This episode is all about that moment when you grow up when you realize that your parents are getting old and you may be their kid, but you’re not a kid anymore.
Jian Jian and Ming Yue return to their apartment to find Tang Can trying on dresses that she bought for her upcoming interview with the director and producer of the film interested in her. Ming Yue is too nervous to tell Tang Can herself, so Jian Jian offers to speak for her. Ming Yue downs a beer while they wait for Tang Can to change into another dress.
After Tang Can shows off her second dress — Ming Yue and Jian Jian are appalled to find out that it cost 1300 yuan (~190 USD) even though it was 40% off — Jian Jian stops her from leaving, saying that Ming Yue has something to say. Ming Yue is put on the spot, thinking that Jian Jian was going to speak for her.
But Tang Can takes the news surprisingly well, saying she already knew that Zhuang Bei liked Ming Yue because she saw her photo on his phone. She’s already thought it through and is over him. She even asks Ming Yue if she would consider dating him, but Ming Yue is vehemently opposed. She detests being pursued.
Zi Qiu and Zhuang Bei eat and drink together at night. Zi Qiu finally tells Zhuang Bei the truth about his biological parents. Zhuang Bei is mildly insulted that Zi Qiu didn’t tell him the truth about not being rich. He also feels sorry for himself — not only did Ming Yue reject him, she also blocked him.
Zi Qiu asks Zhuang Bei if he still plans on pursuing Ming Yue. He’s not sure. He asks Zi Qiu what he plans on doing about his mother. Zi Qiu says that he’ll leave things as they are. He feels like he’s doing pretty well. His mother isn’t a bad person and had it pretty rough, and Jian Jian was right when she pointed out that at least his mother isn’t trying to take him back just so she’ll have someone to take care of her when she’s old. She even yelled at Zhao Hua Guang for him. She’s done everything she can, and Zi Qiu thinks it’s time to let go and move on.
Zhuang Bei studies Zi Qiu and asks if that’s what he really thinks. Zi Qiu repeats that he’s doing well now and warns Zhuang Bei not to sympathize him anymore.
The next morning, Zi Qiu notices that Ming Yue seems out of it. He tries to bring up Zhuang Bei, but Ming Yue doesn’t even want to hear his name. She asks Zi Qiu for a favor: can he tell Zhuang Bei that she really doesn’t think they’re suited for each other and to not come looking for her anymore?
Tang Can appears in the dress she’s picked to meet with the film producers. She tries to pump herself up while everyone else encourages her.
Ming Yue’s mother shows up outside her workplace with an “urgent matter” that ends up being “good news.” A building is being developed across the street from her home and she wants to help Ming Yue buy a condo in the building. Ming Yue protests, thinking that she doesn’t make nearly enough to justify buying a home, but her mother tells her she has no choice — she and her father have already put down a 200,000 yuan non-refundable deposit, a year’s worth of her father’s salary.
After Ming Yue’s mother leaves, Ming Yue gets a call from an unknown number. It’s Zhuang Bei, who has borrowed a stranger’s phone to call her. He’s at her office and wants to talk. She spots him and agrees to meet because she’s already outside and there’s no way she can avoid him.
But once they are face-to-face, Ming Yue makes clear that she has no interest in Zhuang Bei. She also never wants to see or hear from him again — just being near him right now makes her uncomfortable.
The producer and director make Tang Can wait for a long time before they finally show. When they do show up, they ask to look at her from behind and mutter to each other approvingly. Then they give Tang Can their offer: they want her to be a body double for the lead actress. If she accepts, they’ll be sure to keep her in mind for an actual role in one of their future films. Tang Can’s smile flickers. Afterward, she crouches down in the middle of the sidewalk, the voices of friends and family echoing in her head, telling her all the ways in which she isn’t good enough.
Jian Jian goes shopping for shoes with Du Juan and Zhou Miao during their lunch break. She buys a pair of shoes each for Ling Xiao and Zi Qiu, in different colors but a matching style. Then she gets a call from Ming Yue, who asks in a dejected voice if she has time to meet.
Jian Jian meets up with Ming Yue and Tang Can, who both look glum. Tang Can tells them about how the film only wanted her as a body double. Jian Jian says that she can cry if she wants, but Tang Can shakes her head, sighing that she thinks the shock was so great that she has no tears anymore.
Ming Yue shares how her parents are buying a second home for her, but she’s worried about the financial impact. Her parents can ill afford a second mortgage payment. She feels like she’s being forced into a cocoon by her mother. Jian Jian tries to look on the bright side — once the cocoon breaks open, then she’ll be a butterfly! But both Ming Yue and Tang Can sigh that they’re just plain old bugs, not caterpillars. Tang Can only looks like one. Jian Jian is the only butterfly there. But Jian Jian says that she’s not a butterfly, either. She’s just a moth, who flies into a wall when drawn by the light. That lightens the mood a little.
But then they speak in more metaphors. Tang Can says that she used to think all roads led to Rome. But now that she’s on the road, she realizes that all the roads to Rome say, “Road closed.” Ming Yue says that the only path she has is to follow behind her mother. Tang Can admits that Ming Yue’s mother is worse than hers, at least with her overbearing opinions.
But Ming Yue understands her mother a bit. She knows that her mother has orbited around her and her father her whole life. She treats them as her career — if they do well, then she feels like she’s succeeded. Jian Jian frowns, realizing that her father has also orbited around her his whole life.
Tang Can says they can’t go on like this. They’re in their mid-twenties, not their mid-teens. Ming Yue agrees. It doesn’t matter whether they’re butterflies or moths, they need to crawl out of their cocoons first.
They both suddenly realize that Jian Jian has silently started crying. She tells them how she remembers watching her dad peel garlic and sending him a text, asking what he was doing. It took him a full two minutes to respond — with a lie, saying he was done and watching TV — because she had told him before to use text instead of voice. In that moment, she realized that he had gotten old.
In that memory, Jian Jian watched as her father accidentally got some garlic juice in his eyes. She had walked away, tearing up, and sent him a voice memo saying that he should send voice instead of text from now; it’ll be easier for her, because her hands are usually dirty when she’s in the studio.
Jian Jian, Ming Yue, and Tang Can return home after dinner to find a large refrigerated box on their kitchen table. It’s from Tang Can’s father. They unpack it to find a ton of homemade dishes from Tang Can’s parents. She suddenly frowns and excuses herself to return her father’s call. Ming Yue also goes into her room to call her own father.
Tang Can tells her father that she got the package. He sighs and says that her mother might not say it, but she thinks of her every day and that’s why she made all the dishes that Tang Can loves to eat. She’s too proud to bring it to her, so she shipped it instead. Tang Can asks if her mother is doing okay — she had a chronic headache before. Her mother self-diagnosed via the internet, and Tang Can is appalled — what if she has a tumor? Her mother snaps back, saying that her head hurts because of Tang Can. Tang Can half-smiles, seeming glad to hear her mother’s voice on the phone. She hesitantly asks her father if the museum job he mentioned is still open.
Ming Yue finds out from her father that he never agreed to buy the condo. Her mother brought it up with him, but he wanted to wait until he got back from his business trip to discuss it with her. He didn’t even know that Ming Yue’s mother had already paid the deposit. Ming Yue goes into problem solving mode. Her mother needs her paperwork in order to get the mortgage, so as long as she doesn’t hand it over, then they still have time. Ming Yue also learned that even though the deposit is non-refundable, they can transfer it to someone else.
Tang Can looks at herself in the mirror and realizes that she’s starting to develop wrinkles. She decides to clean out most of her closet and enlists Ming Yue and Jian Jian’s help in throwing away the bags of clothes. They’re stunned and ask if she’s really going to throw all her clothes away.
Tang Can tells them that she’s decided to give up her online store and her acting dreams. She interviews at the museum tomorrow and doesn’t need all these clothes anymore. Jian Jian’s talk of her father getting old reminded Tang Can that her parents are also getting old. Fortunately, her parents already have two houses, thanks to her child acting career, so all she has to do is support herself. The best thing she can do for her parents is take care of herself so that they don’t have to worry.
Jian Jian gets Ling Xiao and Zi Qiu to help carry all the bags downstairs. But once they get outside, Tang Can hesitates by the recycling bins, unable to find the willpower to actually toss all her clothes away. Zi Qiu offers to help bring them back upstairs if that’s what she really wants. Tang Can looks torn, but then turns around and runs back toward the building.
Jian Jian is surprised that Tang Can can actually bear to throw all her clothes away. Ling Xiao points out that by throwing away her old clothes, she also gives herself an excuse to buy new ones. The friends, minus Tang Can, start tossing the clothes into the bin.
Hai Chao is taking a break between the breakfast and lunch rush when Hong Ying shows up with dumplings she made by following a video. She wants him to try them and tell her how they taste, then forces one into his mouth. When he says they taste good, she tries to feed him another one. He tries to refuse. He Ping shows up and teases them briefly before heading off to work. After he’s gone, Hong Ying tries to give Hai Chao an arm massage, but he also insists on refusing and she sits back down awkwardly.
Later, He Ping makes fun of how Hong Ying was trying to feed Hai Chao in front of the kids. Zi Qiu suggests that if he’s envious, he should also go out on dates. He Ping says he’s not envious — he’s jealous, of Hong Ying. How dare Hai Chao keep his relationship a secret! Hai Chao tries to insist that they’re just friends. He and He Ping continue to bicker adorably.
Jian Jian interrupts to remind them that Ling Xiao’s birthday is coming up. He Ping has already switched shifts at work so that he can help Hai Chao cook. Zi Qiu takes responsibility for the cake. They ask Jian Jian what she plans on doing. “Eat!” she responds, and they all laugh.
We got a little taste of everyone’s life and parental revelations this episode, but the most significant storyline is Tang Can’s. This episode is a big turning point for her.
From a parent’s perspective, it looks like Tang Can is “growing up.” She’s finally acknowledging that her dreams were unsustainable, and recognizing that although she may have a difficult relationship with her mother, in the end they still deeply care for each other. It’s also kind of sad, that she’s finally giving up. But like all the talk of cocoons and caterpillars and butterflies, maybe this is just her moment of metamorphosis.
I also found it very mature that Ming Yue can be so frustrated with her mother, but also so understanding of her and able to recognize that her mother only has so much she can control in her life. It doesn’t necessarily make it any easier for Ming Yue to deal with her when she’s in the moment, but I found it respectable. It’s possible to understand and respect your parents without always agreeing with or listening to them.