Zi Qiu finally gets the opportunity to speak his own truth to his mother and to learn his mother’s truth, but he soon realizes that maybe the truth doesn’t matter.
Zi Qiu stares silently into Jian Jian’s eyes while she holds his hand and smiles back. Ling Xiao sees a reflection in the shop window’s glass of Hai Chao and He Mei. He taps Zi Qiu and Jian Jian and they all turn. He Mei looks sad as she makes eye contact with Zi Qiu. Hai Chao also looks sorrowful while holding Dong Dong.
Jian Jian, Ling Xiao, and Hai Chao all wait together in a seating area while Zi Qiu talks to his mother. Jian Jian is amazed that Zhao Hua Guang has a five year old son and wonders why people have children when they don’t even like them. Ling Xiao comments that even if adults don’t like children, children can be useful. They all scramble up when they hear the sound of breaking glass.
Zi Qiu asks He Mei to explain herself. She was the one who said they should have nothing to do with each other anymore, so why did she get involved with Zhao Hua Guang?
Zi Qiu tries to stay strong, but his voice still breaks as he tells He Mei that he was determined not to beg Zhao Hua Guang for money, not even when he was at his lowest point. He doesn’t care that she abandoned him and that Zhao abandoned him, but it does make him feel humiliated.Why is he always the one being abandoned? Is there something wrong with him? Why, when he needs family to turn to, does he find that he can only turn to Jian Jian and Hai Chao? He originally planned on returning after graduation, but couldn’t, because earning money and coming back with money is the only way he knows how to repay Jian Jian and Hai Chao, the only people who have never abandoned him.
He Mei apologizes, but Zi Qiu doesn’t want her apology. He begs her not to apologize. She already has the family and life she’s always wanted, so she should focus on living it. She shouldn’t regret it. He begs her to not regret it.
Zi Qiu leaves the room. He Mei looks up, like she wants to stop him, but there’s nothing she can do. Zi Qiu sees his family waiting outside for him. Jian Jian is crying and Hai Chao has tears in his eyes. Zi Qiu asks Jian Jian why she’s crying and tries to wipe her tears away with his hand, then grabs both her and Ling Xiao by the shoulders and turns them away, saying that they should go home.
Hai Chao lingers behind to check on He Mei, who is trying to hide her own tears. She tells him that he should leave. She’s caused a lot of trouble for him, but she won’t anymore. He looks pained, but doesn’t seem to know what to say, and leaves. He Mei collapses, crying, after he’s gone.
Jian Jian sits between Ling Xiao and Zi Qiu on the cab ride home, holding both of their hands. Later at night, when they’ve all gone back to their childhood home, she slips a note under Zi Qiu’s bedroom door.
Zi Qiu wakes up to the sound and smell of breakfast cooking. When he gets out of bed, he finds the note that Jian Jian slipped under his door last night: it’s a doodle of their unconventional family of five, sitting around a table full of food. He goes outside and Hai Chao tells him to call Ling Xiao down for breakfast. He grabs the mop pole and taps the ceiling. It’s almost like a step back into their high school days.
But during breakfast, Hai Chao wants to talk about what happened last night. Zi Qiu doesn’t want to mention it anymore. He made himself clear last night and they all heard him. Hai Chao acknowledges that they’re grown up now and have their own ideas and have things that they don’t want to tell him. He needs to reflect on how he hasn’t been a good enough father. He doesn’t know how to do anything other than cook. He can only stumble blindly onward with his life.
Hai Chao admits to Jian Jian that he always let her get away with things because he felt sorry for how she grew up without her mother. He tells them that it doesn’t really matter if they tell him about their problems. He’ll believe whatever they say, and if there’s something he can’t help with, then he’ll try to avoid it. Ling Xiao says that sometimes they don’t tell him things because they don’t want him to worry. But Hai Chao says that Ling Xiao is different from Zi Qiu. Even though Hai Chao has always treated Ling Xiao as a son, Ling Xiao isn’t really his son, so sometimes there are things he feels like he can’t interfere with. But that makes him feel hypocritical, saying that they’re one family but acting like they’re two. Adults are the ones who make the biggest mistakes, but they are also often the ones who lack the courage to admit it.
Hai Chao turns to Zi Qiu and tells him about how He Mei called Zhao Hua Guang and yelled at him to get the money, then also tells him the truth about why He Mei left so suddenly twenty years ago. Her boss at the makeup counter had been hitting on her. She never welcomed his advances, but his wife found out and made a public scene about it. He fired her after she continued to refuse to accept him. The gossip followed her to her apartment, where people constantly sprayed graffiti on the walls and the landlady eventually evicted her.
Zi Qiu broods over this new revelation. Jian Jian and Ling Xiao coordinate their schedules so that someone can keep him company. Jian Jian walks with Zi Qiu as they leave their childhood home and asks how he feels about everything. Zi Qiu admits that he used to want to know the reason why his mother left him, but now that he knows the truth, he realizes that it doesn’t matter. Knowing the reason doesn’t change the result. He used to hope that his mother regretted abandoning him and missed him, but it turns out that she never regretted it at all.
Jian Jian starts talking about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. A person who doesn’t even have their physiological needs met doesn’t count as a person. To normal people, life is like a box of chocolates. But to those constantly living in poverty, life is more like playing Russian roulette: you get nothing, or you get a bullet in the head.
But Zi Qiu says he knows all of this. He doesn’t hate his mother; he just thinks she’s been unfair to him. He pushes Jian Jian into a taxi and sends her off on her way, wanting some time alone.
He Mei wakes up from a feverish nightmare where she’s with Zi Qiu as a child, but then he disappears and she can’t find him. When her eyes open, she’s sobbing and calling his name. Her friend, Luo Hong, brings her some soup. She only knew to come check on He Mei because Hai Chao called her. She asks He Mei why she didn’t marry him back then — he seems like such a good guy.
He Mei just sighs that maybe this is fate. If she had stayed with him back then, then she wouldn’t be like this today. Luo Hong suggests that maybe He Mei should reconsider Hai Chao now that they’re both single. He Mei is quick to reject the idea, saying she really would be too shameless if she did that after disappearing on him all those years ago. Besides, he thinks she’s remarried. Luo Hong is surprised that He Mei hasn’t told him the truth about Dong Dong. He Mei says that she’s too insignificant to bother Hai Chao. But if thinks of herself as insignificant, why does she bother with Zi Qiu?
He Mei tells Luo Hong that she wouldn’t understand. What she owes Zi Qiu, she owes him for life, and she’ll never be able to repay it all.
He Ping returns early from a business trip — his manager sent everyone over 50 home for some mandatory rest after one of their coworkers suddenly had a heart attack, presumably from overwork.
Hai Chao tells He Ping that Ling Xiao and Jian Jian are dating. He Ping is overjoyed that they’re finally together. But then he wonders why Hai Chao was the first to know. Hai Chao jokes that it’s obvious — he’s closer to Ling Xiao.
Then Hai Chao tells He Ping about He Mei showing up with her son and asking after Zi Qiu. He spends a long time telling He Ping about He Mei’s long side of her story.
Zhuang Bei schedules a meeting with Ming Yue at a coffee shop. He confesses his feelings for her via text message while they sit across from each other, too nervous to say it out loud. But Ming Yue only has to read a few lines of his paragraph before she puts her phone down abruptly. She tells him that she has never thought of him as anything more than a senior classmate and gets upset with him for having the audacity to like her and confess to her when he knows that she and Tang Can are best friends. His efforts are better spent on trying to like Tang Can than on her.
While Ming Yue runs away from Zhuang Bei, she gets a call from Tang Can. She answers nervously, but Tang Can only has good news: a producer is interested in casting her for his film.
He Ping texts Ling Xiao his blessings for his and Jian Jian’s relationship. Ling Xiao responds, saying that he will have happiness too, and adds a cute heart sticker. He Ping laughs loudly.
Jian Jian picks up Ling Xiao from work. She wants to go to Zi Qiu’s buffet restaurant for dinner, concerned that he hasn’t responded to any of her texts all day, but Ling Xiao suggests they give him the space he wants.
Ming Yue tries to summon the courage to go home, but ends up pacing back and forth outside the building. She gets a text from Zhuang Bei, asking for another chance. She blocks him and deletes his contact info instead. Someone taps her on the shoulder and she jumps, startled, but it’s just Jian Jian and Ling Xiao. Ming Yue waits until Ling Xiao voluntarily goes upstairs, then whispers to Jian Jian what happened earlier with Zhuang Bei. She’s too scared to face Tang Can.
Jian Jian thinks that she should take advantage of Tang Can’s good mood from being cast in a film and come clean about Zhuang Bei now. Ming Yue protests, but Jian Jian drags her into the building and into the elevator.
Steven Zhang really shined as Zi Qiu in the scenes at the beginning this episode. I thought his monologue was so compelling and emotional range so nuanced, even with all the random scene cuts. I’ve noticed that Chinese dramas tend to do a lot of cuts and pasting in of poorly-matched audio instead of just re-shooting a scene. Maybe it’s a time/cost-saving measure? But my main point is, even with those jarring audio and visual cuts, it was such a great performance!
Other great moments this episode include the continued depiction of cooking and food as a way to heal and bring family together. I also loved that He Ping and Ling Xiao have found their own way to communicate their love for each other through writing.
Things are going so well for our characters right now that I want it to continue to be this way. I don’t mind if the drama focuses more on side characters like Ming Yue and Tang Can for the rest of the show! But alas, that is probably not how things will play out and I’m sure there will be more issues to contend with soon, like Chen Ting.