You know when you’re not supposed to eat something because it’s unhealthy, but you eat it anyways? That’s this show in a nutshell. It’s over-the-top and feels like a fanfic, but I can’t stop watching. I attribute 75% of the watchableness to the heroine, who has a good head on her shoulders. Every time she rolls her eyes at her “psycho president,” which is often, I feel like she’s telling us: “It’s okay, don’t take this too seriously.”
Interestingly, LeTV is calling these movies instead of episodes. I don’t quite understand, but maybe it’s a marketing thing? I’ll be calling them episodes for recap purposes.
Episode 1: First Sight, First Remembrance
The president of NE Group, the uuuuber rich Gong Ou (Pan Zi Jian), has returned to China 3 years after an incident with a mysterious woman. Naturally, he stands broodingly by a window in a dimly lit room.
A young woman, Shi Xiao Nian (Zhu Sheng Yi) wanders in a forest, trying to find a way out. Just before she faints, she sees a man with a warm smile and reaches out longingly. “Qian Chu,” she calls, but when she passes out, it’s Gong Ou who picks her up and carries her away. She wakes up in a bed with Gong Ou hovering over her, running a gun down her body. “Where’s my child?” He demands. Gradually, she remembers where she is.
A month ago, Gong Ou and his minions burst into her home, asking for the whereabouts of his child. She has no idea what he’s talking about, so he kidnaps her. At his castle (not a typo), his people interrogate her with a lie detector. Gong Ou’s butler Feng De (Chen Xiao Liang) tells her that 3 years ago, Gong Ou was drugged and raped at a party, and their investigation suggests that she was the culprit. Horrified, she says she’s never been pregnant and has never met Gong Ou. Unable to provide proof, she’s interrogated for the next month. At one point, one of the minions even pulls out a gun.
Feng De is sympathetic, but Gong Ou insists that she’s the one, even when the lie detector says otherwise. During another interrogation session, Xiao Nian suddenly remembers that she served food at the party in question, but her memory is fuzzy. Her school friend Tang Yi, who was also there, can vouch for her whereabouts that night. Although this could clear her name, Feng De warns her that it’s no use. Gong Ou has paranoid personality disorder, which means that once he’s convinced about something, he won’t change his mind.
Gong Ou goes to Xiao Nian’s room that night and she tried again to convince him to let her go. They argue and in anger, he offers her a way out. If she can navigate her way through the forest surrounding his castle, she can leave. I like the nod to Beauty and the Beast. As we know, she faints before she can escape and Gong Ou carried her back.
When she wakes up, he’s sitting by her bed watching her. He’s genuinely puzzled that she would want to leave when he’s providing her with such nice room and board. It’s clear at this point that Gong Ou likes her (in his twisted way), but she’s solely focused on proving her innocence. Reluctantly, he agrees to release her so she can find Tang Yi.
Finally outside, Xiao Nian bumps into Mu Qian Chu (Ye Xiao Kai) at a ceramics store. He’s been treating her coldly ever since he lost his memories, but there was obviously something more going on between them. Since he’s engaged to her sister, he says he’ll help her if she needs it. So when she accidentally sends a vase crashing to the floor, he offers to pay for it. She stubbornly refuses and calls Feng De instead. Of course, the butler serves his master and Gong Ou comes to the rescue.
Taking a page from Fifty Shades of Grey, Gong Ou asks Xiao Nian to sign a contract to live with him until she proves her innocence. Otherwise, she’ll have to pay him back for that expensive vase. When she tries to refuse, he smugly presents his team of lawyers with a clap of his hands.
After she signs the contract, he takes her to her new house in an expensive neighborhood and they have dinner. Hilariously, he refuses to eat the food prepared by the cook, but wolfs down the instant noodles Xiao Nian makes.
Xiao Nian’s mom calls and invites her to her sister Shi Di (Jie Xuan)’s wedding. She wonders if it would be awkward to go, but Mom insists. Since Shi Di is a celebrity and Qian Chu is a company heir, their wedding is a big deal and Gong Ou also received an invitation.
Turns out, Shi Di was the one who wanted Xiao Nian at her wedding so she can rub her face in it. She warns Xiao Nian to back off and stop pestering Qian Chu. Xiao Nian says she understands her place in the family as an adopted daughter, but Qian Chu was the only thing that belonged her. Why did Shi Di have to steal him? Shi Di is unrepentant and chirps up with another nail in the coffin – she’s pregnant.
When Gong Ou arrives at the wedding surrounded by reporters, he makes a beeline for Xiao Nian. It’s adorable when he actually smiles. Sadly, she’s not thrilled to see him and runs to the hotel to avoid him. She opens a random door to hide and finds herself face to face with Qian Chu. Awkward. Gong Ou pushes in after her, but Qian Chu covers for her.
In the end, it doesn’t matter because back at the wedding, Gong Ou finds her sitting alone and they take a stroll along the beach. She tells him that when she was little, her family would often come to the beach. But her adoptive parents would only play with Shi Di, leaving her all alone on the sidelines. Sweetly, he touches her head and tells her: “Who says you’re alone. You have me.”
They walk for so long that it’s suddenly night time and she falls asleep on his shoulder. Feng De brings news that Qian Chu has gone missing and everyone’s out searching. Xiao Nian is so determined to find him that Gong Ou gets into a jealous fit and takes off. She finds Xian Chu unconscious in the forest, but minutes after, so does the search party. Uh oh. They kick her aside roughly, thinking she had something to do with it, and carries off the groom.
Feng De finds her sitting by a tree and offers to listen to her troubles. She reveals that Qian Chu was actually her boyfriend. When he was still blind, his family didn’t want him and sent him to her house (because her father was their driver). Since one was abandoned and the other an orphan, Qian Chu and Xiao Nian bonded and fell in love. They promised to be each other’s family. Later, when his parents found their other children lacking, they took Qian Chu back and paid to restore his eyesight. But after the surgery, he lost his memories of the time he spent with Xiao Nian. Shi Di, who had ignored him when he was blind, suddenly finds him (i.e., his money and status) attractive.
Instead of taking her home, Feng De drives Xiao Nian to the NE office, saying Gong Ou wants her to make him dinner. She complies, but Gong Ou is offended when he sees that it’s only egg fried rice. I would argue that it’s an upgrade from instant noodles. When she threatens to eat it herself, he immediately gets possessive and grabs the plate.
While he works, she draws her comics, which her editor reminds her are due. Using Gong Ou as inspiration, she names her new comic “The President is a Psycho.” On the drive home, she looks over at him anxiously and finally says, “About that party 3 years ago…”
Episode 2: Demon Lover
Xiao Nian brings up the party 3 years ago and asks Gong Ou if he’s found Tang Yi yet. He’s upset that she’s still trying to prove her innocent, meaning she’s still trying to leave him. When she insists once again that there is no child, he throws her out of the car. Now she has nowhere to stay for the night.
Thankfully, Xiao Nian’s editor comes to pick her up and even brings her protective husband with her. It’s a cameo from the couple in the photo story adaptation of the novel! They kindly offer to take her to their place. When they get there, Gong Ou suddenly drives up and immediately beats up the editor’s husband. The poor man ends up at the hospital.
There she bumps into Qian Chu, who is no longer cold towards her. He hides the fact that he regained his memories and agrees to help find Tang Yi.
Gong Ou confronts her in the hallway and pushes her against the wall. He wonders if he should put a leash on her. She’s angry at him for punching people, saying, “Are you the only person in this world?” He says if he ever sees her with another man again, he’ll do worse.
At home, Xiao Nian is cooking when the lights suddenly go out. She’s afraid of the dark, but at that moment, there’s a call from Qian Chu. He wants to meet with her about Tang Yi, but won’t give her more details on the phone.
When they hang up, Gong Ou arrives in an attempt to play hero. He’s “so worried” about her sitting in the dark, but she’s figured out that he was the one who turned off the electricity. She can clearly see the street lights outside are still on.
Turns out, he also came to invite her to an important event, which is the same party that she was at 3 years ago. She tries to refuse, but Feng De says being there might help her remember what happened 3 years ago.
Xiao Nian and Qian Chu meet up and he hands over documents from his investigation on Tang Yi. She’s sad to learn that Tang Yi is living a financially unstable life and has no reliable contact information.
For the party, Gong Ou prepares a dress for Xiao Nian. When she tries it on, his first reaction is to give her a hickey. The editing was so weird that I thought he turned into a vampire for a second.
At the party, Xiao Nian is surprised and happy to see Tang Yi. But her old friend acts like a total douche nozzle and accuses Xiao Nian of being a rich man’s mistress. When everyone sits down to ask Tang Yi about 3 years ago, she claims that after giving Xiao Nian some wine, she never saw her again. Feng De finally reveals that they already knew about Tang Yi.
By this time, Gong Ou has had enough. He’s tired of Xiao Nian trying to find evidence in order to leave him. He drags her to a hotel room and throws her on the bed, saying that if she doesn’t remember that night, he’ll help her remember. She shoves him aside, asking why he sent her on a wild goose chase. He admits to lying so that she would stay at his side. He believes that she wasn’t the one who drugged him. She asks him to let her go, but he refuses and confesses that he likes her.
The next day, he complains that she made a Chinese breakfast and demands a British-style one. So she spreads Lao Gan Ma chili sauce on some bread (lol) and he happily eats it, saying if she made it, he’ll eat it.
Xiao Nian goes to meet her mom and Gong Ou tags along, refusing to leave her side. Mom hands her some documents to sign, which will terminate Xiao Nian’s relationship with the family. Hurt, she asks why. Apparently, Shi Di is having marital problems with Qian Chu and they think this is the solution. Xiao Nian already moved out, so this makes no sense.
To cheer her up, Gong Ou takes Xiao Nian to the seaside. She tells him about her fear of people leaving her and he reiterates that she still has him. Afterwards, they go for dinner and Gong Ou proudly presents her with a diamond ring, which confuses her. When he explains that he wants to woo her, she spits out her water and refuses to accept the expensive gift. Offended, he tosses it to the floor, saying he never takes back his gifts. He leaves and she picks up the ring from the floor.
Outside, she’s surprised to see Shi Di and Tang Yi meeting at a restaurant. Wanting to find out what the two are plotting, she asks Gong Ou for help and he can barely contain himself. He gives her a listening device that he designed himself. Of course, he did. All she has to do is insert it into Shi Di’s phone for 30 seconds and it’ll be activated.
Episode 3: Substitute Son Suspicions
Xiao Nian goes for a stroll in her neighborhood and bumps into Shi Di. Taking the opportunity, she asks if she can visit her house. Shi Di agrees, but clearly with the motivation to show off her married life. She tries to act cozy with her husband, but Qian Chu doesn’t play along. When they leave Xiao Nian alone in the room, she plugs in the listening device and pulls it out just in time.
At home, Gong Ou helps her set up the computer so she can listen to the recorded conversations from Shi Di’s phone. He adds that he’s leaving for a week to see his dad and is offended when she perks up at the news. After making her promise not to meet other men and kissing her forehead, he leaves.
Shi Di’s phone conversations reveal that the couple are not sleeping in the same bed and she’s no longer pregnant. Xiao Nian also learns that Shi Di plans to meet Tang Yi the next day, so she follows them to the same hotel and gets a room next to theirs. Unfortunately, she can’t hear their conversation in the next room.
While she tries to figure out what to do, Qian Chu calls her and says he’s at the door. Ugh, was he following her? He pays off a hotel staff who knocks on Shi Di and Tang Yi’s room, claiming that all guests are getting a free fruit arrangement. Hidden in the plate is Qian Chu’s phone, which is recording their conversation.
When Xiao Nian and Qian Chu play the recording, they learn that the two women had been working together since 3 years ago. Shi Di paid Tang Yi to drug Xiao Nian to get her to sleep with a Mr. Li. Not only did that not happen, Tang Yi also drugged Gong Ou and presumably raped him. Gross, this is so messed up.
Xiao Nian is furious and wants to report everything to the police, but Qian Chu says the recordings can’t be used as evidence because of the shady way they got them. He also reveals that he and Shi Di never signed any documentation, so they are not legally married.
At home, Xiao Nian listens to more of Shi Di’s phone conversations. She finds out Qian Chu has regained his memories. Shi Di had been drugging him to try to repress his memories. Also, he knows that Shi Di got an abortion. At this point, is there anyone left who hasn’t been drugged?
Now that everything’s been revealed, Xiao Nian and Qian Chu meet and they embrace. Qian Chu has an update on Tang Yi – she has a 2-year-old son. A DNA test result shows that Gong Ou is the father. Yikes.
When they confront Tang Yi, she says she couldn’t tell Gong Ou about Bob (what a name) without revealing how she got pregnant. Bob is also sick, so she needs money to pay for his treatments. Xiao Nian is sympathetic and takes the mother and son to her house, hoping Gong Ou will grow to like the boy before telling him the truth.
For a second, it seems like Gong Ou is willing to put up with Bob. But when he overhears that Bob is his son, he sees it as another attempt for Xiao Nian to leave him. He doesn’t believe Bob is his son and a (real) DNA test confirms his suspicion. Tang Yi lied, which is not surprising. But this means Qian Chu also lied.
Xiao Nian and Qian Chu meet up again and he admits that he lied so she would leave Gong Ou. She’s furious and disappointed with him, but Gong Ou arrives at the scene just in time to misunderstand everything. In a jealous rage, he and his minions start to beat up Qian Chu. She tearfully says she’ll go with him and makes him promise not to harm Qian Chu ever again. He agrees and they start to walk away before she realizes that he would never keep that promise, so she runs back to Qian Chu.
At this point, Gong Ou really loses his mind and orders his minions to beat them both. This lasts for a few seconds before he stops them. “Now, will you come home with me?” He asks. That’s just sad. She calls him the devil and throws down the ring he gave her (she had been wearing it on a chain around her neck) before fainting. He doesn’t understand why she can’t even give him a little bit of her heart while he’s willing to give her his life.
When she wakes up at the hospital, Feng De tells her that Gong Ou won’t be bothering her anymore. He also adds that the real reason Gong Ou went to see his dad was to propose breaking off his arranged marriage. In another hospital room, Qian Chu announces to a group of reporters that he and Shi Di are no longer married.
Mom takes Xiao Nian out for coffee and asks her to give Qian Chu back to her sister, but soon she starts to feel dizzy. Mom had spiked the coffee with something. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but thank god Gong Ou is a possessive stalker because his minion arrives just in time to rescue her.
I don’t want to know what Mom had planned because it was an aphrodisiac in the coffee. On a bed, Xiao Nian is feeling the effects and a worried Gong Ou repeatedly tries to pry her amorous hands off of him. But when she calls out his name, he stops resisting and they kiss. Fade to black. Use your imagination, kids.
The next morning, Xiao Nian wakes up and remembers what happened, but doesn’t seem to be upset about it. In fact, she calls Feng De right away and asks about Gong Ou. At his master’s instruction, the butler says he’s not available and tells her they’ve already reported the drugging incident to the police.
Qian Chu arrives home from the hospital and finds his dad waiting on the couch, looking pissed off.
Is it just me or is there a gothic feel to this drama? It’s got quite a few of the major themes: mental illness, fear and sexual desire, a brooding hero, a vulnerable heroine, and a castle surrounded by a forest. I wish the drama is more tactful about mental illness, instead of reducing it to a mere romantic plot device.
In episode 3, I was disappointed that Gong Ou would order his minions to beat the woman he loved. He definitely crossed a line there and I need to delete that scene from my mind in order to keep watching. Thank god for Feng De, whose soft empathy balances out his volatile master. I love how he quietly supports Xiao Nian without compromising his loyalty to Gong Ou. Best butler ever.
This is hands down my guilty pleasure of the year. And with only 1 episode a week – amazing!