I spent most of episode 14 of Office Girls in a state of dewy-eyed mooning, until the appearance of the witch returning from her spell-casting sabbatical jolted me awake and I realized things in OG land isn’t yet in a state of perpetual sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. While some folks find Xing Ren and Zi Qi’s slow burn relationship rather boring, I for one am loving it because it’s so refreshingly realistic. Not every couple meets and starts eye-sexing each other in between bickering zingers and finding out his father killed her mother and whatnot.
I am also patient with Xing Ren and Zi Qi’s personality growth and maturation, with his finally coming in this episode, and hers reaching a breakthrough as well in how she finally has the courage to accept Zi Qi’s confession and skinship him right back. Good girl, Xing Ren. I also like how Mina’s job offer wasn’t made to be unnecessarily melodramatic, but instead treated as the prime opportunity for professional growth that it was. OG originally billed itself as “a workplace breezy love drama”, and it has so far turned out to be exactly that.
Day 14: Shen Xing Ren, congrats on winning the grand prize!
Xing Ren returns from walking Mina out to find drunken Zi Qi passed out on her sofa. She sits down next to him and smiles when she remembers how he sang for her earlier this afternoon. She turns to study his gorgeous sleeping face, noting that he’s the most normal when he’s singing or sleeping.
Xing Ren stares and stares, until she can’t help herself and slowly leans in to steal a kiss. Whatever, I’ve would’ve jumped him right there and there, but Xing Ren has more willpower. She kisses him on the cheek and pulls back slowly. Xing Ren steals a few more glances at him before wishing him a good night.
Zi Qi wakes up the next morning having slept the entire night on the sofa with teddy for company. Xing Ren has already left the apartment, but made him breakfast with a smiley face note reminding him to eat. Zi Qi reads the note and smiles, getting ready to dig in when suddenly Mama Shen walks in.
Zi Qi and Mama happily greet each other and sits down to chat. Mama wonders why Zi Qi slept on the sofa, did he get in a fight with Xing Ren? Mama tells Zi Qi that making up is very important. Zi Qi offers Mama breakfast but she declines, instead asking if he knows about the offer for Xing Ren to go to Paris.
ZI Qi says he knows, and he doesn’t want her to go, but he worries that he can’t compete against the super high salary she’s being offered. Mama suddenly has stomach pain that she can’t mask, which Zi Qi notices and asks if she’s okay? Mama lies that it’s just her regular stomach troubles, but Zi Qi doesn’t appear to buy her excuse that easily. Mama asks Zi Qi to take care of Xing Ren, as that is her only worry in life. Zi Qi promises that he will.
Xing Ren comes home to find Mama and Zi Qi peeling vegetables at the table. Mama explains she’s here because of her worry that Xing Ren may run off to Paris at anytime. Xing Ren asks why Zi Qi is here all day, but he lists all the chores he did for her like cleaning and cooking, calling himself the Chinese expression for “doing his wifely duties”. Xing Ren teases that he’s ready to get married now.
Mama gives Xing Ren her checkbook account which contains NT5 million in savings. Xing Ren is stunned Mama saved this much, and even Zi Qi is amazed to see all the zeros. Mama explains that her Xing Ren is so very average in looks and education, Mama wanted to make sure she had a hefty dowry to get married. So Mama saved a little at a time, and with the addition of Xing Ren’s dad’s insurance money, that is how she saved so much.
Xing Ren asks why her mom didn’t use it to buy a better house this entire time? Mom says she just needs a roof and why waste a better house on her. Xing Ren won’t take her mom’s money, but mom wanted Xing Ren to know that her mom had money saved up already. So if Xing Ren’s impetus for going to Paris is purely for the money, then her mom doesn’t need it. But if Xing Ren wants to go to Paris for her career advancement, then her mom will support her.
When Xing Ren keeps pushing the money back to her mom, she’s told the money will be hers anyways, so better earlier rather than later. Both Xing Ren and Zi Qi look concerned that Mama Shen is talking like this, but Mama is just happy that her Xing Ren grew up so well and she can help her now. Mama asks Zi Qi to take them to see the model home he once showed Xing Ren.
Zi Qi and his friend Bao Luo show Xing Ren and Mama Shen around the model home. Bao Luo confirms the units are almost done with construction, and with a down payment they can sign the contract and move in soon. Mama is excited the place has two bedrooms, one for the happy couple, the other for their kid(s).
Mama wants to sign the contract now, but Xing Ren asks to wait. Mama doesn’t want to wait, because if Xing Ren goes to Paris, Mama wants to have this house waiting for Xing Ren to remind her to come home. Zi Qi walks off to the side and just stares at this touching mother-daughter moment, and his friend Bao Luo notes that Zi Qi is a total goner. And it looks like Zi Qi doesn’t even have a desire to extricate himself.
Zi Qi’s eyes are red but he keeps his emotions in check. Bao Luo notes that dating, marriage, having kids, Zi Qi is doing it all at once. Isn’t that quite fast? For Zi Qi, this is the first time he’s realized that a house can bring happiness and comfort for a family, not because it’s so large or luxurious, but because of how much he cares for the people who live in that house. Bao Luo is wowed by how fast it appears Zi Qi has matured.
The trio return to the apartment and Mama wants to know why Xing Ren wouldn’t let her buy the unit. Xing Ren still refuses to use her mom’s money to buy the place. Zi Qi speaks up that he also agrees with Xing Ren that Mama should save the money for her own use. He and Xing Ren can buy their place together. Mama is thrilled to hear Zi Qi talk like this, instead now she wants to buy them the house as a wedding present. Zi Qi turns towards Xing Ren, who snaps at him, yelling that she hasn’t agreed to marry him! There’s an awkward silence that is broken up when Xing Ren gets a call from Mina.
Mina hands Xing Ren a copy of her employment contract and asks Xing Ren what her decision is. Xing Ren hasn’t decided but Mina is not a patient person. Xing Ren asks for a few more days to consider the offer, but Mina asks for a decision right now.
Zi Qi calls Xing Ren, asking what Mina wants and what Xing Ren’s decision is? Mina wanted an answer right away but Xing Ren asked for more time. Zi Qi tells Xing Ren that she ought to have said no right then and there. Xing Ren reveals Mina offered her a compromise – Xing Ren can accompany Mina to the upcoming New York Fashion Week, and Xing Ren can use her 10 day annual vacation to test out this opportunity.
Zi Qi yells at her that she might as well quit her job outright. Xing Ren wonders why he’s so involved in her life, to which Zi Qi says that he’s her boyfriend, of course he cares about what she’s up to. Xing Ren ends the call to answer her mom’s incoming call, leaving Zi Qi stewing in his room and complaining to girl teddy. He acts all shocked that even girl teddy doesn’t think Zi Qi is Xing Ren’s boyfriend (yet).
Xing Ren shows her mom the contract from Mina, and Mama Shen is pleased her daughter has this great opportunity in front of her. Mama wonders how her own life would have been if she could go abroad, but laughs it off saying she’s glad she married her husband and had Xing Ren. When Xing Ren asks for Mama’s advice, Mama tells Xing Ren to decide her own path in life.
Xing Ren confesses this opportunity excites her, but she still has doubts. Zi Qi walks up and listen in on the conversation. Xing Ren worries about the foreign environment and language difficulties, to which Mama says Xing Ren can overcome that with her own hard work. Mama correctly identifies the main reason for Xing Ren’s hesitation – leaving Zi Qi all alone in Taiwan.
Mama says she’ll keep an eye out for Zi Qi, and if Xing Ren is still worried, she can marry him before she leaves. Xing Ren thinks Mama is jumping too far ahead, there is nothing going on between her and Zi Qi. Mama wonders exactly what needs to happen before Xing Ren will acknowledge it. Xing Ren finally reveals that Zi Qi has never said he likes her directly to her. He constantly jokes around, so she doesn’t know what is true and what is false in what he says. Mama tells Xing Ren to be direct then, and don’t let Zi Qi get away.
Zi Qi plays a racing video game with Bao Luo, who notes that this is the first time he’s seen Zi Qi worried about getting a girl. Zi Qi confesses he’s never dealt with this situation before. Bao Luo feels that Zi Qi is confused because he’s in the middle of it. Since both of them are so headstrong and care so much about each other, neither is willing to make the first confession.
Zi Qi stops driving his video game race car and turns to Bao Luo, asking incredulously whether Xing Ren could possibly be unaware of his feelings since he’s been so obvious with her this entire time. Bao Luo the sage says Zi Qi is just not clued into how girls think. Faced with a great job offer, anyone would have taken it, but Xing Ren hasn’t because she cares a lot about Zi Qi. But he hasn’t given her any security. Zi Qi thinks telling her not to go is enough. Bao Luo asks if Zi Qi has said the magical words “I like you.” A man’s word is paramount, and Zi Qi hasn’t said it yet. The boys resume their racing but Zi Qi ponders what he’s just learned.
Xing Ren has lunch with Le Le, who is excited Xing Ren gets to go to New York with Mina. Stallone forces his way into the conversation and joins them for lunch. The two girls try to leave but Stallone asks for a moment (dropping some Japanese), and then when Le Le balks, he acts all sad and asks her why she’s acting this way (dropping more Japanese).
When Xing Ren asks what work matters, Stallone wants to talk about the upcoming Christmas holiday season and how their department can show great results. He asks if he can ask them questions because OLs (office ladies) are their target shopping demographic. He asks Le Le what she wants for Christmas? Le Le says it depends on who the giver is. If it’s a hottie like Michael, she’d be happy if he tied a bow around himself and gave himself to her as a present.
Stallone looks sad and asks what will happen if the guy is not a hottie. Le Le screams that she wants brand name games, cash, and expensive trips in that case. She gets a call from Michael and leaves. Xing Ren asks Stallone why he hasn’t asked her what she wants for Christmas, and then asks him to agree to her taking annual vacation. Stallone gives her a sly smile….
Zi Qi sits in his office and thinks back to Bao Luo asking if Zi Qi has said directly to Xing Ren that he likes her. He flips through his own flimsy checkbook indicating he has about NT5000 in it, which isn’t even enough to treat Xing Ren to a fancy dinner. Suddenly Xing Ren and Stallone return, with her still bugging him to approve her annual vacation. He claims he can’t because the holidays are coming and he needs her around.
Xing Ren promises to get all her work done before leaving. Stallone starts spouting army nonsense about how he can’t let Xing Ren be a deserter. Xing Ren says she’s hand off her work to Mandy, to which Stallone points out Mandy is completely unreliable. Stallone finally cuts to the chase and tells Xing Ren that he will approve if Xing Ren helps convince Le Le to give him a chance. Xing Ren honestly says Stallone isn’t Le Le’s type. Stallone pretends to be a scholar, a muscleman, and a soldier, asking if any of those is Le Le’s type?
Xing Ren cries that she doesn’t know, and Stallone says he doesn’t know where her vacation went either. Zi Qi gets up and calls Stallone over, noting that using annual vacation to threaten an employee is abuse of power. Stallone agrees, and he intends to abuse his power because he worked so hard to get it. Zi Qi warns him to be careful, in case one day Zi Qi runs the company. Of course Zi Qi recorded this very conversation and now threatens to play it back for the VP of HR. Stallone has not choice but to back down and approve Xing Ren’s vacation. Well played, Zi Qi.
Xing Ren thanks Zi Qi for helping her back there, but Zi Qi remains subdued and not very chatty. She asks why he helped her if he doesn’t want her to go? He asks if she’ll stay if he asked her to? Xing Ren doesn’t answer. Zi Qi says he figured things out now. Without Xing Ren around, he can do whatever he wants. Zi Qi ask Xing Ren to go home first and then he walks away. Xing Ren watches him walk away without a backward glance and looks disappointed.
Xing Ren rides her motorcycle home and blinks back her tears. Zi Qi walks to a florist and looks around the shop, picking up a red rose and sniffing it all dramatically, and then kissing it. LOL. He goes to look for a card, and picks up one that has a diorama of a wedding party with a couple at the altar. As he walks around, he sees some guys scratching off lotto tickets. Xing Ren returns home pretty out of it. Zi Qi walks into a supermarket after much deliberation.
Xing Ren is preparing dinner with Le Le, who is applying the lip gloss Stallone gave her. Xing Ren wonders what has gotten into Zi Qi, first telling her to stay, now telling her to go. Le Le wants Xing Ren to just ask Zi Qi, but she doesn’t want to since she already agreed to go to New York with Mina. Le Le correctly notes that Xing Ren is like a persistent fly at work and around clients, but when it comes to her love life she’s like a soft mochi.
Xing Ren changes the subject and turns it around, asking why Le Le is using the lip gloss given to her by a cockroach like Stallone. Le Le says her opinions on Stallone doesn’t extend to products he gave her. Zi Qi walks in and asks Xing Ren if they can go out to eat tonight. The air is awkward between them but Zi Qi drags Xing Ren out despite her reluctance.
They sit outside and eat rice balls in the park. Zi Qi confesses this is all he can afford to treat her to. They turn to look at each other, and Zi Qi asks Xing Ren if she remembers the first day they met? She does, and he recalls how pathetic he felt becoming the assistant to dinosaur girl. And then he signed the package for her and got yelled at, making him feel even more unlucky. But after seeing her break the red wine and taking responsibility for it, he saw how hardworking and sincere she was. Then he went to her house and saw how filial and considerate she was. So little by little his impression of her changed.
Xing Ren uncomfortably asks why he’s telling her all this right now. Zi Qi thinks he’s also started to change. He’s finally thought it through, and wants her to go to Paris without being worried about him. He knows how to ride a motorcycle now, and wash his own clothes, it can’t be that hard to cook pasta, and he can survive on NT30k a month. Xing Ren asks if he really wants her to go? He nods yes. Xing Ren looks upset.
Zi Qi gets up and Xing Ren follows him. He walks back holding a broccoli bouquet, which he hands to her. Xing Ren slowly accepts it with a little smile. Zi Qi stares at her, and then says the magic words “no matter where you go, I will wait for you to come back.” He wants her to do what she wants to do without worry, because he will be here waiting for her to return. At which time, he will cook the world’s best pasta for her.
They smile at each other, these little smiles that just burst out of them. Xing Ren asks if she can open the card on the bouquet and he nods. She takes out a lotto ticket and teases him that the chances of winning are quite low. ZI Qi says that is what makes winning one of these so special. He offers her a coin to scratch with and holds the bouquet for her.
He watches her scratch intently, as she first scratches off the prize box to reveal the value of the prize being zero NT. Then she slowly scratches the win box and stops midway to look at Zi Qi. She finishes revealing the entire winning box, which says “Shen Xing Ren, congrats on winning the grand prize, the prize is Qin Zi Qi.”
Xing Ren looks up to see Zi Qi staring intently at her, which he has been doing the entire time. He swallows and then takes a step forward, while Xing Ren looks nervous. She drops the coin she used to scratch as he leans in to kiss her. Zi Qi closes his eyes and slowly kisses Xing Ren, who tentatively return the kiss.
They slowly break apart and just stare at each other. Zi Qi breaks the silence by confessing to Xing Ren that he likes her. Not just likes her, he likes her very much.
Xing Ren stares at him, and then she steps forward and hugs him tightly. Zi Qi’s hand encircles her back and they end up hugging each other. This was so wonderful to watch just describing it isn’t anywhere close to capturing the sweetness of this scene.
Morning arrives and Le Le is feeling that Xing Ren has the bad end of the bargain. Zi Qi gave her a cheap broccoli, some rice balls, and a manufactured lotto ticket, all of which combined doesn’t even cost NT100. Xing Ren doesn’t mind, she thinks Zi Qi showed a lot of heart. Le Le is just worried Xing Ren will get played.
Zi Qi walks up and asks Le Le to beware of the day he shows off even more stunning moves. Le Le confronts Zi Qi and warns him that if he lets Xing Ren cry or be upset, she will break his legs. If he cheats on her, she’ll castrate him. She makes him swear, because he’s such a playboy in the past while Xing Ren is so innocent and honest. Zi Qi swears that if he dumps Xing Ren, he will be poor for life. Le Le is not impressed since Zi Qi is already so poor. Zi Qi changes his oath to even the ugliest girl in the world won’t like him if he is untrue to Xing Ren.
The two lovebirds stare at each other awkwardly after Le Le the dictator leaves. Zi Qi reaches out his hand and has to gesture a few times before Xing Ren puts her hand in his. They stand there just holding hands, with Xing Ren smiling sweetly. They head off to work.
While walking through the department store hand-in-hand, Zi Qi asks if they can go somewhere on their day off. Xing Ren doesn’t want to waste money, reminding Zi Qi to be frugal. Suddenly she lets go of his hand, and Zi Qi looks up and sees Kai Er standing there. Kai Er walks forward with a smile (and her hair styled like Xing Ren’s) and greets them. The mood is awkward until Xing Ren excuses herself to go punch her card, telling them to catch up with each other.
Zi Qi avoids looking at Kai Er until she asks him if the flash drive she asked him to hand to the president has been viewed yet. Zi Qi promises to asks. Kai Er confirms that Zi Qi confessed his feelings to Xing Ren and they are together now. When Zi Qi asks what Kai Er did on her vacation, she says she stayed home and cried for five days. Zi Qi looks uncomfortable until Kai Er confesses that was teasing him, and instead she went overseas for a vacation. She’s back to her old self now. Kai Er walks away, and OMG the bitch is totally not fine with anything. I can totally tell.
Zi Qi meets with the VP of HR and she asks if he has any constructive suggestions for the company. Zi Qi thinks the company first needs to get rid of its high level supervisors who do nothing but collect a high salary. She compliments him on growing a lot since working at the company, but Zi Qi only shakes his head and says she ought to thank Shen Xing Ren.
When asked if he has anything going on with Xing Ren, Zi Qi’s silence coupled with his smiley eyes totally give him away. Zi Qi asks if his dad has viewed the flash drive yet? When asked what is in it, Zi Qi says he doesn’t know. She promises to find out for him.
The VP gets called to a conference room with the President, who hands her a flash drive and asks her to review its contents right now. She opens the files and is taken aback by what she is reading. She asks if this information is true? The President tells her that if it’s true, then the busiest people at the company in the near term will be the members of her human resources department. He tells her to keep the information secure and not to let anyone at the company find out.
Thoughts of Mine:
Raise your hands if Zi Qi’s gesture and declaration to Xing Ren melted you into a puddle, and you had to reconstruct yourself afterwards? The moment itself meant more for me watching it within the context of the drama, having followed Zi Qi and Xing Ren from random strangers to finally kissing face. I appreciated how the drama eschewed the typical swirly-camera heaviness and allowed the very quiet beats to dictate the mood. Zi Qi and Xing Ren spoke volumes with the way they stared at each other, and it was all brought home at the end when Zi Qi said outright that he likes Xing Ren. While some may find Xing Ren stubbornly obstinate in the way she refused to fully acknowledge Zi Qi’s feelings until he made it clear, but who can blame her when Zi Qi was a skirt chaser when they first met, and later he used boyish teasing to hint that he liked her. It was important for Zi Qi to say what he feels, allowing Xing Ren to finally let her guard down and reciprocate his feelings.
For once I feel like a couple getting together is just the start of the story in many ways, as we still have the entirety of Zi Qi’s prince-turned-paupers task to complete for his dad, and Xing Ren’s own professional accomplishments to achieve. Factor in Mama Shen being sick, the bitch-is-back Kai Er’s nefarious schemes (c’mon, you know she’s up to no good), and whatever the heck the writer wants to do with Mina-Yu Cheng Feng (beats me, those two are totally useless characters for this drama, but not terribly annoying so I like them), and Stallone and Le Le (he may be a ridiculous human being, but she’s a shrill harpy and at this point he’s too good for her because she annoys me). I don’t feel the story dragging, but I do want to some gamechangers, if only to up the pace just a tad. Every drama needs a satisfying denouement otherwise it just limps to a conclusion, and I don’t want that for OG.
With the drama 2/3rds of the way done, it’s clear that the acting chemistry of the cast elevates the rather basic source material, rendering jokes, adlibs, and quips more hilarious than it ought to, like being in on the joke rather than hearing it out of context. I don’t think any of the characters are written all that well, and character development is nil outside of Xing Ren and Zi Qi, and even they are being dragged along by each other moreso than any realistic circumstance. But it’s been so long since a drama meshed so cohesively for me, being simplistic but never stupid, silly but never mean spirited. OG is like the junior high cousin to the high schooler that was Sunny Happiness, taking what it’s doing right and making that the cornerstone of it’s journey.