I think I’m cursed or something. Everywhere I turn in dramaland, I meet crazy in-laws making a living hell out of their daughter-in-laws lives. This drama is the exact opposite of Goddess of Marriage. But it isn’t a dark, twisted hour without light moments. The husbands’ attitude about women is the same but they don’t cheat in here. They do something else to ruffle my feathers. They work and work and work, completely engrossed in creating holy construction pieces, to prove that they’re superior. This leaves the women trapped as home as … potential cheaters. I hope we don’t go there because our girl is intelligent and decent enough. RIGHT DRAMA?
My friend and I did this recap. Because I kept giving her the doe eyes, she agreed! It took us four days to finish this because she verbally translated, and I typed. I think it turned out alright. 😀
Episode 1 Recap:
Meet our female lead, Shen Yi Zhen (Tian Xin), while she’s lying in bed with her husband. Or so she thinks. She urges him to wake up and then hears his booming voice coming from outside the door. Her eyes jerk open. If he’s outside, who’s hugging her on the bed? She jumps out of bed and asks the faceless man, “Who are you? Why are you lying in my bed?” The mysterious man doesn’t answer and her anxiety levels increase as the loud bangs on the door thunder through the room and travel up her spine. What’s she going to do?
Nothing. The moment he bursts through the door, Yi Zhen stirs awake from her frightening dream. She has fallen asleep while on her way to an award ceremony and her taxi driver saves her from confronting the terrible moment by hitting the bumper of another car. Whew ~
Since she’s near the place, she pays the fee and walks instead. A few steps down the road, a slight pain catches her attention and she rubs her abdomen reassuringly. Is she pregnant? Thinking about her husband, she calls him. He’s Li Zhao Wen (Christopher Lee), currently attending to a few details at his own construction site. She wonders whether he has left to meet her at the event yet and he promises to make it on time.
After he hangs up, Zhao Wen goes with his secretary, Huang Qiong Mei (Meng Ting Li) to inspect his latest construction floor. The man in charge speaks non-stop, trying to smooth-talk everything. Judging from Zhao Wen’s doubtful expression, he goes straight to the problem. He smashes the poorly-built bathroom wall and warns Leader Au to be thorough with his work. “If this wall crashed with a few bangs from me, can you bear the responsibility when it fails on the market?” Zhao Wen inches closer to Leader Au and reiterates that he must follow his design and choice of materials at every step. He won’t allow any mistake.
When he’s done lecturing, he heads off to meet Yi Zhen, who has just arrived at the room where the 23rd Taiwanese Architecture Awards is held. Yi Zhen looks around nervously and finally her eyes land on a close friend, Joyce (Adriene Lin). The two married ladies exchange pleasantries and we learn that Yi Zhen has brought a camera along to take pictures of Zhao Wen. Why? Because she hasn’t seen him for a week already due to his busy schedule and sleeping at the office. Smiling in empathy, Joyce reveals that her husband’s record was two months. Yi Zhen parts her lips in surprise but Joyce tells her it’s okay because hard work pays off in the end. As their wives, we should get accustomed to the feeling of loneliness on most nights, even finding ways to find our own happiness. The last part gets a befuddled smile from Yi Zhen, not grasping the meaning in her friend’s tone.
Joyce takes a drink and hands it to Yi Zhen and she refuses the alcohol with a knowing smile on her face. Ah. She’s pregnant for sure. While she frantically searches the premise for his presence, Zhao Wen is stuck in traffic. Seeing the bicyclist next to him, he pays the young man a hefty sum for his bike and zooms forward without stopping.
The last recipient to receive the highest award of the night is Li Zhao Wen. His name is called but Yi Zhen still can’t locate him, so with the urging from Joyce, she balls her fist and prepares to step onstage, which is when Zhao Wen marks his entrance and clutches her hand, whispering, “Come on stage with me.”
After thanking the respected judges and corporations for his award and promising to aim for perfection in every design, he turns around and takes Yi Zhen’s hand, where it is suspended in midair because she intends to clean the dust on his suit. He thanks her for always supporting his creative designs and wants to present this trophy to her. Touched by the public announcement, Yi Zhen smiles shyly when he kisses her. Standing and clapping below in the audience, Joyce gazes at them, envious and happy for her friend.
Climbing down the steps, Yi Zhen divulges how nervous she was when he didn’t show up. He pinches her chin affectionately, “You have to believe in your hubby, when I say I can, I can.” I wish he didn’t say it like that. Can’t you say you made it for her?
Then he dampens her mood by giving her the award and asks her to bring it home and cherish it because he has to go back to work to prepare for the competition tomorrow. The glow in her eyes dims and he cheers her up in the worst way possible. Requesting her to socialize with the firm directors in the awards lobby. “It’s very helpful to my career,” he emphasizes.
Following his request, she turns to find Joyce in her face. Thankfully, Joyce steers Yi Zhen away from the boring awards lobby so the two can catch up in a jazzy bar.
Once the ladies settle down, Yi Zhen confirms her pregnancy and thanks Joyce, believing that her recommended medicine has helped her. Having had a miscarriage before, Yi Zhen is being extra careful this time. Moreover, Zhao Wen’s the only son in the family line, so her in-laws have been giving her the “glare”. If this unborn child is a girl, she’d have to give birth until they’re satisfied. Whut? WHUT? What dynasty did I get drop in?!
Believing that this child would improve the relationship between them, Yi Zhen smiles hopefully, but her friend merely sips a drink cryptically. This part is unintentionally funny. Not trying to be a Debbie downer on her friend’s joyful spirit, Joyce reveals that she might not have felt those fluttering feelings because her kids are not children anymore.
Time to introduce our second male lead, Zhou Shang En/Sean (Darren) as he swoops in to rescue a girl. She has made it up half-way before fear clinches her, and now she’s afraid the safety belt would break the second she lets go of her grip. Sean assures her that the safety belt is stronger than it looks by having his body hover next to hers. She cries out, “It worked for you doesn’t mean it would work for me! I’m heavier!”
He changes plan, “Then think of you as a Koala and me as your bamboo tree. Koalas love to cuddle with the bamboo tree. Just slowly bring yourself to embrace me.” He successfully levels them to the ground with her clinging tightly to his thinly bamboo frame.
Yi Zhen bids good-bye to her friend and decides to take a walk around the park before picking up a call from Zhao Wen. He forgot to tell her about their dinner date with his parents tonight. They’re worried about her and the baby and want to feed them nutritious meals. At the thought of spending time with her in-laws, Yi Zhen attempts to excuse herself by citing tiredness. However, Zhao Wen has a way of being silently insistent. He hangs up the phone after reminding her to bring his mom’s favorite cherries. He has bought them and she only needs to carry the box over.
Turns out Sean didn’t help his friend for free. His reward is a volume of the popular manga, Akira. As for Yi Zhen, she sits down on a bench to snack on some food, smiling that pregnancy does make a woman hungry frequently. While she snacks, a cute golden retriever flies into her arms, licking her. The dog then barks at her to follow him, and it’s adorable how she tiptoes behind him like he’s bringing her to paradise.
He leads her to a café called Q5 Books. She opens the door to the sign, “If I’m not in the store, then I’m currently on my way back – store owner.” She can’t help but smile at the owner’s cheekiness.
The store owner turns out to be Sean of course and his entrance startles Yi Zhen, her leg accidentally knocking a pile of books over. He bends over to pick them up; their quick skin-to-skin contact doesn’t go unnoticed by her. The last book goads a few lines from him. It’s a Russian novel titled Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy with the theme of unfortunate families having different problems while blessed ones are happy for the same reason. I checked out the novel on wiki and the drama premise can be said to be inspired from it.
She ponders over the thought and he invites her to sit down. She asks whether his bookstore carries educational books about caring for babies and he shakes his head. He smiles knowing that she’s pregnant.
The dog from earlier rushes up to them. He’s a strayed dog who happens to tread upon this café one afternoon and chose to stay here. He doesn’t have a name because Sean doesn’t think too much about those things. He seeks ideas from Yi Zhen and she casually thinks of her old dog named Lucky. Lucky it is. She wants a dog but reveals that her husband doesn’t like pets, so Sean graciously prods her to come and visit Lucky anytime.
Their conversation drifts over to the popular poster in the store. A painting of a woman facing the dark sea with the words Let’s Run Away imprinted across. He asks what she makes of these words and she honestly confesses that these words carry no meaning to her because she’s a married woman. Someone has once told her that being married is a responsibility she can’t carelessly run away from. Touching her belly, she continues, “Plus, now I can’t run anymore with this sweet burden here.”
From his puzzled expression, she inquires, “Do you have kids?” He shakes his head and she smiles at his obvious lack of parental sensitivity. At this questioning, she describes the feeling of carrying babies as amazing and miraculous, giving you endless hope towards the future because someone will always be there for you to lean on.
A moment later she says with a wistful tone, “Before I was pregnant, regarding my life I was…” then stops herself from divulging further. His eyes bore into her face and he adds, “Who knows about the future, one day you might wake up and the only thing you want to do is run away.”
The thought lingers but she has to leave now. Sean pets Lucky, mulling over her haste as a sign that he has scared off another customer.
At work, Zhao Wen and his secretary run over the profiles of new recruits. Zhao Wen picks the male newcomer over the female because he thinks women have lower tolerance for this kind of work and can’t socialize well during male-dominated meetings. His secretary, Qiong Mei suggests he gives the female newcomer a try because if memories serve her correct, Yi Zhen graduated and ranked first during their University days. Zhao Wen coolly replies, “So? What difference did that make? She’s now my wife and is giving births to my children at home.” DUN. DUN. DUN. We have another pig running for the Most Chauvinistic Male Award!
Qiong Mei mumbles about his unfair attitude and he thinks she ought to have grown accustomed to it already. She wiggles her fingers, “No, No. I have seen it often enough but that does not mean I’m getting used to your attitude.”
Yi Zhen arrives at Zhao Wen’s parent’s residence and heads inside. His mother, Li Zhuang Qiu Yu (Xi Man Ning) is in the kitchen cooking soup for her son and asks Yi Zhen to taste it. From her reaction, we can tell that Yi Zhen isn’t used to the mother’s sudden display of affection. Qui Yu closes the gap and whispers to Yi Zhen, “When you see your father, tell him to refrain from sending his food. We have different taste and moreover, our family has few people to finish his boxes of products. Give my thanks to him.” Behind her mother-in-law, Yi Zhen notices the box of oranges. To rub it in further, Qiu Yu gifts the box of oranges to their maid. Taking heavy steps away from the kitchen, another pain shoots from her belly and she quickly takes a seat. Li Shao Fen (Stephanie Chang), Zhao Wen’s younger sister welcomes Yi Zhen with a cheerful smile and guesses that the baby is a boy from the shape of her belly. Girl, it’s non-existent!
The father-in-law takes his seat in the master’s chair and glares at Yi Zhen, who gives him her biggest smile yet. What a grumpy old man.
He continues his unpleasantness, “The family is having dinner but the eldest son is nowhere to be seen. What kind of family dinner is this?” Dishing out his anger, he turns to Yi Zhen, “If it’s not because of you two’s insistence to live alone after marriage, we don’t have to face the problem today. So inconvenient.” Shut up, old man.
The grumpypants leave the table and Qiu Yu chides Yi Zhen for not meeting her recommended obstetrician. Yi Zhen thinks her current OB doctor is good enough but Qiu Yu firmly shuts her down, “It’s not your personal responsibility any longer. What would you do if something happens to the baby?” Hearing her own voice escalating, Qiu Yu softens, “I’m only caring for your sake dear.”
The main guest has now appeared. Zhao Wen heads to his chair where this father joins them instantly. He’s proud of his son’s ambition of opening a construction firm all on his own. To his daughter though, he refuses her suggestion of working at his company, referring to Zhao Wen’s logic about women and their roles in his eyes. Instead, he wants her to get married.
He points out Yi Zhen as an example of educated women becoming just a housewife behind their successful husbands. “This is a woman’s duty.” Do you hear noises? I’m banging my head.
Yi Zhen’s face shifts uncomfortably under the attack to her pride and Zhao Wen squeezes her hand. Well, at least you know she isn’t the happiest person right now.
Cut to nonchalant Sean and his friend as they discuss whether Sean has received an invitation to the climbing event this year by Italia yet. No fretting, it might be late in the mail. He then questions his friend’s bookstore content, “Do you carry books teaching new mothers?” He does and promises to bring a few over tomorrow.
Lucky barks to get Sean’s attention to the award trophy. It belongs to Yi Zhen, and she left it on the shelf this morning.
At home, Yi Zhen goes around in search of the same trophy and finally resolves that it must be at the bookstore. She mentions it to Zhao Wen, who’s occupied with his stacked of papers and pays her no attention as she rambles on and on about the interesting café and its quirky owner. When she sees his unresponsiveness, she makes a point to call out his name. Zhao Wen: “I’m busy in preparation for tomorrow’s competition; can you let me have a peaceful moment?” Upset, she turns around, his back to him.
He notes her open display of defiance and puts the work papers away, scooting closer to the edge of the bed. Apologizing for his coldness, he still finds excuses for himself, “Lately, the pressure has been big.” She confronts him. They can discuss about work if he wants. They have done it before when he first opens the firm years ago. Zhao Wen doesn’t agree, time has changed, people’s tastes have upgraded. “You don’t know these changes because you’re always at home. So how can I exchange ideas with you?”
She shoves his hand off her thigh and wonders aloud, “I’m thinking what would happen to the day when we have absolutely nothing to say to each other?” He scoffs, “No.” Yi Zhen challenges, “And why not?” He holds her closer, “When the baby is born, we’ll have many topics about babies to talk about.” BUH. His words do not appease her wandering thoughts. While he sleeps, she walks into the study room and flips open her diary to jot down a few lines. Funny, the events listed do not include Zhao Wen’s award but only of Lucky, Sean, and the weird dream. She thinks it’s improper for a married woman to have desires with other men but somehow in that dream, she felt entranced.
Collecting her thoughts, she writes out a line to Zhao Wen, “Dear, maybe it’s due to the lack of time we have together, that’s why I had that weird dream. So now I’m eagerly waiting for the birth of our baby.” For the third time today, a jolt of pain runs through her and she looks down worriedly at her belly.
Next morning, Zhao Wen waits in the lobby before his presentation while scrolling through the news reports from yesterday.
Most articles praise him for his public adoration of his wife. The CEO, Pan Ni Na (Joelle Lu), a senior of his, drops by the lobby to wish him good luck. She appears a tad too touchy-feely with him while complimenting that he’s a rising star in the architecture industry. He feels uncomfortable and makes a gesture of crossing his arms to back away from her claws.
Ni Na then broaches on another design of his, the one where he collaborated with Yi Zhen called “The House of Galileo.” The piece imbues a sense of warmth, and she was surprised the designer was created by a male (HAH), much less from her talented junior. At that point, she felt discouraged in the industry where it’s almost impossible for a woman to survive. Hence she quit her job and became the CEO of this company, helping to pave the road for young rising stars under her wings. Handling administrative work proves preferable. Did she just insult him?
Noon time. Yi Zhen makes her way to the café and Sean promptly returns the trophy to her, noting that her husband must be a busy man because his girlfriend is pursuing the same career. He spreads his arm, pointing to the store, “This place was designed by her, from a house to a café/bookstore.” Yi Zhen scans the place and nods in approval. It’s a great piece, which would be better if the books didn’t clutter at every corner. He chuckles, “It’s my fault. My girlfriend keeps nagging me but I just don’t like the sight of properly placed books. It feels cold and lonely.” She concurs, “Every piece of design is based on the person’s feelings. But sometimes, the designer forgets that emotional aspect and only focuses on the physical aspect of beauty.”
He offers her a glass of water and they continue their conversation. She keeps talking about her husband’s dream and ambition, so Sean asks, “Then what is your dream?” Clearly taken-aback, she mutters, “My husband’s dream is mine. Isn’t that what marriage is all about? Two people sharing the same life together?” Lady, you’re convincing no one with that unsure face.
He stuns her further, “Marriage…, is it good?”
She stares up at him.
“I’m contemplating about marriage with my girlfriend. Don’t people say you understand each other better after marriage? That the feeling of loneliness will dissipate?”
Clearing her voice, she replies, “Honestly, marriage and loneliness do not have any connection with each other. But you might need to be married to understand the distinction.” They take a moment to inhale the deep thought.
Yi Zhen then refers to the poster, “Why do you place it there?” Sean recalls the story where he worked at an advertisement company. He didn’t like it very much and quit afterward. “I think everyone has moments when they feel distressed about their place in life. And all they want to do is run away. And this little bookstore is designed for that purpose. A space for working people to find an escape. Welcome you here.”
She leaves the bookstore in pain. Sean remembers about the book for new mothers and chases after her. He finds her doubling over in front the entrance and takes her to the hospital where he asks for Zhao Wen’s number. She answers no. “He’s presenting an important design. I don’t want to affect him.” Instead, Sean grabs her hand, offering comfort in any way he can. “Don’t worry, there might still be a chance to keep the baby.”
After his presentation, Zhao Wen immediately calls Yi Zhen to deliver the good news but of course she’s in no condition to pick up. Ni Na then suggests they go out for a drink and Zhao Wen shrewdly invites his assistant, Peter (Mei Xian Zhi), along, much to her dismay.
The operation is over. And the baby is lost. Sean enters the room quietly. “Are… you okay?”
Silence. Yi Zhen: “Thank-you for taking me here. But you can go home now.” He doesn’t think leaving her alone is a good idea and proposes to call her family members. There is no one available to which he can call. “I’m sorry for causing you trouble. You should go home.”
Before he leaves, he jots down his number and places the sticky note in her palm. “Call me if you need anything. Rest well.”
Zhao Wen is informed of Yi Zhen’s hospitalization and discharge, coming home to the disturbing screeching noises of his wife stoically scrubbing pan. Her hand moves in circular motion until he stops her. She whispers, “The baby is gone.” And the moment she got that terrible truth out, she breaks into these painful sobs. Zhao Wen embraces her, trying to quench down his own pain.
Later that night, he gives her some pills and tells her to rest for a few days. She can’t. She can’t sleep, she can’t face his parents either. He replies that he’ll take care of the explanation. She blames herself for the miscarriage, “Maybe something is wrong with my body?” He pushes those negative thoughts away.
That night, they sleep in this position. The emotional divide is never more transparent.
Sleepless, Yi Zhen trudges over to the study room once again. She calls her father and leaves a message when no one picked up. Pulling out her diary, she starts a new page, addressing Zhao Wen, “Dear…” But no matter how much she tries, she can’t write the next word as tears pool and trickle down her face. The choke becomes waves, taking her breath away.
Next day at work, the ultrasound photo of the baby slips out of a folder, leaving Zhao wen to face his loss. He clutches the photo and quickly puts it away when Qiong Mei enters and goes over his schedule for the next 3 days. He’s thrown in despair when she reminds him of the surprise party he has set up for the 3-month celebration of Yi Zhen’s pregnancy. He does not tell anyone at work about the mishap.
At home, Yi Zhen puts the baby clothes away. She’s doing fine holding down the emotions but the sadness slowly engulfs her and she sobs, “Why…? Why?!”
Zhao Wen pays his mother a visit and tries to cancel the party to no avail. His mother wants him to grab this chance and socialize with all his father’s clients. Stumped by her eagerness to show off her future grandson, Zhao Wen has no guts to reveal the truth.
When he’s finally home and changed, he discovers Yi Zhen sleeping soundlessly like nothing tragic has taken place. He climbs into bed and questions her day. She doesn’t hide the fact that she cried over the baby clothes. He peers deep into her face and takes her hand, kissing it gently. “I’m sorry.” Yi Zhen: “Why?”
“Nothing. I just think you’re exhausted.”
A small smile tugs at her lips. They close their eyes. And a song plays in the background.
♪♫ I want to talk to you but no words can ease your pain. I’m afraid that my words can reopen your wound… You said it was your fault so you want to walk away…♪♫
Kappy A: Great start with seasoned veterans! I don’t know whether Darren has acted before but he’s a natural with his easy-going screen presence. It’s a pleasant watching him.
Our female lead is lacking some fire at this point in her life. For someone who’s ranked 1st place in an architecture school, you’d think she’s ambitious, but for her to become this docile wife with no desires outside of serving her husband is odd. How did Zhao Wen tamper down her flaming success and wrap her around his pinky?
I don’t dislike Zhao Wen but he’s a cautious and manipulative man, especially of his wife’s emotions. Whereas she’s simple-minded and hesitant, he plans 10 steps ahead and maneuvers things into his favor. We can attribute his sexist attitude to his father’s upbringing. The old man clearly still has control. Remember that dinner scene? Zhao Wen sits there like a mute bird while his father puts down his intelligent wife. He knows it too but doesn’t lift a finger to defend her or his sister. Shame. Claim all you want about building your own empire, but if your dad continues to reign your nose, you’re still at step one.
Narrative-wise, the writer isn’t shy about hinting the cheating plot, which I’m praying won’t happen because Yi Zhen and Sean seem like sensible people. Or surprise me and play dirty. Take me on that dark, immoral path without me hating the characters? Cheating is never right, I’m merely interested in the writer’s direction for her great batch of endearing actors.