The Pursuit of Happiness: Eps 12-13 (Finale)

Drama ReviewsTaiwanese Dramas

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^Does this screencap look really painful and awkward?  Well that’s because IT IS and that is basically the feeling of the entire episode 12.  T_T  By the time I watched episode 12, I was not expecting any miracle come-back with the last 2 episodes or anything but I was thinking ‘hey..it’s the second to last episode……at least maybe the story will step it up with its pacing and writing’………well NOPE it doesn’t happen!  In fact episode 12 is way worse than episodes 10-11 (which were also slow-paced) in that it was excruciating, painful and frustrating.   I felt like I was slowly suffering through the entire episode as I was seething in frustration towards Lei Lei.  T_T””

Episodes 10-11 were spent with Lei Lei and Yi Kang going back and forth with the he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not game….and it STILL doesn’t end in episode 12.  It actually stretches out even longer as Lei Lei gets all wishy washy and runs away whenever Yi Kang tries to get a word in edgewise.   Don’t quote me on this..but I think that up until episode 12, I didn’t think Lei Lei was a super wishy washy person.  I mean, she does take a long time to make decisions and all but it was never to the point where I was facepalming every other second.  Episode 12 though, I just wanted to shake her and say ‘LOOK IN FRONT OF YOUUU!!  HOW MUCH LONGER DO YOU HAVE TO QUESTION YI KANG WHEN HE’S BEEN PROVING HIMSELF TO YOU ALL THIS TIME!?!??!”

Heh there are lots of scenes that got on my nerves but I’ll mention a few in particular.  There’s this one major confrontation scene between Yi Kang and Lei Lei.  Lei Lei LITERALLY tries to run away but Yi Kang stops her before she gets the chance.  Her response is pretty much “can we just not talk about this” AKA ‘I’d like to pretend nothing ever happened, that will surely solve the problem’.  *FACEPALM*  Well Lei Lei finally tells Yi Kang what’s on her mind after his pleas for an explanation..but I just ended up feeling even more bad for Yi Kang because then she starts questioning whether he really loves her or not.  I understand that Lei Lei is scared that maybe they are mistaking love for habit but…I think Yi Kang’s actions have already been speaking louder than words for the past..oh I don’t know..12 EPISODES!?!?  It just feels like Lei Lei is coming up with as many excuses as she can to not get together with him.  T_T

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^THE YELLOW BIRD OF DOOM IS BACK!!!!!

Another frustrating scene is when Lei Lei sees Lu Lu helping Yi Kang home (and the subsequent drunken kiss/confession).  Prior to this she has been a sitting duck, and hasn’t done anything to reject/accept Yi Kang’s feelings.  But once she sees Lu Lu (aka RIVAL), she starts getting all jealous and flips out at Yi Kang the next day.  O_O  Lei Lei  instantly jumps to conclusions and goes “OH, SO YOU’RE THAT KIND OF MAN”.   UGH!   Lei Lei should already know Yi Kang well enough to know that he’s not ‘that kind of guy’!  Maybe this was supposed to be the eureka moment when she goes ‘oh maybe I do care about Yi Kang romantically‘ but..no.. Instead I was thinking more like, ‘yeah Lei Lei Yi Kang isn’t gonna wait around for you forever, and there are many other girls waiting to take your place..GOTTA CLAIM YOUR MAN..’  <<Omg I sound so sarcastic, yeah I was very cross during this episode. >_>

Ok now I’m totally ranting here…….so Lei Lei’s whole wishy washy-ness, the random jealousy, etc. all made me facepalm but it wasn’t like a ‘WTF is this’ feeling.  The only WTF in ep12 is when Simon randomly proclaims his unrequited love for Lei Lei and provokes Yi Kang into a fist-fight.  ERM……I’m pretty sure we could’ve done without this random Simon vs. Yi Kang thing. T_T” It just all felt really out of place and I don’t think it really added much to the story.   The only point of it is that…

  • Yi Kang yells that he will wait as long as it takes for Lei Lei to give him an answer.  YEAH LEI LEI.  HURRY UP!
  • Simon, bless his heart, says some very meaningful words of advice to make Lei Lei realize that she loves Yi Kang.  This is the turning point of the episode.  Don’t know why but it’s like after this scene the episode suddenly started picking up pace and reverted back to its usual POH-goodness.

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“I have finally found the answer.  Huang Yi Kang, I can’t get used to you not being here.”

Of course despite all of my gripes with those certain facepalm-worthy-scenes, there are still some very memorable moments in the last 2 episodes.  One of my favorite parts is when Lei Lei reads the notes that Yi Kang left behind for her…it is not so much the things that Yi Kang wrote that moved me, but rather Lei Lei’s silent reaction.  She imagines Yi Kang sitting there by her side and telling her the things he wrote in person.  I love how Lei Lei gazes at the notes with great fondness and just sits there shedding one perfect tear after another.  Not much is said here but I think her tears are both tears of regret and of catharsis as she realizes that she pushed away Yi Kang all this time when actually he is the one she needs by her side.

And how could I not mention the big climax when Lei Lei & Yi Kang finally reunite after their separation!?!?  I have no words to describe this scene, OMG.  O___O  The moment Yi Kang steps through the door and he & Lei Lei lock eyes..OMG…it’s like Lei Lei’s heart is bursting, she’s suddenly so full of things to say and yet she’s speechless..all she can do is just communicate to Yi Kang with her eyes what she is feeling..and Yi Kang, gazing at her every second he can get AHAHAHAA OMG OMG.  My only complaint here is that I wish Lei Lei was the one who sought out Yi Kang for once!  Usually it’s always Yi Kang going after Lei Lei, couldn’t they have changed it up for the finale!?!?  And even if they didn’t have her going to Yi Kang first, she could’ve at least confessed to Yi Kang. >__<  But alas..even though Yi Kang confesses to Lei Lei yet again, his confessions never get old.  They are always the most sweetest confessions ever!!  BUT the real heart-stopping moment for me is the HUG!!!!!!!!!  WHAT IS WITH YI KANG’S AMAZING HUGS!?!?  It’s like I don’t even need the kissing scenes (BUT I’LL STILL TAKE THEM) because the hugs are just SO SWOONY that they are even better than the kisses!

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We only get a short time with Lei Lei & Yi Kang’s lovey dovey scenes but TRUST ME I was screencapping away as much as I could during all of them, AHAHAHA.  I thought Lei Lei would not be the touchy-feely kind but what do you know, once she is together with Yi Kang she cannot keep her hands off him for a second.  O__O  She is basically wrapping her arms around him every chance she can get, HAHA!   And YES, those wedding photos are ADORABLE and of course Sonia & Tony look amazing together!!!

Well I’m not quite sure if I’d say that Lei Lei & Yi Kang’s ending was a satisfactory one because  it’s what I expected would happen.  We all knew that the two of them would end up getting married anyways so there wasn’t much suspense to the finale.   I think this OTP has something different from most OTP’s in the standard rom-com…that being that their chemistry is not reliant on endless bickering, opposites-attract, rich-guy-poor-girl story, etc.  Their chemistry wasn’t forced nor was it modeled after the usual shippy OTP’s.  In comparison to other typical OTP’s, they feel less glossed over and easier to relate to.  At the same time though, I feel like I wasn’t rabidly shipping these two in the way that I would for an OTP from a really spazzy drama.  I felt more like I was just following along on their weekly journey, watching & rooting for them from afar.  They’re not hard to part with (like I don’t have withdrawals from POH) but they’re not easy to forget either.

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“When we were little, we were all very happy.
So happy that we could forget all of our problems and all of our fears.
Slowly, as we grew up, we realized that we are actually afraid of many things.
But honestly, we’re just scaring ourselves.”

^One of my favorite quotes!

I’m really happy that everyone who didn’t know about Tony Yang before has now been converted into a Tony fan through POH!  BWAHAHAHAHA!  I think it definitely helps that Yi Kang is like the epitome of the perfect guy.  He’s totally sweet, swoony, caring and somehow he also does not feel like an idealized knight in shining armor?!?  I don’t know, on one hand I feel like he is almost TOO perfect to the point where I feel like has no flaws whatsoever.  But it also feels like he’s actually human, not just some  cookie-cutter character thanks to Tony’s great acting.   I think Yi Kang could’ve gotten more character development though, especially in comparison to how much more developed Lei Lei’s character is.  Yi Kang’s background is all still quite mysterious, nothing much is revealed aside from his dad, his mother’s death, and his time in New Zealand.  The whole time it’s all about Yi Kang learning more about Lei Lei and not the other way around.  Which I think is regrettable because I really would’ve liked to have known more about Yi Kang’s character and what influenced his world views.

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Obviously I was really frustrated with Lei Lei in the past few episodes but what can I say, all in all I can’t help but feel attached to her character.  I feel like we’ve been through the ups & downs of Lei Lei’s life, we’ve been privy to her deepest insecurities & fears, and we can see her for who she really is.  I cannot relate to her desperation for marriage but there are so many other aspects of her character that hit home for me.  Part of why I like Lei Lei’s character so much is that she shows that being an independent and successful woman does not mean that all areas of her life are perfect and sparkly clean.  Some dramas tend to put the successful-single-career-woman-character on a pedestal like they are some shining beacon of hope or something.   In the beginning I thought that Lei Lei was really admirable (I ADMIT IT, I was wishing a bit to be like her and of course I was gawking at Sonia’s elegance O_________O)..and I was all, ok well maybe she lost her unrequited love and her promotion but hey she still has *insert long list of all of her good attributes* going well for her!  In the end I saw that she was not just some invincible superwoman; she has her own strengths & weaknesses..and she is for sure way more vulnerable than I first thought she was.

Many thanks to the commenters who watched along with POH with me & pointed out many aspects of the drama that I didn’t pick up on at first.  One big flaw of the drama is that POH implies that marriage = happiness.  That that is the ultimate measure of happiness for a woman.  I’d like to think that Lei Lei found some happiness not just through marriage but rather also through overcoming her fears & her past with Yi Kang by her side.  Sure her main emphasis has been on marriage throughout the entire drama, but in the end I felt that she did not marry just for the sake of getting married.  She didn’t marry with some false hopes of a fairytale romance, but rather because she realized that she wanted to have a life with Yi Kang.  Another great point that someone made is that while The Pursuit of Happiness may seem like a slice-of-life drama, I think it is more of a romance drama at heart.  It is not about the pursuit of happiness but rather about the ‘survival of love’.  (<The literal translation of the original title.) I think I went into this drama expecting a slice-of-life but it started morphing into more of a slow romance which kinda threw me off a bit.

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OH WAIT, I FORGOT HAI LUN & WEI TING!  No idea what was happening with these two in the final episode.  What in the world is the whole Wei-Ting-becomes-master-chef-apprentice twist!?!?  This part is totally random and I think it was poorly executed.  It’s like they couldn’t think of any better resolution for Wei Ting’s conflict with Hai Lun’s dad so VOILA…HE’LL BECOME A CHEF TO SMOOTH THINGS OVER…..

Just to be clear, I think Zhuang Kai Xun is an ok actor.  I liked him much better in Happy 300 Days so I think it is more his character here that annoys me and not his acting.  Also he is still a new actor so I’ll cut him some slack. 😉  As for Aggie, I think she did an exceptional job in this drama!  No matter how much I complained about Hai Lun’s scary heart of gold, I just could not even find a flaw in this girl.  I felt so much better with her as a 2nd lead instead of the usual evil-meddling side character.  >__<

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Overall

I started out totally invested 100% in this drama.  I say this over and over again but the first half of the drama was GOLD.  It was AMAZING.  There was barely any missteps, everything was just so smooth and full of awesome moments and truly a pleasure to watch.  Then once we got past the halfway mark something shifted..not sure what but the writing began to falter, the pace began to get slower, and POH seemed to have lost that spark it had in the beginning.  What really held the 2nd half together was the acting.  You can tell that Sonia & Tony really put in their best effort into these characters; even with a sucky script for a few of the episodes they managed to pull it off.  I still think POH is way better than the standard tw-drama.  It aimed high and tried to be something different.  But I can’t help but have this thought in the back of my head “It could’ve been so much better.”  POH had so much more potential and yet it wasted it in the 2nd half of the drama. T_T  I can only dream of what POH could’ve been if it had utilized its screen time more wisely.  All in all, POH is one of my favorite tw-dramas of 2013. (I didn’t watch many tw-dramas in 2013 anyways O_O)  Every week I had Tony AND Sonia gracing my screen, along with some solid writing in episodes 1-6 (along with a few episodes after that).  Even in the more draggy episodes of the later half, there was always an amazing scene or two just waiting to be found.  😀

In other news, Sonia Sui has already decided on her next project–Notice from a Bachelorette / Marriage Wanted!  Unfortunately we’ll have to wait all the way ’til Fall 2014 for it to air! >_<

I leave you now with my favorite theme song, the one that I always catch myself humming along to throughout the day.. 😉

By Your Side (Opening Theme Song) – William Wei

Source: Quote Translation Credit: Viki Channel

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 think the trend for twdramas has been to go for a more realistic, slice of life approach, rather then the hyped up exaggerations and gooey love stories that many previous twdramas had (Smilin Pasta to name a favorite). This is due to the popularity of In Time With Me, methinks.

    In Time With You ultimately just didn’t work for me, despite the fact that I love the director AND both main stars. But I hated the fact that I had to sit through all the episodes except the last one to see the OTP get together. I wanted to see the OTP’s romance, not all the agonizing over her other relationships. It sounds like POH is similar in that as well?

    Ultimately, ITWY struck me as passionless and I wonder if this one would as well. I never thought I would be pining after cutesy animations, overwrought acting, lots of kisses, and comical side characters, but there you go.

    • Tw-dramas do have a nice share of slice-of-life/human dramas but they usually are not as popular as the generic super spazzy ones. POH actually had the same producer as ITWY. So yes they are some similarities in its tone. However I enjoyed POH way more than ITWY. I’m not quite sure why, might be the casting & also because I liked the characters better?

  • “They’re not hard to part with (like I don’t have withdrawals from POH) but they’re not easy to forget either.”
    This!!!

    My brain melted into a hot, gooey mess when Weiting became a chef. I can’t even, omg. Words cannot even begin to explain how stupid that was. (1) Cooking is not this guy’s passion. (2) Um, where the hell did he get the money to start this restaurant? Isn’t he, like, dead broke? (3) I’m pretty sure a kindergartener wasn’t writing this drama…

    • Yeah I have no idea where the WT cooking thing came from. Maybe it would’ve been better if he had become a successful food journalist instead? And yay I’m glad that you could relate to that one line 😉

  • Aww such a pity to hear that PoH took a nosedive… I’m not sure why but I did try watching it since everyone was raving about it, but I found the show so slow and boring from the star T_T YiKang and Lei Lei are wonderful characters, but the show itself was not captivating somehow. I lost interest after Ep 5, but I was hoping things would pick up later and maybe I could get back into it. Probably not then. Tony Yang and Sonia are beloved though.

    • I thought it was really great right from the beginning. I guess I liked the slower pace although I can see why it might’ve not been some people’s cup of tea.

  • I think you’ve summd it up quite neatly there – “It could’ve been so much better.” So much was riding on Sonia x Tony and without them, TPOH would’ve been a lot worse. It really did suffer right after Lei Lei’s big confession, maybe it’s because very quickly afterwards YK falls for LL and then there could only be one ending but it took its time to get there. Or I should say, it wouldn’t be so dragging towards the end if more time was spent developing the supporting characters instead of all the WTH endings (Wei Ting x Hai Lun, Simon!)

    • I couldn’t really imagine POH with a different main cast, haha! Sonia & Tony definitely brought a lot to the drama! I agree, it took way too long for LL to get around to accepting YK.

  • Thanks for the screencaps and summaries! To be honest I haven’t kept up with the drama X_X I was super pumped up after the car-scene and was optimistic despite knowing from the preview love-rivals would be introduced and start muddling things up. But when I turned on the next ep and the first thing I see is that “DELETE” on the window, UGH. I stopped watching.

    I didn’t stop watching on purpose but it just was a “Well… here we go again” moment where everything goes ten steps backwards. At the time, I wasn’t in the mood for watching that and then I just never got around to sitting down and watching the full episode.

    So anyways, your excellent summary let me at least see what I was missing out on. I’ll probably go finish it up sometime in the future. ^-^

    • Heh I hope my summaries were enough! >_< If you end up finishing the drama I'd suggest you avoid ep12, it was even more annoying than the "DELETE" part. But maybe you'd at least like to watch the ending.

      • Thanks! I’ll keep that in mind. I also still need to finish Legend of Zhen Huan so I can come check out those posts too and admire all of the awesome screencaps 🙂 Thanks again for all of your hard work!

  • Interestingly, though it was frustrating that they were going on a merry go round from epi 11 to 12, if you go back to watch them, you would actually enjoy the moments of deliberation and have better patience with it.

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