Zi Qiu learns the real truth about his mother, but isn’t sure that it changes his relationship with her at all. Meanwhile, Ming Yue is finally forced to confront her mother about her controlling parenting style.
Hai Chao tells He Mei that Zi Qiu knows about how she went to jail. Jian Jian receives a phone call and abruptly leaves the studio in the middle of carving, without a word. Ling Xiao sprints out of his office.
Ling Xiao and Jian Jian are relieved to find Zi Qiu sitting under a tree at the waterfront park. When Hai Chao called them, they were worried that Zi Qiu had thrown himself into the ocean.
Jian Jian is quick to say that He Mei is just too much, lying about so many things. But it’s also very clear where Zi Qiu gets his predisposition for trying to handle everything on his own. Now he can also understand how infuriating it is to be on the receiving end of his well-meaning lies.
Ling Xiao asks Zi Qiu how he feels now knowing the real truth. Zi Qiu isn’t sure. He understands his mother more now, and he feels better knowing that he wasn’t abandoned because he was a burden, but he also feels bad knowing how much his mother suffered. He’s also not sure whether it would mean anything to forgive her, since he never hated her.
Jian Jian makes another quip about Zi Qiu and his mother. Ling Xiao tells her to know when to drop something and motions for her to zip her mouth. She listens to him. Zi Qiu suddenly asks if Jian Jian has always liked Ling Xiao since they were little: she always listened to him and was looking out for him, while always getting Zi Qiu in trouble.
Jian Jian acts like she doesn’t remember and claims that she didn’t like him in that way, she just liked being with him. But is there really a difference?
At night, Zi Qiu drinks with Hai Chao. Hai Chao asks what he plans on doing now that he knows, but Zi Qiu thinks that it’s best just to leave things the way they are. He toasts Hai Chao, saying that in the whole world, Hai Chao is the one who cares about him the most.
Jian Jian and Ling Xiao cuddle while watching TV on her father’s couch. They jump apart when He PIng returns home. He Ping makes some small talk and fusses over Ling Xiao’s health, then heads upstairs. Jian Jian and Ling Xiao cuddle again, then Ling Xiao suddenly says, “Let’s get married.”
Jian Jian freezes and turns to him in shock. When she doesn’t say anything, he pulls her back in and says that he’ll buy a house first. She busies herself with the fruit bowl.
Ming Yue’s mother drops by her apartment, wanting to get the hukou paper. Ming Yue conveniently isn’t at home and tries to reschedule instead of giving her mother the passcode to get in, but then her mother runs into Tang Can, who lets her in.
Ming Yue’s mother searches her room, looking for the hukou paper. Ming Yue has kept the paper at her workplace for safekeeping, but in her search, her mother discovers that Ming Yue’s civil service exam prep books are untouched and her notebook is empty. She also finds the box of empty beer cans beneath Ming Yue’s bed. She calls Ming Yue, furious, and demands she return home immediately.
Tang Can texts a warning to Jian Jian and asks her to wait for Ming Yue so they can arrive together. Ming Yue’s mother is furious when Ming Yue gets home and starts trying to hit her after she confesses that she doesn’t want to take the civil service exam. Jian Jian holds her back.
Ming Yue finds the backbone to stand up to her mother, who insists on tearing her down, saying that she’s not special enough to make it in Beijing and that she always drops the ball in key moments, like her gaokao. Ming Yue tells her that those were all things her mother wanted for her. Anything she wants for herself, she will get. Her mother scoffs. Does she really think it’s that simple? With scores like hers?
Tears trail down Ming Yue’s face, but she steps closer to her mother, asking her to stop trying to put her down. The only time she has ever recognized her is when she’s on top. Every other time, every other thing she does, her mother is always denying her. Her mother claims that she’s doing it for Ming Yue, because she cares, but Ming Yue says she doesn’t want or need that kind of care.
Her mother asks her to have a conscience. She’s done everything for Ming Yue. If Ming Yue didn’t want any of it, why didn’t she say anything before? Ming Yue retorts that her mother has never asked for her opinion on anything.
Ming Yue’s mother glances at Tang Can, then says that she should have never agreed to let Ming Yue move out. Her friends are all bad influences on her. Ming Yue resents her mother insulting her friends, but her mother thinks she’s said nothing wrong. She tells Ming Yue to move back home the next day and start preparing for her exam.
Jian Jian cuts in and tries to calm everyone down. Ming Yue calmly tells her mother that her mother never understood her. She’s always been like this. She’s been lying since she was little. Everything her mother never let her do, she did behind her back. When she scored low on her gaokao, it was on purpose: she purposely didn’t fill out an answer sheet.
Her mother calls her a liar, but Ming Yue says that she knew if she scored high enough, her mother would make her go to law school. She avoided it the only way she knew how. Now, she’s not going to listen to her mother anymore. She will be a journalist; she will go to Beijing; she will experience the world and experience hardship and stumble and fall, because she wants to. Her mother nods in a defeated way, saying, “Fine,” and then storms out.
Ming Yue collapses to the ground, crying. Tang Can hugs her and dabs away her tears.
Jian Jian goes after Ming Yue’s mother, trying to make excuses for Ming Yue. Ming Yue’s mother asks if Jian Jian and Tang Can already knew about Ming Yue’s gaokao deception, suspicious that they were all working together to deceive her. Jian Jian truthfully says that she didn’t know until today. Ming Yue’s mother suddenly breaks down, saying that she can’t believe Ming Yue would lie about something like this. She and her father are breaking her mother’s heart. Ming Yue’s mother tells Jian Jian to let Ming Yue know that she won’t buy the condo anymore or try to tell her what to do.
Jian Jian returns to the apartment and relays Ming Yue’s mother’s message to her. She asks if Ming Yue really purposely bombed the gaokao. Ming Yue nods. “You really…” Jian Jian starts to say, then finishes with a thumbs up, “do big things.”
Ming Yue pulls out her laptop and hits send on her email application to the Beijing position. Then she tells Jian Jian and Tang Can to hold her room open for her while she’s gone — she’ll still cover the rent. Jian Jian asks if she’s really that sure she’ll get the role. Ming Yue responds that her manager already told her that as long as she submitted the application, she’d have a spot. She’ll leave in three months.
Jian Jian hangs out at the boys’ apartment with them and Zhuang Bei, eating skewers and watching a sports game. She tells them about how Ming Yue had the audacity to leave an answer sheet blank, then tells Zhuang Bei that if he’s trying to pursue Ming Yue, now is the best time. Zhuang Bei claims that he’s just here to watch the game. Tang Can shows up and upon seeing Zhuang Bei, also assumes that he’s here for Ming Yue and teases him about it. Zi Qiu comments on how she really must not be interested in Zhuang Bei anymore, because she’s not wearing makeup and isn’t dressed up. He asks if there’s something bothering her. She answers no too quickly and gets called out for it, but she changes the subject and raises a toast to happiness.
Later, Zhuang Bei is heading out when he finds Tang Can sitting on a bench, drunkenly contemplating a bag of fried peanuts. She asks if he knows how many calories are in one bag. The answer is too many, but she loves eating them anyway. He opens the bag and holds it out to her, saying that she should eat them if she wants. Why does it matter?
But Tang Can ignores him and starts crying. She drunkenly sobs that Ming Yue’s mother doesn’t like her and looks down on her, all because she used to be an errand runner. She starts listing out every one of her weaknesses, saying that she looks down on herself, too. Her only strength is that she’s skinny.
Zhuang Bei laughs. How is being skinny a strength? She doesn’t seem to hear him and instead fixates on the bag of peanuts again, then starts crying. Zhuang Bei tries to comfort her, saying how she’s pretty and nice and who cares if Ming Yue’s mother doesn’t like her? His mother likes her. His mother thinks she’s a celebrity. That finally gets Tang Can’s attention. She snaps at him, saying she hates being called a celebrity.
But then she suddenly seems to perk up again, saying that she can’t cry. There are managers at the museum who have taken a liking to her and she can’t be seen with swollen eyes. She suddenly smiles and grabs the bag of peanuts. But then she suddenly starts crying again before eating a single one, saying that she’s gotten fatter.
Zhuang Bei looks flustered and tries to cheer her up with a magic trick. She’s not amused and yells that she’s not a child. He tries a different trick, this time blowing bubbles off his tongue. She calls him gross and tries to walk away. He chases after her, saying he has more tricks to show her.
Jian Jian shows Ran some of her reference sketches for her animal-themed sculpture. He suggests she should make her lines harder, but she prefers softer lines. He says that it won’t be as artistic if she does that — it’ll seem too commercial, but Jian Jian doesn’t care.
Du Juan shows up with a package that arrived for Jian Jian. Inside are a bunch of products (product placement galore!) that Jian Jian bought to give to Chen Ting. Ran and Du Juan tease Jian Jian about being so boring with her relationship. She and Ling Xiao have only dated for a few months and they’re already acting like an old couple.
Jian Jian gets a text from her father’s employee with a secret video of He Mei at Hai Chao’s noodle shop.
He Mei glances down at her bowl of noodles and notices that there are no green onions. She comments on it to Hai Chao, who says that he remembered she didn’t like green onions. She’s stunned that he still remembers. Hai Chao laughs awkwardly, trying to wave it off as being a workaholic.
He Mei thanks Hai Chao for showing her an old photo album of Zi Qiu. Hai Chao offers to ask Jian Jian to make copies of the photos so that He Mei can have some. He Mei sincerely thanks Hai Chao again for everything he’s done. He’s just glad that she’s thought it through. She’s realized that Hai Chao was right. Even if Zi Qiu doesn’t want her attention, the feeling of someone caring for you is better than the feeling of being ignored. That’s something Hai Chao taught her. They awkwardly avoid eye contact for a moment.
He Mei admits to Hai Chao that she doesn’t know much about Zi Qiu or what he likes. Hai Chao starts telling her about how Zi Qiu loves buying things and replaced the fridge and the air conditioner in the apartment. Then he brings up how Zi Qiu even said he wanted to marry Jian Jian at one point. He Mei smiles at the thought. Hai Chao says that he thinks it was probably because Zi Qiu felt insecure and just wanted some way of being on the same hukou. He Mei’s smile suddenly falters at that reminder of his insecurity.
They get a welcome distraction when Dong Dong suddenly peeps two words, “Tastes good!”
Jian Jian goes to Zi Qiu’s coffee shop and tries to show him the video of their parents, but he refuses to look, saying that they ate together at the noodle shop so what? Jian Jian wants him to pay attention to the atmosphere. They’re clearly establishing a relationship. Zi Qiu scoffs — it’s not like they’re going to start dating or something — but Jian Jian thinks otherwise. She grabs his wrist and swings it, acting cutesy as she tries to get him to watch the video. Zi Qiu calls her out on it and tells her to go act cute with her boyfriend. He has work to do.
Jian Jian goes over to the dessert display to pick out a cake to eat, then frowns when she sees that the only things in the cooler are tiramisu and sandwiches. What happened to all the other kinds of cake? Zi Qiu says that they weren’t selling, so this is what he’s got.
Ling Xiao is taking a break between appointments at work when he gets a phone call from a tearful-sounding Mei Yang. She asks him to come back to his apartment and try to get their mother under control. Chen Ting won’t listen to her.
The scene with Zhuang Bei trying to comfort drunk Tang Can with all her capricious mood swings was the hilarious interlude I didn’t know I needed.
But on more serious matters, I enjoyed the contrast and the interweaving messages surrounding the two mothers we saw this episode: Jin Yu Xiang (Ming Yue’s mother) and He Mei.
He Mei talks about how it’s better to feel cared for than ignored, but we see with Ming Yue that there can be a problematic oppressiveness with feeling too “cared for.” Of course, the difference in Ming Yue’s situation is that her mother thought she was being caring when Ming Yue didn’t feel cared for at all. Instead, her mother’s misguided “care” led to Ming Yue feeling silenced and invalidated. We’ve been told by characters in this show that words of anger should never be taken seriously, but is it ever really appropriate for a mother who truly cares about her child to tear her down like what Yu Xiang did to Ming Yue? There is a line, and Yu Xiang crossed it.
What Yu Xiang seems to be missing is what Hai Chao always preaches: taking his children’s opinion into consideration. Yu Xiang only ever had her own opinion. Sometimes she pretended to let Ming Yue have a choice, but she was never actually open to listening to what Ming Yue wanted.