.
Tang Can points out that marriage isn’t just between two people, it’s also between two families. If Jian Jian picked Zi Qiu, then she wouldn’t have to deal with a mother-in-law.
Ming Yue acknowledges that she has a point. If she were a man, she would pick Jian Jian, too. Tang Can is mock hurt that Ming Yue wouldn’t pick her. Ming Yue points out that with their mothers, they would constantly be fighting. At best, they would last three years before getting divorced.
The three leave the bedroom together, chatting about where they should get breakfast, but freeze when they find Zi Qiu setting out breakfast in the dining room. They try to get Zi Qiu to stay, but he claims he’s busy.
Before he heads out the door, Jian Jian goes up to him and asks him to not be angry. He forces a smile and says he’s not angry. Ming Yue drags Tang Can back to her bedroom to give them some space.
Zi Qiu opens the door, right as Ling Xiao opens their apartment door across the hall. Zi Qiu looks back at Jian Jian with a wry smile and says, “Your boyfriend is here.” Jian Jian’s face falls.
Ling Xiao says good morning to Zi Qiu, who snaps back, “I don’t want to talk to you.” He storms into his apartment and slams the door shut. Ling Xiao looks crestfallen. Jian Jian gently takes his hands and smiles at him, saying they should go eat breakfast.
At work, Jian Jian ferries phone calls from people who want to know if she’s the one who wrote the viral social media post, and tries to convince them that it’s not her. After hanging up, she groans, asking Du Juan if it’s really that obvious.
Du Juan tells her that it would be impossible to find another family in the country with their unique situation. But she also doesn’t envy Jian Jian, who has to choose between two stellar brothers.
Zhou Miao comes downstairs and gives his unsolicited opinion that he would definitely choose Zi Qiu, because he’s rich. Jian Jian rolls her eyes and stops paying attention.
Du Juan gets a text notifying her that they’ve gotten their first payment from the international buyer. She and Jian Jian celebrate. Zhou Miao says that they should take some of the money and use it for marketing. He starts lecturing them about it, but Jian Jian interrupts him and says that if she hears him say one more word about marketing again, she’ll fire him. That shuts him up.
Xi Xi finds Ling Xiao after an appointment to show him the social media post and ask if it’s him. He denies it, but she doesn’t believe him. He seems annoyed, and tells her that if he were her, he would pretend he never read it. Xi Xi says she can’t help herself. She asks what happened to his mother and finds the whole story amazing. Ling Xiao doesn’t and seems to take offense to his family’s problems being described as amazing.
Ling Xiao gets a call from his mother, who just wants directions to the place that sells the pear tarts near his college campus. After hanging up, he seems concerned and calls Mei Yang to make sure their mother is okay. Mei Yang reports that she seems fine.
Zhuang Bei schedules to meet with Ming Yue at Zi Qiu’s coffee shop. While he waits, Zi Qiu brings over some desserts he’s trying to clear out. Zhuang Bei asks if he’s okay. Zi Qiu asks why he wouldn’t be okay. He tells Zhuang Bei to leave if he’s here to laugh at him. Zhuang Bei reminds him that he’s his friend — he’s just concerned.
When Ming Yue arrives, she and Zhuang Bei share their concerns about how Zi Qiu is acting abnormally okay with everything. Zhuang Bei doesn’t think there’s anything they can do — Zi Qiu just needs some time.
He Mei meets with Luo Hong, the friend who met with Zi Qiu, who asks her if she really doesn’t plan on taking Zi Qiu back as her son. She thinks Zi Qiu has turned into a good young man and he reminds her of He Mei. He Mei says she doesn’t have the heart to take Zi Qiu away from Hai Chao, who raised him so selflessly for so many years.
He Mei gets an urgent phone call from her son’s daycare. She rushes over, only to be told by the daycare manager that her son, Dong Dong, should probably be placed in a more specialized facility. He’s autistic, and often reacts violently to other children taking his toys. The other parents are making a fuss about his being there.
Zhuang Bei helps Ming Yue sort through some legal matters for a woman she once interviewed in her reporting work. Afterward, he compliments her on how she cares about the people she interviews even after the cameras are off. It explains why his mother loves reporters like her. They share stories about their families and what led them to their respective careers. He looks slightly dismayed to find out that she’s been going on blind dates.
At night, Ling Xiao picks Jian Jian up from her studio and says that he’ll go home with her every day if she wants. She notes that he seems to be in a particularly good mood and asks why. He says that there isn’t anything special, but being able to walk to see her and walk home with her feels like a dream to him. She smiles, commenting that he’s a smooth talker.
She asks him if he ever had a girlfriend. He says no. What about female friends he was particularly close to? He acknowledges that there was one. Jian Jian feigns jealousy, but he just takes her hand again and says that it wasn’t a big deal. There was a girl in college whom he became close to after learning that they were from the same hometown. She helped him a lot throughout college, with classes and homework.
Jian Jian wants to know more about Ling Xiao’s university life and thinks they can exchange stories, but Ling Xiao already knows a lot about her college life thanks to Ming Yue. He knows about the malatang stall near her college campus and the tree she once planted.
They visit that tree, which has become a wishing tree, adorned with charms and notes from hopeful students. Jian Jian explains that because her tree grew the best out of all the ones that were planted her year, it became the wishing tree. She hugs her tree and tells Ling Xiao that she loves trees. While they live, they’re very peaceful. If her tree ever dies, it’ll turn into a piece of wood, which she plans on transforming into a tree that will never die.
Ling Xiao pulls out a pen and sticky note to write a wish. Jian Jian is surprised — Ling Xiao used to make fun of Zi Qiu for wishing on shooting stars. Ling Xiao responds that people get more superstitious as they get older. Isn’t she the same? Jian Jian laughs and says that she was always superstitious.
Ling Xiao’s wish is for his family to be healthy and safe. Jian Jian teases him, not expecting his wish to be so plain.
Ling Xiao suddenly picks Jian Jian up and presses her against the tree. She worries that someone will see them, but he teases her about being short and then kisses her.
When he pulls away, she stares at him, silently asking, “Is that all?” He puts her down and teases her for staring at him with such wide eyes, then starts walking away. She hurries to catch up to him.
Jian Jian is silent and unsmiling while they eat dinner. Ling Xiao thinks she’s upset. She glares at him for thinking she’s too short. He claims that he doesn’t think she’s too short, but jokes that her being so short is bad for his spine. She glares some more, then tells him that he can kneel when talking to her instead.
Ling Xiao nods and says he’ll kneel before her — once he buys a ring. His face is serious. Jian Jian quickly waves her hands at him, saying that they’ve only been together for a few days. He shouldn’t talk about such serious things yet.
She changes the subject to chat about the food at the restaurant and how she and Ming Yue used to meet here all the time. Ling Xiao agrees that it’s pretty good and inexpensive. Jian Jian, out of habit, says that next time they should bring Zi Qiu. There’s an awkward silence.
Ling Xiao says that in the future, when they interact as brother and sister, they should maintain some distance between them. Jian Jian nods without looking at him and says she knows.
Then she looks up and hesitantly tells Ling Xiao that when they’re together with Zi Qiu, they should also try to maintain some distance from each other. Ling Xiao doesn’t seem to like the idea and asks why. Jian Jian is worried about hurting Zi Qiu’s feelings and that he won’t be able to accept them. Ling Xiao thinks that’s his own problem to deal with, but Jian Jian doesn’t want to be cruel.
“Or do you want to choose again? And pick him?” he asks. She stares at him and asks why he’s acting like a hedgehog.
He keeps staring at her then says that if she’s going to pity him, she should pity him to the end. She shouldn’t switch to someone else just because she thinks they’re more pitiful.
Jian Jian doesn’t like all this talk of talking about pity. Who is pitying who? “You don’t pity me at all?” he asks, then abruptly leaves. She looks frustrated and rushes out after him.
Jian Jian sprints to catch up to Ling Xiao and forces him to stop, saying that no one is pitying him. He responds by saying that he knows why Ran broke up with her. Does she want to test it out again?
She looks at him, confused. He closes his eyes. She smacks him on the chest, saying she doesn’t want to kiss anyone under these circumstances.
Ling Xiao opens his eyes and still looks hurt, but says that he understands if they’ve been family for too long. They don’t have to do anything as long as they stay together. Jian Jian is upset that he thinks she doesn’t actually like him. Why would she agree to be with him if she didn’t like him?
Ling Xiao reminds her of the other day when she said that she would pull him up if he were to sink. She says that it’s different. But he asks if she would have picked him if he hadn’t forced her to accept him. She doesn’t have to be with him: she can be single; she has plenty of friends. But he’s not like her. He has no one else. He needs her.
Jian Jian stares at him with sorrow in her eyes. There must be more to his life than her. He must have other interests and things he likes doing. What did he do in Singapore outside of school and caring for his mother and sister?
“I missed you. I missed home. I daydreamed,” he says bitterly, looking away with red-rimmed eyes. He would imagine living by her side and coming home to see her. He imagined marrying her, having kids, and being a happy family. He even thought about what they’d name their kids.
Jian Jian tries to blink back her tears as she paces around, then finally hugs him, crying. What happened to him? Why did no one notice that he wasn’t okay?
Narrator Jian Jian tells us that she once saw the person she loves the most. He was standing in the distance, surrounded by light. He was dazzling, and he was perfect. But she didn’t know that he’d be broken in places she didn’t know about. She didn’t know how much he suffered late at night, and how hard he struggled to put himself back together, piece by piece, so that he would appear perfect. Now that she’s gotten closer, she sees that he’s covered in cracks.
Jian Jian asks Ming Yue if she knows anything about Ling Xiao’s college years. Didn’t they secretly communicate? Ming Yue says that all she did was report news about Jian Jian to him. He was like her superior.
Tang Can scoffs from her position on the couch to hear Ming Yue’s new framing of her relationship with Ling Xiao. Ming Yue fights back by asking if Tang Can’s ex-boyfriend has returned the money he owes yet.
Ming Yue thinks Jian Jian should just ask Ling Xiao directly about what his college life was like. Jian Jian frowns and says that she thinks Ling Xiao is having some mental health issues. Tang Can interjects from the couch again, saying, who doesn’t these days?
Ming Yue tells Jian Jian that she thinks Zi Qiu might have even bigger mental health issues. She ran into him as she was getting home, and he reeked of alcohol. Business at the coffee shop hasn’t been going well, and she finds it concerning that Zi Qiu left the coffee shop early today, but didn’t get home until late tonight.
Jian Jian ponders what to do, then decides to call her father. He asks what’s on her mind, but she tells him that she can’t tell him exactly what it is yet. She called because she needs to find the courage to face her problems, and she needs his encouragement. He laughs and teases her about coming to him for encouragement — usually she’s the one who everyone goes to when they need some encouragement.
She sighs and says that she’s running on empty.
It’s so sweet that when Jian Jian doesn’t know where else to turn, she calls her father. It really speaks to the strength of their relationship. I also love that Hai Chao is perfectly fine with not knowing Jian Jian’s secret for now and is supportive regardless of whether he knows or not.
Everyone wants to compare Zi Qiu and Ling Xiao and expects Jian Jian to choose between them, but how can she? Just because she chose Ling Xiao as her boyfriend doesn’t mean that her feelings for him are deeper than her feelings for Zi Qiu. They’re just different types of feelings.
Zi Qiu seemed to adapt just fine with Jian Jian firmly brother-zoned him. But it’s only when Ling Xiao is in the equation that he feels betrayed. It seems pretty clear to me that the real betrayal, for Zi Qiu, is that Ling Xiao and Jian Jian will form a new family unit that he can’t break into. At least when he and Ling Xiao were both brothers, they were the same family, but marriage always comes with a transition and a parting. That’s why he never wants Jian Jian to marry.
The tragedy with Ling Xiao is that he seems to have psyched himself out when it comes to Jian Jian. He spent so much time living with Jian Jian in his head that he seems unable to see the real her standing in front of him. I don’t think it’s that he has too high expectations of her. Instead, it seems like part of him won’t let himself believe that he can have this reality.