Friday, June 21, 2013

Love Around Episode 2

We get to see more family background to our main leads, which explains some motivations and provide comic relief. There's an addition to the cast in this one - a most welcome quirky character and one that I *gasp* am actually curious about. Some scenes still feel out of place and the interest level isn't that much improved over the first episode.
I'm not sure if I still want to continue recapping this drama, unless there's a huge swing in terms of plot and narration. Although I love our main couple as much as any other, it isn't incentive enough for me to want to write about it when there are other shows out there that make me grip my seats, unable to sit still. At the moment, I'm enjoying bits and pieces of the show but at the back of my head, I realize that there isn't much going on. I'll still probably watch it every week since it's the summer holidays, but I really hope there is more to the premise. Chop chop writers.

Ratings broke 2 this week, bringing it up to 2.16. Guess the Taiwan audience do still love the OTP.

*updated with screencaps.


We continue from the police station, where Zhou Zhen is desperately shaking Xiao Shu to wake up so that she can explain the misunderstanding. She does, though not before knocking him on his chin with her head and throwing up all over him first (female-lead-drunk-throwing-up-on-male-lead trope check).
Xiao Shu apologizes and thanks Zhou Zhen for all his help so far. He thanks her for the dinner and advises her not to drink so much in the future. He gives her the baseball bat, which holds no meaning for her now. "Even if it hurts, what should end should be ended once and for all." Zhou Zhen gets a call from his sister informing him that his Granny had a heart attack and was admitted to the hospital. She requests for some money to take a taxi back before he leaves. She asks for his contact to return money to him, but he tells her to forget it. She borrows his phone on the pretext of calling for a taxi but calls her friend Jessica instead and tells her to keep this number.
She wishes him Happy Birthday one last time, only for him to say that it's over. She wishes him happiness anyway. I realize it one second before she does, HER CURFEW. "I'm dead! What time is it now, what am I going to say?!" Haha.
She not-so-stealthily creeps home, only to be caught by her Mum. Xiao Shu is teary already from the worry she's caused and her misery. She tells her Mum about Jason, and Mum immediately breaks into a litany calling Jason all sorts of names. Aw. Xiao Shu apologizes and Mum tells her not to get so drunk again next time. They wonder about Dad, at which point he shows up.

Mum shouts loudly, "Liang Xiao Shu! Kneel down!" and picks up the feather duster. Xiao Shu whispers, "Don't hit me so hard!" Lol. This pair of mother-daughter. Mum chases Xiao Shu around for a bit and shouts at her for making them worry all night, shouting at one point, "Did you see Jason cheat on you, and that made you so sad and you got drunk?" Haha so transparent. Dad finally calls a halt to their antics.
Xiao Shu apologizes again to Dad. Dad strictly says, "Making a mistake, disappointing people, and then asking for forgiveness is useless." Mum helps her again, and Dad lets her off. He says that this kind of man was not worth her tears anyway, and hands her a tissue to wipe her tears. Aww Daddy has a soft heart too.
A parade of men in suits stand on two sides, parting like a sea for Zhou Da Kuan, Kuan Ge a.k.a. Zhou Zhen's Dad. They greet him loudly, making him cringe and tell them to tune it down and call him "Director" instead, although he still basks in the adulation. Turns out that the men are followers of two other triad bosses, who have come to visit. When Zhou Zhen shows up, the men echo, "Young Master!" Hah. You can leave the mob, yet the mob never leaves you.
They enter the room where Granny and Ying Ying are desperately looking for something. This is my favourite granny in the whole TW-dramaverse - she manages to be cute and manipulative but still lovable all at the same time. Turns out Granny is looking for her mobile phone because she needs to pass Level 125 and go into other people's home to get treasure. LOL. Father and Son just sigh at her.
Zhou Zhen steps forward and recovers it easily from her pocket. He talks as if to a child, reminding her to only play for an hour, and to use the tablet when they reach home (presumably bigger display is less strenuous but I'd argue it harms the eyes all the same). He questions as to the reason Granny had a heart attack in the first place - turns out they had a round of mahjong, and they let her win too much, which made her too excited resulting in her heart attack. Most creative reason I've heard yet.

They lay blame on one another, ending somehow in it being Zhou Zhen's fault when she says she got bored waiting for him to come back to celebrate his birthday. Ying Ying teases Granny for her favouritism, but Granny retorts she was happy too "when you brought me red wine". Oops.
Ying Ying gets chewed out by her brother again. The doctor proclaims Granny well enough to be discharged.

We go to a cemetery, where Xiao Shu and her parents pay respects to her brother. A bouquet of flowers lays there, angering Mum because it is left there every year, as if mocking them. Uh oh... I have a bad feeling about this - obviously mob related, but please don't let it be related to Zhou Da Kuan. Dad doesn't betray much emotion as Xiao Shu and Mum talk to Zhi Kai. He excuses himself to get rid of the flowers.
A distance away, Dad stops and furiously mangles the bouquet. Poor Dad.
Zhou Da Kuan is home, listening to Asia FM. Based on a tip from a netizen, Xiao Shu takes to the air to talk about successful businessman "Zhou Da X", otherwise known as "Director Zhou, Mr. Zhou X Kuan". HAHA. She effectively gives away his full name while maintaining the semblance of anonymity. The netizen's complaining because he had planned to propose to his girlfriend and booked the restaurant a month earlier. The restaurant manager called him to cancel his booking due to some kitchen mishap. It was alright until he passed by the restaurant on the actual day and saw the manager greeting Director Zhou, who supposedly booked the entire restaurant for a meal.
Xiao Shu "Xiao Xia" argues that ex-triad boss Kuan Ge was exercising some special privileges just to have a meal. It makes me think this whole "I can't have people around me" business runs in the entire family. She also sheds suspicion on whether his company legitimately won the tenders for other projects or because of his background. She invites discussions, so that they can "catch the bad guy."
It has Zhou Da Kuan in knots, calling in to the radio station to speak up for himself. He tries to clarify that Mr Zhou may not have known about the previous booking and merely made a call for a meal to the restaurant, without requesting anything. They soon get into a heated debate on-air as Zhou Da Kuan insists that she's prejudiced and Xiao Shu retorts that he's an ex-triad boss pretending to be a good guy. Mad and frustrated, he ends the call and orders his assistant to buy the radio station in a month.
Philip drives Zhou Zhen to the music academy while he snoozes. When Zhou Zhen questions it, Philip reminds him that it was what he did for the past two weeks - stopping to check on Pin Yin before work. He tells Philip to stop driving him there from now on, determined to also break off his ties cleanly. He gets a call from Xiao Shu asking if he has time that night, intending to pay him back. He flatly refuses. Philip teases that he dined with someone last night. Hee.
A card from Ying Ying informs him that Pei Li has a birthday party that night that he must attend. It comes with a bow, and Philip muses if she meant for Zhou Zhen to tie it on himself as a present. Yes, please, thank you very much.
A man straightens up the files and tables - we meet our new character - accountant GAO ZHE XUAN (Jack Li). The client apologizes for their delay and hopes that he can help them submit the documents in time for the deadline tomorrow. Zhe Xuan questions if that means they want him to work overtime (which means more money). The client is unsure, but Zhe Xuan merely wants to appropriate blame in the right places: the clients were the ones who left things till the last minute, was it fair that he should have to rush and work overtime for them? He smiles anyway and assures them that he'll get the work done. I LIKE HIM.

Ying Ying saunters down the street in a qipao (Chinese traditional costume) with earphones as a motorbike comes dangerously close. Zhe Xuan grabs her and we get the requisite 360-degree romantic spin (another drama trope checked).
Ying Ying is obviously impressed until he lets her up, and a bucket of water from two proprietors of the shop behind them falls splash! on her. No longer the femme fatale she envisions herself to be, she lets out an ear-splitting shriek and rounds on all of them, demanding their apology.
Zhe Xuan, in his practical manner, puts the blame on her as she had earphones on, necessitating his actions and leading to the accident. He hands his name card to the proprietors in case they need his help and walks off. HEH. We need more of him on this show. Ying Ying learns his name and swears that he'll regret for not apologizing to her.

Xiao Shu is at the KTV for their radio station employee night. She gets notes from all her colleagues, giving excuses for not coming. I almost think they're going to pop out and shout "surprise!" but that doesn't happen. In the only one KTV in Taipei, Ying Ying is partying with Pei Li and their friends when Zhou Zhen shows up to give his present. Their theme has changed to a pajama party LOL. Ying Ying pushes Pei Li towards her brother, calling THAT a proper present. I'd agree, if it weren't such a cringe-worthy moment.
Zhou Zhen leaves the room and sees Xiao Shu singing in another room nearby. Since they've met, Zhou Zhen has no reason to reject her and she finally returns his money. He asks after her and she tears up again. He comforts her, saying that she'll meet a better person, that she's "someone worthy to be loved". The song "I Will Be Around" comes up and she decides to sing it, deciding that he can sing the male part since he knows it as well. Aha. I've almost forgotten she's yet to know that he's Mr. J. She drags him to his feet and he sings along with her.
Xiao Shu retraces her steps, trying to find her phone, which leads her to scumbag's house. She decides that her revenge the previous night was too childish, and she wants to do something big this time round. She grabs a can of yellow paint... and writes on Jason's wall. Zhou Zhen eyes her in disbelief, and takes over, splashing the whole can of paint onto the wall, "This is what it means, to do something big."
Xiao Shu laughs as she thinks how angry scumbag Jason will be, trying to figure out who did it. Except she turns around and sees Jason coming back with a few thugs in tow. He had brought them back to lay in ambush, but there was no question now that the tires were done by them too. Xiao Shu steps in front of Zhou Zhen, prompting Jason to say that the two of them are acting mighty suspicious too.  He wants to get even for the beatings he received. Zhou Zhen is game but Xiao Shu pulls him away to run.
And so we have them holding hands running away (drama trope check - although there is some gender reversal going on). She slips, and Zhou Zhen does a Superman-like move, catching her so that she lands on him (and another female-lead-landing-whole-body-on-male-lead drama trope check - too bad I don't drink or this could be a drinking game ala Dramabeans). Also, are they continuing that thing from Love, Now? Where the person belongs to you after you save them three times? 'Cos that's the 2nd time now that Zhou Zhen's whirled her around to save her, just sayin'.
The thugs catch up with them now. Zhou Zhen disposes of them easily, with quick, fierce and strong moves while Xiao Shu stands terrified on the side.
Scumbag that Jason is, he picks up a rock and grabs Xiao Shu in a headlock. Zhou Zhen demands for her to let go and scumbag tells him to kneel. Xiao Shu makes a valid argument here - Jason wouldn't dare do anything to her - but Zhou Zhen obviously cannot abandon a damsel in distress (I know, I said this before). It leads to a round of Xiao Shu calling him not to kneel, while scumbag keeps demanding that he kneel, leading to Zhou Zhen's capitulation by kneeling down. (proud-male-lead-kneeling-for-female-lead drama trope check). Xiao Shu struggles, "Zhang Jian Wei! The things I hate the most in my life are the triad and gangsters, your actions right now are really despicable!" ARGH. Way to kick the puppy man when he's down.
Jason orders the men to hit Zhou Zhen now and the men pummel him over and over as Xiao Shu cries from the helplessness.. I notice that they're not hitting his face though (no messing with the pretteh). Xiao Shu thinks, "I'm sorry, it's all my fault. I'm sorry." As if he hears her, he thinks back, "Don't apologize. It's not your fault!"
They finally have enough and Jason leaves after threatening her never to come near his house again. Xiao Shu helps Zhou Zhen up and insists on seeing him to the hospital and the police station.
He rejects both places, saying that they should let the matter rest. He wants to see her home instead, and picks her bag up with a stifled groan (one of the sexiest sounds ever).
They reach her house, and he looks at his watch to discover that it's broken from the scuffle. Xiao Shu is apologetic all over again but he takes it as a sign that some things really have ended. She doesn't have any illusions about Jason now, but the point she latches on is: "How could he mix with gangsters?" She notices his expression and he tells her that someone once said the same things she did, also hating the triads.
As Zhou Zhen leaves, he makes an ominous call to Philip, "Do something for me."


I dearly hope that he's doing something to get the scumbag back, but that might go against his non-gangster-stuff principles. But my main beef with that whole fighting scene wasn't that he got hit, it was the position of the scene within the narrative. I get that it's supposed to be emotional, that we see the male lead already willing to suffer for the female lead - except that they're not there yet in their relationship. That's why this scene feels tacked on and lacks the emotional punch it could have. There is a reason scenes like this usually come towards the end of a show, or at least when the leads are IN a relationship and there are higher stakes and consequences involved. I found it weird that this scene was in this episode, although it probably was to make Xiao Shu blurt out that line where she hates gangsters and triads the most. That line was indeed the most important line for that scene, or actually for these two episodes combined, because that was the whole conflict in the premise of having an ex-gangster's-son male lead paired with ex-cop's-daughter female lead. I get the end, but in this instance, the end doesn't quite justify the means.


  1. I am impressed.. not of the story..yeah.. the plot was better in love now.. I don't know.. it doesnt make me eager to watch it... I just kinda do it.. because as you said.. i am having my summer holidays to.. and hot night.. you cant sleep.. best way to solve this problem.. WATCH A DRAMA!.. and why not a taiwanese one..

    anyway.. i am impressed at how good you understand the whole story.. I don't know if you are thinking about it so much.. or see it just in a critical way.. which awesome.. because I can't do that... I am kinda to lazy for that.. haha (hey.. fat-kinda weird chick ist talking here what do you expect?)

    so great job.. and I understand if.. if you just don't want to recap this story.. because as I wrote earlier.. i don't like the plot so much..

    anyway.. I am kinda getting hungry..

    1. lol anon! Yeah summer hols makes us do funny things, doesn't it? I caught up with the pilot and I wasn't that enamored with the show either, which is odd because the setup is kind of like Drunken To Love You (which goes to show, it's all in the execution.)

      But I have so much leftover love from Love Now, so i'm just hanging in there atm. Here's to hoping things will get less awkward as the story settles.

    2. Thanks anon! That was one of the longest comment I've had yet :D

      And haha Chloe, so you caught up eh? I've yet to see the latest episode - reporting on that soon.

  2. I know what you mean about the emotional punch of those scenes once a relationship has been established. (Most famously when Domyouji gets beaten up for Makino in Hana Yori Dango.) So far the story still feels more like set-up than the meat of the tale. I'll keep following it for now. :)