Chinese Dramas, Drama Recaps

Recap: Go Ahead (Ep. 40)

It’s the end! At this point, almost all of our characters have made their peace with their parents. Ling Xiao is the only one left.


Recap

Xi Xi stays for the rest of dinner, even though Ling Xiao doesn’t come back. After dinner, she and Chen Ting sit down to chat and Xi Xi decides to be frank with Chen Ting. She tells Chen Ting that she truly views Ling Xiao as a younger brother. Chen Ting tries to avoid the subject, but Xi Xi presses on and says that she greatly admires Ling Xiao’s relationship with Jian Jian. Everyone does, especially after what they’ve been through growing up together, getting separated, and getting back together.

Chen Ting asks how Xi Xi knows about Ling Xiao and Jian Jian’s childhood. Xi Xi tells her about the viral anonymous social media post Jian Jian wrote and texts it to her. Then Xi Xi makes an excuse to leave and hurries out, politely rejecting Chen Ting’s attempts to see her off.

After the door closes behind Xi Xi, Chen Ting lets her smile drop. She hesitantly picks up her phone.

Ming Yue asks Tang Can if she managed to convince her parents to let her act. Tang Can admits that she’ll need to continue working on her mother, but she has a new approach: she’ll prove herself with her actions.

Tang Can asks if Ming Yue’s parents really divorced today. They did. Tang Can still can’t believe it. She remembers how Ming Yue’s mother always said that Ming Yue’s father was very obedient. Ming Yue points out that her mother also thought that she was obedient. Tang Can says that it seems like being obedient isn’t such a good thing after all — both Ming Yue and her father were secretly repressed.

Ming Yue looks like she’s handling the divorce well, but she admits to Tang Can it’s only because she’s forcing herself not to think about it. She realizes that her mother is quite pitiful. Yu Xiang once said that Ming Yue and Ming Yue’s father were her career. Now look at them — her career has failed. Tang Can says that’s why it’s important for women to focus on themselves as a lifetime career. Husbands and children can be unreliable.

Jian Jian returns home. Ming Yue asks her why Chen Ting invited Xi Xi to her housewarming dinner. It’s all news to Jian Jian — she didn’t know that Xi Xi was invited and didn’t know that it was a housewarming dinner. She was out at dinner with Ran and Du Juan, not at Chen Ting’s place.

Tang Can immediately gets offended on Jian Jian’s behalf, but tones it down when she notices that Jian Jian is unusually quiet. Tang Can asks why Chen Ting dislikes her so much — was she really hateful as a kid? Jian Jian smiles awkwardly and says maybe — she did once bring a basket of walnuts as a gift to Ling Xiao’s home. Ming Yue explains to Tang Can how Ling Xiao’s younger sister died choking on a walnut. Tang Can still thinks Chen Ting must be crazy to hold such a grudge against Jian Jian over a basket of walnuts.

Ming Yue guesses that Chen Ting dislikes Jian Jian so much because Jian Jian knows all of her ugly past. Seeing Jian Jian probably makes her feel exposed in an uncomfortable way. Tang Can agrees that Ming Yue has a point. From Chen Ting’s perspective, anyone is probably better than Jian Jian.

Ming Yue asks Jian Jian what she plans on doing. Jian Jian forces a smile and says that she doesn’t plan on doing anything. She’s not going to let herself get hung up on it. Her friends smile, relieved that she can be so open-minded, but Jian Jian’s smile seems to dim a bit.

Ling Xiao gets hotpot and drinks beer with his father. He Ping laments that he can’t do anything to help Ling Xiao. He feels inferior to Hai Chao in every way as a father. But Ling Xiao just holds out his beer mug and says that He Ping doesn’t need to do anything — Ling Xiao feels better just seeing that he’s here for him.

Ling Xiao suddenly opens up to He Ping, confessing that Chen Ting often acted so out of line in Singapore that he thought about calling He Ping asking him to come get him. He looks down, clamming up again, but He Ping reaches over and covers Ling Xiao’s hand with his own for a moment. He Ping apologizes for not being able to visit Ling Xiao at all. Ling Xiao responds that he never blamed him — he understands the requirements of his father’s career.

Ling Xiao looks out the window — it’s started to thunder outside — and suddenly says that he hasn’t dreamed of Yun Yun, his younger sister, in a long time. Does that mean Yun Yun has forgiven him? Does that mean the debt he owes his mother has been repaid? Ling Xiao looks hopeful. He Ping looks down and doesn’t respond. Ling Xiao’s smile fades. Father and son both turn to look out the window.

It starts pouring outside. Zi Qiu opens the door to leave work and looks dismayed at the deluge. But then someone calls his name — it’s He Mei. She claims that she happened to be passing by and thought that he probably didn’t have an umbrella. They smile shyly at each other as Zi Qiu ducks under her umbrella. Zi Qiu puts an arm around her shoulder as they start walking. He Mei looks surprised, but then smiles.

Jian Jian stares aimlessly out the window at the pouring rain, lost in thought.

Chen Ting sits on her couch, phone still in her hand. She asks Mei Yang if Ling Xiao has contacted her. Mei Yang responds that if she cares so much, she should treat him better, then closes her bedroom door for the night.

Chen Ting sighs, then finally opens up the link Xi Xi sent her and reads Jian Jian’s post. She cries as she reads, reminded of the way she’s treated Ling Xiao over the years. Her hand shakes as she calls Ling Xiao.

Ling Xiao is asleep on his father’s shoulder in a cab. He Ping hears Ling Xiao’s phone buzzing and picks up when he sees it’s Chen Ting calling. Chen Ting says that she just wants to say a few words to Ling Xiao. He Ping whispers back, asking her to stop trying to pressure Ling Xiao. He’s spent so much time and effort taking care of her, why does she insist on tormenting him? Can she not see what she’s done to him? He begs her to try and treat Ling Xiao better.

Chen Ting’s phone drops from her hand after He Ping hangs up. She starts to sob quietly.

The next morning, Jian Jian tries to help Ling Xiao nurse a hangover while Zi Qiu is in a chipper mood from being picked up by He Mei the previous night. There’s an insistent knock at the door. It’s Mei Yang, who is bawling. She cries that her mother has disappeared and left a suicide note. She’s not sure when she left.

Ling Xiao immediately rushes out the door to look for his mother. Jian Jian tries to wipe the tears from Mei Yang’s face, then tells Zi Qiu to look after her while she goes after Ling Xiao.

In her suicide note, Chen Ting apologizes to Ling Xiao, saying that perhaps her existence is the thing that causes him the greatest harm. She recognizes that she held him hostage with her selfish, fragile love while disregarding his feelings. She says that she wasn’t unaware of how much he suffered, but she was too helpless at the time. She had lost so much and was afraid of losing even more. She was afraid of losing him. She regrets not taking him with her when she left all those years ago. She hates how weak she is, that she doesn’t know what to do to make things right. The more she tried to make things up to him, the worse she made things. Now she knows that she shouldn’t have used so-called love to try and bind his will. When fate bound her to a wheelchair, she bound him to her side. She recognizes that she was wrong and selfish. She admits that she opposed his relationship with Jian Jian because she was afraid of returning to the past. She wants to have a new life, but seeing Jian Jian with him is a reminder of how she had once abandoned him and hurt him. She doesn’t deserve his love and she doesn’t deserve to be his mother. Her love is too selfish, and now she understands that he never belonged to her. He should live his life the way he wants. This time she truly wishes for his happiness, and this time she needs to let go of herself.

Her last words are: “I’m leaving. Take care of your sister. I love you both. Please forgive me, then forget me.”

Ling Xiao sits in a chair by a window, closing his eyes as he enjoys the warmth of sunshine on his face. He turns as Chen Ting wakes up in a hospital bed. Ling Xiao tells her how fortunate she was that a couple of fishermen rescued her. She’ll need to be hospitalized for a few more days because of a lung infection she got from almost drowning, but is otherwise fine.

He tells her that Mei Yang stayed by her bedside for a full day before he sent her home to rest. She blamed herself for being bad-tempered with her mother and thought that was why Chen Ting didn’t even mention her name in the suicide note. He also points out that she can only make reparations if she’s alive. If she died, then everything would freeze — all the bad things and bad memories would forever exist, unchanged, and never get better.

“Can it get better?” Chen Ting asks. Ling Xiao reminds her of something she once told him when he was younger: pus needs to drain out of a wound before it will get better.

He takes her hand, gently saying that they will all get better.

A month later

He Ping shows up at Chen Ting’s apartment to help move luggage downstairs so he can drive her and Mei Yang to the airport. While he waits for the elevator with Chen Ting, he apologizes. For one, he’s sorry for being harsh with her on the phone that night before her suicide attempt. She smiles and says that it’s not his fault — it was always her own problem.

He Ping also apologizes for their failed marriage, acknowledging that he was always working, which forced Chen Ting to take care of two children on her own. After Yun Yun’s death, he also didn’t recognize Chen Ting’s depression and thought that she would just get better on her own. He apologizes for that, too.

Chen Ting graciously says that he doesn’t need to bring up such unhappy memories from the past. It was so long ago, she’d almost forgotten. Chen Ting and Mei Yang plan on staying in Singapore — they’re both used to it there. She tells He Ping that she’ll have to leave Ling Xiao to him.

Jian Jian and Zi Qiu load gifts into the trunk of He Ping’s car while Ling Xiao reminds Mei Yang to behave and focus on her studies. When Chen Ting gets downstairs, Jian Jian goes over to let her know about the gifts she bought. Chen Ting takes her hand and thanks her with a smile, sounding genuine for once. She also makes eye contact with Zi Qiu and thanks him for looking after Mei Yang.

Mei Yang hugs Ling Xiao, then also hugs a surprised Zi Qiu. She tells Zi Qiu that she’ll miss him. Jian Jian opens her arms expectantly for a hug, but Mei Yang just gives her a look and says, “I’m leaving,” before getting into the car. Jian Jian pretends to be upset.

Chen Ting calls Jian Jian over to her open window. She gently pats Jian Jian’s hand again and tells her that this time, she’s really giving Ling Xiao to her. They have to take care of each other. Jian Jian promises that she’ll make Ling Xiao happy. Chen Ting smiles and gently pats her cheek.

The car drives off. Zi Qiu reminds them that they only have an hour to get dressed before they have to leave. Jian Jian hurries off to find Tang Can so she can help her put on some makeup.

Tang Can puts some lip color on Jian Jian while asking if they really went to go get a certificate. It’s so sudden! She has to get her red envelopes ready. Jian Jian teases her, saying she expects large red envelopes. After all, Jian Jian spent so much money and effort inviting everyone she knows to see the opening of Tang Can’s play tomorrow. Tang Can is nervous that she might still lose the part to an understudy, or that the crowd will boo her. Jian Jian reassures her that she’ll be fine.

Ming Yue’s mother drops by with food. She’s remembered Tang Can’s allergies now and has only brought things she can eat. She glances around the messy apartment with disgust and gets to work cleaning.

Ming Yue releases her pet fish into the water.

Jian Jian and Ling Xiao wait for Hai Chao in the living room of his apartment. She’s in a white dress and Ling Xiao wears a suit and tie. Jian Jian tells her father to hurry up, then tells Ling Xiao how her father has gotten really into beautifying himself since He Mei bought him a suit. Ling Xiao smiles and says she looks beautiful today. She calls him handsome and they’re about to kiss, but then Hai Chao finally exits his room and they spring apart.

Hai Chao acts shy in his suit, but Jian Jian fawns over how handsome he looks. She teases him about having a shotgun wedding — have he and He Mei dated for even a month yet? Hai Chao responds that it’s not a shotgun wedding, because they went on their first date twenty years ago.

Jian Jian tries to hustle Hai Chao out the door. Zi Qiu and He Mei are almost at the marriage licensing office and they still have to take family photos after.

Zi Qiu and He Mei sit together in the back of a car to the licensing office in shy silence. He Mei hesitantly asks if he’s really going to transfer ownership of his coffee shop. Zi Qiu acknowledges that he will — he’s always wanted to open a dessert shop, so once things get sorted out, he’ll ask Luo Hong’s help in picking a new store location. Is that okay? He Mei smiles and says of course.

Zi Qiu suddenly chuckles slightly, admitting that he never would have imagined he would one day send his mother off to be married. He looks He Mei in the eye and says, with a serious face, that his father will definitely be good to her. She needs to be good to him, too. From now on, their lives will be good. He wishes them happiness. He Mei smiles and nods, moved to tears, and takes his hand in hers.

He Mei and Hai Chao take their wedding photos, sitting awkwardly far apart and looking stiff. Jian Jian tells them to get closer — she and Ling Xiao demonstrate — and tells her father to take a little more initiative. Hai Chao looks hesitant, but then decides to listen and scoots closer to He Mei, putting his arm around her.

The photographer says that something still seems to be missing. They still look stiff. Jian Jian suddenly says, “Mom! You’re really pretty!” He Mei and Hai Chao are both stunned, but then beam.

He Ping shows up, dressed in a suit, but demurs when He Mei and Hai Chao try to invite him into their family photo. Hai Chao teases him for saying no when he showed up dressed for the occasion. He points out that once Ling Xiao and Jian Jian get married, they’ll be even more of a family. That convinces He Ping, and he and the children gather around He Mei and Hai Chao for a family photo.

Zi Qiu gets faux jealous when Jian Jian holds Ling Xiao’s hand in the back and insists on holding hers, too. She shows Ling Xiao with a laugh, then switches to gripping Zi Qiu’s arm. They pose nicely and smile for the camera. When the photographer counts to three, they cheese.


Commentary

It’s over!

Up until the last fifteen minutes, I almost forgot this was the finale, which speaks to how slice-of-life this whole show has felt. It’s been the perfect balance of having meaningful story arcs while also maintaining this feeling that we’re just stepping into these characters’ lives for brief moments.

The only storyline left to wrap up was Chen Ting and Ling Xiao’s relationship. I feel conflicted about how they found their resolution. I think it’s tragic that she attempted suicide and wish that she and Ling Xiao could have had their resolution before she reached that point. But it’s also a reminder that even though her behavior has seemed selfish and manipulative, we’ve also been shown from the start that Chen Ting had severe depression that was overlooked and unaddressed by everyone around her. He Ping, bless his soul, tries to do the right thing, but he is also so oblivious sometimes. For a detective, he can be quite clueless and too satisfied with accepting what he’s told at a superficial level. It’s not until he’s forced to acknowledge Ling Xiao’s mental health and not until after this act of desperation from Chen Ting that he even realizes Chen Ting could have been depressed.

I don’t like Chen Ting any more, but I don’t like her any less either. Her depression isn’t an excuse for her behavior, but it is an explanation.

That’s why Chen Ting’s character and story feel like the ultimate test of patience in this show. Hai Chao told Jian Jian early on that she shouldn’t judge other people because she doesn’t know their full story. Chen Ting was so defensive when it came to Hai Chao and Jian Jian because she thought they would judge her for knowing her whole story. But they didn’t.

Of course, once we got Chen Ting’s resolution, the rest of this ending was so warm and fuzzy and fitting. Watching this show has been such a bright, warm light in my life for the past month, and I’m sad that now I’ll have to find some other bit of sunshine to fill the void.

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