The Way We Were (16 Summers): Eps 15-16 (Finale)
For the most part, the last two episodes of 16 Summers are SAD. REALLY REALLY SAD. You thought things were getting better after Wei De gives up his noble idiocy and restarts his relationship with Jia Ni? NOPE. Wei De’s cancer returns, and this time he does not survive it. I think the impact of Wei De’s death isn’t as large on me because 1) I accidentally read a MAJOR spoiler about Wei De’s death/cancer. 2) I’m not as attached to Wei De as I am to the other characters. But even so, his death is saddening especially considering how young he is and how short-lived his time with Jia Ni and the rest of his friends is. I’m so glad that he is able to have his friends by his side in his final moments, with no more grudges or regrets. Things would’ve been so different for him if he hadn’t reconciled with everyone and restarted his relationship with Jia Ni.
I’m divided on whether Wei De’s ending was necessary or not. I’m not shocked by it since I already predicted that there would be a bittersweet ending to the drama. One of the major themes of 16 Summers is loss…so the ending seems fitting. On the other hand, it’s frustrating to have endured all these episodes….only to see Wei De die at the end. T_T By the time I reached the end of the last episode, it was like ‘huh? I went through all this pain and heartbreak for…THIS?’. Everything just feels so anti-climatic. Just what exactly does Wei De’s death add to the story aside from tears?
Out of all the characters in the drama, aside from Rui Rui, I feel the worst for Jia Ni. She’s gone through a miscarriage, divorce, betrayal, noble idiocy, and now the death of her husband. How much more does Jia Ni have to go through!?!? It’s no wonder that by the end of the drama, Jia Ni feels like a shell of her former self. I can’t see the same spunk, fearlessness, and free-spirited will that she had back when she was a young woman. I suppose this is understandable considering all that Jia Ni has gone through; it is hard for her to be totally fearless. Yet she has also grown stronger than she was before; she has grown to have a sense of peace and acceptance even in the face of her most difficult hardships. I enjoyed seeing Ruby Lin in this role from start to finish, but I liked her most when she portrayed Jia Ni as a young twenty-something. As you may recall, I really did not think she could pull it off but WOW she totally convinced me that she was a young college student! Props also to Ruby for producing this drama!
^Moral of the story: We’re still friends!
“Those tears, those smiles, those summers. Once you remember, they will be forever. An ending is a new start.” -Jia Ni
Long story short, after 16 episodes and 16 years–after going through divorce, unrequited love, betrayal, rejections, noble idiocy, cancer, and death–Jia Ni, Rui Rui, Jun Jie & Ah Qing are still besties. Plus they are not down to a group of four because guess what–there’s a 5th member, Jia Ni & Wei De’s son!
Admittedly, I am kind of underwhelmed by the ending. I suppose it’s because I was burned out by the end? Pacing wise the drama is generally slow, but when it gets to the final resolution of the story, it feels rushed. There is barely any time for the final scenes that show the very ending, instead it sorta gives a quick montage of ‘we are happy’ scenes–Rui Rui at her homestead, Jun Jie proposing to his girlfriend, etc. Then again, there are some parts that I liked about the ending: I enjoyed the final concert where Jia Ni, Rui Rui, Jun Jie and Ah Qing all listen to “Don’t Be Friends Anymore” one last time. It reminded me of when they went to the new year’s countdown as college students because it has the same sense of nostalgia and hopefulness. I also liked the montage of group photographs that is shown at the very end; it is so sweet seeing them back in their old graduation photo! *sniff*
In my last review, I said stuff like ‘it’s not the destination that matters, IT’S THE JOURNEY’ and that I’d be fine without a happy ending. That as long as the characters learned something, that’s enough for me. Well, I guess I can eat on my own words now. Yes, I’d say that the journey was better than the destination and that the characters learned something. However, I was left feeling unfulfilled by the ending. If the journey is what matters, why am I asking myself what the whole point of the journey even was?! Looking back on 16 Summers as a whole, I can’t say it’s a 100% must-watch drama. It starts out strong but falters in the later episodes; pacing-wise, I think the story could’ve been better. I’m still not impressed by the noble idiocy and terminal illness cards, really I think the drama could’ve not taken that route.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I still like the drama as a whole, it’s just that I know it could’ve been better. As for what I liked most about 16 Summers overall: Episodes 1-5 remain my favorite part of the story because they left the strongest impression on me. I appreciate that none of the cast members resorted to over-acting. It was so refreshing to see that everyone was totally comfortable with their roles! Visually, I enjoyed the cinematography with the soft lighting & colors and the long shots of foliage. Maybe it’s just me but I love all the greenery in this drama heheh. Of course, my final favorite thing about the drama is the soundtrack; “Don’t Be Friends Anymore” and “I Don’t Know What Love Is” are my two most played songs off of the OST.
Opening Theme Song: Romance Arrives by Elva Hsiao
Quote Translation Credit / Where to Watch: The Way We Were is subbed on Viki.