Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: The Haunted Heart (Ep. 8)

Lots of yelling and “heartbreak” this episode. “Heartbreak” in quotes because I don’t actually feel heartbroken for anyone involved. Shi Yi Shao’s wedding plans go full steam ahead while Xiao Ling gets dragged along for the ride.


Recap

Xiao Ling asks a nurse if she can visit Shan Shan, but is asked to come back the next day.

Shi Guang Yi brainstorms wedding ideas with his sister and brother-in-law. Shi Guang Mei gushes over the idea of an underwater, mermaid-themed wedding. Shi Guang Yi wants a Latin American-themed wedding. He Jian Guo pitches a Hawaiian wedding, which the other two are immediately on-board with.

Shi Yi Shao sings “Feng Qiu Huang” to himself. Ding Yu comments that he seems to be in a good mood — have he and Xiao Ling made up already? Shi Yi Shao seems unconcerned and says that Xiao Ling is just being difficult. She’ll come home when she’s tired.

Ding Yu recalls her fathers instructions to delay the wedding for as long as possible. She decides to sit herself right next to Shi Yi Shao. He scoots over to put some distance between them. She warns him that he should be careful — if Xiao Ling gets angry enough, she might even break her promises. But Shi Yi Shao says that he doesn’t need any sort of promise from her. He just needs her to follow through with the ceremony and give him a true love’s kiss.

Ding Yu asks if Shi Yi Shao proposed to Xiao Ling. Proposals are important. Maybe that’s why Xiao Ling left so angrily. Shi Yi Shao says that’s not why she left, but he can’t tell Ding Yu the real reason.

Ding Yu starts talking about how important it is to have a romantic proposal. She grabs Shi Yi Shao’s hands and pulls him up, then spins him around in a circle, demonstrating what a proposal should look like. She plays the part of Xiao Ling, saying, “Yes, I will marry you.” Then she turns away, flustered.

She tells Shi Yi Shao that a proposal is a kind of ritual. It may delay the wedding, but it’s important. Without it, how can he expect Xiao Ling’s sincerity?

Shi Yi Shao beams and says that he’ll do it. He’ll make a romantic trip out of it. Da Yong’s father, aunt, and uncle appear, all voicing their support. They also want to participate — it can be like a pre-wedding honeymoon!

Xiao Ling returns and drops her bag loudly on the ground with a glare.

She and Shi Yi Shao chat in private outside, where she reminds him that she doesn’t want to get married. Besides, now is not the time for some pre-wedding vacation. There’s no time for playing around when Da Yong is missing. Xiao Ling is worried that he’s disappeared for good, but Shi Yi Shao says that he must still be around. Otherwise this body would be dead.

Xiao Ling doesn’t believe Shi Yi Shao, but he proposes a deal. If Da Yong comes back safe and sound, then she has to go on a pre-wedding trip with him. She gets triggered and yells at him again at the mention of the wedding.

After Shi Yi Shao leaves her alone, Xiao Ling sits down and promises Da Yong that she’ll find him tomorrow. She stands up and realizes that her bag is soaked. It drips water onto the ground. The sound reminds her of Shan Shan’s leaky spigot and she slowly holds a hand up to her eye, covering it the way that Shan Shan’s ghost does, and whispers, “I’m just your replacement.”

Then she seems to come to herself and looks confused. Why did she suddenly think of that?

When Shi Yi Shao returns inside, everyone swarms him, wanting to know what happened with Xiao Ling. He reassures them that she just needs some time to herself, but she’ll definitely go on the trip. Da Yong’s aunt wants to make sure that Shi Yi Shao hasn’t told Xiao Ling that he plans on proposing. She warns him that proposals are very important and that you only get one chance. She still regrets that her husband’s proposal to her was a total mess.

The next morning, Xiao Ling shows up at Shan Shan’s care facility bright and early. While she waits outside, she thinks she hears the sound of dripping water. She seems to fall into a Shan Shan-induced trance again and holds a hand up to her eye, saying, “I’m just your replacement.”

She’s startled out of the trance when a car drives up and honks at her — she’s standing in the middle of the street. Xiao Ling drops her phone, startled. When she picks it back up again, she sees a strange photo on it of several people sitting down next to each other with crossed legs.

She does a reverse image search and goes off in search of the photo’s location instead of visiting Shan Shan.

Xiao Ling finds herself at a talk on hypnosis and the power of the mind. The presenter talks about how the cosmos is like a battleground of willpower. Some wills are stronger than others. He talks about an experiment where scientists blinded a subject, cut their arm, then tricked their mind into thinking they died with the sound of dripping water — the subject believed they were bleeding out because of the sound. The dripping water in the presentation lulls Xiao Ling into another trance that is only broken when the talk ends and the audience applauds. Qing Feng is also in the audience, but they don’t notice each other until they run into each other afterward.

Qing Feng invites Xiao Ling out to dinner after her stomach growls loudly. Their dinner conversation is awkward. Qing Feng didn’t realize Xiao Ling was interested in hypnosis. She tries to convince him that she didn’t come to this talk because of him. He asks if she took notes; she says she didn’t have time, and then thinks about telling him what happened, but decides against it because he won’t believe her. But she ends up telling him anyway — that she realized Shan Shan is different than the brainwave fragments she’s encountered before. Shan Shan has been hypnotized, and that’s why she appeared. Xiao Ling thinks that she hypnotized herself and admits that Shan Shan hypnotized her as well.

Qing Feng doesn’t seem to believe her, but Xiao Ling starts to piece the clues together. She knows that Shan Shan had an interest in hypnosis and went to clinics before. She noticed that Shan Shan had a fascination with water — many of her photos and activities all had to do with water. Shan Shan worked in advertising — isn’t advertising kind of like hypnotizing the public? Xiao Ling says that Shan Shan must have hypnotized Da Yong and that’s why he disappeared.

Xiao Ling can tell that Qing Feng doesn’t believe her. Qing Feng tells her that some things can’t be explained entirely by science — he’s just glad that she’s found an answer that works for her. However, Da Yong hasn’t disappeared. She’s about to marry him.

Xiao Ling tells Qing Feng that that person isn’t Da Yong — he’s Shi Yi Shao. Qing Feng looks frustrated and tells her to finish eating. He’ll give her a ride home.

On the ride home, Xiao Ling admits to Qing Feng that she went to visit Shan Shan on her own. Qing Feng responds that he knows. Xiao Ling looks out the window and suddenly thinks she spots Da Yong. She yells for Qing Feng to stop the car, then scrambles out.

Xiao Ling runs back toward the bridge they drove across. Da Yong waves at her, then turns into Shan Shan. Shan Shan turns and disappears. Xiao Ling yells for Shan Shan to show herself. She reappears on the railing of the bridge.

Qing Feng follows Xiao Ling back onto the bridge, then sees her standing on the railing. He’s suddenly reminded of how Shan Shan also climbed up onto a railing before she jumped. He treats Xiao Ling like she is Shan Shan and climbs up onto the railing next to her, then hugs her to him to stop her from jumping, calling her Shan Shan.

Xiao Ling turns to him confused, then asks what he’s doing with his arms. He lets her go. They aren’t standing on the railing at all — they’re just standing on the pedestrian walkway of the bridge.

Qing Feng looks shaken as they continue heading back to the Shi family estate. Xiao Ling hesitantly asks what happened back on the bridge. There’s a long moment of silence before he admits that he almost mistook Xiao Ling for Shan Shan. Shan Shan once jumped off a bridge.

Xiao Ling looks sad. No wonder Shan Shan told her that she’s just a replacement for her.

Qing Feng looks stricken and remembers the day that Shan Shan jumped. He had tried to talk her down off the railing, but she kept accusing him of not loving her anymore. She accused him of liking his other patients instead, but said that they were all just replacements for her. He loved her first. Then she said goodbye and let herself fall backward into the water.

Now, Qing Feng looks frenzied as he adamantly says that Shan Shan cannot be replaced. No one can replace anyone else. Xiao Ling cries as she says that he’s right. No one should be replaced. She writes something in the air with her hand.

When Qing Feng drops Xiao Ling off at Da Yong’s house, he also gives her the marriage fortune that his mother had read for her and Da Yong. He blinks back tears and forces as a smile as he tells her to treat it like a blessing. In the future, they will be family. She smiles back.

Qing Feng drives off after watching Xiao Ling approach the house. She lingers, watching him drive off, and cries.

Xiao Ling isn’t supposed to visit Shan Shan yet, but she sneaks in past the nurse at the front desk and goes to Shan Shan’s room. Shan Shan sits in front of a mirror, seemingly vacant. Xiao Ling says she knows Shan Shan was expecting her. She asks where Da Yong is. Shan Shan’s reflection in the mirror laughs.

“Aren’t you afraid I’ll hypnotize you?” her reflection asks. And then she puts Xiao Ling into a trance.

Xiao Ling breaks out of her trance when Da Yong suddenly appears, replacing Shan Shan in the reflection. He tells her not to listen to Shan Shan. But then he loses control and Shan Shan returns.

Shan Shan laughs and her ghost appears behind Xiao Ling. Xiao Ling stole Qing Feng from her so it’s only fair that she does the same. Except Xiao Ling is the only person who can see Da Yong so no one will notice that he’s gone.

Xiao Ling acknowledges that she can see Shan Shan, but it doesn’t make her Shan Shan’s replacement. She is her own person and has her own identity. “You’re not ill,” Xiao Ling tells Shan Shan. She’s just out of the ordinary. Xiao Ling guesses that Shan Shan is afraid Qing Feng won’t love her if he realizes she’s different.

“Do you think he loves you?” Shan Shan snaps angrily. She calls Xiao Ling lonely and friendless. Qing Feng will never love her. Is she willing to die for him like Shan Shan was?

Xiao Ling asks Shan Shan if she loves Qing Feng. She says she does, but Xiao Ling gets in her face and demands to know if that’s actually love. Shan Shan doesn’t say anything for a long moment. She smiles a bit sadly at Xiao Ling, then disappears. The real Shan Shan falls unconscious in her wheelchair, a tear slipping down her face.

Da Yong reappears next to Xiao Ling, but his image flickers.

Xiao Ling recites different mathematical constants and number sequences as she walks home with Da Yong trailing her. He still seems a bit glitchy, his image and voice flickering in and out, and tires quickly of her recitation, but she keeps reciting numbers. This is how her grandma always led ghosts around.

By the time they get back to the Shi family compound, Da Yong looks much better and Xiao Ling is exhausted. They get back in time to see everyone packing up the vans for the pre-wedding trip.

At the airport, Da Yong demands to know what’s going on — why is everyone suddenly flying to Japan? Xiao Ling gives Shi Yi Shao a smug look and tells him to explain exactly what’s going on. Shi Yi Shao looks for a number of different ways to change the topic.

Xiao Ling gets angry with Shi Yi Shao and starts chasing him around a column, trying to hit him. The parents all laugh and think that they’re just acting like a young couple in love.

Eventually, Da Yong tells them to stop. He wants an explanation for why Shi Yi Shao insists on marrying Xiao Ling. Shi Yi Shao talks about how he also wants to be free of this world. Da Yong agrees to help him resolve his worldly desires if he helps resurrect Da Yong. Xiao Ling tries to tell Da Yong that Shi Yi Shao can’t be trusted, but Da Yong is willing to listen. Shi Yi Shao shows Da Yong the blurry photo that is supposed to be a picture of his grandfather. He reveals that he knows exactly what Da Yong’s last wish is and that it has to do with his grandfather, but he won’t say more until he gets his own wish and marries Xiao Ling.

Da Yong asks why Shi Yi Shao needs to get married in Japan. Shi Yi Shao reveals that they’re not getting married in Japan — he’s going to propose to Xiao Ling in Japan. Da Yong tells Xiao Ling that this can be a good opportunity to figure out whether Shi Yi Shao is telling the truth about knowing his last wish.

Xiao Ling turns to Shi Yi Shao and says, “Let’s go.”

At the hotel in Japan, Xiao Ling is forced to stay and accompany Shi Yi Shao, who has an upset stomach, while everyone else gets to go try some lavender mousse. She broods, but Da Yong makes her get up and take a look at the scenery outside. He asks her if she even knows the meaning of the lavender flower. She doesn’t. “Waiting for love,” he says.

He starts talking about how he frequently came to this very hotel with his father growing up. Lavender mousse doesn’t taste that good anyway — he knows of several other spots that they can check out for food. Xiao Ling watches Da Yong as he talks, a soft smile on her face. He catches her looking, then they both look away shyly.

Shi Yi Shao pops up between them, excited to go and sad that they’re trying to leave him out.

Downstairs, they run into Ding Yu and Qing Feng, who invites them to join them for afternoon tea at the hotel’s cafe. The special is lavender mousse. Xiao Ling is extremely excited, but then struggles when it turns out that the menu is entirely in Japanese. Ding Yu and Qing Feng can speak and read Japanese and order with no problem. Da Yong helps Xiao Ling out with the menu so she’s able to order, but she’s completely lost when the hostess starts asking questions in Japanese and can only nod and smile in response.

She ends up accidentally acknowledging that she and Shi Yi Shao are newlyweds on a honeymoon. The hostess gifts her and Shi Yi Shao a complimentary soak in an outdoor onsen under the stars.

Ding Yu acts envious then suggests that she and Qing Feng should lie and say they’re on their honeymoon, too. Qing Feng protests and makes excuses while Da Yong frowns and looks away. Shi Yi Shao is completely oblivious and smiles dopily, then says that it’s a great idea. Ding Yu tries to act cute with Qing Feng and convince him to agree. Da Yong disappears.

Xiao Ling follows Da Yong outside, where she finds him trying to touch a tree branch. She tries to cheer him up, but they end up bickering about how Xiao Ling is deluding herself into thinking she can still be “family” with Qing Feng. Xiao Ling ends up storming off.

Ding Yu is left alone with a bunch of untouched desserts around her after Shi Yi Shao heads back to his room, still feeling unwell, and Qing Feng leaves to do work. She gets a text from her father, reminding her to delay as much as possible.

Shi Tian Yu goes into critical condition and Ding An Wei watches as doctors and nurses try to keep him alive. But the doctors and nurses start shaking their heads at one another. It doesn’t look good. Ding An Wei makes a call to move up the shareholders’ meeting.

Shi Yi Shao returns to his room to find someone with an umbrella in it. That someone turns out to be Da Yong’s father, who has two magical treasures Shi Yi Shao can use in his proposal. One is an umbrella that will change colors when the time is right. The other is a special gel that will make Xiao Ling’s heart beat faster, creating the right moment for a proposal. And there’s a third, most important treasure: the ring. He coaches Shi Yi Shao on how he must drop to his knee when everyone is watching and then Xiao Ling will definitely say yes. But Shi Yi Shao doesn’t like the thought of kneeling.

Xiao Ling drops by to check on Shi Yi Shao. He and Guang Yi quickly rearrange themselves so they’re drinking tea, which Xiao Ling finds suspicious. Shi Yi Shao invites Da Yong’s father to go soaking in the onsen with them, but Guang Yi tells the two of them to hurry up and go.


Ah Xiang drops by the temple with a gift of new clothes for Xiao Ling that she gives to Bi Zhi Wei. She thinks that Xiao Ling is the real deal and will be the savior of “their” temple. Bi Zhi Wei calls her out for suddenly referring to the temple as “theirs” again — she didn’t seem so eager to take responsibility for it when Ah Xiang offered earlier. Ah Xiang whispers in Bi Zhi Wei’s ear, sharing why she has so much faith in Xiao Ling. But Zhi Wei still rejects her offers to help out with Xiao Ling.

Xiao Ling drowns the magic seed with water, then picks carrots out of her breakfast. Wen Sheng lectures her for drowning the seed and wants to dump the water, but she says no. A book falls onto the ground, so he relents and tells her to go get changed for school. Then he notices that she’s picked out her carrots.

Xiao Ling changes into her old school uniform and asks Wen Sheng why her old uniform and schoolbag. He claims that his mother made them appear and says that she’s very powerful. Xiao Ling seems to believe it. Her ghost friend tells her that she’s dumb for believing that her grandmother magicked her school things into being, but before she can say more, some neighborhood boys throw rocks at Xiao Ling and taunt her about being the freak from the temple. The ghost disappears.

Bi Zhi Wei and Wen Sheng watch. Zhi Wei sighs, but Wen Sheng thinks that it’s a good thing word of Xiao Ling has already spread. Soon she’ll be the face of the temple. His mother repeats that Xiao Ling is under their care because it’s the gods’ will. She chides Wen Sheng for constantly feeding her ice cream. He tells her about Xiao Ling’s dislike for carrots.


Commentary

I understand where Qing Feng is coming from a bit more now and understand why he treats Xiao Ling the way he does, but I don’t feel bad or heartbroken for him and Xiao Ling. There’s just so much that feels so wrong about their relationship. One of the main issues is that we’re only told that Xiao Ling likes Qing Feng and kind of have to accept that assumption that she does. We’re never really shown reasons why she likes him. If anything, we’re only ever shown all the reasons why she shouldn’t like him.

I hope the rest of this show won’t be just 22 episodes of me complaining about Ouyang Ni Ni’s acting because it’s definitely headed in that direction right now. So instead of saying something negative, I’ll say nothing at all today.

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