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

For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to refer to switches between going with her career vs going with her family/bf as Plan A (career) vs Plan B(love). Hopefully this will make things clear when I’m switching between the two!

Recap:

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Plan A (career):
Ru Wei is still eating instant noodles while in Shanghai, although this time it’s while skyping You Yan. She’s complaining about how she’s overworked and hasn’t had time to sight see yet, much less eat fruit. You Yan tells her to take care of herself, and she nods  until the call drops. Ah Skype.

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Ru Wei’s new manager Eason is smart, knowledgeable, and self-reliant. Once, she had to go pick something up for him at his apartment, and got caught by a woman in a silk robe as she was leaving with a piece of fruit (haha). Turns out he’s got a different woman over every time though, so Ru Wei didn’t get in too much trouble. When she handed him his requested documents, he nagged at her speed, but rushed off to his meeting.

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We see another Skype call between Ru Wei and You Yan, but he doesn’t respond to her hug request, and when she tries to recount the fruit taking story, he tells her he’s tired and wants to hang up. Aw :/

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At work, there’s been a big blow up. A number of people have been sent to hospitals from food poisoning because of one of the new flavours seasoning packets, and the entire company is scrambling to handle the issue. Eason takes over, rapidly giving orders to each department.

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Ru Wei stays late at a factory one night waiting for the last delivery of the recalled noodles. She sees Eason walking out from the gloom, he’s come to check on the product recall himself. After poking around the boxes, he pulls out one of the curry flavoured noodles and offers some to her. He admits at one point to hating curry because of a trip to india, but when Ru Wei waxes poetic on the flavour, he jumps on the opportunity to use her words to rectify the situation.

He tells her to do three things: 1. if they don’t get sick tonight, to tell PR to send a free box to all of the affected families 2. post what she just said under the name of one of the family members of someone affected with the food poisoning 3. notify the factory to prioritize the new flavours, and ramp up inspections. He aims to create demand and bring about success. We see a montage of Ru Wei working hard during the following three days with no sleep, until she finally collapses on her bed.

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Plan B (love):
Ru Wei takes over shifts at the hospital, and gets some time with Uncle Tang. He complains about the hospital food, but refuses to stop them because that just means more work for his wife. When Ru Wei comments that this is what love is, he says that love stopped a long time ago. When Ru Wei gets up to grab the nurse, he thanks her for helping, and confides that after the fall his confidence was shattered, but knowing that You Yan stayed in Taiwan helped him feel relieved.

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Aunt Tang seems to be continually longing for her daughter, and upset that she doesn’t seem to be showing the proper amount of concern. She recounts how much effort she and her husband put into raising their daughter, and now she just says take care and doesn’t fly back to Taiwan. When they go to the hospital to take care of Uncle Tang, he praises the soup she’s made which nettles Aunt Tang a bit, since she nagged it for being too gingery.

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Ru Wei chooses to ask Uncle Tang if she can rent You Shan, You Yan’s younger sister,’s room since she gave up her lease. While she and You Yan eat dinner, she plans out how they can move forward with caretaking and covering work. Ru Wei volunteers to take care of Uncle Tang while You Yan works, and then find a job after. The two share a sweet moment talking about working together.

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Uncle Tang’s recovery is going well, and he continually makes improvements. Ru Wei wakes You Yan up for a midnight date to see a movie, and they seem happy and moving forward.

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Of course, things aren’t always perfect. Ru Wei gets sick, and when You Yan pushes back his shift at the hospital to meet a colleague, she deletes a text telling him she’s sick, and decides to suck it up. You Yan finds her sleeping later, and cuddles behind her while she sleepily responds. Moments later though, his hand sneaks under the covers, and Ru Wei pulls it out, scolding him for trying while she’s sick. He continues to try and entice her though, saying that he misses her and it’s now or never since they rarely have time. Dude really? Ru Wei sigh and flops over before putting a mask on, and You Yan tells her to take it off. If she’s sick, he’ll be sick with her. You say that now…

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You Yan’s sister You Shan is finally coming back to Taiwan, and Aunt Tang is overjoyed. There’s a bit of an issue now with sleeping arrangements, and when Uncle Tang suggests Ru Wei sleep in the same room as You Yan, Aunt Tang is scandalized. She refuses on the basis that word might get out – she doesn’t care what the neighbours think of their family, but she doesn’t want other people to think Ru Wei wasn’t taught well. Ru Wei rushes to say that it’s no problem, she has to head home to her own relatives anyways. She promises to clean up her room for You Shan so Aunt Tang doesn’t have to, but you can see she’s torn a bit.

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You Shan has finally arrived in Taiwan, but from You Yan’s expression it’s clear there is something wrong. Turns out she and her husband are here with a client, and will be spending most of their time outside of Taipei. You Yan blows up, telling her that she’s only here to visit for 10, maybe 30 minutes, her husband isn’t even paying his respects to their dad because he “doesn’t like the smell of hospitals”, and that she’s spoiled. Does he really have to tell her how to be a good daughter? These are her parents, not just anyone.

You Shan protests that she came as soon as she got off the plane, but You Yan tells her it’s not enough. You Shan runs out, and You Yan heads to the garden in a bad mood. Ru Wei follows him, telling him that she understands, but she has to catch her own bus.

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And yet, later that night, Ru Wei opens the door to the Tang apartment, where she finds Aunt Tang dozing on the sofa. It’s clear that 1. Ru Wei chose not to get on her bus, and 2. You Shan didn’t come home to stay after all. Aunt Tang groggily wakes up, and asks Ru Wei if she’s eaten dinner. Ru Wei tells her that they can have instant noodles, and it seems as if the two have bonded a little.

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The next morning Aunt Tang invites Ru Wei to pray with her, eliciting a surprised look from Ru Wei. Aunt Tang expresses her concern for Uncle Tang’s health, praying for heaven to keep their family safe and sound, and to bless You Yan and Ru Wei in their career and lives. Fade out….

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Plan A (career):
Ru Wei wakes up in the hospital, where a nurse tells her she’s supposed to rest – working for days straight after the instant noodle fiasco has taken a toll on her health. Although she texts You Yan about being ill, he seems distant, and Ru Wei’s manager drops by later to check on her and inquire about their relationship. Ru Wei can tell that her manager has something to say, and tells her not to let [Ru Wei] blindly go forward and make any mistakes. Turns out Ru Wei’s manager saw You Yan in a car with a random girl, and found it odd, she tries to spin it off as over reacting but neither woman seems too convinced.

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A few days later, Ru Wei is called into her boss Eason’s office – he wants to know the reason behind her resignation request. When she says that she misses home, he asks if she’s married (no), if not her husband then is it her parents she misses (no), and lastly, so you’ve been dumped. He tells her he’s taking her to eat something delicious, and later at the restaurant tells her to eat up – he won’t tell her the three steps to getting over her bf until she does. Ah, so he’s our daddy longlegs character.

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Ru Wei eagerly starts eating, and he tells her that she shouldn’t focus on what she’s lost, she needs to focus on what she has. We see a montage of her finally realizing her dream to an extent, buying material things that she’s always dreamed of, but never had the ability to before. She pauses as she eats however, since now she’s realized she has to eat alone.

Later that night Ru Wei shows up drunk in front of Eason’s apartment. When she knocks on the door, the director that she admired earlier opens it, and tells him in English that a lady is looking for him. Ru Wei is giggling and wobbling all over in her heels, and tells her boss that she’s ready to learn step two.

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Ru Wei wakes up on the couch with a bad hangover, and attempts to sneak out of the apartment but is caught by Eason. He tells her to eat breakfast before she goes, and as she sits down, tells her step two. Break up with You Yan – an expired relationship isn’t salvageable, and it’s easier to recover if she’s the one calling the break up. As she sits in shock, we see the scene switch to You Yan with a girl about to eat dinner.

End.

Comments:

This drama keeps impressing me, and the issues it touched upon are ones I think many of its viewers can relate to. How image is important, and reflects upon how your parents/family raised you, as well as what level of effort is expected to be a good daughter or son. Obviously in this drama things are a little more clear cut; You Shan’s husband is being rude by not seeing anyone else, and her visit to Taiwan is obviously not to see her father or for his benefit. If perhaps the issue had been gray – money was tight or she had children to mind in the US – it would have been a bigger struggle between what is expected and what You Shan can/is willing to give. Regardless, I’m impressed so far with the drama and personally, rooting for Plan A. I think Ru Wei deserved better than You Yan, and the fact that he ignored the fact that his girlfriend is sick to get some action made me annoyed since Ru Wei clearly wasn’t interested (at first). I suppose they do share sweet moments, but I predict a relationship deterioration it both A and B for them. Eason seems ambitious, but slightly morally gray. I’m not a fan, but not against him (yet, ha!)

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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.