Chen Ting decides that she wants to stay in China, much to everyone’s dismay, including Mei Yang. Ling Xiao, Jian Jian, and their friends adjust to having Mei Yang around. Hai Chao helps He Mei figure out how to reconnect with Zi Qiu.
Mei Yang sits, crying, on a bench while Chen Ting chats with an agent about renting a condo in the same complex as Ling Xiao. Chen Ting goes over to Mei Yang, all smiles, but Mei Yang asks why she’s suddenly trying to settle down here. She thought they agreed that they were only here to celebrate Ling Xiao’s birthday and visit her grandmother’s grave. Does Chen Ting not see how annoyed Ling Xiao is with them here?
Chen Ting snaps that she doesn’t see it. What has she done wrong? What’s wrong with wanting to be close to her family and wanting to come back to the city she grew up in? She wants to know why Mei Yang is always making a fuss. If they go back to Singapore, then she’s just signing up to endure Mei Yang all the time.
Ling Xiao comes sprinting up to find his mother and sister both upset.
Chen Ting claims that she didn’t intend to move back to China when she first decided to visit, but her brother convinced her that moving back would be a good idea. All of her family is here. If something were to happen to her in Singapore, it would be such a hassle for the family to have to fly there.
Ling Xiao acknowledges that the reasoning is sound, but points out that Mei Yang is going to be a senior in high school. It would be disruptive for her to move to China, where the curriculum is entirely different, right before college exams. Chen Ting already has a solution. They’ll go back to Singapore for the school year and return during holiday breaks.
Ling Xiao points out that they could just move after Mei Yang graduates. Chen Ting says she just wants to be close to him. Family should live together. Besides, all parents can do is orbit around their children.
Mei Yang says that no matter what, she’s returning to Singapore this weekend on the flight that Ling Xiao booked for them. Ling Xiao says fine, Chen Ting can live however she wants, but they shouldn’t come back until after Mei Yang takes her entrance exams. He throws her words back in her face: like she said, parents should accommodate their children.
Chen Ting tells Ling Xiao that she won’t cause him any trouble. Ling Xiao responds saying he knows she had already made up her mind when he returned to Singapore last time. That’s why she was buying so many things and meeting up with all her friends — she was saying goodbye.
Chen Ting claims that Ling Xiao was the one who said she should meet up with her friends more often. She sighs, saying that no matter what she says, they won’t believe her. Fine, she’s wrong. She has an unlucky fate, to have not been at her mother’s deathbed, to have lost her husband in an accident, to be a burden on her children. No wonder they try to avoid her. Mei Yang rolls her eyes and looks away. Ling Xiao sighs.
Mei Yang calls her mother out for being self-pitying, but in a harsh way that makes Ling Xiao say her name in a warning tone and makes Chen Ting snap at her to shut up. But she doesn’t back down, looking to argue with her mother.
Jian Jian enters the apartment, holding her heavy box of goods, then realizes that she’s interrupting. Ling Xiao gets up to help her with the box. She explains how she accidentally sent the package to the wrong address and had to haul it over from the studio. She tries to make a quick exit, but Ling Xiao pulls her back, patting at the sweat on her forehead. She looks uncomfortable with the display of affection in front of his mother and sister and tries to pull away, but then Ling Xiao kisses her.
Jian Jian pushes him away and scrambles back to her apartment.
Chen Ting stands up abruptly and says she’s going back to the hotel. When Mei Yang doesn’t immediately respond, she snaps that Mei Yang can stay here if she wants. Ling Xiao looks frustrated, but Chen Ting tells him that she’s already decided she’ll move back here. If he doesn’t want to see her anymore, they don’t have to stay in contact.
Jian Jian is about to go shower when Ling Xiao lets himself into her apartment and pulls her into a hug, ignoring how sweaty she is. She asks what’s wrong and why he’s suddenly acting so affectionate. He quietly tells her that his mother has decided to move back to the city, into an apartment in this complex.
Jian Jian forces a smile and gently says that if his mother has decided to settle down here, that’s her right. She has the freedom to live where she wants and it makes sense that she’d want to be close to Ling Xiao. But what about Mei Yang and her last year of school? Ling Xiao doesn’t respond, but hugs Jian Jian harder.
Jian Jian goes over to Ling Xiao’s apartment with some fresh-squeezed orange juice for Mei Yang, but finds that Mei Yang is gone. Mei Yang wanders by herself out into the city, crying as she walks and looks lost.
Ming Yue returns home at night looking dejected. Her mother has blocked her number and her father won’t pick up her calls. She knows it’s probably because her mother won’t let him.
Jian Jian, Ling Xiao, and Tang Can sit down for dinner together. Jian Jian asks if Ling Xiao wants to check on Mei Yang again. He says that she won’t pick up his calls and thinks it’s best to leave her alone for a bit. Jian Jian agrees, saying that she’s currently at the most rebellious stage of her life. She and Tang Can tease each other and reminisce about their high school days, when Jian Jian would insist on rebelling against the teachers who wouldn’t let her go out to internet cafes and Tang Can would change her makeup and outfit immediately after school.
Mei Yang sits on a bench outside in the dark, still sniffling. A drunk man sits down next to her and asks why she’s sitting outside alone at night. He warns her to be careful of bad people and tells her to go home, but then falls over into her lap. She screams and tries to push him off, but he’s too heavy. Zi Qiu shows up and pulls the man upright, freeing Mei Yang. Then he asks Mei Yang what she’s doing out here — isn’t the hotel right there?
Mei Yang admits that she got into a fight with her mother and now can’t get into the hotel room. Zi Qiu asks if Ling Xiao knows she’s out here. He calls Ling Xiao.
Mei Yang gets taken back to Jian Jian’s apartment, where she wanders around while Ming Yue and Tang Can spy from one of their bedrooms. Tang Can bristles when Mei Yang starts eating one of her snacks, but Ming Yue restrains her. Mei Yang then dumps a ton of fish food into Ming Yue’s fish tank, and it’s Tang Can’s turn to hold her back.
They scramble over to Jian Jian, who’s sitting on the bed, and ask if Mei Yang is really going to stay the night. Jian Jian laughs awkwardly and says yes, she’s staying in her room.
They hear the apartment door opening and Jian Jian goes out to meet up with Ling Xiao and Zi Qiu, who have brought extra bedding. Jian Jian says that she’ll sleep with Ming Yue tonight. Ling Xiao says she can sleep with him. Both Zi Qiu and Mei Yang do a double take. Zi Qiu smacks Ling Xiao on the arm and says no. If they sleep together tonight, he’ll call Hai Chao and tell on them. Jian Jian smacks Zi Qiu on the arm, saying that Ling Xiao was just joking around. She pushes Ling Xiao toward her bedroom. Zi Qiu warns them that they better only be changing the bedsheets.
Zi Qiu hands Mei Yang an old iPad of his, saying she can use it if she gets bored. They start bickering after she comments on how he’s giving her a used version and then says that Ling Xiao and Jian Jian have probably already slept together.
Ming Yue slips out of her room and awkwardly greets Mei Yang, saying she should treat this apartment like it’s her own. When Mei Yang doesn’t respond, Zi Qiu gently smacks her and tells her to have some manners and respond. Mei Yang glares, but then politely thanks Ming Yue.
After Zi Qiu leaves, Mei Yang spies on Jian Jian and Ling Xiao through a crack in the bedroom door. When she sees how Ling Xiao smiles and is affectionate toward Jian Jian, she closes the door then waits against the wall outside, starting to cry.
The next morning, Jian Jian asks Mei Yang when she plans on leaving. Mei Yang says that she’ll stay until the weekend and go straight to her flight back to Singapore. Ling Xiao tells her that he cancelled her flight — he didn’t feel comfortable letting her go back alone when their mother had already decided to stay. Mei Yang is unhappy that Ling Xiao cancelled the flight without asking. Why are they making her stay here when they clearly are annoyed to have her around?
“Oh, so you know?” Zi Qiu quips. Mei Yang glares.
Jian Jian suggests that Mei Yang could come with her to her studio. She could hang out by the shore. But Mei Yang doesn’t want to go with her, and Jian Jian just smiles and says thank you.
Zi Qiu starts to head out for work. Mei Yang hops up and latches onto his arm, saying she’ll go with him. She wants to go to the coffee shop. Zi Qiu looks dismayed, but Ling Xiao and Jian Jian are all too happy that Mei Yang seems to have taken a liking to Zi Qiu and slip out, leaving him to wait for her.
He Ping meets with Chen Ting at a coffee shop to ask her about her sudden plans to settle down here in the city. She smiles and says that they’ve been divorced for so long — there’s no need for her to report her every decision to him. But she also adds that she’s moving here for Ling Xiao, to support him in his decision to settle down here.
He Ping says that if it’s because of Ling Xiao, then he’ll get straight to the point: Chen Ting should know better than anyone how difficult Ling Xiao has had it caring for her the past few years. He Ping doesn’t blame her if Ling Xiao is the only person she can rely on. However, he thinks she should know that Ling Xiao is suffering from severe depression and anxiety. It’s a good thing that he has Jian Jian — after they started dating, his mood has gotten much better. He Ping suddenly pauses, noticing that Chen Ting has gotten very quiet and lost her smile.
“Don’t tell me you don’t know that our son is sick?” he asks. Chen Ting responds that of course she knows.
He Ping reminds Chen Ting that as parents, they should have their children’s best interests in mind. He knows that Chen Ting doesn’t like Jian Jian, but Ling Xiao really loves her, so he requests that Chen Ting learn to like her.
Chen Ting claims that she doesn’t dislike Jian Jian, she just hasn’t seen her in so long, she’s like a stranger. She says that He Ping must have misunderstood. He Ping smiles wryly, saying he hopes that he’s misunderstood. He acknowledges that he’s been an inadequate father, unlike Hai Chao, who seems to have infinite patience with the children. He starts talking about how much Hai Chao cares for the children, but Chen Ting freezes again and seems to tune him out.
He Ping goes to find Ling Xiao at his workplace under the pretense of asking about a toothache. When Ling Xiao wants to bring him in for a more formal exam, though, he waves it off. Ling Xiao offers to take him out to lunch and He Ping beams, delighted, and says he’ll rearrange his work schedule.
At lunch, He Ping pushes meat on Ling Xiao, saying he’s lost weight, then brings up the subject of Chen Ting moving back to the city. He also tells Ling Xiao not to worry too much about what Chen Ting thinks of their relationship and relays what Chen Ting told him about finding Jian Jian unfamiliar, that was all. Ling Xiao asks if he went looking for Chen Ting. He Ping denies it, claiming he called her to offer to help with the move and happened to ask about Jian Jian in passing.
Ling Xiao thanks his father, who looks slightly embarrassed. Then Ling Xiao asks if he remembers the essay he wrote in fourth grade, titled, “My Father.” He Ping remembers that Ling Xiao wrote it about Hai Chao, and tells him not to bring it up again otherwise he’ll be triggered. But Ling Xiao smiles and says that he actually wrote it about him. At least, the original version had been about He Ping. When the teacher told him to get a parent signature, he wrote a second version.
Ling Xiao tells He Ping that the original essay was about how great his father was. When he was younger, he idolized his father, but he didn’t want him to know and was too embarrassed to show the essay to him. Besides, he knew that if he wrote an essay about Hai Chao, he would make a lot of good food for him.
Zi Qiu finds himself chuckling at how Mei Yang laughs at a video on her phone while hanging out at the coffee shop. But when she comes to the counter for a refill on her mango juice with a haughty demand, he’s quick to refuse service to her, and tells his employee to not serve her until she learns how to speak politely. Mei Yang pouts and says that she’ll leave. Zi Qiu pulls out his phone, saying he’ll call Ling Xiao. Mei Yang grabs his phone to stop him, then asks why he’s trying to bother Ling Xiao.
Zi Qiu tells Mei Yang that because she came here with him, he’s going to bring her back. If she didn’t choose to come with him, then she could have done whatever she wanted and he wouldn’t care. She pouts, but is chastised. Zi Qiu tells her to apologize. She grudgingly mutters an apology, then adds his name when he asks who. He tells his employee to prep a refill of juice for her. She offers to pay, but he refuses to let her. She returns to her seat with a small smile. Zi Qiu also smiles slightly — there’s no one he can’t cure.
Later, Zi Qiu turns to greet a customer and is stunned to find his mother. He and He Mei sit outside and make small talk. He asks about Dong Dong, who has been placed at a new daycare thanks to Hai Chao, and asks if he has an intellectual disability. He Mei responds that he has a psychological trauma — when his father used to beat his mother, he had to stay quiet otherwise his father would yell at him.
Zi Qiu mentions that he saw a video of He Mei and Hai Chao at the noodle shop the other day. A lot of people think Hai Chao still has feelings for her. He Mei smiles and looks down.
Mei Yang watches them curiously through the window, then again later when Zi Qiu chases after He Mei, stopping her before she gets in her car. He hands her some takeout for Dong Dong. She presses a compact into his hand before leaving. He opens the compact to find an old photo of the two of them together when he was younger. He smiles, and Mei Yang smiles from the doorway to see him smile. When he turns to head back into the restaurant, she quickly turns and goes back to her seat, not wanting him to see her watching.
At night, Hai Chao texts He Mei, saying that he raised Zi Qiu and knows what he would like, and adds a couple of emojis. Earlier, she had been worried whether he would like the compact, and Hai Chao had reassured her that Zi Qiu would definitely like it.
Jian Jian arrives at the noodle shop and catches her father smiling at the phone and in a cheerful mood. She teases him, asking who he’s texting. He vaguely says “an old neighbor.” She asks if it’s Hong Ying, then asks if it’s He Mei. Hai Chao is too quick to deny it’s He Mei and gets called out by Jian Jian.
Jian Jian starts lecturing her father on relationships, saying that she knows he likes pretty but pretty can’t sustain a relationship, and warning him that he shouldn’t get knocked down by the same stone twice. Hai Chao knows what she’s trying to get at and claims that he’s only talking to He Mei because of Zi Qiu. Jian Jian tells him he doesn’t need to explain himself to her. She doesn’t care who he’s friends with, but she also doesn’t want him to ruin her relationship with Zi Qiu.
Hai Chao asks if she’s the parent or he is. When she started dating, he didn’t lecture her this much, but all he does is text a girl and now she’s talking his ear off. Jian Jian giggles and has a field day over Hai Chao referring to He Mei as a “girl.”
He Ping shows up and asks what Jian Jian is laughing about. Jian Jian tells him about Hai Chao talking to a “girl.” Hai Chao tells Jian Jian to hush, but it’s too late, because He Ping picks up the mantle and starts teasing Hai Chao. He Ping shoos Hai Chao into the kitchen to prepare dishes for the next day so that he can have a moment to talk to Jian Jian alone.
He Ping tells Jian Jian that he met up with Chen Ting earlier. He could tell from Ling Xiao’s birthday dinner that Chen Ting and Mei Yang didn’t like Jian Jian. Jian Jian tries to act like it’s fine, but He Ping knows better and says that if Chen Ting ever causes her trouble, she should let him know. He’ll fight for her. They laugh about it, but after He Ping leaves, Jian Jian smiles wavers.
Ling Xiao is waiting for Jian Jian at the bus stop when she gets back. She greets him with a hug and begs for ice cream, but he says it’s too late. As they walk home, she asks if he’s called his mother yet. She thinks that they shouldn’t be angry at each other or cold shoulder each other for too long. Ling Xiao says he’s not angry and not trying to cold shoulder her, but he just feels powerless. He doesn’t know how to get through to her. It feels like he’s facing a black hole — nothing he throws in can fill it, and he never gets a response no matter what he says.
Jian Jian says she knows the feeling, but what if the black hole doesn’t know it’s a black hole? Ling Xiao thinks she’s being too optimistic — black holes only become black holes because they want to be. It’s in their nature to swallow and destroy everything that comes near, so that it becomes a part of it. She thinks his take is too dark, then asks if he’s been anxious lately and if he’s been taking his medication. He says he’s fine, and adds that she is his medicine.
Zi Qiu is waiting in the courtyard for them. He asks Ling Xiao to find something for Mei Yang to do. She’s insisting on going to the coffee shop with him again tomorrow, and even though she doesn’t get in the way, Zi Qiu feels like he’s being used as a free babysitter.
Tang Can is watching TV on the couch when Mei Yang comes out of Jian Jian’s room with a facial mask. She sits down next to Tang Can and changes the channel. Tang Can glares at her, but can’t say anything, and instead goes to the door to whisper-complain to Jian Jian, who has just arrived home.
Ling Xiao overhears and calls Mei Yang over to his apartment to chat. She stomps over, completely ignoring Jian Jian as she walks by. Tang Can gapes her at her rudeness, then groans when she finds out that Mei Yang is not leaving the next day as planned. She looks around for her remote, but can’t find it — Mei Yang took it with her to Ling Xiao’s apartment.
Ugh, it’s almost impressive how intentionally infuriating Chen Ting is and how she manages to be so unlikable, but realistically so. She’s the perfect amount of passive aggressive, where everything she says is reasonable, but her intent is constantly under question. She has too many faces, constantly changing her story and what she says depending on who she’s talking to. Sometimes she acts like a petulant child when Ling Xiao tries to reason with her and calls her out on her hypocrisy. There is so much irony in how she’s suddenly saying that parents are centered on their children when she so clearly told Hai Chao back when she and Mei Yang first visited that children should accommodate their parents.
It seems to me like Chen Ting is extremely insecure and essentially tries to lie to herself and make up for her faults and insecurities by pretending to be this caring, doting mother that she never was. And that should make me more sympathetic to her, but I can’t be, because she, like Ming Yue’s mother, has never asked her kid what he wants from her.
I actually like teenage Mei Yang way more than child Mei Yang, even before we saw her softer side this episode, perhaps because I can relate to her rebellious teenage tendencies a bit more. Sure, she acts difficult, but she also seems very aware of what Ling Xiao is thinking — much more aware than he knows — and I have to appreciate how much she tells it like it is with Chen Ting. Her rebelliousness seems mostly a defensive mechanism.