Sometimes I wish drama titles could be translated literally because it usually has a much more visceral meaning in the original language. In A Good Way is the English drama title but the Chinese title is Our Era of Freedom. The era part connotes both the period setting, bringing audiences today back to their own past and an era of less responsibility and more freedom. College is naturally the most fitting time period, earlier in high school one still relied on parents and later after graduating the pressures of adult life descend. The other important word in the drama title is freedom, and that word usually is associated also with independence. To become independent we need the freedom to make our own choices and deal with the resulting consequences. Jia En is eager for freedom not necessarily because she feels burdened but because she is really seeking independence. She wants to not have who she is defined by another. In the past it was Ren Wei, and in her stumbling around for independence she is still taking cues from others as this episode shows when she makes the effort to try out for the university public relations team based on Bai Xue’s suggestion that Jia En can meet her idol that way.
It’s natural and her self-awareness makes her absolutely endearing, because who wouldn’t cheer for this sweet girl who is desperately trying to grow up but not having the experience to know how exactly to go about it. The word freedom means something different to Liu Chuan, and in episode 5 we got the first peek behind the curtains of his rather aloof existence. He appeared before us in episode 1 fully formed – here is the campus super star, voila! Handsome, friendly, considerate, and above all is, the man all guys want to be and the man all girls want. But Liu Chuan is so low key that we have to be told all this about him because he doesn’t exude any of that. He is just him. Which is what makes his interaction and ever increasing awareness of Jia En so brilliantly done, because he arrives fully formed but she comes to him completely unformed. She is an empty slate waiting to be filled by life’s experiences in college whereas he is in college to seek the freedom to live a life that may already be mapped out for him. This is the start of her journey whereas it appears it is merely a detour in his. So their crossed paths have deeper meaning than just Liu Chuan thinks Jia En is adorable and she clearly has functioning eyes so obviously she can’t be oblivious to the biggest hottie on campus being her friend. I think Liu Chuan is attracted to Jia En’s artlessness and the fact that she no baggage to define who she is. That is the very freedom he fights for in his own life.
Episode 5 recap:
Jia En’s post on the campus BBS gets a response from 3631 about how memories is the force that pushes our lives forward. We are always on a journey reliving what we just experienced. She recognizes his handle as someone who always writes interesting things. She responds asking what memories propel him forward? She sits back to wait but gets no immediately response because 3631, i.e. Liu Chuan, is not at the computer. Too bad Momo can’t type. Momo would clearly help his daddy “ba mei” (pick up girls) if he could. Heh.
The next day, Jia En is hanging with Bai Xue who is talking about the upcoming midterms. Bai Xue warns her about one of their major classes but Jia En is more worried about her PE elective. Bai Xue is surprised that Jia En has selected the ballroom dancing class as her PE elective, which happens to be the same class Liu Chuan is in. Turns out he’s prone to picking classes based on the when its held so he can have more days free.
Tracy comes by to show off herself and it’s nice to see girls being friends and not bitchy towards each other. Tracy is dressed in a hot sexy outfit and asks her friends to guess who she is supposed to be but no one can guess. It turns out to be the album cover outfit of her idol Japanese pop star Namie Amuro. Talk turns to idols and Bai Xue shows off her idols who are all writers. Jia En is once again feeling sheepish that she has no idols of her own, in the past she liked what her friends liked. Bai Xue asks Jia En to think about who is her idol and then tell her because she really wants to know.
Jia En is at the ballroom dancing class and she’s paired with another girl student so she has to dance the male part. That student wants to hurry up and finish the test so won’t switch parts with Jia En so she ends up only knowing how to dance the male steps. When the teacher asks which male student will help Jia En practice and retake the test, no one raises their hand and Liu Chuan sees it so he volunteers. Jia En nods her head in thanks towards him and they smile at each other.
After class, Jia En thanks him for taking time to help her and they schedule Thursday for their practice. She asks what his next class is and hears its about world pop culture and idols. Jia En mentions discussing idols earlier in the morning with Bai Xue and Jia En thinks one’s idol can reflect on one’s personality. She asks if he has an idol and gets a wry smile in return which makes her feel like she asked a stupid question. Jia En figures Liu Chuan can’t possibly have someone he idolizes. Liu Chuan points out that idols are human beings as well so its rather silly to place them on a pedestal. He does admit that his idol would be someone who influenced him greatly in his life. Jia En wants to know who it is but Liu Chuan tells her to spend her time studying and stop asking so many questions.
Jia En comes back to the tea shop and finds Ren Wei hanging with his Men of Steel. She’s impressed they are reading books and studying for the upcoming midterms but when she grabs a book she sees they are reading books on how to woo women. So typical but endearing. Jacky says the books are treasures they found at the library and she hears Ren Wei goes there now because he heard Bai Xue studies there. The books spout the usual gender stereotypes about the fairer sex, such as women are passive-aggressive because they want to test a man’s persistence. LOL. Ren Wei thinks that is why Bai Xue rejected him and in truth she wants him. Jia En tells him to read this crap and it’ll just lead him further from Bai Xue.
Ren Wei asks if Jia En knows anything about Bai Xue and hears she likes reading literary novels. Ren Wei is impressed that Bai Xue has such depth and she really is his 100% perfect girl. Talk turns to idols and when Jia En thinks she doesn’t have an idol, Ren Wei reminds Jia En that she has an idol. She used to love watching Taiwanese-American tennis wunderkind Michael Chang play. Jia En chats with her dad about idols and her dad’s idol is a someone with the super power to be in two places at one time so he can be here at the store and also be at a strip club. Ha! Ren Wei hears from Ah Di that women are auditory creatures and he gets a brilliant idea.
Ren Wei sends a mixed tape to Bai Xue containing him crooning the popular love balled “Crazy for Love” by Rene Liu. Bai Xue doesn’t seem upset to receive it and immediately pops it in the tape player and listens to it with a smile. Ren Wei hides across the hallway and looks at her listening to the song.
Jia En arrives and cuts off Bai Xue’s listening to talk with her about her idol being Michael Chang. Ren Wei runs in to ask her to finish listening but Bai Xue returns the tape once she realizes its from him. Ren Wei runs outside and returns with a guitar and starts publicly serenading her with the same song. An audience forms including Jia En, Liu Chuan, Ah Qing, and Ri Qi, watching in mild awe at Ren Wei’s ballsy guts. The guys are pretty impressed while the girls are all swooning. He finishes to claps and Jia En telling him that he did well.
Ren Wei’s love ballad gets the crowd on his side chanting for her to accept him but of course she doesn’t. Bai Xue tells Ren Wei that he must’ve gotten lost since this isn’t the Singing club but is instead the Treasure Hunting club. Ren Wei announces that he’ll join the club so she makes it clear he’s welcome to join the club. After everyone disperses, Jia En claps for him and gives him a thumbs up for a really awesome performance. Their friendship really is so sweet.
While Jia En is initiating Ren Wei into the club, Bai Xue brings up something for Jia En to do with regards to her idol. Bai Xue is a member of the University Public Relations Squad consisting of female students selected to represent the school at public events around town. An upcoming event will include the attendance of Michael Chang so Bai Xue encourages Jia En to try out especially since all she needs is good English skills and being a Foreign Languages major Jia En has that ability covered.
While Bai Xue is explaining all of this to Jia En, Liu Chuan listens and keeps sneaking peeks at her. Not sure what he’s thinking, as usual he’s curious about anything involving Jia En but doesn’t show it overtly.
Jia En goes home to practice her try out speech in English and she’s pretty good. We also learn her English name is Joan (though the subtitles read Joan but she pronounces it Joanne). Jia En finally gets a response back from 3631 apologizing for not responding earlier since he just saw it. With respect to her question, its hard to explain about his important memories. Plus people are wont to to idealize their memories and if he explained it he might start to doubt himself.
Jia En says its a good thing to keep memories in a happy place. Liu Chuan likes using the memories to clarify and confirm what he’s working towards. Jia En agrees, since she came to Taipei her life has changed from what she initially thought it would be like, but its become more exciting. Liu Chuan and Jia En correspond all night on BBS.
Jia En is practicing in empty classroom and Liu Chuan passes by and sees it. He goes off to play basketball with his guys but later when some bottled water is brought over he leaves them to go bring one to Jia En. It’s adorable how he walks in and says “Jo-an” and asks if she’s thirsty working so hard. Jia En takes the water and feels embarrassed he overheard. Liu Chuan tells her not to feel shy since she has to do it in front of so many people. Jia En agrees and she’s just a tad nervous.
Liu Chuan takes a drink of water and casually says she did a very good job. She thanks him and he reminds her that tomorrow is Thursday. She remembers and its their day to practice the jitterbug. He wonders if she’s not taking on too much but she is on a roll and says she can handle it. She asks if he’ll stay and listen to her practice her speech. He does and stares at her rather proudly. Poor Ah Qing and Ri Qi, left at the basketball court so abruptly.
Jia En practices the jitterbug at home in her room and her parents come in to show her how to do it.
Jia En and Liu Chuan practice their jitterbug for the upcoming test retake and they are just adorable together. They practice the steps and then hand motions and then combine it together. Bai Xue happens by and she greets them warmly. She asks Liu Chuan to come plan an upcoming Treasure Hunting event but he asks to do it later since he’s practicing with Jia En. Bai Xue leaves with an understanding of Liu Chuan’s priorities and turns back to give Liu Chuan a sad look.
Jia En tries to decide what to wear for tomorrow’s try-outs and she decides to wear something comfortable so she’s not nervous especially since there will be uniforms to wear once one is selected. Jia En goes to the try outs and notices all the other girls dressed very presentably whereas she’s in her usual t-shirt and overalls. Her friends all come to support her including Xiao Wei and Tracy. The girls insist she’ll be selected and they didn’t come to cheer her on but to be the first to congratulate her. Tracy looks Jia En over and tries to say something about her outfit but Jia En says she dressed comfortably so she’s not nervous. Tracy decides not to say anything and tells Jia En that she’ll do fine and she has plenty of inner beauty so off she goes.
Bai Xue is walking to try outs to support Jia En and runs into Ren Wei right outside. Then Liu Chuan comes running down the stairs and Bai Xue asks why he’s here? Before Liu Chuan can answer, Ren Wei says they should all go cheer Jia En and they walk there together. Bai Xue sits next to Liu Chuan and says its so nerve racking.
The try outs end and Jia En comes out feeling good about her effort. Ren Wei, Bai Xue, Tracy, and Xiao Wei rush towards her but Liu Chuan remains sitting there though he keeps looking at her as she explains how nervous she was when she started but got better as she went along. When the results are announced, she ends up not being selected. She’s dejected and everyone tries to cheer her up to no avail. Xiao Wei says Jia En is so brave for even trying out. Jia En says she’ll be fine and is just feeling bad so many people came to support her.
Jia En is moping on the park bench when Liu Chuan comes by with a lollipop that he dangles before her, explaining that he heard something sweet can cheer people up. He sits down next to her but she doesn’t take the candy and insists she’s not in a bad mood. Liu Chuan laughs at her which makes her wonder if he thinks she’s an idiot. Liu Chuan thinks she’s being so adorable right now which Jia En takes as an insult that she’s not pretty or classy which is when people use “adorable” to describe a girl. Liu Chuan insists he really thinks Jia En is adorable and asks if she remembers a saying that someone will tease her because the person likes her.
Jia En says that is a line of dialogue from the movies and he can just laugh at her all he wants. Liu Chuan reminds her that the PE test is coming so they need to find time to practice but Jia En just pouts. He asks if she’s planning to fail her PE class just because she wasn’t selected? Jia En feels so useless and doesn’t know why she wasn’t selected. Liu Chuan doesn’t know either but reminds her that the results are out of her control but as long as she did her best then she has nothing to be upset about. Jia En says she worked hard and was so close to being selected. Liu Chuan doesn’t placate her and instead says she doesn’t know that, i.e. maybe the others are better than her. She asks if he thinks she sucked but Liu Chuan doesn’t know since he didn’t see her speak nor does he know what the judges criteria are. Based on her skills, she ought to be have selected so there must be another reason she wasn’t selected. Just like when she didn’t get into college the first time, there must be a reason.
Jia En asks what other reason and Liu Chuan says he doesn’t know but they can discuss it at the next try outs. Jia En keeps pressing him and says Bai Xue told her that all she needed was good English skills and proper decorum. Liu Chuan nods and that causes Jia En to blow her lid and ask if there is something wrong with her presence? Liu Chuan says he’s not sure and she asks if he’s got something to say that he’s holding back on. Jia En ask why he’s not telling her the truth and Liu Chuan says the truth is that she wasn’t selected and obsessing about that is useless. Jia En takes the word “useless” and says Liu Chuan is clearly saying she’s useless! She storms off leaving Liu Chuan staring after her and looking at that poor lollipop he brought to cheer her up which ended up causing a complete meltdown.
Later Jia En admits to Xiao Wei and Tracy that she got mad at Liu Chuan because she was so sensitive about not being selected and everything he said she took the wrong way. Tracy makes Jia En change into one of her outfits and uses this to show her that her normal way of dressing is very dowdy and not suitable for a try out event for the school public relations team. Tracy cuts to the chase and says 100% the reason Jia En was not selected was because of how she dressed. She was dressed so casually it made the judges feel like she wasn’t respectful of this chance. Tracy explains that first impressions are important.
There is a crowd gathered outside a lecture hall and Ah Qing tells Liu Chuan that his dad is here speaking. Liu Chuan ppintedly avoids his dad who clearly wants to talk with him. Liu Chuan storms to the club and he’s uncharacteristically frazzled.
Jia En finds Liu Chuan at the club and asks to speak outside. She immediately apologizes for losing her temper with him the other day, it’s all her fault because he did nothing wrong. Liu Chuan brushes off her apology and says its fine. He looks away and Jia En asks if he’s upset at her. If so, just say it rather than being so dismissive towards her. Liu Chuan isn’t being dismissive but there are some things one can’t just say. Jia En has her own frustrations and Liu Chuan has his own worries. She can’t help him now just like there are some things he can’t help her.
Jia En asks him to not be so cold towards her because she really feels bad right now. She tries to get him to talk with her about what’s bothering him. She asks him not to hide away his worries and if they are friends he can talk with her. The word “hide” triggers Liu Chuan to unload on her – she’s the one who has hidden away her feelings about not being selected and he can’t even get inside. She is the one hiding things so who is she to tell him to share. He leaves her with the harsh parting words of “mind your own business.” Ouch.
After Liu Chuan walks away, he stops and looks back and wonders aloud why he can’t maintain his usual self-control anytime he encounters him. The him is clearly his dad. He’s brooding later that night and even his two roommates can tell something is off with him. Jia En is upset at home and wonders if Liu Chuan will show up for tomorrow’s PE test.
At the ballroom dancing test re-take, Jia En looks around and Liu Chuan is a no-show. Jia En asks to dance alone and the teacher allows it though he warns her it’ll be hard. She gives a good effort but naturally stumbles and misses steps. Liu Chuan arrives at the last minute and the teacher allows them to re-do the dance.
They dance and are perfectly in sync, ending with a twirl and dip that leaves then holding the position for quite some time staring at each other. The teacher hilariously has to tell them twice that the dance is over. Jia En wants to talk with him afterwards but he gets a page and has to go off to return the call.
Liu Chuan calls his dad back and reminds his dad that he promised him 4 years of freedom in college, which includes not letting people know his dad is a famous political bigwig. His dad confirms that arrangement but simply wants Liu Chuan to stop ignoring him like he’s some criminal. Liu Chuan ends the call with his dad rather abruptly.
Jia En goes back home and notices that 3631 is online right now on the campus BBS portal. She asks 3631 if everyone has secrets they don’t want to share? Liu Chuan replies that keeping secrets is a painful feeling. Jia En remembers how her spending the night in Liu Chuan’s room was outed last year and says she understands that feeling. Liu Chuan asks if she has any secret she can’t share? Jia En shares that it’s a friend keeping a secret – he got mad suddenly but wouldn’t say anything. Liu Chuan says the person must be not feeling great about that and everyone has bad moods and needs to find out ways to cheer oneself up.
Liu Chuan suggests taking the newly open MRT Muzha line which is a very uplifting feeling especially when the train exits the tunnel and the sunlight filters in. Jia En says she hasn’t taken the MRT since she arrived in Taipei and will plan to check it out when she finds time. Their BBS chat ends up going all night until the sun rises and Jia En asks for a recommendation of a famous Taipei breakfast place.
Liu Chuan makes a suggestion and Jia En goes there later that morning. Liu Chuan is already there and he notices her but doesn’t say anything.
Later Liu Chuan is taking the MRT like he recommended to Jia En and at a later stop she gets on and sits across from him but they don’t notice each other. After the train enters a tunnel and comes out on the other side is when they finally spot each other. Liu Chuan breaks the awkward mood and asks what she is doing here and hears that a BBS anonymous poster suggested to Jia En to take the MRT when she’s in a bad mood.
Thoughts of Mine:
I may continue doing baby recaps in addition to full recaps because its hard to wait a few days to publish my recaps due to the slow release of video files. Episode 5 was also less spazzy to watch but definitely meatier to digest and process. I loved the happy moments, especially how this drama writes friendship like is so natural and effortless. The way Jia En and Ren Wei talk is just love. How they are honest with each other, when the idea is stupid but also when the courage to act on said idea merits a thumbs up. When Jia En cheered on Ren Wei’s serenade of Bai Xue, I sorta wished for a moment there was a teensy weensy love line there too. As precious as my OTP is, the years Ren Wei and Jia En spent together as best friends must have so much that belong only to them. I want to know it all especially since we’ve only heard Jia En share the sad stuff about him building a castle and keeping her out. Ren Wei seems a bit dense but he’s a good friend and I’m glad he showed me in this episode when he arrived to cheer on Jia En at the try outs. Bai Xue, Tracy, and Xiao Wei are also lovely ladies and all so different and interesting in their own way. Tracy is especially refreshing in that she shares her opinions with Jia En but in a tactful way. Bai Xue tries so hard to be a good mentor and friend but she’s not always giving Jia En all the help she needs to succeed at something. I’m glad Jia En has more friends around her with different points of view to help her see things differently.
The fight between Jia En and Liu Chuan was the stuff of awesome. I can’t believe I’m loving a fight so much but it was so real and so petty and so happened to me before (and everyone). We’ve all had fights because we were in a bad mood, and what’s great is seeing that both Liu Chuan and Jia En are the same when they can’t control their emotions. Liu Chuan isn’t perfect and he also has his own weak spots. His happens to be his congressman daddy, whereas Jia En’s pressure point is being mocked. That seems to really trigger her to go off, the feeling of failure and embarrassment. We’ve seen it before from her when after her night with Liu Chuan was outed she needed help to get over that hurdle and have the courage to let go of what other’s thought of her. It’s good writing to show us that while Jia En tries she has feelings too and it’s not always easily said than done to get over a disappointing set back. I think what hurt the most was seeing all those friends there to support her and she was so sure she did well only to be so unceremoniously rejected. I’m also glad that both have the ability to apologize. Of course, my favorite bits of dialogue in this episode also came in the fights – when Liu Chuan told Jia En that he thought she was adorable and she petulantly took it the wrong way, and later when he told her that she was the one hiding things away from him in a place he couldn’t get into. How could she be so clueless as to not pick up how personal those comments were? I hope she starts getting a clue soon because I can’t wait for real romance to begin.
As a special treat, have the latest RongYi cuteness. Last week Kirsten posted two new pictures of her showing off a cute new gadget – its a cell phone charger in the shape of a little soda pop bottle. Her’s is pink with white dots. Today Lego posted a picture of him showing off his new present from “S jiejie” or (S noona) – the exact same cell phone charger but in leopard print. They even have the same accessories these days, LOL. All hints point to S jiejie being Kirsten’s older sister Selena. Lego knows all three S.H.E. noonas since he has done two MVs for them.