THE SHORT VERDICT:
Smartly written, deftly executed, and wonderfully acted, Someday Or One Day is a gem of a show that feels like it’s head and shoulders above its peers. Intricate and clever, yet full of emotional heft, Show is a rare creature that does an excellent and consistent job of engaging both the mind and the heart.
Our main cast is strong and unfailingly delivers well-rounded, faceted performances, but the stand-out for me is male lead Greg Hsu, who crept under my skin and stole my heart when I wasn’t looking.
Altogether fantastic, and well worth the watch.
THE LONG VERDICT:
Someday Or One Day is a show that aims to blow my mind and steal my heart, which is something that The King: Eternal Monarch attempted to do, but – in my personal experience anyway – did not manage to achieve in any substantial way. This show, though, manages to blow my mind and steal my heart so well, and in such a consistent manner, that I am left quite breathless after my watch. My mind is whirling and my heart is tied up in knots, and I want to serve up my heart to Show all over again, on a platter.
This is a rare, rare thing indeed, and I am honestly very reluctant to put this show to bed and move on.
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
This is one of those shows where it’s best to go in blind. The less you know about this story, the better, because everything will feel that much fresher to you.
As early as episode 2 of my watch, I began to realize how critical it’s been, for fans of this show to not give anything away, to those who haven’t seen this show. Everyone who’d recommended this show to me had said about the same thing; that this is so good, but they can’t say more. I am grateful for that, because going in mostly blind really added to my enjoyment of this show.
I guess if you have to know something about it, then here’s what I knew before going into this one – and what I think is enough for anyone to know, going in: this is a romance, and there is a fantasy element involved in the way of time travel.
..And that’s it. Honestly, it’s best not to know much at all, going in. Go watch it, and then come back.
OST ALBUM: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE
Here’s the OST album, in case you’d like to listen to it while you read the review.
I didn’t immediately love the music in this show, even though it struck me as pleasant enough. I have to say, though, that as I progressed through my watch, I found that the songs had gotten under my skin in a big way. I’d wake up and randomly find one of these songs swirling in my head on loop. This almost never happens to me, so this is saying A Lot, about how effective and earwormy these songs are.
If I had to pick a favorite, it’d be the title track, Someday Or One Day, for its whimsical poignance, that reverberates with the main themes of this show. A close second would be Last Dance, which brings back so many of the feels that this show serves up. Really good. ❤️
If you prefer, here’s the title track Someday Or One Day, which you can loop:
[MAJOR SPOILERS THROUGH THE REST OF THE REVIEW. DON’T READ IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE SHOW!]
STUFF I LIKED
The writing and execution
In my opinion, the stand-out star of this show, is the writing. Is it completely seamless and perfect? Well, no. I will list some of the minor cracks in Show’s logic later in this review. But let me just say that even with these minor cracks, the writing is still stellar.
It’s cool without needing to be fancy
It’s just so clever, and so fresh, without needing to go all fancy to try to be clever and fresh. It just is smart. It uses the same pieces that are available to every other split-timeline story, and just shuffles them differently, and uses them differently, to get that unique and interesting result that sets it apart from other shows. Show doesn’t require an expensive budget with lots of CGI, or fancy world-building or multi-universe hopping in order to try to be different. It just uses its available tools smartly, and it’s so effortlessly good at it. I love it.
From beginning to end, I consistently found myself unable to guess where Show was planning to go with its story, and it was such a refreshing feeling to be so uncertain of where Show was going, but yet feeling confident that I was in good hands. This is the best kind of “I don’t know what’s going on” sort of feeling, for me. And, after having been a drama fan for 13 years, this is extra rare and precious.
It engages both heart and mind
Possibly the best thing about Show’s writing and execution, is, even while my brain’s busily trying to piece the answers together, there’s still a lot of room for me to feel for our characters. Often, a drama that requires my brain to work at understanding it, tends to miss my heart (see kdrama Nine). But this show hits me on both counts equally well. I was very intrigued by the logic of our story, but at the same time, I really did feel for our characters. That’s rare and precious too.
It manages to be sweet and poignant at the same time
Show manages to balance these two different tones in a seamless manner, which I found very impressive. No whiplashy feelings here, and this, despite Show sometimes toggling the two very frequently.
A great example of this is the whole of episode 9. This episode, I felt my emotions were given the workout of their lives, being pulled in two very different directions, pretty much at the same time. On the one hand, we have Quan Sheng’s blossoming romance with Yu Xuan in 2010, which is increasingly melty and sweet, and on the other hand, the sweetness is interspliced with the sadness and poignance of Jun Jie’s arc in 2008. By the end of the episode, I almost felt like my heart had been pulverized by a blender and served up on a plate – and I mean that in the best way. The sweetness in 2010 made me want to float away in a cloud of cotton candy, and the pathos in 2008 kept me grounded, and added a strong layer of poignance to everything. Really good.
It manages to juggle everything well
I really like how assured Show feels. The way it manages all the various threads and timelines feels deliberate and skillful. It’s like this drama world is a little globe in the writer’s hand, and our story zooms in and out, while the writer turns that globe around in their palm every once in a while, to change the spot on the globe that we’re focusing on. Threads are left hanging in limbo while we change focus, but we always go back to those threads. They just have to wait their turn, is all.
Except for one secondary detail (which I talk about later in this review), Show manages to keep going back to each of the hanging threads while providing satisfactory answers, and that’s an impressive feat, in my books.
Show plans ahead
A lot of thought is put into mapping our story, and one of the thrills I got, was from seeing how far ahead our writers planned everything out.
A great example is in episode 11, when we see how Zi Wei (Greg Hsu) had gone to visit Yun Ru (Alice Ke) in the hospital after her attack, which is the same scene we’ve seen before, when Yu Xuan first wakes up in Yun Ru’s body – only this time, Psychiatrist (Kenny Yen) is hiding around the corner, in his brother’s body, eavesdropping. Similarly, he was also eavesdropping when Yu Xuan tells Zi Wei and Jun Jie that she remembers her attacker was wearing their school uniform.
This puts a whole new spin on the scenes, without introducing too many new elements. Nicely done – even though I hate the oily aftertaste of seeing Psychiatrist and his crazy eyes intruding on a scene that my brain had previously categorized as sweet, poignant or heartwarming.
Show’s twisty – in the best way
From Show’s first episode to its last, I felt like I was on a rollercoaster; it just had so many good twists up its sleeve. These days, after having watched so many dramas and therefore gaining a measure of instinct for how a story might develop, I am especially thrilled when a show manages to surprise in such a complete way.
Here, for the record, are some of my favorite twists in this show.
This is where it’s critical that I came into this show without any preconceived notion about its workings. I was completely surprised by the reveal that our present-day characters were not the same people as our 1998 characters.
In the beginning, the way Show plays it, it had seemed like the younger characters were our present-day characters in flashback. But when we get to the end of the episode, it kinda blows my mind, that they are different people altogether, with different names and different lives. I loved that surprise, and it raised a whole lot of other questions in my mind, about our characters.
Episode 3 & 4
The way Show played it, by the time I got to the end of episode 3, I was just about convinced that Yu Xuan’s world was the dream, and Yun Ru’s world is reality. I was impressed with this possibility, because that would’ve been a fresh and different way of playing with set-up and framing of our story. BUT, just as I’m reaching for this as a firm conclusion, Show goes and blows my theory to pieces, by bringing Yu Xuan back to her world. And, we see that Lin Zi Wei had followed her off the bus as well, so Yun Ru’s world is real, too. This sent my brain spinning in so many different directions, in the best way.
And then Show does a similar thing in episode 4, by leading me on and then switching things up. This episode, just as I’m fully convinced that Zi Wei and Quan Sheng are most definitely two different people, Show drops an indication that at some point, Yu Xuan concludes that Zi Wei really is Quan Sheng. I couldn’t make head or tail of this, and really hoped that Show had a solid plan to explain how Zi Wei and Quan Sheng could possibly be two different people – and Show lives up to my hopes, gloriously.
We’d been teased with the idea that Zi Wei really is Quan Sheng, so I’d been thinking along the lines of Quan Sheng going back in time and finding himself in Zi Wei’s body, the way Yu Xuan found herself in Yun Ru’s body. But in this episode’s big twist, we see that Zi Wei had gotten into a car accident in 2003, and then woken up in Quan Sheng’s body. WOAH. That puts a WHOLE new spin on EVERYTHING.
The logic also makes perfect sense to me, because while Yu Xuan’s trips to the past have been short(ish) because of her sleep being interrupted in the present, I can totally buy that Zi Wei would’ve likely spent a long time in a coma after that terrible accident, thus enabling him to live as Quan Sheng for years without interruption.
This means that the Quan Sheng that Yu Xuan’s loved all this time, was Zi Wei, ALL ALONG. 🤯 Which means that this relationship between them, has been circular all this time. Zi Wei would’ve sought out Yu Xuan while in Quan Sheng’s body, because of what he’d heard from Yu Xuan when she’d told him about her relationship with Quan Sheng, back in 1998. And the main reason Yu Xuan told Zi Wei everything about Quan Sheng, is because he reminded her so much of Quan Sheng.
Also, this means that when she’d first fallen asleep on her birthday wish of seeing her beloved again, and found herself in front of Zi Wei, her wish had literally come true. She HAD gotten to see her beloved; she just didn’t realize it yet. 🤯
And, the joke about the noodles getting a perm is so circular as well. Quan Sheng had told her the joke, and then remarked that he’d laughed so hard when he’d first heard it. And that’s why Yu Xuan told Zi Wei the joke, as a way of testing the waters. But that turned out to be the actual first time Zi Wei heard the joke, which he laughed hard about, later. Which means that this is a completely circular chain of events. He told her because she’d told him, and vice versa. Mind blown, yet again.
As for the drawing of Yu Xuan running in the rain.. this must mean that Zi Wei recreated the drawing while in Quan Sheng’s body, since the original drawing would’ve been in Zi Wei’s sketchbook. I love that detail, that Yu Xuan discovers that she’s the girl in the drawing, after having had petty jealousies over Quan Sheng waxing lyrical about his first love. Hee.
Also, this makes me so relieved, because it means that the person that Yu Xuan’s loved all this time, isn’t dead. He’s just.. in a different, slightly older body than before.
The entire flashback to 2003, when Zi Wei first found himself in Quan Sheng’s body, really landed with a mounting tension for me. As things were being put in place, and as each piece of the puzzle took its place and things started coming into focus for me, it literally blew my mind and gave me goosebumps, in one fell swoop.
Alice Ke as Yu Xuan / Yun Ru
Alice Ke’s handling of the roles
I have to admit that for a good part of our story, I thought that Alice Ke’s job was comparatively simpler than Greg Hsu’s. Mainly, it was because Yun Run and Yu Xuan are as different as chalk and cheese. Yun Ru is quiet, reticent, awkward and shy, while Yu Xuan is confident, outspoken and assertive. Because, for a long time, the two personalities didn’t really seem to overlap, it had appeared like the easier task, to portray these two as different characters.
However, in episode 12, when Yun Run pretends to be Yu Xuan, Alice Ke has the opportunity to show different shades of these two characters, which I appreciated a great deal. I found her delivery to be nuanced enough to not be quite like either Yun Ru’s old self, and Yu Xuan’s established personality. Instead, it all lands somewhere in-between, which is perfect. There’s enough of the old Yun Ru in there, to make me as a viewer start to question her early on, and there’s also enough of Yu Xuan’s mannerisms in there, to make it believable that Zi Wei would be fooled – at least for a while.
All in all, a solid and admirable job, I thought.
I found myself enjoying the loyalty and strength that characterized Yu Xuan.
In 2019, the way she continues to mourn the loss of her boyfriend Quan Sheng, is muted out of consideration for the people around her, but her loyalty to him is deep and enduring, and the strength that is required of her, to carry on with her life despite the tragedy of losing him, is no small deal.
I have to admit that even though Show demonstrates that there are repercussions to Yu Xuan allowing her real personality to shine through while inhabiting Yun Ru’s body, I did enjoy seeing “Yun Ru” blossom in front of her family and schoolmates, with her new personality. I especially got a kick out of how Yu Xuan shut down Yun Ru’s annoying little brother Si Yuan (Lin He Xuan). His shock at his sister now refusing to let him push her around, is great.
The way Yu Xuan goes about luring Yun Ru’s attacker to attack her again, is so ballsy. She’s literally putting herself at risk of bodily harm, in order to save Yun Ru, and I have to admire her for that.
Additionally, I am touched by Yu Xuan’s loyalty to Quan Sheng. In 1998, we see that there are many uncanny similarities between Quan Sheng and Zi Wei. Because of these similarities, I can see why Yu Xuan has those moments when she’s lost in thought, while staring at Zi Wei. I imagine it’d be so easy for her to get confused. But, Yu Xuan demonstrates that she is clear that Zi Wei and Quan Sheng are not the same person, and she isn’t placing her feelings for Quan Sheng on Zi Wei. And until she actually gets an inkling that Zi Wei could actually be Quan Sheng, she never actually entertains feelings for Zi Wei, despite him looking the spitting image of Quan Sheng. I find that strength of heart and mind very appealing.
We spend a lot less time with Yun Ru comparatively speaking, so it’s not until pretty late in our story, that I found myself having any kind of strong feelings about her as a character. I did find her thoughtful and poetic though, based on the glimpses of her thoughts that we see, via her diary. It’s clear that she’s spent a great deal of time reflecting on life, and her place in the world.
In episode 12, I didn’t like the fact that Yun Ru has turned to the dark side and is pretending to be Yu Xuan in order to experience a relationship with Zi Wei, whom she likes. However, I could understand why she would do that. She likes him a lot and is desperate for his reciprocal affection, and he happens to like Yu Xuan, who’s been inhabiting her body. The temptation to put on Yu Xuan’s personality and pretend to be her, in order to be accepted by him, would understandably be strong.
I did feel very sorry for Yun Ru ini episode 12, because in this episode, it really sucks to be her.
When she’s with Zi Wei, she can’t be herself, and is constantly asking herself what she ought to do, in order to believably appear to be Yu Xuan, who is the one that he truly likes. And when she shows more of her own personality after Zi Wei confronts her about not really being Yu Xuan, the people around her unfailingly tell her that they preferred her when she was more cheerful and sociable. How awful for her, to essentially be told that people didn’t like her, and preferred Yu Xuan. Considering how Yun Ru already had darkish tendencies, which we see in her earlier diary entries, I am not entirely surprised that she decides that death is a better option for her.
I’m glad that Show doesn’t kill her off, though, and Yun Ru gets a second chance at life, with a brighter, more hopeful mindset to go with.
Greg Hsu as Quan Sheng / Zi Wei
Greg Hsu’s handling of the roles
As you might have gathered from my earlier mention of Greg Hsu, I loved – like, really loved – him in this show. ❤️
On a shallow note, I do love his visuals. He’s got a fresh, lively look about him, so clean-cut, with a touch of bedhead that makes him so accessible. And I love his smile. It literally lights up my screen. 😍
Beyond that, though, I think he does a fantastic job with the multiple roles that he plays in our story world. I do think that all three of our leads do a very good job of their roles, but I think Greg Hsu gets to display his range in the most impressive way.
From early on in the show, we can see that Wang Quan Sheng and Lin Zi Wei share more personality traits than Yu Xuan and Yun Ru, just that they exist in different proportions in each character. Quan Sheng has a cheeky, mischievous side to him, but what comes to the forefront more, is his tenderness and sweetness, as Yu Xuan’s boyfriend. In contrast, Zi Wei’s cheeky, mischievous side is much more front-and-center, and he only shows flashes of sweetness. Mostly, he comes across as kinda gangsta, with his rough manner, where he mostly speaks with his jaw jutting out.
The way Greg Hsu presents these same ingredients so differently in each of these characters, is really impressive to me. They feel similar, but at the same time, completely different. I didn’t feel confused as to who’s Quan Sheng and who’s Zi Wei, even early on in our story, and that’s quite an accomplishment, considering that Quan Sheng and Zi Wei share some major personality traits.
And then, when Show introduces original Quan Sheng in episode 8, Greg Hsu impresses me even more. He looks and feels really different as original Quan Sheng. There’s a daintiness about him, especially at the part where Quan Sheng shyly makes his love declaration. Considering that this entire sequence is played without dialogue, that makes the very different rendition of Quan Sheng even more impressive.
Over the course of our story, we meet different iterations of Zi Wei, and Greg Hsu’s delivery of them, is always nuanced and complex. It’s always a mix of emotions on display, never a one-note interpretation.
As Li Zi Wei in 1998, he’s rough, loud and kinda gangster, but the warmth still peeks through. As Zi Wei, newly transported to Quan Sheng’s body in 2010, he starts out kinda loud and rough, probably from being new to being in Quan Sheng’s skin, but it isn’t long before he settles, and he vibes more jokester than little gangster, and that is peppered with increasingly melty stretches, where the way he looks at Yu Xuan, full of searching and tenderness, just gets me in a big ol’ puddle. And then as Zi Wei in 2008, trying to get through to Jun Jie, there’s so much emotion and pathos, as he spends time with his best friend, who’s hurting and suffering from self-loathing. Augh. Greg Hsu does all of this with aplomb and I am blown away. 🤩
We don’t spend much time at all with Quan Sheng, but credit to Show’s skilled handling and Greg Hsu’s excellent delivery, I felt my heart go out to him in just a few short minutes, when Show introduces his story in episode 8, in a short but impactful highlight reel. How heartbreaking, that he’d been bullied and felt so rejected for being gay, that he’d attempted suicide. 😭
This certainly explains why he’d be in a coma, after being rescued, and Zi Wei waking up in Quan Sheng’s body really feels reminiscent of the way Yu Xuan woke up in Yun Ru’s body after a traumatic experience. And while it makes sense that Zi Wei being in a coma makes it possible for him to live as Quan Sheng for an extended period of time, it makes me wonder what happened to Quan Sheng. I assume he’s in Zi Wei’s body for the duration of the coma, but when Zi Wei wakes up, what happens to Quan Sheng?
There’s a small chance that the original Wang Quan Sheng isn’t dead, since his body hasn’t been found, but as far as we can tell, it seems like he went back to his own body, only to die in a plane crash. That’s just so tragic. 😭😭
Zi Wei: 1998
Like I mentioned earlier, I found 1998 Zi Wei kinda gangsta in his mannerisms, but I found his easy warmth charming, and his smile, completely disarming.
I loved Zi Wei for the lack of judgment and bias when it came to other people. I love how Zi Wei’s easy acceptance of people shines through, both in how he became friends with Jun Jie, and in how he becomes friends with Yun Ru. His acceptance is fast and fuss-free, and once that’s in place, he’s quick to defend, and doesn’t hold back. There’s a purity about Zi Wei which I can’t help but like.
I also really appreciate his honesty and loyalty. When Yun Ru confesses her feelings for him, he is quick to set the record straight, so that he doesn’t lead her on. And he remains considerate of Jun Jie’s feelings, even when he himself develops feelings for the new Yun Ru, who really is Yu Xuan.
When Zi Wei falls for Yu Xuan, his love for her becomes something that’s so deep and pure, that it melted my heart. I love how Zi Wei is able to tell that the girl that he’s spending time with, in episode 12, isn’t really Yu Xuan. His acute longing for Yu Xuan, whether he believed she’d gone back to 2019 without a word, or whether he thought she really was a figment of Yun Ru’s imagination, really gets to me. His pained expression, and the loss that’s shining in his eyes, is so palpable that it basically reaches out of my screen and knocks me breathless.
Zi Wei: 2019
I have a huge soft spot for 2019 Zi Wei, who consistently looks in Yu Xuan’s direction with so much wistful longing. I really buy that he’s in love with her, but believes that she will never love him. Each time we see his sad, wistful expression, it hits me in the heart.
In episode 9, I felt so bad for Zi Wei, who’s basically given himself one task to accomplish in 2008, and that is to prevent Jun Jie’s suicide. To think that he did everything he could, but missed saving Jun Jie by mere seconds. Ack. I can only imagine the devastation.
I also noticed that Greg Hsu is extra challenged to portray Zi Wei’s desperate attempt to save Jun Jie, because Zi Wei in this timeline has a limp, so there’s a lot of physical acting that needs to go with the emoting, and he absolutely nails it. I could feel the anguish with which Zi Wei tries to push his body harder, in his desire to save Jun Jie. The fact that he ultimately fails, feels painful on so many levels. I feel like his heart and mind are imploding with grief, but I also feel like his leg must also be ravaged with pain. So painful, and so well done. 😭
I felt extra protective of Zi Wei because he has a disability. So to see Psychiatrist hit him on the head with a blunt object, twice, was really hard.
It boggles my mind somewhat, that Zi Wei’s been through the airport scene twice, but it makes sense, because the scene occurs between him and himself. The first time we see it, he’s the younger Quan Sheng, choosing to get on the plane in order to allow Yu Xuan the chance to go back in time, and the second time we see it, he’s the older Zi Wei, talking with a newer version of his younger self. I’m intrigued by the idea that as these cycles of time go on, that tiny changes happen with each cycle. It broke my heart to see Quan Sheng choose to get on the plane the first time, knowing that the plane would crash and he would die, but somehow, it broke my heart even more the second time, seeing him making the same choice, and being braver and stronger about it.
I kinda hated that Show decided to kill off Zi Wei in 2019, mostly because I felt so protective of him. But, poor guy was a survivor of a bad accident, who then got hit violently on the head, twice. I can understand how he might’ve died from that. I just.. didn’t want him to die. And I’m glad that Show broke this awful cycle, by the time we reached the closing credits. (Big phew)
Patrick Shih as Mo Jun Jie
To be fair to Patrick Shih, he did not get to play more than a single character in our story, and therefore he had less room to shine than his co-stars. However, I did very much enjoy his interpretation of Jun Jie as a character, and I found myself growing a very large soft spot for Jun Jie, over the course of my watch.
Jun Jie immediately struck me as a really sweet and kind soul, and I especially loved his confession scene in front of Yun Ru’s house. He comes across as so sincere and so pure, while being very compassionate and empathetic as well.
And then later, when Yu Xuan is the one occupying Yun Ru’s body, I love that little conversation that Jun Jie has with her while they’re waiting for her bus. “If you want me to, I’ll try to believe everything that you’ve told me. I don’t want to be someone who causes you distress. I’ll do anything you want if it makes you happy. Also, a part of me really wants all you’ve said to be true. That way, I can continue to like Chen Yun Ru, and treat you as Huang Yu Xuan from the future. Then you would’t feel distressed, and I wouldn’t count as being heartbroken.” His expression in this moment is so honest and open, I love it. He’s such a sweet person.
In episode 8, though, is when we see a new side to Jun Jie, when he gets out of prison. He looks so tired and jaded, and a little hardened. I can only imagine what he’s been through.
I was really impressed with how Jun Jie is so different in the two timelines. In 1998, there’s so much innocence, purity and warmth about him, like in the scene where he tells Yu Xuan that he’ll believe everything she wants him to, and will do anything she asks of him. And then in 2008, when we see him released from prison, there is such a hollowness and brokenness about him, and such a darkness about his countenance. He literally feels like a shadow of his previous self. My heart goes out to him, so very much. 💔 So well played, by Patrick Shih.
The only time I felt the need to rationalize Jun Jie’s behavior is in episode 12, where I felt sincerely thrown by Jun Jie’s claim that he’d never believed that Yu Xuan was real. I mean, it makes logical sense that Yun Ru made up Yu Xuan in order to get Zi Wei’s attention, but.. Yu Xuan’s accounts were so detailed that it would seem hard to not believe her. While it is completely within the realm of possibility that Jun Jie was going along with what he believed to be a ruse, in order to be near Yun Ru, I tend to think that his desire to support Yun Ru, now that she was back in her own body, was so great, that he convinced himself that he believed her, even though he did also believe Yu Xuan, when she’d told him about the time travel thing.
I really liked the major friendships in our story world; they really formed a big part of our narrative’s backbone.
Jun Jie & Zi Wei
Like I mentioned earlier, I love how quickly and easily Jun Jie and Zi Wei became friends, back in elementary school. I love that the bond formed so easily, and then became so enduring, over the years. ❤️
When the two boys apparently start developing feelings for the same girl, they do turn on each other for a bit, but thankfully, they soon sort themselves out (kinda). all, the irony in this, is that they’re actually in love with two separate people. Jun Jie likes Yun Ru, while Zi Wei’s feelings are for Yu Xuan – who’s inhabiting Yun Ru’s body.
In episode 6, while Zi Wei grows increasingly aware of his feelings for Yu Xuan, Jun Jie grows more conflicted between the Yun Ru that he’d fallen for, and the girl that’s in front of him now. Although it was a bit frustrating to see Jun Jie and Zi Wei push each other towards opportunities to spend time alone with “Yun Ru,” I could understand where each of them is coming from.
Jun Jie is clearly struggling with the fact that the girl he fell for, is now apparently a completely different person, after hurting her head. I can see how that would be confusing for him. He’s probably asking himself whether he still likes her, since the reasons that he fell for her in the first place, are no longer relevant. Plus, I’m sure Jun Jie can see how “Yun Ru”‘s new personality matches Zi Wei’s, and I can see him pushing opportunities to spend time with her, on Zi Wei, if only to test his own feelings.
On the other hand, Zi Wei is increasingly smitten with this new version of Yun Ru, but he’s trying to stay true to his original promise to Jun Jie, to help him win Yun Ru’s heart, and that’s why he’s also bowing out of situations, so that Jun Jie has a chance to spend time with her.
Importantly, even though our two friends do face challenges and obstacles in their friendship, the love between them never goes away. Even when Jun Jie ends up in jail, for the alleged murder of Yun Ru, Zi Wei never turns his back on him, and keeps trying to visit him, even though Jun Jie consistently rejects those visits.
Jun Jie really does love Zi Wei, though. In episode 9, his suicide feels premeditated, which means that he made his last task in his life, to make up with Zi Wei and reminisce and laugh about old times, before tucking him into bed. So much love there, amid the pain that is overwhelming him and swallowing him. Ack. My heart. 💔
Our trio together
I enjoyed the three-way friendship, whether it was between the boys and Yun Ru, or between them and Yu Xuan.
I found it really sweet how Jun Jie and Zi Wei glom onto Yun Ru so easily, and become friends with her, even though she is reticent and awkward and far from forthcoming. I like how Jun Jie identifies with her social awkwardness because of his own experience as a hearing impaired child who got made fun of, and helps her to feel more comfortable about her own insecurities.
Later, when Yu Xuan arrives in Yun Ru’s body, the dynamic shifts quite a bit, but the thing that remains constant, is how Zi Wei and Jun Jie take it upon themselves to take care of her and protect her, whether she’s Yun Ru or not.
I like the direction our story takes in episode 7, when Yu Xuan tells the boys her secret. It makes the friendship feel truer, since she’s no longer keeping it a secret from them. The boys now know that this is Yu Xuan that they’re friends with, and I liked that. Also, this opens up a lot of opportunity for conversation between Zi Wei and Jun Jie, as they discuss whether they believe her, and how they feel about the story, and about their feelings. I like that Jun Jie is cognizant of how his feelings for Yun Ru have shifted, after her personality change post-concussion, and I’m glad that because of Yu Xuan’s decision to come clean about everything, Jun Jie now has an explanation that settles his heart and his mind.
I just loved how loyal the boys continued to be, no matter how far-fetched Yu Xuan’s tales of truth were, and I am glad that that loyalty flowed both ways.
Guh. The epic yet down-to-earth nature of this loveline just gets me right in the heart. ❤️ I loved these two together, and I rooted so hard, for them to have their happy ending. While Show leaves this fairly open (more on that later, in my section on the ending), I’m reasonably okay with that, because Show does such a good job during the rest of the show, of convincing me that these two people just belong together, forever and always. ❤️
The more we understand of what happened between Yu Xuan and Quan Sheng, the more I understand why Yu Xuan finds it so hard to move on. He’d been a sweet boyfriend, and even though he’d prank her sometimes, they’d laughed a lot, and loved a lot, and made many memories together. The fact that she’d tried to break up with him when she got a job in Shanghai, and the fact that he’d been in that plane crash while chasing her down because she’d refused to let him leave with her, must haunt her terribly. The guilt must compound all the feelings that she has towards him. I can see why it’s so incredibly hard for her to move on, even several years later.
I love that this love between our OTP is so deep and big and epic, that it exists across time and space, and I found it incredibly gratifying, to be able to witness Zi Wei falling for Yu Xuan, and then Yu Xuan falling for Zi Wei (as Quan Sheng), albeit in different timelines. I do concede that I wish that we could’ve had more time with this OTP, seeing them be happy together, though. That’s the thing that I wish Show could’ve given us more of. 🥺
Also, I just want to say that I found Greg Hsu’s tender, gentle gazes quite the molten force to be reckoned with. They melted my knees, I tell ya. Swoon. ❤️
Here’s a spotlight on some of my favorite moments of this roadmap:
E5. It is admittedly very entertaining to see Zi Wei becoming so hyperaware of Yu Xuan, and getting all awkward and discombobulated around her. The way he reacted when she put her hands on his waist while riding pillion on his scooter is so cute. He even forgets to turn on the ignition, heh.
E5. Zi Wei falling even harder for Yu Xuan when he sees her playing basketball, is so endearing. She literally takes his breath away, and I find that adorable.
E6. I must say that Zi Wei’s dazed-smitten looks, with his mouth always slightly ajar, is quite amusing. He’s literally slack-jawed at how awesome this version of Yun Ru is, tee hee.
E7. Omigosh, that last stretch in this episode, when Yu Xuan first sets eyes on Zi Wei in the present, gave me goosebumps. It’s like our different timelines are finally meshing, except they’re technically not.
E8. I find it endearing and moving, that Zi Wei (as Quan Sheng) is so motivated by the thought of meeting Yu Xuan again, that he makes big life decisions around that idea. He moves to Taipei, and studies for his college entrance exams, and works really hard, in order to make it happen. And the unbridled joy he expresses, when he finally gets that acceptance letter, is so cute and heart-melty.
E8. The way he approaches Yu Xuan is part adorable smitten puppy, and part annoying dumbass. His joy and wonder when Yu Xuan visits the coffee shop and buys a coffee from him, is the cutest thing. And his forthright love confession on the very day that he meets her again, is funny and winsome because of how euphoric he is. And I also feel like he’s waited for so long to see her again, that he just can’t contain himself any longer.
But, afterwards, in all the ways that he badgers her and persistently appears in her orbit, come across as quite annoying and tone deaf. Technically, he even gaslights her, since he does take the job at her workplace to be around her, but tells her that she’s being oversensitive, since it was his new friends – her friends – that had told him he could try there for a job. But, because I already know that Yu Xuan ends up loving him to the moon and back, and that he’s really the love of her life and she doesn’t know it yet, he gets a pass. But barely, because he really is being annoying about it, in true “little gangster” Li Zi Wei style. 😆
E9. Zi Wei’s patience and smitten loyalty to Yu Xuan eventually pays off, and I honestly can’t blame Yu Xuan for falling for him. The way he only has eyes for her, even though other girls are falling over themselves for him, is part of it. The way he keeps his promise and maintains a respectful distance is another part of it. That moment when he gets emotional when talking about losing a close friend to suicide, is part of it too. This is the first time he’s letting Yu Xuan see some of his inner vulnerability under the jokester persona, and it really gets to her.
The kicker, though, I think, is when she sees him light candles on a cake for her birthday, not knowing that she’s right there, around the corner. He doesn’t tell her about it either; on the phone, he simply wishes her happy birthday. Augh. That is so pure and so sweet. How could her heart not be moved? The sight of him sitting on the floor with the cake in front of him, as he talks with her on the phone, is just so sweet and pure. AUGH. He’s SO lovely. 😍
E9. I really love the scene in the restaurant, where Zi Wei puts on the signature song, and gets all misty-eyed and emotional, as he thinks about Yu Xuan, back in their school days. He snaps out of his reverie when Yu Xuan arrives, but, buoyed by the feels from the music, he tells her, in the most tender manner, that she’s the person who’s been living in his heart all along. Swoon. When he says this, he looks like he’s half in a dream.
But then he turns the moment on its head but breaking into jokester mode, to brace for her snappy reproach – and it really is exactly the kind of moment where she’d tell him to shut up and stop it. She doesn’t, though, and instead, asks him if what he’d do if she took him seriously one day. And then he immediately flips back into serious, swoony mode, and, gazing right into her eyes, his gaze flicking with emotion, tells her that if she’d take him seriously, he’d never leave her. AUGH. SWOON. And when she demurs, asking him he goes around saying these things to all the girls, he protests, smiling, but still with that distinct tenderness in his gaze, “I only say these things to you.” MELT. PUDDLE. 😍😍
E9. And there’s how he takes care of her when she’s cramping on her period, by buying her the period products that she needs, then literally carrying her home on his back, and then buying her food, so that she won’t have to leave the house if she’s feeling under the weather. Oh my goodness. How can anyone not melt at this display of care? And when she asks why he’s so nice to her, he answers so matter-of-factly, “It’s because I like you.” Blubber. Swoon.
It’s no wonder she finally reciprocates his feelings. The way he whoops with delight when he realizes what she’s saying, is so pure and so wholesome. LUFF. LUFFLUFFLUFF. 😍😍😍
E10. Augh. The moment when Zi Wei first walks towards Yu Xuan in the cafe, it literally gave me chills. She’s been searching for him for so long, and he’s been waiting for her for so long; this moment feels so precious and so surreal.
The epic nature of Zi Wei’s love for Yu Xuan just melts me to my core. The way he embraced a strange new life as Quan Sheng, and dedicated his efforts towards meeting Yu Xuan again, is so moving. And when he finally won her heart, he committed himself to being such a loving, wonderful boyfriend. And then, when his time as Quan Sheng was up, he made the choice to get on an ill-fated flight, so that Yu Xuan would have a chance to go back in time, so that he’d be able to meet her and fall in love with her, and then, back in his original body, he makes the arduous journey to learn to walk again. And during that entire time, he yearns for her, but doesn’t act on that yearning, because she hasn’t yet gone back in time to meet him. 15 years, of waiting and yearning? AUGH. The devotion. My heart practically implodes at the thought. ❤️
I love that Yu Xuan wastes no time in bringing Zi Wei back home, because even though she’s technically just met him, he’d lived there with her, as Quan Sheng, for a long time. It’s home to him. And I LOVE how she embraces him. That backhug at the apartment really gets to me, because it’s a demonstration of how fully she accepts him as the love of her life, whatever body he’s in, and whatever name he’s using. Augh. My heart.
The engraved message on the rings combine to read, “Our meeting would be meaningful to me, only if you asked to see me.” It speaks of a yearning for Yu Xuan to want to see him, and the way Yu Xuan then leans in to kiss him first, makes me feel like that’s her way of fulfilling that yearning. She’s not waiting for him to kiss her; she’s making the first move to kiss him, and in that way, she’s asking to “see” him. I really like that. I also really like the idea that after living in loneliness for so long, that Zi Wei is finally receiving tenderness and love, the way he so deserves.
E12. Back in 1998, I love how Zi Wei picks up on the fact that the girl he’s with isn’t Yu Xuan after all. These all come from him having spent time with Yu Xuan, and observed her. He knows her handwriting, and the way she runs, and the way she reacts to the rain. I love that he knows her that well, to be rattled and disturbed by the differences that he sees.
Special shout-out to Uncle (Zhang Han) who consistently lent a listening ear and a helping hand, even when he didn’t always believe in the truth of the time travel tales that Yu Xuan told him. Not only does he help Yu Xuan in both timelines, I love that he becomes such a pillar of support to Zi Wei, particularly from 2010 onwards, when Zi Wei comes back in Quan Sheng’s body.
Uncle took a wild situation and made himself a rock and a pillar to these kids that weren’t even his actual nephew or niece, and was kind and loving through it all. Heroes truly don’t always wear capes. ❤️
The family relationships
I have to admit that in the beginning of our story, I’d found Yun Ru’s family pretty awful. Even though she takes care of her mother (Yan Yi Wen) and brother, no one in her family seems to care about her, and her parents’ fight over who their son will live with after their divorce, effectively translates into fighting over who will have to take Yun Ru in the end. It’s no wonder she’s so hurt and upset, and wants to become independent as soon as possible.
However, I have to admit that I did enjoy seeing the family relationships grow stronger, with Yu Xuan in Yun Ru’s shoes. It’s actually nice to see the siblings squabbling now, because there’s an underlying trust and affection that hadn’t been apparent before. Yu Xuan stepping forward to save Si Yuan from the bullies really paved the way for a betterment of the family relationships. It’s a surprising reveal, that Si Yuan had been so rebellious and problematic, because he hadn’t been happy with how his parents treated his sister. Aw. That’s sweet, in a twisted kinda way.
I also really liked the scene where Mom gets all emotional seeing her kids get along – albeit bickeringly – and tears up at the opportunity to eat breakfast together as a family.
I know it’s a little (or a lot) delicate because Yun Ru is technically not part of this picture, but it still was heartwarming to witness Yu Xuan’s levelheadedness and maturity doing this family good.
Jun Jie’s gran
Just a quick shout-out to Jun Jie’s gran (Ma Hui Chen), who loves her grandson so unconditionally. I love that there’s no judgment about her, even though Jun Jie ended up in jail for Yun Ru’s death. She only refers to it as bad luck, which shows that she still believes in Jun Jie’s goodness, 100%. That’s sweet, and that’s so important, for Jun Jie. ❤️
STUFF I LIKED LESS
With a show that I enjoyed so much, it feels kinda nitpicky to even have this section, but to be fair, here’s a quick list of things that I didn’t like so much, during my watch.
The office gang leans cartoony
The office friends are silly and played pretty broad, and I didn’t like that so much. I did choose to just roll with it, though, because the office gang doesn’t appear very often, and everything else about our story is so intriguing.
Psychiatrist is very disturbing
I have to say, Kenny Yen is very effective in his roles as both Psychiatrist and Class Monitor. He’s perfectly believable as an ordinary psychiatrist who’s concerned for his patient, and yet, when he turns on the creepy, he is so disturbing. I have him in this section purely because I found him disconcerting to watch.
Also, I just wanted to say that the stuff to do with Psychiatrist is very unsettling. I hate that he killed a cat, and I find it deeply twisted, that his interactions with his younger self, are to basically train him to be a killer. It’s quite crazy to think that his younger self dropped the flashlight in shock, when he injected the poison to kill Wen Rou (Erato Liang). It makes me wonder if his younger self would’ve gotten so addicted to killing, if he hadn’t been schooled by his older self. It’s all very bizarre, dark and intriguing.
Small logic cracks
1. What’s the real story behind why Jun Jie’s hearing aid was found on the scene of the attack? I don’t believe Show ever answers that, and it’s clear that the explanation that Yu Xuan gives at the police station is just a cover-up fib.
2. It is really quite far-fetched that a 7-year-old Yu Xuan would get that far away from home on foot.
3. The phone that “Quan Sheng” hands to Zi Wei for safekeeping, is a phone that he got as Wang Quan Sheng, so I’m sure his account would be under Quan Sheng’s name. But earlier in the show, when Yu Xuan first looked into the account holder for the phone, it was under Zi Wei’s name, and the phone records showed that there had never been any transfer of account holder. This doesn’t add up?
4. In 2010, Uncle had told “Quan Sheng” that Zi Wei had been taken back to Canada in a vegetative state by his parents. This episode, Zi Wei reveals that he’d been in a coma after the car accident, for 2 weeks. That doesn’t seem like an appropriate length of time for the coma, since it would’ve taken time for his parents to arrive from Canada, and I’m sure they would’ve been in talks with doctors and running tests for longer than 2 weeks, before concluding that there was little hope of Zi Wei waking up from his coma.
5. With so many flashbacks demonstrating to us just how in love Yu Xuan and Quan Sheng were, I’m finding it kind of hard to reconcile that with how she chooses to break up with him in order to go to Shanghai. I know that she thinks it’s better for his career, for him to stay in Taiwan, but breaking up with him seems very drastic. Why didn’t they talk about the possibility of staying in a relationship long-distance? They’d already gotten into the hang of using video calls to spend time together while working? I feel like if anything, Show could have spent more effort on making Yu Xuan’s decision seem more organic.
THEMES / IDEAS
There’s a strong theme of love and loss in our story, and what those both mean. Show also demonstrates to us, through our various characters, that loving someone doesn’t necessarily equate to being with them. Jun Jie loves Yun Ru, but has to love her from a distance, for most of our story. Zi Wei loves Yu Xuan from a distance, especially in our present timeline. And Yu Xuan makes the huge sacrifice of erasing the memories of her love with Zi Wei, out of love for him, so that he won’t have to die.
Additionally, it strikes me that this show’s writer seems to have a deep understanding of what it’s like to process loss. The opening dream sequence in episode 7, where Yu Xuan tells Zi Wei about how everything feels heavier – your chest, your cheeks, your tears – feels so detailed and poignant.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
Y’know, I was pretty nervous going into this finale, because, 1, I just didn’t feel ready to say goodbye to this world and these characters, and 2, I had confidence that Show would wrap up its story in a way that was smart and cohesive, but I wasn’t sure if I would get the kind of ending that I wanted.
All in all, I’d say Show does an excellent job of the finale, and I even kinda-sorta get the happy ending I was hoping for.
Let me back up.
First of all, let’s talk about how consistently clever Show remains, until the very end. I want to say how impressed I am, that even in this finale, Show manages to serve up a couple of twists, all of which I hadn’t seen coming. I just love how effortlessly clever Show is. The first twist that I hadn’t anticipated, was that Psychiatrist got hauled out of 1998, just before killing Yun Ru. Given how he was already standing there with the syringe to her neck, I really couldn’t see how she could survive his murderous intentions.
The next twist I hadn’t seen coming – well, not until the technician tells Yu Xuan that he’s retrieved the tape from the broken Walkman for her – is how the time travel never was about the Walkman. It had been the tape all along. And that allows Yu Xuan to go back one last time, to not only save Yun Ru and therefore Jun Jie, but also, to set things in motion to overcome the time travel cycle that she and Zi Wei have been trapped in.
..Which leads me to the second thing.
Coming into this finale, I’d had a sinking feeling that Show was going to go with an open-ended, cyclical ending, where it leaves us at the beginning of yet another cycle of Zi Wei and Yu Xuan loving each other across time and space. While I got that there is a great deal of poignance and romanticism in the idea, I have to admit that in my heart of hearts, I really wanted them to rise above the cycle, and create a new cycle of actually being together in the same space, so that they could love fully and deeply, without having to be torn apart in a cyclical fashion. I wondered if Show would be able to pull that off, and in a way that still respected the rules of this drama world.
I’m gratified to know that our characters do manage to break the cycle, and extricate themselves from terrible fates that would have befallen them if they’d remained in the cycle. And Show does give me enough in the way of hints and indications, to enable me to picture an eventual reunion and happy ending for Zi Wei and Yu Xuan.
Let me back up a bit, because I need to talk about how Show had me by the heart, this finale. I found that I was so invested in these characters, that I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, wondering how our story would develop, while hoping against hope that we’d get some kind of happy ending.
One of my favorite OTP moments this episode, is when Yu Xuan comes out of the building with Jun Jie, right after arriving back in Yun Ru’s body, and Zi Wei recognizes her instantly. I love that. I love that even though Yu Xuan is in Yun Ru’s body and Yun Ru had spent a fair bit of time pretending to be Yu Xuan, Zi Wei just knows when it’s really Yu Xuan. Their tearful reunion hug had me choking back a lump in my throat; I was so happy that the lovebirds got to see each other again.
The other OTP moment that really stands out for me, this episode, is when Yu Xuan and Zi Wei are saying goodbye at the beach. Augh. The longing, the aching, the wistfulness and the tears; everything feels so raw and tender, and there is such a sense of despair, lostness and desperation, even as they embrace for the last time. AUGH. 😭 The promise that Zi Wei makes, that he will never forget her, and will find her again, is founded on such a small sliver of hope; it makes my heart ache, so much. 💔
Afterwards, it’s so poignant to see Yu Xuan and Zi Wei back in their own rooms, tearful and wistful, as they watch the traces of their memories disappear.
I’m comforted that the sacrifice that they make results in everyone being saved; Yun Ru doesn’t die, and Jun Jie doesn’t destroy his life by admitting to a murder that he didn’t commit in order to fulfill Yun Ru’s dying wish; Zi Wei doesn’t get into a debilitating accident, and he also doesn’t get killed in 2019. It really was the safest, most restorative path for everyone.
I’m also comforted, that somehow, in the midst of it all, even though all their memories are erased from the reset, Zi Wei still retains traces of a memory. It almost feels like a muscle memory of sorts, the way his heart aches for someone, even though he isn’t cognizant of who that might be, and the way he’s drawn to the name Huang Yu Xuan, even though he’s never met her before.
Additionally, I’m consoled by the idea that even though things have been reset and it’s a different chain of events that our characters now experience, somehow, Zi Wei still winds up meeting little Huang Yu Xuan at the street stall, just like he had before. It makes me think that somehow, Zi Wei’s path will still lead him to Yu Xuan, and that when he finds her again, that muscle memory that he retains, will draw him to build a connection with her and fall in love with her, all over again. Because, if there’s one thing that Show has done really well, it’s that it’s convinced me that these two are meant to be; they will find each other and love each other, even if it requires them to move through time and space in order to do so. ❤️
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Quietly, casually smart and epic, while being completely heartfelt. Wonderful and precious.
FINAL GRADE: A+
Thanks to those of you who pointed me in the direction of this; Show has a bonus ending, which you can check out here (click cc to view with subs):
Aw. Just the extra dose of sweetness and assurance that we need. ❤️
You can also find the bonus ending on Viki here. If you’re unable to view it, try using Opera’s free VPN, set to Americas.