Why…Why. I initially wanted to return to recap this drama because episode 11 blew the angst off the lid and hit me in the heart with more ways than one. Then the tragedy struck this episode and now I’m left dangling with a bruised heart, wavering between wanting to continue and fearing of the repercussions. Why do you have to be so painful, Show? Can’t 1989 be all about the birth of jolly Kappy? I’m not important? Kthanks. WAHH.
Back to 1989 (1989一念間) Episode 14 RECAP:
After leaving behind some skimpy letters for her family (of which she thinks is sufficient to mend the broken hearts of her family members), the heartless, unfilial daughter in the name of Ye Zhen Zhen drives off with Chen Che in her motorcycle. In the same tunnel, they time-travel to the future and live happily ever after…
Did you think that was how it went?!! No!
You know what I want? The moment she passes out of the portal, she turns 50. That’s what you get for abandoning your loved ones! I still can’t figure out what’s going on in her mind for her to even think of traveling to the future. Someone restrain me from strangling this girl!
At the Christmas party, everyone cheers happily when Xiao Long places the tree-topper on the beautifully decorated Christmas tree. He then informs all his colleagues about his grand confession to Zhen Zhen tonight. Watching the party as an outsider and client, the future criminal Guo Sheng Tai eyes Ya Juan with interest. Oh Krap. Please don’t go there show. Please…. Please…. Please…
Zhong En appears at the entrance (who invited your butt here?!), and Ya Juan greets him with a smile, at which he tells her she’ll be pleased if she gets his Christmas gift for the exchange. Uncomfortable with Zhong En, Jin Qin sidles up to Ya Juan and mumbles an awkward “Hi,” but is ostensibly ignored by Zhong En as asks about Ya Juan’s mom, on purpose.
Cut back to Zhen Zhen driving with a grim expression, while Chen Che thinks to himself. Tonight is probably the most important day of the year for his mother as his conception date should be around this period for him to be born in August of next year. When he realizes that Zhen Zhen is driving down a different path, she tells him she has to bring him to somewhere else first. With horror, he realizes they are approaching and entering the same tunnel as before. He snaps at her to stop but she proudly declares that she will regret her whole life if she can’t be by his side. He calls her stupid and she responds stupidly too, “I’d rather be stupid than leave you!” In his rush, he wraps his arms around her and hops off the vehicle, rolling down the road just like he did the first time. It kills me that he’s securely embracing all the impact of the fall for her, cradling her head like a precious pearl. EEE!!
Moments later, they wake up and she exclaims gleefully, “You didn’t disappear!” and hugs him. She takes a look around and wonders if it’s 2016. Without sparing a look, he knows it’s not 2016 and yells at her firmly but with a soft edge. “Stupid! That was dangerous!” She doesn’t believe him and has to ask an upcoming driver to verify the year. Nope. Still stuck here. I hope you’re stuck here FURREVAA. Chen Che, I’m serious, we have enough not-so-smart heroines in 2016 as it is, you don’t need to be original and bring back a dummy from 1989. Got it?
Chen Che glares at her. “You’re putting your life in danger! If something were to happen, what would your parents do? How am I going to face them?” Why is he always the one to think about YOUR parents for you, little lady? Have you no heart?!! He reminds her to stop doing stupid things, it’s his business whether or not he can return to 2016, but she’s a person from 1989 and should stay here. As if lightning just struck her brain, it dawns on her that as long as they can spend the time together now, it’s good enough. Girl, you preached those words last episode! And here I thought you grasped the understanding when you preach.
Bravely, she hugs him. “People separate eventually. Every second we spend together is another second of happiness. That’s enough right?” Hearing those reassuring words, our boy melts like a marshmallow and raises his arms to return the hug. Dude, you’re too easy! haha.
He pushes her back enough to face him. “Ye Zhen Zhen, I have really lost to you.” He admits defeat because she’s the silliest of all the fools he has encountered. *tap tap her nose* When he notices a tear in her ankle-length dress, he proceeds to remove that hanging fringe, making the length knee-high. Ha. He then tells her about the importance of tonight, that they must keep Ya Juan in their line of vision all night. He asks her to trust him and help him with this simple task. She nods. Why do I not trust this girl?
With their late arrival to the party, and as prepared, Xiao Long takes center stage and busts out some robotic dance moves to initiate his confession, while Chen Che scans the crowd to locate his mom and his father candidates. I feel so bad for Xiao Long right now. When he completes his dance, he kneels down in front of Zhen Zhen and presents her with a rose. “Ye Zhen Zhen, I like you. I’ve liked you for a long time. Will you be my girlfriend?” Crap! Crap! Such a good, hard-working man. What’s a girl gotta do? This is why I dislike public proposals.
Dumbfounded at the sudden confession, Zhen Zhen remains still, so it’s Chen Che to the rescue. He plucks the rose out of Xiao Long’s hand. “You danced well, now it’s my turn.” He takes Zhen Zhen to the dance floor and instructs her to just follow his steps. OMGOMGOMG. The beat-down look on Xiao Long’s face as he watches the girl of his dream waltz with another man. Sigh.
Ya Juan slips and praises Chen Che’s dancing skills, resulting in Zhong En’s add-in to gently chide her for taking Chen Che’s side, when Xiao Long is part of the their circle of friends or as he puts it, the original Five Golden Treasures. To end the dance and claim his person, Chen Che plants a kiss on Zhen Zhen right before Xiao Long as his face crushes. Oof.
That ticks off Xiao Long’s last shred of patience. “What are you guys doing! This is my venue! I’m the one supposed to express my love!” With tears streaming down his face, he quietly and earnestly reveals to Zhen Zhen his repressed feelings and how his lack of experience and foundation deterred him from telling her. All he wanted was to make it big and become someone she could depend on and give her a good life. Everyone knows his feelings, except for her. Zhen Zhen: “Xiao Long, don’t be like this. I’ve always treated you like a good friend.” Xiao Long: “But I’ve never wanted to be your good friend…” *tries to smile*
Adding fueling to the growing emblem of jealousy in Xiao Long, Guo Sheng Tai pretends to call out on Chen Che’s ungrateful behavior and his display of (fake) friendship prompts Xiao Long to throw the first punch at Chen Che. Once Xiao Long lands on top of Chen Che (I swear this is not what you’re thinking!), Chen Che says he will accept the hit because he did cause the upsetting scene just now. However upsetting it was to Xiao Long, Chen Che stands firm with his declaration. “If I don’t become braver, then I’m going to hurt her. You like her but she treats you like a friend. That’s why, please accept us being together.” Irate by his words of pleading, Xiao Long lands a punch….right on the floor, missing Chen Che’s handsome face by a few centimeters. You’re good man, Xiao Long. Another girl worth your love will come. Like me! I love you! I love your awkward chuckle and old man’s laugh. (My love for Chen Che shall not be questioned and discussed okay peeps.)
Zhen Zhen comes to Chen Che’s side and fusses about him almost getting hit. His perfect response to explode some ovaries: “Just let him hit me. If I let you go to someone else, it will hurt even more.” His words move even Ya Juan, and she looks around the venue and finds her man (Jin Qin) missing.
He’s having heated discussion with Zhong En outside the park. Zhong En confesses his feelings for Ya Juan and Jin Qin questions the inopportune time of the admission. It’s because Zhong En thought they could be happy, that Jin Qin could bring happiness to Ya Juan. Jin Qin: “We are happy!” Zhong En corrects, “YOU are happy. Ya Juan has to lie to her loved ones every day to spend time with you. Do you think she’ll be happy in the future?” Jin Qin’s eyes drop to the ground, doubts running wild in his face.
Drunk as a skunk now and encouraged by Guo Sheng Tao, Xiao Long acts on impulse and challenges Chen Che to a drinking game. If the latter wins, Xiao Long will give the pair his blessing. Trusting Ya Juan in Zhen Zhen’s care, Chen Che decides to deal with Xiao Long first. The ladies watch the battle go on and Zhen Zhen turns to Ya Juan, “Chen Che told me before that Xiao Long likes me, but I didn’t believe it. Men do understand men more.” Her words ring in Ya Juan’s ears as she remembers Jin Qin telling her the same thing about Zhong En. Now is the time for Zhen Zhen to mess up her godly duties: she’s having stomachaches and excuses to use the bathroom, stressing to Ya Juan to stay right there.
Of course, Ya Juan acts immediately and tries to find Jin Qin, her departure noticed by Guo Sheng Tai. Oh no.. oh no.. I’m scared!! Good thing Chen Che peeks to the sideline and notes his ladies’ absence with alarm.
Still preaching outside in the park, Zhong En narrows down the reality of their situation. “The person you love most is not always the person you can spend the rest of your life with.” Jin Qin reads between the line and understands the implication with dismay and Zhong En isn’t shy about Ya Juan’s mother’s affection for him. Jin Qin inquires with a strained voice, “What about Ya Juan? What if she misses me and loves me for the rest of her life?!”
Zhong En: “It doesn’t matter if Ya Juan doesn’t like or love me. I can make it up with my love!”
Alarmed at those words, Jin Qin grabs his lapels, “You’re our Older Brother! How can you say those words!” Zhong En uses that endearing term to summarize his perfect qualifications for the job. He’s Older brother, he’s never done anything wrong, and hence, Jin Qin can trust him. He’s the perfect person to take care of Ya Juan. Lol. This dude is crazy! He drives the wedge further by telling Jin Qin he can’t afford to love, and when Jin Qin raises a fist to punch him, Zhong En challenges the graduate student to resort to violence, just like what his father would do to solve problems. Oh… Jin Qin lets out a piercing scream and runs off, just as Ya Juan spots the two and tries to run after her man.
Zhong En stops her and confesses his feelings (poor timing, dude). She stares back at him, puzzled. “You’re Older Brother and will always be my Older Brother.” She pushes his arms and chases after Jin Qin. That’s my girl! But then she runs to some dark alleys and my danger radar strikes red. Stupid girl! Go somewhere with lights and people!
I’m so scared for her right now. Please drama gods, please don’t do this to me. I won’t ask for anything else. Save her!
Back at the party, Chen Che and Zhen Zhen head out to find Ya Juan.
Ya Juan follows the back side of a man, thinking it’s Jin Qin, but he disappears around the corner. Left with no choice (girl, turn around now!), she follows, pleading with Jin Qin to stop hiding from her. She continues down the dark road until she’s grabbed into a wedged wall and all we hear is a gasp. OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG. Then the song Silent Night! Holy Night! resonates eerily in the background (so inappropriate! I need to shower!) and we see Jin Qin somewhere kicking a wall in frustration, which is how the duo find him. WHAT? It’s not you? I can’t. The tears are coming.
Of all the searching parties, it’s Zhong En who finds Ya Juan… huddled in a frightened ball. He approaches her and notices her disheveled appearance while she’s disoriented and screams at his touch, only mumbling about her missing button (her coat is torn). He finds the button (or something else?) a few feet away and instead of returning it, he tucks it in his pocket.
After Ya Juan insists on not being touched, they walk back together, and Zhong En sneaks his jacket over her shoulders. Wary of him, she looks ahead and sees the one person she doesn’t want to witness her situation: Jin Qin. He calls after them, and terrified at being found out, Ya Juan scoots close to Zhong En and asks him to take her home. Being an advantage taker, Zhong En assures her damaged state of mind that everything will be okay in the States. She can start life over and forget all the unhappy things. Seriously, dude?
The love of her life registers the situation and resigns to what Zhong En said earlier about Ya Juan’s mother’s acceptance of Older Bro and how they would live together once they immigrate to America. Defeated, he repeats the story to Chen Che and Zhen Zhen, sounding like a dead horse. “Ya Juan….has already accepted him. And me? I’m useless.” You stupid man! I’m gonna slap you if not for this computer screen!
Meanwhile, Zhong En brings Ya Juan back to his bar, so she can tidy up and then go home. She shrieks at first, but the mention of her mother gets a frightened look in her eyes. He doesn’t push her and lets her cower on the sofa for a few moments. He then brings in some hot tea and a gift box, and she shoves the tea away, spilling the hot content over his hand. Not making a big deal out of it, he presents her with a new dress, a gift he bought earlier. She gazes nervously at the new dress, then runs into the bathroom to change. Once she’s inside the bathroom, Zhong En has his own guilty revelation. If he hadn’t confessed earlier, she wouldn’t have run away and encountered such tragedy. He grimaces, “It’s all my fault.”
He downs a drink in the lobby and with the arrival of Chen Che and Zhen Zhen, he whips up an excuse about Ya Juan being robbed earlier and needed to change out of her dress… Once apprised that the authorities haven’t been alerted, Zhen Zhen tries to dial for help, but is stopped by Zhong En. “Ya Juan doesn’t want her mother to know. If you call, Auntie will know.” Stepping out from the bathroom, and back to her seemingly old self, Ya Juan hooks Zhen Zhen’s arm and rushes home. Everything sounds and looks suspicious to Chen Che, but he has to take care of mom now.
Ya Juan’s Mom: “Are you okay? What things did you lose?” Oh… Oh… What a loaded question.
Zhong En’s reason of not wanting Ya Juan’s mom to find out goes out the window. Mom stands up and steps over to phone the police, only to be stopped by Ya Juan. She says she only lost a small amount of money, but Mom insists a dangerous crime should be reported so the criminals don’t escape freely. However, the desperation in Ya Juan’s voice causes mom to stop and look at her stricken daughter. Chen Che and Zhen Zhen interrupt Mom and she lets it go for now. Ya Juan grabs Zhen Zhen’s arm and pleads her to stay tonight but it’s Chen Che who hastily agrees on Zhen Zhen’s behalf.
After she dries Ya Juan’s hair, Zhen Zhen turns to put the towel away, but Ya Juan jumps and grabs Zhen Zhen fiercely, and that puts the latter ill at ease. She wonders just how scary the thief was to turn Ya Juan into a frightened ball of paranoia? She thinks it’s better to let Jin Qin know, and Ya Juan’s face blanches. “If you let Jin Qin know of tonight’s event, we won’t be friends anymore.”
At home, Zhen Zhen and Chen Che try to piece together the whole picture, but alas, they find everything strange, though Chen Che deduces it’s not a simple robbery if both Zhong En and Ya Juan refused to report to the police. In her bird brain, Zhen Zhen surmises that maybe the two of them are really together, as Jin Qin suggested, but she frowns at her own late realization of their budding romance. Inwardly rolling his eyes, Chen Che describes her brain as being too simple, but she counters, calling it purity. (*dies from embarrassment*) He hugs her, thanking her for believing and trusting him. She pushes him back and warns him not to give her up so easily like Li Jin Qin. Their flirtatious exchange is caught by little bro and he screams out loud to get mom and dad. HA.
Facing mom and dad across the coffee table, Chen Che has the guts to reach over and place a calming hand over Zhen Zhen’s. Lol. The parents are totally messing with the lovebirds. You think you two throwing charged glances back and forth over breakfast and dinner went unnoticed by the parents? Silly fools. Mom and Dad couldn’t be happier, and could you blame then? Chen Che is rare specimen. Settled with the good news, Mom thinks now is the time to open those Christmas cards written by Zhen Zhen. Freaked out, Zhen Zhen tries in vain to stop them from reading the letters. Confused at the tone of the letter about farewell and living well, Zhen Zhen conjures up a flimsy excuse about Mom’s white hair and it works. Knowing the real reason why, Chen Che smiles.
The night stills and Ya Juan relives the horror of the tragedy. She was knocked unconscious and in her hazy vision, she remembers seeing… Zhong En’s face before her. Waking up from the chills, she believes it’s Zhong En who assaulted her. No!!
Chen Che goes on his morning jog, and is joined Zhen Zhen’s dad, who hands him a beer afterwards. He doesn’t think it’s a good idea but Dad tells him consuming unhealthy drinks once in a while is okay. Lol. Dad says he was too happy to sleep last night and kept rolling around in bed. Dad, you’re trying to make me cry some more aren’t you? He recalls baby Zhen Zhen and how she’s all grown up and is now in love with a dashing young man. Dad considers Chen Che as his son-in-law already and the thought of their marriage kept him blissfully aware all night. Aww.
They open up to each other: Dad ruefully apologizes for probing and probably hurting Chen Che about questions regarding his parents, and Chen Che shyly admits he’s not as good as everyone thinks, but he promises to work hard and compensates for his mom.
The mood changes quickly when we go back to Ya Juan, still in bed. Her mom checks her temperature when she says she’s sick and needs the day off. Ya Juan hugs mom and apologizes for her defiant behavior. “I shouldn’t have fallen in love. I shouldn’t have gone out to have fun. I should’ve stayed and focused on my studies… I’m sorry. I already know my mistakes.” NOOOOOOOOO! Girl, it’s not your mistake, it’s not your fault! Mom clocks in her quiet submission but couldn’t be happier because Ya Juan wants to leave for the states as soon as possible.
Once Mom is out of the room, Ya Juan lies back down, talking to herself, believing that going to the States is her only chance at starting over. She repeats it over and over, trying to convince herself, until Zhong En’s voice at the door jolts her up in distress.
———————- END ———————-
Kappy: I will confess now that I’m usually nauseated when rape is employed because it is never dealt in a humanly, sensible way. Most writers gloss over the traumatic experience and rarely let the characters feel and breathe in the aftermath. I’m holding my breath to see how the writer handle this delicate situation.
I’m somewhat okay right now because something had to happen to be sufficiently monumental to change the entire personality of Future Ya Juan. And they can’t afford to do something secondary to force the separation. Adding the wretched layer of assault puts the nail in the coffin, especially in that time and age where reputation is valued above all else for a woman, enough to drive an innocent woman away from her man and all notions of a happy marriage, and explains why future Ya Juan refuses to speak a word when it comes to Chen Che’s father (I still think there’s more to the story but if the writer takes this route, I have my respect for them.) Ya Juan’s filled with shame and disgust, and seeing Chen Che every day ultimately reminds her of the assault.
What does this mean for Chen Che? Does this mean his traveling to the past didn’t change the future at all? (Let me cry some more.) Is mom the way she is BECAUSE of the same event? Did he travel to the past to understand and not to FIX?
Back In 1989 has everything going for it except for the female lead. Ye Zhen Zhen drives me up the wall these past four episodes. I don’t mind if she’s not smart, I don’t mind if she’s clumsy, but I do very much mind that her character revolves, eats, and breathes for Chen Che, without an ounce of consideration for her family AT ALL. She should at least hesitate before deciding to leave with Chen Che. The fact that she thinks she could go with him 27 years into the future, leaving her parents behind to fend for themselves? Selfish! Selfish! When the other characters are busy to strive for a better life and working conditions, she’s the only one without much dreams and aspirations. She’s pretty lucky too. A perfect family, doting parents, and now a perfect boyfriend. Besides thinking of romance and trailing after Chen Che, I don’t know what else is on her mind. Which is NOT how I want my female lead to be written.
Besides my disappointment in the female lead, I love everything else. Much more because this show proves it has a heart. Episode 11 turned me into a rabid fangirl because they introduced Jin Qin’s father, a lovely addition to foil Ya Juan’s royal mom, who thinks everyone who has to work multiple jobs a day is beneath her. I was screaming my head off when he put her in her high hair. Then he broke my heart when he cried out that his son is a worthy man and should not be looked down by anyone because he raised him right. A sentiment every parent can attest to, with my bawling mom at my side (Yes, I watched with my mom and we shed buckets of tears.) Then in this episode, Xiao Long touched me once again. His confession struck a chord because in the face of a clear rejection, he still poured out his feelings. And the way he tried to smile at the end…it was brave and heart-breaking. Kudos to the actor!
Maybe I’m the odd one but the romance that captures and moves my heart the most up till now is the one between Ya Juan and Jin Qin. In loving each other, they are also breaking free of the molds set for themselves by their families and becoming their own person. To love Jin Qin, Ya Juan learned to speak up against her mom, and to love Ya Juan, Jin Qin needs to prove himself – he can’t just sing at the bar day in and day out without a plan for the future. Love is hard work and they prove it as so.
Another beautiful aspect is the trajectory of Chen Che’s motivations. What started out as a quest to find daddy becomes a journey to make Mom a happier person in 2016, even if her happiness could possibly mean the end to his existence. *thumps heart*
Chen Che, you’re my male lead of the year!!