Back To 1989: Episode 17 “Acceptance.”

What a roller coaster ride. My emotions went through the wringer, ya’ll. Though there were many, many tears, the whole episode represents the hopeful side of acceptance. Accepting the fact that there are things we can and cannot control, can and cannot have, and coming out as a better person.

Did I say I Love Chen Che? His name should be spoken with hearts!!

Back to 1989 (1989 一念間) Episode 17 RECAP:

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Chen Che and Ya Juan arrive at the hospital, and he’s handed a parental slip to sign, allowing the fetus (himself) in Ya Juan’s womb to be aborted, along with Ya Juan’s permission, of course. Holding the pen of power, he looks down at his crestfallen mother and replays the words she told him before, “His existence is a mistake,” and then remembers his own words, “If I can help my mom rediscover her smile and her happiness, it doesn’t matter if I cease to exist.” He signs the paper and asks Ya Juan if she’s okay, but she shakes her head gently, trying to convince herself that her decision will benefit both her and the child.

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He watches her trudge over to the bench with heavy lids. And as he continues to stare at her small frame, she morphs into 2016 Ya Juan staring right back at him, and the pitiful sight brings tears to his eyes (and mine!). He thinks to himself, “Mom, no matter if you ever accepted me, I only now realize that I really love you, do you know that? Because I don’t have a father, I only have you.” OMG. We are not even 5 minutes in yet and I’m bawling already. Such a powerful scene, this one.

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Chen Che wipes his tears and sits down by Ya Juan’s side, and she wonders out loud whether the child would resent her, and he shakes his gently. Taken back by his quick response, she asks how he knows that and he replies that if she has loved him (the fetus), he won’t hate her. That makes her feel worst because she she’s never loved him because…she doesn’t know how. “I can’t even feel if he’s existing or not…” She calls herself a selfish and coward mother, at which point he places his hand over hers and tells her the child will understand, but his mother remains inconsolable. “How could he understand? He’s still so little…” Trying to ease her growing guilt, he continues to talk like he’s the child, encouraging his mother about the child’s goodwill and devotion to only love his mother.

She suddenly turns to him, seeking for his understanding in the matter. “You understand me right? Why I have to do this?” She lists the reasons driving her decisions and Chen Che tries his best to tamp down his own turmoil, nodding at her perfectly reasonable reasons and telling her to take deep breaths. He wouldn’t be here and signed the form if he doesn’t support her whole-heartedly. “If you want children, you can have them in the future. Forget about this scary incident and this child… You have to do that to start your life again.” My man!!

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The nurse calls her name and Ya Juan follows, leaving Chen Che to pace after her worriedly, his eyes blood-shot from the tears and heartache. He comforts himself, “Mom, even if you don’t remember me and I don’t know if you could miss me, I really do love you. And this is what I’m giving you. This is the best gift.” His face crumples and he breaks down. You poor child!! I can’t. Need more tissues.

The camera pans out and from a distance, we have an audience in Zhen Zhen, surprising me with her controlled behavior for once. She leans back on the wall and cries for Chen Che, knowing full well that he’s scared of leaving and losing, and hence his decision to accompany his mother alone. She takes out a cassette and listens to it as she walks towards him and calls out his name. They embrace each other, both drenched in tears. You kiddos, how could tears come in unstoppable streams?!! Stop all this pain!!

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She places the other earphone into his ear and tells him how envious she was of all the kids when she was little. They all had secrets and now she does too. “My secret is you.” She promises to eat a milk candy in times of happiness and sadness, and jokes that he should know she’s a gluttony like that. Ergo, “How can you be so petty and gave me just one bottle?”

“Caring for you is the deepest secret of my lifetime.” Aw.

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Inside the operating room, the light turns on overhead and the nurse coos at Ya Juan. “Does it hurt? It will be over soon.” Ya Juan looks around and then fretfully calls the nurse over when she feels pain in her womb. Upon checking, the nurse says she’s undergoing uterine contractions and the severity of those contractions could lead to a miscarriage. As she waits for the nurse to come back, dread fills the room and she cries out repeatedly for someone, while Chen Chen collapses to the floor outside, clutching his heart in pain. Zhen Zhen screams at him to think of a solution since he’s very smart and I’m like, Girl! Stop it! He’s in pain! Don’t you see his face?!

She runs to the operating room and knocks the crap out of the door, only for it to open a few seconds later and out comes Ya Juan, resolving to keeping the child. Blinking in puzzlement, Ya Juan stares at her friends crying in each other’s arms, none the wiser of what she almost did.

In the resting ward, Chen Che asks why she decided to stop the abortion and Ya Juan says it dawned on her how innocent and small the child is, and in this big world, she’s the only one who can protect him. She wants to protect and love him too. Zhen Zhen rejoices in her friend’s decision and claims, “You don’t know how important it is to me for you to keep this child.” Of course, everything is about your romance, Miss.

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Flanked by Chen Che and Zhen Zhen, Ya Juan comes home, determined to let her jaguar mom know the truth. She kneels before mom and declares, “I’m pregnant.” Shock runs through mom and she settles down immediately on the sofa, hearing Chen Che and Zhen Zhen pipe up in Ya Juan’s defense about being assaulted by Zhong En. After hearing the full story, Mom tells Ya Juan calmly to let the past be the past because she’ll plan the abortion surgery and the busy life in the States will slowly erase memories and pain of the past. Ya Juan steps up and reveals her own plans to give birth to the baby. Mom is stunned for the second time and demands to know what her plans are after giving birth? Giving up your own life and raising the child as a single mother? When Dad comes home to the commotion, he tells his wife to calmly discuss the matter but she’s far gone down the road of rage. In her eyes, if it’s not Ya Juan’s fault, then it is her fault for not raising her daughter right.

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The moment Chen Che and Zhen Zhen are out of earshot, Mom warns Ya Juan chillingly, “Without my permission, you are not to leave this house. If you do, you are never allowed back.”

Dad visits Ya Juan later on and asks if she’s okay. She doesn’t directly respond and asks how Mom is doing instead, and Dad tells her not to be upset at mom. Ya Juan knows Mom behaved harshly because she wants the best for her and cares for her. Ya Juan: “But I also want to care for the baby.” When asked about her plans, Ya Juan gives a sentimental answer, in that she can and will go through all the difficulties with the child. Armed with knowledge about the future, Dad cheers: with a brave mother like Ya Juan, the child will become someone great. For now, they have bigger trouble ahead because Mom already called the surgeon for an appointment tomorrow and dad scoots closer to reveal his plan.

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At home, Zhen Zhen hugs Chen Che, somewhat relieved but still worried about Ya Juan’s mother. She takes his hand and places it over her chest like a naive young woman that she is, unaware that the contact is keenly noted by Chen Che without a word. Ya Juan’s call interrupts their conversation and Zhen Zhen grows alarmed – Ya Juan has packed a luggage, moving out of her home!

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That night, Ya Juan relives the tragic night and wakes up in cold sweat. She cries at the injustice of it all, claiming that she didn’t do anything to deserve the punishment, and Zhen Zhen lulls her back to calmness by assuring her of her child’s awesome qualities in the future. She wants Ya Juan to promise not to coldly treat the child and place his father’s sins on him because they are two different people. On the other side of the wall, Chen Che listens with a heavy heart.

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Ya Juan’s mom freaks out in the morning when she finds her daughter missing and goes to interrogate dad, who is failing at acting. However, he finally wears his Dad pants and speaks as an equal to his overbearing wife. When she insists keeping the child is clearly the wrong decision, he inquires, “What is wrong? What is right? Will going to the States make our daughter happy? She’s courageous for keeping the child, is it wrong to be responsible for her own life?” Unlike his wife, who’s ashamed when people gossip, Dad adamantly adds that he’s proud to have Ya Juan as his daughter because she has finally understood the sacrifice and responsibility of love. Mom listens with tears streaming down her face and dad wraps his speech up with a gentle hug. Aww.

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Morning comes and Chen Che finds Ya Juan with the newspaper in hand, planning to find odd jobs in case her mother denies the child and she can’t stay at Zhen Zhen’s place. To ease his worries, she starts listing jobs she could do…and then blanks out after about 3 jobs. Keeping up her optimism, she smiles and promises that there’s a way through for everything. Hoping to help with the estranged family problems in the future from playing out, Chen Che requests for half a day off and locates Jin Qin to ask a serious question.

“Do you love Ya Juan?”

“I do.”

Chen Che challenges. “How much do you love her?”

“I have never cared for anyone with this heart before.”

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Chen Che wants him to be sure of his feelings, what if someone injures and causes Ya Juan to be sick, would he still love her? Jin Qin’s answer is a positive but Chen Che keeps probing, what if it’s a woman’s most precious thing? Thoroughly confused, Jin Qin demands to know what happened and if it’s the reason she broke up with him. Revealing his mother’s innermost thought about being the perfect pure woman in Jin Qin’s eyes, Chen Che notes that Jin Qin is the only person to give her happiness and he can only do so with zero sympathy, impatience, and distaste.

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Hearing enough of Chen Che’s thinly veiled story, Jin Qin roars (YAS!!) for a clear-cut answer, was it Wang Zhong En who hurt Ya Juan? Not playing word games anymore, Chen Che lays out all the facts out: Ya Juan was hurt and now she’s pregnant. He warns Jin Qin to stay away from Ya Juan if he can’t overcome this obstacle to love and protect her whole-heartedly. Blood boiling, Jin Qin runs straight to the source of tragedy and lands two good punches in Zhong En’s face. Not deterred, Zhong En seems to enjoy the alpha Jin Qin taking charge and becoming something for his lady love. The next punch comes from Chen Che and it’s for Ya Juan, one more in the guts and it’s for the unborn child.

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Their words finally make sense to Zhong En and he pieces together the full picture: Ya Juan’s pregnant? Unsettled, he tells the men to stop Ya Juan from having the child, which of course, provokes the hot-blooded twenty-somethings more until he wails out, “Because that child is not mine!” Chen Che abruptly releases his lapels and Zhong En gives out his side of the story. He was a step too late when he saw Ya Juan in a crumpled form that day. The various expressions that play out on Jin Qin’s face is brilliant. From horror to fear to pent-up anger. Zhong En begs the guys to stop Ya Juan from having the baby and Jin Qin steps up to say he can’t oppose Ya Juan’s decision. The only thing he can do is stay by her side and raise the child. Chen Che’s speechless face.

Poor guy, his criminal father’s identity remains a mystery to him.

Armed with a new found respect for Jin Qin, he agrees to take him to see Ya Juan.

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Her first reaction in seeing his face is avoidance as she tries to hurriedly shut door but he pushes against her non-existent strength and matches the force so that he can talk to her with a door in between them. Aww. The metaphorical door. She insists she’s not the same Ya Juan anymore and he’s demands for her to listen to his voice and he repeats the same words she said before. “In my heart, you’re the same.” Her grip on the door slips down the wooden material and he once again bares the scars on his arm to show that she’s also the only one who knows his hidden secret; his scars, his not-so-pretty past.

In the past, when she confessed her love to him and told him those heartfelt words, he became brave and stepped up, assured that she unconditionally accepted his whole being. “It’s the same for me.” She shakes her head, it’s a different story for her and yet he drives forward, understanding that her wounds might take a long time to heal, but why does time matter if they are going to grow old together? Moved by his words, Ya Juan begins to cry.

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Jin Qin: “Let me stay by your side as you heal, okay? Give me another chance.”

Another scene of Xiao Long getting his heart stomped on. Poor kid. Is no one gonna love this poor child?!! Let me find you a better person!

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After work, Jin Qin informs Chen Chen and Zhen Zhen his plans of moving to someplace else with Ya Juan. He wants to give her a sense of security and some peaceful months away from prying eyes. That does not sound too good to Chen Che’s ears because he has a better plan in place and takes Jin Qin to a mansion. One of his rich clients works overseas and needs someone to take care of his residence for FREE!

Of all days to come visit Zhong En, Xiao Long drops by to find him selling the bar to a customer. Raising up his objections, he complains about the the place being the source of their memories. Poor puppy looks crushed when Zhong En drops another bomb: he’s emigrating to the States. Still left out of the loop and most of the secrets, he wonders why Zhong En has injuries on his face. No answer. Tomorrow morning, he brings up the topic of Zhong En’s emigration party, and at that, Ya Juan’s face turns cold and distant, and she declares she’s no longer friends with Zhong En. Understandably confused but really approaching the point of grating, Xiao Long sputters after the sudden announcement.

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That night, Xiao Long drinks with Zhong En at his empty bar, calling out their friends on their disloyalty. Okay, why am I feeling bad for Zhong En right now? Because he’s not the culprit? Got it. Which is what makes the next moment so much more bittersweet when Jin Qin, Chen Che, and Zhen Zhen show up. AWW!!

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Like a man owning up to his bad behavior, Jin Qin requests a punch from Zhong En when he’s still sober. The sincerity and the resolved misunderstanding bring hot tears to Zhong En’s eyes. He stands up and charges forward, and grabs Jin Qin into a bear hug. Damn, my faucet! I’m so weak.

Rubbing his friend’s back, Zhong En asks faintly, “We are…still friends right?”

OMG. This cracks me up when the camera focuses on the gang apologizing and then cut to Xiao Long’s hecka-confused face. LOL! The innocent boy is easily pacified though. 😀

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Zhong En’s last request before he leaves is fulfilled by Chen Che, of course. He wishes to see Ya Juan’s smile and the arrangement is covered by a date to the sweet tofu shop.

However, more importantly, he remembers to hand Chen Che a very important clue he found at the site of assault: an expensive lighter.

——————— END ———————

Kappy: While I do not like Zhong En that much, he redeems himself at the end, in that his character is allowed to make mistakes and grow. He makes selfish decisions based on his own desires, and eventually broke down and saw the person he has become. Loving a person is NOT just loving that person, you love their pros and cons, their perfect imperfection. Jin Qin is willing to dip his toes in those shoes for her and I never doubted him, even when he was unsure of his future with her. Jin Qin, unlike Zhong En, loves Ya Juan for all that she encompasses. Because of her, he loves everything else, including the unborn child. When Zhong En moved in to hug Jin Qin, he accepts the fact that he wasn’t the better man. Great stuff.

  1. 2 thoughts on “Back To 1989: Episode 17 “Acceptance.”

    i am evil, i wanted the show to be daring and have her abort the child. maybe because i was never a mother before so this instinct of protecting one’s baby doesn’t really hit me hard.

    first time seeing an actor’s eyes RED from crying. they must have cried a lot in this episode.

  2. 2 thoughts on “Back To 1989: Episode 17 “Acceptance.”

    in some of the pics, the guy reminds me of a young tony leung chiu wai.

What do you think?