The Way We Were (16 Summers): Eps 9-11
Note: I am referring to The Way We Were by its original title translation, 16 Summers. 🙂
By now it’s obvious that 16 Summers is no happy story. That’s not to say that it’s a melodrama, or that it is intended to be totally pessimistic about life. As I said before in my previous review, the drama is not trying to tell us that everything about being an adult sucks. Instead it’s showing how adult life is a glass half full, how things from the past can still come to haunt you, and how one’s life can unravel in an instant. That being said, episodes 9-11 are really intense and emotional since they are the culmination of all the build up in the first eight episodes. Everything falls apart as things hit Jia Ni one after another. Of course Jia Ni is not the only one that is experiencing this break down in her life (although she is at the center of it all), as everyone else involved also has to deal with their own demons and relationship issues.
Some of the saddest yet most amazing scenes out of the entire drama so far are Rui Rui & Jia Ni’s. Even if you’re not planning to watch all of 16 Summers, or if you feel that the drama is too slow for you, the Rui Rui/Jia Ni scenes are way too good to pass up! I definitely recommend you watch their scenes because they are worth watching and they show off Ruby Lin & Tiffany Hsu’s great acting chops. 😉 I still enjoy the main male cast’s acting, but IMO they don’t hold a candle to these two ladies. (Then again maybe I just empathize with the female characters more since I’m a girl?) Ruby and Tiffany portray their characters’ vulnerability and strength so palpably, I can’t help but root for Jia Ni & Rui Rui’s friendship.
The first must-watch scene is in episode 9. Jia Ni finds a suspicious note in Jun Jie’s bag and starts to puts the pieces together about that one night when he didn’t come home. She also recognizes Rui Rui’s handwriting on the note!!! I KNEW THE NOTE WOULD COME BACK TO HAUNT THEM!!! Why in the world did Jun Jie keep the note when he wanted to keep this a secret!?!?! *facepalm* So, Jia Ni confronts Rui Rui with the note!!! The look on Jia Ni’s face during this moment says that she doesn’t want to have her suspicions confirmed nor she does not want to find out that her best friend has betrayed her. Eventually all Rui Rui can say is “Sorry”. (In the Viki version, they didn’t sub the ‘sorry’ I guess maybe because Rui Rui whispers it so quietly.) Ugh, I feel so so bad for both Rui Rui & Jia Ni in this scene because it is the moment when their strong bond severs and neither of them wanted this to happen at all. :””( Btw I really like the way Tiffany cries as Rui Rui because she makes her tears fall so effortlessly. She doesn’t take a long time to tear up nor does she have to obviously blink her eyes so that the tears will fall.
“That’s right. I’ve been in love with you since college. Do you know how conflicted I felt each time Jun Jie told me how much he liked you?”
– Rui Rui
Second must-watch scene is in ep11, when Rui Rui & Jia Ni have another confrontation. Long story short, Rui Rui ends up confessing to Jia Ni WITH A KISS!!!!! After the kiss she says that she has loved Jia Ni ever since college. WHAAAAAT???? I did NOT see this coming at all! Granted, there are some fans who predicted that Rui Rui might like Jia Ni before the drama even began…(based on the trailers that they watched) Ever since the one night stand happened, I thought that there’s no way Rui Rui likes Jia Ni since it seemed so obvious that she liked Jun Jie. Turns out I WAS WRONG!!! *mind blown* Unfortunately if you’re watching the Viki version, it’s the cut version. Which means that it CUT OUT the confession part of the scene. D:< I have no idea why they cut out that out when it’s one of the most important twists in the story!!! *bangs head on wall*
“Jun Jie loves you. Fang Wei De loves you. Everyone in the world loves you! Why am I the only one that won’t do?! Why is it that I can only pretend to be your good friend? I don’t want that at all!”
– Rui Rui
I know I said that Ah Qing was my favorite character but…I am fickle and I have switched back to Rui Rui. Rui Rui is such a sad and lonely character. :'( I feel bad that she was misunderstood by everyone around her AND even me/the audience. I feel like I was wearing blinders the whole time, as though I was looking at the story through the wrong lens. I also feel bad that Rui Rui had to keep this a secret for so many years and that even when she finally reveals it, it’s to say goodbye to the very person she loves most. :'( I loveee the quote above, IMO it’s the best part of the scene because it sums up Rui Rui’s feelings so well. Why is it that Rui Rui’s love is viewed as wrong, whereas Wei De & Jun Jie’s love is seen as right? Can Rui Rui root for Jia Ni’s happiness in love, even though she is not a part of it?
The interesting thing about this revelation is that it casts Rui Rui’s actions/words in a new light. For instance, there’s a scene where she tells Jun Jie that you can never escape from the person you love. I thought she indirectly saying that she loved Jun Jie but now I see that she was referring to Jia Ni. This explains why she moved away to NYC after college–she wanted to escape her feelings for Jia Ni. Another example is how Rui Rui interfered with Wei De’s attempt to confess to Jia Ni back in the day. She claimed it was because she was trying to protect Jia Ni but now we see that she was actually scared of losing Jia Ni to Wei De. However, one thing that I still don’t understand is why Rui Rui slept with Jun Jie. I think it may have to do with her irreconcilable feelings towards Jun Jie & Jia Ni’s marriage; perhaps she felt she could no longer put on an act of supporting them? Was it because she didn’t want Jun Jie to be with Jia Ni anymore? I don’t think she set out to destroy their marriage because afterwards she does urge Jun Jie to come clean about his unemployment and to make amends with Jia Ni. So maybe she only acted on impulse during the one night stand and then tried to continue supporting Jun Jie/Jia Ni afterwards? *confused*
Rui Rui is remorseful for cheating with Jun Jie. Jun Jie on the other hand, is a lost cause. Even after Jia Ni discovers the truth, he still doesn’t own up to what he did and instead tries to pin all of the blame on Wei De. Whenever a marital problem occurs, he starts harping on and on about Wei De. It gets ridiculous–for instance, after he sees Jia Ni returning from hanging out with Wei De, he explodes and accuses her of having an affair in broad daylight. T_T” Umm excuse me, Jun Jie is the one who cheated!!! Jun Jie’s personality has diverged a lot from his old self back in college; sure he used to be insecure back then but he was nowhere near as extreme and possessive as he is now. I think I still would’ve rooted for Jun Jie/Jia Ni back in their college days but now I don’t think Jun Jie is a suitable partner for Jia Ni. Sorry Jun Jie, I liked you way better when you were younger. >_>”
I think Jia Ni sums her marriage up very aptly–Jun Jie is never sure that she loves him, and she’s constantly trying to prove her love for him. In the end, she no longer trusts him and he never learned to trust her either. That’s not to say that the two of them don’t love each other at all, as I think they do (i.e. Jia Ni is still worried over Jun Jie when he goes out into the rain)–it’s just not working out when they have no trust or cohesion in their relationship. Jun Jie makes the marriage more about himself, his insecurities and the things he has to prove to his wife. Because of this, Jun Jie & Jia Ni have reached an impasse in their marriage and the time is right for them to divorce. Hopefully Jun Jie will let Jia Ni go in the future episodes. X_X
Poor Jia Ni looks like she’s had the life sucked out of her in these episodes. It is understandable considering the shock she went through how she discovered the one night stand AND had a miscarriage AND got in a car accident all within one night. On top of that she doesn’t have a support system since she can’t depend on Jun Jie or Rui Rui and she has a bad relationship with her parents. The only one can be by her side is, of course, Wei De. One scene that really sticks with me is when Wei De asks Jia Ni where her fearless self went. Jia Ni replies that it is gone and that even if she has courage, what’s the use when she is losing anything anyways. I used to have the impression that Jia Ni was a really strong and bold person; here I realize that strength isn’t everything. Jia Ni still has her weaknesses and being strong did not shield her from getting hurt by the people she loves most.
^upper left pic: Wei De kissed Jia Ni!!! OMGG!!
There’s not much to say about Wei De except that it’s confirmed that he has feelings for Jia Ni & his relationship with his current girlfriend Ge Qing is going down the drain. I do feel bad for Ge Qing because she genuinely likes Wei De and now all of a sudden she is losing Wei De to someone else. I think she has a right to be angry that Wei De has had a change of heart (although you can’t really blame him for it..) since she has invested so much into the relationship. Remember she even moved to Taiwan to work with him, was filial to his dad, etc. I just hope that Ge Qing doesn’t cling to Wei De too long or turn into the stereotypical evil second lead. Hopefully she will move on and let Wei De go gracefully.
For some, 16 Summers may come off as a really slow drama. I think some parts can be slow but overall the pacing suits the execution of the story. I prefer the gradual build up to the climatic scenes that were shown in eps9-11. I also think that the pacing of the episodes is just right because every period (about every 3 episodes) has enough time to explore its own themes:
–Episodes 1-3: The origins of friendship and the beginning of love.
–Episodes 4-5: Lost chances, missed timings in life & the pains of growing up.
–Episodes 6-8: Moving on from the past, rekindling lost friendships.
–Episodes 9-11: Loss, brokenness, distrust.
All of these themes are distinct and yet they still blend nicely into the overall structure of the story. I like how 16 Summers portrays the transitions in the characters’ lives so seamlessly and tries to show us their lives from all different aspects. Props also to the drama for going above and beyond with Rui Rui/Jia Ni’s story. I am impressed that the drama broached the topic of homosexuality. There is another tw-drama about the topic (Falling; haven’t seen it although it is award-winning!) but I can’t think of any other dramas aside from that one. I’m curious to hear more from Rui Rui about how she first became aware of her love for Jia Ni & what it was like for her to harbor this secret for so long.
Somehow I didn’t include an OST track in my previous review!! But I REALLY adore the soundtrack for this drama. I can always sing along with my favorite theme song–“Don’t Be Friends Anymore”. 😉 My other favorite song so far is “I Don’t Know What Love Is”:
I Don’t Know What Love Is by Eve Ai
Quote Translation Credit / Where to Watch: The Way We Were is subbed on Viki.