Auntie Qian continues to try to set Hai Chao up with her friend. Jian Jian tries to break through to Ling Xiao while also trying to reconcile with Zi Qiu.
Jian Jian calls her father, looking for the encouragement she needs to face her messy predicament. Hai Chao is able to cheer her up with a few joking words. Jian Jian then apologizes to her father, thinking that he was unable to remarry because of her.
But Hai Chao says that he never felt the need to remarry. He and He Ping have already agreed that when he’s too old to run the noodle shop anymore, they’ll move into a retirement community together. Jian Jian is opposed. She’s already decided that he’ll live with her when he gets old and she’ll take care of him. He jokes back that it’s not clear who will take care of who, especially after she has a kid. It might be easier for him to just move into a retirement community.
Jian Jian rushes in a, “Dad, I love you, good night!” right before she hangs up. Hai Chao seems taken aback, but then smiles.
The next day, Ling Xiao is surprised when Jian Jian shows up at his office to take him out to lunch. He thinks she has something she wants to say to him, but instead she’s actually only there to eat. She tells him that she’ll come get lunch with him whenever she has time, and that she’ll try to leave work earlier so that she can pick him up instead of the other way around. He still seems unconvinced of her intentions, which she notices before she leaves.
Jian Jian teases Ling Xiao, saying that she’s pitying him and that’s why she’s doing all of this. But the truth is that she just wants to keep him company as much as possible. She doesn’t want him to be left alone with only his thoughts, so she’ll pity him until he doesn’t want to be pitiable anymore.
Jian Jian starts to walk away, but then turns around runs up Ling Xiao, pulling him down by the collar so that she can press a quick kiss to his lips. Then she skips away with a wave.
Ling Xiao goes with his father to a checkup at a traditional Chinese doctor. He Ping uses the opportunity to get the doctor, his friend, to check on Ling Xiao as well. The doctor determines that Ling Xiao is suffering from a pent-up emotional stress and recommends that He Ping take him to see a psychologist. He Ping is vehemently opposed to the suggestion that Ling Xiao could be suffering from mental illness. The doctor accidentally lets slip that He Ping originally scheduled the appointment for Ling Xiao.
The doctor sends Ling Xiao out to pick up his prescription, but Ling Xiao lingers outside the office door, eavesdropping on the rest of his father’s conversation. He Ping continues to deny that Ling Xiao has a mental illness, but not because he’s embarrassed — he just doesn’t want Ling Xiao to carry the stigma of having to see a psychologist and potentially be diagnosed with a mental illness.
At night, Jian Jian reads in her entryway, waiting for the sound of a door out in the hallway. The moment she hears Ling Xiao and Zi Qiu’s door open, she rushes out her own door, carrying a bag of trash as an excuse as she cheerfully greets Zi Qiu. Zi Qiu offers to take out her trash the next morning and tries to leave, but Jian Jian grabs onto his bag to hold him back. She comments on how he smells like trash, then pulls out a bank card, offering to loan him some money.
Zi Qiu doesn’t want Jian Jian’s money. When she refuses to take it back, he pushes her into her apartment, throws the card in after her, and then holds the door shut so she can’t get out and confront him. He tells her through the door that he doesn’t want her pity.
He Ping drops Ling Xiao off outside his apartment. Ling Xiao thanks his father for taking him to the doctor. He Ping repeats again that he’s not ill; he just can’t sleep well. But he also adds that if Ling Xiao has anything burdensome on his mind, he should talk to someone about it. If he doesn’t feel comfortable talking to him, he should talk to Hai Chao or Jian Jian or Zi Qiu — he shouldn’t keep it to himself.
He Ping watches Ling Xiao go into his building, then chuckles and shakes his head when Ling Xiao doesn’t even bother looking back. But once he drives off, Ling Xiao turns back with a small smile.
Auntie Qian conspires with Hai Chao’s employee to trap him in a game of mahjong with Hong Ying, the woman Auntie Qian has been trying to set him up with. Hai Chao gets stuck covering for his employee while Auntie Qian and another mahjong-playing auntie put down He Mei while talking up Hong Ying. Hai Chao seems uncomfortable and looks around for an escape. Hong Ying suggests introducing her sons to Jian Jian sometime — they have always wanted a sister. Hai Chao laughs uncomfortably and is saved when his employee finally returns.
Later, once Hong Ying is gone, Hai Chao asks Auntie Qian to tell her that they don’t seem well-matched. But Auntie Qian says that she can’t control Hong Ying — if the woman wants to come by and eat at the restaurant, she’s free to do so. Besides, Jian Jian was the one who initially suggested Auntie Qian introduce someone to Hai Chao (that’s what she was up to chatting up the aunties the other day), and the one who pitched the idea of having the kids meet. Auntie Qian jokes that if Jian Jian were to open a matchmaking business, she’d be wildly successful. Hai Chao sighs heavily at the discovery that Jian Jian was behind it all.
Jian Jian and Ling Xiao hang out eating watermelon and watching a movie while sitting in his bed. But instead of paying attention to the movie, Jian Jian ends up asking Ling Xiao how his mother is doing. She wants to know what it was like when he first moved to Singapore. He’s reluctant to talk about it, but eventually relents.
At first, his mother’s lower body was completely paralyzed. No one knew if she would be able to walk again, but all Ling Xiao could do was hope. He cared for her meticulously, but there were times — such as when she soiled herself in bed, unable to control her own bodily functions — when he would try to help and she would get angry and hit him, humiliated and pained by her own situation.
One day, Chen Ting tried to kill herself. She didn’t succeed, but it made Ling Xiao wonder if there was a point in living if your entire life was full of suffering. There seemed to be a savage animal that lived in Chen Ting’s heart that would sometimes come out and indiscriminately hurt people. Ling Xiao got pulled into her darkness and often felt like he was in a long night that would never end, but all he could do was grit his teeth and keep going. It wasn’t just him either — Mei Yang got pulled into it as well. There were other suicide attempts, ones that Mei Yang couldn’t help but see. She had to grow up fast, too.
Ling Xiao’s shoulder burn was an accident, but one caused by his mother, who had knocked over a piping hot pot of congee that was fresh from the stove, right onto Ling Xiao’s shoulder. Ling Xiao often stayed up at night, worried that any sound from his mother was another attempt to kill herself.
One day, he heard a commotion and rushed to her room, but it was just Chen Ting trying to test out her crutches. She told him that she wanted to start going to physical therapy again. Ling Xiao allowed himself to hope that things would get better.
It starts thunderstorming outside. Ling Xiao drifts off to sleep on Jian Jian’s shoulder. She gently pats his hand, clasped in hers, and tells him that in the future, he will have her to care for him.
He Mei takes her son with her out to a buffet with her employees. One employee asks if she really isn’t going to send him to a specialized school. Isn’t it difficult for her, having to raise him alone? He Mei is sure she can handle it.
She takes her son to go get some more food, but he runs off when she’s not looking. She finally finds him near the dessert bar, where a chef has handed him a chocolate-covered treat. She hugs him, relieved, and stands up to thank the chef — only to come face-to-face with Zi Qiu. He Mei asks Zi Qiu why he’s here. Did his coffee shop close? Zi Qiu says he has to go back to work and turns away.
Later, Zi Qiu takes out the trash at work and runs into a stray dog in the alley. The dog barks at him when he tries to leave, then leaps into his lap when he bends down. He decides to take the dog home.
Jian Jian spots Zi Qiu returning home with the dog and tries to catch his attention, but he ignores her and walks faster. She slips on the wet pavement, breaking her slipper, and he turns back to check on her. He puts down his dog to help her up. The dog beelines for Jian Jian’s ice cream and starts eating it.
Jian Jian watches while Zi Qiu bathes the dog in his shower and asks where he got it. Zi Qiu responds that he found the dog near the trash. He’s like him: no one wanted him so he took him home. Jian Jian tries to make him smile by looking closely at the dog’s face and saying that they do look quite similar. It doesn’t work.
Jian Jian asks why Zi Qiu always smells like trash. “You smell like trash!” he throws back. She falls silent and doesn’t say anything for a while. He gets uncomfortable with the silence and tells her to say something, even though she knows he won’t like it.
Jian Jian asks Zi Qiu how long he plans on giving her the cold shoulder.
I am all for adorable animals!
This episode had a lot of small victories for Ling Xiao that I feel sad having to call victories. Ling Xiao’s relationship with He Ping has always been interesting, because He Ping has always been such an absent father with a very hands-off approach to parenting. Often times it feels like the only reason why Ling Xiao prefers He Ping over Chen Ting is because He Ping, at least, didn’t abandon him or verbally (and now, we learn, physically) abuse him. But lately, He Ping seems to realize that he needs to step it up as a father, and this episode he gave it his best try. He’s awkward and bumbling when it comes to fatherhood, but he’s trying to show he cares the only way he knows how, even if that means tricking Ling Xiao into going to a doctor appointment. Even if he denies that Ling Xiao has a mental illness, he’s at least willing to acknowledge that Ling Xiao isn’t okay.