The Pursuit of Happiness: Ep 4

Drama ReviewsTaiwanese Dramas

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If I could name one relationship I love the best in The Pursuit of Happiness, it would be the awesome friendship between Lei Lei, Tiffany, and Jia Yi.  Omg.  I usually enjoy the sisterhood of 3 besties that seems to be so common and almost obligatory in dramas nowadays.  But something about this particular sisterhood just makes it SO MUCH BETTER than usual…somehow I am just drawn to all of their scenes together not just because of the humor but..because of this..feeling that they are there hanging out together to just laugh and talk about silly things and take their minds off of reality for a moment.  It’s the feeling of companionship I guess.

Thankfully Tiffany & Jia Yi are not just obligatory side characters to root on our heroine & push the OTP together.  Instead they really are Lei Lei’s strength and support, there in the good times and the bad and they make Lei Lei think that maybe things aren’t so bad after all.  Because at least she has her friends there by her side.  I’m also glad that Jia Yi gets some more scenes in this episode since in eps1-3 she seemed like the ‘bestie #2’ compared to the hilarious Tiffany.  (Props to the actress for Tiffany who is oozing with screen presence.  She definitely was not this charismatic in A Good Wife.)

“Ji An Lei, you’ll be ok even on your own. I know that I’ll be ok on my own.  But companions makes me feel that this world is so much warmer.”

-Translation Credit: Viki channel

My FAVORITE FAVORITE part in this entire episode is when Lei Lei tries to make her friends leave her behind so that they can go have fun on their dates, even though she is feeling down.  After they leave, she sits there all by herself, her smile gone and she thinks about how she’ll be ok by herself…until her friends come back for her and she lights up again and thinks that after all, friends make it better even though she can survive by herself.  AHHHHHHH.  As I said before, that feeling of companionship in the face of loneliness just really gets me.  I totally get what Lei Lei meant in that quote 100% and I’m pretty sure most of you do too.

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^middle left pic: I LOVE THAT MOMENT when Yi Kang is all “ALRIGHT ALRIGHT” as he tries to persuade Lei Lei to forgive him.  How can she NOT forgive him after that, right? 😛

Continuing on with the theme of loneliness vs. having companions, I was surprised that Yi Kang also muses over this same thing.  I guess part of the reason I was surprised is that Yi Kang seems like such an optimistic guy that I figured he wasn’t thinking about it.  Well maybe it’s because the writer wanted to have that nice little thing where Yi Kang & Lei Lei’s narration about loneliness ties in together or maybe we are actually getting  a deeper look into Yi Kang’s feelings.   His lines below also echo Lei Lei’s words

“To me the feeling of solitude is actually more comfortable. Being solitary doesn’t equal loneliness.   Even though sometimes it feels like it’d be even better if there was someone with me.”

Love the quote, I’m just not sure if he’s mainly thinking about the ‘special someone’ AKA Hai Lun that he wish was with him, or if he is just talking about having a friend in general.  We see that Lei Lei is beginning to grow a bit soft towards having Yi Kang around the house but we haven’t seen what Yi Kang thinks about living with Lei Lei.  Does he also feel like Lei Lei is becoming a companion that helps him feel less  lonely?

On more a more light-hearted note, Yi Kang is still ADORABLE, I love all his expressions in this episode especially when he is attempting to reconcile with Lei Lei.  😉  I’m not sure if I’m reading too much into things but I also feel like Yi Kang is actually kinda hard to get close to..in the sense that he is really open and good at reading people, but we rarely see his vulnerable side since most of the time he is all smiley and cute and innocent.   He basically has Lei Lei all figured out but Lei Lei can’t quite understand him.  I think we have yet to see all sides of Yi Kang.  Not that I’m complaining since we have plenty of cute Tony scenes but I do hope his character is developed further in the future episodes. :3

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One of my fellow bloggers Kaa mentioned in the comments that the whole scheme to break up Wei Ting & Hai Lun is wrong and that hopefully it  will not go to far.  Actually until she mentioned it, I didn’t really think about it but now I also agree that it would’ve been better for Lei Lei/Yi Kang to just confess instead of going through such round-about ways. Of course, we have to have the Lei Lei + Yi Kang join forces story arc since that is part of the plot….and I admit I am looking forward to seeing them uniting against the lovey dovey Hai Lun & Wei Ting…..but after this episode I think it is much more clearer that the Team Lei Lei + Yi Kang vs. Hai Lun + Wei Ting is not going to be the bulk of the story.  It is a part of the plot, yes, but that is not the central focus.  I mean, we’ve spent FOUR EPISODES building up to the moment when Yi Kang will possibly agree to become Lei Lei’s partner. If this were a stereotypical rom-com this probably would’ve happened in like episode 1 or 2. O_O

So, hopefully the Team Lei Lei + Yi Kang will only bring more substance and interesting possibilities to the drama.  I just hope they won’t force the funny OTP hijinks too much.  Also I’m glad that this episode does deal with that ‘ethical question’ (I sound so serious O_O) of if it is wrong to use this method to break up Hai Lun & Wei Ting.  Lei Lei asks herself that exact question!!!  It seems like Lei Lei has her reserves about it, she does feel guilty and wonders if this would make her a bad person..but her rationale is that she must fight for her happiness, so whatever methods she must use, she’ll do it.

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I really like the role reversals here because ironically, Lei Lei the rational one is going full speed forward with this plan while Yi Kang the emotional one is just sitting there going “………..what in the world are you thinking?”  I love the look on Yi Kang’s face when Lei Lei first tries to broach the subject with him by giving him this analogy of how she is an antelope but she wants to be a lion.  AHAHAHAHAHAA.  OMG, his expression is priceless!

Anyways the big difference between Yi Kang and Lei Lei is that Yi Kang is wishing for Hai Lun’s happiness while Lei Lei is wishing for her own happiness.  OUCH.  That was a really harsh thing to say to Lei Lei but when I thought about it, it is true.  Of course this begs the question–is love really unselfish?  How far should one go to secure one’s own happiness?  Is the pursuit of happiness a selfish endeavor, if so how does love factor into it?

…………..well I have no idea what the answer is but considering that the title is the Pursuit of Happiness hopefully it won’t leave us hanging on this question. 😛

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^left middle pic: deja vu from Love Forward?

There is a lot of tension between Yi Kang and Lei Lei in this episode because they have a big fight over Lei Lei’s attempt to ‘recruit’ Yi Kang into her plan.  It is basically a fight in which Lei Lei is being petty and angry at Yi Kang since he is upholding his morals.  Really I think the reason Yi Kang annoys Lei Lei so much is that he is just so goodhearted and laissez faire that to her, he must be faking it.  I want to see Lei Lei beginning to understand Yi Kang more & learning to accept that not everyone responds to an unrequited love the same way she does.

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Still can’t really hate Hai Lun although Wei Ting still annoys me.  I like the part when Hai Lun reveals that she’s known all along that Lei Lei is Wei Ting’s ex-gf!!!!!!  Wow Hai Lun is sharp, I never thought that she knew! Also this is totally random but remember that scene when Lei Lei smells Hai Lun’s scent in Wei Ting’s car and says that Hai Lun has already claimed the front seat? What, is that what perfume is for?  So you can leave your scent lingering around? O__O (I don’t wear perfume so.. >_>)

Overall

Actually at first I wasn’t sure if ep4 topped ep3..but after it sunk in and after I finished writing about it (I had a lot to say about this episode) I have concluded that ep4 is better than ep3.  I think episode 4 is the kind of episode that really makes you think.  That’s not to say that eps1-3 didn’t make me ponder things in my life, but after episode 4, I just kinda sat there and went “HMMMMMMMM.”  just HMMMMMM.  It felt like I had to take some time to process it.  In the words of Ah Man,

“Is there some kinda food that when u first bite into it, it tastes nothing special. But the more u chew and more u eat, the flavor slowly come out and it’s so good, u want more very quickly but u wanna eat it slow to enjoy it? This is what Tony’s drama doing to me. Ep 4 is sooooooo subtly good! <3”

The phrase “subtly good” is so appropriate for PoH.  It is subtle yet so amazing.

Um I feel like lately The Pursuit of Happiness is the only thing I talk about. O______O  Seriously it’s only been 4 weeks since POH started airing and yet it feels like those 4 weeks went by in a flash.  I close my eyes and then the next minute it’s Friday again and voila! A new episode of POH!  Ok so maybe I am very a little bit obsessed with POH.  Which leads me to wonder, AM I THE ONLY ONE?  I mean, I know maybe five other people (read: bloggers 😛 ) who are also following along with POH but I feel like it’s only us. O_O  And I am just raving about this drama into empty space. *echo echo*

OHH AND!! Is it just me or did ep4 suddenly unleash like 5 new instrumental songs from its OST?!?!?!  Every other scene the awesome new songs would kick in, and I was just thinking ‘what the heck did they save all these awesome songs to play starting 4 episodes into the drama?’  I can’t wait for the soundtrack to be released!

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • I’m really loving Pursuit of Happiness so far too and Tony Yang is just soooo adorable! I never knew him before this drama, but I have fallen in love with him already < Anyways, loved your review ^^

      • I think anyone that watches POH would instantly become his fan 😀 Oh, and my comment got cut off for some reason, but I wanted to say that I totally agree with everything you said, especially about the trio of best friends! I wish I had friends like that ><

        • chocokokoro: do you understand mandarin? or do you need eng sub? if you like Tony, u gotta watch his drama a few years back called Ex-Boyfriend.
          Tony is superb in there but the drama isn’t subbed in english anywhere~ =(

          • I need eng subs unfortunately T__T And that drama was actually on my to-watch list! I just couldn’t find subs anywhere… Now I totally want to watch it for Tony but I guess I’ll have to wait patiently for a kind soul to sub it 😀 But thanks so much for the recommendation!

  • I loved Sonia Sui in The Good Wife so I decided to try this out after reading your blog, was surprised to find myself rooted at my screen every friday at midnight to watch this ^^ And I love her hairstyle! Somehow straight hair suits her so much better.

  • LOL There must be other people out there watching this! Ratings broke one last week so it must be creeping up on lots of other viewers as well.

    Anywaysss, it’s not that I don’t like TPOH, but after 4 eps it’s not really the kind of drama where I’m *dying* to watch the next ep? But every Friday (or weekend) it feels like, hey, it’s time to catch up with our ‘imaginary’ friends Lei Lei and Yi Kang and see what happened to them during the week. Yi Kang is so nice~ after this ep I didn’t think he would ever go along with the ‘break them up’ plan at all so I’m curious why in the preview he says he’ll go along with it!

    • I agree that this isn’t a drama that has you on the edge of your seat waiting for what is to come next, but I do have to say that POH does hit home when you’re looking for a drama with depth. I don’t watch it the first thing it is out Friday, but when I do get to it I enjoy it and it really makes me think about certain things in life.

      As for Ep 4, I didn’t think that it was as good as the previous Eps until……… Huang Yi Kang (it is one of those names that you have to say the entire thing, but that might just be because I speak Chinese and it sounds nicer? lol anyways) tells Lei Lei that even though they are completely similar in that they both can’t be with the “love” of their lives, they follow two different paths. Selfish love vs Selfless love, such a great lesson in life. Also, I thought that it was nice seeing that Hai Lun isn’t just there to be super nice, but that she can also have a jealous not so perfect one dimensionality to her character.

      POH is like therapy at the end of a stressful day in my opinion xD.

    • Hmm I get what you mean. I am obsessed with this drama but I am not thinking about it everyday or counting down the days ’til it airs again. I feel like the day it airs just comes around each week and it just feels so natural to watch it.

  • Hey girl, another well written and insightful review!!!
    I really like how we learn many lessons in each ep and from what I remember.. there were lotta contrasting messages as well! And I didn’t think about YK’s character not as open as LL until you mention it! Now I can’t wait to see him reveal himself more and more!
    And your favorite Tony’s scene was the one I was talking about! Who wouldn’t melt to that “alright la. alright la!” KYAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA~!
    and when I was reading your bits on Team Lei Lei + Yi Kang vs. Hai Lun + Wei Ting….
    wow.. that totally reminded me of a korean drama -Whatever Happened to Bali.
    It started out as the 2 main guys fallen for the 2nd female lead and then midway through, both guys were chasing the first female lead. I wonder if we would get something like that too… ( YK and LL started having feelings for each other and then WT got jealous and thought LL was the one for him instead of HL)…. kya!!! I can’t wait for the quad-love to peak! But I think it will done in a stylish way, unlike the typical drama where we get lotta jealousy/fighting/crying blab blab blab~
    Yeah, Friday’s almost here! U saw the preview at the end of Ep 4? Keke~!
    BTW heisui, where do you watch the subbed version? I usually like to watch it with eng sub after to see how close the translation is from the original~ keke~

    • OHHH!! YAY! YES I love that part too, I don’t know why it was just so darn cute!!!!!! It’s something about the way he said it, omg how could Lei Lei not forgive him after that right? Hmm I wonder if Wei Ting would get jealous of Yi Kang? For now it seems like he is just a bit protective over Lei Lei since, in his words, she’s his ‘best friend’. Yeah I hope it won’t get all melodramatic or too cliched, please let it have more class! You can find the subs on viki.

  • I just started watching this the other day… haven’t seen episode 4 yet. I rather like the drama so far, although I have some reservations about it too. Most of all I really wish they could have left out that whole idea about a woman must marry in order to be happy , and that if someone’s 35 (or whatever age) and not yet married, she must be one miserable girl and have only finding ‘the one’ on her mind. I nearly quit the drama because of the first 10-15 minutes of all the family of our female lead making her out to be some ‘poor woman lacking something’ (even if her family is loveable otherwise), fortunately the rest of the episode made up for it. They are still driving that point (and I have no doubt that the drama will have to conclude with Lei Lei married, because that’s the only state of happiness allowed), but fortunately there’s plenty of good things to enjoy about this drama. Most of all Lei Lei herself and Yi Kang, and how they are characterised (apart from Lei Lei occasionally getting hung up on the I’m-an-unmarried-woman-at-35). Like Lei Lei being the totally fierce one, and Yi Kang the big old, romantic softie.

    Not such a fan of the second leads – I mean, I’m happy so far that they are so in love that maybe we’ll be able to avoid love quadrangles (at least in the sense of second leads trying to manipulate the OTP’s relationship because they think they have ‘rights’), but as friends they suck. Wei Ting going on about Lei Lei is his “best friend”… but it’s a pretty one-sided relationship, of him being totally needy and never noticing anything about Lei Lei at all (e.g. when she’s down). Oh well. I think as long as the OTP keeps going strong and being the refreshing characters that they are, I’ll enjoy this drama.

    Regarding the break-up scheme: it’s the sort of thing I could do without. Not ethical. Never. Not right to pursue happiness that way, it’s only selfish. It’s obvious that Hai Lun and Wei Ting are all happily in love, and they should be left at that – even if it’s painful to watch (you just have to keep a distance). So I hope the scheme falls apart quickly… though I’m not sure what plot conflicts they would give us for the next 16? episodes if that gets resolved fairly quickly (because I wouldn’t like the 2nd leads manipulating the OTP either, which is often the next conflict drama writers introduce).

    • Wow alua actually until you mentioned it I never realized that I actually am NOT annoyed by Lei Lei’s repetitive ‘forever alone’ dilemma! O_O Usually I get annoyed at the unmarried-woman-wanting-to-get-married-b/c-that’s-the-only-happiness cliche but somehow I was not annoyed in POH. HMM. Ok maybe it is because I empathized more with Lei Lei’s desire to not be lonely & her desire for love, and didn’t really focus as much on the marriage = happiness part? I will have to pay more attention to that in the future episodes.

      Well the drama is called The Pursuit of Happiness after all, but like you I hope that they will not make love/marriage = happiness. So far I think Lei Lei’s character is both happy and unhappy..she is happy with her friends but unhappy with her loneliness/unrequited love & her job issues.

      Yup you hit the nail on the head, I didn’t know how to describe why Wei Ting is so annoying but YES. He goes on and on about how Lei Lei is his bestie but in the end she’s just like..his love counselor. Ok ok since Hai Lun and Wei Ting are SUPER SUPER in love (seriously they have eyes only for each other they are so lovey dovey) they should be hard to break apart…maybe then Lei Lei & Yi Kang will just give up when they realize that they are actually in love with ~each other~.

      • I think Lei Lei isn’t actually that kind of person that is hung up about not being married – yes, she’s sometimes happy, sometimes sad, but she’s not stuck on this. The issue is more with how they have set her up, everything and everyone around her, which is what is driving this stereotype and to certain degree even enlarging it. The photo session in the episode one was the perfect example of this. Not just because Lei Lei’s family was trying to set her up with the photographer, but because the photographer’s reaction was a) where’s her husband? (why ask that at all?) b) assume that her husband is dead rather than consider that she might not be married (meaning it’s unimaginable to him that a woman would NOT be married)…. and then they drive it even further with the Lei Lei’s imagined photo session, where the photographer reappears with his now pregnant partner, as if to suggest the only way to be happy is a) to be married and b) to have children. All the representation is symbolic and I really don’t like what it is suggested. That said, I think Lei Lei herself is actually quite okay, she’s refreshing enough as a character – not fully stuck on this issue, strong in some ways, weak in others. In other words, complex enough and the role reversal with Yi Kang does help (fingers crossed that she’ll not become a complete wet towel like Miss Rose did once she got together with her guy).

        Interestingly (well, unsurprisingly really) Yi Kang is pretty much in the same situation as Lei Lei (in his 30s and single), but his character isn’t set up as “must get married” – no one is calling him out on it, pushing him to get married or questioning his happiness if he hasn’t tied the knot. That’s what bothers me, because it’s at this level that the drama writers are reinforcing stereotypes: not okay for woman above a certain age to be unmarried, but no issue at all for the man. But it’s not the characters themselves, more the situations and other characters around them that build this stereotype. Am I making sense? It’s just that if I felt that the characters themselves were pure stereotypes and playing into these marriage-stereotypes, I wouldn’t be able to watch this at all. But I am able to, because I am enjoying Lei Lei and Yi Kang themselves. Just wishing they would have cut out the whole marriage premise altogether!

        • Ok I see what you mean now. I didn’t catch the part where the photographer has his pregnant wife with him at all! >_< Yeah it is saddening that so many dramas have the stereotypical view of marriage = happy and single = miserable/failure. Even when they have dramas where the heroine is 'independent' and doesn't want to get married, of course the heroine will eventually fall in love. T_T The thing is..isn't it more expected nowadays for people to be single in that stage of their life? I mean a lot of people get married in their 30's now.. (<ok what I mean is that it's not strange for LL to be single in her 30's since a lot of people wait longer to get married)

          Maybe it would be better if the drama wasn't pushing the message that marriage = good and if only it was showing that it is actually the social pressures of the expectations of marriage that are building up around Lei Lei. Not that the social pressures are right but that they are there?

          Oh I didn't watch Miss Rose, how was it?

          • Miss Rose started off well, then she got together with her guy and the psycho-ex showed her claws and it all went down the drain as an initially independent and intelligent woman became a wet towel who told the guy who liked her and whom she liked that he should be with his ex despite the fact that he didn’t like the other girl (and never really had I think?). Rationale being: it would be good for the ex. (WTF????????????? I’ve never understood how in Asian dramas the opinion and feelings of obviously evil, scheming people the lead has been acquainted with for 5 seconds matter more than those of the guy they’ve been going out with/their family/their friends/etc.) I should add that the ex wasn’t actually really ever a girlfriend and didn’t even like the guy until Miss Rose expressed interest in him.

            Oh yeah, and there was a psycho ex-boyfriend too, pretending to be nice but in fact manipulating things behind the scenes. A cheating creep that Miss Rose takes back for a while despite him running off and leaving her for years.

            I can’t handle these kind of dramas, my brain just explodes X_X

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