I am genuinely impressed with the writing for In a Good Way. While I’ve loved this drama and acknowledge its sweet entertainment value with a throwback to more wholesome collegiate days, it’s still hard to keep a story momentum going and IAGW hit episode 21 today with an actual sign of speeding back up for the final hurrah. There was a bit of energy sap once Jia En and Liu Chuan got together, substituting budding attraction and uncertainty for tender romance and comfortable mutual exploration. I feel like Jia En and Liu Chuan quietly got closer without needing a lot of exposition. The drama has brought back Liu Chuan’s grandfather’s final treasure hunt as a final mystery to be solved and this episode gets Liu Chuan a major step closer. It also ups the pressure on him to fight for the freedom to live his life otherwise Jia En’s dad won’t be as keen to hand his precious daughter over to be the Stepford daughter-in-law for Liu Chuan’s dad to manipulate.
I was quite bored with both the secondary love stories in headstrong Tracy-Ah Qing or clueless Ri Qi-Xiao Wei, both of which can be solved with a simple five minute conversation devoid of any assumption that the other side ought to know what the other thinks. At least Liu Chuan and Jia En don’t pull that crap and they have truly settled into a lovely cadence where they are in love but it doesn’t define them. They both are concerned with other things but place each other in a critically important position. What does make up for those two stagnant plot lines is the return of Bai Xue to more screen time and cements for me that she’s the best second female lead around. It’s not even that she is mature and considerate, courageous and forthright, it’s that she has her own enriching life outside of romance. Her advice to Ren Wei and Xiao Wei in this episode comes from someone who is thoughtful about the conundrums in love but isn’t tied down by it. She’s awesome and adds to an awesome episode where the entire gang takes a road trip to the Taya tribal reservation to dig up a treasure and remind us that friendship and the time spent together is truly the most priceless treasure of college life.
Episode 21 recap:
Xiao Wei leaves work and finds a cow waiting for her at the entrance. He does a shimmy dance for her and then makes a heart gesture. That gets Xiao Wei to smile before telling him to cut it out since it must be sweltering in there. Ri Qi is bathed in sweat when he takes off the cow head so Xiao Wei gives him a tissue to wipe. He takes her hand with the tissue and wipes his forehead. She asks why he’s here and it’s to invite her to join the upcoming treasure hunt for Liu Chuan’s grandfather’s treasure. He walks her home and declines to change out of the cow suit since he finds it super cool. Heh, love his dorkiness.
Ah Qing and Tracy are walking home hand-in-hand and he brings up their date bet end date coming up. He assumes she will break up with him to win and asks only that she not make him do too crazy or ridiculous things. Tracy wonders why he’s so sure she’ll break up with him? Ah Qing knows she is very headstrong and is determined to win this bet. As they sit by the river, Tracy grabs Ah Qing’s watch and asks him to quietly just watch one minute pass on the watch face. They stare at watch until the minute ends and Tracy gets up and says “I…..am breaking up with you.” Ah Qing just stares at her dumbstruck and asks why she’s doing it early? Tracy cries and wants him to remember that one minute which just passed because from this moment on they have nothing to do with each other. Tracy doesn’t answer why she’s breaking up with him early and just walks off blinking back tears.
Liu Chuan is helping a client at the public services administration and heads that she is from a place called Bi Ya Qing. She explains her background as a member of the indigenous Taya tribe and Bi Ya Qing is the name of her tribal reservation. He asks if it has any special meaning and hears it means “Moon” and is pronounced byacing. The Taya tribe legend believes the moon is be split from the sun so is considered a second son. Liu Chuan confirms that place is where his grandfather was directing him to go. He rushes to the teahouse to immediately share his find with Jia En. The place isn’t that accessible but he asks if Jia En will go with him and she readily agrees. Her dad is reading an article in the newspaper about the sunken Taiping steamer and how many treasures were lost in that voyage. He laments how it can be used to better society now if it didn’t sink. Dad calls Jia En over because the article mentions how Congressman Liu is a descendant of the Taiping steamer passenger.
Jia En wonders if the treasure Liu Chuan’s grandfather left him was the Taiping steamer lost treasure? Suddenly Liu Chuan’s dad arrives bearing gifts and Jia En’s dad finds out that Congressman Liu is Liu Chuan’s dad. Jia En’s dad chides Liu Chuan for not mentioning his relationship with Congressman Liu. Dad claims he’s here to just check that the university is not making more problems for Jia En after last time when they almost got expelled and Liu Chuan asked him for help. Jia En’s dad immediately goes to grab some tea as a thank you present. Liu Chuan’s dad takes the newspaper and reads about the Taiping steamer and how the treasure is lost and there is no need to search for anything that doesn’t exist. He claimed to be too busy back then which is why Liu Chuan was raised by his grandfather and got into the treasure hunting nonsense. Liu Chuan tries to say that he learned a lot from his grandfather but his dad pooh poohs that. He takes his leave and Jia En’s dad walks him out leaving the two kids looking very awkward at each other.
After dinner Jia En’s dad pulls Liu Chuan aside to talk and brings up that Liu Chuan is from an extraordinarily family background hence his future path isn’t very free. Liu Chuan knows that but for Jia En he will try hard to win his right to be free. Jia En’s dad doesn’t want him to ruin his family relationship for romance since love is a choice but family is forever. Liu Chuan assures Dad that it wasn’t because of Jia En that his relationship with his own dad is like this, and it won’t become worse because of Jia En. Dad understands but because Jia En is his only daughter, he wants the best for her. He wants her to be free, to study abroad and visit places, to be young and in love. Dad asks if Liu Chuan knows where he is coming from? Liu Chuan understands so Dad pats him on the arm and walks away.
Jia En sends Liu Chuan off but before he rides far he runs into Ah Qing walking past with a basketball. Ah Qing couldn’t find Liu Chuan at home so came to the teahouse hoping he could find him here to play ball with. Liu Chuan can tell something happened and Ah Qing sits down to share what’s on his mind. He treated treasure hunting like a social activity to meet girls, unlike Ri Qi who took it seriously and Liu Chuan knowing what his goal is. But right now he’s lost and sad all because of Tracy, every minute that passed feels endless and long. He thought Tracy would win the bet and punish him but she broke up with him right before, likely to end it cleaning but leaving him like his heart was scooped out. Liu Chuan pats him on the leg and invites him to go treasure hunting with him as a way to go out and clear his mind and work through his feelings. Ah Qing agrees. Jia En rides her bike up on her way to deliver Liu Chuan’s notebook to him. She hears Ah Qing is coming to the treasure hunt and thinks it is a great activity to invite the entire club along. Ah Qing brings up how in every hunt Liu Chuan never joins and is always at the end waiting for him. Liu Chuan decides to make it a club event so he can treasure hunt with everyone for the first time.
Xiao Wei meets up with Bai Xue on the treasure hunt day first, then Ri Qi, Jacky, Ren Wei, and Ah Di all ride their scooters up. Ah Qing rides up and is asked where Tracy is? He says nothing and Tracy walks up and greets everyone with a smile. Folks notice that they aren’t doing things together and Tracy candidly says they broke up because it was just a bet. Everyone is shocked and Ren Wei asks if the long dating period hasn’t made them fall in love for real. Liu Chuan rides up with Jia En behind him and he thanks everyone for joining in this personal hunt of his. He reminds everyone to ride safely since its a 5 hour trip. Jacky wants to choose motorcycle keys so that he gets a girl to ride with and hilariously finds all the girls are already taken. He then hilariously chooses Ah Qi’s key just to make a joke at his own expense. The gang depart for Byacing on their motorcycles and scooters with Liu Chuan and Jia En heading the way. I looooooove this sequence.
The group stops by a rest stand to take a break and grab a snack before continuing up the mountain. They eventually park their rides as the rest of the way can only be accessed by foot. They arrive at a wooden dormitory where they will stay for the night as they are now in on the reservation. Liu Chuan made photocopies for everyone of the painting and the key to cracking the code is to look for the same scenery in the tribe. Everyone splits into groups with Ren Wei, Bai Xue, Ah Di, and Jacky in one group while Tracy, Ah Qing, Ri Qi, and Xiao Wei form another group. Every starts wandering around looking at the nearby locales to try and find the same view as in the painting. Ri Qi’s group meet a lady who points them towards the denser area of the mountain. Liu Chuan and Jia En run into an older man who looks at the painting and asks if they are here to look for “byacing” which is a place where people come to pray and make wishes. He explains there is an ancient tree up in the mountain called “byacing” which is where this Taya tribe got the name for the reservation. The entire group rendezvous to head towards the ancient tree in the deep mountains.
The gang heads up the mountains and the guys are sweetly pulling and assisting their girls up as there isn’t a path to walk on and they trudge until they reach the giant ancient tree. Everyone marvels at the massive tree but wonder where the treasure is? Jia En says they should all make a wish and write it down on a piece of paper then bury it in a time capsule and years later they can come back and open it to see if their wish comes true.
The following are everyone’s wishes. Tracy – find a job right after graduating, become a manager by age 25, married by 28, have a baby by 30, must become manager before getting married and having baby so the company can’t fire her. Ah Qing – buy a car by 25, buy house at 28, buy second house at 30, wife needs to have long hair and have a gentle personality, but boat at 35, retire at 40. Ri Qi – I want to see more and more of the world every day. Xiao Wei – I wish to become a better and better person with each day. Bai Xue – meet someone who loves me and I love him. Jia En – I hope everyone can still gather together like today. Liu Chuan – I hope to find the answer to finding the path to freedom that my grandfather left me. Jia En assures him that his wish will come true. Ren Wei peers over to find Jia En snuggling with Liu Chuan and hears her wish is different than his. Ah Di reads Jacky’s wish out loud – to play video games every day and not be a virgin anymore. Ahahaha.
Then Jacky steals Ren Wei’s wish and reads it out loud – I wish for my beloved JN to be happy. OH MY GOD, I’m so mortified for Ren Wei right now. Everyone hears it and wonders who “JN” is? Ah Qing wonders if it means Jia En? Everyone stares at Jia En while she turns to gape in shock at Ren Wei. Liu Chuan visibly cringes the tiniest shade. Bai Xue saves Ren Wei by asking why he needed to write down her English name when he could just write Bai Xue. She reveals that her English name is Janet and the initials are JN. So it’s Janet and Joan, the dynamic duo. Everyone calms down and Ren Wei tells everyone to stop messing around anymore. Ri Qi suggests they sing a song to the ancient tree as a homage since they are making a wish to it. He shares a Taya tribe ballad about the moon and the cow and starts singing and then everyone joins in.
The entire gang is back at the dorm and hanging out. Liu Chuan calls everyone in to shower and get ready to rest since it has been a tiring day. Everyone heads in when Ren Wei pulls Bai Xue aside to thank her for helping him out today. Bai Xue was willing to help him today because his wish was very mature. In the past his wish would have been for JN to become his girlfriend but now he just wants Jia En to be happy. Ren Wei is shocked that his goddess Bai Xue is actually interested in rather low brow entertainment and she brings out her Gameboy to play with Ren Wei. They notice Jacky and Ah Di by the front door and put on another show of Ren Wei vowing to love and chase after Bai Xue forever while she claims he will never ever win her heart. They get giggle at each other. Awwwww, they are soooo cute together.
Everyone is sleeping in a row like the New Year’s Eve night when they slept in the school field. Xiao Wei can’t sleep and walks outside which wakes Ri Qi up to follow her. Jia En turns over and strokes Liu Chuan’s cheek and notices he’s a tad forlorn because he came all the way here and found the ancient tree but still doesn’t know what his grandfather’s treasure is. Jia En assures him that she will always be by his side to solve this mystery so he shouldn’t fret. That is all the reassurance Liu Chuan needs and they hold hands and go back to sleep.
Xiao Wei comes back after her night walk and screams when she runs into Ri Qi waiting for her. He wants her to let him help with any thing in her life no matter how small. A shooting star flies past and Xiao Wei remembers the last time she saw one was the first treasure hunting event she went on. Ri Qi remembers as well since it’s the first time they met. She starts to walk away when he pulls her hand to keep her there. He leans in to kiss her forehead, then her cheek, and finally goes to kiss her on the lips. Xiao Wei pushes him away and asks why he’s still just flirting with her like this. She doesn’t like it! She storms off leaving Ri Qi totally perplexed and staring at her. He really is as dense as a cow, LOL.
It’s morning time and Liu Chuan and Jia En are on a morning walk hand-in-hand. She asks him for the painting map again and takes it out to trace the picture to the words written on the lower right hand corner “To Shan Feng”. They head back to the ancient tree and say it represents the moon in the painting, then they need to head Southeast for another 500 yards based on the painting proportions to find where the treasure itself could be buried. They arrive at a spot where the rocks are arranged to form a six-sided star. They dig and actually unearth a buried box. Liu Chuan pulls the paper wrapping off the box and they stare at it.
Ren Wei sees it raining outside and wonders where Jia En and Liu Chuan went? Suddenly the two of them return bearing the box they found but now the problem is how to open it. Back in Taipei, everyone sits around a table to investigate the box and how to crack it open. Ri Qi says the key is in the six-sided star lock on it which leads Jia En to suggest the key is around Liu Chuan’s neck in the key he is wearing.
Liu Chuan pops his necklace star in the slot and turns the lock to open it.He nervously lifts the lid and inside is a little address book. Jacky assumes it contains another treasure map but the address book contains names of people that Liu Chuan has never heard. One name Jiang Ju Lian sounds familiar to Liu Chuan and Ri Qi notices that name is the only one with a date behind it – MG 71 December 22, which means December 22nd 1982. Liu Chuan was only six years old then. They marvel at how Liu Chuan’s grandfather planned this treasure hunt so many years ago with so many details, and placed a lot of trust in Liu Chuan to keep the key necklace safe so that one day he could open the box. They all agree to keep working hard to solve the mystery.
The school year starts again and the Three Musketeers all return to their dorm room for their final senior year. Liu Chuan’s wish for this year is to solve the treasure mystery and then he will feel his college experience was worth it. Ah Qing has played a lot for the last three years but isn’t sure what he wants for his last year. He reveals that Tracy broke up with him one minute before the bet was up so technically Ah Qing won the bet but he can’t forget that moment now and keeps dreaming about that scene like a repeated nightmare. Ri Qi gives Ah Qing two choices, accept the break up or else be a man and get Tracy back. Ah Qing doesn’t know what Tracy is thinking which leads Ri Qi to also agree that the way a girl thinks is impossible to figure out. Liu Chuan sits there watching his roommates emotionally suffering. He holds a squirming Momo and stares at the address book again.
Liu Chuan walks with Jia En and they discuss how Ah Qing is suffering through Tracy’s break up but doesn’t want to let her know because he refuses to let the other person endure the same emotional burden. Jia En says Tracy is very similar, she seems very strong and able to let go but she’s actually already processed through everything already. Jia En offers to ask Tracy why she broke up with Ah Qing but Liu Chuan thinks those two need to handle their own problems. Jia En brings up eating rice balls in the Winter and how one year she had a competition to eat it with Ren Wei and almost choked so now she’s scared of eating it.
That triggers a memory in Liu Chuan about one Winter his grandfather was going to cook rice balls for him but went out and disappeared for a long time. The date was December 22nd and he remembers because it was such a weird incident. When he came back he was really strange but wouldn’t say anything to Liu Chuan, but afterwards he started planning treasure hunts with him. Jia En offers to meet him after class at the library to keep up their research.
Jia En and Xiao Wei are leaving class when they run into Ri Qi waiting for Xiao Wei. Jia En leaves the two awkward maybe lovers to talk it over. Ri Qi doesn’t know what happened that night but he wants to apologize for whatever he did that made Xiao Wei mad. She asks if he knows why she’s angry? Ri Qi thinks it’s because he tried to kiss her but he couldn’t help it because of the mood and thought it would be really romantic. He takes her hand to take her to her part-time job. Xiao Wei shakes him off and says she doesn’t find flirting romantic, he shouldn’t have done it before making things clear between them. Does he do this with all the girls he flirts with? She doesn’t think so, her lips are reserved for her boyfriend! She doesn’t think flirting is enough for her to do more. She storms off leaving Ri Qi totally confused since he thought they were already dating and boyfriend-girlfriend so what the heck is going on now?
Ah Qing waylays Tracy at school and asks to talk. She won’t look at him an says they can talk like this. Ah Qing doesn’t want their meeting to be so serious in the future even if they’ve already broken up. He’s been thinking about why she asked him to look at the minute before breaking up but he’s stupid and can’t figure it out. Tracy claims the woman’s heart is fickle and she is just wanted to break up. Tracy storms away but Ah Qing says he’s been thinking of their break up since then so why did she do it early rather than waiting until the bet was over. He sees her crying and knows she’s also hurting like he is. Tracy claims she’s not sad about it. Ah Qing wants to know why she broke up with him early and she yells back that she wanted to let him win, isn’t that good? Ah Qing doesn’t like it at all! He forces Tracy to tell him that she did it because she’s scared. She’s scared, that’s why!
Xiao Wei is drawing in her room but her heart isn’t in it so she keeps erasing the picture she drew of Ri Qi. Bai Xue walks in to return a book to Tracy and notices Xiao Wei’s off mood. Bai Xue offers herself to give advice to Xiao Wei who wonders how far a flirting couple can go with skinship. Bai Xue thinks it’s hand holding and after that they need to make clear what the relationship is. Xiao Wei claims it’s not her but her friend who is very flirting with a guy but it’s not clear what their relationship status is. Bai Xue advises Xiao Wei to find out if the guy is flirting with other girls or just her alone. Xiao Wei says even if it’s just with one girl it’s still not right if it’s just a flirting relationship. Suddenly Tracy storms in and crawls into her top bunch to cry. Immediately Xiao Wei and Bai Xue flank her to ask if she’s alright? Tracy claims she’s not crying and she’s totally fine. LOL, okay. They know she’s upset because of Ah Qing and asks why they broke up? Tracy broke up with him first so that he wouldn’t leave her first since she can’t tell if he’s serious about her or just playing along due to the bet. The girls encourage Tracy to be honest with Ah Qing that she really likes him. Tracy cries that the bet was so stupid since it’s so messy now.
Jia En is at the teahouse with Ren Wei, Jacky, and Ah Qi and everyone is talking about the sunken Taiping steamer which was carrying a lot of rich and famous people when it sunk so clearly it would have a lot of valuable treasure on it. They wonder what the name list in the address book is and everyone tosses in really far-fetched guesses.
Thoughts of Mine:
IAGW started off about growing up and friendship and it’s ending still focused on those two narrative thrusts without getting mired in happy romantic endings for all. I’m stunned at the grow in Ren Wei in the last two episodes, leaving me with a feeling of appreciation for his character drive without worrying that he’s going to be a mess if he doesn’t end up with Jia En. I think it was important that he fall in love with Jia En because only then can he truly have an epiphany about his romantic predilections. He’s pursued girls because they attract him but without a deeper understanding of what it means to like or even love someone. He first loves Jia En as a friend, then likes her as a romantic interest. Turning that cycle backwards allows Ren Wei to realize that romance isn’t the end all be all of his emotional world and he can have meaningful interactions with girls beyond whether he likes her or doesn’t like her. His friendship with Bai Xue is also extra special because he liked her first and has now grown to love her purely as a friend. It’s also not a one-sided friendship and he also provides Bai Xue with a lot of support and a shoulder to lean in. I also loved watching the Three Musketeers being there for each other through girl woes and treasure mysteries, the same way the girls all have each other to turn to when they have emotional knots that can’t be untangled. The treasure hunt in this episode wasn’t very interesting but the process was very rewarding because it shows us how these characters have changed (or not) in the twenty episodes since we met them.
Click here to watch In A Good Way.