Welcome to the Open Thread, everyone! Thanks for joining me for this watch of much-loved Taiwanese classic Autumn’s Concerto! ❤️
SOME IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENTS, before we begin:
ZERO SPOILER POLICY
1. We will be adopting a ZERO SPOILER POLICY for this Open Thread, except for events that have happened in the show, up to this point.
The spoiler tags don’t work in email notifications, therefore, please take note that WE WILL NOT BE USING SPOILER TAGS FOR THIS OPEN THREAD.
ANY AND ALL SPOILERS WILL BE REDACTED to protect first-time viewers in our midst (although, I’d appreciate it if you would save me the trouble of having to redact spoilers, heh 😅).
This includes, but is not limited to, how characters &/or relationships develop, later in the show.
We need to protect the innocent! 😉
2. HOWEVER!! If you’d like to discuss spoilers from a rewatcher’s point of view, I’ve created a SPOILER ZONE for you, where you can discuss all the spoilers you’d like, without the need for spoiler warnings. You can find it here!
Without further ado, here are my reactions to this set of episodes; have fun in the Open Thread, everyone! ❤️
Well. Just like I’d predicted, lens adjustment turns out to be really important, in watching this show.
The production values are very retro, which might take some getting used to, especially if you’re used to watching Dramaland’s more recent offerings. This is definitely far from new and shiny.
However, I do think that given this show’s 2009 vintage, Show’s age doesn’t show that terribly. I’ve always found Taiwanese dramas to have an earthy, rustic sort of vibe, generally speaking.
As for Vanness Wu’s character Ren Guang Xi, he does take some getting used to, particularly with Dramaland’s recent trend of having nice male leads right from the beginning of the story.
Ren Guang Xi is definitely written more in line with older generations of dramas, where male leads tend to start out as jerks, and then get reformed by true love, like in the vein of Playful Kiss, Goong and Full House.
It’s going to take some time for Ren Guang Xi to grow on me, for sure, but Show does do some things that I find helpful, even at this early stage of our story.
The first thing is, the little glimpses of Future Guang Xi, that we get from the title cards that Show sprinkles through the episode, as well as the montage from the closing credits.
In those spaces, Ren Guang Xi looks kind and happy, and he and Mu Cheng look blissfully content together. That helps, as does knowing that Show’s Chinese title, “下一站, 幸福” translates literally as “Next stop, happiness.”
This tells me that as bad as things might be in the beginning of our story, our characters are journeying towards happiness – and we’ll get there, eventually.
Another thing that helps, is the way Show presents Guang Xi as being a troubled young man with a lot of emotional baggage because he’s been disillusioned by his mother’s behavior and neglect.
That closing scene at the end of the episode also gives us a glimpse of Guang Xi’s softer side.
We see that he’s well-regarded by his friends, and he also speaks kindly to that friend of a friend, who had been hurt by Chang Ai Li, which is why they’d requested Guang Xi to “take care” of her for them.
It’s pretty messed up that Guang Xi’s taking bets to punish pretty girls, but it’s clear that this all goes back to his emotional baggage around women and his belief that they are all fake and manipulative, just like his mother.
It’s not subtle at all, but I actually think this lack of subtlety is helping me buckle in for the ride, because it’s easy to spot where Show is coming from, with our characters.
The same lack of subtlety applies to Mu Cheng as a character.
Man, this poor girl suffers a great deal from the get-go, losing her father like that on her birthday, and then almost getting abandoned by her aunt.
It basically feels like Show’s dumping as much suffering on her as humanly possible, so that our sympathies are immediately with her.
I admit I rolled my eyes a bit, but y’know, this is pretty much par for the course with a show of this vintage, since Candy heroines were all the rage at the time.
So of course Mu Cheng’s long-suffering, good-hearted, kind and sweet, in spite of all that she’s been through, and all that she’s still going through.
And man, with her demanding aunt and aunt’s lecherous husband/boyfriend/partner, who’s turned his sights on Mu Cheng, now that she’s all grown up (ewww), Mu Cheng’s already got her hands full.
And now, Mu Cheng’s life is about to get more complicated, because it looks like Guang Xi’s friends are going to place another bet with him, this time with Mu Cheng as the target, because she’s so haughty that not a single guy in school has managed to get her phone number.
Clearly, this is the set-up via which Guang Xi and Mu Cheng end up in the same orbit, which is how he’ll end up falling for her.
And then there’s also our second male lead, who looks set to have the opposite trajectory of Guang Xi, where he’ll have his nice guy image ripped away, to show what a jerk he is, on the inside.
So far, this all leans rather predictable, but somehow, I’m not opposed to it.
There’s something about this show that makes me want to see what happens next. I don’t know, maybe I’m just itching to see Guang Xi learn his lesson and become a whipped puppy for Mu Cheng. 😅
And (or?) maybe it’s because this show feels like a pretty easy, non-demanding sort of watch, so far.
Whatever it is, I’m actually kind of looking forward to the next episode, so well done, Show. 👏🏻
There’s something oddly moreish about this show.
Even though the production values are very much on the side of rustic, and even though our male lead Guang Xi is behaving quite terribly almost all the time, I find myself slurping this up quite happily.
This, when I now can’t bear to watch Boys Over Flowers, because of the terrible jerk behavior that the male lead shows. How.. unexpected!
I do think that this is because I’m waiting for Guang Xi to fall flat on his face in his efforts to humiliate Mu Cheng, by falling helplessly in love with her instead.
Plus, like I mentioned last episode, the way Show is setting up Guang Xi to be emotionally damaged and wounded, is helping to take the edge off the nasty things that he says and does.
The more we see of Guang Xi, the clearer it becomes, that he’s essentially in self-destructive mode. Not only does he actively get into trouble with the law, he’s even trying to get himself expelled.
It seems like his way of trying to get his mother’s attention. At the same time, it’s a form of self-harm, and in true textbook form, it seems to be a cry for help, even if Guang Xi himself isn’t cognizant of it.
When I stack up Mu Cheng’s aunt and Guang Xi’s mother, Mu Cheng and Guang Xi really do have something in common.
Aunt doesn’t mince words, and uses emotional blackmail to get Mu Cheng to go on that date with Guang Xi. And later, after the (failed) date, Aunt is quick to tell Mu Cheng that she should be ready to sleep with Guang Xi, if that’s what it takes, to turn things around.
Ugh. Aunt is literally ready to pimp out Mu Cheng, if it would bring her some kind of benefit.
And somehow, it makes it so much worse, when Lecherous Uncle speaks up for Mu Cheng, because we all know that he’s not really in this to protect Mu Cheng.
He’s literally just constantly looking for ways to take advantage of Mu Cheng. Right now, he’s trying to peep at her in the shower, and I wouldn’t be surprised that he’d cop a feel, if the opportunity presented itself. UGH.
During the date itself, Guang Xi almost had me going for a minute, with the way he was suddenly acting all nice towards Mu Cheng.
But, I reasoned that it was way too early in the game for Guang Xi to actually learn his lesson and fall in love with Mu Cheng, and, true enough, it all turns out to be one big ruse, for a photograph of him kissing Mu Cheng as his proof of victory.
I’m actually glad that Tuo Ye shows up and makes a fuss, because at least this way, Mu Cheng becomes aware of the situation, and has a chance to make up that fib, about having made a bet about Guang Xi as well. Which, of course, makes Guang Xi furious, heh.
All that said, I also wanted to say that the niceness that Guang Xi had shown during the date, had felt quite believable. Could that be coming from a real place? Or is it truly all an act, from beginning to end? I do wonder about that.
The appearance of our second female lead, listed as Yi Qian, is quite bizarre. Like, who charges into a hockey practice like that, when they’re just visiting the place?
This is one of those things that I think we just have to accept as part of this drama world. I do think a manhua lens (the Chinese equivalent of manhwa or manga) is helpful in this case. Coz, where else would someone barge into a hockey practice like that, right?
Other than this weird situation around the introduction of her character, though, I find Yi Qian quite likable so far. She’s cheerful and sassy, and doesn’t seem snooty or proud.
Her interest in Guang Xi is sure to become A Thing.
Which brings me to Guang Xi’s mom, who nudges him towards making nice with Yi Qian, for the sake of preserving Shende Hall, which they would have to sell otherwise.
She doesn’t say it in so many words like Aunt does, but Guang Xi says it for her; she’s literally not opposed to Guang Xi sleeping with Yi Qian, if that’s what it takes for her to get what she wants.
Gosh. What is with these parental figures, and their penchant for using their young charges as leverage, even if it means pimping them out? But again, that’s all part of this very dramatic story world, where everything’s quite hyperbolic, as a matter of course.
With Aunt saying those hurtful words about Mu Cheng never playing piano again, it’s not terribly surprising that the sight of the piano through the window, would draw Mu Cheng to try to enter the building, which is known to be abandoned anyway.
It’s complete drama coincidence, of course, that Air in G is such a special piece to both Mu Cheng and Guang Xi, linking them to their memories of their respective fathers.
But I can see why Mu Cheng would play that piece specifically, since that’s the one she thinks of whenever life gets tough, and why Guang Xi would get all upset about it, coz that’s the piece he’d promised his father that no one else would play, on that piano.
I can see why Guang Xi would lash out at Mu Cheng, by saying all those hurtful things about her being nothing but a Bento Box Girl who would do anything for money. He’s so emotionally damaged that he probably doesn’t know any other way to react to something like this.
I have no real idea of how this scene is going to end, because he’s threatening Mu Cheng with canceling her aunt’s lease on the cafeteria, and Mu Cheng wouldn’t want that.
What could Mu Cheng do or say, in this situation, to turn things around? I’m legitimately curious to find out.
Ooh, this episode we get some indication of what I’ve been waiting for: Guang Xi showing that he’s grown some real feelings for Mu Cheng.
Sure, stuff happens to get in the way of this loveline actually blossoming, but that’s par for the course, particularly this early in our story.
I’m just pleased that we have some indication this soon, that Guang Xi’s got that marshmallow heart on the inside, and that heart is starting to beat for Mu Cheng. 😁
In the scene that opens this episode, where Guang Xi tells Mu Cheng that the only way to make this problem go away, is to take off her clothes, I honestly don’t think that he actually means to go through with it.
My take is that he’s trying to provoke her, to see how she’d react, if the mask that he’s convinced that she’s wearing, is torn off.
Which is why, when it dawns on him that she might actually be dealing with real harassment in her life, potentially from her stepfather figure, he suddenly does a 180, and starts to show concern.
And UGH, Lecherous Stepfather Dude is actually peeping through the window, grumbling that he can’t touch Mu Cheng at home, and yet, she’s here with the rich boy. That’s so messed up, that he’s literally obsessed with Mu Cheng in such a sexual way.
Forced proximity is a pretty effective trope (and to be fair, for a show of this vintage, it wasn’t as tropey then as it is now), and I was pretty on board with Mu Cheng and Guang Xi spending some time together in the vacuum that is that room in Shende Hall.
The reason that I like this vacuum, is that when the context of everything, like Guang Xi’s bet with his friends, is taken away, it feels like they’re able to have some semblance of real and meaningful conversation.
I mean, sure, Guang Xi makes up part of that story about the boy dying after being abandoned, but most of his story is actually true, and Mu Cheng’s sharp enough to pick up on that, and offer some perspective from her own experience, without blowing Guang Xi’s cover story.
I thought that was quite meaningful, and it does offer Guang Xi a different way to look at the fact that his father had let go of his hand without warning; that it hurt his father too, and the important thing is that he learns to get up on his own, without blaming someone else for his fall.
Because this is such a foundation stone in Guang Xi’s messed up emotional state, I feel that this is an important seed that Mu Cheng sows, in this vacuum moment, when Guang Xi’s let down his guard, at least somewhat.
While the discovery of the injured bird is executed in an extremely staged fashion, I like the idea enough, of them bonding over this rescue, to just roll with it.
Because, it’s only after Mu Cheng talks about giving the bird a second chance by giving it a home, that Guang Xi tells her that he hears a special emotion in her piano playing. That feels real, gentle and sincere, and it’s.. nice.
And I’m convinced that the reason Guang Xi insists that Mu Cheng come to Shende Hall to play for hime every night, is more to give her a chance to play the piano, and for him to see her, than anything else.
But of course, with the fresh glare of sunlight shining in on this vacuum, Guang Xi’s reflexively reaching for a prickly cover story, that if she doesn’t, he’ll report her for misuse of school property.
Pfft. I can see right through you though, Guang Xi. 😏
He cares more about Mu Cheng than he’d like to admit, and the prickly facade only lasts as long as he can comfortably keep it up.
Like when he takes Mu Cheng home and Lecherous Stepdad Dude gets all territorial and weird, Guang Xi’s hackles go right up, and before we know it, he’s giving Stepdad Dude a warning, then pulling Mu Cheng aside and giving her his own mobile phone, so that she can call him if something happens and she feels unsafe.
And then there’s the way Guang Xi tells everyone that he lost the bet, even though this will be embarrassing for him. He’d rather protect Mu Cheng’s honor, and pay the price of losing the bet, even though he does actually have the photographic evidence that the bet entails.
That’s pretty huge for Guang Xi, isn’t it? After all, it’s not so long ago that he was being really unreasonable and awful to Mu Cheng at that police station. This much progress in such a short time is quite impressive, if you think about it.
But of course, there’s got to be some kind of obstacle in our narrative, now that Guang Xi’s showing real feelings for Mu Cheng, and Mu Cheng looks legitimately touched by how Guang Xi protects her honor by not revealing the kiss picture, and that obstacle is Yi Qian.
I actually like Yi Qian so far, she seems kind, in the way she gets Guang Xi treated after he collapses, and also, she doesn’t seem to hold a grudge, judging from the amiable way she responds, when she hears Guang Xi talking to his mother on the phone, and referring to her as Mom’s ATM.
If anything, instead of offended, Yi Qian even smiles in genuine amusement. It’s hard not to like her, yes?
Combining her general cool and likable vibe, with the gossip from other students, that she would be a great match for Guang Xi, I can see why Mu Cheng would decide that she’s better off not having anything to do with Guang Xi, because she can’t be anything but a momentary distraction, to him.
And then Mu Cheng has that OMIGOSH-SOOO-AWFUL slimey encounter with Lecherous Stepdad Dude, where he takes her to that seafood market and buys a turtle for himself (believed to be good for vitality), while pointedly talking trash about, er, bedroom prowess.
On top of all that, he also sneers meaningfully at Mu Cheng about the saying “a turtle in a vase” (indicating that she’s trapped, just like a turtle who’s grown up in a vase).
I can see why everything would add up to be super overwhelming for Mu Cheng, such that she’d literally run away.
I’m glad that she at least considers calling Guang Xi like he’d told her to, but I can also see why she’d change her mind.
Her conversation with Guang Xi, when she shows up to play the piano as scheduled, tells us everything about what she’s thinking.
She talks about the baby bird and how Guang Xi shouldn’t get so involved with the bird because he’ll never be the bird’s family, and how spoiling the bird now, would only make her struggle to live later on, when she’ll end up alone.
Clearly, this isn’t about the bird at all, but about herself, and how Guang Xi’s momentary sympathy and help, would only end up hurting her in the long run.
I want Guang Xi to read between the lines and see what Mu Cheng’s really talking about, but it seems that he hasn’t connected the dots, and only ends up lashing out at Mu Cheng, saying that he doesn’t know why he embarrassed himself for her, and that he should have made the picture public.
So now, it’s Mu Cheng’s turn to put on a prickly, aloof facade, with her statement that he should have shown the picture, because she doesn’t need his sympathy and protection.
Dang. I hope he figures it out sooner rather than later, especially with Lecherous Stepdad Dude getting impatient to make his move. 😬