This is the end, isn’t it? Time to say goodbye yet again to a good drama. I didn’t think I’d be so reluctant to let go of this, seeing as how I procrastinated until now to release this recap, but I am. Shall I save the tears and the goodbyes for later? *breathes* I can do this. Here goes…
Fierce Wife Tip 23 Recap: Are we no longer able to return to the way things were?
Wei En takes out the lunch box that An Zhen had given to her back on her first day of work. All of the contents from that box are still there. Wei En takes out each item and remembers how An Zhen explained why she put each of them in there for her. For Wei En, An Zhen has been the one saving grace in her life, the one person that has treated her with delicate care and attention.
She returns the lunch box to An Zhen and tearfully apologizes for everything she’s done. An Zhen then accepts the lunch box for a fleeting moment, before placing it back into Wei En’s hands, saying that she is giving this to her for a second time. With a last word of advice, she tells Wei En to only remember those that have treated her well, and to forget the rest who have treated her poorly.
Having said all that’s she’s wanted to say to clear her conscience, Wei En leaves. She takes one more glance back at the house, recalling a few memorable scenes since the day she arrived to now. On the car ride to the airport, she lays a hand over her stomach and tells her baby, “Oliver, I know that you’re definitely a boy. Don’t worry, Mommy will definitely love you very much. I’ll give you all the love that I have. Mommy promises you that when you grow up, you won’t become like me.”
An Zhen is preparing for bed when she hears loud sobs coming from upstairs. She looks through the glass door of the study room and sees Rui Fan on the floor. Though his back is turned to her so that she can’t see his face, she’s able to hear his cries. Instead of going inside the room and comforting him, like Tian Wei thought she might if she heard her ex-husband cry, she listens quietly outside of the room. I love how she doesn’t go inside to embrace him or anything, but does nothing except listen to his sorrows, without his acknowledgement.
The next time we see Rui Fan is when he’s at his parent’s house, stopping by to say farewell as he is about to relocate to Kaohsiung, a Southern city in Taiwan, to begin his new job duties. His parents wish him the best, the animosity between them forgotten. Both parents also encourage him to reunite with An Zhen, promising to treat her extra well in hopes that she’ll forget what has happened. He arrives back home to be greeted outside by Kang De and Rui Xuan. Later, Meng Meng and An Zhen emerge from the house to send him off.
Rui Fan tries to console and reassure Meng Meng, who mistakenly assumes that he’s leaving because he doesn’t love her anymore. She presents him with a framed portrait of the family project she had worked on a while ago — hand prints from the three of them. She continues to cry, (which makes me really sad) and clings to Rui Fan until An Zhen picks her up. Rui Fan drives off, leaving for the South.
Some time passes before An Zhen is being interviewed by a few reporters in her home, who ask her to say something to other married female viewers who are going through difficult marriages. An Zhen encourages these broken women to stop dwelling on whether whose fault it was to cause such a breach in a marriage. There’s no turning back at this point, so the most important thing is for them to look towards the future bravely. Marriage is only one part of their lives, and even without a man by their side, they can still raise a family and find true happiness.
Tian Wei contacts An Zhen, and having not seen each other in a while, the two meet up. Things have gotten a bit awkward between them since Tian Wei’s confession, though this is something both of them have no problem admitting. Tian Wei is still in love with her, telling An Zhen specifically what he likes about her. He likes to see her smile and laugh, but also admires her seriousness when it comes to getting something done; he also loves being around her, especially back to when she was living at his house. Let’s also not forget that special nickname she has for him in Taiwanese — Cauliflower –which makes her unique and special to him.
The only problem is that An Zhen isn’t in love with him. But she’s grateful for their friendship. She asks him if it’s okay if they remain friends, and offers her hand to him. He looks at her outstretched hand and says disappointingly, “Guess this handshake means that I have no chance then.” He does eventually shake her hand, though reluctantly. An Zhen recognizes all the good qualities he has, but is afraid that she’s unable to fall in love again for the second time.
I guess the realization of rejection doesn’t really sink in for Tian Wei until much later, when he’s at work. He thinks that perhaps he’s just not good enough for An Zhen. Rui Xuan sneaks up on him asking him if something’s wrong, seeing as how he’s been sitting in that chair the entire day.
She says that she hopes he’s still not hung over An Zhen. If it will make him feel better, he can pursue her. He can take her to out to dinner anytime, so how about it? He doesn’t even answer, but leaves her hanging, which she interprets as “I must not be good enough for him.” HA! Girl, you’ve got a doting husband now, so watchoo complainin’ about?
Tian Wei decides to resign from his job, and is about to embark on a quest to search for an answer on how to become a better person, to be worthy of the person he loves. Over lunch with our three musketeers, he tells them of his plans to explore all of the cities and towns in China in one year, which was a proposition brought up by one of his journalist friends.
This isn’t just a regular vacation, because he’s not allowed to bring a cell phone or a lot of money. He has to work to earn his keep, and also depend on the hospitality of strangers for a room to stay. Otherwise, he’ll be on the streets. He hopes to write a weekly journal entry on his travels, which will all be published in the newspapers for the public to read.
“So this time, I’ve decided to break away from the path I’m on now, and bravely walk towards a road I’m not familiar with. Therefore I’ll be able to see things that will give me new insights, and help me to understand the definition of love, so perhaps that I could become a better person.” An Zhen asks how they’ll be able to keep in contact with him. He tells her not to worry, since he’ll find some way to keep in touch with her.
Over the next few months, An Zhen cuts out all of Tian Wei’s newspaper updates and turns it into a scrapbook. In each of his newspaper entry, he talks about his friend, 傅依苔 Fu Yi Tai, which literally translates to “Minus One Car,” which is a reference to her. (The word “Fu” here is a pun on the word “pay,” which is also pronunced as fu. Remember how An Zhen blew off a car she was supposed to sell in one of the earlier episodes, getting into that car accident? Yeah, Chinese is complicated.) Guess the distance really makes the heart grow fonder, because An Zhen habitually reads and re-reads all his writings.
In one of his stories, he writes of attending a wedding ceremony. The pastor had asked the groom if he would vow to love his bride for all of his days, to respect and treasure her, until death do they part. It wasn’t until this moment that he realized that this is what love is — to be willing to make a vow like this and to have the determination to fulfill it. Along with the bridegroom, he responded, “I’m willing.”
An Zhen and Rui Xuan are also doing well on their own, having been promoted to manager and director, respectively. In the meantime, they’re busy motivating the new underlings, encouraging them to set their own sales goals.
Rui Fan comes back to visit two to three times a week. Ah, now it seems like we’re back to the earlier episodes. He and An Zhen are much more at ease now, which is seen when he’s cooking and cleaning while being supervised by An her. Sometimes they also go shopping with Meng Meng. He and Kang De also resume playing basketball together, which we haven’t seen since the beginning of this show. Something we also haven’t seen since the early episodes is the entire Wen family, grandparents and grandchildren included, gathering for a family dinner. Those were the days…
It soon becomes apparent that Rui Fan is falling in love with An Zhen all over again. I mean, what’s not to love, right? He talks with her one night and reflects on this past year. He can finally answer her previous question about what their ten years of marriage means to him. Those ten years were the happiest days of his life, and he cannot believe that he once thought that he didn’t love her anymore. Though he cannot undo the hurt that he’s caused her, he would like to start all over again and love her.
He wants to go back to the days where they were happy together, back when they were living their everyday lives. All of this, he says with tears in his eyes. “I think that even if I were to die, I would still want to return back to that normal day.”
An Zhen wipes off his tears that are running seamlessly down his face, ignoring her own. With one hand, she cups his face and says, “But Rui Fan… I can’t go back.” An Zhen leaves him to reflect, which brings up a lot of past scenes from this drama.
Oh God, am I crying?
The next morning, Rui Fan packs his bag. He stops by their once master bedroom, staring at the bare, white wall, where his wedding portrait once hung. He finds An Zhen in the backyard, reading Tian Wei’s latest excerpt for that week’s newspaper. Handing her his own copy of the house key, he says that this is her home now, so it’s not a good idea for him to keep staying there. Wishing her well, he walks away. An Zhen watches him close the door with a final thud.
Before we know it, a full year has passed since Tian Wei first went away. Having gained popularity for his weekly journal updates on his life while traveling in China, he’s returned to Taipei and has published a book on his experience.
An Zhen is the last person in a long line for Tian Wei’s book signing event. With each step forward, she tears up and remembers with clarity how their friendship started and everything that he has done for her. When it’s finally her turn to receive a signed copy of the book, Tian Wei, without looking up, asks for her name. She responds, “Minus One Car.”
At this, Tian Wei glances up slowly in surprise and stands up.
A moment goes by before An Zhen extends her hand. Misinterpreting it, he asks if this means that he doesn’t have a chance to be with her for a second time. An Zhen smiles without replying. Tian Wei looks hopeful at her expression before taking her hand tenderly.
You had to have watched this finale to know that that was a darn good ending. No — it was effing good. But before I talk about it, let’s discuss other elements that made me love Fierce Wife. I didn’t buy all of the drama’s set-ups, since there were some far-fetched scenes that would be quite questionable in real life, but I learned to accept them on a narrative scale. Even though a few scenes had me raising my eyebrows, I gradually forgot about ’em by the end of the day because there’s something so relatable about this show.
The acting from the main cast alone outshone any other Taiwanese drama I have watched to this day, though Drunken To Love You may be coming in as a close second. Since watching FW, I have become a huge fan of Sonia Sui, who portrayed Xie An Zhen with such depth that it made her an immediately winning protagonist from the start.
James Wen and Amanda Zhu also rocked their roles as Rui Fan and Wei En, acting with such natural ease that I sometimes forgot that they’re only just characters from a particularly story, not actual people I actually know, though they might as well be. And this really could be anyone’s personal story, which makes Fierce Wife all the more tangible for viewers like me. I may not know much about divorce or marriage, but the sense of betrayal in any relationship can be easily understood by almost anyone.
The ending aside, this finale episode had a few choppy editings, and even seemed a bit rushed in the way there were time skips all over the place. But I did, however, like the resolutions between Wei En, An Zhen, and Rui Fan. It was good for Wei En and Rui Fan to eventually realize that they didn’t truly love each other, but that they loved their own fabrication of the other person. It didn’t surprise me that Rui Fan and Wei En eventually both had to leave from An Zhen’s life, nor was I expecting to know exactly what happened to them after they left.
I liked how Wei En and Rui Fan returned something to An Zhen before they departed. Wei En tried to give back the lunch box full of An Zhen’s gifts, not merely a symbol of An Zhen’s hospitality, but a token of her love to her cousin. Yet An Zhen doesn’t accept it, but offers it back to her, knowing that she’ll need it someday in the future. So simple, so poignant. Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a dramatic goodbye for Wei En, leaving us in the dark about what will happen to her. I’m sure a lot of viewers wondered why she didn’t tell Rui Fan about her pregnancy, and I can only think of hundreds of excuses. But now that she has a child of her own, someone that she can give all of her love to, I’m sure she’ll turn out just fine. I’m satisfied with how her role in this story concluded. Her own journey with her child will be another story for another day.
In contrast, An Zhen accepted Rui Fan’s keys to the house without much hesitation. When I think of keys, I tend to immediately think of the phrase, “the key to my heart.” So when Rui Fan returned that to her, I interpreted it as a symbolic gesture of him returning any chances of reuniting with her, relinquishing the key that could (literally and figuratively) open the doors of her inner haven.
The tears really started emerging when Rui Fan sought to reconcile with her. But it wasn’t until when An Zhen gently told him that she could no longer return to that past that the floodgates opened for me. That was perhaps the biggest climatic scene for me, and definitely one of my favorite moments from the drama. It was bittersweet in a way, not overly dramatic at all. It was necessary for An Zhen to make a decision: to return to how things were, with her man back by her side, or to move on, perhaps alone.
In the end, she chose to move forwards. How can she go back to the way things once were between them when she has changed so much? She can’t. She’s no longer the An Zhen that Rui Fan knows — that ship has long sailed. She acknowledges his genuine apology, and maybe even accepts it, but too much has happened over the past year for them to be able to be the couple that they once were. Because to turn back means to revert back to her old self, to undo all of what Tian Wei has done for her, and to forget about the progress she’s made to become the independent, confident woman she is today. Hence, it was only plausible for both to go their separate ways. Major props to James and Sonia for their acting in that scene, making it so real and palpable. It only gets better and better with each rewatch.
As for final scene, I know that a lot of fans wanted to see a more defined ending. Heck, I was reading a few online articles about why many felt disappointed with the ending. The big question that everyone wanted answers to was: did they or did they not become a couple in the end? I think the answer is blatantly in front of us.
It all lies with the two handshakes that we see prior to Tian Wei’s trip to China, and after he comes back. I’ll post the screencaps of both for further comparison. In the first handshake, An Zhen offers it as a sign of friendship, unable to accept Tian Wei’s confession. The grip is strong and is symbolic of their mutual understandings. The second handshake looks more like a clutch than an actual handshake, with An Zhen placing her hand in his. Such a sweet, gentle picture. This time around, the handshake is not one of rejection, but of a mutual affection for the other person; a kind of embrace, full of nuances. It’s so much more romantic than a hug or a kiss for me, since this simple of gesture makes the end all the more momentous, though in a very subtle way that’s easy to miss.
Alas, I’m really no longer a fan of Tian Wei. I think this is mostly due to how Chris Chang’s acting fell short when compared to the others. I was a fan when I first started writing these recaps, but on further analysis, the chemistry between Tian Wei and An Zhen was far from the chemistry she had with Rui Fan. His love for her just wasn’t emotionally palpable for me, even after the year apart, when his love deepened for her.
Still, though I’m not a fan of this coupling, I’m completely satisfied with how the series ended — subtle and up for interpretation, just the way I like it. As long as An Zhen is happy, I’m happy for her. I’m going to miss this show, having made a few friends because of it, but I’m also relieved to have kept my promise, now that this recapping project is completed. After all, I can’t say that I’ll miss the hours I spent rewatching, recapping, and screencapping.
I don’t really know how to end this, except to say thanks to all my readers for reading these recaps.
And now I guess I’m done. Finally.