Call me crazy. Go ahead. I know I am. Yet there’s a couple of reasons why I’m going to recap this ongoing series: 1) It’s a Chinese drama so I understand the language well, 2) Nobody I know is recapping this entire thing, 3) There’s only a total of twelve planned episodes with 2 episodes airing per week, 4) Each episode is only 30 minutes long, 5) I will be improving my Chinese and English translating skills, and 6) I get to watch the lovely Joe Cheng star in this. WIN!!! I don’t know how timely these recaps will be, but I do promise to stick to recapping this series to the very end. That is, until midterms kill me and my parents decide to take away my laptop. But no worries, I’ll put up a fight.
A girl wakes up from her slumber to the sound of a ringing alarm clock and sleepily walks into the bathroom. She’s YE ZI (Li Fei Er) and as she surveys her reflection in the bathroom mirror — filled with many colorful post-its — she suddenly perks up. “Today is the last time,” she says. For what?
A flashback presents us with an answer to our question. Her hardworking younger brother was accepted into Nong Ming University about a year and a half ago. On this particular day, Ye Zi and her brother are attending the initiation for new students. However, instead of providing the money for her son’s school fees, Ye Zi’s irresponsible mother gave away their savings to their uncle at the last minute. Mom believes Uncle will arrive at school to return the money but he’s notorious for not keeping his word. Ye Zi decides to solve the problem with her own means. Her little brother has finally been accepted into college and she does not want money to hinder his college education. She and her brother then approach the principal to negotiate the terms. After much hesitation, the principal agrees to loan Ye Zi’s brother the much-needed money. In return, Ye Zi must become the breadwinner of the family to pay off the debt.
Since that day when she vowed to take care of her brother’s needs, Ye Zi has not lived for herself. She moved from remote Si Chuan to a bigger city, taking on various jobs with her brother in mind. Every hard-earned paycheck was spent towards her brother’s student fees; never has the money been used for herself. Now that the final payment for the school fees are due tomorrow, Ye Zi is ecstatic! There’s more bounce in her steps and more enthusiasm for her work.
Out of excitement, she is almost late to work but arrives with seconds to go on the clock. Store Manager and her colleague, TANG YUAN YUAN (Song Xin Jiao) have already arrived. Work begins with the usual ritual, which in this case, means citing the store rules:
1. The customer is always right.
2. If an item is lost, one must pay for it.
3. The worker must never give the wrong amount of change.
If one of these rules are broken, an entire month’s salary will be revoked (!!!). The worst mistake would be to give the customer the wrong change, says Store Manager. I sense a bad premonition here…
In the middle of work, Ye Zi decides to take a brief break outside. She happily feeds Xiao Lu the dog as she dreams of the future. Maybe she should start thinking about marriage and dating. While she’s busy pondering, a car pulls into the parking lot with great speed. The driver is busy conversing with someone on the phone, too busy to care that he almost just crashed into Ye Zi and Xiao Lu.
XIA TIAN (Joe Cheng) happens to be the ignorant driver (OMG THE HAIR!!! WHEEEE!) but he’s too busy talking with his girlfriend, FLORA (Emma Pei), to care about almost hitting a pedestrian. He doesn’t take a second glance at Ye Zi’s bewildered face and he walks right into the convenience store to buy two bottles of drinks. He gulps down one bottle right in front of her, making her giggle. Xia Tian’s not pleased and Ye Zi immediately apologizes for laughing after seeing his chagrined expression. But now that she’s apologized, he also needs to ask for forgiveness when he almost ran her and Xiao Lu over.
Xia Tian definitely doesn’t care if Ye Zi is just a stranger because he bluntly points out that the road was made for cars to drive on. There’s no need for him to apologize. He gets another phone call from Flora and it’s evident that he’s in a sour mood because of his girlfriend. Pissed off, he asks Ye Zi to give him his change quickly. Ye Zi, disgruntled because of his poor attitude, complies without double checking to see whether or not she gave him the right amount of money.
As he’s walking out of the store, still conversing loudly with Flora, Xia Tian finally decides to call it quits. If she can’t separate work and personal feelings, then the two should break up. A reverie of the past displays Xia Tian’s and Flora’s relationship. Xia Tian is actually a professional photographer while Flora is a professional model. The two had a lot of fun together but the paparazzi caught on. When the couple were accosted by reporters and Flora was asked whether or not she was dating Xia Tian, Flora denied everything; She insisted that she’s always been single. Xia Tian’s face reveals a look of both displeasure and surprise. In fact, it’s the same exact expression he’s wearing at the moment. Ye Zi notices and comments to herself that he looks lonely.
Just as Xia Tian drives away, Ye Zi realizes that she gave him the wrong change! Oh noes! This can’t be happening. She attempts to chase him down but to no avail. Uh-oh. She just violated one of the store’s code of conduct. Does this mean that she won’t get that salary tonight when she desperately needs the money to pay off her brother’s loan?
During a photo shoot, Xia Tian’s busy taking photos of a beautiful model but her modeling is not quite up to par. It doesn’t help that Xia Tian gets a phone call requesting him to photograph Flora tomorrow. Just thinking of her exacerbates the current situation and minutes later, an infuriated Xia Tian storms out of the scene, declaring that he doesn’t want to continue with either photo shoots.
Back at the store, Ye Zi is worried. The Store Manager is in an extremely good mood as he walks right in to check on his employees’s work. He’s busy checking the inventory and the cashier’s box. A couple of seconds later, he mutters to himself, “It can’t be. No way.”
Store Manager immediately assumes that Tang Yuan Yuan is responsible for the loss of money until Ye Zi speaks up to admit that it was her fault. Store Manager still doesn’t buy it at first, thinking that she’s only covering for Tang. When it’s apparent that Ye Zi really is at fault, Store Manager just can’t believe it! How could Ye Zi, the perfect worker who’s so meticulous about everything, make a mistake? Uhhh..she’s human? He contemplates for awhile and takes out two envelopes. He hovers one envelope right above Ye Zi’s hands, and it looks like he’s going to give it to her when he turns to Tang Yuan Yuan instead. Argh! Are you serious, old man? Dude, just one mistake and she can’t even get her whole month’s salary? I can see why she may not get one day’s salary but an entire month’s paycheck just gone like that? That ain’t fair.
Store Manager launches into a tirade about how he wants this to be a lesson to both of his workers. Then he leaves, even though he does know how much this one paycheck meant to Ye Zi. Ye Zi is still in shock mode, as she’s taking up the night shift too. Dang, how does this girl sleep? She’s still mulling over what happened when who should pull up into the parking lot but Xia Tian?
It turns out that back at the photoshoot, Xia Tian had overheard two gossipy workers complaining about his hot temper. Even worse, they said that his temper probably hindered Flora from publicly announcing their relationship. This somehow led Xia Tian to remember Ye Zi, since he was aware that she had given him the wrong amount of change. He hands it to her and Ye Zi is overcome with happiness.
She starts sobbing happily and Xia Tian’s expression is totally WTF!?! All he did was return the extra money. But he lets her cry, since he’s a guy who doesn’t know what to do when some strange girl is crying her heart out. He walks out, starts to drive away, then comes back, requesting to purchase some special wine.
The next morning, Ye Zi hurries off to the bank to deposit her paycheck. Store Manager apparently gave her the money in the middle of the night. Everything has all been paid for! No more debt but a newfound freedom! Yippee! Just as she walks out of the bank, it starts raining. But this doesn’t pop her bubble of joy and Ye Zi actually happily twirls around in the rain. Achoo! But that happy dance in the rain has made Ye Zi sick. Someone comes into the store to visit a certain someone. Everyone in the store recognizes him and relay the good news of Ye Zi finishing the payments on the loan. The guy’s name is WANG BAO QIANG (Sun Jian), who is ecstatic. But once Ye Zi starts sneezing, he immediately puts a hand to her forehead and declares that she’s got a high fever. He immediately takes responsibility, since he promised her mother that he’d take good care of her. The two aren’t in an official relationship but it’s obvious that the guy adores Ye Zi.
Mommy dearest must know that Bao Qiang is within close proximity to Ye Zi. She happens to call an embarrassed Ye Zi to announce that she’s coming to visit tomorrow! She wants Ye Zi to find a husband since she was too busy working before to date. Hearing Bao Qiang’s voice, mother requests to talk with him. Mommy is obviously just as infatuated with him as he is with Ye Zi. The two are familiar enough with one another to where Bao Qiang says that he’ll even take a day off work to tour the city with her. Wow, this boy’s in love. Teehee.
Flora is at a photoshoot but annoyed that Xia Tian isn’t the one photographing her. The current photographer seems to a newbie, who can’t take proper photos. Fuming Flora calls Xia Tian, demanding that he show up in 15 minutes for the photoshoot. Xia Tian is driving and is more than a little annoyed at where this conversation is going. He also doesn’t want Flora to know that he’s affected when she threatens to pull some strings to get him banned from this business altogether. He retorts that he’ll just go into a private business and adds that this time, their relationship is definitely over.
Xia Tian heads over to the convenience store where Ye Zi is practicing on the etiquette of smiling, using two chopsticks as tools. She looks incredibly silly — and like a walrus — but it does bring a hint of a smile to Xia Tian’s face. As he steps into the store, Tang Yuan Yuan notices his handsome face. She instantly volunteers her assistance and tells him that she’ll give him 100% customer satisfaction guaranteed. Not 99% but 100%. Xia Tian doesn’t even bother with her and walks right up to Ye Zi, who mistakenly thinks that he’s here to pick up the liquor he ordered. Nope, he’s not here for that but to check out the house for rent posted outside.
Store Manager is pleased and orders Ye Zi to show him the house. The house is enormous and incredibly ornate from an exterior view. Ye Zi nervously takes him there, while thinking to herself how she should thank him for returning the change yesterday. But instead, Xia Tian proceeds to inspect every inch of the house so that Ye Zi loses another opportunity to thank him. She then starts babbling about how this house is very large, perhaps too big for just one person. The rent will be expensive but there’s the plus of having the convenience store nearby. Xia Tian isn’t really listening to her and cuts her off short when he decides that he’s going to rent the place.
Just as the two start to head back, Ye Zi weak state causes her to faint right into his arms. Xia Tian then realizes that she has a fever. When these two look at each other, you get that sense of physical awareness. It’s definitely the start of a romance here. Coincidentally, Tang Yuan Yuan happened to come over anyways to witness Ye Zi fainting. She assists Ye Zi outisde, while Xia Tian hands her a handkerchief to wipe up her snot. Heh. When all three return to the convenience store, they’re affronted by a small group of girls, who descend like vultures upon Xia Tian. They’re actually models and perhaps it’s more than a coincidence that they’re here at the store. Store Manager, Ye Zi, and Tang Yuan Yuan look on, incredulous that Xia Tian is a famous photographer.
Xia Tian looks like he wants to flee and hurriedly tells Store Manager he wants to rent the house. He gets in his car and is about to drive away when Ye Zi appears in front of him. Yeah, this time, she really could’ve been hurt. Xia Tian berates her for coming outside with a cold, but Ye Zi can’t help but blurt out that she wanted to thank him. She promptly hands him back his handkerchief as an older her narrates, “From that on, my summer began to change.”
This was unexpectedly adorables. I didn’t have any expectations coming into this drama — I’m really behind with watching Chinese/Taiwanese dramas in general — but I liked what I’ve seen so far. For those who don’t know, That Love Comes is actually an online web series that tudou (similar to a streaming website like youtube) produced. It’s the first time tudou is releasing an online drama and I think there were various reactions to it.
I’ve heard that some people didn’t like this premiere. Some have said that it was boring and unoriginal. I can see why but I totally disagree. It wasn’t boring at all! Sure, sure. We didn’t have our usual dramatic set-ups between the characters but everything was rather slow in development. The plot may even be kind of slow. Still, I love dramas like that! I don’t particularly enjoy seeing over-the-top-ness or a story that’s jammed with all these details. I don’t care about length or love pentagons; I prefer small stories that analyze each character deeply. As for OTP-ness, it’s forgivable if it’s a side character like the store manager though. I do want to see more character developments as well as progress between the relationships. I’m not exactly sure how all this will be accomplished in 12 episodes — I’m used to Korean dramas that run on hour long 16-20 episodes a series — but I anticipate to see the drama unfold itself. It’s lookin’ good so far.
The editing is also a bit choppy but I’m just nitpicky today.
I really like Ye Zi, whose name means “leaves.” She reminds me a lot of myself in terms of personality and the way she handles herself. Perhaps that’s why I find her to be so appealing and endearing. She’s the female protagonist that I want to root for from the get-go. As for Xia Tian, whose name means “summer,” I think he’s charismatic and layered. I’m sensing that there’s more to him underneath the surface than what we usually see — the hot-tempered, professional perfectionist that he is. It sounds a little cliche and yet I never get tired of it. Joe Cheng is doing a superb job with his character. He’s not a pain in the arse nor is he completely arrogant. Ugh, I totally fall for these kind of guys. Eek!
On the other hand, our main pairing aren’t complete opposites, despite Xia Tian having a less than ideal temper. Both aim to do well in society in their individual ways. Now with their names, I find it super interesting that our couple’s names mean leaves and summer. When one thinks of leaves, one usually thinks of autumn because that’s when deciduous trees drop their leaves, or when leaves change colors. Yet it’s interesting that this story is set in summer and our main man’s name directly translates into summer. I don’t think this is a mere coincidence. Autumn may bring more colorful landscapes but it’s a season that comes right after summer itself. You could also say that leaves change depending on season. Therefore, Ye Zi’s life may change depending on what Xia Tian brings; Xia Tian will be a pivotal growth in Ye Zi’s character, which is actually hinted by the drama itself. At the very beginning of episode 1 and at the end of episode 2, Ye Zi’s voice over says that ever since Xia Tian came into her life, her summer has changed for the better.
Even without the summer vs. leaves analogy, I think there are already some notable similarities between the two. There’s that one scene where Ye Zi rides her bike to work and she shouts, “Today is the last day and then I’ll be free!” It’s the same exact words Xia Tian uses when he announces to Flora that he wants to break up with her. It’s a nice parallel between our two leads. I like seeing parallel traits rather than the whole opposites attract kind of mechanism at work here.
Not much is known about Bao Qiang and Flora, so I don’t really have much to say about those two. Bao Qiang seems like a really nice, loyal guy friend who genuinely devotes himself to the girl that he likes. Too bad these kind of guys usually don’t get the girl in drama land! With Flora, she seems uptight. I’m sure she’s going to regret not publicly announcing her relationship with Xia Tian in the past. I’m not sure if she’ll turn out to be that mean, poopie second-female lead that we all love to hate. We’ll see about that.
So besides the cute OTP and plotline, what else do I like about these first two episodes? The music! It’s fun and dance-y, making me incredibly happy. Let’s hope that this series will continue doing well. I’m not looking for anything substantial but I am looking for a fun, entertaining ride. Without any car accidents and birth secrets, I might add. That would be greatly appreciated.