THE SHORT VERDICT:
Reset is a time loop fantasy mystery-thriller that manages to be so much more than the sum of its parts.
It’s smartly written, such that the fantasy mystery remains interesting and intriguing all the way through, yet at the same time, Show demonstrates a surprising amount of heart and emotional heft.
That heart and emotional heft is what lifts this watch experience from simply being interesting and fascinating, to become something more engaging, thought-provoking, and even a little personal, as we start to feel for our various characters.
A cracky gem of a show that manages to engage both the heart and mind in equal measure. Very well done.
THE LONG VERDICT:
I’d honestly had very little idea of what to expect, coming into this one.
All I knew, before starting on this, was that there was a Groundhog Day-esque sort of set-up, where our main characters find themselves in a continual time loop, where they die in a bus explosion, and their main focus is therefore to get themselves out of that loop.
That, and also, that everyone who’s seen this, has had only positive things to say.
And, maybe that’s all you need to know as well, if you haven’t seen it. Coz there’s something to be said for preserving the element of surprise.
If you haven’t seen it, maybe stop reading right after the section on Managing Expectations / The Viewing Lens, and then come back later, after you’ve seen the show. This review will be here for you, whenever you’re ready. 😉
(Links to watch this show are at the end of the review, so feel free to skip to there, if that’s what you need!)
This one sucked me in from the very first episode, and held me on the edge of my seat a lot of the time, all the way through to the end – while getting under my skin and capturing my heart, without my even realizing it.
Very impressive, all-around.
RESET OST: MY ONLY
Reset’s OST consists of only a few tracks, but I didn’t find this to be a weakness, in the show. The various tracks were used to good effect, and I felt that they did lift my viewing experience.
Among the various tracks, this is the one that really got under my skin. It feels like such a great expression of the emotional connection that grows between our leads, over the course of our story.
To listen to on repeat while you read the review, just right-click on the video, and select “Loop.”
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
Here are a few things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:
1. There’s a kaleidoscopic quality to our story.
What I mean is, Show serves up clues and various nuggets of information in a rather fragmented fashion, and sometimes, as these click into place, it can cause us to see things in a whole new light.
Being patient to get those nuggets of information is pretty important.
2. The characters may be confusing at times.
Our story world contains quite a few characters, and this can feel a bit confusing, especially at first.
Hang in there, because the more time you spend with these characters, the easier it becomes, to tell them apart, and remember who’s who.
3. There’s a somewhat nationalistic flavor to this story.
What I mean is, as with many other Chinese dramas, there’s some very noticeable messaging that’s built into our story, like: the police force is competent and worthy of trust; it’s important to be a good citizen, etc.
If you’re familiar with Chinese dramas, these wouldn’t be new to you, nor would it feel surprising to you. If you’re newish to Chinese dramas, this might feel a little.. different, and therefore a little awkward as well.
I don’t see this messaging as Show’s main intent, since so many Chinese dramas vibe similarly. Taking this as just part of the context in which Show exists, helps.
4. Not all questions get answers.
I’ll provide a quick list later in this review, on what I think those questions those are, but I think it’s helpful to know ahead of time, that not all questions get answers, and that the lack of answers for those questions, don’t actually impact the watch experience in a negative manner.
Show still serves up a very solid story, and I found it very enjoyable, overall.
STUFF I LIKED
General writing and handling
Overall, I have to say that I really enjoy the general writing and handling, in this show.
The way Show approaches its story, feels like a master sculptor, chipping away at a block of clay. Sometimes, it comes from this direction; sometimes it stops and changes tack, before starting to chip away at the block of clay, from a different direction.
Sometimes the turns feel surprising, but overall, you can’t deny, that the deeper you get into the watch, the clearer the story starts to look, particularly when you’re nearing the end of the process.
That’s just like the work of a master sculptor, isn’t it?
During my watch, I hashed through various hypotheses and theories (as those who followed along my watch on Patreon can attest), as Show served up various nuggets of information, and that was definitely part of the thrill of the watch.
This show felt like a challenging and engaging brain teaser, pretty much all the way through to the end.
To me, one of the best things about this show’s writing, is, it manages to keep things feeling fresh and surprising, even during its very late episodes, while adhering to the rules that it’s set for itself.
That’s really impressive, as most shows run out of surprises by then, and many shows end up breaking their own rules, in order to keep serving up surprises.
The fact that Show manages to keep things fresh, without actually breaking its own internal rules, is doubly impressive.
The way Show builds context
Credit to Leslie, for her fantastic analogy, that our story lens is like a widening camera aperture, that offers us more context, the more it widens.
Show does a great job of building context for many of our passengers, and I found myself becoming more and more invested in these bus passengers, and curious to know each of their stories, the more I watched this show.
This was a very unexpected thing for me, considering that I’d assumed this story was all about avoiding the bus explosion, and not much else.
What a welcome bonus, to have the other passengers slowly humanized and brought to life, as Show paints in their contexts for us.
Honestly, the desire to know more about the other passengers, slowly grew to become on par with my desire to know the real story behind the bus explosion.
SPOTLIGHT ON OUR MAIN CHARACTERS
Zhao Jin Mai as Shiqing
This was my first proper introduction to Zhao Jin Mai, even though she’s acted in a ton of stuff, having started her career as a child actor, and I have to say, I do think that she’s well cast, as Shiqing.
I fully believed that Shiqing is a real person, who just happens to find herself in a fantastical, life-and-death situation, and therefore needs to muster up all her smarts, and courage, and analytical skills, to deal with the situation. Nicely done, I felt.
As a character, I felt nicely impressed by Shiqing. Not only does she prove herself to be a good analytical thinker, she demonstrates so much heart, that I couldn’t help but grow fond of her, over the course of our story.
E4. I do like how Shiqing somehow manages to pique Captain Zhang’s (Liu Yi Jun) curiosity, each time she meets him in a time loop.
I also like that the way she gains his attention, is through her sincerity, rather than through a more calculated means. This episode, her concern for his safety, and the safety of Detective Jiang (Leon Li), is the thing that makes him sit up and pause.
I really like this caring aspect of her character.
E7. Even when Captain Zhang had cause for pause with the answers provided, I thought that Shiqing did a good job of deflecting suspicion, with her subsequent answers.
Like when Captain Zhang points out that it didn’t make sense that Heyun (Bai Jing Ting) and Shiqing got off the bus to confront Lu Di (Zeng Ke Lang), instead of waiting for him to get on, or that it was odd that they unzipped his bag to inspect it, when the contents wouldn’t be the same as what they’d allegedly lost, if that had indeed been the stolen bag.
Shiqing’s answer, that they were too flustered and didn’t think too much before acting, basically covers all the bases, and I honestly would buy that a young couple might not think too clearly, if they were emotionally invested, and impetuous by nature.
E7. It’s pretty clever of Shiqing, to use the excuse, that she’s waiting for her boyfriend to be released from questioning, so that they can take a taxi together – so that she can stick around, to find out more about the other passengers.
I like how Shiqing’s reactions are pretty sharp and fast, in that sense.
I also really like how compassionate she is. When she approaches Ma Xiaolong, she comes across as empathetic, and then later, in the time loop, the kindness that she shows Ma Guoqiang is very touching too.
Even though she knows that he’ll forget everything, and even though she knows that this isn’t actually his final moment because they are in a time loop, she does what she can, to give him comfort, before the explosion. She’s got such a good heart.
E11. I’m appreciative of the fact that, given time to think, one of the first things that Shiqing determines, is that Bus Driver (Huang Jue) had likely had the heart to save her, which is why he’d let her get off the bus, in those previous cycles.
Shiqing does have a point, that if Bus Driver had wanted to kill everyone on the bus, he could have chosen not to let her get off the bus. That would have increased the number of casualties from the explosion, after all.
That’s pretty shrewd analysis, I feel.
Bai Jing Ting as Heyun
For much of my watch, I’d thought that this was my introduction to Bai Jing Ting, but when I got to episode 10, I suddenly realized – thanks to going through my older posts as part of a site audit – that this is NOT the first time I’ve seen Bai Jing Ting on my screen.
I was stunned to realize that Bai Jing Ting was the non-verbal, gifted bodyguard to Ni Ni, in The Rise of Phoenixes!
Mind. Blown. 🤯 Talk about versatility! 😅
I enjoyed Heyun very well, as a character, and thought that Bai Jing Ting brought him to life in a very believable way.
I also very enjoyed the fact that Heyun actually grows as a character, over the course of our story. I thought this was nicely woven into our narrative, and I found it an organic direction, for his character.
E7. One thing I noticed, is that Heyun’s now much more confident about hatching and trying new “testing” plans on the bus.
Where before, he’d been quite hesitant and awkward about trying Shiqing’s ideas, like when they’d tried to test Lu Di, this time, he’s the one coming up with the idea of how to test Ma Guoqiang, and he actually moves forward with the plan, without hesitation.
Part of it could be actual character development, but I also think that part of it is familiarity. Heyun’s become more familiar with the situation, and also, he’s come to understand that there isn’t much to lose at all, because if the plan fails, the time loop simply starts over.
E9. I’d anticipated that our story would be gripping and tense, and I’d imagined that there would be emotional dimension to this, but this episode, as Heyun grapples with the memory of killing Pot Lady (Liu Dan), I found myself feeling really sorry for him, because, as he puts it, even if they enter another time loop, the memory of killing her will remain with him.
There’s a lot of pathos in that thought, that in trying to seek the truth, and in trying to stop Pot Lady from harming Shiqing &/or setting off the bomb, Heyun’s ended up taking a life.
That’s something that he’d never imagined himself doing, and now, that memory can’t be reset, even if they manage to change the outcome in another time loop.
I’d had an inkling that this would happen, as I watched Heyun and Shiqing get off the bus, because, as Heyun put it in an earlier episode, the things that they can take with them, from time loop to time loop, are experiences.
Earlier, it had been about inconsequential things, like ordering way too much food and spending way too much money on said food.
But now, through a turn of events which I would actually describe as self-defense, Heyun now has this indelible horrible memory of taking someone’s life. Because of this, he now sees himself as a monster. Gah. That’s horrible.
In Heyun’s defense, though, I can’t actually see him doing anything differently, in the moment.
If he hadn’t gone back up the bus and Pot Lady had ended up stabbing Shiqing, he wouldn’t have been able to forgive himself either. If he hadn’t managed to subdue Pot Lady, she might have stabbed and killed him.
E10. One of the most notable developments, this episode, is that we see that Heyun, who had originally been insistent on keeping his game on the violent end of things, has now changed his mind, because of his experiences with the explosions.
From insisting that the game should remain violent, he now uses what could be his last bit of freedom, to go to his friend Liu Peng (Bai Yu Fan), and tell him to change the game as needed, and take Heyun’s name off the developer list, so that they won’t be affected by his police case.
That’s a huge change, and it really drives home for me, the idea that it’s not the outcome that matters more, but the journey. Even though Heyun’s still stuck in the time loop, the journey has changed him, and that already makes it feel worthwhile.
Heyun and Shiqing together [MINOR SPOILERS]
When our story started, I was pleasantly surprised, at the end of episode 1, that Heyun enters the time loop as well, because, well having 2 people work together on solving the time loop conundrum just gives us more possibilities.
I’d had zero expectations of romance, because I’d come into this watch expecting this story to focus solely on the time loop, and how our characters would eventually find a way to stop the loops from recurring.
HOWEVER. Show manages to weave a loveline into this drama world, between Heyun and Shiqing, and even does it in a way that feels natural and organic.
Wow. A believable, pretty cute loveline, in a mystery thriller sort of story, that doesn’t feel shoehorned in?
Well, I’m not about to complain about that. Plus, these two do make a pretty cute couple. 😁
I really like the way Show teases out the development of the connection between Heyun and Shiqing in slow degrees, over the course of our story, such that we can literally see them going from strangers, to partners, and eventually, to lovers.
Really well done, overall.
In the spoiler section below, I map out my observations of this couple, over the various stages of their relationship.
E3. It’s interesting to me, that even between Heyun and Shiqing, who have both experienced the time loops together, there is still a measure of distrust.
When Shiqing is unable to recall certain details, and only gives a vague account of the earlier loops, Heyun himself loses patience with Shiqing, and assumes that she’s withholding information from him on purpose – which is why he throws away the map that he’s drawn.
Working through differences
E4. I’m glad that Heyun and Shiqing come to an upgraded sort of understanding, where he apologizes for having doubted her before, and Shiqing also acknowledges that she has her issues as well.
With this, it feels like their connection is growing and maturing, a little bit, which promises to be helpful, if they need to work together, to overcome this time loop.
And they do manage to figure out an important bit of information; that the bomber is on the bus, and is one of the passengers (masked dude in the black outfit looks highly suspicious to me right now).
The main conflict occurs after they get off the bus, however.
I actually find it really interesting to explore the difference in thinking, between Shiqing and Heyun.
From Shiqing’s point of view, she has a duty to call the police, because for all they know, this could be their last chance to save the other passengers on the bus.
She doesn’t hesitate at all, to make that call, once she gets off the bus, even though she doesn’t actually have a plan, in terms of how to convince the police of the truth of her statement.
On the other hand, Heyun’s perspective, is that they don’t actually need to get involved, because there’s no way that the police would believe their testimonies about the time loop.
“We don’t know where the bomb is, we don’t know who will cause it to go off. How can we explain to the police? Are you saying it’s the loop again? If we can’t explain properly, how can we explain to the police to help with their investigation?
But you can’t save people using only your heart. We have to use logic too. And why should we save them? In a lot of the loops, we were one of the bodies.
If the people in the bus are meant to die, then this is a chance for us to escape. It’s the heavens helping us. We have to take this chance. We are not the murderers. Because of the people in the bus, we don’t have to… feel guilt about it.
Kindness is not a cheap virtue, you need to match it with ability. Or else we just add to the mess.”
Shiqing is pure, unadulterated good intentions, with few thoughts of how to actually deal with the situation, while Heyun is much more of a thinker – maybe a bit of an overthinker, even – and his instinct is to analyze their position in the situation, and think about their best, most logical course of action.
The thing is, both of them have valid points, in this debate.
Shiqing isn’t wrong to instinctively want to save the other people on the bus, but Heyun does have a point as well, that their options are very limited, in terms of what they can do, and how they can help.
In fact, I feel like Heyun might simply be an honest voice, speaking out what many of us might feel, in his shoes:
“Those passengers don’t know a single thing. Death is just a moment in time for them. They won’t even experience pain.
But what about us? We have to fight against fear. Is there anything wrong with being afraid of death? Isn’t it human nature to be drawn towards safety and to stay away from danger? I can’t be as kindhearted as you, so does that make me wicked?”
That last bit, about it being human nature to be drawn towards safety, and to stay away from danger, really resonates with me, in the sense that, if I were to find myself in this situation, I can’t be so sure that I’d be quick to call the police, like Shiqing, if I know that calling the police is only going to land me in the interrogation room for hours, in front of a group of disbelieving officers.
I do appreciate that Heyun isn’t a bad person at all.
He’s just honest about his fears and worries. And it’s clear that even though he barely knows Shiqing, right now, she qualifies as one of his worries too.
After Shiqing leaves with the police officers, Heyun can barely function, even though he has every opportunity to attend that business meeting, to pitch his game to investors.
I also appreciate that given time to ponder over Shiqing’s words, Heyun appears to come around to her point of view as well. At least, he looks like he’s becoming more bothered by his conscience, as time passes.
E4. I do love that last scene, where Heyun calls Shiqing, and gets put on speaker phone.
I love that these two have now spent enough time together, to actually understand each other so well, to be able to speak in code.
When Shiqing acts as if they’re ex-lovers who’ve broken up, Heyun understands without having to be told, that she’s staying true to her earlier promise, not to implicate him.
And, when Heyun tells her that they should both get some sleep, and that things will be better once they sleep, Shiqing immediately understands the implications too.
Ahhh! He’s telling her that he’ll meet her in the next time loop, isn’t he? He’s telling her that he’ll help her, and that together they’ll figure it out, isn’t he?? Not gonna lie; I’m unreasonably excited by this. 🤩
E5. This episode, I’m happily amused by how ardently Heyun works, to get to sleep again, so that he can meet Shiqing in the time loop again, and ensure that she’s no longer angry with him.
I mean, I know he goes through a pretty stressful time of it, what with trying to get sleeping pills, and failing, and having to put on his phone to make payment, and then desperately buying strong liquor, to down the melatonin with.
Poor Heyun. He’s really putting himself through a lot for this, and as he does this, it dawns on me that he really does feel guilty, for refusing to go with Shiqing, earlier.
E5. I hafta say, I kinda love that the first thing Heyun asks Shiqing upon waking up, is whether she’s still angry with him. Aw. His desire to be in her good books again is cute, even though I’m not exactly sure where this is coming from.
In a similar sort of vein, I find it very cute that Heyun gets all jealous and territorial, when Shiqing later floats the possibility that Masked Guy (Zeng Ke Lang) might be joining the time loop, based on the fact that they managed to stop him from boarding the bus.
The way Heyun reaches for any and all excuses to discount this possibility is very amusing to me.
I don’t yet see this as romantic jealousy, in the sense that Show isn’t clear at this point, whether there is going to be a loveline between Heyun and Shiqing.
But, I do get the sense that there’s a comradeship that Heyun feels, from being in the time loop with Shiqing, and it’s cute how he gets defensive, when that exclusivity is threatened by the possibility of Masked Guy joining them as a team member.
On another note, it’s interesting to me, that given some time to chew on each other’s words, both Heyun and Shiqing have reconsidered their positions.
Where are first Shiqing had been adamant about calling the police, now she’s come around to Heyun’s point of view, that they don’t have enough evidence to be of real help to the police.
And where Heyun had been so against calling the police, now he’s talking about calling the police, because he’s also been affected by Shiqing’s words.
I like this dynamic, where they end up expanding each other’s ways of thinking. It really feels like they complement each other, in this way.
I also like how Heyun’s now coming up with ideas on how they can use the time they’ve gained, to get information on the other passengers.
That really would be more productive than investigating on their own, in each time loop. It feels like Shiqing and Heyun are rising to the occasion and thinking out of the box, and I like that.
E6. I can’t help but notice that Heyun seems to want to establish that he’s closer to Shiqing than Lu Di.
Like the way he tries to say that it’s not a sure thing, that Lu Di will join them in the time loops, and the way he leans in really close to Shiqing, when the both of them are talking to Lu Di.
And also, there’s the slightly smug, superior look that Heyun flashes, just before he starts drawing the bus scenario for Lu Di.
I definitely sense some territorial vibes going on, and because it’s all quite benign, I’m rather entertained by it, rather than disturbed by it.
I do think that Heyun’s growing a soft spot for Shiqing, whether he’s cognizant of it or not.
I also like the detail, that now, Shiqing and Heyun automatically look to each other for agreement, before doing anything.
Where before, Shiqing had been quick to jump on the phone with the police, this time, she looks askance at Heyun for his agreement, before answering that call.
E7. On an irreverent sort of tangent, I’m inordinately amused and quite delighted, by the fact that Heyun and Shiqing have now made it A Thing, where they are a couple in the story that they tell the police.
Is this a contract relationship, in a manner of speaking? 😁
E8. I can’t help but notice how the connection between Shiqing and Heyun appears to have made a quantum leap, this episode.
I think a lot of it has to do with everything that they’ve been through together, thus far. At the same time, the fact that they encounter what feels like an amped up level of life or death moments, definitely also amps up their bond, I feel.
They are definitely cleaving to each other more, and I like the details that Show highlights to us.
Like the way they get so worried about each other, when the other person has troubling waking up, the way Shiqing grabs onto the edge of Heyun’s shirt, when she feels nervous, or the way Heyun reaches for Shiqing’s hand, or the way Heyun hugs Shiqing and holds her to himself to comfort her, when she’s distraught at the events of the previous time loop.
It feels like we’re literally watching them grow closer before our eyes, and the thing is, I buy it.
It feels natural for them to grow closer, after having gone through so much together, and it makes sense that they could cleave to each other, since they are in this time loop together.
On paper, it might look like this show is trying to shoehorn a romance into a mystery thriller, but in execution, I actually find it very organic, that these two would become this close, over so many time loops and so many difficult shared experiences.
In a similar but different sort of vein, I can understand why Shiqing says that these fellow passengers no longer feel like strangers to her.
After having learned so much about each of them over the various time loops, they now feel like people she knows, and I can understand her internal conflict, about whether to just get off the bus to save herself (in case the time loops are ending), or stay on the bus to save them (in case the time loops are ending).
It says a lot about Shiqing that she would choose to stay on the bus, even though she has no idea whether she’s going to really die, by choosing not to get off the bus while she has the chance.
And, it also says a lot about Heyun and their growing relationship, that her choice would influence his choice too. They really are in this together.
E8. One of the main relationship developments this episode, is that Heyun tries to leave Shiqing out of this predicament, to face it alone, and she ultimately refuses.
It says a lot about their loyalty and consideration towards each other, and it also indicates just how much their bond has grown, after having experienced so many time loops together.
Perhaps it’s due in part to the growing danger of their circumstances; I couldn’t help but notice that they are grabbing each other’s hands much more readily now, and also, addressing each other by just their given names, instead of their full names.
This definitely feels more familiar, and it makes me feel that they’ve acknowledged their growing closeness, without having to specifically talk about it.
That is, until Shiqing declares this episode, that she will go wherever Heyun goes.
That’s a pretty explicit declaration of loyalty and solidarity, and I imagine that if I were in Heyun’s shoes, I’d be pretty moved by this – even if, at the same time, I’d likely also feel the guilt of Shiqing getting dragged into murder charges because of me.
E10. One of the things that has changed significantly, is the relationship between Heyun and Shiqing.
It’s never explicitly spelled out exactly when their connection started to deepen, but this episode, it becomes very clear, that their bond is now much stronger, and has also turned romantic.
I can totally believe that going through a unique experience like this – with all the life and death elements included, no less – would draw two people together.
In their experience of the time loop, the other person is the only constant, so it makes complete sense that they would cleave to each other.
Show has also included careful touches, to let us know that along the way, they have also come to appreciate each other’s personalities and come to value each other’s positive traits.
Like the way Heyun was touched by the way Shiqing worked to comfort Ma Guoqiang (Zhang Xi Qian) in his last moments, even though she knew that he would forget it all, in the next cycle.
With all this drawn together so organically, it actually feels like a natural, almost inevitable development, that Heyun and Shiqing would fall in love.
Liu Yi Jun as Captain Zhang
I was honestly pretty stoked to see Liu Yi Jun on my screen as a decent sort of character, after not so long ago revisiting his more villain-esque (but very excellent!) character, during our Nirvana in Fire group watch.
I found myself really, really taking to Captain Zhang, as a character, even though we technically don’t spend all that much screen time with him, in the grand scheme of things.
The thing is, in the time that we do spend with him, Captain Zhang shows himself to be such a fair, just and reasonable person, that I wanted Heyun and Shiqing to trust him, and find a way to have him on their side.
E1. I do really like the senior detective, Zhang Cheng (Liu Yi Jun), for keeping an open mind, and at least listening to what Shiqing has to say.
I like that Detective Zhang listens to Shiqing long enough to pick up on the fact that it’s unlikely that she would have known the details of the accident, like how the motorbike came onto the scene suddenly, from the right, causing the bus to swerve, and collide into the oil tank truck.
This assures me that he’s a thoughtful, openminded and objective sort of person, and that’s exactly the kind of person we need on this case, I think.
I mean, if anyone’s going to believe Shiqing’s account of her experience, the best bet we’ve got, is someone like Detective Zhang, isn’t it?
E2. I’m actually rather struck by how, circumstantially, Shiqing and Heyun do appear to be very suspicious. I mean, not only do they get off the bus just before it explodes, they are seen standing on the bridge, looking in the direction of the explosion – until the explosion occurs.
Put together, it can look rather damning. However, I’m glad that Captain Zhang is quick to give them the benefit of the doubt, that the reason they’re on the bridge like that, is because they’re checking to see if the police have managed to prevent the explosion.
I’m hopeful that that objectivity on Captain Zhang’s part is going to help our main duo, as the police set out to find and question them.
Leon Li as Detective Jiang
I wanted to have a quick section on Detective Jiang, because I wanted to offer a bit of perspective, on his character.
From what I’ve gathered, there are some viewers who find him a bit of a douchebag, for the way he treats Heyun and Shiqing.
While I understand the instinctive desire to feel protective over our protagonists, I do feel that Detective Jiang isn’t as bad as some viewers make him out to be.
Yes, he’s sometimes rather brusque and rough, but I don’t see him as actually being a bad person. I actually think that a lot of the things he does is within reason, from his point of view, which I’ll touch on more, in the spoiler section.
Overall, I had no serious issues with Detective Jiang. I felt that he’s mostly just young, rash and impatient, and perhaps just hasn’t grown into more mellow shoes yet.
E1. I can’t blame Detective Jiang for getting impatient with Shiqing, because, on the surface, it does seem like she’s talking in circles, and being an unreliable witness.
However, I do think the officer was out of line for accusing her of not taking things seriously, and messing around, because it’s clear that she’s confused. Plus, she’s suffered a concussion, so it makes sense that she might be incapable of getting her thoughts straight, in that moment.
E3. Heyun, who’s been through the time loop himself, having doubts about Shiqing’s account of things, certainly puts things into perspective.
If Heyun himself struggles to believe Shiqing’s words, wouldn’t the police officers, who have had no exposure to this time loop business, doubt them even more?
Based on that, I am not as disgruntled with Detective Jiang, as I think some viewers might be.
While others might conclude that he’s a douchebag for being so mean and disbelieving towards Heyun, I do think that his disbelief is quite reasonable.
Additionally, the way Detective Jiang tries to provoke Shiqing later, by telling her that Heyun’s accused her of being the mastermind, is, I think, a questioning technique.
I mean, sure, Detective Jiang’s probably more emotionally invested than he should be, but if I’m not mistaken, this way of priming suspects &/or witnesses, to see if the provocation will change their statements, is A Thing.
Also, I appreciate the fact that Director Du (Liu Tao) lets Detective Jiang know that his conduct is poorer than expected.
Liu Tao as Chief Du
I just wanted to give Chief Du a shout-out, because even though she doesn’t get a lot of screen time, I enjoyed her presence in our story, very much.
She’s so quietly measured, yet so sharp, in her observations and instructions. I especially really like how steady and unruffled she is, even when everything’s in upheaval, and there’s so much chaos to sort through.
She’s such a steady rock, and she anchors everyone else on the team. I love her. 🤩😍
SPOTLIGHT ON OTHER PASSENGERS [SPOILERS THROUGH THE REST OF THE REVIEW]
Like I mentioned earlier in this review, I really appreciated the way Show takes the time to shed light on the various passengers and their backstories, in the course of our story.
In the interest of (relative) brevity, I will only be highlighting a handful of the passengers, in this section.
Zeng Ke Lang as Lu Di
At first, Lu Di had appeared really suspicious to me, so it’s funny and quite ironic, that he turns out to not only be harmless, but a self-proclaimed Cat Apostle, who goes around rescuing cats.
Tee hee. I’m quite amused by this, even as I feel a touch chastened, for forgetting that looks can be deceiving.
I have a huge soft spot for Lu Di, partly because he loves cats so much, and also, because he’s clearly been through a lot, what with his asthma and his mother’s suffocating style of parenting.
Plus, I do love how open he is, to the idea of time loops, when Heyun and Shiqing bring it up. That’s one of the coolest things about him, I gotta say. I find it really endearing, how eager he is, to join Heyun and Shiqing in the time loops.
I found Lu Di’s letter to his parents, in case he gets caught in a time loop and stops coming home, very poignant.
There’s so much pathos in the way he tells them that he loves them, and asks them to go to his rented room, where they’ll see the hidden parts of his life. That line, about how he wants them to feel happy that he has experienced the life that he wanted.
“Honestly, my biggest wish is for you to see the world that I see. It is so wonderful.
Oh right, today I made two new friends They are really cool. Perhaps, in another parallel world, we can battle together side by side, and save all the passengers on the bus.
In this world, I will no longer be your burden. I can finally become someone who you can be proud of. Everyone will remember my name. Lu. Cat Apostle. Asthma Conqueror. A person chosen by the light. Di.”
Ahh. I do love how Lu Di is so clearly all heart and passion.
I did find it sad that Lu Di feels like his parents can’t be proud of him, which is why I loved that glimpse into their happy family times that we get, in the finale.
Zhang Xi Qian as Ma Guo Qiang
In episode 7, my heart couldn’t help but go out to Ma Guoqiang, the moment Show gives us that introductory backstory, of his wife cutting ties with him, even as he was so excited to be getting out of prison.
That sad look on his face, plus his initial wide-eyed pure joy, made me immediately assume the best of him, I have to admit.
When Shiqing and Heyun discussed the possibility of him being the bomber, and possibly having the bomb in his sack, my mind immediately protested, because my gut instinct said that there were melons in that sack, which he’d brought as gifts for his son.
So, I’m pretty chuffed to be right about that, in the end, even though it wasn’t that hard to guess.
I also really liked that beat in episode 7, where everyone on the bus gets a chunk of watermelon to eat; it’s all so heartwarming. 🥰
Liu Dan as Pot Lady and Huang Jue as Bus Driver
In episode 8, I was quite taken aback, by the reveal that that Pot Lady turns out to have a bomb in her pressure cooker pot.
And then, in episode 10, I was completely dumbfounded, to learn that Pot Lady’s accomplice, is none other than Bus Driver. Like, WHUT?!? 😱
I TOTALLY hadn’t seen that coming, and it perplexed me as to why Bus Driver would go along with Pot Lady’s plan to kill them and everyone else on the bus, with that bomb.
I thought about whether they were terrorists, or whether they were perhaps in some kind of relationship where they couldn’t be together, and therefore they’d rather die. However, I never managed to guess the truth on my own, that this was all about the loss of their daughter.
When we find out in episode 13, the context around Meng Meng’s (Chen Jing Yi) accident, and how that had affected Pot Lady and Bus Driver, I found it all so tragic.
I can only imagine how hard it must be, as a parent, to receive news about your child’s passing. It must be a hundred times worse, to receive that news, and then not be able to get any concrete information around what had caused your child’s death.
I can see why Pot Lady and Bus Driver would go out of their way to try to find out on their own, what had happened to their daughter, that fateful day.
Given how little they had to work with, I can see why they would approach random strangers on the bus, to ask questions. And, I can see how that would’ve gotten them into trouble, over time, and get brushed off by frustrated people in authority.
It doesn’t make it right, of course, that they decided to blow up the entire bus, in their desire to reunite with their daughter in death, but, I feel like I can somewhat understand how they’d arrived at such a place.
I’m also rather struck by the fact that, despite everything we’ve been told about Bus Driver and Pot Lady having a strained relationship, they each attempt to take all the blame for the explosion, in order to protect the other. That’s pretty selfless, I felt.
At the end of the day, Pot Lady and Bus Driver aren’t terrorists out to destroy others.
Mostly, I get the impression that they somehow feel that dying on that bridge, while aboard the No. 45 bus, would reunite them with their daughter in death. I feel that that’s their primary motive.
On a secondary note, I feel that they are also so distressed by what they’d perceived as systemic neglect of their daughter’s case, that they felt they had to do something.
It’s all very sad, honestly.
QUESTIONS THAT SHOW DOESN’T PROVIDE ANSWERS FOR
As robust as Show feels, there are some things that we’re simply not given answers to. Here’s them, for the record.
1. We aren’t told why the time loops start, nor why it’s Shiqing who’s the first participant in the time loops.
2. We aren’t told why Heyun’s physical condition begins to deteriorate through the various time loops, while Shiqing’s doesn’t. I hypothesize that it’s because she’s the original participant of the time loop, while Heyun’s a late joiner, but that’s just wild speculation on my part.
3. We aren’t told how the time loops work.
I speculate that it’s perhaps similar to what we see of Heyun’s “standby mode” in episode 5, with that whole set-up of multiple model-sized buses making their rounds on what looks like a sushi conveyor belt.
I feel like Show could be indicating that there are actually many versions of reality that Heyun and Shiqing are cycling through, as they go through the time loops.
In theory, it’s possible that each bus, and each set of passengers, is different from the other ones, and therefore existing on different planes, so to speak.
THEMES / IDEAS
One of the things that I find very unexpected about my watch, is how I was picking up on themes, when I’d expected to be mostly involved with the untangling of the time loop mystery.
Here’s a quickish sampling, for the record:
E1. The idea that many small, almost inconsequential things contribute to one big event.
If the delivery driver hadn’t been in a hurry, or if the driver of the oil tanker truck hadn’t been annoyed with his colleague and therefore distracted, this collision could have been avoided.
..Which is exactly what happens, in one of the loops.
It sounds so simple and logical, that Shiqing and Heyun help to look out for the oncoming players in the accident, and warn the driver accordingly, thus giving him an extra split second to react – which then allows them to avert the collision.
It’s quite a thought-provoking idea, that everything that we do has consequences; we just may not know what those consequences are, is all.
E2. The idea that there is power in solidarity.
When Shiqing had attempted to avert the accident on her own, she’d failed; when Heyun had attempted to get off the bus on his own, he’d failed too.
It’s only when they worked together, that they eventually succeed in getting off the bus.
Two heads are better than one, and this is proven this episode, with how Shiqing and Heyun not only help each other calm down when it’s most important, but also, in how they put their heads together, to figure a way out of the situation.
E2. Our lenses deeply affect our interpretation of the world around us.
This contrast between Captain Zhang and Detective Jiang, makes me think about the lenses that we wear, that color our perception and interpretation of the world around us.
This is the second time in two episodes, that Detective Jiang has jumped to the conclusion that Shiqing is suspicious and that what she says is not to be trusted.
This shows that his stance is not a neutral, objective one to begin with. His stance had been biased against her, and that’s why he’s so quick to judge her negatively.
In contrast, Captain Zhang is more neutral and objective.
When listening to her explanation last episode, his objectivity had enabled him to pick up on the fact that she knew about the details of the accident, which she would have been unlikely to know, if she hadn’t been telling the truth.
And this episode, that objectivity allows him to give Shiqing and Heyun the benefit of the doubt as informants who are not directly involved in causing the explosion.
E3. Again, the differences in lens and approach between Captain Zhang and Detective Jiang are so apparent, when they sit down to discuss things.
Detective Jiang has already decided the parameters of what makes sense to him, and is therefore quick to dismiss the testimonies about time loops, but Captain Zhang is a lot more measured.
He considers the questions of whether or not Heyun and Shiqing have any motive for lying, and also, why they took the trouble to call the police in the first place.
His approach may not be perfect, as we see from his questioning session with Heyun, but so far, I see Captain Zhang as seeking to understand, rather than starting out with a pre-conceived set of judgments in place.
E10. Experiences change us.
One of my first thoughts, watching Heyun deal with the aftermath of the stabbing, is that even though the basic situation remains unchanged, the people involved have definitely changed.
Although Heyun and Shiqing have so far repeatedly failed to get out of the loop, their experience of each time loop stays with them, and these experiences are changing them, and their relationship.
SPOTLIGHT ON EPISODE 12 [SPOILERS]
Man oh man oh man. What an episode. By our last stretch, this one had me hugging myself in a futile attempt to calm myself down, because it’s all just too-edge-my-seat tense for me to cope. 😅
Really, REALLY great episode, Show.
It feels like SO MUCH gets revealed, this episode.
We finally learn the motive behind Bus Driver and Pot Lady plotting that explosion, for years, and it has to do with the death of their daughter.
That’s really tragic, not only that their daughter died in a car accident on that same bridge 5 years ago, but that they feel so compelled to plan this explosion, to not only draw attention to her case, but also, to seek her in death.
I actually feel proud of Heyun and Shiqing, for managing to nudge the police in the right direction, to get all this information so quickly, despite them absolutely looking very suspicious to the police, while doing their thing.
I mean, they really are behaving very weirdly, and the evidence that shows up after the police investigate their actions after getting off the bus, just makes them look even weirder.
Credit to the police officers, for not immediately jumping to the conclusion, that they are the culprits, trying to shift the blame on Pot Lady and Bus Driver.
I think the Survivor’s Guilt angle does work best as their cover story, and credit to Heyun and Shiqing, they do play to it quite well.
As in, the logic of their actions may be questionable, but the emotional beats that they portray in front of Captain Zhang feel believable. I’m thinking that that’s also probably why he decides to believe them.
I really like the angle that Heyun and Shiqing take, in preparing for the next time loop.
Getting Captain Zhang’s number, after determining how he would react if he received an anonymous text about a bomb, and how much time he would need in order to be ready to react, is really good thinking.
With that in place, and with the way Heyun and Shiqing delay the bus from its scheduled arrival time at the next bus stop, it really does feel like they have a chance at stopping the bus explosion, in this time loop.
That’s a big reason why I was so breathlessly on the edge of my seat the whole way through. I kept wondering, Is this the time that they succeed?? Could this be it??
Although, I have to say, part of it was also me really hoping that this really would be it, because Heyun’s not only looking pale upon waking up; he’s waking up with a very bloody nose. And, his confirmation, that he’s been feeling worse and worse with each loop, after the time stopped moving earlier, worries me.
It makes me feel a sense of urgency, for them to stop this loop already, so that Heyun will be out of danger. Although, I am really curious to know why Heyun’s physical condition is deteriorating with each loop, while Shiqing’s is not.
The tearful hug that Heyun and Shiqing share, which shows us just how nervous and anxious Shiqing is, also makes me feel that sense of urgency. This whole thing is really wearing on them in very real ways, and I now care about them enough, that I need this to stop, for their sakes.
The moment Bus Driver drives right past the bus stop and keeps on speeding up, I felt my adrenaline start pumping. Ahhh. It’s so nerve-wracking, watching the police fan out around the bus, yet knowing that Bus Driver is determined to ignore their efforts to stop the bus.
Also, gosh, Pot Lady really does look rather deranged, as she pulls that knife and starts threatening the other passengers.
I’m guessing that the stress of the moment gets to her, because their plan isn’t quite running on schedule, with all the interruptions, and that’s why she pulls out the knife, probably in an attempt to eliminate any further interruptions.
Gah. That whole scuffle on the bus is so stressful to watch. I kept wondering if the bomb would go off, in the confusion. 🙈
And then, the way the police do manage to stop the bus – barely – by running a puncture line across the road, and then having two squad cars actively ram into the back of the bus, to stop it from reversing, is just so nerve-wracking as well.
I kept wondering if the bus would actually overpower those squad cars anyway – and if the bomb would somehow go off, in the upheaval.
By the time Heyun smashes the glass window and hands the bomb to Captain Zhang, I’m basically ready to jump out of my skin; I’m feeling so anxious.
And then, the bomb goes off, just as Captain Zhang throws it over the bridge. GRAH.
I mean, it’s good that the passengers on the bus are saved, but.. it doesn’t look good for Captain Zhang? 🥺
If this triggers another time loop, because the blast kills Captain Zhang, I’d be worried for Heyun, who’s already doing very poorly, physically. But if this doesn’t trigger another time loop, I’d be worried for Captain Zhang, because it really looks bad.
Either way, I think I’m going to spend the next episode, ALSO on the edge of my seat. 😬😅
SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILERS]
I’d actually expected this penultimate episode to be more exciting, mostly because I’m with Shiqing in anticipating that there will be at least one more time loop, before our story ends, but that doesn’t meant that I didn’t appreciate this episode.
Even though we don’t get to the time loop – which I’m still assuming that we’ll get to, in the finale – we get lots of backstory, and that’s turned out to be both illuminating and heart-wrenching.
The thing that strikes me most, is how we sit with Bus Driver and Pot Lady, in their grief.
The longer we sit with them in their grief, the more I feel able to empathize with them, in the various aspects of their loss.
Not only did they lose their daughter, they lost, well, basically everything. Their family life; their sense of normalcy; the stability in their relationship and their lives in general; their trust in the system; their trust in people.
All of that got deeply eroded or completely lost, in the wake of the loss of their daughter.
I’m actually most surprised that Bus Driver is the one between them, who suggests moving to Jialin. I’d always assumed that that had been Pot Lady’s idea, since we’re told, from Bus Driver’s records, that he’d moved to Jialin because his wife had relocated for work reasons.
However, I do still think that Bus Driver might not have suggested it, if Pot Lady hadn’t paid on the guilt so thick, and made him feel like such a sinner, for not picking up Meng Meng’s last calls.
How could he have possibly known, that Meng Meng would call him, and that those would be her last calls, before that terrible accident?
It’s completely unfair that Pot Lady blames him so deeply for this, but I can understand that in the height of grief, no one is really able to think very straight, nor be very reasonable.
I feel that Bus Driver had made that suggestion, to give them both a sense of consolation, because they’d feel less helpless, if they were actually doing something. And, moving to Jialin counted as doing something.
Show still isn’t clear on whether the bomb was Pot Lady’s idea to begin with, but I’m leaning towards that, because I doubt that Bus Driver would know enough about bomb-making, to even realize that a homemade bomb was a possibility, with his wife’s knowledge.
The thing that deepens the tragedy, is that no one else besides the direct family, actually feels their grief, or sees their grief in the same way.
Not only do the netizens go wild with their cruel commentary (I hate that, so much), the bus company people move on and forget. Because, truth be told, to the bus company, that is just one tragic thing, among many other things that need to be done, to keep the company running.
I’m not that surprised, that the bus company people are unable to recognize Bus Driver, when he shows up for that job interview.
At the same time, I can see why it hurts him so much, and I can understand his heart turning cynical and jaded, from this realization.
I also appreciate the beat, where we see that Pot Lady does give Bus Driver an out, in that she doesn’t insist that he die with her, in the explosion.
She gives him the choice of sticking with her through this, or leaving Jialin, and living his own life. And, she even sounds calm and reasonable, as she tells him this. I thought that was surprisingly rational of her, all things considered.
Which means that Bus Driver was really wrestling with himself, more than with Pot Lady, in terms of the course of action he should take. Since he didn’t take Pot Lady up on her offer, that means that he did want to join her and Meng Meng in death, on some level.
Speaking of calm and reasonable, I just wanted to give a shout-out to Chief Du, who really is a paragon of good sense.
With everyone else’s judgment colored by their distress over Captain Zhang’s death, it’s Captain Du who reminds them not to jump to conclusions, particularly around Heyun and Shiqing. I’m so glad that she’s overseeing the police team.
Shiqing’s idea to contact her advisor from school really works out to be a turning point in their quest to find out the truth behind Meng Meng’s death.
Good on Shiqing, for thinking to call her advisor, based on Bus Driver’s passing remark, made so long ago, that his daughter had gone to the same school.
I also think that Detective Jiang’s conducting himself with a good amount of self-control, given the circumstances.
I’d pegged him as the more short-tempered sort, based on earlier episodes, but in this case, he’s really holding it in, for Captain Zhang’s sake, and I hafta say, I’m rather proud of him, coz I can imagine how much of an effort this must be, for him.
One thing that doesn’t quite add up, to my eyes, is the fact that Detective Jiang, Advisor, and Shiqing go to see the IT administrator to unlock the posts which have been blocked from public view – and yet, Heyun’s able to access it, while sitting in the hospital room.
That doesn’t make sense?
I mean, even if the administrator unlocked the posts, it wouldn’t make sense to make them public.
And, Heyun’s call to Shiqing is presented as a first call, which is why Detective Jiang specifies for Shiqing to put it on speaker mode, so it’s not like they’d given Heyun special remote access, to assist with the investigations?
Anyway. Their conversation with the witness, Liu Yao, brings up another idea, and that is, how more needs to be done, to make witnesses feel safe to actually step forward to provide eyewitness accounts.
It was because she had been so afraid, that Liu Yao’s stayed silent all these years. If she had felt safe to come forward in the first place, then none of this bomb business would have ever needed to happen. That’s good food for thought.
As we head into the finale, I’m hoping that our team will not only nab the culprit who had caused this whole mess in the first place, but also, that they’ll find a way to bring Captain Zhang back.
I seriously hope that that’s not too much to ask!
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
Ahhh. This was an excellent, excellent finale episode. SO GOOD, y’all. It.. kinda feels like Show manages to do everything I could have hoped for, in this final episode. That’s quite a feat.
Not only do we get the full backstory of what Meng Meng had gone through that fateful day, we also get insight into why Liu Yao hadn’t reported the incident to the police.
This thing about netizens’ words having a lot of destructive power, is brought out in a very realistic way.
I found this very well done because it’s not preachy, the way it’s done, but it serves the story, AND it gives me pause, on netizen culture, and what kind of influence that has, on real people and real lives.
On another note, Heyun trying to prepare Shiqing, in case he doesn’t manage to be in the next time loop to help her, is so poignant.
I can see that he’s scared, because his physical state keeps deteriorating. In a worst case scenario, it feels quite possible, that he might die before the time loops are up, and that’s got to be quite frightening, for him.
On top of that, there’s the sweet angst of him being afraid to lose Shiqing. Aw. I came into this show not expecting a romance, but the way their relationship has grown over each time loop, has really turned out to be very sweet.
I so appreciate that little beat, where Heyun role-plays the way he’d go seek out Shiqing, even if she forgot about him, to introduce himself, and ask her to be his girlfriend. How meaningful, that Shiqing takes his hand, and says yes.
To me, this is the moment that they officially take their relationship from pretend-cum-quasi-real to legit real, and it does give me a bit of the warm fuzzies, to witness it.
And then, when Shiqing does wake up in a new time loop, but is unable to wake Heyun, gah, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.
I love how quickly Shiqing works to do everything that she and Heyun have discussed, even though she’s worried about him, and it’s probably daunting for her to have to go it alone like this.
My favorite moment in this whole thing, is how she gets Lu Di to agree to help, by using the secret code that he’d once given.
I was also so psyched to see Heyun wake up in time to help get Pot Lady under control, and to be there with Shiqing, as they get to the crux of the situation.
And then, I have to tell ya, that moment when the mission is done, and the bomb goes off in the water, and no one ends up getting hurt or killed, I had literal tears in my eyes.
Ahhh. I’m so proud of everyone, but most of all, I’m so proud of Heyun and Shiqing. They’ve worked so hard, and so tirelessly, to make this happen. Seeing them hug it out, so full of relief, made me so tearfully happy. 🥲
I had no expectation that this finale would make me emotional, but it did. I guess I’ve really become this invested in these characters and their lives, over the course of our story. Mad props to Show, because that was so well done.
It’s a touch unrealistic, I think, that Captain Zhang would let Heyun and Shiqing go so easily, without pressing them for an explanation for how they knew about the bomb, but since we’re running out of screen time, I’ll buy the idea that he’s willing to wait for their explanation, when they’re ready to give it.
And, since, in exchange for not having Heyun and Shiqing get interrogated by the police again, we get a happy montage that feels like an epilogue, I’m more than pleased to roll with it.
I mean, yes, it’s a little treacly and feel-good, but after everything our characters have been through, I’m more than happy to just roll with it, coz it’s about time they had some happy times, yes?
It’s great to see the little happiness that Heyun and Shiqing get from exchanging simple good morning and goodnight texts (because now they can, being out of the time loop and all), and it’s also great to see all the passengers on the bus receive recognition for their bravery.
That little shot of Heyun and Shiqing together, with the red background, is very reminiscent of a marriage certificate photo, which my subs helpfully point out. I love that cheeky touch, and I’m grateful for the subber who took the time to explain that little nugget.
And, after we see that the pervert who had molested Meng Meng gets arrested, we even get a little highlight reel of how the various passengers on the bus are doing.
I love that touch. We’d spent all this time getting to know them, so it feels right, that we would get some kind of closure with each of them, so that we know how they’re doing.
In particular, I love the fact that we get to see Ma Guo Qiang bringing watermelons to his son at the office, and getting such a joyful, warm reception from his son and his son’s colleagues. That was so great.
I also love that Lu Di’s parents celebrate his birthday in full cosplay fashion, AND that they get him a cool hairless cat, as a gift. That must be the happiest day ever, for Lu Di. Aw.
Ahh. Honestly, if I could ask for just one more thing from this finale, it would be for Heyun and Shiqing to actually become friends with Lu Di.
I have an inexplicable soft spot for the cat-loving apostle, and want him to have more friends. Or at least, be friends with Heyun and Shiqing.
Last but not least, I’m glad to see Heyun and Shiqing go to pay their respects at Meng Meng’s grave. It feels fitting, that Meng Meng be honored and remembered, since this was always all about her, to begin with.
All in all, this was an almost perfect finale, and I am so happily surprised by how.. content I feel, knowing that Heyun and Shiqing have made it through together, and will now continue to face all of life’s challenges together, hand in hand. 🥰
THE FINAL VERDICT:
As deeply heartfelt as it is twisty and surprising. Totally recommend.
FINAL GRADE: A
WHERE TO WATCH:
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The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of Reset, is My Liberation Notes. I’ve taken an initial look, and I’m happy to say that I find it very promising, so far. My E1 notes on My Liberation Notes can be found here.
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