Best episode of In A Good Way so far? Oh you betcha! To begin with, when the title song started playing I almost got teary-eyed from the undeniable realization that even with just one week off I missed In A Good Way so much. The entire cast of characters have become like friends I hang out with once a week. They have their share of issues around unrequited love, school troubles, and friendship blips, but nothing feels manufactured outside the realm of what is probable and likely happened to many viewers in their own college experience. There was a bit of a narrative slowdown in the last two episodes but episode 12 starts off this drama in the year of the horse with a blast right out of the gate. I thought this episode would be short to recap since I would pretty much be writing “The gang organizes a concert to lure students to join their protest”. The drama proves my thinking to be much too simplistic and this episode was meat and potatoes dense in character interaction from every single cast member AND threw in tons of flashy sizzle at the end with the high profile guest-starring performances by real life rockers Wu Bai and Chang Cheng Yue. IAGW managed to integrate every aspect of its drama identity into one stellar episode dealing with youthful ideals, the courage to fight for freedom and justice, and the way music is such an indelible part of expressing what is so hard to put into words.
I’m sure you all want to start reading the recap or watch the episode since that still above of a major hug between Liu Chuan and Jia En is about as sexy and romantic as it gets for these two. Lego Lee‘s performance in the entire sequence was beyond perfect, the way his face and eyes searched for Jia En when the song first started to when he lit up to find her. Conversely this episode continues to deliver confirmation to Bai Xue that Liu Chuan likes Jia En a lot, and Ren Wei’s silent observation of Jia En and Liu Chuan is starting to make me hurt for him the way I hurt for Bai Xue when Liu Chuan turned her down. If Ren Wei really does like Jia En and its not some fleeting thing, it becomes one of this missed opportunities that he will look back on with regret that he had her beside him the entire time and only after she spreads wings and starts to fly on her own does he see her completely for her splendor. It’s going to get a bit more complicated for these four but I have faith the drama will continue to address each tangled knot to untie it with sincerity and consideration. I also loved watching Ri Qi and Xiao Wei move past the 3631 misunderstanding and resume their sweet support of each other, and even better was that it didn’t require a full blown explanation with things just naturally sorting itself out. It was so satisfying to watch the gang succeed in their admittedly ambitious endeavor and sometimes we all need to watch the good guys get rewarded while the bad guy gets a taste of his own medicine. Professor Chang is clearly not down and out for the count yet, but I have faith that his eventual take down will be majorly epic.
Episode 12 recap:
Professor Chang Fei goes to meet with the University Chancellor and tries to explain that it’s just the misunderstanding of a few students causing this ruckus. The Chancellor realizes that the students are living in an era of greater freedom so their views need to be respected. Professor Chang counters that the school structure will break down any time a minority can disrupt the system for their wrong views, and when asked if his grading was indeed aboveboard the Lying Liar Who Lies that is Professor Chang vouches that he graded the exam properly. The Chancellor agrees to stick up for him then and hands him the organization for next week’s university involvement in the national banquet. He promises to handle the protest for Professor Chang and calls his secretary to keep an eye on the students.
Team Freedom gathers in the Treasure Hunting Club to discuss their next steps. Next week Professor Chang will represent the university at the national banquet so they have only a week to get the Professor to agree to show them the exam. After next week Professor Chang will be gone from school for an entire month for the banquet activities giving them only a few days left. Ah Di suggests they wait until he gets back but Ri Qi points out that the delay will cause the protest to lose steam. Jacky wants it done soon as well since all this late night protesting is bad for his healthy and for his studies. The team agrees to strike while the iron is hot and get it done within 2 days. Jia En speaks up about having faith in succeeding and Liu Chuan just stares at her all moony-eyed. Bai Xue and Ren Wei notice and both look awkward and even Jia En blushes a little.
The team practices their sign for rocking out and Ri Qi points out the difference between the rock and love sign. They decide to use the love sign instead since they are doing all of this for love. Liu Chuan points out that the first thing to do is spread news to the entire school. Jia En suggests sending a coded message via everyone’s pagers to get their attention. The first page is to let people know the day and time, and then the location. They need to keep the school from knowing what they are planning so they can’t stop them. Liu Chuan passes out assignments and Jia En and Xiao Wei are told to keep going to Professor Chang’s class so he doesn’t suspect anything. Ah Qing says Jia En has the best chemistry with Liu Chuan so she needs to stay by his side and help him. Cue another round of awkward stares from Ren Wei and Bai Xue. Man, I’m really feeling bad for those two.
Team Freedom sets their clocks and realizes they have only 53 hours left and counting. Professor Chang walks by and peeks into the room to see them all gathered together. They notice him and immediate change the subject to what they are eating for dinner. Professor Chang comes in and wonders why Xiao Wei is hanging out with these guys. He drops his ultimatum one more time – he can forgive them for their slander but they need to publicly apologize to him. Liu Chuan says he will apologize if they did something wrong. Professor Chang wants them to apologize now then but Ren Wei speaks up first and says he will never get an apology for them because they did nothing wrong. Professor Chang tells Liu Chuan to stop fighting the useless fight and give up.
There is 36 hours remaining and the Men of Steel adorably visit all the club headquarters to make announcements about the big event coming up on this Friday at 10 p.m. Liu Chuan will have something to say to everyone so they need to all come to the biggest event in school history and hear what he has to say. Ah Qing spreads the word when he’s taking a whizz in the men’s bathroom and it gets passed along just like like. Xiao Wei is still at work and always checking her watch because she’s got a very important coming up. Ri Qi picks her up from work and brings her a bag full of bread. She can’t eat so much and he explains that the cafeteria sells all its bread for 1 cent apiece right before it closes and he always buys a lot as a way to save money. She doesn’t think he needs to be so frugal but Ri Qu believes frugality is also a way to make money. He offers to teach her tricks for saving money and then offers to buy different flavor bread for her next time. He reminds her to eat real meals as well so she gets all her nutrition. Xiao Wei is so touched by how much everyone looks out for her and tells him to let her know anytime he needs anything because she will help him. Ri Qi starts now and asks her to accompany him to get a new BB call pager.
Professor Chang takes roll call in his class and Xiao Wei and Jia En are both missing again. Suddenly all the kids hear their BB calls go off with the following coded message – (FRI 10PM FREE 060176863). Professor Chang has everyone put their BB calls away which is when Jia En and Xiao Wei arrive and apologize for being late to class. The students call back the number left on their BB calls which goes to a voicemail left by Liu Chuan asking all students to come to hear him say something tomorrow night. Jia En runs to meet up with Liu Chuan after class and he confirms Professor Chang didn’t give them a hard time and thinks they have given up. Jia En shows him the paged number and Liu Chuan immediately knows the code means “Let’s all go help Liu Chuan.” He not only knows what it means he thinks Ri Qi thought it up. Jia En says no, it was thought up by Ri Qi and Xiao Wei together.
Bai Xue is with the Men of Steel going to pick up supplies. Jacky gives Bai Xue the front passenger seat so she can observe the coolest guy on the planet show off his manly backing the car up. Ren Wei gets in and backs up his car with Jacky and Ah Di cheering him on from outside. Afterwards they ask if Bai Xue feels anything seeing Ren Wei do something so cool. Ren Wei doesn’t seem particularly eager for Bai Xue to compliment him. Ah Di reveals that Ren Wei got his driver’s license so that he can impress Bai Xue with his reverse driving skills. She asks if it’s true but Ren Wei brushes it aside and claims a man needs to know how to drive. The other two run off leaving Bai Xue and Ren Wei awkwardly sitting in the car. He asks if she’s feeling better lately and she says a bit better. She turns the question back to him and he says the same. D’oh, I can slice the tension with a spoon.
Liu Chuan and Jia En run around trying to get performers for the show but no one is giving them the time of day. Jia En suggests asking for a donation but Liu Chuan doesn’t want money to come into play. She apologizes for suggesting stupid ideas all the time and causing more problems but Liu Chuan doesn’t think her suggestions are stupid and likes solving problems with her. Jia En thanks him for being the first to step forward and support her while Liu Chuan thanks her for being the first person to support Xiao Wei. Jia En promises to keep up with him this time but next time she will solve her own problems.
Ah Qing is trying to reserve a space for tomorrow night but the facilities manager tells him that there are no spaces available. Tracy comes by asking for the same but both are turned down. Suddenly another student comes to cancel his reservation and both Ah Qing and Tracy beg the student to give each of them the space. He tells the two of them to go grab the permit which he left on his desk at the club headquarters and the first person to grab it gets the space. Tracy and Ah Qing make a run for it. The facilities manager places a call to Professor Chang telling him that a student from the Treasure Hunting Club came by to reserve a space for an event. Ah Qing outruns Tracy but she tricks him and then hops on a bike to make a break for it. Tracy gets the permit first for her dance club and Ah Qing is left huffing and puffing. He begs her for the permit but she stuffs it in her shirt and tells him to grab it if he dares.
Everyone goes back to the dorm room to start prepping for tomorrow’s event. The first is to get all the new petitions in order for people to sign. Ri Qi assures everyone that he has never seen Liu Chuan fail before in all the years he’s known him. Ren Wei says he’s never seen Jia En give up in all the years he’s known her. Those two will not let them down. Ah Qing and Tracy arrive at the Men’s Dorm and find Professor Chang there to report that Liu Chuan’s dorm room supposedly has prohibited items. Ah Qing tries to pass off an electric stove and promises to get rid of it. Professor Chang doesn’t buy it and Tracy is sitting in for her aunt today and goes to check if there is anything prohibited and if so then she’ll confiscate it. Ah Qing pages Ri Qi with a WATCH OUT 339 and Ren Wei peeks out the door to see Professor Chang coming. There is a mad rush to hide everything. Ri Qi opens the door for Tracy and Professor Chang who just storms inside to check if there are prohibited items. He pulls the covers off the top bunk and finds boxes there. An inspection of the boxes shows lots and lots of towels which they claim are for club activities.
Professor Chang finds a protest placard there and they can’t explain it away anymore. He walks over to Xiao Wei and Bai Xue and rifles through a box to pull up protest signature books. Xiao Wei speaks up that she is going to get the entire school student body to band together to protest his unfair grading. Ri Qi stands up for Xiao Wei and says he’s the owner of this room. Professor Chang confirms Tracy will confiscate everything and orders her to destroy it all so he never sees it again. Liu Chuan and Jia En return to the dorm in time to see Professor Chang leaving. They run back to the dorm room and find all their supplies have been taken. Liu Chuan asks if they can get another set of towels but Bai Xue shakes her head since the factory owner worked overnight to help them. He suggests they spread it out among factories and Bai Xue agrees to try. Ri Qi will print out more signature books but Ah Qing reveals the bad news that they don’t have a space reserved yet. Jia En adds that she and Liu Chuan got nowhere today either. Liu Chuan encourages everyone to keep going and not give up and that cheers everyone up.
Xiao Wei and Ri Qi head out to get more stuff done and pass by Tracy sitting downstairs. Tracy asks when Xiao Wei changed her mind? Xiao Wei reveals she changed her mind because she saw how much it mattered to Jia En and everyone else. She thought she would be fine being mistreated but realized that she can’t live by not helping herself. Tracy doesn’t think protesting is a smart move and a way of helping herself. What if she fails? She has three more years at this school and how will she survive? Xiao Wei thought about it and if she backs down now then forget the rest of school, she’ll always be scared and taken advantage of by people all her life. Ri Qi and Xiao Wei head off and assure Tracy they won’t bring more things back to the dorm room and cause her any grief. Tracy sits down deep in thought.
The Men of Steel go to the music club to beg them to perform but the members are not interested. An Qing goes to beg as well and also get blown off. Even pretty Bai Xue gets nowhere with her entreaties. Ri Qi and Xiao Wei return with another box of signature books and pens. They encounter the rest of the Team being all dejected since they can’t get any space for the event still. Tracy arrives and asks why they are so desperate for an event space? They won’t tell her the truth so she moves to leave which is when Xiao Wei stops Tracy and asks her to not tell the school even if she doesn’t help. Tracy asks why they think she won’t help? She’s actually curious about what Liu Chuan wants to say tonight. She takes Team Freedom to a warehouse where all their confiscated supplies are there. She takes out the event permit and chides them for planning something without all the details confirmed. If they fail then Liu Chuan’s reputation takes a huge hit. Tracy hands the permit to them and everyone thanks her for being their savior. Tracy wants to help Xiao Wei because she is helping herself now. Tracy warns them that eyes are watching them at the Treasure Hunting club so don’t go back there to plan, and also keep a low profile.
Bai Xue directs the Men of Steel on how to secretly move supplies. They encounter a teacher and awkwardly try to act normal and nonchalant. Bai Xue goes to keep watch while the three guys try to pass the supplies into the event hall through a window. Jacky is too useless and needs help getting in through the window and climbing into the bathroom stall. Then Ah Di climbs in and the guys start the box transfer and successfully move everything in. Bai Xue spots Professor Chang coming this way and goes to warn Ren Wei so he quickly climbs in through the window and hides. The Men of Steel are wedged into a bathroom stall hiding while Bai Xue tries to act cool when she greets Professor Chang. He asks what she is doing here and she lies that she is looking at the flowers? The Men of Steel knock over a box and cause a noise from inside the bathroom and the Professor walks closer. Bai Xue points out that it’s the ladies bathroom and it’s not seemly for him to be so close and manages to get rid of him.
Jia En and Liu Chuan go to a pub to beg the owner for some musicians to lend to them. The owner wants to help but if he sends his musicians then he has no show tonight. Suddenly the door opens and rocker Wu Bai walks in the door to the pub. Oh yeah! Team Freedom is setting up with hours to go for tonight’s show and everyone decides to have faith that Liu Chuan and Jia En will pull through in the end. Night falls and it’s 30 minutes until show time and still a no show from Jia En and Liu Chuan. Bai Xue and Ren Wei speak up that they have to trust in Liu Chuan. The Men of Steel announce that they have a back up plan ready which is that they have practiced the songs and will perform onstage in liue of real musicians. Bai Xue gets a page from Liu Chuan which says 10 PM C.D.B. The same page goes out to the entire student body and C.D.B. means Cheng Dong Building. The students head to the building and pass by the front desk where they are being asked to sign the petition signature books. Jia En runs into the hall huffing and puffing and she’s all smiles with a thumbs up.
Ren Wei turns off all the lights in the auditorium to start the show. Liu Chuan opens the doors and walks through the crown and gets up on stage. He grabs the mic and introduces himself. He wants to thank everyone for coming today. The students clamor to know why they are here? Liu Chuan wants them to participate in an event called My Era of Freedom. Everyone needs the right to express their views and be free to live their lives. But today one first year student got her freedom taken away and that is why they are here to support and protest this injustice. Liu Chuan leads everyone in the hand gesture for love and asks them to chant out loud “Protest the Unjust Grading, Demand a Test Review.”
Liu Chuan welcomes rocker Chang Cheng Yue to the stage and he performs his iconic song Free Night to the cheers of the crowd. Jia En is standing with Bai Xue and Ren Wei during the performance but midway through Liu Chuan walks through the crowd and joins her. Outside the auditorium more students are running to the building once they hear music trickling out and the voice of Chang Cheng Yue. Professor Chang notices students heading towards the performance. Chang Cheng Yue segues into his second song and Jia En and Liu Chuan whisper to each other about how they are happy to have succeeded. The jostling students push them closer together and they awkwardly break apart. Professor Chang enters the building to find the concert underway and his protests fall on deaf years as he’s fairly pushed out by students enjoying the concert.
The swaying students push Jia En away from Liu Chuan and he pulls her in before telling her to stick closer to him otherwise she’ll get pushed out of the way. Jia En is so uncomfortable she makes the excuse that it’s too crowded here so she’ll go outside to man the signature tables. That leaves loverboy Liu Chuan staring longingly after her as she walks out. STUPID GIRL! Ah Di and Jacky head out to take over the table from Bai Xue and tells her to go inside to enjoy the concert. They reveal Professor Chang tried to stop the concert but they pushed him out the door. Jia En arrives and the guys notice how flushed she is and she touches her cheek.
Chang Cheng Yue heads into his third song and the crowds continue to swell as more and more students arrive at the concert. Ri Qi is riding his bike through campus while Xiao Wei rides behind him broadcasting about the free concert at C.D.B. Oh god they are soooo cute. Professor Chang is running through the building looking for the main power switch. Tracy finds him and lies that she’s on his side and points him upstairs to the roof where the main power grid is. Professor Chang climbs all the stairs huffing and puffing until he gets up to the roof. He sees the power grid but can’t figure it out and kicks the pipes in frustration. Chang Cheng Yue croons out his popular ballad “Love Me Don’t Leave” as the students sway to his voice. Tracy smiles as she checks on the students coming in. Ah Qing notices her and pulls her aside to sing “Love Me Don’t Leave” to her and asks her to date him. She needs to consider it but as she’s walking away Jacky and Ah Di reveal to her that they had a bet with him that he could land her in 100 days. Ah Qing says he doesn’t need to bet on winning a girl’s heart so Tracy asks what he does want to bet on. Ah Qing has never dated a girl over 2 months so he’ll bet and he and Tracy will last longer than than if they date. If they date over 100 days then Tracy wins and he will do whatever she wants. Tracy agrees to the bet and vows to win it.
Chang Cheng Yue finishes his set and Liu Chuan goes onstage to make an announcement that they have obtained over 1000 signatures in the petition to get Professor Chang to review the test. But that is not enough and Liu Chuan asks if they want more? If they want even more freedom? Professor Chang runs downstairs back to the first electric grid and pulls it. All the power suddenly goes off and Liu Chuan asks the students to be calm and the power will be restored soon. He leads them in a chant of “I want freedom!” while Ren Wei runs to the power grid outside the building and restarts it. The moment the lights come back on the students scream because rock legend Wu Bai is standing on stage. He growls “who turned off my power? I am really pissed now! And I heard a student was mistreated and the school let it happen. Is everyone okay with it?” The student scream out that they are not okay with it so Wu Bai starts signing. Outside all the students go crazy when they hear Wu Bai singing.
Jia En recounts how they got Wu Bai go perform. He had asked Liu Chuan and Jia En why he needs to perform for one mistreated student? Liu Chuan says if his one song can bring more freedom to the student body at CDU then nothing is more worthy than that. Wu Bai accepts since his reason for making music is freedom. Ri Qi and Xiao Wei walk through the empty campus and he suggests they head back. He gets on his bike and she climbs on behind him. Professor Chang wanders through the hallways and sees the event still going on. He demands to know why there is still power on inside? He runs into Xiao Wei in the lobby and she smiles at him before handing him a freedom towel to wipe his sweat. He looks chastened and storms off. Suddenly the music changes and Jia En turns to hear Wu Bai sing the song she listened to at his concert with Liu Chuan. Jia En runs inside while Liu Chuan is looking around and decides to walk through the crowd scanning for Jia En. She heads into the crowd and they are looking around for each other. He totally looks like someone kicked his puppy but the moment he finds Jia En the way he smiles in relief is so utterly telling. She smiles to spot him as well and waits for Liu Chuan to wind through the crowd to reach her and then they stand next to each other to listen to Wu Bai sing.
Wu Bai speaks during the song and asks the students to embrace freedom by first embracing the person next to them. Liu Chuan and Jia En awkwardly stand there as everyone is hugging around them. Finally Liu Chuan says “Jia En” and pulls her in for a major hug. KYAAAAAA. Jia En stands there for a few seconds before tentatively embracing Lui Chuan back. Bai Xue walks into the concert and sees Liu Chuan and Jia En embracing. So does Ren Wei and he turns his face away, and even though everyone gets overshadowed by Lego’s awesome in this drama but Jay Shih has been bringing it since episode 1 and right now you can totally feel his confusion and twinge of pain. Everyone has stopped hugging except for Liu Chuan and Jia En and man those two are like super glued to each other as this point. Wu Bai finishes his song to the lyrics “love you, love you” and the cheers and calls of encore from the entire crowd.
Thoughts of Mine:
Ahhhh, such a satisfying episode, like a hearty meal after a long hard day’s work. Only thing missing is watching Liu Chuan and Jia En make out like bunnies in the concert floor but that’s about as likely as Jacky suddenly becoming the Big Man on campus next week. It’s okay, I’ll take that hug because it’s so well-earned with 12 episodes of buildup beforehand. And it wasn’t a perfunctory hug either, that Liu Chuan dived for Jia En after looking left and right to make sure the coast was clear and then he wasn’t letting go unless zombies attacked and they had to make a run for it. I felt so bad for the boy today, and it’s a continuation of feeling bad that all his not-so-subtle attempts to clue Jia En in on his “special” interest in her always came up against a clueless wall. It’s clear her cluelessness was partly to keep him at bay so she didn’t have to deal with that big question which might involve her needing to decide something that could end up hurting Bai Xue as collateral damage. But even then, half the time Liu Chuan stares at her I think she’s just “doop-de-doop” bopping along in her own little happy space and completely unaware to what everyone else sees. That leaves Bai Xue and Ren Wei getting some ricochets off Liu Chuan’s mighty stares of affection and feeling really crappy about it. I don’t know what the drama intends to do about Ren Wei’s feelings but its clear the story is taking a breather from developing anything further for him and Bai Xue at this point. I hope their slight awkwardness around each other doesn’t continue because they also had a good friendship going. At least it wasn’t all moping for the two of them as they really seemed to thrive in the group effort to fight for justice for Xiao Wei.
I thought the grading debacle ought to have wrapped up already but this episode actually continued to use it to great effort without seeming like beating a dead horse. Sometimes the powerful are hard to topple and bureaucracy isn’t easy to effect change. If a few kids protesting got a university to act then its both unrealistic and downplays the courage it takes to fight the hard fight. Xiao Wei seems to have transformed and blossomed overnight once she got up the courage to stand up for herself, and with it she won Tracy to her side and easily leaped over any awkwardness with Ri Qi. That’s how friendships are at such a young age. Tracy and Ah Qing continued their amusing back-and-forth while Jacky and Ah Qi remain useful and endearing comic reliefs. Professor Chang’s refusal to back down is frustrating but his stakes are high too if it means revealing his wrongdoing for the world to see. Those who abuse their power are the ones who will fight to the death to keep it hidden. It was pretty ridiculous that two kids like Liu Chuan and Jia En could convince famous rockers with Wu Bai and Chang Cheng Yue to perform at their protest concert, but that’s a leap I’m willing to take because I love the meaning behind it. Music is a form a self-expression and we want to express ourselves rather than be silent conformists because we seek freedom and independence to make our own choices. I think Xiao Wei said it well when asked why she changed her mind – if she stayed silent to survive the remainder of her college education that still leaves the rest of her life ahead of her where she will have no strength of character to fight for what is right. College may be the first time kids step foot into adulthood and embrace independence, but it is also there that the foundation is laid for crafting who we will be going forward. I applaud Team Freedom for having the guts and determination to fight for their beliefs.
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