Drama Recaps, Taiwanese Dramas

Recap: The Arc of Life (Ep. 9)

Get your tissues ready, because this episode will make you smile while you cry. Now that Xia Zhi has finally opened up to her business partners and friends, they rally around her and support her in the tough times ahead. Meanwhile, Xiao Niao finds herself flustered when an unpredictable artist appears in her life.


Recap

Papa Xia and Qing Lang bicker over whether she should be allowed to call Xia Zhi. Papa Xia finally manages to silence Qing Lang by pulling the “you left our family for a man who wouldn’t even marry you” card. He warns her to not call Xia Zhi. Qing Lang walks away, crying over how unfair it is that Papa Xia is allowed to chat and joke with pretty young women like Mei Ji while she isn’t even allowed to leave and go find a man who truly loves her.

Mei Ji gently chides Papa Xia for arguing with his ex-wife. He shouldn’t hold against Qing Lang something that happened so long ago. Even if she fell in love with another man before, maybe now she’s realized that she actually loves him. Papa Xia laughs. Spilled water can’t be retrieved. Mei Ji warns him that he can’t compare women to water. He quickly clarifies that he’s the water that Qing Lang poured out.

Xia Zhi fusses over Long Jie as she helps him get settled in his new hospital room. He finally manages to get her to leave after a nurse shows up for his treatment.

Mei Ji arrives at work to find Xiao Niao trying to convince Xia Zhi that she needs to be more prudent with her plans for the Lutian project. Mei Ji reminds Xiao Niao to smile and tries to comfort Xia Zhi, saying they all know that Xiao Niao is mean.

Xiao Niao reveals that she has already planned to divide the Lutian project into three phases. They can open up more of the resort at each phase, which will give them more time and money to adjust and publicize the place. Xia Zhi tears up and thanks Xiao Niao. Mei Ji chides Xiao Niao for acting mean when she’d already thought it through — does she like being disliked? Mei Ji makes them all participate in a group hug to make them all feel better.

Papa Xia sends some soup that he made to Long Jie’s hospital room and calls Xia Zhi, reminding her to drink some as well. She needs to take care of herself if she wants to be able to take care of someone else. After he hangs up, Tai Feng comments that he’s a great father, showing his support for Xia Zhi and Long Jie even if he doesn’t necessarily approve of their relationship. Papa Xia sighs. What can he do? Doesn’t everyone wish they had the kind of love they would live and die for? He suggests that Tai Feng should understand Xia Zhi the most — the way she cares for her sick husband day in and day out is similar to what Xia Zhi is doing. Tai Feng freezes for a moment, then gives a noncommittal nod.

Long Jie is weak from his cancer treatment when Xia Zhi visits him at night. She tells him that she got a day off from work — should they go on vacation somewhere? Their vacation ends up being a tropical-themed date at home, but they enjoy each other’s company and chat idly in bed about how many kids they want to have.

Mei Ji struggles to find a storefront for Little Bird, but then finally manages to discover a suitable candidate.

Xia Zhi goes wedding dress shopping and waits for Long Jie to show up. While she waits, she takes some selfies and sends them to him. Long Jie’s phone blows up with her text messages while he flatlines in bed with doctors working to resuscitate him. The engagement ring he was going to give Xia Zhi has fallen out its box, abandoned underneath his hospital bed.


Xia Zhi puts on the ring that Long Jie was never able to give her and mourns him by the mountain pond. Papa Yu keeps her company and they mourn together.

For Xiao Niao, life and work must go on even though someone just died. Mei Ji seems much more impacted by Long Jie’s death and wonders how Xiao Niao can act like nothing happened. They drop by the space they’ve chosen for their storefront to find the door open and a messy-haired artist lying on the ground (J.C. Lin).

He sits up and stares at Xiao Niao while Mei Ji calls the landlady and finds out that the space was leased out to this artist even though Little Bird also signed a lease. Mei Ji looks at the artist’s painting and immediately recognizes who he is. She asks if he’s Lin Chuan Xiang, but instead of responding, he scrambles up and sheds his apron, saying he’s late. He rushes out the door before backtracking and handing Xiao Niao a pamphlet, inviting her to his exhibition. She accepts it with a disgusted look and quickly hands it off to Mei Ji.

Mei Ji and Xiao Niao to go Lin Chuan Xiang’s exhibition, which is at the senior home Yi Nan has been helping with funding. Mei Ji seems to already know who Chuan Xiang is — he’s an artist whose made a name for himself in Europe with his “modern fairytale” style of painting. While Mei Ji takes a closer look at some paintings, Chuan Xiang approaches Xiao Niao, who doesn’t look happy to be there. He asks if she doesn’t like his artwork, but she points out a painting she admires and analyzes it, showing an understanding of art theory. Mei Ji is impressed. Chuan Xiang abruptly asks if Xiao Niao will date him.

Xiao Niao spots Yi Nan and Jenny and excuses herself to go talk to them, completely ignoring Chuan Xiang’s sudden proposition. Mei Ji asks Chuan Xiang if he’s sure he wants to date Xiao Niao. Does he know what he’s signing up for?

But then Mei Ji chases after Xiao Niao. She spots Yi Nan and Jenny and exaggeratedly shrieks, pretending she saw a ghost. Chuan Xiang is left behind, confused as he tries to piece together how to write Xiao Niao’s name. It doesn’t help that Mei Ji likes calling her “Gong Yuan” (park) Xiao Niao. So is her name… a little bird that flies in the park? He knows that what a person sees in paintings says a lot about them. He can tell that Xiao Niao may seem dark but is actually full of hope.

Mei Ji doesn’t want Xiao Niao talking to Yi Nan and Jenny, but Xiao Niao has a real reason for wanting to talk to Yi Nan. She tells him that Long Jie has passed away and Papa Yu is planning on selling the resort, so they don’t need the loan anymore. This seems to be news to Mei Ji as well. Yi Nan asks if Long Jie is the person Xia Zhi was dating, though he seems to already know the answer. He reassures Xiao Niao that he’ll take care of things with the bank. Jenny asks if Xia Zhi is okay. Mei Ji immediately goes on the attack and really lets Jenny know how stupid of a question that is: of course Xia Zhi isn’t okay. Xiao Niao holds Mei Ji back from actually attacking, then takes her away.

Yi Nan suggests to Jenny that they should return to the exhibition, but seems lost in thought over what he just learned rather than interested in the paintings. Chuan Xiang seeks him out to thank him for giving him this opportunity to exhibit his artwork.

Chuan Xiang gets called away to take photos with some of the kids who are around. Yi Nan comments to Jenny that it’s impressive to see someone so young be such a successful artist. Jenny tells him he should go keep Xia Zhi company.

Yi Nan refuses to look at her and instead feigns interest in a painting. He says that Xia Zhi should be fine. But Jenny says that she understands him the way he understands Xia Zhi. Right now, he’s probably the only person who can comfort her.

Yi Nan goes to Lutian Resort, where he finds Xia Zhi drunk and looking like a complete mess in an equally messy room. She urges him to sit and offers to pour him a drink, but struggles to find a glass. He gets to work dumping out all her alcohol. Does she think Long Jie would be happy to see her like this?

Xia Zhi asks why Yi Nan came. Did he want to see how broken she is? He continues to clean up, unamused, while Xia Zhi laughs self-deprecatingly. She was so in love with Wu Shu for so long, and then Long Jie appeared and she fell in love with him. Now she doesn’t even know why she was attracted to Wu Shu in the first place.

Xia Zhi complains that Yi Nan is being noisy. She blocks his way and asks, “Didn’t you say you liked me?” Isn’t he angry with her? Didn’t he love her for many years? But he also suddenly started dating Jenny again in the blink of an eye. So what is love even? It’s nothing. It’s just something you say that you don’t really mean. So then why does she feel so bad?

She alternates between laughing and crying then asks Yi Nan again why he’s with someone else if he loves her. He continues trying to clean up, but Xia Zhi grabs onto him and tries to wrap her arms around him. Didn’t he say he loved her? So he can be with her now, right? No one will ever know.

Yi Nan evades her grasp and instead drags her into the shower and turns on the water, presumably to try and get her to sober up, though he ends up taking most of the blast. He repeats to her that Long Jie isn’t coming back. No matter how miserable she makes herself, he will never come back. Then he leaves her in the shower and she starts crying.

Xiao Niao arrives at the storefront in the morning to find Chuan Xiang huddled on the floor painting. He jumps up with a bright smile when he sees her and tries to approach. She backs away, holding up a document between them. He thinks she’s here to talk about dating. She hands him a wipe and tells him to clean his face — she can’t take him seriously when he looks like that.

Chuan Xiang gives his face a cursory wipe but that doesn’t do anything to remove the paint streaks. Xiao Niao gets annoyed and grabs the wipe then cleans his face for him. How old is he that he doesn’t even know how to clean himself? He smiles cheesily and tries to ask her out again.

Xiao Niao makes him back up several steps, then tells him she’ll date him if he lets her have the lease on the shop. She quickly scurries away.

Later, Mei Ji is shocked that Xiao Niao would make such a deal. Isn’t that romance fraud? But to Xiao Niao, it’s just business.

Mei Ji is startled when a very large man loudly greets Xiao Niao outside the office. Xiao Niao smiles and introduces the man as You De Yong (Ha Hsiao Yuan) aka Ah De, a classmate of hers who will be in charge of everything technology at Little Bird. Mei Ji warns Ah De that he’s not allowed to fall in love with her, then starts teasing him about his reddening ears. Xiao Niao drags her away and tells her to stop messing with Ah De, then warns Ah De to keep his distance from Mei Ji and to not talk to her.

Yi Nan goes with Xia Zhi back into the mountain and tells her that no one can decide whether another person lives or dies. At least Long Jie’s final memories were of his beautiful moments with Xia Zhi.

Xia Zhi smiles but also cries. She promised Long Jie she would live a good life after his death, but she never thought it would be so difficult. Yi Nan points out that grief isn’t something that disappears with time; it’s something she’ll have to learn to live with. Xia Zhi doesn’t want to live that way.

Yi Nan tells her that if her longing for Long Jie gets to be too much to bear, she should let it go into the wind. The wind will take her voice and longing into another world.

Xia Zhi shouts into the wind, asking Long Jie how he’s doing. She misses him. She misses him a lot.

Xia Zhi glances at Yi Nan and thanks him for trying to comfort her. He lets her have her moment of grief, then tries to cheer her up by cracking a joke, and it works.

On their walk back to the resort, Xia Zhi thanks Yi Nan for being the most reliable friend in the universe. He laughs at his promotion from “best in the world” to “best in the universe.”

Papa Yu greets them when they get back and asks Xia Zhi if she feels better. She hugs him and apologizes for making him take care of her. He tells her that her friends are inside. Mei Ji and Xiao Niao are here, and Mei Ji immediately tackles Xia Zhi with a hug. When she spots Yi Nan, though, she immediately frowns and makes a snarky comment. Xiao Niao calls her out for being impossible: before, she criticized Yi Nan for not caring about Xia Zhi, but now that he’s here, she’s still giving him a tough time.

Yi Nan excuses himself to go call Jenny while Mei Ji catches Xia Zhi up on everything that has happened recently with Lin Chuan Xiang and the storefront.

Mei Ji whips up a foul-smelling concoction that she claims is a special face mask just for Xia Zhi and Xiao Niao. Xiao Niao tells Xia Zhi that she spoke with Papa Yu and they both agreed that it would be best for Little Bird to sell its stake in Lutian Resort. They don’t have enough money to take on full ownership and Papa Yu agrees that they shouldn’t tie each other down here.

Xia Zhi is reluctant to part with Little Bird’s first project and Long Jie’s dream, but Mei Ji speaks up and says that she agrees with Xiao Niao this time. Earlier, Xiao Niao told Mei Ji that fulfilling the deceased’s dream is an excuse that the living use to comfort themselves. If they’re working on the Lutian Resort project just to complete someone’s dream, then they can’t do it. Mei Ji didn’t understand. Xiao Niao tried to explain: if they make decisions based on what they think Long Jie would want instead of being objective, then they won’t end up making the best choice.

Mei Ji admits that she didn’t quite understand what Xiao Niao meant, but what she does know is this: if they continue working on the resort project, Xia Zhi’s life will end here. She’ll be stuck here and never move on. That’s not okay. Xia Zhi starts crying.

Mei Ji hugs her and tells her that one day, when she and Little Bird are ready, they will come back to this place. When something is meant to be, that means that no matter how winding of a road you take, you’ll always meet again. Xiao Niao joins the hug, promising Xia Zhi that when they get another chance, Little Bird will put its full support behind her.

Later, Yi Nan, Mei Ji, Xiao Niao, and the youth baseball team Long Jie coached all join Xia Zhi and Papa Yu in sending Long Jie off with a peaceful funeral at the pond. At night, Papa Yu packs up Long Jie’s desk by himself and finally allows himself to cry.

After the funeral, Mei Ji runs into Yi Nan outside the resort. She looks unhappy to see him, but then strides over and tells Yi Nan why she’s so upset with him — why he did he deliberately insult her by flaunting his relationship with Jenny in her face? She calls him out for being ungentlemanly and rude. Yi Nan asks if she would have accepted the truth otherwise.

Mei Ji looks away, perhaps acknowledging that he has a point. But it doesn’t matter. She won’t be defeated. She’s going to make herself prettier and richer and become more powerful than Jenny. When that day comes, Yi Nan is going to weep and regret that he didn’t choose her. Yi Nan looks up at Mei Ji and agrees that he will regret it one day. Mei Ji starts to cry, but repeats that he’s really, really going to regret it. He agrees again.

“Then let’s be good friends,” Mei Ji says. Yi Nan holds out his hand and she shakes it.

Later, Jenny is at Yi Nan’s apartment, making dinner for him like she said she would when he called her previously. She looks up when she hears voices outside. Yi Nan tries to comfort a drunk Xia Zhi, who shakes him off and insists that she’s fine.


Commentary

I didn’t expect Long Jie to die so soon! But given the previews from last episode, I suppose it was inevitable. He’s a necessary sacrifice for the story and characters to move forward. Again, time in this show trips me up. It seems to me like Long Jie received one cancer treatment and suddenly died even though he was supposed to have at least a few months to live? But maybe in reality there was more time than that.

Is this the end of the story for Papa Yu? One of the saddest things in the world is for a parent to have to bury their children and now he really is alone. I hope that he can still be included in Little Bird’s or at least Xia Zhi’s future, if only to show that he’s not just completely alone in his grief like his last scene suggested, but it seems like this drama and its characters also have to move on, so I’m not sure that will actually happen.

I really loved seeing Xia Zhi and Yi Nan together this episode. In the past, Yi Nan was always doing things for her. He was also always there for her, but she seemed to always take it for granted. Maybe it’s because this time, Long Jie truly is gone, with no shadow of his possible existence in the world hanging over them. Xia Zhi seems to finally be able to fully see and appreciate Yi Nan being there for her, unlike before. Did Long Jie live and die just so Xia Zhi and Yi Nan can eventually be together? Yeah. Long Jie needed to live and die so that Xia Zhi’s love and memory of Wu Shu could die so Yi Nan can finally have a chance. And I’ll be sad about that, but I think their moment together by the lake is the first time that I can actually feel good about seeing Xia Zhi and Yi Nan be together.

Mei Ji reminds me of a small toy dog in this episode, in the best of ways. She’s all bark with Yi Nan and Jenny, but not mean-spirited and still so lovable, trying to make sure the people she’s loyal to are loved and comforted and protected. I really like that she confronted Yi Nan for being so rude to her before, but Yi Nan also made up for it by telling her that he’s sure he will really regret it one day.

I love seeing someone be able to get under Xiao Niao’s skin and make her flustered, though Chuan Xiang’s falling in love at first sight is… a lot. I mean, I guess he’s an artist and maybe it fits a stereotype?

There are a lot of practical and personal and thoughtful reasons for Little Bird giving up Lutian Resort. But it also means that in however many months they’ve existed, they have yet to actually complete a project! And they’re hiring more people? Classic start-up spending more than they can actually afford!

But the three of them are so supportive of one another that it makes up for their lack of business model.

4 thoughts on “Recap: The Arc of Life (Ep. 9)”

  1. Thank you for your recap!

    That three-way hug of XZ, XN and MJ was *everything*. I love Mei Ji the most still. She’s snarky, funny, and intelligent. I hope she gets whatever she wants at the end of the story!

    “Long Jie received one cancer treatment and suddenly died even though he was supposed to have at least a few months to live” – I can vouch for this happening IRL 😦

    There were a few characters that I feel will have a more important role to play in the coming eps, e.g., Tai Feng and Ah De. I suspect Senior Yu, at the resort, is now going to exit the picture with Long Jie’s passing.

    The artist-noona storyline is a little hard to digest, though. That dating request seemed to come out of nowhere. There was no buildup, and no signs of attraction, IMHO. It just seemed like a strange request from an eccentric man-child artist. I’m not shipping these two immediately.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for recapping “The Arc of Life” and especially episode 9.

    The friendship and dialog between Xia Zhi and Yi Nan during their scenes in the resort (she drunk and inconsolable; he, stoic and heartbroken) are some of the best acting in this drama so far. Xia Zhi ‘s lines about the nature of love, the expression of love and its changing/elusive nature are some of the best.

    As you mentioned, the possibility of Xia Zhi and Yi Nan’s love developing from here, and on a much deeper level, with better understanding, than the first few episodes of the drama indicated, is much more plausible now.

    I am really looking forward to the development of their story and much more so than the others even though this is supposed to be a sisterhood/business/family drama.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for the recap! To be honest, I’m still really confused, I hadn’t thought long jie and Xia Zhi has built up that much of a connection before he passed away. It was bizarre to see XZ trying on wedding dresses and then having the father take care of her. I feel so bad for Long Jie’s father, they didn’t have enough time to spend together once he returned after his travels. I hope someone is there for him too.

    I’m glad Yi Nan was there for Xia Zhi, it’s sad to see that he is there to pick up the pieces after someone leaves her. I think he was the only person to help her out of her despair. I guess long jie was there to just erase the hold Wu Shu had on her.

    I’m glad Mei Ji confronted Yi Nan and they were able to work things out for the future.

    Liked by 1 person

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