Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: The Arc of Life (Ep. 3)

There’s no The Devil Punisher episode this weekend because of the Lunar New Year (a belated 新春快乐!) so that gives me some time to catch up on The Arc of Life! This episode is full of more heart-warming moments as Xiao Niao and Xia Zhi leave S.U.N. Group and start their new fledgling company while Yi Nan struggles to figure out his place at his own company.


Recap

Yi Nan finds the S.U.N. Group CFO at a restaurant and asks her about some of the financial documents related to the company’s other projects. She tells him that he only needs to worry about the documents related to his bank’s loan and warns him to not act like he’s representing his bank. She reminds him that it’s his bank trying to court S.U.N. Group to be their client — there are plenty of other banks lining up to get their business.

Xia Zhi finishes setting up for S.U.N.’s 30th anniversary celebration and says her goodbyes to the company.

Word of Yi Nan asking around for S.U.N.’s financial documents has gotten back to Director Ding, his boss. Director Ding praises Yi Nan for looking out for the company, but when they get to S.U.N.’s 30th anniversary event, he panders to Chen Huo Mu and apologizes for Yi Nan’s overstepping.

Yi Nan heads toward the drink tent, where Xia Zhi spots him and teases him for wasting her company’s money after he tries a sip of champagne and promptly dumps it out. Yi Nan again tries to warn her against joining a start-up, but Xia Zhi isn’t dissuaded. Instead, she tells him how she used to think S.U.N. was a great company, but after being pulled around from team to team, she realized how insignificant she was in the company. She was just a pawn.

Mei Ji comes over and asks what they’re talking about. Xia Zhi pulls her in so they share a seat and switches to teasing Yi Nan about Mei Ji, asking Mei Ji if Yi Nan has asked her out yet. Yi Nan acts shy and tries to downplay their relationship while Mei Ji shares how they shared a whole roast duck and chatted for two hours.

Xiao Niao is invited to speak at the anniversary event. She announces her resignation in a touching speech, saying she’s leaving to follow her recently-deceased grandfather’s last dying wish for her to complete his dream. She thanks the company and Chen Huo Mu for their trust in her and wishes them future success and glory in their business. Xia Zhi is moved to tears by the speech, and Xiao Niao is applauded as she leaves the podium and receives a hug from Chen.

Xia Zhi goes over to Xiao Niao and gives her condolences for her grandfather’s passing, but Xiao Niao nonchalantly says that her grandfather passed away three years ago. Xia Zhi gapes — so Xiao Niao lied just now? Xiao Niao responds that there’s no strict definition of “recent.” She tells Xia Zhi that there’s an art to resigning — this was the only way Chen Huo Mu and the board would have willingly let her leave. You don’t want to offend anyone when you resign — what if you meet them again later on? A perfect resignation is one in which you leave no enemies behind. Xia Zhi cautiously looks over both shoulders.

Xia Zhi goes looking for Ken and finds him out with his older male colleagues, initiating another new female hire. He’s in the middle of warning the new hire that she should treat her coworkers well and not act all high-and-mighty like Xia Zhi does, then leaps up like he’s seen a ghost when Xia Zhi appears over his shoulder.

Ken thinks Xia Zhi is messing with him, but she’s here to thank him, saying that she’s grateful for all he’s taught her over the past six years. She acknowledges that she wouldn’t have grown as much without his guidance, and toasts him. She bows to him and the other older coworkers, thanking them and saying goodbye, then scurries away, leaving them all stunned.

Xia Zhi goes to a goodbye dinner with her immediate teammates and tearfully bids them all goodbye, sad that she didn’t recognize or appreciate their generosity until after she decided to leave.

Yi Nan pulls out Wu Shu’s old phone and texts Xia Zhi happy birthday, with a flowery message about the moon and how he’s thinking of her. He looks at the moon. She receives the text and stares up at the moon with a smile.


Now that Xia Zhi and Xiao Niao have both resigned, they get to work on their new start-up. Xiao Niao comes up with a name, “Little Bird.” Xia Zhi sketches out a logo.

Xiao Niao tells Xia Zhi that she plans on investing NT$4 million of her own money into the company and asks Xia Zhi how much she wants to invest. Xia Zhi looks away — she’s poor. Xiao Niao says it doesn’t matter how much Xia Zhi invests as long as it’s some amount of money. She’s not looking for a salaried employee — she wants Xia Zhi to be her co-founder and business partner.

Xia Zhi gets a phone call from Feng-jie, who wants her to hurry over — her parents are fighting. Xia Zhi doesn’t think it’s a big deal and tells Feng-jie to just let them fight, but Feng-jie is worried that they’re going to come to blows.

Tai Feng hovers nervously in the kitchen while Xia Zhi’s parents, Xia Yu Tian and Hao Qing Lang, bicker over cooking. Yu Tian doesn’t want Qing Lang anywhere in the kitchen or near food, appalled by her choices, but she’s determined to cook for her daughter on her birthday and says that he just doesn’t understand her. She gets annoyed with Tai Feng and tries to shoo her away, but Yu Tian won’t let her. Qing Lang accuses Yu Tian of liking Tai Feng even though she’s so much younger, which Papa Xia also gets annoyed at.

Xia Zhi arrives and quickly shuffles her mother away, separating her parents. Tai Feng hesitantly asks Yu Tian why he and his ex-wife don’t try to reconcile for Xia Zhi’s sake. Yu Tian tells her that his ex-wife was the one who had an affair and left him and Xia Zhi for a man. Tai Feng gets embarrassed and flustered and quickly leaves.

Meanwhile, Xia Zhi tells her mother that she was the one who hired Tai Feng. Her mother asks if she’s trying to set her father up with Tai Feng, then treats Tai Feng with a bit of a chippy attitude while Xia Zhi tries to get her to be nicer.

A courier rolls up with a birthday cake for Xia Zhi. He starts singing “Happy Birthday” to her, but doesn’t get very far before Xia Zhi and her mother cut him off and send him on his way.

Yi Nan is putting in some extra hours at the office with May when he gets a call from Xia Zhi, thanking him for the birthday cake. Her parents hover over her shoulder, trying to eavesdrop as she invites him to the restaurant for dinner. He responds that he’s at the office. Xia Zhi’s father takes over the phone, his ex-wife hovering over his shoulder, and tells Yi Nan that he needs to put in some more effort. “Find some way to be here,” he says, before hanging up.

Qing Lang tries to get more information from Yu Tian about Yi Nan. Why doesn’t he confess to Xia Zhi if he likes her? How old-fashioned is he? Yu Tian reveals that Yi Nan was traumatized by a childhood incident in which his teacher punished him for confessing to a girl and made him do exercises while promising to never confess again. Qing Lang asks if Yi Nan has dated. Yu Tian says of course, but all his relationships have been short-lived because he spends too much time on Xia Zhi. Qing Lang declares that Yi Nan must be impotent and that someone else’s “discarded goods” aren’t suitable for their daughter. She’ll find someone wealthy and well-suited for Xia Zhi.

After the dinner table is laid out, Xia Zhi brings out her own birthday cake and makes a wish. But it’s more of a confession: she wants to invest NT$1 million in Little Bird, but she only has NT$200,000 saved. Her father is appalled that she has such little saved, while her mother is amazed.

Yu Tian starts to ask why Xia Zhi has so little savings, but quickly realizes where the money has gone. He glares at his ex-wife and calls her a vampire. Qing Lang defends herself — clearly she hasn’t bled Xia Zhi dry because she still has NT$200,000 left. The parents bicker, Yu Tian trying to urge Xia Zhi to be cautious with her money (and not invest it in Qing Lang, who is a black hole when it comes to money), while Qing Lang accuses Yu Tian of single-handedly obstructing all progress in the world. Xia Zhi ignores them, blowing out her candles to little fanfare and then picking at her cake.

Later at night, Xia Zhi’s father sighs as he looks at the view from his daughter’s room, saying to himself that he always gives the best to her. She returns from a shower and asks what he’s doing here, then finds a passbook on her desk. Her father turns away and tells her that he doesn’t have much, but this is what he saved up for her as a dowry. It’s almost NT$1 million. He tells her not to cry.

He thought about it all night and knows that once Xia Zhi says she’s doing something, she’ll follow through and do it. As a father, he can’t just stand by and do nothing. After all, he couldn’t let her go to her good-for-nothing mother for help, could he? He gruffly tells her good night. She tackles him with a hug.

Yu Tian warns her that she better not give the money to her mother, who doesn’t deserve it. She needs to think about herself once in a while. He also expects Xia Zhi to pay him back at some point, or at least enough to buy him a suit. “I gave you everything,” he says with a smile.

Xiao Niao is delighted when she learns that Xia Zhi is able to invest NT$1 million in the company. She wants to hire someone to take care of receptionist duties and asks Xia Zhi if she has anyone in mind. Eventually, Xiao Niao also wants to find a third business partner. She believes that triangles are the most stable shape and three is the best number for stability and flexibility.

Xia Zhi suggests Mei Ji. Xiao Niao is at first opposed — she views Mei Ji as someone who relies on her feminine wiles to get her way and says that Little Bird doesn’t people like her. But Xia Zhi says that Xiao Niao clearly doesn’t understand Mei Ji. Mei Ji is the person she admires the most in all of S.U.N. As if on cue, she gets a call from her.

Xia Zhi and Xiao Niao find Mei Ji partying at karaoke with Sun, the contractor she helped them find for the 30th anniversary event, and two of his employees. Sun is drunk and unstable on his feet while Mei Ji is bright, peppy, and seems perfectly sober. Xiao Niao looks disapproving as Sun stumbles over and hands them drinks. Mei Ji grabs Sun’s hand and spins him away when he gets too close to Xiao Niao, then chides him for not being grateful enough to them for getting him such big business for his company.

Xia Zhi tells Xiao Niao that Mei Ji has the warmth and personable personality that they lack. She’s pretty, smart, and dedicated. She’ll help smooth out their sharper edges.

Mei Ji chats outside with Xiao Niao about the start-up, interested in what kind of company Little Bird will be. Xiao Niao explains that Little Bird will sell high-end housewares and promote good living. Mei Ji doesn’t see the point — life is already good and beautiful, why does that need to be promoted? Xiao Niao says that she doesn’t need to understand — her job will be to answer the phone. Mei Ji thinks that sounds boring — she likes interacting with people and making friends. That’s why she works the front desk at S.U.N.

Xiao Niao says that she doesn’t know what Mei Ji’s life goal is, but both she and Xia Zhi are risking everything for this business. Mei Ji responds that her dream is to find a good husband and open a clothing store. Xiao Niao rolls her eyes, looking frustrated as Xia Zhi returns with boba for them. Mei Ji asks Xia Zhi if they plan on inviting Yi Nan to join their company. Will the company open a clothing store in the future?

Xia Zhi smiles and says that Yi Nan won’t want to join their company and they have no plans on opening a clothing store. Mei Ji says that she thinks selling luxury housewares doesn’t make sense from a business perspective. Who would waste money on that? People care about things like whether food tastes good or not. Bad food on pretty plates is still bad food.

Xiao Niao sighs and paces impatiently while Xia Zhi tries to woo Mei Ji into joining the company by praising her business acuity. Xiao Niao pulls Xia Zhi aside and reminds her that they only need Mei Ji to answer phones, but Xia Zhi protests — she thinks Mei Ji could be valuable on the business side of things. Mei Ji’s phone keeps chiming — her schedule is booked full on her days off — so Xia Zhi lets her go with another plea for her to consider the job at Little Bird. They won’t start looking for anyone else until she says no.

Xia Zhi turns back to Xiao Niao, trying to convince her again that Mei Ji would be valuable as a business partner. Xiao Niao responds that she won’t let someone like Mei Ji — who seems to rely on her looks — represent Little Bird. How will other people take them seriously? Mei Ji is still close enough to hear what they’re saying and calls out a reminder to not talk about people behind their backs. Xia Zhi and Xiao Niao smile awkwardly.

Xia Zhi asks Xiao Niao how her attitude is any different than men who look down on women at the workplace. Xiao Niao doesn’t have anything to say in response to that and drinks her drink instead.

Xia Zhi tries to analogize them to drinks: Xiao Niao is like the simple black tea she drinks without adornments. With Xia Zhi, they’re like a tasty black milk tea. But only when they add boba (Mei Ji) can they become a perfect and unique drink like bubble milk tea. (As a self-professed boba addict I love this comparison.)

But all Xiao Niao has to say is that bubble tea is fattening with all the sugar and pearls. (Of course she wouldn’t be a boba fan.)

Yi Nan goes back to S.U.N. to try and meet with the CFO, but is again told that she has a “meeting.” Mei Ji offers to bring him some coffee while he waits, but he gets called back to his own office. Before he leaves, he gives Mei Ji a long stare, finding that something about her seems off. She smiles that he’s showing he cares, but waves him off, telling him that she’s fine.

Yi Nan’s boss, Director Ding, is irritated that Yi Nan is trying to do his due diligence before signing with S.U.N. on the loan. He thinks that S.U.N.’s reputation should speak for itself — it’s not like the project won’t go ahead — and tells Yi Nan that this one project he’s holding out on is what’s holding them back from meeting their yearly goal. Besides, some of the documentation Yi Nan is asking for is far outside his jurisdiction as a lender.

Director Ding thinks that Yi Nan doesn’t have the right personality to be a client relationship manager. In order to do business, he needs to be daring and charge ahead. To Ding’s exasperation, Yi Nan responds that he believes as bank employees, it’s their responsibility to be cautious because they’re entrusted with such large sums of money. Ding tells Yi Nan he’s been watching too many J-dramas and that he needs to return to the real world. Yi Nan surreptitiously records the conversation on his phone.


Commentary

Papa Xia winning my heart once again! I love that the money he gave her was also initially meant to be a dowry. It’s a subtle acknowledgement that she doesn’t need to be married or find a man in order to be fulfilled. I love how much he supports her.

The way that Yi Nan pretends to be Wu Shu for Xia Zhi on her birthday is simultaneously sweet and cruel. It’s sweet that he cares for her so much, but it’s also so misdirected, because by reaching out as Wu Shu year after year, he’s giving Xia Zhi false hope and essentially stringing her along for Wu Shu. She’s never able to move on. He’s also doing himself a disservice, because Xia Zhi would never pay him any attention while remaining faithful to a Wu Shu she believes is still faithful to her.

I really really like how Xiao Niao was an advocate for Xia Zhi, and now Xia Zhi is paying it forward by being an advocate for Mei Ji. I can’t wait until they actually start working together because I think the three of them will complement one another perfectly, with Xia Zhi being the mediator between Xiao Niao and Mei Ji, a role that’s perhaps the most important one of all for preserving harmony within the group. Most of all I love how The Arc of Life is showing that there isn’t one way to do business or be a business woman. Xiao Niao, Xia Zhi, and Mei Ji all have their own approaches to their work, and they’re all valid and valuable professionals.

1 thought on “Recap: The Arc of Life (Ep. 3)”

  1. Thank you for the write up! I’m glad you clarified what Xiao Niao meant when it comes to leaving no enemies behind. Whilst I think Ken is awful person and should be in jail for assaulting Xia Shi, I can see her point where this may help her in the future if she comes across her former co-workers in the future. Ugh I just want to rip the phone from Yi-nan, stop texting as Wu-shu! The betrayal is going to hurt XS more, hopefully her friends will be there to help her.

    I loved the Boba tea comparison too and I’m really looking forward to seeing more of Xiao Niao and her growing friendship with Xia Shi and Me -ji!

    Also I’m so proud of Yi-nan, finally someone who records the dodgy dealings from their employer!!! This is progress!!

    Liked by 1 person

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