Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: The Arc of Life (Ep. 4)

Xiao Niao, Xia Zhi, and Mei Ji adjust to working together, but starting a start-up is not easy and they soon run into some bumps in the road. Yi Nan tries to step up at work and in his personal life, but also finds that things don’t always go according to plan.


Recap

Director Ding says that Yi Nan must not have any dependents and that’s why he dares to be so principled. Doesn’t he want to climb up the corporate ladder? Yi Nan responds that he wants to be the kind of banker who helps fund other people’s dreams. Ding clearly thinks he’s naive, pointing out that he can do anything without power. And the only way to gain power is to climb up the corporate ladder. If Yi Nan is able to secure the S.U.N. deal, then their team will meet their yearly goal and Ding has a chance to get promoted. He promises that if he gets promoted, he’ll make sure Yi Nan is the quickest person to ever be promoted from assistant manager to manager. Yi Nan records the conversation.

After work, he meets up with Mei Ji at her request. She thinks that the fact he showed is a sign he likes her. He tries to set things straight, but she doesn’t quite give him a chance and instead launches into the real reason why she asked to meet: she wants some advice. She asks if he thinks she should resign — Xia Zhi and Xiao Niao want her to join their company. Yi Nan claims to not be able to give Mei Ji specific advice on her situation, but asks her about how she feels when she goes to work in the morning at her current job.

Mei Ji admits that the only reason she wanted to work at a big company was to meet people. But now that she’s met the right person… Yi Nan launches into his own reason for showing up and starts rejecting Mei Ji in a roundabout way, trying to be as nice as possible. Mei Ji cuts him off — she knows a rejection when she sees one. She guesses that he likes Xia Zhi. Yi Nan stammers. Mei Ji says that she’d be upset if Yi Nan rejected her for some other woman, but because it’s Xia Zhi and she likes Xia Zhi, she’s okay with it. She’s willing to wait for him.

She asks him why he hasn’t confessed to Xia Zhi, especially since he’s known her since university. Yi Nan stammers that it’s complicated, but Mei Ji responds that youth has its limits and Yi Nan can’t afford to waste time. He needs to confess and Mei Ji will help him.

Xia Zhi and Xiao Niao hang their company sign outside their new office. Xiao Niao has plans to add their company slogan to it, but Mei Ji suddenly appears over their shoulders and comments that their slogan feels weak. Xiao Niao responds that it’s not about how it feels, but Mei Ji responds that feelings are important. Isn’t their goal to promote the feeling of a good and beautiful life? She comes up with a different slogan that’s a pun on their three names. No one says anything and Mei Ji keeps brainstorming. Xiao Niao heads inside, saying it’s time to work.

Mei Ji sees the stairs and asks where the elevator is. Xiao Niao responds that this is one of their corporate benefits: a free workout. Mei Ji shudders and turns to leave. What’s next — no air conditioning? Xia Zhi tries to convince her to come back, saying that this is just temporary while they start out. There will be air conditioning, but they’re only allowed to turn it on when it’s above 27°C (that’s ~80°F for Americans like me). Mei Ji is dismayed — her make-up will melt. Xiao Niao points out that no one will see her face anyway. Mei Ji responds that she wears make-up for herself, not for other people.

Xia Zhi tells Mei Ji that this is Xiao Niao’s home — she shouldn’t reject it before seeing it. Once they make some money then they can move into a proper office.

They eventually make it up the staircase to Xiao Niao’s apartment. Mei Ji pants as she starts negotiating the terms of her employment. She wants regular hours, daily breaks, and no overtime. She also wants to be a partner. But when Xiao Niao asks how much she wants to invest, Mei Ji changes her mind. She doesn’t need to be an investor — they can just make her CEO instead.

Xiao Niao shows Mei Ji some of the first plates that have arrived. Mei Ji gets what the idea is: putting plain food and nice plates immediately elevates it. But isn’t that just fraud?

Mei Ji seems appalled when she learns that Xiao Niao and Xia Zhi spent NT$4.8 million on their initial inventory of tableware, but Xia Zhi reassures her that they already have a buyer lined up: Hong Li Restaurant Group. Xiao Niao knows the chairman’s son and found out that the group is trying to revamp their image. Mei Ji asks if they’re aware that Hong Li’s restaurants all serve terrible-tasting food. Xiao Niao says that isn’t the point — the point is that they’re revamping and changing everything, from their logo to their atmosphere.

Mei Ji gets herself settled in at the dining table where they’re all working and starts pulling out an assortment of decorations and supplies, including a mirror and a holder full of feathered pens. Xiao Niao is annoyed with the extra clutter. Mei Ji responds that her dream is to make her workspace all nice and beautiful and complains about Xiao Niao’s micromanaging. There’s already no elevator and limited air conditioning, and now Xiao Niao is trying to tell her what she can and can’t have at her desk?

Xia Zhi tries to make peace between the two of them by letting Mei Ji spill over into her space rather than Xiao Niao’s, but Mei Ji isn’t satisfied and threatens to walk until Xiao Niao relents and tells her she can do what she wants.

May finds Yi Nan brooding outside and taking a break from work. Apparently, news of their meetings has gotten around to her boss, who has been asking why she’s getting involved with Yi Nan’s project when she has nothing to do with it. They’re not doing anything wrong, but May reminds Yi Nan that she works for a paycheck for her family. She doesn’t want to cause trouble and she urges Yi Nan to not make life difficult for himself. They both know that Director Ding will push the S.U.N. contract through no matter what. It’s not Yi Nan’s own money at stake. Even an experienced, tenured employee like James was driven out; does Yi Nan think he really stands a chance? Unless he has someone powerful backing him, he should just keep his head down and hope that nothing bad happens to the S.U.N. project he’s funding.

Yi Nan gets a text from Xia Zhi asking if he’s free. She owes him dinner. At night, he sighs and thinks to himself that major obstacles make a person want to do dumb things. He walks by a jeweler, then backtracks to look in at a display.

Later, at a restaurant, Yi Nan nervously spins a jewelry box while waiting for Xia Zhi to show up. He hides it when she rushes in, apologizing for being late, and is so flustered that he accidentally knocks over their water glasses after she sits down. Xia Zhi teases him for embarrassing them in such a high-end restaurant. She talks about how she initially planned on taking him out to one of Hong Li’s restaurants so she could get a feel for their current vibe, but didn’t want to seem stingy so she chose a restaurant she knows he’s been dying to eat at.

He asks about Hong Li and Xia Zhi shares with him that they’ll be Little Bird’s first clients. She pulls out some documents, asking for his feedback on some logo design options. But Yi Nan interrupts her: Hong Li Restaurant Group is about to go bankrupt.

Xia Zhi rushes out of the restaurant, trying to get into contact with Xiao Niao. Yi Nan is left behind to stare at the ring he bought.

Xiao Niao, Xia Zhi, and Mei Ji try to figure out what to do now that the Hong Li deal has fallen through. Mei Ji has an idea of selling the plates to all the business owners she knows, but Xia Zhi points out that the plates would just collect dust in storage and wouldn’t bring in more customers. That’s not the kind of business they want. Mei Ji doesn’t immediately understand why and Xiao Niao lashes out at her, calling her dumb. She and Mei Ji start arguing, with Xiao Niao calling Mei Ji cheap. Xia Zhi tries to get her to apologize, but Xiao Niao doesn’t think she’s said anything wrong — isn’t Mei Ji’s style of doing business why Xia Zhi wanted to hire her in the first place? — and storms off.

Mei Ji asks Xia Zhi what Xiao Niao meant. Xia Zhi stammers and tries to explain that Mei Ji’s personality is different, but Mei Ji is already in a bad mood and snaps that it just sounds like a different way of calling her cheap. She storms off, too.

Xia Zhi does what she does best when she has a lot on her mind: eat. Her father tries to get Tai Feng to stop bringing her food, but Tai Feng sneaks over when he’s not looking. He calls Yi Nan, who tells him that NT$1 million has “flown away” and that’s why Xia Zhi is upset.

Xiao Niao makes phone calls to everyone she can think of in an attempt to sell the tableware, but after reaching out to 38 people, she’s only able to sell 10 sets. She gets a phone call from her mother.

Mei Ji broods by herself at a bar, Xiao Niao’s words echoing in her head. A man tries to hit on her and doesn’t leave her alone when she expresses her disinterest. She finally snaps when he asks her what her price is and throws her water on him before storming out.

Director Ding catches Yi Nan on his way out and tells him that he’s already approved the S.U.N. deal on his end. He wants Yi Nan to go ahead and make sure the contract is signed, and promises that Yi Nan will reap the rewards.

Yi Nan goes downstairs to find Mei Ji waiting for him outside his office building. She wants him to go out for a drink with her and latches onto his arm. He tries to escape her grasp and asks what happened with the company. She quickly mumbles about being called cheap, then is all smiles again as she latches onto him and doesn’t let him shake her off. He tells her that he needs to drop by the Xia Restaurant. She follows him.

Xiao Niao goes out to dinner with her mother, but is all business. She guesses that her mother only wanted to meet up because she heard about how Xiao Niao was calling around and didn’t want her to make a fool of herself. Her mother idly comments that before, people only paid her any attention because she had the Zi Yuan and S.U.N. names to back her up. Xiao Niao wants her to get to the point. Xiao Niao’s mother hands over a stack of business cards — connections Xiao Niao can reach out to. Xiao Niao rejects them. Her mother thinks it’s because of her relationship with her father and reminds Xiao Niao that they’re still family. She has only one more thing to say: a leader needs to know when to yield and when not to.

Xiao Niao tells her mother that she didn’t stop treating her parents like family; her father was the one who stopped treating her like his daughter.

Yi Nan tries to talk to Xia Zhi while she munches on a carrot, but she doesn’t respond. He gives up and goes to check on Mei Ji, who is chatting with Yu Tian in the kitchen and giving him a lot of inspiration (his words.) Mei Ji immediately tries to cling to Yi Nan’s arm when he shows up and suggests that they should come to this restaurant on their dates. Yi Nan tries to escape her grasp and hurriedly clarifies to Yu Tian that there’s nothing going on between him and Mei Ji. He tells Mei Ji it’s time to go home.

Xia Zhi blocks Mei Ji’s way as she leaves the kitchen, saying they need to talk, then grabs her arm and starts pulling her outside. They run into Xiao Niao. Xia Zhi grabs her, too, and drags her down the street.

When Yu Tian finds out that Xiao Niao, the CEO who wasted all his money, is the woman who appeared, he wants to go after her to give her a piece of his mind, but Yi Nan stops him.

Xia Zhi tells the other two women that she didn’t think the first thing to defeat them would be a reason as silly as infighting. Mei Ji crosses her arms and lifts her chin, but says she’ll return to the company if she’s apologized to.

Xiao Niao looks away but admits that she was at fault for not doing her research into the Hong Li restaurants. Mei Ji says that’s a given — everyone knows that’s her fault — but what she wants is an apology from Xiao Niao. And Xia Zhi. Xia Zhi looks down but apologizes, then tries to explain (a little unsuccessfully) why she wanted to hire Mei Ji. She finally settles for saying that Mei Ji is awesome.

Mei Ji turns to Xiao Niao, looking for an apology. Xiao Niao holds out three large bubble teas instead. Xia Zhi and Mei Ji accept their drinks; Xia Zhi says that they have to start over and not be mad at one another anymore after drinking their drinks. But Mei Ji keeps hounding Xiao Niao for an apology. Xiao Niao tells them to be at work at 9AM the next morning and starts walking away. Mei Ji chases after her and loops her arm through Xiao Niao’s, still wanting her apology. Xia Zhi chases after them.

Yu Tian and Yi Nan watch the three women walk together down the street, amazed. Yu Tian asks Yi Nan if he’s interested in Mei Ji at all. Yi Nan quickly says no and ducks away shyly. Yu Tian follows him — is he sure? He says that if he were just a little bit younger he would be pursuing Mei Ji. Is Yi Nan sure he’s not even a little interested? Yu Tian starts suggesting that maybe Yi Nan should try seeing a doctor or psychologist or taking some supplements in order to cure what he views as a clear impotency issue.

Yi Nan tells him, embarrassed, that just because he can’t confess doesn’t mean he’s impotent. He quickly says his goodbyes while Yu Tian calls after him, asking if he’s absolutely sure that’s the case — has he tried?

At work the next day, the three women try to brainstorm ways to make up for the lost revenue from the failed Hong Li deal. Mei Ji gets annoyed when Xiao Niao completely ignores her idea. Xiao Niao responds that Mei Ji can contribute her opinions once she’s willing to give up her 9 to 5 hours (and work overtime.) Mei Ji bristles — what’s so wrong with not wanting to work overtime? Xia Zhi has to smooth things over by translating Xiao Niao’s real meaning: she wants Mei Ji to treat the company like her own and put in as much effort as the rest of them.

Mei Ji asks if she’ll be allowed a voice in the company if she manages to sell their inventory. Xiao Niao agrees to give her a leadership position — but only if Mei Ji outsells her. Mei Ji declares that she will definitely beat Xiao Niao. Xiao Niao dismissively responds that Mei Ji will probably just ask all her older male friends to buy for her. Mei Ji rises to the challenge — if she ends up relying on her old men connections, she’ll do whatever Xiao Niao wants.

Xiao Niao and Xia Zhi both struggle and suffer through dismissiveness and verbal insults as they try to find buyers for their tableware. Xia Zhi finally finds some success when she meets up with her old boss Liao Bei Chuan, who agrees to buy two sets and offers to ask around and see if anyone else at S.U.N. is interested.

Xia Zhi visits her dad and finds Little Bird’s plates already in use at the restaurant — he’s helping out Mei Ji. Xia Zhi is betrayed that her father would help someone else before helping his own daughter, but he points out that in her 30 years as his daughter, she hasn’t helped him come up with a dish. Mei Ji helped him in one night — he shows her a dish that’s plated to look like a nude woman.

Xia Zhi gets a little bit of help from Yi Nan, who offers to buy 20 sets that he’ll use as gifts to clients. He reminds her to make sure to include a Little Bird business card with each gift set. She thanks him profusely, recognizing that he’s always the one to help her out and give her ideas whenever she’s struggling. Yi Nan stares at his ring box again after hanging up.

Mei Ji drops by to update her sales count — she’s doing better than Xia Zhi — then heads out because it’s the end of her work day. After she leaves, Xiao Niao marvels at how Mei Ji has managed to sell more than Xia Zhi while working her regular hours. She and Xia Zhi come up with the idea of a Little Bird concept store to market their products and aesthetic, which can also double as an event space.

Xia Zhi’s mother calls her and tells her to show up at a restaurant the next day with ten sets of plates and to dress pretty. Xia Zhi celebrates, not realizing that her mother is actually setting her up on a blind date.

Xia Zhi shows up at the restaurant the next day, sweaty and dragging in several boxes of tableware. The man Qing Lang set her up with clearly didn’t get the memo about the plates, and is insulted when he sees what Xia Zhi is wearing and her overall demeanor. Xia Zhi glares at her mother when she realizes that she’s been set up.

But Qing Lang pays up for the plates and tells Xia Zhi that she just wants her to be able to move on and explore what’s out there. Wu Shu may as well be dead and Yi Nan is clearly in love with her but is too afraid to pursue her. Xia Zhi laughs off the idea that Yi Nan is in love with her. Her mother calls her dumb, but says that someone like Yi Nan, who needs Xia Zhi’s father to help him, is clearly unreliable. She starts trying to pitch Joseph, the stuck-up blind date guy, to Xia Zhi, but Xia Zhi isn’t listening, because she’s realizing that maybe her mother is right about Yi Nan.

Yi Nan is concerned that the bank hasn’t received the development information about the S.U.N. project they’re funding, but Director Ding pushes ahead with the contract signing anyway. The S.U.N. CFO glares unhappily once the papers are signed, annoyed that it took so long. She reminds Director Ding to not forget about S.U.N. when he gets promoted.

After Ding and the CFO leave, Yi Nan’s coworker asks him if they moved too fast. He doesn’t respond.

Xia Zhi and Xiao Niao drop by with boxes of plates for Yi Nan. He invites them upstairs for coffee, but Xia Zhi frowns and doesn’t respond. Xiao Niao speaks for her, saying they have other deliveries to make, but Xia Zhi doesn’t move. She finally asks, “Have you liked me for a long time?”


Commentary

Sometimes I feel bad for Yi Nan because he’s so self-sabotaging when it comes to Xia Zhi, but did he really buy a ring when he hasn’t even confessed to Xia Zhi yet? A marriage proposal is not a great way to confess your feelings…

Part of what makes Mei Ji such a compelling character to me is that she acts a bit simple, young, and naive with her dreams of meeting the perfect man and opening a clothing store, but she can also be very poised and mature when it comes to relationships. She accepted Yi Nan’s rejection with such grace! She was a little more stubborn with Xiao Niao and Xia Zhi, but Xiao Niao’s insults were not okay and I kind of appreciate how Mei Ji wouldn’t just let her skate by with bubble tea and demanded an apology (though I guess we never see whether Xiao Niao actually apologized…)

And of course, Papa Xia is always such a star. I actually laughed out loud when he presented his raunchy chicken wing plate.

2 thoughts on “Recap: The Arc of Life (Ep. 4)”

  1. Thank you for recapping this show! I’ve been enjoying it since the first episode, and am looking forward to where it’s headed. It’s giving me solid slice of life vibes, and of course, has that stellar cast as icing on the cake.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for the recap!!!
    I love Papa Xia, he is so funny! I loved his heartfelt advice to Yi Nan. Again Yi Nan, you have created this whole fantasy in your head, I find it surprising he would show up with a ring. I’m also wondering from the opening credits, if we would see Xia Zhi’s ex coming back.

    I’m so glad Xia Zhi has confronted Yi Nan, finally she can learn the truth and stop waiting for the ex.

    I’m disappointed with Xiao Niao that she didn’t apologise to Mei Ji. The bubble tea analogy was cute in the last episode but she treated Mei Ji horribly.
    Can’t wait to see Mei Ji and Xiao Niao’s love interest soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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