Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: The Arc of Life (Ep. 5)

Whenever I try to summarize at a very high level what happens, all of these episodes kind of sound the same: Yi Nan finally summons up the courage to go for what he wants in both his work and personal life, but gets rebuffed. The three women of Little Bird tackle their next project and things don’t go as planned (but when do they ever?) But it’s all the little nuances and interpersonal relationships and personal growth that really make the episode, and this one is all about Xia Zhi and Yi Nan.


Recap

Xia Zhi asks Yi Nan if he’s liked her for a long time. He tells her he bought her a ring and starts heading back into his office to go get it. Xia Zhi stops him. She asks if he can always be her most reliable friend. She knows she’s being selfish, but he’s the only person she can talk to about Wu Shu. Yi Nan asks if she’s thought about the possibility that Wu Shu might never come back. Xia Zhi smiles and says that’s impossible — she knows she’s still in his heart. Why else would he send a text every year for her birthday?

Yi Nan realizes what he’s done and tells Xia Zhi that he’ll be her most reliable friend. Xia Zhi seems relieved, then suggests that he should consider Mei Ji. Yi Nan smiles sadly.

When Xia Zhi and Xiao Niao return to the office at night, they find Mei Ji waiting for them. Mei Ji proudly shows off that she sold off the last of the plates — her grand total for sales was over 600 sets, six times what Xia Zhi and Xiao Niao were able to accomplish. She reveals that she sold the bulk of the tableware via livestream — she has a secret online store, which she has been running as a side gig for ten years.

Mei Ji wins the bet between her and Xiao Niao and Xiao Niao obligingly turns on the air conditioning. She also announces some good news — she’s found a new project for them to work on. Her old boss has a friend, Yu, who is renovating a resort, Lutian (“Green Sky”) Resort, in Fuliangtian. Xia Zhi’s smile falters for a moment at the mention of Fuliangtian — it’s the place where she went on her last hike with Wu Shu before he left. Xiao Niao declares that she and Xia Zhi will go out there to do some research while Mei Ji is to stay behind.

Mei Ji protests — she beat Xiao Niao in the tableware sales. Doesn’t she deserve to go and isn’t it time she got her apology? Xiao Niao shushes her as she gets a phone call, then turns off the air conditioning after hanging up. Yu’s son won’t agree to hiring Little Bird.

Mei Ji thinks that Xiao Niao is giving up too easily. If this company and project is something she’s passionate about, shouldn’t she fight for it? Mei Ji uses herself as an example — she likes Yi Nan a lot and that’s why she keeps trying to confess to him.

Xiao Niao acknowledges that she’s right and tells Xia Zhi the plan is back on — they go to Fuliangtian tomorrow to try and secure the project. Mei Ji wants to be included, but Xiao Niao whispers in her ear that Yi Nan’s confession failed and Mei Ji immediately changes course and says she’ll stay. But she takes seriously the fact that Xiao Niao and Xia Zhi are now representing the company that she also has a stake in, and makes them dress to impress before they head out the next day.

Yi Nan tries to pitch funding the nursing home he cares about, but Director Ding gets bored halfway through the presentation and lectures the team for not following through and pursuing more lucrative loans. He leaves without bothering to sit through the rest of Yi Nan’s slideshow.

Xia Zhi and Xiao Niao arrive at Lutian Resort, only to be immediately rejected by Yu’s son, Yu Long Jie. He refuses to even listen to their proposal, immediately making his judgments based on how they’re dressed. Xia Zhi tries to convince him to listen to them, guessing that he’s picky because he respects the land.

Long Jie responds that it’s because he respects the land that he won’t let outsiders like them participate in the reconstruction. Xiao Niao points out that he needs an outside perspective in order to bring in guests. He asks them to prove that they, too, respect this land by asking what they know of it. Xiao Niao spouts some facts but doesn’t impress Long Jie, who thinks that she’s just parroting a tourism pitch. Xia Zhi is the one who makes more of an impression, revealing that she climbed Fuliangtian Mountain three times before and felt something different every time. She asks Long Jie if he’ll show them up the mountain and show them what he knows.

Long Jie sets a brisk pace through the forest hiking trails. Xia Zhi lags behind, smiling nostalgically as she remembers hiking these trails with Wu Shu in the past. Xiao Niao struggles in her heels and her feet blister. Xia Zhi convinces her to head back to the resort and rest, telling her that out on the mountain, she has a responsibility to look out for herself and not be a burden on others.

The elder Yu heads back to the resort with Xiao Niao. Long Jie turns to Xia Zhi and skeptically asks if she’s sure she wants to continue. Xia Zhi starts walking and reassures him that she’ll be fine — she was part of the hiking club for our years in college. She remembers that there’s a pretty viewpoint up ahead and suggests they go there then turn back.

Yi Nan attempts to convince Director Ding to accept the nursing home loan, but Ding asks him why he’s spending so much effort on a NT$30 million loan. Yi Nan doesn’t understand why Ding is being so rigid with this loan, but not with the S.U.N. one. Ding asks if he’s trying to threaten him. Yi Nan denies it, but he’s already gotten onto Ding’s bad side. Ding tells him that until he’s managed to close NT$30 billion in loans and has made NT$200 million in profit, he has no right to talk to him.

Mei Ji is waiting outside when Yi Nan rushes out of the office, peppering him with questions about why he’s leaving work early and suggesting they go out to dinner. Yi Nan asks her to stop. He doesn’t like it when she waits for him outside his office, finding it to be a lot of pressure, and right now he needs to hurry back home — his father’s been hospitalized. Mei Ji responds that if he doesn’t want her to wait for him anymore, she won’t, but she also insists on going with him. She won’t let him go back alone and can help if it’s needed. She urgently flags down a taxi.

Xia Zhi and Long Jie reach an open area in the mountains with a crystal blue pond. She smiles and enjoys the view, finding herself recharged and ready to go back and face the world. She thinks it would be great if everyone in the world had opportunities to see beautiful nature like this, then maybe all would be peaceful. Long Jie seems to appreciate Xia Zhi’s appreciation for nature, but points out that not everyone in the world has the respect for nature that she does. The more tourists and people who come through, the more nature itself will suffer.

Long Jie thinks that humankind is too arrogant — people think they can control the whole world. He hates the thought of anything manmade disrupting this place and that’s why he won’t let anyone come onto this land and try to destroy it. Xia Zhi thinks his approach is too negative — he should try to share nature and teach others how to coexist with it and respect it. Long Jie caustically asks if she’s trying to teach him right now. He doesn’t need her or her city-dweller ideas.

But Xia Zhi isn’t dissuaded. She may have grown up in the city, but she appreciates nature. Or is appreciating nature a right reserved for the people who grew up here? She guesses that he’s not rejecting Little Bird because they’re outsiders — he just doesn’t want anyone to get too close to Fuliangtian.

Long Jie doesn’t respond to that and instead turns to head back to the resort, telling her not to stay out too late — it’s easy to get lost in the dark. Xia Zhi crosses her arms and stares after him, looking frustrated.

Xia Zhi recalls her last hike with Wu Shu. At the time, she told him that she didn’t want to become someone who only knew the forests and mountains. She wanted to stay in the city and experience different things. Wu Shu had accepted it, saying that if she didn’t persist, then she wouldn’t be who she is. He made her turn around and then put a necklace around her neck.

“No matter where I am, my heart will be with you,” he said. Xia Zhi still wears that necklace.

The sun sets and the temperature on the mountain quickly drops. Xia Zhi gets lost and twists an ankle going off-trail in her heels. She tells herself to stay calm while also berating herself for being an idiot and being rash.

Yi Nan returns to his parents’ shop in his hometown to find that his father discharged himself from the hospital and is now hobbling around with a leg cast and a crutch. Yi Nan’s mother bickers with his father, then fusses over Mei Ji — whom Yi Nan abandoned at the entrance of the shop — when she finds out that she’s Yi Nan’s friend. Mei Ji makes a good impression by insisting on helping out. Yi Nan’s father teases him about Mei Ji even though Yi Nan insists nothing is going on.

Xiao Niao frets that she can’t reach Xia Zhi and tries to get the elder Yu to call his son, but Elder Yu reassures her that Xia Zhi is probably fine — his son treats women very well. Long Jie returns and lectures his father for drinking when the doctor told him not to. He’s surprised when he finds out that Xia Zhi hasn’t returned yet. Xiao Niao yells at him for leaving Xia Zhi alone on the mountain. He bursts into motion gathering supplies to head up the mountain and look for Xia Zhi.

Yi Nan’s cousin invites him and his parents out to dinner, but it’s an awkward affair. Yi Nan’s mother is feuding with her brother. Yi Nan’s uncle makes passive aggressive comments about Yi Nan’s parents’ arrogance and how he was the one who gave them a place to stay in the past. (Apparently he was also the one who kicked them out.) Yi Nan’s uncle asks him to come to the factory the next morning to take a look around, but Yi Nan’s mother rejects the invite for him, saying he’s too busy. The children and Mei Ji try to act like everything is fine.

At the end of the night, Yi Nan’s cousin, Yi Ling, apologizes for her father’s behavior and for making Yi Nan pay for dinner. She also asks him to come by the factory the next morning.

Yi Nan gets a phone call from Papa Xia, wanting to know where Xia Zhi is. They usually call each other every night before bed, but he can’t reach her. They end up looping in Xiao Niao, who is forced to admit that Xia Zhi has been missing for several hours. Papa Xia is upset — first she loses his money, and now she loses his daughter?

Yi Nan tries to reassure Papa Xia that Xia Zhi has a lot of experience in the mountains, but Papa Xia doesn’t seem very reassured.

Xia Zhi continues wandering the mountain and finds a shack. She goes inside and tries to cover herself as much as possible with plastic bags she finds.

Yi Nan drops Mei Ji off at a hotel and promptly turns around to leave. She tries to find excuses for him to stay, but each one of her attempts gets shot down. Eventually, she suggests that they should pray for Xia Zhi’s safety, since there’s nothing else they can do. She looks up at the sky and prays that someone will find Xia Zhi right now.

Long Jie finds Xia Zhi huddled in a corner of the shack and immediately starts wrapping her with blankets to warm her up. She throws her arms around him and cries, asking what took him so long and saying that she wants to eat instant noodles. He hugs her to warm her up and tells her that she’ll be okay. When he feels how her clothes are soaked through, he pulls out new layers for her to change into, but Xia Zhi passes out before she can change.

Xiao Niao calls Papa Xia and Yi Nan to let them know that Xia Zhi has been found and is asleep, though she had some signs of hypothermia. Yi Nan asks if the person who found Xia Zhi has mountaineering experience; when Xiao Niao says he does, Yi Nan seems reassured. He should know how to care for Xia Zhi.

Xiao Niao asks Mei Ji why she and Yi Nan are together. Mei Ji reassures her that she already made sure their company phone is forwarding to her cell phone — they’ve received no calls — then tells Xiao Niao to work hard and hangs up.

Yi Nan says goodnight to Mei Ji and turns to leave again, but Mei Ji tries to keep him longer by asking how someone would care for a person with hypothermia. She beams at the mention of taking off clothes and hugging for warmth and asks Yi Nan to demonstrate. Maybe they should go hiking together sometime? Yi Nan just smiles and says goodnight before walking away. Mei Ji pouts.

Long Jie manages to get Xia Zhi more warmed up so that when she next wakes up, she realizes who he is. He’s not Wu Shu and she seems slightly embarrassed when she realizes that he heard her calling him by that name. Xia Zhi says that she wants to eat instant noodles. Long Jie responds that she can eat congee if she wants, but not instant noodles. He hates instant noodles and also hates seeing other people eat it — it’s full of artificial ingredients and has no nutritional value. What’s so good about it?

Xia Zhi responds that it puts her in a good mood. “Oh,” he responds.

Xia Zhi apologizes for causing trouble, but Long Jie says she has nothing to be sorry for — he was the one who was in the wrong for leaving her alone on the mountain, even if she did have mountaineering experience. But Xia Zhi recognizes that she thought too highly of herself and was at fault, too.

Yi Nan gets a phone call from “Jenny.” He stares at the screen, letting it ring and remembering a past moment with her — she had called him out for caring more about Xia Zhi and Papa Xia than he did about her. Yi Nan finally answers the phone. Jenny invites him out to dinner, but he tells her that he’s in his hometown looking after his father.

Xia Zhi falls asleep and Long Jie gently tucks her in. As he pulls away, she grabs his hand and sleepily mumbles that he’s not allowed to let go, not even in death. He tries to free himself, but she holds on tighter and tucks their joined hands under her head.

Later in the night, Xia Zhi wakes up to the sound of Long Jie playing the harmonica outside. A tear slips down her face.


Commentary

Ouch, I mean we all knew this heartbreak for Yi Nan was coming, but it still hurts to see. But what a way to respond to her question about liking her — “I bought you a ring, do you want to see?” What does he think a ring means? Least romantic proposal ever.

I’m proud of Yi Nan for not denying his feelings for Xia Zhi when she confronted him, but again he ends up sabotaging himself by promising to be her best friend when it’s going to be so painful for him to do so. His fatal flaw and weakness seems to be that he cares too much, both in work and in his personal life. I’m curious to see whether he’ll ever manage to climb his way out of the friend zone.

I’m not sure if Long Jie will be a long-term love interest for Xia Zhi, but right now I ship it. He’s got just the right amount of bad boy vibe and I would love for earnest Xia Zhi to win him over. She kind of has already, hasn’t she?

I love the dynamic between Xiao Niao and Mei Ji now that they’re officially business partners. Mei Ji is really embracing how she’s now on the same level as Xiao Niao and Xiao Niao can’t do anything about it.

Each episode is only getting better! There’s a lot going on with a bunch of different primary characters and storylines, but right now the show is doing a great job of balancing all these different things. We’ll see if it continues to keep it up!

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