This episode was like the calm before the storm. Taiwanese dramas are predictable in that it deals with each plot development almost exclusively rather than simultaneously juggling multiple threads. The issues may be raised here and there, but the drama likes to tackle each one at a time. Last episode put an end to the market place takeover kerfluffle, resolving it in a hearty goodnatured way, even if a little too rosy-tinted, especially for a drama like Material Queen. Now we move into the meat of the drama – when a material queen gets everything (and I mean everything – a man who is rich as Creosus, good looking, insanely intelligent and incisive, AND actually desires her for who she is), has her fairy tale come true?
Remember young Chu Man talking with the magic man on the roof, telling him she doesn’t believe in miracles? The golddigger in her would say that landing Yen Kai Ming is her greatest miracle come true. But the part of Chu Man that was shut away when her mom abandoned her? That part of her knows, deep down, that meeting Jia Hao was the miracle she’s never dared to dream about. So how does she reconcile what is perfect with what might just be magical?
Chu Man announces to the everyone at the market that she is moving out because she’s dating Yen Kai Ming. Everyone turns to look at Jia Hao, who asks why they are all looking at him. Auntie says her moving out is a good thing, people need to keep striving for better things and they need to be happy for Chu Man. Leo asks her to come visit when she has time. Chu Man smiles and says yes.
Jiang Bao tells Chu Man that if she is mistreated, there is always a place for her in his heart. He then looks at Jia Hao and asks if Jia Hao agrees, since they both love the wrong person so they are kindred spirits. Jia Hao finally speaks up and tells Chu Man that he wishes for her and Yen Kai Ming to be happy together. Chu Man stares at him expectantly but doesn’t respond. Jia Hao hopes Chu Man get everything she’s always longed for.
The staring contest goes on until Chu Man says that she will miss everyone here. Jia Hui breaks the uncomfortable vibe by saying they need to have a party to celebrate Chu Man moving up and out and the market getting saved. Everyone runs off to prepare.
Chu Man is packing when Jia Hao knocks on her door. He helps her pack and asks when she’s leaving tomorrow. She says Yen Kai Ming’s car will pick her up and he’s found her a new place to live. Jia Hao asks if Yen Kai Ming plans to go public and Chu Man says in due time after she moves out. Jia Hao thinks a good renter ought to give advance notice before moving out, and he nitpicks the state of the room. He threatens to keep the deposit and she says that she never intended to get it back. To which Jia Hao says he will insist on returning it then.
She asks why he’s mad and he insists that he’s not mad, everything just happened so suddenly. Chu Man thinks it’s good that she’s moving out. Didn’t he want her to move out when she first moved in? She actually stayed longer than she intended. But now she gets to date Yen Kai Ming and he’s saved the market place, so they both got what he wanted. Why isn’t he happy about it? Jia Hao agrees, this is ideal and he’s happy.
They walk out to the market where everyone is waiting for them. As they carry groceries to the party, Jia Hao stops and sets his things down. He points to Chu Man’s bracelet and says she ought to take it off so people won’t misunderstand. She agrees and says they should do it right now. She slowly extends her hand as he likewise extends his.
He reaches forward to take her hand in his, and starts to unclasp the buckle. He stops when Chu Man notes that she’s worn this for so long she’s accustomed to it. It must have cost Jia Hao a lot to buy it, but now he can go sell it. She’s been careful wearing it so it’s got no scratches.
Tomorrow once her luggage is picked up, she’ll leave the keys on the bed. Jia Hao says they can still meet, she has his number, and promised Leo she would come visit. Chu Man says she won’t be coming back. She’s promised Yen Kai Ming that she will have no more contact with the market folks.
She and Jia Hao are from two different worlds, and she’s just going back to her world. Once she dates Yen Kai Ming, the press will follow her, and she needs to be aware of her public image and Yen Kai Ming’s public image. She apologizes to Jia Hao, who asks why she needs to say sorry.
He moves to take off the bracelet again. He thinks one day Yen Kai Ming will buy her a bracelet, and it won’t be as simple as this one. She will wear it happily, and never want to take it off. Jia Hau unclasps the buckle as Chu Man flashes back to all her interactions with him in the past.
Jia Hao removes the bracelet and Chu Man slowly retracts her hand. Chu Man mentions how this bracelet design was for a pair of lovers to keep their oath never to be separated. She can’t believe that they met, were separated, met again, and now will be separated yet again. Jia Hao says he knows about that myth, which was the reason he gave this bracelet to Chu Man.
He leans forward seemingly to kiss her, but then he pushes her backward to grab at a mosquito. Chu Man smiles and says she has a suggestion for Jia Hao. In the future, if he’s pursuing a girl, he needs to declare his love for her in this very exact pose. Any girl would love it, since it’s very manly and romantic.
Jia Hao grows serious and says that he’s thought a lot about Paris, and was wondering if perhaps Chu Man can choose not to return to that world. He reaches his hand to stroke her cheek and asks her if she really must leave. Is that the life she seeks? Chu Man moves his hand away and sits up. She reminds him that if he’s relived their Paris days, how can he conveniently skip over the part where Chu Man emphatically showed that she is a golddigger.
Jia Hao says he didn’t forget, he was hoping that Chu Man had changed. Especially after she helped them with the market. Chu Man smiles as she reminds him that she is just a materialistic girl. Chu Man teases Jia Hao that if the next time he declares his feelings for her, he remains simply a kid’s violin tutor for a profession, she likely won’t even give him the time to hear his declaration. There are tons of people pursuing her, and she won’t consider anyone with less than an annual salary of NT $1 million.
Jia Hao says he must be drunk, and can’t imagine that Chu Man would ever consider a man like him. That would be like the world turning in reverse. He walks away and we see Chu Man staring at him seriously (instead of teasingly as before) and looking very somber. They walk towards everyone waiting for them, who are all staring at the two of them intently.
Jia Hao asks what they were doing, and they say they were betting on…….a sports game. Hahaha. Jiang Bao throws down his losses and chides Jia Hao for not having more manly guts and can’t even do a love declaration properly. Jiang Bao asks to toast Chu Man but it’s Jia Hao who takes the beer and downs it. Everyone toasts Chu Man on her bright future and Jia Hao has to be reminded to drink to the toast.
Jia Hao gets drunks and wakes up with a hangover. He runs to Chu Man’s room and finds it completely empty, and her keys have been left on the bed. He looks around dejectedly. Chu Man, with Peter in tow, walks into her new swanky apartment in a luxury condo. Yen Kai Ming’s assistant informs her that this building is owned by Yen Kai Ming himself and if she needs anything, just let him know. She will have her own car and personal driver, and fresh flowers delivered daily.
Yen Kai Ming arrives and assures her that this is standard for his girlfriend. He sits down and immediately notices that she’s not wearing her bracelet. OMG, he’s a shark, a jaguar, and an eagle all in one. Chu Man lies that the bracelet broke. Yen Kai Ming asks if she’s sure she wants to lie to him.
Chu Man confesses that the bracelet was a gift from Tsai Jia Hao, the violin player who lives in the market place. Yen Kai Ming says it was clear at his party that there was something going on between them, and even a blind person can tell. Chu Man returned the bracelet to him to make it clear that nothing is going on.
Yen Kai Ming says he doesn’t need to ask since their relationship is purely a transaction – his wealth in exchange for her intelligence and beauty. So what she thinks shouldn’t matter to him. He stands up and takes her hand, confessing that it does matter to him. He cares what she thinks because he’s serious about her. He likes that she’s cutting all ties with other men.
After he leaves, Peter, who has been hiding behind a wall, is stunned to realize that Yen Kai Ming actually desires Chu Man. She confesses that dating him makes her feel like she’s wearing a an expensive collar of stress around her neck. Peter understands that this is why she’s cutting all ties with the market, putting that experience in the past.
Chu Man makes the news as the girlfriend of Yen Kai Ming. The market is happily back in business. Everyone reads the news and tries to keep it from Jia Hao, who smiles and says he knows all about it. Jia Hao keeps taking odd music jobs to keep up his violin playing and earn more money. Everyone wonders why he’s so hardworking when he should be depressed.
Yen Kai Ming takes Chu Man riding. He thinks that Chu Man has been feeling awkward around him. He asks that she call him Tary, which is his English name, rather than President Yen. Chu Man asks if that will bring them closer together? She calls him Tary, and he pulls her in for a kiss. Chu Man voiceovers that from this moment on, she cannot turn back anymore. Even if she has any regrets, she needs to remind herself that she cannot go back to being the old Lin Chu Man.
Chu Man gets a car of her own to go for drives because Yen Kai Ming is so busy he can’t spend a lot of time with her. If she admires a painting it’s immediately purchased for her. She goes shopping and voiceovers that she has finally reached her dreams, where she puts on a crown and becomes a titular Queen.
She gets into the car and we see Jia Hao walking out of the same building, having performed in the lobby for the guests. Jia Hao looks up at a giant billboard of Chu Man advertising perfume perched on the side of that building. He asks the billboard Chu Man why she appears so distant from him?
Chu Man goes home with all her shopping bags. She bought a gift for Yen Kai Ming and she happily walks over to give it to him. But he only came to drop off a present for her and promptly leaves because he has a business dinner to attend. Chu Man puts the present she intended to give him down, and goes to put his present for her on the counter. We see that counter growing every day with additional presents, and Chu Man eating dinner all alone.
Yen Kai Ming’s assistant arrives with a contract for Chu Man to sign, which stipulates a confidentiality provision and restrictions on her personal and professional behavior. She can’t take any risqué modeling assignments, for example. Chu Man reluctantly signs the contract saying that she knows this is standard for a woman to date a man of such stature as Yen Kai Ming.
Yen Kai Ming calls Chu Man and tells her not to be angry. He knows it’s her birthday tomorrow and he’s scheduled the evening to celebrate with her. He tells her to go open up her birthday present, which is an elaborate diamond necklace. Chu Man thinks back to Jia Hao telling her that one day Yen Kai Ming will give her better jewelry. Jia Hao sits in his room and takes out the bracelet to look at it.
Chu Man joins all her modeling sisters at a run through for an uncoming runway show. We see Sasha on the phone with her mom, reminding her not to be late. Sasha says her mom is a so attached to her that she’ll even come to a runaway show rehearsal like this. Chu Man walks in and flashes her birthday present from Yen Kai Ming, giving the other models a pointed look.
The other models wants Chu Man to introduce them to friends of Yen Kai Ming, but Sasha thinks it’s easy for girls to be taken advantage of by rich men. Sasha doesn’t think there is anything to envy about being a rich man’s girlfriend, living in a gilded cage with only cold accessories to keep them company. She wonders if perhaps Chu Man wants to boast about her necklace because that’s all she has since she’s a lonely rich girlfriend. MEOWR.
The runway starts and the models come out to walk one by one. When Chu Man comes out, she stops because she sees a woman sitting in the front row, and it’s her horrible mom who abandoned her as a child. And said mom is Sasha’s mom. Chu Man has to be reminded to walk and she does so.
After the show, she runs out to the lobby and sees her mom smoking outside. Her mom’s smoking pose reminds her of when she was small and watched her mom smoking while getting dressed.
Her mom comes in and introduces herself as Sasha’s mom, extending a hand to shake Chu Man’s hand. Her mom compliments Chu Man as being prettier in person than on TV and in print. She asks Chu Man not to let Sasha know she was smoking earlier, because Sasha would get worried. Her mom says that she only has one daughter in Sasha and wants to take care of her.
Chu Man asks if it’s true that she only has one daughter? Doesn’t she have another daughter? Her mom startles but repeats that she only has one daughter. Sasha runs out and toddles off arm-in-arm with Chu Man’s mom. Once they leave, Chu Man’s entire body language just collapses.
Peter walks out and asks Chu Man what’s wrong? Chu Man confesses that she thinks she just saw the person, the person who left her outside the orphanage. Except that person is now Sasha’s mom. Peter stares at her in sympathy. Peter explains that Sasha’s mom is actually her step-mother, who married her rich daddy and took care of her growing up. Apparently her mom once begged the doctors to save Sasha’s life when Sasha was sick as a child.
Chu Man flashes back to when she was sick as a child, and her mom just tossed her some cold medicine and warned her that no matter what, she’s not taking Chu Man to the doctor. Chu Man can’t believe that the mom who once told her she didn’t want kids, abandoned her for the last twenty years, suddenly is the mom to another girl. So it wasn’t that her mom didn’t want kids, she just didn’t want Chu Man.
Chu Man always wondered if perhaps her mom had some pressing reason for doing what she did. But turns out her mom just didn’t want Chu Man to block her path to happiness. And she dislikes Chu Man so much that she’s forgotten what Chu Man looks like, even though Chu Man has never forgotten what her mom looks like. Peter can only listen to Chu Man quietly.
He tries to comfort her by saying she’s changed a lot in twenty years, and she changed her name to a different spelling of Lin Chu Man than her birth name, so it’s understandable that her mom won’t recognize her. Chu Man thinks that her mom should remember her, especially since everyone said they looks so much alike, with their wide doe eyes. But her mom forgot all about her. The reality is that Chu Man really is her daughter, she called her mom for many years.
Peter kneels down before Chu Man and tries to reassure her, but Chu Man smiles and says she’s fine. No one in the world genuinely likes her, so her mom’s dislike of her is just one more person to add to the list. Peter tells her not to say that, HE likes her. He suddenly remembers that it’s her birthday in a few hours, so does she wants to go celebrate with him?
Chu Man thinks celebrating her birthday after what happened today is such a slap in the face. She just wants to go home. She gets up and leaves, with Peter just sitting there in silence. Chu Man calls Yen Kai Ming, who is in the middle of a meeting. She apologizes and he says he can talk later and hangs up. Chu Man looks in her purse and sees the little tube of hand crème that Jia Hao gave her when he took care of her hand.
Chu Man walks into the Due South Market, stopping to look up at Jia Hao’s window. Jia Hao is practicing his violin. Jia Hui walks into his room and tells him that someone is here to see him.
Thoughts of Mine:
Wow, for some reason I really wasn’t expecting Chu Man’s mom to pop back in the picture. I think the story could work without her, but at the same time, I think Chu Man needs to deal with her mom’s crimes against her to be able to fully shed the shackles of the need for material wealth to act as replacements for emotional security. Now that we’ve spent 7 episodes getting to know Chu Man, Jia Hao, and even Yen Kai Ming, it’s time for the three of them to play in the adult pool.
What always thrills me in MQ is that the characters never fail to say what they mean when it comes down to crunch time. There is no beating around the bush. Chu Man may have slight doubts now about her material queen aspirations after meeting Jia Hao and the Due South gang, but it’s not enough for her to discard twenty years of what helped her to survive in a life without a mother. I appreciate that she genuinely knows that Jia Hao is sincere about her, but that doesn’t change her perspective and her goals. His feelings, however stirring, cannot realistically make Chu Man choose him over the perfect man Yen Kai Ming, the man she has been aspiring towards her entire life.
But I really appreciated how Chu Man interacted with Jia Hao, without any condescension about him perhaps overreaching and aiming to high to dare like a supermodel like herself. She is kind to him, and teasing towards him, and most importantly, honest with him. She’s still the golddigger he met in Paris, even if the real her was always someone who did care about others. Chu Man may be haughty, but I’ve seen that she is never deliberately cruel towards others nor does she look down on those less beautiful or wealthy than herself. She looks up to the wealthy, but she does not look down to the poor. Her character really is written so brilliantly.
Yen Kai Ming once again stunned me into silence when he immediately noticed Chu Man wasn’t wearing the bracelet, and could see right through her easy lie. I like how their relationship is an open book from the beginning, and even one where there is a possibility for genuine love to grow. Yen Kai Ming didn’t lie when he said he wants more from Chu Man than just a business relationship, his feeling are actually engaged. So what happens if he falls in love with her, for real? Does that make life as Mrs. Yen Kai Ming less onerous and restricting? This is for Chu Man to ponder.
I don’t think any drama in recent memory has created such an endearing pack of secondary characters. Sunny Happiness had quite a few wonderfully three dimensional side characters, but I think MQ’s bunch is heaps more sophisticatedly written. I have to give props to Peter for once again almost stealing ANY scene he is in. His friendship with Chu Man is the stuff of dreams. Who wouldn’t wan a BFF like Peter – fun, caring, and intuitively knows everything about you. He just needs to look at Chu Man’s backside and he can tell if she’s happy or upset. Knowing Chu Man’s real depth also makes their friendship so much sweeter to watch, because we know why Peter loves her. At this point, I love her, and this drama, to pieces as well.