I don’t think the eternal doubt and worry about the future ever goes away. It’s not like once a student graduates college and hopefully picks a starting path in life that it’s set in stone or that it’ll work out. In A Good Way is first and foremost a college drama and it tackles questions that actually resonate no matter how old we are. I even think the desire of Liu Chuan for freedom really is a pipe dream, it’s an illusion, an ideal, something that eventually he’ll give up even if his dad hasn’t forced his hand. Fundamentally Liu Chuan simply doesn’t like his dad’s philosophy and sleazy moral company in life, but that doesn’t mean his dad’s plan for Liu Chuan is automatically flawed or wrong. Eventually we all have to grow up, and growing up to not turn into our parents is fine and all, but compromises still have to be made and lots of dreams have to be given up. Liu Chuan faces knowing what his future is but not particularly liking it, Jia En faces not know what her future is and being frustrated by seeming so immature in comparison.
Episode 18 was all about showcasing how each of these characters really have their own personalities and ways of living in this world, clashing in particular moments such as Ah Qing and Tracy’s fight in Tanshui or Jia En and Liu Chuan tiff about studying abroad, and helping each other think differently such as Xiao Wei’s speech to Ri Qi and Jia En as well as how Bai Xue uses the most encouraging methods to give Jia En a little push. I lost all patience with Ren Wei in this episode, from his continued insistence on making a business success for himself and digging a financial hole in the process to his sneaky attempts to spend time with Jia En and how he interjected himself into what was purely a relationship discussion between a couple that had nothing to do with him. I’m thisclose to writing Ren Wei off other than his emotional latchkey weakness and impetuousness has always defined him, and ultimately I think he spurred on a fight between Jia En and Liu Chuan that was both a long time coming and absolutely necessary to help them over this hump. I just wish he would spend more time on his own maturation because right now he’s the one sorely needing some lessons in life’s hard knocks. This drama remains ever so lovely in all its slow cadences that accumulate over time to form layers of sincere storytelling.
Episode 18 recap:
Tracy and Ah Qing are out on a date, toasting with martinis that he mixed specially for her with her favorite lemon peel rather than olives. Tracy wonders how he knows what she likes and Ah Qing says it’s because he likes her that he knows. Ah Qing leans in for a kiss but Tracy gets up at the last minute and avoids it. She hands him the finished martini and asks for another, and then asks him not to use his playboy tactics on her. He’s a libra who can’t ever say no to girls but Ah Qing counters that he can’t say no because he’s being too nice but when he really likes someone it’s serious. He swears that if he’s not true to her, then later when he’s a lawyer all his clients will go to jail. He hands her a handmade card inviting her to celebrate their 60th day anniversary. Tracy is touched thinking he only knows how to buy cards and reads the card which invites her to Tanshiu to look at the sea. She asks him to wear a couple’s shirt and they can take a picture to submit it to a magazine for Chinese Valentine’s Day. Ah Qing agrees and they toast to the upcoming date.
Jia En and Liu Chuan are discussing her busted pager and she is really sad it’s totally junked because this was her first treasure hunting prize and means a lot to her. Liu Chuan says the pager can change but the number won’t so he can always reach her. Jia En asks what if she changes in the future inside and out? Liu Chuan says no matter how people change, an integral part of them will never change. That cheers Jia En up and they head out to buy a used replacement pager.
Ren Wei’s tamagotchi business has fallen off a cliff with online sales and he decides to go back the traditional commerce route. Neither Jacky nor Ah Di are interested in helping him sell since they each have other internships this Summer for their own majors. Jacky encourages him to return the unsold inventory and just admit defeat but Ren Wei won’t let his dad look down on him. Jia En come home and swans by Ren Wei’s room and even Ah Di and Jacky can tell she doesn’t have time for Ren Wei anymore. Jia En puts her broken pager into a heart shaped box and then gets a page from Liu Chuan that reads 2030 which means Love You Miss You. She smiles to get such a cute boyfriend page.
Xiao Wei arrives at her workplace and hears that Ri Qi came by earlier and left her something. He asks her co-worker to pass along the message that he’s head to the Holland Exhibit tomorrow so won’t have time to come see her and for her to not to be mad at him anymore. The coworker doesn’t hear the word “exhibit” so he tells Xiao Wei that Ri Qi went to Holland and she’s so sad thinking he’s left just like that. Ahahaha, these two. She opens the box he left for her and finds a cake inside. Xiao Wei goes to Ri Qi’s family pawn shop and is happy that he is still here. He’s confused and she hands him a bag of things for him to take to Holland. It’s a care package and even includes a cute picture of them riding on a bike.
Xiao Wei says she wasn’t upset about what happened during their fish feeding excursion. She tells him not to misunderstand, this stuff is because she worries about him and wants to say goodbye properly. Ri Qi says she misunderstood, he’s going to the Holland Exhibit for an internship so he’s not going out of the country but merely he doesn’t have time to go see her often. Xiao Wei is so happy but chides her coworker for passing the wrong message. Ri Qi was worried she would think he was ignoring her but Xiao Wei cries and asks why he’s so good to her. Ri Qi, just tell her you like her! Xiao Wei can’t explain why she’s crying and poor Ri Qi keeps on comforting her that he’s not going anymore. Awwwwww.
Ah Qing is getting ready to leave the house for his special date with Tracy, dressed in his couple t-shirt. Suddenly a tourism major classmate arrives at his house and immediately grabs him around the neck and starts sobbing. He tells her to stop crying and tell him what happened. Tracy is waiting at Tanshui for Ah Qing and of course a guy tries to pick her up. He asks if she can leave a number he can call another time and she throws out a random number for him. Later another guy comes with an umbrella for her since it’s raining and asks if he can give her the umbrella and she can leave a number with him to return it later and she throws out another random number. Back at Ah Qing’s place, the classmate is still crying on his chest and he keeps trying to get her to talk. Turns out she’s crying because Ah Qing’s good friend cheated on her and she found random pages on the guy’s pager. She called the number back and a girl answered that she claims to be the real girlfriend. The classmate begs Ah Qing to call his friend right now and help her because the guy is refusing to answer her calls. Ah Qing goes back inside to call his friend and we see Tracy still waiting by Tanshui jetty. It’s almost dark and she’s still sitting there when another guy walks up who sits down and asks if she wants him to keep her company but she shoos him away.
It’s completely dark and she’s still sitting there when Ah Qing rides his scooter up but he’s pulled over for not abiding by the new law that all riders need to wear helmets. He pays the fine and then has to run to a store and buy two helmets for him and Tracy. Ah Qing finally arrives at Tanshui three hours late for their date. He can’t find her and is about to ride back when she walks up to him. Ah Qing quickly runs up to her happy to see her. He explains that their classmate got cheated on by another one of their friends and he had to call the friend and mediate between them. Tracy notices a lip stain on his shirt and accuses him of cheating on her and now lying about it. Ah Qing says he was telling the truth and she needs to trust him. She refuses and is about to storm off. Ah Qing tells her that if she leaves now then it’s over. If she refuses to believe anything he says then he doesn’t see the need to keep on dating. Tracy asks why he is being angry at her when he was the one who was late! Ah Qing gets on his scooter and rides off but then he rides right up the jetty towards Tracy and puts the new helmet on her head. He pulls Tracy behind him and drives her home. Tracy tells him that he really can’t date a girl past 60 days, but she plans to keep going and break up with him on the 100th day like their bet. Ah Qing asks for another 30 days on their bet.
Jia En and Ren Wei welcome the two dads home while the moms have gone off to give presents to their friends first. The dads ask if anything happened and Ren Wei says a major thing happened. Jia En looks freaked out and tries to give him the “shut up” look. Ren Wei says he’s never seen Jia En so well-behaved. Ren Wei gives his dad NT 30,000 to return to his mom because he sold all the tamagotchis. His dad doesn’t believe it and thinks he borrowed it. Ren Wei tells him to go inspect his room and see if he can find any tamagotchis, he can’t because Ren Wei sold all of them. His dad and Jia En head upstairs to check which is when a call comes in from Ruifan Hotel looking for Lin Jia En. Turns out she left a pocket book there and she needs to come back and pick it up. Jia En comes down and her dad immediately asks her if she went to Ruifang Hotel and spent the night? He then asks “with who”? Jia En stutters and can’t say anything until Ren Wei steps up and says the entire treasure hunting club went to Jiufen for a trip and everyone stayed at the hotel and Jia En was forgetful and left her things there. He bails her out of the bind and Jia En tells Ren Wei that she owes him for this one. Ren Wei asks Jia En to play cards later and she isn’t in the mood but then realizes she owes Ren Wei and has to start doing what he asks.
Jia En and Ren Wei are playing cards and Jia En is losing badly and the ultimate loser has to massage the winner. Jia En asks how he sold all the tamagotchis and he won’t tell her but she totally tries to pout her way to the answer. Ren Wei admits he sold it at a really low price which is how he got rid of it all. They keep playing when Ren Wei agrees to give her a head start of one second on each round, but it’s still not enough so she asks for a two second head start. That’s enough and Jia En wins the next round and she’s ecstatic while Ren Wei is happy to see her so happy and keeps his hand on her hand a few second longer. Liu Chuan looks at the gold flakes he collected in Jiufen with Jia En and calls her. The phone rings once and is picked up downstairs while Jia En and Ren Wei keep playing cards, with Ren Wei continuing his winning streak while Jia En loses even after they switch to another game.
Jia En tries to take the notebook away where Ren Wei was keeping score and they tussle on the bed for it which is when Liu Chuan walks in. OMO. He does not look happy to see them on the bed with Ren Wei’s arms around Jia En. She’s happy to see him and asks why he’s here? Liu Chuan explains he was worried about her dad coming back and her getting in trouble for the hotel stay which is why he came. He asks what they were doing and Jia En explains they were playing card games but she lost majorly and how owes Ren Wei three hours worth of massage. Jia En asks Liu Chuan to play for her and avenge her. I LOVE LOVE LOVE how Liu Chuan is all casually “sure” when he really means “bring it on!!!” They start playing bluff and Liu Chuan is THE MAN while Jia En just fangirls her boyfriend being so good at bluffing and doesn’t even bother playing other than keeping track of Liu Chuan smoking Ren Wei at cards. Jia En suddenly asks Ren Wei about his love life, he mentioned how he’s not pursuing Bai Xue anymore and likes someone else. Who does he like now? Ren Wei just glosses over the question by saying she doesn’t know the girl. The game ends and Liu Chuan wins and the boy has such a smirk on his face LOLOLOL.
Since Jia En is the loser and Liu Chuan the big winner, she ends up giving her boyfriend the massage. He tells her not to massage anymore since her hands are sore but she wants to fulfill the bet. Jia En’s dad comes in and asks what they are doing? He hears about the massage and wonders why she’s not so nice to her dad. Jia En explains it was a lost bet and is told to go downstairs to help out since the store is busy. Liu Chuan heads home and Jia En walks him out. He gets on his motorcycle and Jia En cuddles next to him says she still owes him two hours and fifty minutes of massage. Liu Chuan takes her hand and asks to change it to hand holding and Jia En agrees. He tells her to go in since she’s so busy and she has him promise to call her when he gets home. He pulls her in for a sweet cheek kiss which Ren Wei witnesses from the balcony. Jia En sees him ride off and touches her cheek and smiles.
Liu Chuan, Ren Wei, Jacky, and Ah Di are all playing cards at the Treasure Hunting club and Ren Wei is losing again. Liu Chuan points out that he had the cards to win but he’s too impatient so plays it too fast. Jacky brings out neat stuff that Ah Di isn’t interested in anymore since life is too busy and his interests have changed. Ren Wei wants to go back to playing only to have Ah Di check the scores to find out that Liu Chuan is the only one winning and the other three are all losing. Ren Wei points out that Liu Chuan is so perfect at everything, has anything ever happened in his life that is embarrassing or a failure? Liu Chuan says lots and the first thing he remembers is running into Jia En naked in his dorm room. When the other three press him, he reveals that he walked into the girl’s bathroom his freshman year by accident. Bai Xue and Jia En come by with ice-cream for the guys since it’s so hot out. Jia En brings one to Liu Chuan and Ren Wei asks Jia En for his but Bai Xue hands it to him. Ren Wei says Bai Xue is a true friend and Ah Di asks if he is really just okay being friends with Bai Xue. They ask how her Summer internship went and she reveals the Venice Film Festival trip was amazing and she even saw a Japanese actor up close.
Jia En and Liu Chuan gets a page from Ri Qi at the same time and everyone heads over to the pawn shop where Ri Qi has taken the panting out of the frame and discovered a string of letters and number codes written in the margins. They write it all down to try and crack the code. The English alphabet letters spell Op Vrijheid which means the “to freedom”. Ah Di and Jacky grouse that this treasure isn’t worth anything and the real way to freedom is getting a lot of money so there is no need to work. Ren Wei says money isn’t freedom since his dad has a lot of money but is tied down and not free. He thinks the lack of freedom back then must be related to love because people couldn’t love freely, so the treasure is a token of love such as a ring or necklace. Ren Wei asks if Liu Chuan’s grandfather had a girl he could never forget? Bai Xue thinks the treasure may not be a tangible item and could be a story that reveals the meaning of freedom.
Jacky wonders if the treasure is Liu Chuan’s grandfather’s dream for Liu Chuan’s future freedom. He’s asked what his future plans are and Ri Qi pipes up that Liu Chuan is studying abroad after he graduates. Jia En asks if he’s going to studying abroad and Liu Chuan says that’s been his plan all along. Jacky and Ah Di discuss how she might be sad to see him go, but then guys all have to go to the army for two years anyway and during that time girls will usually have a change a heart. But if Jia En doesn’t change, Liu Chuan studying abroad when he’s alone and in a different place, he could meet another girl there. The two calculate that with two years of studying abroad and two years in the army, Liu Chuan will be 26 and Jia En 24 by the time they are back together in the same place again. Who knows what the future holds? Bai Xue chastises those two for worrying Jia En with what they just said. Jia En announces that she won’t change her feelings, and isn’t worried about the distance, she is merely taken aback because she never thought so far ahead before.
Liu Chuan and Jia En are at the library together doing research to try and crack the number code on the painting. Jia En tentatively asks Liu Chuan if he’s going to study abroad when he graduates? Liu Chuan says yes, with his college entrance scores he could have gone to Taiwan National University but he insisted on coming to Cheng Dong University so he had a deal with his dad. Liu Chuan gets four years of freedom and afterwards he has to study abroad in Germany. Jia En knows he can’t renege on the deal now. Liu Chuan asks if she’s worrying about their future but she says that is not it. She’s merely envious that he has his future so mapped out, and even their other classmates are all interning in their own specialties. All she has thought about this Summer is where to go with Liu Chuan to play and she feels like she’s so far behind him.
Liu Chuan wants her not to rush things since she’s just a sophomore and asks if she’s got something she’s particularly interested in. Jia En doesn’t have anything so Liu Chuan asks if there is anything she does that makes her feel like time passed without her even noticing it. Jia En says when she talks to customers, when she was designing the treasure hunt for him, and when she talks to him. Liu Chuan smiles to hear this and Jia En gets back to work on reading the code books. Liu Chuan can tell she’s trying to avoid him so tells her to look at him and asks if she’s really worried they will be apart for some time. Jia En says him going to the army is required, and him going abroad will happen as well. Liu Chuan grabs her hand and says they need to trust in each other, they can still communicate and everything will be fine. Jia En gets out of her seat and heads to the old newspaper racks to check if the numbers are dates, clearly unwilling to continue this conversation with Liu Chuan.
Ren Wei has a fantasy about his future where he is the president of a company that sells tamagotchis. His secretary is beautiful Bai Xue who announces that his wife and kids are coming to see him. Jia En walks in with a lunch of sesame oil friend egg while their two kids run up to hug their daddy. Ren Wei cackles happily about his dream future where he is the big boss with a luxury car, beautiful office, pretty secretary, cute kids, and a gorgeous wife. He tells this to Jia En but doesn’t reveal that she is the future wife in his dreams. Jia En mopes because even Ren Wei has a happy future in mind but she worries and asks if a pair of lovers with different dreams of the future can make it work? One will go abroad and the other staying behind, will it still work?
Ren Wei says Jia En and Liu Chuan haven’t been together for long and they have a long time ahead of them. He doesn’t want Jia En to endure and wait stupidly. Bai Xue arrives and asks what Ren Wei is talking about. She is here to hand Jia En some studying abroad materials and offers her own advice for Jia En. She asks why Jia En picked the Foreign Languages major in the first place? Jia En simply liked English and that was the same for Bai Xue but her internship abroad this Summer made her realize that a foreign language is merely a tool and she should consider studying abroad as well to expand her horizons. Ren Wei says Jia En is still young and Liu Chuan has many years of being away from her so she needs to take her time to consider her future and not link it with waiting for Liu Chuan.
Jia En is hanging out at Xiao Wei’s comic book store and reveals she’s bored at home since everyone is working or interning this Summer. Ri Qi comes by with tea for the girls and reveals he’s on a break from his Summer internship of guarding a portrait at the Exhibit. He finds it very interesting but Xiao Wei points out that his experience isn’t very correlated with his future goals. Xiao Wei admits her working at a comic book store isn’t very useful for her future as well. Jia En goes to deliver a drink to a customer and Xiao Wei asks what Ri Qi wants to do after he graduates? Ri Qi wants to ride his bicycle around the island once, it’s his dream and he wants to do it first before being locked down to a job. Xiao Wei thinks that’s not practical since he’ll have entered the job market later than others. Xiao Wei says a person can do what they love slowly and build up a well of experience. Ri Qi and Jia En are taken aback at how serious Xiao Wei can be and Ri Qi says her words are very practical and he’ll keep it in mind.
Jia En and her dad are delivering tea when an English-speaking traveler asks how to get to Taipei main station? Jia En uses very fluent English to give him directions and when she hears he’s going to Taidong, her dad offers his recent Taidong travel experiences and Jia En translates into English for the traveler and then invites him to visit their tea house when he gets back to Taipei. After the traveler leaves, Jia En’s dad compliments her on speaking English so well that he can make a new foreigner friend through her. Turns out Ren Wei borrowed money from the bank to pay his parents back and lost a lot of money from the tamagotchi market collapse. His friends ask him to borrow money from his mom to pay back the bank first. Ren Wei suggests they import what is popular to sell now.
Jia En and her dad come back and she rushes back to her room to flip through the study abroad materials Bai Xue left for her. She looks for study abroad programs in Germany in particular but finds out the program doesn’t have any scholarships while the programs in England has it. Ren Wei walks in and hears what she’s thinking and suggests England is fine as well and is close to Germany. Ren Wei says he understand how she feels, he’ll be sad if she’s not around either. Jia En warns him not to tell Liu Chuan anything about what she is thinking of and she’ll handle her own her own future planning. Ren Wei then turns around and heads to the public legal clinic where Liu Chuan is doing free legal counseling this Summer.
Liu Chuan walks out with Ren Wei who says he thought about whether he should say anything but decided to because Jia En has been very frustrated these past few days over Liu Chuan studying abroad. If Liu Chuan is her boyfriend, then he needs to make her happy. Liu Chuan asks Ren Wei why he told him if Jia En asked him specifically not to say anything to Liu Chuan. Suddenly Jia En runs up clearly knowing what Ren Wei had snuck off to do. Jia En tells Liu Chuan to ignore what Ren Wei just did and runs off before telling Ren Wei that she is really unhappy right because of him! Liu Chuan runs after Jia En and asks if she wants him to stay and not study abroad? If she wants that then she needs to say it so they can discuss it.
Jia En says his studying abroad is his life plan and she won’t interfere, she just didn’t know about it now. Jia En doesn’t him to change his life plans for her, and she won’t decide her life around him either. Liu Chuan goes to Germany while she plans to study abroad in England, they both work towards their goals independently. Liu Chuan says this isn’t being independent, this is being obstinate and forcing things. Jia en stares at him and he apologizes but Jia En yells back that she will prove that she is being independent and not obstinate. She suggests that she needs to get used to life without him around so they shouldn’t be hanging out as much anymore. Liu Chuan takes that in and says that if she really feels this way then fine. Jia En stares at him and then storms off and Liu Chuan doesn’t stop her. Ouch.
Thoughts of Mine:
I feel like most of us can never imagine what it’s like being Liu Chuan, and Ren Wei is a tad too over to showcase the immaturity of youth, but Jia En remains the character that truly captures what it’s like to feel confused yet continue to soldier on. She’s always been insecure but that’s magnified being around Liu Chuan, and even Bai Xue, the cream of the crop of students at CDU and being older than her and having their lives further mapped out. Jia En tends to reflect on herself vis-a-vis others rather than have the patience and inner confidence to progress at her own speed and take her own time. So Liu Chuan is studying abroad, she immediately leaps to that path for herself. It might actually be the right decision, but her thought process definitely skipped a few steps there. I’m sooooo relieved that while Ren Wei is a useless hindrance in Jia En’s life right now, Bai Xue is the awesome friend she honestly is lucky to have. I think Jia En worked so hard to preserve her friendship with Bai Xue through the Liu Chuan rock between them, and she’s rewarded by not only have a friend but having a genuine adviser in her life. Liu Chuan’s thought process doesn’t really work well on Jia En, he’s too rational and she’s too emotional, but Bai Xue is turning out to be the perfect combination of wise and tactful. Similarly we see that Ri Qi and Xiao Wei also have the capacity to be great for each other, aside from liking each other, their thought processes and personalities push each other in good ways. I think it’s too early for Jia En to map out her whole life, but it’s not too early for her to start sketching a path and turning to her great senior friends and boyfriend to help her clarify and solidify her future goals. A little fighting along the way is fine as long as it gets out what needs to be said and brings them close together because of it.
Click here to watch In A Good Way.