Oct 26, 2012

Ex-Boyfriend: Episode 1

Ooh ooh ooh! I am happy to report that I'm following a twdrama, Ex-Boyfriend (Qian Nan You), a show on which its central conflict seems to be present in almost all twdramas, ever: Do you take a leap of faith with an old flame or go for the shiny new thing?

First impressions-wise, if you look past the annoying in-your-face sound effects (WHY do they always include those in twdramas, sigh) and OTT acting from the office sidekicks, this show has got potential to be... finishable. 

LMAO. I know it doesn't sound like much, but given my history with twdramas - I complete 4 shows a year, tops - this is a BIG commitment, okay. Best case scenario: show being so cracktastic I finish the whole thing in a week. Woo, imagine that? I have my fingers crossed.
Their teenage counterparts was a pleasant surprise (since in twdramas leads usually take it upon themselves to play their high school selves). Though the appearance was short (it's a flashback) but it totally sets the tone of the series, giving us a glimpse to the character's psyche, lest you think she is being too severe on him now. 

My heart went out to the teenage girl, her heart set on her sleeve - you can practically see all the love in the world shining in her eyes - and what did this guy do? He crushed her heart into a million pieces and fed it to the wild animals in Kaohsiung Zoo.

I have no pity on your future self, you heartbreaker. You had it coming.

DIANA LIN CHUN JIAO (Gina Lee) is as severe as her hairstyle. A no-nonsense high-flying career woman at Never Land (rumors have it that she seduced her boss and is the reason for his divorce), she is the boss everybody loves to bitch about - no thanks to her type A personality. 
The story sets off with an emergency phone call from Chun Jiao's bestie: Her man is cheating! Needless to say, Chun Jiao does NOT react to that word well. CHEATING?!?!? She leaves her office party in a huff and takes it upon herself to avenge her eccentric gold digger friend, XIAO Z (Liao Yi Qiao). Rather than out of concern for her friend, Chun Jiao's acting like she's the one personally being wronged, and one wonders whether all this animosity towards Xiao Z's cheating boyfriend is just a replacement for her real source of anger, you know who.
Chun Jiao barges into the hotel room and swiftly punches him, with bestie protesting, "Not the nose! That's my favorite part of him!" followed by an even louder protest when she knee-kicks his family jewelsMeanwhile, the real perp in the opposite room makes a run for it, now that he has been spotted by Xiao Z. Waitaminute, Xiao Z, you got the WRONG guy? I know it was a hectic situation, but how can you mistake a TALL GUY WITH WASHBOARD ABS for a fat shorty? *scratches head*

The unintended victim - though one could argue that Chun Jiao got it right the first time - is LAI ZHI MING (Tony Yang), our hero (and I use that term loosely). As he confronts her, both are shocked to see a familiar face  - it's YOU!!
... ALL of them end up in the police station, and the policeman comes to the erroneous conclusion that Chun Jiao is the 3rd party in the relationship, and therefore harboring unrequited feelings for Zhi Ming - he looks all bashful at that prospect, LOL - while she takes offence in that. Pshaw. As if! There is no way she the 3rd party because she DESPISE CHEATERS. 
Fair enough, but then why bash him up for sleeping with his girlfriend? Only this time, Zhi Ming's the one who gets all huffy:

Zhi Ming: "Mr. Policeman (LOL so cute the way he says it), this woman (points to woman sucking on him like a leech) is NOT my girlfriend! She (points to Chun Jiao) is the one who's my..." 

He nearly says "it", but has difficulty finishing the sentence (awkward!). Chun Jiao cuts in, "He's my ex-boyfriend." Everyone who doesn't know: EX-BOYFRIEND?! And we go back to...
... the year 1999. Their adorable high school self answers "yo!" as the teacher takes their attendance. Whoa, Chun Jiao looks so different. And I don't mean by her looks, obviously. She is actually smiling! (and not in a perverse I-am-so-gonna-have-fun-torturing-you kinda way). She's all shy and demure. Aww.
The class goes wild at the Zhi Ming x Chun Jiao connection [note: their names coincides with Taiwanese band Mayday's breakthrough hit"Zhi Ming & Chun Jiao," a song that made them a household name in the late 90's.] and they start singing the song. 

As the class chants,"Get together! Get together!" the embarrassed Zhi Ming tries to shut them up, but to no avail. Chun Jiao looks back and gives him a shy smile. So. Cute.
And that is all. (I want moar!) The present Chun Jiao is leaving the police station, but pauses as Zhi Ming calls out for her. He tries to make small talk, but she cuts him off, giving him the exasperated just cut to the chase already. Say what you want to say and bugger off.
Zhi Ming: All these years... how have you been?
She smiles, about to answer... then snipes at him, "It's none of your goddamn business!" She then leaves, with him at a loss what to say, watching her go.

But once inside the car, it's obvious that she is more affected by the coincidental meeting that she lets on. She remembers... 
... on that rainy day, her high school self is heading to his house, looking ever so happy at the prospect of meeting him. She walks in... on him kissing another girl. (it ain't no chaste peck either!) She just stands there, stupefied.  
Zhi Ming just looks annoyed, yes annoyed, at being interrupted. He glares daggers and drags her out of the house, slamming the gate to her face. She bangs the gate, wailing over and over: "Lai Zhi Ming, why are you doing this to me? Why? Why?"
Oh god, this is too sad. Although... my antagonism towards Zhi Ming cracked a teeny-weeny bit (just a 'lil!) when he leaned on the other side of the gate, seeming genuinely upset by the turn of events. Is it regret? Shame? A case of noble idiocy (omo!)? Only time and more episodes will tell. 
Cue emotional eating, and this show is brought to you by KFCShe wakes up the next day, only to discover on the weighing scale that OMFG Zhi Ming "made me gain ONE kg!" (Now I'm confused. Is this a product placement or PSA?).
And so she starts her day off in a shitty mood, in contrast to his all-smiles disposition. It gets even worse for Chun Jiao when her boss, the chairman, calls her in and basically pushes someone to her, "an outstanding young man" for a job. Say it with me: Nepotism!
Eeep. There's no getting out of this one. She smoothly answers "not a problem" but once out the door, she sulks like there's no tomorrow. You see, the there are two kinds of people she ABSOLUTELY detest in this world, "One, cheaters! Two, nepotic trash!" Girl is in killer mood.

And what do you know, in walks the person who meets both criteria, lucky man (we totally saw this coming). Chun Jiao is perversely happy - evil laughs from her, literally - and is already thinking of ways to torment her future assistant. The interview is clearly for formality's sake, but he doesn't know that. She takes this opportunity to put him down a notch. Or ten.
The interview begins, and without missing a beat, she "minus points" every chance she gets. She also reaches to the (correct) conclusion that he's not the one who prepared the CV. He answers affirmative - frankly, he doesn't care about the damn job, he's only here to humor his mom anyway! (oho - so Chairman and mom know each other?). Out of all the things she criticized him just now, only ONE thing she said irked him: He IS a man of his word, so take that back!   
She's all, pfft, yeah right. Should she lay out some examples? Zhi Ming's all, be my guest. Um, anyone feels like this is a bad idea? Dead calm, she goes:
Chun Jiao: "Who promised to go with me to Mayday's concert, only to make me wait for him out in the rain for 5 hours and not show up? Who promised me that we'll graduate together, only to withdraw from school in the last week? Who taught me how to finally trust someone, only to betray me to show me that "trust" is merely a fairy tale on earth?"
Emotional words, but they're spoken in a matter-of-factly tone. Zhi Ming has nothing to say in return. Defeated, he bows and apologizes for not being fit for the job. He turns to leave but Chun Jiao stops him in his tracks, "Who said you could leave?" On the contrary, she tells him that he is hired as her assistant, effective tomorrow. Phase 1 of Operation Torment Zhi Ming, complete! (karma sucks, bro.)
Zhi Ming goes to KE BO WEN's (Natto) bar to let off some steam. Ke Bo, ZHENG JIE (Masuyama Yuki - omg. Can I just book this one for fangirling purposes.) and LAO YU LIANG (Patrick Lee) have been friends with Zhi Ming since high school, so they all know about The Breakup. Yu Liang wonders why Chun Jiao would hire Zhi Ming, given their past. Zhi Ming: "Who knows."
Ke Bo booms: "I KNOW!" He deducts Detective Conan-style, that Lin Chun Jiao still hasn't forgotten him. "She still FEEEELS for you~" 

Yeah, she has feelings - it's hatred. Zhi Ming still reminisces fondly though - in his wallet, he still has a photo of her from when they were dating. Looks like he's the one with the feelings, despite all the mean things the present Chun Jiao says to him.
Next day at work, the burning hatred still BURNS. She tells him keep his distance with other women, since "you're someone who already has a girlfriend." Zhi Ming: "What girlfriend?" You mean that day at the hotel- oh no, she got it all wrong. He was working at Ke Bo's bar ("remember that fatty in highschool?") and that woman is merely a drunk client. 
Chun Jiao's like, whatever, "it's none of my business." AFTER all the explaining? Girl, you totally wanted to know. 

Ke Bo has a younger sister, KE MIAO LI (Chu Jia Qing) who holds a torch for Zhi Ming, although the latter just sees her as a younger sibling, and has no qualm rejecting her advances (it was a setup for him to bring her to a swanky romantic restaurant, he brings her to KFC instead). 
At the fast food chain, Zhi Ming spots Chun Jiao - with a kid! (she doesn't see him though) During the meal, Zhi Ming is engrossed watching Chun Jiao play with her daughter, much to Miao Li's dismay. (Is the little girl really her daughter??? I say that since, well, twdramas does have a history of people raising up children that are technically not theirs. Probably a dead relative's kid or something. We shall see.) 
Miao Li feels threatened that Zhi Ming seemed so affected by the meeting, so she rubs it in his face, "she has a kid now so your feelings won't matter." He sulks (at a bar), she sulks (ditto, but a different venue).
And lest you feel sorry for Miao Li and her one-sided love, she is also the recipient of one - and it's Zheng Jie (grrr. Lucky kijibae); and he's her colleague. Zheng Jie often helps her out of situations, due to her half-assed attitude at work. My cutie pie is too good for her. 

It's morning (oh boy, Zhi Ming is still looking at the picture in the wallet), and the second day of work and torture. 
She sends him out on near-impossible errands (sending documents to the theme park's hotel in 10 minutes) and humiliating ones (bra salesman - and gets harassed by the sales auntie; "Push-up, push-up!" LOL). 

He's had enough of bra wearing and goes to confronts her, "What have I done to offend you? Why are you sabotaging me?"

Chun Jiao: "You're right, I am sabotaging you. I despise trash like you who comes into the company through connections because they don't have any talent. This team doesn't need you! You were hired by the Chairman, so I can't make you leave unless you want to yourself."
Woah, harsh words there. Zhi Ming: "Fine, I'll hand in my resignation right now." And he turns to leave.

Chloe Says
Not gonna lie, I find it hard to relate to Chun Jiao - why is she so... mean to everyone? It seems like the only people she is nice to is her kid and her may-be husband/boyfriend. What the fig happened during that 10 year gap?!? It's like she body swapped with Zhi Ming, now she's the cold one and him the cheery fellow. 
There's such disparity between both personalities - her adult self and her teenage self - that I find it hard to reconcile the two. Was she so affected by the relationship that she changed her name to Diana? Only Zhi Ming calls her by her given name now (something which she hates and is trying to rectify). Then again it's common for people in Asian countries to adopt an English name when they join the workforce, since it's more convenient and saves you a round of Uh, what's your name again? So I dunno. But duly noted.
"Everything, that's what"

The reason for my drama whiplash: Child actress Wen Zhen Ling's heartbreaking performance of Chun Jiao's teenage self in the flashbacks. Oh, the wailing. I can still hear her long after the scene was over. From the adults' conversation, it's clear that the young Chun Jiao loved Zhi Ming without reservation, just giving and giving and giving. 

Stellar performance too from child actor Xu Yi De for playing such a heartless-but-maybe-I-do-have-one bastard. Ooh teenage Zhi Ming, I smell Noble Idiot a mile away (while I've always been weak to this trope, but it must make sense - to me!). Show, you'd better explain yourself well or you WILL be abandoned faster than you can say, "eks!"