Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: The Arc of Life (Ep. 6)

I am officially in love with this show and all its characters. Xia Zhi and Xiao Niao get to know Fuliangtian (and its inhabitants) a little bit better as they resume their research for the Lutian Resort renovation project. Yi Nan decides to close one chapter in his life and open up another…


Recap

Long Jie already has breakfast cooking on the camp stove when Xia Zhi wakes up. She thanks him for the clothes he brought. He zips up her layers of coats for her, telling her that the clothes were his mother’s — she passed away 8 years ago — and he hopes that Xia Zhi doesn’t mind. Xia Zhi is only grateful, and watches him as she settles down by the stove.

Mei Ji helps Yi Nan’s mother with the family vegetable market in the morning. Mama Zheng takes such a liking to Mei Ji that she tells her to call her “Mom.” Yi Nan nearly chokes on his morning snack when he hears that.

It’s slow going down the mountain for Xia Zhi with her injured ankle. She tells Long Jie that he can go ahead without her; she knows her way down. But instead, Long Jie abandons his bag and offers to carry her down the mountain instead. She resists at first, but he insists, pointing out that it’s more of a hassle for him if she falls trying to make it on her own. When she climbs onto his back, she’s stiff and uncomfortable at first. Long Jie reminds her that he already changed her clothes — if he wanted to take advantage of her, he already could have.

Xia Zhi relaxes as Long Jie carries her down the mountain and wonders why she feels a sense of calm when she’s with him. She feels so calm that she falls asleep and Long Jie has to call out to her several times before she wakes up when they get back to the resort.

Long Jie tells Xia Zhi that he thought about her suggestion and realized that she’s right — he shouldn’t be so close-minded and try to prevent all tourists from coming to Fuliangtian. Xia Zhi’s face lights up. So he’ll give the renovation project to Little Bird?

Yi Nan goes to check out the family factory with his cousins and uncle. His uncle and cousin Yi Ming are full of big ideas about what they should manufacture next, but Yi Nan suggests they should focus on reliable parts that will always be in need instead of the latest fad. He tells Yi Ling she should hire some professionals to the run the factory instead of her father and brother, who will probably run the factory into the ground. Yi Nan’s uncle takes major offense to that and calls him ungrateful. Yi Ming also looks like he’s ready to start a fight, but Yi Ling manages to drag her brother and father away.

Yi Nan calls out to Mei Ji and tells her it’s time to go. Mei Ji is distracted by some bags she found and compliments Yi Ling on her handiwork in making them. She thinks that they could sell for a good amount of money online.

Back at Lutian Resort, Li Da Mu — the man who had been drinking with the Elder Yu the night before — tries to convince Long Jie that he’s the best choice for leading the resort renovation project. Long Jie says that he’ll let Li and Little Bird both make their pitches for the project.

Mei Ji continues to follow Yi Nan around. She thinks it’s a kind of fate that she was able to meet his family and tells him that she’ll do her best to help Yi Ling sell her bags. She treats Yi Ling as she would a true cousin of hers.

Yi Nan tells Mei Ji that he appreciates what she’s doing for Yi Ling, but that there will never be anything between them. Mei Ji asks if he’s gotten together with Xia Zhi. Yi Nan admits that Xia Zhi thought it’d be better for them to stay friends. Mei Ji celebrates — that means she and Yi Nan can continue to work on their romantic relationship. She tells Yi Nan that it’s okay if he doesn’t have feelings for her yet — that’s something they can work on.

Yi Nan tries to emphasize that there really won’t ever be anything between them. He tells Mei Ji that she’s a great person — she shouldn’t waste her youth on him. Mei Ji pouts, then shouts after Yi Nan that her youth is limitless. When she turns around, she lets out a silent, frustrated yell.

Li Da Mu tries to convince Xiao Niao that she has no chance of winning the Lutian Resort project — he has a long relationship with the Yus, is a local, and has a financial investor backing his project — and that she should look for clients elsewhere. When Xiao Niao refuses to leave, Da Mu pulls out a check from his investor, trying to bribe her to go.

Yi Nan meets up with Jenny, his ex-girlfriend, who tells him that her company, Shanghai Group, has a hotel renovation project in central Taiwan that requires funding and she wants him to handle the loan. He asks why she came to him. She responds that this is her gift to him for coming back to her, if he’s willing to be with her again.

Xiao Niao and Xia Zhi explore the village around Fuliangtian to try and get a feel for the area. Xiao Niao teases Xia Zhi when she mentions Long Jie’s name, noticing how she seems to feel warmly toward him now that they’ve spent a night together.

They grab some food at a roadside restaurant and ask the friendly owner, who introduces himself as Ah Xiang, if there are any nearby attractions he recommends. He responds that Fuliangtian’s most special attraction is Yu Long Jie. After returning from overseas, Long Jie has done a lot for the local village and its inhabitants. He’s refused to sell his family’s land, even though there are plenty of interested developers, helped Ah Xiang keep his business afloat, and volunteers his time teaching the local kids English and running a baseball team. And he’s still single — apparently he had a serious girlfriend before, but they broke up when his mother passed away from cancer.

Later, Xiao Niao and Xia Zhi pack up and get ready to head back to the city. The elder Yu gifts Xiao Niao some tea. She thanks him, then says that if they work together in the future, she hopes that he won’t give her reasons to doubt him — she reveals that she knows he seems to be lying to his son about being ill. She saw him tossing out his medicine instead of taking it. The elder Yu tries to claim it’s just a family game and has nothing to do with work, but Xiao Niao can tell that he’s lying to Long Jie about something and their father-son relationship does impact the business. She tells him that he doesn’t need to lie to Long Jie in order to convince him to stay in Fuliangtian, not realizing that Long Jie is behind her and has heard everything.

Long Jie confronts his father about lying to him. The elder Yu defensively responds that Long Jie was the one who left him alone for years to take care of the resort and his mother’s grave. Angry, Long Jie tells his father that he can handle the renovations himself, then storms out.

Yi Nan stays late at work, brooding over his conversation with Jenny. He didn’t understand why she was still interested in him when there are plenty of richer, higher status men out there who were more on her level. But Jenny doesn’t care much for love, finding it fleeting, and instead likes Yi Nan’s lack of greediness. Money and status come and go, but what matters to her is a person’s character. “And looks,” she added with a gentle stroke of his cheek.

Yi Nan gets a text from Papa Xia, telling him that Xia Zhi is at the restaurant and asking him to come by to help comfort her after her traumatizing night on the mountain. But Xia Zhi seems mostly upset about the fact that she lost her phone and with it, all of Wu Shu’s texts. Yi Nan tells her that if she wants to hear from Wu Shu, he can tell her what she wants to know. He reveals that he was the one to text her and hands over Wu Shu’s phone — this is the reason he came today.

Before he leaves, Yi Nan tells Xia Zhi that Wu Shu didn’t want Xia Zhi to hold him back and that he was afraid she wouldn’t be able to let go. Xia Zhi stares at him, looking on the brink of tears, and asks if Wu Shu asked him to send the texts. Yi Nan responds that he only sent the texts because she once said that she would feel at peace if she heard from Wu Shu only once a year.

Xia Zhi thinks that Yi Nan is trying to make her question her relationship with Wu Shu, but she won’t let him. She knows that Wu Shu’s heart is with her, and pulls out the necklace he gave her. Yi Nan reveals that he was the one who picked out the necklace for Wu Shu. Did Xia Zhi really think that someone like Wu Shu, who managed to make so many girls fall in love with him by taking them on hikes and making them instant noodles, would buy her a necklace like that? The only thing he can be sure of is that Wu Shu was sincere about Xia Zhi, because he only asked Yi Nan to pick out the one necklace.

Yi Nan asks Xia Zhi if it’s worth it to lock herself in a corner for a man who never cared about her at all. Xia Zhi asks if it was fun sending fake texts to someone he thought dumb and foolish enough to believe them.

Yi Nan smiles cynically and says that he’s the dumb one. The world’s most reliable friend? Why should he have to talk to the woman he likes about her boyfriend?

Xia Zhi tears off her necklace and throws it at Yi Nan, saying she doesn’t want it anymore. She knows she’s selfish and self-important. Now she knows what he really thinks of her. He doesn’t need to be her most reliable friend anymore. She rushes out, sniffling.

“Zheng Yi Nan, what are you thinking?” Papa Xia asks, staring at Yi Nan with crossed arms.

Yi Nan smiles sadly. “I want to make myself give up (on her).” He also leaves, head lowered.

Papa Xia shakes his head and says to himself that love is like this. It’s like… he fumbles around but is unable to find the right words and finally says, “Thanks everyone.” (My heart! Of course I can count on Papa Xia to make me laugh even in the moments that make my heart ache.)

Xia Zhi is so frustrated that she starts screaming in a public park, attracting the attention of a passerby, who backtracks and asks if she’s okay — it’s Long Jie. Xia Zhi turns away, embarrassed. Long Jie pulls out Xia Zhi’s phone. He actually found it first when looking for Xia Zhi and it helped him realize that she knew to keep going uphill rather than downhill when lost. He meant to give it back earlier, but too much happened after they got off the mountain and he forgot.

Xia Zhi hesitates for a long moment, then finally takes the phone, letting out another frustrated yell. Long Jie watches her cautiously and asks if she’s okay.

Xia Zhi doesn’t seem to hear him and starts walking away as she stares at the text messages from Wu Shu on her phone. She talks out loud to herself — how could she have been such a fool to fall for such lies? Is she really that dumb?

Long Jie asks if she’s mad at her boyfriend. Xia Zhi asks why men and women can’t be just friends. Why can’t they have platonic relationships? What’s wrong with being friends? Is it selfish of her to want to be friends with him? Then she switches to talking out loud to Wu Shu. If she really wanted to hold him back then she would have gone with him. She wouldn’t have stayed behind and waited for him.

Long Jie figures out the situation. She’s upset because of two men: one is someone she considered a friend and the other is her boyfriend who disappeared. He can only speak to her disappeared boyfriend, but suggests that maybe he’s run into some difficulties or has been delayed by something and that’s why she hasn’t heard from him. It’s easy to think of someone without them knowing. Long Jie believes that Wu Shu must have once thought of her while looking up at the moon like they are now.

Yi Nan drinks by himself on top of the park climbing wall, thinking of Xia Zhi. He stares up at the moon and says goodbye.

Xia Zhi asks if Long Jie is trying to comfort her right now. He responds that he’s just speaking from his own experiences. When he left his dad and went to a new country to try to start a new life there, he realized that the people and places he left behind were always on his mind. Realizing that you’ve forgotten something also means that you’ve remembered it. The twisted logic makes Xia Zhi laugh. Long Jie says that some things are like that. Just like how when you’re attracted to someone, you might find yourself by their side.

He looks at Xia Zhi who slowly edges away. Long Jie asks jokingly if he seems like a pervert, then reveals that Papa Xia is the one who kept calling the resort wanting regular reports on Xia Zhi and her condition. Xia Zhi laughs and apologizes for the trouble her father caused, then says that she thinks this is just the way parents express their love. Sometimes the way they express it isn’t the way that their children might want, but it’s still love. She glances at Long Jie and adds that his father seemed very sad the day that they left the resort.

Xiao Niao joins the elder Yu for breakfast at Lutian Resort, but he promptly stands up, blaming her for his lack of appetite. She tries to reassure Yu that Long Jie will be back soon — he didn’t bring much with him when he left — but Yu seems disparaging of “young people” like Xiao Niao and Long Jie. “You treat strangers better than you treat your parents,” he says.

Xiao Niao sits by the river while Yu fishes. Long Jie returns and thanks Xiao Niao for staying behind with his father. Xiao Niao guesses that he probably thinks her real motive was to try to win over his father. Long Jie responds that Xia Zhi told him he would be underestimating Little Bird if he thought that. Xiao Niao crosses her arms when she learns that Long Jie went to look for Xia Zhi — does he actually like her? Long Jie doesn’t respond to her question and instead guesses that all she cares about is whether her proposal wins. Xiao Niao just wants to make sure that they win in a fair evaluation. Long Jie responds that she’s the one underestimating Xia Zhi if she thinks otherwise.

At night, as Long Jie is setting the dinner table, his father says that Long Jie may be angry with him for faking an illness to get him to come back, but has he thought about how sad it is that his father had to fake an illness in order for his son to come see him? The elder Yu knows that Long Jie was greatly impacted by his mother’s death, but he was, too. He lost the person he loved and had lived with for over 20 years. Did Long Jie think that running away overseas would make his father less sad if he also died from illness? But not being able to see Long Jie just made his father worry more about how he was doing and whether he was living a good life. Was he getting regular check-ups? Did he have enough money?

Long Jie reassures his father that he’s been getting check-ups and hasn’t relapsed.

Mei Ji is disappointed when she finds out that Xiao Niao turned down Da Mu’s bribe. What if it had been more money? Would she still have turned it down? At that point they might as well sell the company and open up ten stores. But Xiao Niao responds that it wasn’t a matter of the dollar amount but a matter of principle. Little Bird can’t be bought.

Mei Ji suggests that they should try and figure out who wanted them out of the way. Xiao Niao identifies two possible developers, Dong Guo Group and Shanghai Group, who have projects nearby. But Xia Zhi thinks their time is better spent focusing on working on their proposal for Lutian Resort and already has a vision for it.

Mei Ji is easily convinced, deciding that for Xia Zhi’s romance, she’s willing to work hard and put in overtime. Xiao Niao warns her that they’re not paying for overtime, but Mei Ji says that’s okay. This is Little Bird’s first project and she’s determined to make sure they win it.

While the three women work hard on their Lutian Resort renovation proposal, Yi Nan is with Jenny, who dresses him up with new clothes, new hair, and makes him ditch the glasses. They go out to dinner, where she introduces him to potential business clients.

After the meetings are done, Jenny tells Yi Nan about her childhood. She was a fat kid and had pretty much given up on herself. She remembers how her mother would frequently cry when she saw her after coming home, or would cry in the middle of the night. It was only after she kept seeing her mother cry that she realized how much harder she — an illegitimate daughter — had to work than anyone else in order to not be trampled by her father’s wife and family. Once she had this realization, she threw herself into her studies and worked hard to lose weight so she could become beautiful. It was only after she graduated from EHL (Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, a top hospitality management school) that people started looking at her with respect and that her father let her start working at his corporation’s hotels.

Yi Nan sighs and says that he never realized she worked so hard. But Jenny puts a hand on his shoulder and says that it’s people who come from no family background who actually have to work hard. She recognizes that she benefits from her father’s connections.

Jenny leans her head on Yi Nan’s shoulder and promises that she’ll make him into a successful businessman whom everyone will envy and respect.

The day of the Lutian Resort proposal pitches dawns. Li Da Mu has a wildly extravagant renovation plan that involves turning Lutian into a huge, European-style manor. The Little Bird women wait outside. Xiao Niao doesn’t want them to be influenced by another company’s plans. She and Xia Zhi pace nervously while Mei Ji keeps herself pepped up by swinging around an exercise bar.

The elder Yu opens the door to call them in for their presentation. Before they head in, Mei Ji insists on leading a team cheer to hype them up. It involves dancing around in a way that Xiao Niao looks embarrassed to participate in, but Xia Zhi is game and Xiao Niao reluctantly joins in.


Commentary

I was really worried that Yi Nan was going to let himself get stuck back in the passive cycle of being friend zoned, but I love love love that he stepped up and came clean with the truth about Wu Shu to Xia Zhi. If nothing else, it lets them both get closure.

We haven’t seen much of Yi Nan’s former ex and now current girlfriend Jenny, but I respect her practicality. We’ll have to see how she treats Xia Zhi, but it looks like she’s able to get over the fact that Yi Nan cared so much about Xia Zhi before, and she’s jaded enough about the world to not believe in true love or even the importance of love in a successful relationship. It’s kind of sad, but it also seems like she’s the only type of person who could date Yi Nan and not be miserable. Whether Yi Nan is happy or not with her is a whole other matter… he seemed to feel bad before about using Mei Ji, but now it looks like he’s starting to embrace the use-or-be-used nature of the business world. And at least with Jenny, they mutually benefit from each other.

(Fun fact about Jenny: the actress who portrays her is the real-life daughter of the actor who portrays Papa Xia!)

It also seems like there’s some set-up for Little Bird to be in direct competition with Jenny’s Shanghai Group from a business perspective — all signs point to her company being the one funding Li Da Mu. It’ll be interesting to see what happens there!

This show has no shortage of tears, especially when it comes to Xia Zhi, but I really appreciate how these sad scenes are portrayed. Or maybe I just really love the background song, “在這座城市遺失了你” (English title “Where I Lost Us”). Instead of some slow, weepy ballad with long, dramatic stares and rosy filters that are so common in most other dramas (i.e. all the K-dramas), the scene structure and background music make these moments feel more heartaching than heartbreaking. There’s a kind of mellowness that comes with the sadness, something that feels a little raw, a little nostalgic, but also a little hopeful, like this current moment is painful, but there’s the promise of growth and progress and something better just over the horizon. (I also love the opening theme music. It feels so empowering!)

Yi Nan has done so much for Xia Zhi (but he’s also lied to her for six years and really needs to just find himself and figure himself out first), but I am shipping Long Jie and Xia Zhi hard right now. He has enough similarities to Wu Shu to make him seem like Xia Zhi’s type, but he also just seems like a way better person than Wu Shu ever was. Other than his initial bias against Xia Zhi for being a city girl, he’s been attentive and kind and seems like a genuinely good guy who tries to give back to his hometown and fight against predatory developers. What’s not to like? The only sad part is that it sounds like he has some chronic illness that may or may not be fatal…

5 thoughts on “Recap: The Arc of Life (Ep. 6)”

  1. Thanks for the recap! Like you, I’m also loving this drama a lot!! Plot progress is hypersonic though, and so much happens in one episode, it leaves you gasping for breath.

    While the characters are beautifully sketched, and it has gorgeous production values, my main grouse is a central one: the business that the three women have started is really vague and doesn’t seem to have much clear direction. Maybe the show is deliberately not talking about the business angle because it wants to focus on the relationships. In either case, I’m disappointed, because I thought this WAS the story, i.e., how does the business they do bring them together and build and nurture the community around them.

    For the rest, Mei Ji remains my favourite character – her energy, enthusiasm and optimism is a much-needed foil to the serious Xiao Niao and the mostly spaced out (and definitely in need of relationship lessons) Xia Zhi.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree! There definitely doesn’t seem to be a business plan for Little Bird, which I find kind of ironic because Xiao Niao seemed so focused and driven in her previous position and when she left. They want to sell a “lifestyle” and start out selling tableware? And then suddenly jump to resort renovations?

      It seems like Mei Ji is actually the most business savvy of them all, despite how Xiao Niao looks down on her (though now she’s starting to grudgingly respect her). I can’t wait until we get to dive more into Mei Ji’s story and life (assuming we will get to that, and I hope we will!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for the recap!! I’m glad the truth is finally revealed, I can’t help feeling so sad for Xia Zhi waiting for 6 years. I’m very glad she has decided to work with the others on Little Bird, they definitely need help though.
    Wasn’t expecting that backstory from Jenny and it’s a shame Yi Nan is using her affection for him. He looked bored when she told that story and that kiss …..
    Has Yi Nan left his job yet? He seemed happier working for the orphanage and other causes like that instead of the bank.

    To be honest, I know Long Jie is a good guy but can he go date someone else. I guess it is a good step that Xia Zhi has started to open up to someone else. I wonder if she misses Yi Nan at all or if there was a moment in the past that she noticed his feelings.

    I love this song, thank you for sharing the title, it’s the perfect soundtrack for this drama.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with Long Jie going and dating someone else. This relationship looks like it’s fallen into place very comfortably, and I don’t like that, especially when we have Yi Nan pining away in the background, and clearly not “blissfully happy” with Jenny. I’m surprised that Xia Zhi has abandoned Yi Nan so quickly considering that they were best buddies for so long. Surely, she’ll want company at some point of time.

      Like

      1. Yes, I’m surprised that she doesn’t seem affected by Yi Nan being out of her life. I guess she used to pretending to be fine because of the ex.
        I wonder if she will reach out to her old friends that she lost touch with now she is in another relationship.

        Like

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