Meteor Garden: Episode 9 - Just a big kid who wants to be loved
Netflix Synopsis: Ah Si is determined to shut Lei out of the F4. Shancai is deeply moved by Daoming Zhuang's stories about Ah Si as a child.
This is such a boss move. I am going to start doing this at work.
Lei draws another portrait on the rooftop, this time of DMS with equal artistic accuracy as Jing’s, and Shancai goes from thickening his eyebrows and drawing horns, to finally feeling remorse and reticent. She rubs out the horns, starts apologizing to Lei, and assumes fault for the situation. But of course sweet rose-colored lipped Lei says it’s his fault and invites her on a date anyway.
WARNING: This episode is paved with long, sad looks and reeks of repentance from Shancai. If you are over 21 and in the safety of your own home, you may need an adult beverage to get through this. Ballantine scotch whisky anyone?
Lei shows up at the Dong household to pick up Shancai, looking like he just rolled out of bed, but still manages to get a slew of compliments only Asian parents would dole out.
The date with Lei is awful, awkward and is as awesome as that pink sweater. Lei is spaced out and clearly didn’t plan anything, and the nerves on an empty stomach must be impacting Shancai's judgement, because she also brings up Jing’s billboard on their date. Lei brings up his social awkwardness and his friendship with F4, and Shancai assures him that he has the best personality among F4 and will have no problems making new friends. Insert Shancai making a horrible mandarin pun with Lei’s name.
They are overly polite and accommodating over Thai food, which Lei doesn't really eat...and it's all really too painful to watch. Back at the tea shop, bestie starts giving Shancai the 3rd degree and Shancai admits to being so self-conscious around Lei, and more like herself around Ah Si. Back at home, seeing the jacket given to her by DMS brings back memories of his thoughtfulness and she puts the jacket away, in hopes of focusing her feelings on Lei.
This is when things get more interesting than awkward. There’s a man that almost knocks an older lady down with his bike and Shancai intervenes. He's about to hit Shancai, when insert disco EDM music and in comes a heroine who stops the attack and man-shames him into submission. Bossy and demanding, she insists on taking Shancai back to her home to help take care of her bleeding wounds. Who is this She-Ra? And why does her act of valor remind us of someone else?
Shancai is confused why she is back at DMS’s house and tries to escape, especially when she realizes that the heroine is DMS’s sister, Dauming Zhuang (let’s use DMZ). She’s surprised that Mr. Liu recognizes Shancai and wants him to let DMS know that she’s there. Shancai unsuccessfully tries to leave, but DMZ won’t allow it and ultimately runs into DMS in the hall. Not sure why she’s there, he aggressively tells her he’s already over her and pushes her up against the wall. Why so rough Ah Si, why? Shancai is once again saved by DMZ when she Chun-Li street-fighter kicks him in the head with her heels. That is one kick-ass, face-kick’n sister.
DMS is unaware that his sister is back until her shoe was in his face, and DMZ treats Shancai’s wounds and insists that she stays for dinner. DMS doesn’t join them but that doesn’t stop Shancai from taking a two handed sippy cup grip on that wine glass and chugging down the wine. SMH. Shancai, haven't we learned our lesson in moderation?
So the alcohol starts slurring...like it always does...and Shancai confesses to DMZ that she did something terrible to hurt Ah Si, and caused him to turn on Lei. She admits that it’s totally legit for DMS to be angry with her, that’s she’s to blame, blah, blah, but that she doesn’t want to see DMS sad and hurt. Meanwhile DMS is around the corner listening to the alcohol and you see him touched by her confession.
P.S. We also get a better look at their living space. No wonder they need a full staff to clean their house. That's a lot of nooks and crannies to dust.
He comes back and sits at the table with his sister, and Shancai is piss-assed out on the table. DMZ asks him if Shancai is his girlfriend and he clarifies that she’s his classmate. DMZ is a Shancai fan and tells DMS what happened earlier that day. He sweetly asks about her hand and his sister catches on, despite DMS’s insistence that he doesn’t care. She orders him to carry Shancai to the guest room, and this is another moment when you wish...
that his facial bone structure was more common. Isn't that what you wished for too?
Mr. Liu gives DMZ the DL on the situation, and in the morning she and Shancai have a heart to heart, and she breaks down his childhood past, and the scenes, or specifically his outfits are even more adorable than Lei’s dimple. DMZ wants Shancai to give DMS another chance because he's really just a big kid who wants to be loved. So. Adorable.
Back at school, DMS's rage matches his pants, and somehow banana bestie gets inducted into F4 as Lei's replacement, but he's forbidden to talk to Lei and Shancai. Lei wants DMS to just deal with the situation with him alone, and Shancai insists on confronting DMS to say 2 things. 1) what happened is her fault. that's it's fine if he doesn't forgive her, but she still wants to apologize and insert deep, deferential bow moment 2) she talks about the friendship b/t DMS and Lei and that he shouldn't give up on that friendship because of her.
OK - that's fair 'nough. But then DMS's response breaks your heart just a 'lil bit when he reflects on the fact that she's been bullied so many times, and has never backed down, but that now she's apologizing to him because of Lei? He wants to know if she really cares about Lei that much. Wow- that's a man in touch with his feelings and isn't afraid to express himself. He IS a unicorn.
ShanLei go back and forth between who should be punished - both are guilty IMO, but it's clear that DMS wants Lei and Shancai to suffer and challenges Lei with a Joker card - to play for it. For what? We don't know yet. Back in their man cave, DMS breaks it down to F2 + banana bestie that Lei is just using Shancai to get over Jing, and questions their loyalty to him.
Social media is abuzz about Shancai breaking up DMS and Lei's bromance, but we are abuzzing about her outfit choice today and her makeup. Thumbs up on the female version of the F3 sweater with the jagged distressed hem at the waistline. Wait..that's not clarifying because all the sweaters are feminine. She's filling in Li Zhen on the latest drama, and I am wondering what mascara is she using with the coral-beige eyeshadow, and that's quite a rosy blush she's wearing. Nars Orgasm? Lip stain might be Yves Saint Laurent Glossy Lip Stain in #7 Corail Aquatique or maybe #50 Encre Nude? Hard to tell.
Li Zhen starts asking the hard questions, like why doesn't she like DMS when he treats her so well (when he's not slamming her against a wall). She's not sure either, but is clear that if ShanLei win the game, that all she wants is for the boys to rekindle their friendship. Even Li Zhen is wise enough to say that friendships are not as easy to repair, so then Shancai changes her ask to having DMS forgive her.
Get that two-handed sippy cup grip on your scotch glass, because Shancai is heading over to DMS's house and hearts will be a break'n.
DMS isn't home, so Shancai has tea with DMZ and pleads for her help. Just like a virtual kick in the face, DMZ kicks back this line: "If you're the cause, you should be the one to solve it." Even though Shancai says that it was all her fault, she never really tells DMZ about why Lei and DMS are in a tizzy. I guess she doesn't kiss and tell.
Shancai doesn't quite understand DMZ and believes that maybe winning the poker game will make a difference? That's when DMZ get frustrated, takes Shancai's hand and puts it on her chest. OHHHHH, I get it now - she's telling her to use her boobs to get what she wants. Is that it?
Oh wait, I think she means her heart. I guess both strategies could work.
Shancai walks out of the house (looking like Dora the Explorer) in a daze and leaves a message for Lei, asking him to teach her poker and then GASP. This frame is one of the best heart stopper moments in the show. So much to admire, too little time. I LOVE that car, as much as I LOVE that glare.
That bone structure again....
Shancai warns him to not underestimate her and she's teaming up with Lei to play poker against him, He stares at her so intently and it's hard to tell if he's really listening to her or not, because instead of saying anything, he rushes over to her and pulls her into an embrace. All he wants is for her to say that she likes him, and he'll cancel the bet with Lei. He pleads, and says it again.
SIP, SIP. It's like he's trying to squeeze it out of her and she yells back and tells him that he's hurting her and to not be like this. The anguish we see in his face, when he asks if she really hates him that much is just unbearable. Shancai wonders in her head why he's asking her a question that she has no answer to? She says nothing, and DMS then follows up with the question on why must it be Lei? Again, no response. SIP.
DMS admits that he must be stupid to like her and has a short list of unflattering reasons why. He double checks that they really want to challenge him. She confirms and is willing to accept the consequences if they lose. She's so naive in thinking that she can win, and really hopes that she doesn't regret this decision.
As he leaves, she yells that she will not back down and that she won't regret it either. He looks back, and this could have gone a few different ways, but I did not expect him to say that that's the Shancai he knows.
Shancai doesn't want Lei to be alone in this. That's ok - we can keep DMS company. Just who is the dark horse here?