A pat on your back writer! Solid episode for character development in our male lead. And it’s a rare happening since you made me feel averse to Zhao Wen in the premiere and then quickly turned him vulnerable and dependent in the second episode. If you know why he’s crying in the above picture, you’d feel bad too (or else I’ll announce your heart is made of stone!). I have come to accept that Zhao Wen’s shining moments will be his quiet submission to the defeats he can’t face when someone else is around and this episode highlights exactly that. His pain as a father of two babies who were never meant to arrive safely in his arms.
A Good Wife Episode 2 Recap:
We begin with an eager and excited Han Xiang Qi (Shara Lin), sitting and tapping her fingers, while waiting to be interviewed. Do you guys remember her? She’s one of the two potential construction designers that Zhao Wen eliminated based on his gender preference. She’s also Sean’s girlfriend.
Zhao Wen walks past with his eyes deep in paper work, and she perks up in his presence. He doesn’t have time for her because the judges want to meet him again regarding his latest design that he presented a few days ago. Unsure of the results, he asks his secretary, Qiong Mei, to check on the judges’ profiles and also give a call to Pan Ni Na. He needs more concrete information instead of vague opinions. His phone rings and Ni Na’s name pops up, to his dismay, and he hands the phone to Qiong Mei, as she lies that he’s still in a meeting, unavailable to speak. The shameless woman, everyone can see her wagging her tails!
Leaving the room, Qiong Mei nods at Xiang Qi, clearly she’s helping this young girl out. She enters Zhao Wen’s office and enthusiastically introduces herself. Since she hasn’t received a letter from the company regarding her employment, she figures it’s better to be proactive and approaches him in person.
In the face of pressure from his secretary, Zhao Wen remains a dead block and refuses Xiang Qi right off the bat. Smiling in the face of rejection, she hopes to gain just one chance to prove her ability and praises his designs. Before she continues, a phone call interrupts her fluid speech and he’s prepared to head outside. Standing up, he critiques her appearance and chides her for putting up a brave front by using a male’s briefcase, “I’m sorry, but you’re unfit for this company.”
Once he’s outside with the crew, Qiong Mei informs him of Professor Lo’s criticism of his design, stating that his project lacks the essence of a home, the liveliness isn’t there. Snapping the paper from Qiong Mei, Zhao Wen’s vein almost pops, which is when our perky girl Xiang Qi shows up beside him, begging for a chance to prove herself, even claiming that she doesn’t need hourly wage as a temporary worker. An idea materializes itself in Zhao Wen’s head. He hands Xiang Qi the design and asks her to fix the house within one day. Qiong Mei thinks he’s being harsh on purpose, since she’s new and inexperienced, and doesn’t understand what he wants from the design. He levels his gaze. “One day? I don’t think she’ll last two hours. You women just don’t know when to give up.” Arggg! YOU!
Yi Zhen is at the OB for her check-up and the doctor advises her to be careful, her body system is weak. Carrying a baby is possible but she must be extra careful not to place too much pressure on herself. She finds the result puzzling because she confesses of doing nothing at home that can count as pressure. Before she leaves, a nurse tells her about Sean’s insistent phone calls asking about her health. She smiles at his concern and decides to head to his lovely bookstore.
At the bookstore, Sean wonders how Yi Zhen’s doing, “She must be fine by now right, Lucky? I should’ve asked for her phone number…” speaking to the dog. Then the mailman delivers his invitation to the mountain-climbing event and he’s elated.
He then goes outside to wipe the door glasses, Yi Zhen arrives and she takes a moment to observe the tattoo on his arm. Her quiet moment is disturbed by a phone call from the devil mother-in-law, and she quickly turns away.
At work, Zhao Wen is surprised to find that Xiang Qi is still here after more than two hours. He has the grace to bring her a cup of coffee, in which she refuses with total concentration on the drawing, unaware that the person handing her the coffee is Zhao Wen. Casually, he asks, “Do you like drawing by hands?” She jumps out of her chair and answers that hand-drawn designs will bring a sense of closeness to the customer, “Like this piece is designed specifically for them.” Nodding in approval, he wonders if she’s done.
With her first line, she correctly identifies the feeling of coldness the original piece evokes while agreeing that it’s modern and sleek in design. She also makes a few changes to promote gardening and planting. Then, facing Zhao Wen, she emphasizes that a house to her is place of warmth.” Looking at her, Zhao Wen flashbacks to Yi Zhen’s proposal years before and how she came up with the name for their creation, The House of Galileo.
Returning back to reality, he questions, “You said you like many of my designs, which one is your favorite?” Xiang Qi: “My favorite is…” Zhao Wen: “Is it perhaps the House of Galileo?”
Surprisingly, she shakes her head. “Creatively, the idea is rather nice but the execution is too complicated to build. It’s a waste if a design can’t make it to the construction site. So I do like your pieces after more.” He looks down and relays to her that she’s hired. She fist-pumps the air and shouts, “Yes!!” heh. I think this office needs her overflowing energy more than anything.
Which is why it’s hilarious when Qiong Mei also shouts out Zhao Wen’s command to the male employees. “EVERYONE! THERE’S A MEETING IN 15 MINUTES!!”
At her rich in-laws’ place, Qiu Yu (her mother-in-law) gleefully fondles the brand name socks and new clothes she bought for her future grandson, “I only bought blue because I know he’s a boy!” Yi Zhen looks down at the small sock in her hand. After a beat, she looks up and says, “Mother, truthfully I….” She pauses and changes direction, “Truthfully, Zhao Wen and I have bought these already. You don’t have to waste money.” She waves the silly concern away and orders the maid to bring in the box tof herbal medication, beneficial to pregnant women. They are expensive and Yi Zhen shifts uncomfortably, stating that she doesn’t like to take herbal medicine. At this, Qiu Yu frowns, scolding her lightly, “You have married into this family for so long, how come you still can’t accept our concern?”
Which is when Shao Fen enters the living room and tells her mother to stop pushing the medication down sister-in-law’s throat. Her mother shushes her up and winks, “Didn’t you want to take Yi Zhen out shopping today?” Confused at the sudden invitation to shop, Yi Zhen listens and tries to deduce an answer. But Shao Fen slips the secret out, “Because my brother wants to have a party for you…” which earns her a slap to the thigh by Qiu Yu.
Since it’s already spilled out, Qiu Yu happily reveals the secret to Yi Zhen. Stunned and speechless, she manages to utter, “Honestly, it’s not necessary…” Qiu Yu hisses again at her downer behavior, “Why are you and Zhao Wen capricious like this?! If you’re worried about your father, don’t worry, I have arranged for him to come.” Great, now the whole world will know on the same day. Which is kinda great? *shrugs*
Once she’s outside the pressure, Yi Zhen tries to call Zhao Wen to no avail.
Night time. Sean closes his bookstore and plays with his wooden airplane on the porch, lamenting the fact that he still needs a huge sum of money to buy a ticket to Italy for the mountain climbing event. Just then, a pair of black heels show up in his view. Looking up, he finds his pretty girlfriend and inquires her about her interview. She holds up party food to indicate they need her success. Setting the table, they drink and Sean doesn’t forget to show her their invitations to Italy this year. She doesn’t appear too pleased though. “But I start working next Monday.” He suggests that maybe she can start a bit later since it’s their dream to climb at this event.
She peers into his face, “What about the money for the tickets? Who’s going to pay?” She makes a point by going over to his cashier machine and takes out a few bills that he has. “Your income for a day doesn’t even come close to $1000 (TW Currency). I think we’re not young anymore, we can’t keep thinking about playing all the time. Plus, my dream has now changed.”
Sensing his dejected spirit, she guesses that he’s angry at her and he plays along for a quick second before breaking out in a smile. “I guess my dream should change too. Focusing and supporting Xiang Qi in her dream. So if my bookstore shuts down, she can cover my expenses.” She hits him lightly on the head with a roll of newspaper, calling him shameless for saying those things. She resumes eating while Sean’s clear disappointment is written across his face. Your girlfriend is right dude. You have no money to play!
Dinner is over and Xiang Qi searches around the book shelves to find a book for her upcoming design. She chances upon the educational books about raising babies and jokingly teases him about having an affair with another woman. Ha. This drama is dropping all these hints. Stop it! Don’t make me nervous like this.
That night, Zhao Wen returns home to find Yi Zhen in the mood for baby-making. She kisses him but he pushes her back, noticing a bigger underlying problem. She knows about the party and he explains that he can’t cancel the party because the invitations have been sent out. He doesn’t want his parents to lose face. Angered that he only cares about his family’s face, Yi Zhen stands up, “What about me? Do you want me to pretend to be pregnant? All happy like nothing has happened? Do you how painful it was for me when your mother shoved all these baby stuff at me today? At that moment, I just wanted to scream out that the baby is gone!”
He says he understands and cares for her feeling, “Do you know who they will blame if they lose face? Because of this incident, the whole family might never be able to face each other again.” In my head, that’s a good ending…just sayin’
Yi Zhen’s face twists in pain. She can’t. She can’t continue this happy act. He hugs her close and then sits her down on the sofa. “I know you’re exhausted. But sometimes a harmless lie can save everyone from the agony and difficulty of facing the truth (at the wrong time). After the party, I will let my parents know the truth. Believe me, I’m doing all this for your sake.” She turns to look him in the eye, searching for the same faith she wishes to have.
Her father returns her phone call that night, excited to meet his daughter tomorrow. She’s oddly quiet and he guesses that she had an argument with Zhao Wen. She divulges her feeling, “I’m tired. Being Zhao Wen’s wife is really exhausting.” He advises her to be gentler in speaking with Zhao Wen. Men are all okay as long as you’re gentle with them. PSSTTTTTTTTT.
Next morning, Yi Zhen wakes up alone, the pillow next to hers is empty. Zhao Wen calls her and guides her outside to the dining room where she finds a whole table of food, he names it the “Love breakfast.” Touched, she’s concerned about him not having enough sleep. Then he sweetly says a line to nail the perfect husband mission, “However important work is, it can’t be compared to my beloved wife.”
She’s visibly taken aback by his morning confession, and he draws out, “Do you know what today is?” She sourly says, “It’s the day I have to attend the party.” He corrects her, “It’s the 7th anniversary of our marriage.” She apologizes for not remembering this important day. Zhao Wen: “After I finish these designs, let’s go on vacation okay?” “Really?” She’s doubtful. “Believe in your husband,” and ends the phone call with I love You.
Hanging up the phone, Yi Zhen mutters that it’s better if he could say those words in front of her. She scans the table but before she can dig in, a not-so surprised visit from Shao Fen, here to take her out shopping.
Turns out shopping with Shao Fen is a nightmare. The girl is just like her family members. Controlling and thinks highly of her choice in fashion. Including the colors! When Yi Zhen argues that she likes the color teal, Shao Fen quickly rejects the idea because her mother hates that color. Once Yi Zhen changes into a black and white dress, the employee casually mentions how small her belly is for a 3-month old pregnant woman. Thinking about it, Shao Fen also finds it unclear because the belly protrudes quite a bit the last time she visited their house.
The worker chimes him on how her cousin has miscarried twice already and her whole family blames her for the accidents. Yi Zhen listens to this ongoing conversation behind the wall. Her breathing slows and her palms unravels, dropping the necklace to the floor. She hastily runs out like a puppy, upon being caught.
Shao Fen then complains that she’s envious of the attention being showered on Yi Zhen. Everybody cares for her now because she’s pregnant. She finds herself pathetic in the family. No comments from Yi Zhen.
The second she gets home, Yi Zhen heaves the shopping bag over the sofa. At her in-laws’ resident, the party has started and Yi Zhen’s father has arrived and is welcomed with disdain and disapproval (He’s the perverted father in Autumn’s Concerto!) He introduces himself to everyone but no ears bother to hear him out.
Yi Zhen stares down at her dress. Slowly, she moves over the make-up table and prepares for the battle tonight.
In the darkness of his office, with only a lamp turned on, Zhao Wen releases his bottled up feelings through this whole ordeal. He takes out another ultrasound photo, which is safely locked away in his drawer and dated back to 2008. Holding two ultrasound images in his hand, his brave front crumples and tears roll down.
Taking timid steps up the stair to the party, Yi Zhen takes a minute to inhale and exhale. The moment she pushes the door open, everyone greets her with smiles and kind words. Shao Fen comments on her stomach AT THIS VERY MOMENT, “Sister-in-law, why are your stomach so flat? Did you miscarry AGAIN?” The Wang couple chimes in, “You don’t look like a pregnant woman!” Then Qiu Yu also exclaims, “Where’s the baby!” And suddenly, everyone here is an obstetrician eh?
Frightened by her mother-in-law’s piercing eyes, Yi Zhen whispers, “Mother, I’m sorry…”
Cut to her still standing outside, hand on the door knob. OMG! I just got fooled.
The days’ events begin to pour down on her with every accusation emphasizing baby this, baby that. Overwhelmed by the build up of emotions, she steps back, and runs away from the castle.
Zhao Wen heads inside the party after he calls Yi Zhen and no one picked up. Inside, everyone ponders the whereabouts of the main character and Zhao Wen can only muster, “Yi Zhen…”
She’s running away, heaving big strides down the street, thinking about Sean’s question, “Is marriage good?”
It’s supposed to make the feeling of loneliness go away but why, why am I feeling so cold and lonely at this very moment?
Before she knows it, Yi Zhen realizes that she has come to Sean’s bookstore. She enters the store, Sean smiles at her entrance and his smile fades when he takes in her disheveled hair and shaking voice. “I’m sorry…I, I don’t have anywhere else to go. I was nearby so I just…” He hurries over to put a sweater over her quivering body, “You just had an operation. Take care of your health.” He guides her to the table and dashes away to make some warm coffee, while observing her facial expression closely.
Apprehensively, she pulls out her phone to find Zhao Wen’s countless missed calls.
At the party, Shao Fen informs her brother that the CCTV caught sister-in-law’s arrival but she didn’t enter the house. Worried about her safety, Zhao Wen furrows his brows until a text message from Yi Zhen alerts his attention. Reminding his sister to stay quiet about the camera recording, Zhao Wen relocates to a quiet area to check his text. It reads, “I’m Sorry. At this moment, I just can’t face everyone yet. I’m really sorry.” The truth dawns on him, he has to face the guests and handles the rest himself because his wife just ran away from this battle.
The best excuse that Zhao Wen can whip up for Yi Zhen’s absence is topping the lie with another lie. She doesn’t feel good and has gone home to rest. Of course, the guests understand the mood swing of pregnant women and wish the baby good health for the remaining months.
Holding the cup of warm coffee in her palm, Yi Zhen sips it slowly, while Sean tries to soothe her unsettled emotions by turning on a lovely song. He smiles at her visibly relaxing mood, but then a tear betrays her calm exterior, and his face saddens along.
Song is Breathe by Tanya Chua. What a fitting choice, writer! (Love the beginning.)
Sean hands her a handkerchief. Thankful and embarrassed at her flowing emotions, she explains, “The song is nice and I was touched by the lyrics… I hope I didn’t scare you.”
She glances at the Runaway painting and professes, “You were right. Sometimes, we might never know what’s coming in our direction. Then your thinking begins to change and all you want to do is run away. I really need this child. Only then will my life change. But I wonder why it’s so hard to make it happen. And now I can only face the failure that is my life.” She looks away and shakes her head, “I’m sorry… for spilling out all these meaningless words at you.”
He takes a seat across from her. “Do you know that you like to say I’m sorry a lot? You didn’t do anything wrong, you don’t have to say that phrase.”
They look at each other, contemplating sternly about their exchanged words and the charged moment quickly dissipates by Xiang Qi’s clear voice, announcing that she’s home.
The intimate moment doesn’t go unnoticed by Xiang Qi’s keen eyes as she scans from her boyfriend to his late night customer. Introducing his girlfriend, Sean also adds in his name. Now placed in an awkward situation, Yi Zhen excuses herself, her hand still subconsciously clutching Sean’s handkerchief.
During dinner, Xiang Qi muses that Sean’s bookstore has upgraded, now even rich ladies are paying him visits. He tells her not to look down on the rich woman because she’s also a graduate from an architecture school. Surprised, she responds skeptically, “Really? But she looks so weak… Doesn’t look like a robust architecturer at all.” Sean’s upset with her judgement but doesn’t outright say so, instead, he observes, “Not every woman is strong and independent like you. She’s now a happy married woman (who doesn’t work).” Lips curling in disapproval, she admonishes her disbelief, “So you mean after graduation, she just went and got hitched? That’s such a waste of her life! If I were her, I wouldn’t be able to do that.” The conversation ends there as Sean swallows his defense for his new friend.
Tampering his emotions and playing the part of a dutiful son and son-in-law, Zhao Wen pays and arranges for Yi Zhen’s father to stay at a hotel before he leaves tomorrow. The old man’s guts, as well as Yi Zhen’s ambiguous message, has set his flag up high. He sits Zhao Wen down and asks what’s going on. Not withholding the truth anymore, Zhao Wen spills the beans and the first thing this old man does is bowing down in apology, “My daughter must have brought you many troubles.” REALLY? You don’t even care about her feelings? Ask about her health?
Still refusing to go home, Yi Zhen stops by a stall and sits there for some time before the lights go off and she has no choice but to return and face someone’s wrath.
Zhao Wen sits idly at the dining table, his face grim. She intends to walk right past him and he doesn’t allow that by inquiring, “Where did you just go?” She pauses for a quick second and decides to stay quiet, so he adds, “Don’t you think you need to explain to me?”
With her back straightened, she faces him, “The reason is… I can’t just stand there and lie to everyone.”
“So you let me handle the situation alone?” His jaw tightens and he stands up. “On the one hand, I have to constantly worry about your safety, and on the other hand, I have to plaster a fake smile on my face the whole night, explaining to every guest your no show?” He closes the gap between them. “I know that you’re very sad. But you have to continue living! But all you do is made the pain worst for yourself, isn’t that meaningless?”
She glares at him, her eyes mocking his display of hurt. “You just don’t understand my feeling. As a mother who saw with her own eyes how her child was removed from her! It’s not easy to say let go and have everything disappears! I can’t be as cold and emotionless as you!” She points passionately at him.
“I’m cold? Then do you think you’re better? All you do every day is wallow in the bottomless pit of your miscarriage! As if that is all you’ve got in this world! In your eyes, you never see another person! Where do you put me?” He repeats his question more fiercely, “Where do you put me??! You ignore me. Am I not hurt?”
She knows he’s right in that respect so she turns side-way, avoiding his piercing eyes. But he adds a shocker, “At this moment, I’m thinking whether or not we’re husband and wife.”
He shuts the door behind him, not pausing when she asks where he’s headed.
Kappy: Looks like hubby is sleeping elsewhere tonight.
I admit I sometime forget about the man’s pain when his child is taken away by accidents. I bought into Yi Zhen’s suffering readily and almost immediately because she was the focus while Zhao Wen came off as steely and manipulative in episode one. And that was a nice way to hit us for being careless and judgmental in our male lead. He can’t be that bad if Yi Zhen hopped into the carriage right after graduation.
The emotional beats in this episode were lovely to watch. Although Zhao Wen was wrong for contriving the lie to make Yi Zhen play the part, in the end, he was the one who suffered the most. So far, the writer is fair with both characters. Each of them took turns to let their significant other down, giving us room to be upset with their decisions but also be understanding and forgiving.
Was Zhao Wen too insensitive when he asked her to come along? Or was Yi Zhen too stubborn and busy with her own pain that she can’t see past herself?
I like that I can’t answer either questions with a yes or no answer. It means the writer is doing something right with her characterization. Very much like us, they’re flawed. They make bad choices. It’s part of life.