[HKTV] Once Upon A Song Episode 07

Aw, for all the complaints of (and even official reports regarding) the cast’s sub-par acting, this episode still manages to deliver quite a bit of heart (and I’m genuinely impressed!). We get some well-paced plot progression, learn some more about some of our more mysterious side characters and, we’re treated to more than a few laugh-out-loud moments too.

Episode 7 Recap

In a great mood after his night at the childcare with Chi Ching (spent just sleeping, no minds in the gutter now), Keith heads for the hospital to visit (his) Mom. He promises to accompany Mom to rehab sessions every day and she’s grateful for having such a good son.

Fulfilling another one of Chi Ching’s prophecies, Mrs Hong assures Keith that she’ll be happy every day from now on as she now possesses her husband’s (Artist Yan’s, it was fairly predictable) last work. Still, what would make her even happier, she remarks, would be for Keith and Jade to get married already.

To this, the three young’uns exchange uncomfortable glances (ha, it seems like the love triangle is more relevant here than between the half-sisters and our CEO); when Mom suggests that Keith take Jade to lunch, the idol thus excuses herself (on the on the basis of not being hungry) and Kelvin also jumps in to inform his aunt (he and Keith are cousins, not friends as I earlier thought!) that Keith has an important meeting to attend.

The next day (or at least I’m assuming it is), Keith rummages through a box of old keepsakes (though why so suddenly I have no clue) and lands upon a suspiciously familiar plush. The bear triggers his memory, of being gifted the toy by Chi Ching when they had both been younger.

Seeing Keith crying whilst playing the piano, Chi Ching had then, told him the exact words she had encouraged him with just nights earlier. Now, finally associating the bear’s appearance with Chi Ching’s presence, Keith barks at the toy that everything must be its doing. The bear smirks (ha!) and Keith leaps back in surprise.

Reflecting on his psychologist’s earlier words – that the illusory bear must be a manifestation of his stress and that Keith may find medications helpful – Keith imagines his life being considered mentally unstable (and hahaha the scenes are priceless).

It’s his grandfather who breaks him out of his reverie and Keith, remembering their meeting’s agenda, asks if Grandfather approves of the festivities planned for their Annual Dinner. The elder elects to leave all of the dinner arrangements in Keith’s hands but conveys his hopes that his grandson will consider proposing to Jade during the night.

Grandfather frames the idea as being one which would help to maintain important business partnerships and promote smooth transactions in future and Keith smiles that these things can’t be forced. He promises to put in the effort but insists that he wants to focus on work for the time being.

On that note, Keith reports on Kelvin’s praise-worthy management of CT Mall. Grandfather however, merely implies that Kelvin will never be able to rise in his standing, having been a co-conspirator by covering up his father’s embezzlement of company funds for him; Kelvin, having been passing by, hears the words from outside (ouch).

Meanwhile, at (training) school, the class practises a (rather impressive) dance number under Daniel’s lead. Agnes smiles from the sidelines until noting Chi Ching’s lack of co-ordination and it’s precisely Chi Ching’s tripping and accidental knocking over of Jade, which brings the routine to a halt.

Chi Ching apologises but Jade remains discontent – she had cancelled a commercial shoot and two interviews because she understood the importance of their group practices but with ‘some’ individuals’ extraordinarily unprofessional mistakes, she could only see the activity as being a waste of time.

Immediately Karlie defends her best friend’s diminished performance as due to her being sick and besides, Sky’s not at class for the same reasons! Bringing out her tough-teacher mode however, Agnes agrees with Jade that as a professional “being sick is not an excuse, it’s a mistake” and she gives Chi Ching afterschool cleaning duty as punishment.

At Chi Ching’s apology to the class as a whole, they’re quick to offer supportive assurances; talk instead turns to Sky’s absence and the group deliberates the possibility of their school being haunted (and the ghost, subsequently, being the cause for everyone’s recent ails).

In his corner, their classmate who we’ll later learn to be YAO HOI TSING, or for convenience, Alex (Benji Chiang and brother of Lesley Chiang/Karlie, leading my earlier belief of him being Karlie’s secret admirer to also now be a little strange!), looks perturbed at the rumours of eerie noises being heard in the corridors at night.

Generously, he offers to clean on Chi Ching’s behalf as he had intended to stay back after class to practice anyway but Chi Ching declines, not wanting to trouble him. Thus, it’s later that night, with school long finished and whilst mopping the studio, that Chi Ching freezes to hear footsteps echoing along the hallways.

As the studio door creaks open, she throws a wild jab with her mop, only to realise the ‘ghost’ is Keith. He sets himself up to help with the cleaning and Chi Ching objects that she can’t be helped with her punishment. Keith simply rationalises that Miss Man (Agnes) can’t exactly discipline him – he’s the boss.

He tells a (momentarily, ha) quieted Chi Ching to get moving and she does so with an accompanying litany of questions – why is he here to help, how is his mother, is there anything else making him unhappy, what’s on his mind?

Keith answers that he had simply wanted to get some exercise but the fitness club had closed (sureeee), his mother’s doing much better and he really does merely want to exercise (and maybe think some things through too at the same time). He reminds Chi Ching that being overly concerned for others turns into prying and she drops the matter knowing that “prying becomes irksomely meddlesome”.

What follows is Keith’s (hilarious though very likely unintentionally so) moony-eyed staring at Chi Ching as she mops. Suddenly however, the lights flicker before burning out completely and Chi Ching wonders if they really are so unlucky and there is a ghost lurking about; as she proposes they investigate, Keith cowers behind her (hahaha).

After happening across warm food strewn across the corridor, Chi Ching remembers the rumours about noises emanating from the basement. The two embark on a visit to the storeroom and make-up studio to assess the situation and just as Keith badgers Chi Ching to leave, his phone illuminates a hidden ghostly figure.

The two scream, a wigged head flies through the air, landing in Keith’s arms and the CEO collapses (LOL!); when Keith finally regains consciousness, he’s shocked once again by the face (with a mouthful of bean sprouts hahaha) hovering over him.

Chi Ching explains that the ghost this time had only been her classmate, Alex, and at Keith’s threat to have Alex kicked out (for hiding out at school and scaring him people ha!), the trainee rushes to explain – he had been walking past the dance studio with dinner in hand earlier when he had heard a male voice along with Chi Ching’s.

Concerned, Alex had peered into the room and seeing Keith, he had been reflexively scared enough to run. Unfortunately he hadn’t gotten very far before he dropped his takeaway and slipped on it – though thankfully he hadn’t dropped his favourite stir-fried fish balls with bean sprouts (LOL).

With the sudden power failure and suspecting that Chi Ching would likely head down to the basement storerooms, Alex had already hastily hidden in the make-up studio. He apologises again to Keith though, for not having realised earlier that he had been hiding behind a tabletop full of wigged heads.

Now composed, Keith asks why (more importantly) the trainee had bought dinner back to the school after school hours. Alex reveals that he had run away from home (and the complex family business arrangements he was in line to inherit), against his sister’s wishes, in order to join the training program.

Having been led to Alex’s hideout, Chi Ching gathers that the peculiar noises of their classmates’ rumours must have been Alex’s Erhu (a two-stringed Chinese fiddle)-playing then. Alex confirms this and begs Keith to let him continue seeking refuge at school, although Keith denies the request, regardless of how unintentional Alex’s scaring of Sky (which made headlines) may have been.

When Chi Ching offers to share her own roof however, Keith quickly objects to this also (ha!). He pronounces that Alex’s punishment (for trespassing and scaring his classmates) will be to clean the entire school… and so he might as well continue his residence at the school, aw.

Even with the one problem resolved however, more trouble awaits Alex and when he makes a bathroom trip the next day, Sky offers his first warning by having Alex’s trousers stolen, then taking photos of his exposed nether regions. Sky threatens to have the photos exposed (no pun intended) to the school and the bullying continues during practice with Sky and his groupies initiating a quasi-dance-battle ending in a scuffle.

Towering over him, Sky declares that Alex is “not ready” (to challenge him supposedly, although based on the battle I strongly think otherwise) and Ying Jun and Chi Ching move to help their friend up; at his flinching with Chi Ching’s touch, Ying Jun perceptively deduces that Alex’s injuries must be related to Sky’s intimidation tactics although Alex fabricates the story that they’re injuries he’d acquired himself.

Hearing that a troop of fans are waiting for him outside, Sky leaves and upon seeing his latest ‘fans’, he marvels that his followers nowadays have characters almost as impressive as himself. The suited guards step aside however and as their boss-lady steps out of the van behind them, she tells Sky to save it before asking whether he’s naive or plain stupid – how could his supporters ever be of such high class (ha!)?

Boss-lady introduces herself as Alex’s sister although it’s ‘Big Sister’ (the Chinese translation of the title/prefix ‘big’, being associated with mafia bosses) to everyone else. With Alex watching fretfully in the background, Sky claims that it was Alex who had wronged him first, hence, his ‘eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth’ retaliation.

Alex’s sister returns that she’s not concerned about past matters and it’s the present issue – of her little brother being bullied – which she cannot tolerate (aw). She demands that Sky apologise to her sibling and her subordinates surround him when he plainly refuses. It’s therefore before things get ugly, that Dai Wei Gor steps in and asks if the matter can’t be settled without being taken out of proportion – it’s but a disagreement between children after all.

At this, Alex’s sister yells for her brother to show himself, causing him to flee and Sky to laugh that Alex should really undertake a DNA test, for his cowardice doesn’t in the slightest seem to indicate he’s fit to be a mafia descendent. He taunts that furthermore, for all appearances, Alex’s sister is but a single and unmarriageable woman.

Dai Wei Gor interjects and Alex’s sister accepts the proposal that the matter be left to the two children to talk out themselves. The two parties are dismissed by their respective heads and Alex’s sister departs with formal notice to Dai Wei Gor that from today onward, Alex will be withdrawing from the training program.

With the dramatics over, Dai Wei Gor sighs that he’s just a singing teacher (ha!) before he finds Alex drumming out his frustrations. Alex asks if he really will have to quit the one thing he loves and Dai Wei Gor reveals that his scores in all the areas of acting, singing and dancing are amongst the top of the class; the one thing left for him to do will be to prove to his sister his ability, if he really does wish to pursue these things.

Alex doubts if he really has such ability, at which point our Terrific Trio appear and offer their full support. They present their proposal – all of them will work together to help Alex K.O Sky at the idol’s next promotional talent contest – and they ask Dai Wei Gor to persuade Miss Man to join their cause and ensure their victory.

It’s for this purpose that sees Dai Wei Gor inviting Agnes out to a picnic, although she pours out her wine and pouts that only for his students would he lunch with her (LOL). Dai Wei Gor apologises and Agnes concedes that the lesson he’s attempting to impart to his students (for Sky to correct his arrogance) are admirable; although she can’t personally intervene, she does offer Daniel’s assistance and with that, the two share a toast.

At the hospital, Jade is likewise pouty that her mother had hinted to reporters that her daughter and Keith would imminently be wedded. Jade’s mother reasons that the news would most easily deter others loitering about Keith and Jade argues that if she truly held affections for him, no-one would be able to compete.

It’s Jade’s final words – her angry exclamations that she would never willingly marry someone she didn’t love – that Keith and his mother overhear and although Jade apologises out of courtesy, she doesn’t retract her guarantee. She excuses herself and (huh, Keith actually looks somewhat bothered but in light of what interests?) finds Kelvin waiting outside by the car.

Understanding with but one glance (aw), Kelvin asks what Jade has to say to him. Jade requests a ride seeing as Kelvin is clearly the chauffeur for the day. He sighs that he had free time today anyway which is why he thought he’d do Keith the favour of driving his mother home. Jade reiterates that it makes him the chauffeur then.

“You really think you’re the CEO’s aide?” she continues. “They all only treat you as [a] disposable [servant]!”. At Kelvin’s question of what kind of man she perceives him as then, she proclaims her agreement with the others (ouch). Heaving a sigh, Kelvin nevertheless asks Jade what’s really going on.

Jade responds that a ‘good thing’ is – she’s being proposed to by Keith – and this time it’s her turn to ask Kelvin what he thinks. Shrugging defeatedly, Kelvin congratulates her and Jade smiles with an insincere thankyou before walking away.

In flashback, we see that long ago Kelvin had confessed to Jade’s mother that he and Jade were serious about their relationship. Whilst Jade’s mother had acknowledged this, she had also informed Kelvin that he and her daughter could never be, in part because of his criminal covering up for his father’s fraud and also largely because it would be a more fitting fate for Jade to marry Keith (ugh).

Presently, discharged from hospital, Keith’s mother, his grandfather and our CEO waste no time in discussing business the obstacle of Jade’s refusal to marry Keith. (Despite claiming to be sure to stop pressuring him) Keith’s grandfather instructs that at the Annual Dinner, Keith best be hand-in-hand with a happy Jade.

Despite his agreement, that night, Keith busies himself searching online for answers about the identity of his newfound bear plush. One forum contributor explains that the bear is character from an old Japanese cartoon, which tells the tale of a boy who sees a bear that no-one else can.

Only eventually in this tale, does the boy come to discover that the bear is a guardian (angel) of love and the boy and girl who the bear watches over, eventually become a couple. After reading that they even find happiness together, Keith regards the bear with skepticism before (the bear winks and surprises him again hahaha) he burns his lip and recalls his accidental kiss with Chi Ching, as well as her birthday wish.

Cut to the morning of said girl’s birthday, where her aunt and uncles present her with a huge bowl of ‘longevity noodles’ (a staple birthday meal) and birthday wishes including encouragement for her ‘K.O Sky’ mission of the day. Simultaneously, now back home, Alex offers a prayer to the gods and promises to succeed the family business after the competition.

His sister watches on with a smile and at the show venue, the gang waits anxiously for Alex; in addressing their worries that he may have been imprisoned by his unconsenting sister however, Alex surprises them with the announcement that their performance today may willingly be his final show.

Alex asserts that it isn’t right to be selfish and that whilst he has his own dreams, so does his sister. He then recalls the time when he had seen his sister being rejected by the man she had loved – a police-officer – because of her gang associations and he explains that his sister’s dream had only ever been to marry a good man and live a happy, ordinary and secure family life.

In succeeding his family’s business, Alex outlines that he could enable his sister to achieve half of her dreams and he confirms that this is consequently his new dream (aw). Nevertheless, knowing it may well be his last performance on-stage, Alex swears to give it his all and to that, the gang gathers to share one last group cheer.

Overall Thoughts

Well, well! Episodes (or even just segments of episodes) with a strong friendship component and a decent dosing of humour certainly seem to fly by much more quickly; moreover, I can only imagine that it’s the humour which allows for poor acting to almost be more excusable. Case in point, Keith’s spinelessness when it came to ghost-hunting wasn’t acted very believably but it was still rather humorous.

This episode overall, actually left me wondering if the series as a whole (or at least, up to this episode, as it has concluded now HAHA) would have been more positively received had it started out with the (elusive) quality which Episode 7 delivers. Honestly, my falling so far behind on the recapping (haha) also prompted me to wonder if the airing of only two episodes a week would have helped this drama also.

Somehow (and sadly) I think it wouldn’t have and I attribute this speculation largely due to the genre and target audience of Once Upon A Song. On the topic of music however, I’m happy to say that this episode got it right by not forcing the insertion of a lyrical number ‘just because’ the drama’s a musical. Although I’ll say that I was (quite!) disappointed the bromance didn’t stretch far enough for a Ying Jun-Alex partnership, the dance battle was quite decent also!

On the romantic front I must admit, the tension between Jade and Kelvin implies a relationship I actually found myself enjoying (dare I say, even more so than Keith and Chi Ching’s interactions this episode! And), even if parental machinations will always have me pulling out my hair. (Note, the subtitles spell his name ‘Calvin’ but since I started with ‘Kelvin’ courtesy of Episode 1, I’m thinking of just continuing with it.)

The whole recurring theme of Fate between Chi Ching and Keith (after all), isn’t something I much delight in (either), although the preview does seem to indicate Keith harbours some grudge against the notion himself and will be trying, albeit likely unsuccessfully, to subvert its powers. Really though, I guess we – or just still-cliché-oblivious lil’ ol’ me – will just have to wait and see, whilst hoping it doesn’t get too angsty here on out!

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