The Way We Were (16 Summers): Eps 6-8
Eps 6-8 continue full throttle forwards in the year of 2008, which is the ’11th summer’. At first I was a bit apprehensive about the switch to the present-day since I thought that part of the drama’s charm lies in its nostalgic atmosphere. But now that we’ve been in the present-day for a few episodes, I’m actually very pleased with how the drama handles the transition. The episodes have wonderful melancholy undertones and foreboding signs of darker times to come, especially now that everyone has grown up and gone their separate ways. The characters are much more mellowed out and jaded by reality, but the core of their identities still remain. I think it’s great that we’re transitioning into the characters’ adult lives because it gives us a more well-rounded view of the characters. We can’t always stay stuck in their seemingly happy youthful past–it’s time to move on to the future.
There are a lot of changes with the friend group–one of the most important ones being that the group drifted apart. Some people (Wei De?) drifted apart naturally, while others (Rui Rui) distanced themselves from the group on purpose. Most of the group views their college days as the elephant in the room. It’s something that’s always looming over them, but they never acknowledge it because they want to pretend like they’ve moved on with their life. Well surprise surprise, no one has really moved on. There are still unresolved feelings, unanswered questions, and broken friendships that remain to this day. It’s only a matter of time ’til the things of the past resurface once again.
Anyways, what does this have to do with Ah Qing? Well, he’s the only character who’s open about the past. He accepts it and wants to reunite his friends. If it weren’t for Ah Qing, I doubt that the whole group would’ve gotten back together on their own. I love him because he’s great at making people feel at ease; he automatically loosens up the mood with his quirky personality and humor. He also has good intuition, which is a surprise because I used to think that he was too busy cracking jokes to have a clue about what was going on. Ah Qing is never out of the loop. In fact, he’s well aware of his friend’s feelings & conflicts such as the love square, Rui Rui’s feelings for Jun Jie (Jun Jia AND Jia Ni never caught on to this..), etc. I think Ah Qing can push his friends in the right direction to confront their pasts. BTW–Ah Qing is my favorite character now! 😉
So here’s what’s up with Jia Ni & Wei De: The two of them have been out of touch for who knows how many years. Wei De never rejoined the group after he cut off contact and he moved abroad to work in mainland China. He has a steady girlfriend, Ge Qing, but is not ready to commit to marriage yet. And, as we all know, Jia Ni married Jun Jie! She only keeps in touch with Ah Qing (and..obviously Jun Jie her husband LOL) and Rui Rui. She and Wei De meet by chance and start to catch up with each other. Now Wei De is moving back to Taiwan and..you guessed it, things are getting complicated.
On one hand, I feel like Jia Ni and Wei De have moved on. Wei De genuinely likes his girlfriend and Jia Ni loves her husband. I do think Jia Ni has some residual feelings for Wei De, especially since she has so many memories with him–but just like she says, she put her past with him to rest ever since she decided to walk down the aisle. So I don’t think Jia Ni married Jun Jie out of gratitude while secretly harboring affection for Wei De. IMO that is not Jia Ni’s style–she wouldn’t try to deceive herself or anyone else in her relationships. Wei De is still a sore point in her marriage with Jun Jie, but it seems like it’s more Jun Jie’s problem and not Jia Ni’s.
On the other hand, there’s still something between these two. Is it their past feelings for each other, rekindling again? Or is it their need to end what they never finished, to answer the questions they never got to ask each other? The love letter, the code that spells “I like you,” the special song “Don’t Be Friends Anymore”….all of these things have been in the back of their minds for a long time. They deny that anything happened during college, even though literally everyone around them can see that that’s not the case. Something feels a bit off. i.e. There’s this one scene where Wei De and Jia Ni realize they have the same song as their ringtone. OMG, they both look so unsettled once they hear the ringtone. I don’t know what to make of this scene!!! Omg!!!!
Now that Wei De & Jia Ni have reunited, it’s time to reevaluate where Jia Ni and Jun Jie are at in their marriage. Currently they’re still smoothing out the kinks in their relationship–namely, communication errors, personality differences, and a bad relationship with the in-laws. A lot of people think that Jia Ni & Jun Jie are already incompatible & doomed to break up; IMO that’s not the case (YET) because the two of them are still very invested in their marriage and are willing to make things work. Opposites attract and complement each other; the marriage is challenging Jia Ni to be more patient and Jun Jie to be more transparent.
More on Jia Ni & Jun Jie’s marital issues:
–Opposite personalities: Jia Ni is headstrong and assertive. She can only be described by the word ‘outstanding,’ which can make some people feel like they are stuck in her shadow. She defends her pride no matter what. On the other hand, Jun Jie is passive and introspective. He survives in his workplace by swallowing his pride and keeping his head down. His career goal is to survive and keep his job in the tough economy, whereas Jia Ni’s aim is to move up in the ranks. These differences make it hard for Jia Ni and Jun Jie to see eye to eye on certain issues and also lead to the next problem..
–Miscommunication: Both of them are preoccupied with trying not to disappoint or hurt the other person. Jia Ni lies that she didn’t see Wei De because she doesn’t want Jun Jie to over think things. Jun Jie keeps quiet about his job problems and his one night stand with Rui Rui because he doesn’t Jia Ni to worry or be hurt. I think their initial communication issues aren’t too major because they ultimately resolve them. However, Jun Jie’s secret unemployment and infidelity with Rui Rui are bound to result in mistrust. Once Jia Ni finds out that her trust in Jun Jie has been betrayed, things will start going downhill. Mistrust may very well be the final blow to their marriage. I really wish that Jun Jie would realize that he’s not helping anyone by keeping these things a secret and that he needs to come clean to Jia Ni ASAP! Unfortunately the previews show that Jia Ni will find out before Jun Jie fesses up. X_X This is gonna be painful.
–The mother-in-law: Jia Ni’s father-in-law is a really sweet guy who genuinely treats her as his own daughter. He’s like the father Jia Ni felt she never had. However the mother-in-law is a whole different story. T_T” I don’t know if the mother-in-law is purposely trying to break up Jia Ni & Jun Jie or what, but whenever she steps into the picture, things get worse. I’m curious to find out what the in-law’s reaction will be to Jun Jie’s infidelity. I think Jun Jie’s dad will be on Jia Ni’s side. I wonder if the mom will change her tune when she finds out what her son did?
^ I like Rui Rui’s monochrome wardrobe!
I don’t hate Rui Rui, and I don’t think you should either. She’s not a 1-dimensional villain, nor is she the typical meddlesome second lead. Rui Rui is a character that is in constant conflict with herself. She’s in a difficult position because she wants to be a loyal friend to Jia Ni but she also has unrequited feelings for Jun Jie. In one scene she mentions that no matter how far you run, you can’t get rid of your feelings for the person you love. Obviously she’s really talking about herself. She moved away to forget her feelings for Jun Jie (a drastic measure!), only to find that she still loves him all the same. I believe that Rui Rui has restrained herself for many years and that her one night stand was the one instance when she gave in to her temptation.
I know it’s been over a month since I last posted about the drama. I got behind in watching & writing 16 Summers because I had a writer’s block. It took me forever to write this review. >_< Please no spoilers in the comments because I still haven’t gotten the chance to watch the next episodes! 🙂
Well, eps 6-8 are obviously the precursor to a major reveal in the story. (Jia Ni discovering Rui Rui & Jun Jie’s secret) As such, the tone of these episodes has on the serious side. Also, the episodes show the downsides of adult life..which I think is why a lot of people have interpreted this to mean that being an adult sucks. I don’t think that’s the drama’s intention. It is trying to show the ups and downs of life–both in the characters’ youth and in their adult years. Let’s not forget that the characters had their share of troubles during their college days as well. I think 16 Summers is trying to show that being an adult has added on new layers and complexities to the characters’ lives. That doesn’t mean that everything about the characters’ adult lives is negative.
I’m prepared for the storm that’s to come in the next episodes!!
Where to Watch: The Way We Were is subbed on Viki.