Q Series: Life Plan A and B [植劇場 – 荼蘼]Episode 1 Recap and Review

I heard a lot of buzz surrounding this 6 episode drama, and decided to check it out for myself. You can watch it on Dramafever here.

Recap:

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We open to see our main character Zheng Ru Wei, played by Rainie Yang, at a 7 11. This is the year 2008 in the past, and she’s getting ready to eat her ramen dinner. A nervous looking guy comes in, and he checks her out repeatedly before asking if the wallet on the floor is hers. This is Tang You Yan, played by Yan Yu Lin. The wallet isn’t hers, and there’s no ID inside when she checks. She’s about to take it to the store employee, but You Yan stops her, saying that the employee might steal the money inside. It’s better if they just wait for the guy to come back. She nods ok, and then turns her attention to her noodles while he goes to pay…sans wallet. He keeps staring at her from the table behind, before mustering up the courage to ask about why she’s eating instant noodles. You Yan slips up a bit when he asks her why she eats them every night, but Ru Wei doesn’t seem to notice.

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They spend the rest of the time chatting happily, and when it’s time to go You Yan offers to drive her home…but turns out she lives just down the street haha. He still says that he’ll walk her home so she’s safe, and although it seems like Ru Wei is uncomfortable, she doesn’t turn him down. They agree to meet the next day incase the wallet owner comes back, and after Ru Wei walks inside her apartment building You Yan does a little dance of happiness.

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Fast forward three years, and the pair are happily dating. At dinner, Ru Wei brings up the idea of transferring to her company’s new Shanghai branch, and expresses her admiration for the company director. The director is clearly cool, powerful, and knows what she wants. You Yan’s face shows disappointment, and later at a bookstore he asks her who he’ll eat with, sleep with, and talk to. Ru Wei jokes that he makes her sound like a tool (ie. instrument), but You Yan comments that if they do long distance he will stray. Dude really? They agree to think about it after she takes the qualification test, and she mentions that he could apply for jobs in Shanghai as well.

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Ru Wei heads over to You Yan’s house to take him to the temple to pray (side note: I adore the shots they took of the candles and lanterns). Ru Wei wants to pray for good marks, and You Yan chooses this time to tell her that he’s applied for a few positions in Shanghai as well. Later in the week they receive news that he’s been accepted to work with Zaha Hadid, a famous architect. When the results come out for Ru Wei’s exam though, she’s ranked in the 50th position. Odds aren’t looking good for her to be chosen.

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She asks You Yan to comfort her, and he tells her that it’s ok, sometimes things don’t always work out. Plus no one wants to marry that type of woman (referring to the director), she must be pushy, overbearing, and mean to still be single at 45. Ouch, is that really what you think? Ru Wei still looks glum, and You Yan talks about how he’ll stay in Taiwan, they’ll slowly save money for a house, and then they can have kids together.

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As luck would have it though, Ru Wei’s hard work paid off in other ways. Her manager and manager’s manager gave her glowing reviews, and the other departments gave her the highest marks. The company is willing to overlook her written exam on the basis of her work ethic and reviews.

At the two celebratory parties we see, the first with You Yan’s friends and the second with Ru Wei’s, we finally hear the story of how You Yan planned his meeting with Ru Wei. Turns out he’s very methodical, and wants everything planned out. His logic is that to get married by 35, you need to be dating by your early 30s. When asked about if he manufactured his meeting with Ru Wei, he sheepishly admits his wallet plan.

Ru Wei brings it up a few days later at her celebratory party, and her manager/friend wisely points out that there’s a difference between You Yan manufacturing the meeting because he was interested in her, or because she happened to be there when he felt it was time to find a girlfriend. This causes him to reveal the backstory…

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His company’s break room was situated opposite that very 7 11, and he noticed Ru Wei eating there every night. He started watching to see if she’d show up everyday, and then even started eating noodles with her at the same time. After a month, he took pictures of her [uhhh what??] and realized that “instant-noodle-girl” was actually quite cute, so he decided to meet her in person.

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Cut back to the future, Ru Wei and You Yan are paying their respects to her grandfather, uncles, and to her deceased parents. When she tosses two 10NT coins to ask their blessing for Shanghai, the coins constantly turn up negative. She throws and throws, but it’s still negative. Bad sign…

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On their way back to Taipei, You Yan receives a call. His dad’s been hit by a car, and needs leg surgery. He’s worried, and sleeps at the hospital every night as his dad recovers.

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As time passes, Ru Wei worries about their trip to Shanghai. She’s set to leave Saturday, but she’s pushed You Yan’s tickets back for him so that he can stay with his dad. She’ll set everything up so that once he arrives he can go straight to work and not worry. You Yan stops her, saying that he’s not going. When Ru Wei offers the suggestion that they hire a caretaker for his dad, and split the cost with You Yan’s younger sister, he refuses. His younger sister is married and in the US, she’s part of her husband’s family now. Besides, he should be the one taking care of his parents, not leaving them to some foreign worker. Ru Wei asks what of her then, and he tells her that she has to make her own decision before walking off.

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A few days later Ru Wei celebrates her birthday alone. She receives a text from You Yan wishing her a happy birthday, and she quickly replies that she can’t be happy since he’s not here. He apologizes for being mean, and Ru Wei asks him to answer her question honestly; if he was in her position, what would he choose? You Yan just tells her that she doesn’t love him as much as she thinks. Wow.

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Ru Wei begins to pack her things, and finds the old wallet that You Yan dropped. The 500 NT bill inside had a small message on it, asking her to dinner and introducing himself. She remarks that he even had a plan B incase plan A didn’t work out.

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Ru Wei’s been confiding in her manager, and her manager keeps advising her not to lose the opportunity and become like her – constantly pushed around by her family and watching other opportunities go by. She tells Ru Wei that it’s not even her relative that is sick, so the company won’t understand her decision to reject the position, and they likely will believe her to be indecisive and less trustworthy afterwards.

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In her room the day before her flight, Ru Wei types out a message to You Yan. She describes how in life, you can’t choose Plan A or Plan B knowing what the outcome will be first. At the end, she writes that she’s chosen plan A, and as her finger descends on the mouse button…

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We see her predicted outcome, that she’ll go to the airport and see You Yan sending her off. That he’s forgiven her and will join her once his parents are stable.

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The scene then cuts to plan B, she’s at the hospital park and tells You Yan she’s sorry. Fast forward 5 years and she’s a mom of a young son, and constantly being nitpicked for being slow or having her priorities wrong.

End.

Comments:

This episode laid the groundwork for the big decision that could lead to path A or B. I’m definitely anticipating these next few episodes, and this first one already gave a few things to mull over.

I’m not a fan of You Yan’s character, and I think that Ru Wei herself has noticed a few red flags, although when they were starting to date it was easy for her to brush over. His comments about straying if she goes to Shanghai; or about how once they’re married and after she has kids, she can help him with his business; are centered around You Yan rather than taking into account what she wants. Likewise, his method of “cheering her up” by commenting on the director’s pushy-ness and how he himself likes ordinary seems to just deflate Ru Wei more, and serve to show that he might not be comfortable if his wife made more money than he did.

The issues with the caretaker and his younger sister also seem to be a very traditional viewpoint, and one that hits a bit close to home for me. There’s an understanding in Chinese, as well as other Asian societies, that children will take care of their parents when they’re older. My issue is that there comes a point when medical care is better off left with professionals, and the fact that his father had leg surgery, a non-life threatening issue, is not something to pull Ru Wei into staying in Taiwan. He pulled the “I don’t think you love me as much as you say” when she asked what he would choose, which I think is a cop-out and manipulative. If he truly loved her, couldn’t he accept waiting for her to go work abroad for a few years and get the experience and position she needs? He should support her in her dreams and endeavors, rather than expecting her to live her life around him. If their end goal is to get married and start a family, would it really be so terrible to have her work in a foreign city (especially one that’s so close to Taiwan) for a year or two?

Let me know what you guys think.

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2 thoughts on “Q Series: Life Plan A and B [植劇場 – 荼蘼]Episode 1 Recap and Review

  1. The caregiver dilemma felt super realistic.

    I’m not a fan of You Yan either. In fact, I’m not a fan of either male lead. >_>” I cringed at the part where You Yan criticizes Ru Wei (when she’s a mom), implying that she has it so easy. Geez!

    Self-sacrifice is such a big theme in the drama. You Yan clearly believes self-sacrifice is a part of love, and on top of that, he seems to believe that one shouldn’t complain about it either. (Despite all his nitpicking and bitter comments.) Ru Wei struggles with the concept of self-sacrifice because she’s been told that to not sacrifice yourself is selfish and wrong. But like Zhang Jie mentions, no one will appreciate one’s self-sacrifice and it may not be the best choice for oneself.

    1. Definitely realistic.

      Yeah, after finishing episode two I’m really not a fan of either male lead, but I feel like at this point I dislike You Yan more. That might change in the future though haha. I think it’s interesting for the drama to touch upon self-sacrifice being such a big part of love, and when to draw the line at sacrifice, since it’s such a big part of asian/immigrant culture. Growing up I knew that although my parents didn’t explicitly say “I love you”, it was shown through their actions and sacrifices they made for me. However, there is a big difference between parent-child relationships vs girlfriend and boyfriend’s parents, and I felt for Ru Wei when the things she did to help were brushed off/just assumed to be normal by the mom and You Yan in ep two. You don’t do things to be thanked, but there comes a point where a simple thank you is needed, and not nitpicking.

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