It’s an amazingly stress-free feeling, recapping a drama knowing how its going to unfurl and having the peace of mind that it’s going to keep getting better and be absolutely awesome. As opposed to going off the rails, leading me to turn ragey, and all hell breaks loose at AKP. I’m only kidding about pimping Sunny Happiness – it may not be everyone’s cup of tea (and it needn’t be) – I’m only here to talk about how I happen to completely adore it. From its silly premise comes a love story of maturity and emotional tenderness, and watching it makes my heart ache in the best of ways.
When I recap I watch an episode multiple times, so a bad episode really bugs me because I am forced to watch it over and over again to get my recaps right and do my screencaps. Conversely, a good episode will only get better upon a rewatch, which is the hallmark of its success. Being good means it withstands the test of time and repetition. Ask yourself if you rewatch your favorite dramas and still find it as good if not better? SH is that kind of drama – in recapping episode 2, I have discovered that is just that good.
Episode 2 recap:
Yun Chao calmly tells Yong Yong that the Tian Yu Group plans to continue with their shopping mall project. His only solution remains helping the orphans find a new home. He hands her his card explaining that she can contact him anytime. He is willing to talk with her, and help in any way possible, except for halting the project. Yun Chao is clearly just doing his job, and neither side feels any animosity beyond the fact that they happen to have completely different agendas that are in conflict.
Yun Chao leaves, and Yong Yong takes a good look at the card. She realizes that the Tian Yu Group, represented by her new boss, head asshole-in-charge Xian Yun Jie, are the owners of the orphanage land. She immediately marches to Yun Jie’s office to see him, but is told by his secretary that the boss is out at a meeting.
Wan Lan, her son Xiao Nian, and her producer, are in Taipei already and enjoying the sights from inside a cab. When the cab drivers asks Xiao Nian whether he’s visiting Taipei with his mom and dad, Xiao Nian answers that the uncle next to him is not his dad, and that his dad is dead (again, you sure are not winning any mother of the year awards, Wan Lan). Wan Lan sees that her son has a picture of his parents in his notebook (a young and happy Yun Jie and Wan Lan), and she looks distressed.
The trio ends up at a hotel having lunch, which is when Xiao Nian looks up and sees his supposedly dead daddy sitting at another table having a business meeting. Yun Jie concludes his meeting and leaves the hotel, and Xiao Nian runs after him.
Wan Lan manages to grab her son before he calls his dad “dad” and blows her whole ruse to kingdom come. But it’s too late regardless, and Yun Jie turns around and sees his ex-wife with a child, and a man walks up to get them.
Yun Jie is nursing a whiskey by the pool, and Yun Chao walks up to big brother and asks what has driven his almightly brother to drink before the sun has set? Yun Chao candidly tells Yun Jie that he met with the orphanage folks today and gave them a deadline to move out. It was hard, and Yun Chao doesn’t feel peachy about it. Yun Jie tells his mini-me brother that finding new homes for the orphans is already doing more than he ought to, and Yun Chao shouldn’t feel bad about doing his job.
Yun Jie says that the project will commence on schedule regardless of whether the orphans have moved out by the deadline (oh rilly? Yun Jie, you want to mow down orphans ? I’m appalled but for the fact that I think you are all talk). Yun Chao tells big brother that the situation will not come down to that, and he will get the orphans moved out before then. They change to subject to the magazine, and Yun Jie confesses he saw his ex-wife not just on the magazine, but in person today.
Yun Jie didn’t just see Wan Lan today, he also saw her son and her husband (yup, Yun Jie drew the same conclusion as everyone else has thus far). Yun Chao says that news reports say that Wan Lan is single, and Yun Jie attributes that to the network keeping their famed anchor’s marital status secret. Yun Chao wonders if big bro is still hung up on the ex, and Yun Jie says that he is just stating facts. Yun Chao wonders why Yun Jie assumes the child and man are her son and husband. Yun Jie says that the boy called her mom, what else is there to assume?
Back at the household of lies, Xiao Nian looks at the picture of his parents, and asks his mom if the guy earlier is really just someone who looks like his dad? Wan Lan continues with the lies and reaffirms to her innocent son that his dad is deader than roadkill. Xiao Nian is a sweet child, telling his mom that he’s content having her in his life, and the nice uncle who treats him well. He’ll just imagine his dead dad is with him on this family trip. Oh kid, you break my heart, you know that right?
Wan Lan discusses her interview schedule on this business trip to Taipei. Her producer hands her the schedule, and she realizes when she reads it that she’s supposed to be interviewing Yun Jie. Ooops, good luck keeping the charade going, Wan Lan! Oh, and we find out that Wan Lan named her son Wan Nian Jie, and Nian means “to think of”, so her son’s name indicates that she is still thinking of Yun Jie. Wan Lan, you manage to make me dislike you and feel sorry for how pathetic you are.
Yong Yong sees first sister making a lunch box and realizes that her sisters are the mystery admirers of Yun Jie, and the culprits behind the love letter and gifts. She makes them promise never to do it again. First sister accuses Yong Yong of trying to steal the guy she likes, and Yong Yong scoffs at this accusation. She had to endure his ridicule because of her sisters’ actions, and she has no desire to have anything to do with this guy. She announces that from today on, Xian Yun Jie is her #1 enemy!
Yong Yong waits for Yun Jie to arrive at work, and he dismisses her as not supposed to be working during this time. He tells her that he better not see her lurking around if she hopes to keep her job. In fact, he’s seen plenty of admirers, but someone as persistent as her is a first for him. She tries to explain that she has something important to talk with about, and he gives her three minutes. She tries again to explain that the gifts were not from her.
Yun Jie walks into his office and calls security to bring him the surveillance tapes from a few days ago, since outsiders must’ve entered his office. Yong Yong hangs up his phone (to protect her sisters), and tries to downplay the situation. She explains that she’s warned the guilty party never to do it again. She tries to explain that the guilty party simply likes him so much, and he should just let it go. Yun Jie finally fesses up that he’s already viewed the surveillance tapes and knows that the intruders were not Yong Yong.
She wonders why he kept telling her to stop harassing him if he knew she didn’t leave the gifts, and he tells her that he wanted to force her to tell him who the culprits were. Yong Yong finally moves the conversation to the orphanage, and begs Yun Jie to scrap the shopping mall plans. He realizes that she is the impediment to the project that Yun Chao mentioned, and he derides her as being such a puny obstacle.
He ignores her, and Yong Yong asks if he is willing to listen to a story? She explains that she was sent to the orphanage when she was eight because her mother died and her father was a long-haul truck driver and didn’t have the ability to raise her. Her father forcibly leaves her there, but promises to give her a real home when he has the ability. Little Yong Yong cries, and the director comes to comfort her, telling her that life may seen hopeless now, but there is always happiness ahead.
Yun Jie accuses Yong Yong of making up this story, since her resume says that she has a mother and sisters. Yong Yong says that her resume is true, except her mom and sisters are not blood relations. Teenage Yong Yong is happy in the orphanage when her father finally comes to take her home. She arrives home to find that her dad has remarried a stepmother, who has two daughters of her own.
Yun Jie belittles Yong Yong on creating her own Cinderella story. She retorts that she is most definitely not Cinderella, she always makes her own way in life. Yong Yong calms down and begs him to spare the orphanage. She will do anything for him, anything he asks, but Yun Jie doubts that she can ever do anything for him. He tells her that its just business, and the orphans situation is not the fault of the Tian Yu Group. He understands how she feels, but that doesn’t mean he accepts that premise.
He is in charge of an entire conglomerate with thousands of workers, and he has to run this business to take care of them. He tells her to stifle her woe-is-me expression, but he will give her a chance. If she can pay 1.2 times what Tian Yu paid for the price of the land, he will sell it to her. Yong Yong stares at Yun Jie with unshed tears in her eyes, and he warns her to either bring the money or never mention this again in front of him.
Yong Yong leaves, but not before turning around to tell him that even though he has an entire company to take care of, to the kids in that orphanage, its not just a home, its their entire world. Yun Jie’s ice cold expression barely wavers. Yong Yong demands her supervisor change her work rotation. She will not clean “that guy’s office” for another minute. She decides to use up all her accued vacation rather than clean Yun Jie’s office another day.
Wan Lan calls, and requests that someone find her a temporary nanny. I love how this drama has like a billion plot contrivances, but the subsequent actions and interactions are suffused with realistic beats and honest conversations. Yun Chao grabs his big brother and takes him to a hotel pool for some swimming workout. Or perhaps a chance for my boys to put on some super tight speedos. Either way, I am totally not complaining.
Xiao Nian and Wan Lan’s producer are at the same pool, and the kid proceeds to almost drown himself. Good one, producer guy who clearly has no child-watching ability. Yun Jie the omnipotent sees the flailing child and dives into the pool to fish him out. Producer guy thanks the child’s savior profusely, not knowing that the kid was saved by his own daddy. Xiao Nian glimpses his daddy from his half-drowned state. Kid wakes up calling for his dad, and horrible mommy tries to tell him that he hallucinated his dad saving him. Wan Lan, just stop talking, okay? Pretend you are a mute.
Yong Yong’s stepmother and sisters are chiding her for staying home indefinitely and refusing to go to work. Yong Yong refuses to go to work until Tian Yu starts behaving humanely. Stepmom gives her a guilt trip for not bringing home the dough. Yong Yong vows to find a part-time job during this time, and she accepts a job to be a temporary nanny. She goes to meet with Wan Lan, and she’s hired to watch Xiao Nian.
Wan Lan heads out to do her interviews, and Xiao Nian gets a hold of her interview folder and sees the picture of Yun Jie. He starts to put two and two together. Xiao Nian is grumpy and mean to Yong Yong, not liking the fact that his mother has left him with a stranger. Yong Yong and Xiao Nian are butting heads, until Yong Yong finds the dossier on Yun Jie, and asks why Xiao Nian has this file? Xiao Nian tries to get the file back, yelling that he wants his dad’s file back!
Yong Yong asks in shock whether Xian Yun Jie is Xiao Nian’s dad? Xiao Nian says that his dad is dead, and Yong Yong replies that the guy is clearly NOT dead, and is as healthy as a horse (ahahahaha). She suggests that they call a truce for now, and Yong Yong hilariously puts the picture of Yun Jie next to Xiao Nian to look for similarities. Xiao Nian tells Yong Yong that the producer uncle is not his dad, and that he lives only with his mom. After chatting with Xiao Nian, Yong Yong tells him that she works for his dad, and that Xiao Nian is very similar to his dad.
Yong Yong asks if Xiao Nian wants to meet his dad, and the poor kid says that he’s fine with just his mom by side. The two of them decide to get along, and I just about died of the cute when Xiao Nian asks Yong Yong is she’s allowed to let him eat only junk food. Lordy, some qualified nanny she turned out to be!
Wan Lan’s first interview is with Yun Jie, and she’s nervous and anxious, but ultimately digs her anchor professional persona back out in time to do the interview. The interview is professional and goes well. Yun Jie tells Wan Lan that he would like a chance to talk with her further afterwards.
The interview ends, and Wan Lan discovers that Yun Jie was the man who rescued Xiao Nian from the swimming pool. Yun Jie asks the producer if “his son” is alright, and neither the producer or Wan Lan explain the mistaken assumption. Yun Jie remarks that perhaps he was fated to meet the child.
Thoughts of Mine:
I’ve watch a lot, a heck of a lot, of TW-dramas. I may not be an expert, but when I say that SH is truly a remarkable TW-drama that does so much right, I am not just according it undue praise. Autumn’s Concerto was always about the amazing cinematography and surprisingly great chemistry between the leads, but ultimately it fell apart for me mid-way through when no one’s behavior resembled that of a sane human being. Fated to Love You was the best kind of addictive crack that masked a superficial story without any attempt at mining relatable emotional depths.
I know my taste may not be yours, and I am happy entertain and welcome a divergence of opinions, but recapping SH has only solidified my conclusion that this drama rocks big time. In fact, the first few episodes (which are already very good) may be its weakest links. Anyways, that’s enough from me, let’s talk about what happened in this episode, shall we? It’s still a set-up episode, bringing all the players into each other’s orbit and revealing information fluidly so that we can get to the meat of the drama.
So ex-wife Wan Lan has been hiding the existence of his son for eight years from Yun Jie? Not good, lady, for anyone or anything other than yourself and your own selfish and self-serving reasons. Expect hell to pay when Yun Jie discovers the deception, and I don’t blame him one bit.
The inside joke of this drama is really that it dares to go there – it sets up the secret child situation, but ultimately isn’t about the fantasy concept that Wan Lan and Yun Jie can magically rekindle their love and reunite so that Xiao Nian can have a perfect family that he undoubtedly deserves. I love it, because life moves on, and Wan Lan got her chance and lost it (not sure how or why just yet – perhaps because she has a wretched personality and looks like a 60-year old halmoni?)
The best and most important scene in this episode was of course the confrontation between Yun Jie and Yong Yong in his office over the orphanage. The entire scene crackled with the best kind of energy, when the two actors are totally riffing off each other and you can feel their characters and the dialogue come alive. Yes, it was naive of Yong Yong to confront Yun Jie (and if she got her ass fired afterwards I wouldn’t be surprised or feel sorry for her ), but that was how important the orphanage was to her.
This plot device actually made sense in the way Yong Yong reacted. It’s not a principle issue for Yong Yong, its part of her identity and validation that comes from her experience at the orphanage, having been left there by her father and picked up only when he was ready for her. I understand why Yong Yong is so attached to that orphanage (a place that is home for the children no one wants), and so her behavior and reaction, however extreme, is motivated by being personally vested in what happens to the orphanage. She’s not just championing a cause, seeing the orphans removed is a personal attack on the place she likely thinks of as a real home more than the house she currently lives in with her dad and step-family.
I don’t hate Yun Jie’s attitude at all – it’s just a business venture for him, and one that isn’t about throwing orphans into the street but finding them alternative homes (though it was courtesy of Yun Chao and not himself). I saw a glimmer of his sense of commitment and loyalty, the need to take care of what is his. Since Tian Yu Group is his, that is his first priority, and a sense of compassion for orphans is a luxury he cannot afford. And he’s right – if he stops the development, what is he going to do with the land? If he sells it, the next buyer will likely evict the orphanage as well. He’s being practical, while Yong Yong is being emotional.
Neither is techinically wrong or right, and Yun Jie did offer Yong Yong a way to solve the impasse by buying the land back at a premium. But he was just an ass by saying it, since she could hardly afford to buy herself a new pair of shoes, much less a piece of prime real estate. I loved Yong Yong’s immediate blow up afterwards, and her silly but principled stand against going back to work and cleaning Yun Jie’s office.
Yes, the drama has more cliches than I can count on with one hand, but it goes to show that it isn’t cliches itself which doom a drama, but how its presented and executed. SH takes all the plot elements and makes me believe in them. I’ve connected with the characters, and so their story becomes interesting and meaningful to watch. The continued calm and collected directing does wonders for this drama, making everything flow smoothly. While SH doesn’t surprise us in plot developments, it delights us in watching it unfold.
Once the gears are put into place, SH goes full speed ahead and never looks back. I know many of you have almost finished the drama, and are likely curious about my thoughts on the entire thing, so I might as well share some overviews. Spoilers ahead in the last two paragraphs!
I love how Yun Jie and Yong Yong have a strictly contract marriage that isn’t strictly at all from the get-go, because he’s immediately solicitous to her needs and cognizant of her feelings. It’s amazing to watch him grow to care about her, even as she falls for him knowing that he’s not the cold-hearted bastard she assumed he was. You all know I adore second lead Li Yi Feng, and I do love his character – the younger brother who isn’t bad but for his misguided attempts to prove himself.
Yun Chao and Yong Yong’s friendship has a wonderfully realistic beat, and I love how the drama makes them barely interact until midway, and then he cannot get her out of his mind. While I squealed over the fact that they were each others’ first love/pen pals, and normally that means they ought to end up together, SH remains consistent that its story is about love in the here and now. The leads all eschew sentimentality and moping, and make a concerted effort to be true to their hearts and minds, which are often in conflict.
Love is about the present, and if you miss the chance it passes you by. Wan Lan and Yun Chao have missed the chance with Yun Jie and Yong Yong, respectively. It’s realistic, and the love story we feel invested in is the one between two people who have the chance to love each other for the first and hopefully final time. I love the literal meaning of the title – Happiness is a Sunny Day – because it emphasizes that love may be as unpredictable as the weather, but when it comes like a sunny day, we cannot afford to lose a once-in-a-lifetime moment.