Been too lazy to write drama reviews lately but I’ll always be in time to at least write up a first impression post on dramas I’ve watched. I was getting very hyped up by the string of awesome teaser releases and I am relieved to say that the pilot episode of The Way We Were (16個夏天) is pleasantly enjoyable and it delivered more than what I expected it to.
It’s only one episode in and yet, I’m already sold. I could feel natural sparks and chemistry oozing from the main pairing and it’s further supported by solid acting by both leads and that made the whole drama feel very solid. While the 90s and college setting might remind viewers of K-drama Reply 1994 and Taiwanese college drama, In A Good Way (我的自由年代), but I can assure you guys that the overall vibe is very different and it’s as lovely as those dramas.
It’s the summer of 1998, Fang Wei-De (Leroy Young) and his buddy, Ding Guo-Qing (Jason Tsou) hang out in the swimming pool. At the same time, Tang Jia-Ni (Ruby Lin), her boyfriend, Jiang Da-Wei (Dylan Kuo) and her college friends, Zheng Rui-Rui (Tiffany Hsu) and Wang Jun-Jie (Melvin Sia) arrives. Jia-Ni is very excited to be at the swimming pool and tells Da-Wei that they haven’t go to swim yet for this summer. Da-Wei is not as thrilled as her, he feels annoyed by the heat and checks out a hot bikini girl who passes by. The hot bikini girl turns out to be one of Wei-De’s girlfriends and it’s apparent that he’s a smooth playboy.
Rui-Rui starts doing warm-up exercises before diving into the pool and advises Jia-Ni to do the same to prevent muscle cramping when they swim. However, the excited Jia-Ni is too impatient to do that and immediately dives right into the pool without doing any warm-up exercise. As Jia-Ni swims through the pool, she starts feeling muscle cramp and starts to struggle in the water, almost drowning herself. Seeing this, Rui-Rui panics and asks the guys to dive into the water to save her but Jun-Jie don’t know how to swim and Da-Wei thinks that she looks alright so he’s unwilling to dive into the water.
Witnessing a girl almost drowning in the middle of the pool, Wei-De quickly dives into the water to save her, trying to be a hero that saves a damsel in the distress. However, the pool’s lifeguard swims ahead of him and rescue Jia-Ni first instead.
Wei-De’s voiceover cuts in:
In this world, there are many things that can’t be solved.
For example, if you could be earlier by a minute,
or even be earlier by a few seconds,
maybe you could create a link between yourself and someone or something else.
But usually, we spend most of our lives in missing (losing) something.
He continues to narrate, giving examples of the times he missed out, such as throwing out the trash to garbage truck, missing the last train, missing class attendance. He thinks that if a person constantly misses out things, he will get used to it and nothing else will bother him anymore.
Jia-Ni is working part-time in the convenience store, sorting out the merchandises but a customer deliberate stands behind her and molest her. She catches him and reprimands him but the guy doesn’t admit that he molested her. This infuriates her even more and she grabs his arms as he tries to leave. The commotion attracts the store manager and upon hearing the customer complaining that she’s hurting his arms, he quickly sides with the customer, telling her that it’s her fault. Wei-De who is present in the convenience store with his girlfriend the whole time witnesses this and reports to the store manager that he witnessed the customer molesting Jia-Ni.
Despite his heroic report, Jia-Ni is still fired from her job and she dryly thanks Wei-De when he tells her that she owes him a thank you. Seeing that she’s in a bad mood, Wei-De tries to comfort her by saying that losing a job with such a bad store manager may not be a bad thing and she could always find new jobs. Jia-Ni who is feeling very down doesn’t bother to reply him and walks off.
In her room, Jia-Ni complains about her bad day to her boyfriend, Da-Wei who lives with her but he doesn’t really listen to her as he’s busy playing video games. He tells her that he can’t afford to support her part of room rental fees even though they’re a couple since they agreed to split the rent into two. He finds her constant nagging and complaints tiring so he decided to get out of the house. When asked by Jia-Ni where is he going, he only replies that he’s meeting a friend and heads out as he’s annoyed by her constant pestering.
Wei-De dressed in suit and drives an expensive looking sports car on the road, he flirts with a lady in the car beside him, He tries to act cool in front of her but the voice from the walkie-talkie in the car gives out that he’s actually working part-time as a valet parker and he doesn’t own the car. The lady still gives him her number before she drives off anyway.
In front of a club, Wei-De and Guo-Qing sends off a customer with his car and starts discussing about their class attendance and Guo-Qing offers to give him a morning call as he’s been missing out too many classes. A hostess of the club, Linda (Ke Shu-Qin) appears behind them to offer them leftover food by customers as their supper. Happy about the gift, the boys starts joking around Linda, Wei-De cheekily says that if she’s 10 years younger, he’ll definitely date her and she retorts back that she’ll date Guo-Qing instead if she’s 10 years younger. After chatting with the boys for some time, Linda heads off with a customer in a cab.
After class, Jia-Ni, Rui-Rui and Jun-Jie hangs out in Jun-Jie’s house, searching jobs opening through newspapers but the result is not good as many decent jobs are already taken by others. Jun-Jie offers to lend money to Jia-Ni if she’s really tight on her budget but she quickly declines as she doesn’t like the involvement of money between friends. Despite her refusal, he persists and tries to persuade her taking up his offer as it will lessen her burden. Rui-Rui stops his persistence by throwing a pillow onto him, saying that Jia-Ni still got her boyfriend, Jiang Da-Wei to help her. Jia-Ni tells her friends to not expect too much from Jiang Da-Wei. Rui-Rui notes that their relationship has been strange lately and asks whether she often quarrels with him. Jia-Ni says that even though they don’t really quarrel, he’s acting very different lately but she doesn’t want to think about him anymore as finding a job is more important.
In her room, Jia-Ni is annoyed by constant knocking on her door and she opens the door to find a girl asking her where is Fang Wei-De. She’s one of Wei-De’s girlfriends and she mistakes Jia-Ni as one of his girlfriends too, mocking that Wei-De’s taste has stoop so low lately. Even though Jia-Ni explains that there’s no Fang Wei-De in her room, the girl still rudely barges into the room, trying to find Wei-De. This infuriates Jia-Ni and she forcefully pushes her out of the room. Before closing the door, Jia-Ni tells her that even though she doesn’t know where is Fang Wei-De but she thinks that he’s very unlucky to have a stupid and rude girlfriend like her and mocks that she may get dumped anytime soon.
Wei-De who’s been listening to their conversation in the bathroom the whole time comes out and knocks on Jia-Ni’s door, introducing himself as a new neighbour who just moved in and thanking her for her help. He tells her that they met for a few times, one time in the swimming pool where he failed to act as the hero saving a damsel in the distress. Wei-De asks whether he can treat her to a meal to thanks for her help. Although reluctant to accept at first, Jia-Ni relents and accepts his invitation as she had been eating cup noodles and breads these days to save money and she misses eating good food.
During dinner, Jia-Ni’s good appetite shocks Wei-De, Guo-Qing and Linda as she orders another big bowl of noodle. She tells Wei-De that since he’s treating her for a meal, she won’t be modest and will order anything she likes. Linda questions whether Jia-Ni is his No.4. Not knowing what is Linda talking about, Wei-De explains to Jia-Ni that he got a big boobs girlfriend No.1, long legged girlfriend No.2 and raised buttocks girlfriend No.3. She calls him a pervert and explains that she’s misunderstanding as she’s just his neighbour. Guo-Qing immediately jokes that she’s Neighbour Girlfriend No.4. Jia-Ni fiercely barks back that she’s not one of his girlfriend collections, shocking the others with her fierce act.
Amused by her fierce act, Linda claps in joy and tells Jia-Ni that she’s like her younger self, people who are fierce are usually very soft-hearted and timid deep inside. Wei-De tells her that Linda is especially good at judging a person’s character and Guo-Qing and him got the job as valet parkers because of Linda. The group of new friends cheers together. Linda tells Jia-Ni that even though Wei-De look like a smooth talker, he’s actually very melancholic deep inside. The group of friends chat happily.
After the dinner, Wei-De offers to give Jia-Ni a ride home on his bike since they live in the same building. Jia-Ni flatly rejects his offer, saying that she can just ride a public transport back home. Wei-De persists on taking her home and jokingly compliments her that she’s considered a medium-level beauty so he’s willing to take her home. In reaction to that, Jia-Ni tries to hit him with the helmet but Wei-De quickly explains that he know that she has a boyfriend and he won’t do anything to her. Jia-Ni asks how does he know about that and he replies that he saw a few pairs of male shoes in front of her door so it’s obvious. Jia-Ni relents and gets on his bike. On the ride, Jia-Ni feels a bit uneasy, not knowing where to place her hands on him.
In their workplace, Guo-Qing and Wei-De discusses about Jia-Ni’s boyfriend. Guo-Qing is surprised to hear that Jia-Ni lives with her boyfriend as she doesn’t look like the open type of girl. Wei-De says that there’s nothing to be surprised of as it’s very normal for a couple to live together and they’re already college students anyway. Guo-Qing remarks that it’s only normal for him as his views are distorted since he’s a playboy and tells him that he’ll definitely marry his first love and he’ll only love her alone. Guo-Qing noticed that Wei-De have been talking about Jia-Ni the whole day and asks whether he’s interested in her. Wei-De says that she’s quite an interesting girl but she’s only for admiring purpose, nothing more than that. Guo-Qing advises him to not touch on someone else’s girlfriend as it will bring troubles.
Wei-De bumps onto Jia-Ni in the laundry shop, noticing that she’s taking out male clothing from the laundry machine and jokes that she doesn’t look like the good wife material type of girl. She retorts back that he also doesn’t look like the playboy type of guy and asks him to manage his girlfriend collections properly so that they won’t come to her room looking for him. When Jia-Ni is about to leave the laundry shop, Wei-De asks her to wait for him and go home together but Jia-Ni finds him troublesome as he only started washing his clothes, it will be too long to wait for it to finish. On the way out, she bumps onto her boyfriend, Da-Wei who bought breakfast for her and tells her that he won’t queue up for her anymore in the future as there are too many people so she should buy breakfast on her own in the future. However, when Jia-Ni asks him to wash his clothes himself, he flatly rejects and walks off. Wei-De witnesses their whole interaction and smile cheekily.
In a buffet restaurant, Jun-Jie and Rui-Rui waits for Jia-Ni to celebrate Jun-Jie’s birthday. Rui-Rui tells Jun-Jie that they should start eating first since she’s hungry and Jun-Jie is the birthday boy so he shouldn’t be the one waiting. Not long after, Jia-Ni arrives at the restaurant and huffily apologizes for being late as she was interviewing for a part-time job just now. The girls wish Jun-Jie happy birthday and Rui-Rui gives him the gift she prepared for him. Seeing this, Jia-Ni feels guilty that she didn’t buy a gift for Jun-Jie as she’s been very tight on budget lately and promises that she’ll definitely make up for that when she finds a job. Jun-Jie tells her to not mind about it as he’s happy to have Rui-Rui and her celebrating his birthday and she should save up the money she earns for herself.
The group of friends hang out in a karaoke room after the buffet dinner but Jia-Ni is not feeling very well, she’s feeling stomach pain so she decides to leave earlier and let her friends continue as it will be a waste of money if they don’t continue to sing karaoke. Jia-Ni leaves the karaoke room and arrives in a pharmacy, squatting down in front of a store shelf, looking for medicine for her stomach pain but she hears a familiar voice coming from the cashier counter and looks up to find her boyfriend, Da-Wei putting his hand over the shoulder of another girl and they’re acting like a couple.
She’s shocked to see this sight and follows them out and only to find out that they’re heading into a motel. She stands afar from a corner, looking at the couple acting intimately silently, feeling hurt and betrayed. Wei-De notices her from the back when he’s walking with one of his girlfriends. Noticing that she looks strange, he quickly tells his girlfriend that they should meet another day. He asks what’s wrong with her. As she doesn’t reply him, he looks at the direction she’s looking at and sees Da-Wei kissing another girl. He asks whether he should help her solve this problem and tries to call out to her boyfriend but Jia-Ni stops him and drags him away from the scene.
Both of them stop at a park and Wei-De tells that she should immediately catch her cheating boyfriend in action so he can admit it and stop lying to her. Jia-Ni tells him that she won’t be any different from his trouble-seeking girlfriend No.2 if she confronts him that way. Wei-De says that she’s of course different from his girlfriend No.2 as she’s the official girlfriend but the No.2 is just his… He stops midway as he can’t really put a way to describe No. 2. Jia-Ni questions what is No.2 to him and as he’s speechless about No.2, Jia-Ni tells him that it’s all the same for guys as long as love doesn’t exist anymore.
They sit down on a bench and Wei-De tells her that it’s not a bad thing that she didn’t immediately confront Da-Wei as they will definitely stir a commotion and get into a fight if she confronts him directly just now. He asks her to think carefully about her feelings for her boyfriend and whether she wants to continue this relationship. Jia-Ni tells him that she only thought that there’s a problem in their communication and as long as they’re still together, she can find back the good feelings but it turns out that he doesn’t love her anymore. However, since there’s no more love between them, he’s worthless to her and she decides to break up with him as a cheating boyfriend is not worth of her love. Wei-De supports her and says that a guy who does two-timing is a bad guy and Jia-Ni looks at him. Her stares make him feel guilty and he quickly admits that he’s also a bad guy since he has more than several girlfriends.
Her stomach pain starts to act up again and she angrily questions why she is the one being hurt even though it’s her boyfriend who is at fault. Wei-De makes a suggestion to take revenge on him by doing the same thing as him, betray him and purposely sleep with another guy to let him witness it so he’ll feel the same pain as her. Jia-Ni angrily questions why she must be the same like him, doing things to inflict pain on others as by sleeping with another guy, that other guy will be hurt too. Wei-De cheekily hints to her that he feels okay about it and Jia-Ni gets worked up at his suggestion, saying that she’s totally not okay about that.
At this time, Jia-Ni receives a message on her beeper from Da-Wei. Wei-De notices that and tells her that guys will usually report to their girlfriend before they cheat on them as they want to feel at ease but it also mean that they don’t want their girlfriend to bother them anymore. Wei-De offers her his phone to call back Da-Wei. Jia-Ni calls Da-Wei and he tells her that he’ll be playing Mahjong at a friend’s place so he won’t be heading home. When asked which friend is it, he just replies her that it’s a friend she doesn’t know. She hears the girl’s voice from the phone and deliberately asks whether the friend is a girl. He replies her that his friends consist of guys and girls and he doesn’t want her to keep on pestering him so he hangs up the phone. Feeling hurt and angry about his attitude, Jia-Ni immediately tells Wei-De to proceed on his previous suggestion. Before she can finish talking, Wei-De immediately says he’s okay about it.
Sometime later, Wei-De arrives at Jia-Ni’s room and Jia-Ni looks especially nervous. Wei-De lies down on her bed and asks whether lying down on bed chatting is her way of warming up. She questions whether guys find it easy to separate sex and love. Wei-De questions her instead why does girls always like to ask these kind of stupid questions and they shouldn’t be too fixated on love since everyone is grown-up so as long as both side are willing to, there’s no problem in it. She notes that he, as a playboy understand the essence of love better than her and she should have known him earlier so she can discover the true face of Da-Wei earlier and she says that she won’t believe him anymore. Wei-De asks whether she’s referring to she won’t believe Da-Wei or she’s referring to “love” as a whole. She replies that a jerk like Da-Wei doesn’t have the power to make her not believe in love anymore.
Hearing her answer, Wei-De gets up from the bed and takes off his shirt, making Jia-Ni panic. Wei-De asks whether she’s nervous and it’s still not too late to ask to stop. As she doesn’t reply, Wei-De falls on top of Jia-Ni. Jia-Ni immediately uses her hands to hold his body up, preventing him to fully falling on top of her body. When Wei-De tries to kiss her, she immediately uses her hand to block his mouth. She immediately tells him that she’s having stomach pain and quickly gets off the bed and heads out of the room.
Wei-De lies down on the bed and laughs at her nervous antics. He notices the picture of her and Da-Wei lying behind the bed and places it reversely so that it’s not facing him. Not long after, Jia-Ni returns to the room and notices the picture frame he moved, she puts it back in place and explains that she forgets to buy medicine for her stomach pain. Wei-De assures her that it’s fine and she doesn’t need to explain to him. He want both side to be willing to do the revenge plan and since she’s not the No.1 or No.2 girlfriend of him, she shouldn’t force herself and they should stop the plan. He tells her to wait for him and he’ll get medicine for her stomach pain back in his room.
Wei-De hands her the medicine and tells her that she can call him anytime if there’s anything since he live in the room beside her. Before he leaves the room, Jia-Ni calls him and asks whether he can accompany her as she doesn’t want to be alone now. Wei-De says he’s okay with accompanying her as long as he doesn’t need to sleep on the floor as he have been sleeping on the floor for the past few days and he’s feeling back pain. She tells him that he could sleep on the bed and he’s surprised at her offer and jokingly questions whether she really feels safe with him. He notes that this is the first time he lies on a bed with a girl without doing anything together. Jia-Ni retorts that this is also the first time she tries to sleep with a guy she don’t love.
Wei-De says that Jia-Ni must be the type of girl who likes to put on a brave front and act strong. It’s no wonder that her boyfriend runs away from her as guys prefer girls who act soft and weaker as it will be cuter like that. Jia-Ni acts cutely in front of him and barks that all guys are so shallow. Wei-De says there’s nothing wrong to be shallow as being happy is more important. Jia-Ni seems to be impressed by his positivity and notes that it would be nice if she had more of his relaxed personality. He questions her teasingly whether she fell in love with him and takes off his shirt, saying that it’s not too late to change her mind to continue with the revenge plan. Jia-Ni tells him not to take off his clothes and he says he wants to take off his clothes, they exchange banters and their volume gets louder and louder. Their banter ends with a neighbour shouting that they should take off their clothes quickly if they want to and stop the loud noises, LOL.
Next morning, Wei-De wakes up first and sees that it’s daylight already. He wakes Jia-Ni up so that they could be in time before her boyfriend returns home and tries to takes off his shirt but is stopped by Jia-Ni, she messes his hair and say that it’s good enough to make him look like he just woke up of sleep. Da-Wei returns home just in time to see Jia-Ni messing Wei-De’s hair, Wei-De purposely holds Jia-Ni’s head in an intimate way to make him misunderstand the situation. Da-Wei is shocked to see them in such a position.
Once Wei-De leaves the room, Da-Wei furiously questions Jia-Ni about who is Wei-De and demands an explanation from her. Jia-Ni questions him back whether he really cares about it and says that he did the same thing last night. Realizing that she seen his infidelity act last night, he asks whether she followed him last night. Jia-Ni replies that she did follow him and says that the feeling of being betrayed by someone must be very bad.
Now that she opens up the can of worms, Da-Wei decided to confess everything, telling her bluntly that he’s sick of her and been wanting to break up with her since long time ago. He questions her whether she didn’t sense the cold attitude he’s been giving her lately. She defends herself that she endures his cold attitude because he’s her boyfriend. Da-Wei scoffs at her foolishness and ask to break up. Jia-Ni agrees to break up, saying that he’s not worthy of her anyways. He tells her that he wants to part on good terms and leaves the room, leaving Jia-Ni to cry by herself.
Jia-Ni’s voiceover cuts in:
Is saying goodbye truly that easy?
Once some goodbyes are said, it’s like a piece of you being cut away.
But once some goodbyes are said, it feels like you finally get released from a heavy burden.
Da-Wei walks out from the apartment building, planning to leave. Jia-Ni calls him out from the balcony and starts throwing down his personal belongings from above. Da-Wei yells at her to stop the crazy act and Jia-Ni yells back that this is her way of parting on good terms. Wei-De comes home just in time to see this scene and after Da-Wei leaves, he looks up the building to offer Jia-Ni some breakfast to cool down her anger.
Jia-Ni eats the breakfast Wei-De bought in the open rooftop. Wei-De tells her that she should cry instead of eating so much after heartbreak and crying also means that her relationship was not for nothing. She tells him that it’s a terrible relationship as they parted on bad terms after 2 years of being together. Wei-De says that not every relationship must have good endings, at least she learns something from this relationship and see things more clearly so she gains some good things from it. Wei-De says it’s not right to force herself to not feel sad as more time goes by, she may feel numb and forget how to feel sad or cry and by then, her heart will be broken. Once a heart is broken, a new love won’t come to her anymore. He jokes that she can consider becoming his girlfriend No. 4 since she has now broken up with her boyfriend and she may even defeat his other girlfriends to be his No.1 and only one in the future. Jia-Ni scoffs at his suggestion.
After some time, Rui-Rui and Jun-Jie visits Jia-Ni to see whether she’s doing alright as she’s been missing school for several days. They come to see her room in a mess, with cup noodles leftover lying everywhere. The friends come to cheer her up and tell her to pull herself together. Rui-Rui tells her that she can change boyfriends but friends are for forever. She smiles at her and the friends head out to have a meal together.
Wei-De and Jia-Ni goes hiking together. After a long day of fun, they head back together on a train with Wei-De falling asleep on Jia-Ni’s shoulder. Jia-Ni secretly takes a polaroid picture of him sleeping beside her.
Turn around and discover that there are unlimited possibilities around you.
At that time, my thoughts were,
“The seasons are constantly changing and time is always moving forward,
I’m very sure that once winter has passed, summer will not be far away.
I don’t want to miss out the next scenery that’s for me.”
Thoughts on Ep1:
The Way We Were is successful in creating the nostalgic old-school feel in a natural way without feeling intentional. It’s like the characters really lived in that year and I’m pleased to hear Leehom Wang songs included as the background music, it’s so appropriate as he was the most popular solo singer along with David Tao during the late 1990s.Their songs are radio darlings as you can find their songs being played in various local radio stations during that year. Granted, 1998 is not too far away and the outfits still feel modern but the subtle placement of appropriate props really contributed to the whole natural old-school vibe. Comparison with the 90s Taiwanese drama, In A Good Way is inevitable but this drama have a totally different feel so fans of In A Good Way do not have to worry of getting similar vibe while watching.
Leroy Young does look a tad bit old as a college student, heh! But his acting makes up for everything, he’s so effortlessly natural in every role he takes and I’m already charmed by his character, Fang Wei-De by just one episode. He seems like a silly playboy who doesn’t take things seriously on the outside but he’s actually soft, kind, mature and thoughtful inside. It also seems that he have much more deep rooted complex issues inside that prevents him getting into a serious relationship. I’m not sure whether we’ll get to see more of what’s inside him but the appearance of Jia-Ni is ready to shake his world and that will be awesome to watch.
It’s like Ruby Lin never ages, she look believable as a college student, Tang Jia-Ni with her mushroom hair wig looks sooooooo young. I’m jealous and I hope I can look as good as her when I’m her age. I’m loving Tang Jia-Ni so much, she’s straight-forward as she always speak her mind, feisty but also fragile at the same time, she’s just so easy to root for. I forget Ruby Lin’s real age when I’m watching Tang Jia-Ni, she really brings the character to life. Great solid acting from both Leroy Young and Ruby Lin and watching a drama with seasoned actors is truly a fun experience, I can fully feel invested in these characters without having to worry about their acting. Even the supporting cast, Tiffany Hsu, Melvin Sia, Jason Tsou are more than decent, they enhance the overall viewing experience.
I can already see a complicated relationship between the college buddies coming up as Jun-Jie have a crush on Jia-Ni since long time ago but Jia-Ni’s breakup and the addition of Wei-De will be likely to shake things up. It also seems that Rui-Rui having feelings for Jun-Jie but have been hiding it for a long time. This will be a delicious love square but at the same time, we’re also heading towards the demise of their friendship as there will always be someone getting hurt in the process. Since the drama is emphasizing on “loss”, heartbreaks are bound to happen.
Leehom Wang awesome old-school songs included as the BGM: