Love Around Episode 9

This episode felt a lot like filler to hold out for more ahead of Episode 10, which falls during the Lunar calendar Valentine’s celebration (Qi Xi). So yes, not really a lot of content, not after all the emotional highs from the previous episodes.

Recap:

Daddy Zhou asks Zhou Zhen to return to the hotel full time now that he’s no longer needed at the radio station. Zhou Zhen and Xiao Shu both look crestfallen. Zhou Zhen tells her that he not only wanted to help her save the station, he also wanted to change her opinion of his dad. He thanks her for letting him choose his family in the end.

Zhou Zhen leaves with his family and Phillip to deal with a situation at his hotel and Xiao Shu returns to the station looking glum as ever. Jessica is concerned but Xiao Shu dismisses her worries, saying that Zhou Zhen’s just left the job, not forever. Yeah, can’t really tell the difference from the way you are acting, girl. She does brighten up a bit at the thought of planning a welcoming-cum-farewell party for him. When do they ever need an excuse anyway? Haha.

Zhou Zhen walks by a dessert shop and is reminded of his former colleagues. He buys some sweeties and drops by the station, even though it seems like he just left a few hours ago. I can’t get a grasp on the timeline in this drama, because he’s still wearing the same blue shirt as at the beginning. Which just makes me feel like this is a really long day. He finds an empty office, but everyone jumps out to surprise him.

On Ying Ying’s end, she plans more petty revenge on Zhe Xuan by calling him over to her shop every 30 minutes to ask him about some minor accounting information, like how to calculate her daily profits etc. He’s surprisingly patient each time, sitting down and explaining in detail. And after the second time he’s called out, he doesn’t even return to the office, and gets half a day off just so that he can answer all of Ying Ying’s questions. His sincerity takes the wind out of her petty revenge sail.

Haha. It feels like he doesn’t even find her annoying any more, as he betrays a little smile as he enters her shop.

At his farewell dinner, Zhou Zhen and Xiao Shu throw more longing glances at each other which is apparent to everyone except themselves. Jessica urges Xiao Shu to speak her heart but she just cannot find the words.

Jessica and the others decide to bring the party elsewhere after dinner, and Jessica asks Zhou Zhen to take Xiao Shu home so she wouldn’t miss her curfew.

After they leave, Xiao Shu and Zhou Zhen look at the time and they both realise that it’s a while before her curfew. They go to the batting cages where they first met, but really, it’s more of an excuse for some skinship. He encourages her to try it on her own for once, only to step in to help her after all. What’s the point? *facepalm*

When he sends her home, they linger for a moment, each not wanting to be the first to turn away. It’s a rehash of the same scene in episode 3, only now they are both aware of their own feelings for the other person. Even when they count to 3, they remain rooted to the spot, not breaking eye contact. Before they get to any meaningful conversation, Xiao Shu’s dad rings her, and the moment is lost.

That night, they think about each other – Xiao Shu holding on to the home run ball from the baseball match, and Zhou Zhen with the winning baseball bat on their first meeting. They both contemplate sending a text to each other, and jump from their beds when a text comes in. It’s only from Phillip (for Zhou Zhen) and Mum (for Xiao Shu). They roll their eyes and begrudgingly go back to bed. Or, you could just send a text?

Xiao Shu’s radio broadcast the next morning is again reflective of our characters’ current situation. A guy at university is lamenting his lost chance to confess to a girl who goes to the same university as him, because they have graduated. Xiao Shu encourages him to go look for her, since the only thing keeping them apart is that they are no longer at university.

Zhou Zhen listens in to the broadcast as Phillip picks him up, and he only realises when Phillip pulls over that he’s at the radio station. Phillip just assumed that he wanted to go the station, based on what he was wearing (not black). Haha. He tells Phillip that he doesn’t need to come to work here any more.

When Xiao Shu goes to the lift, the doors open and Zhou Zhen walks out. He tells her that he said he would be back, but it’s all in Xiao Shu’s head. She gets into the lift and thinks sadly that she never had the courage to tell him how she felt while he was working here, will she have the courage now? But she barely misses him as she comes out of the building. Is this going to happen all episode?

The whole Zhou family plus Pei Li and Phillip turn up to support Ying Ying’s store opening. Zhou Zhen gives his reluctant approval of the shop, and hopes that she doesn’t abandon it when she gets bored. She proudly tells them that she’s handpicked outfits for each of them, and forces everyone to try them on. Oh my.

I cannot stop laughing at them, especially Granny’s dress. Daddy Zhou is quite a sport, but Zhou Zhen just asks if he can change back to his boring clothes already. Ying Ying says that they have to pay for what they are wearing first. Haha, how sneaky. Daddy Zhou agrees to pay for it to show his support.

Xiao Shu looks glum at work again. She wonders if she should hire a full time exec to garner adverts and extra income for the station like Zhou Zhen. Xiao Shu gets payment for Peter’s adverts, and she leaves immediately to look for Zhou Zhen. He does the same on his end. They almost miss each other again, except this time Zhou Zhen looks back and spots Xiao Shu. Good, ‘cos I would have thrown something at the screen.

Xiao Shu’s excuse for meeting him is to repay him the money he spent on scratchcards, now that she’s got money from the adverts. He’s surprised that she found out about the scratchcards and also his race with Peter, but refuses to take her money. Instead, he asks her to have it as an advertising fee for his hotel, which would help his business. She meekly says that he doesn’t need to do that, but he’s not doing it as a favour. He’s worked at the station long enough to realise the potential in radio advertising.

He also asks if she’s planning an office trip this year, because he wants something off her now – business for his hotel. The hotel organises corporate getaways, which suits Xiao Shu’s budget. She agrees to it, and it’s smiles all around.

Jessica teases Xiao Shu’s outfit choices for the getaway, saying that she only wears dresses when she’s out on a date. Xiao Shu admits that she feels happy to see him, and sad when she can’t. Jessica is happy for her friend. She encourages her to be more proactive towards pursuing Zhou Zhen, which leads them to a Yue Lao temple. (Yue Lao is the Chinese pagan god of love.) Haha, even Xiao Shu is in disbelief in Jessica’s proactive methods. She has to pray for love, then get her person of interest to eat a sweet from the temple. Xiao Shu insists that they both do it together.

During the getaway, Xiao Shu tries her best to get Zhou Zhen to eat that darned sweet. Except he misunderstands her the first time, thinking she wants a photo taken. On her second try, he turns it down. Her third attempt has her giving him a glass of bitter tea first, then offering the sweet to counter it. Only for him to say that the tea will taste even more bitter if he has something sweet. Then he proceeds to down the rest of the glass of bitter tea. Awww.

He only finds out what the sweet means when Phillip accidentally eats Jessica’s. Jessica throws a fit at him, when he tries to repay her with a bag of sweets. Lol. Does that mean we have a new love line? Yay for two of my favourite side characters.

To Zhou Zhen’s credit, once he finds out he tells Phillip that he has to go and “do something he should have done”. That’s sweet (har), but I wished we didn’t need that for him to know what to do. He goes over to Xiao Shu and eats it. He then brings her to the little chapel he built at the hotel to hold weddings.

He asks if she ever imagined what her wedding would be like. He wanted to be able to share the joy of his own wedding with the world, so he placed a huge bell by the chapel. When the wedding bells ring, they would broadcast the joy from the wedding to everyone. It’s also a play on words there, as it sounds the same as happiness forever. He takes Xiao Shu’s hand in his, and together they ring the bell.

***

It was so frustrating watching both Zhou Zhen and Xiao Shu shuffling their feet around each other. And he had to rely on that sweet to realise that Xiao Shu likes him. Seriously? I thought he was the one with a good head on his shoulders. Maybe we’re just heading for the mid-series lull where most of the previous episodes were revelations and action, whereas this was really relaxed, slow exploration of the leads’ feelings. Ok, keep calm.

I also realise that this must be the point where the live-shoot has started to take its toll on the production team and the cast. Annie looks noticeably tired in her scenes, and you can see it in her eyes. I wished that the cast didn’t have to suffer for the lack of time, and that the quality of the drama wouldn’t take the plunge only to appease the fans. I must admit that I love Annie and George as a couple, but OTP scenes should exist for a reason, and at least show that it has been thought about. Not clumsily pieced together just to flaunt some skinship at us.

 

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