[HKTV] Once Upon A Song Episode 08

If I’d gone missing on this blog long enough to raise suspicions about my having met my demise in Life, (actually I was close many times no thanks to work and Healer haha! But surely) Episode 8 of Once Upon A Song may just have proven how fresh I was for the killing – the angst! Fair warning: to anyone like myself who can only eye-roll whenever drama leads ask for grief… hold tightly onto those eyeballs.

For those who enjoy some finger-curling cheese with some whiplash-inducing character ‘reversals’ though, you’re in for a treat! After all, if hot-cold is the name of the game, it’s time for even our reigning champion Agnes to move over; thankfully however, we still have our more lukewarm personalities (perhaps some unexpected too) to join in on the confusion and perhaps, even out our waters again.

Episode 8 Recap

With the go-ahead of Mission ‘K.O Sky’, our ‘underdogs’ take the stage (hijacking Sky’s promotional event rather than competing in a talent contest after all so it seems) and this time, with the backup of his own crew, Alex claims victory in the public dance battle. Sky storms off with the paparazzi in hot pursuit and having been watching proudly all along, Alex’s sister acknowledges her sibling’s talent.

She declares that she’ll be content to stay single for life if her brother will become famous enough to provide for her (aw) and elated, Alex promises to work hard. The gang runs off in celebration, leaving behind Dai Wei Gor who approaches our boss lady to compliment her for being a great sister. He tells her to be sure to visit his café for cake some time and exits (perhaps, unknowingly, stealing a heart with him).

Elsewhere, our CEO prepares steaks by the sea and Jade prepares for a commercial filming accompanied by Kelvin. Receiving a call from Keith, Kelvin excuses himself to attend to an “important matter” which Jade insists on knowing about. Before the matter is made known however, we return to the beach (decorated for a candlelit seafood-dinner) to Keith, who receives the news that his driver had been unable to locate Chi Ching.

It’s moments after Keith hangs up that Jade arrives with his requested basil. Keith asks after her shoot and she jokes that it’s not bad – both the fact that he remembered her schedule and his means of wooing a girl. More seriously, she asks that he like anybody but Chi Ching.

Not in any joking mood, Keith curtly replies that he needs no consent from Jade to like who he pleases. This time, it’s Jade’s turn to storm off and she takes out her anger on her steering wheel as she reflects on her earlier conversation with Kelvin (during which he had – whilst seemingly amused – confirmed his errand involved fetching basil for Keith, who was likely cooking to impress a girl).

Returned to the city (by nightfall), Keith barks at Chi Ching over the phone for having disappeared on him all day and for not having picked up any of his calls earlier either. He hangs up to see her walking towards him, miming her apologies and of course, with her orange-peel-smile display and peace offering (in the form of an invitation to the gang’s karaoke celebrations), he softens (as we knew he would) with a smile.

Meanwhile at the Yan residence, Chi Ching’s father morosely plays the Happy Birthday melody in secret, having decided against sending his daughter a text to wish her the sentiment. After overhearing the tune and receiving photographic evidence (from Fei Fei) of Keith getting chummy with Chi Ching, Jade flings her phone away in a fury.

With the celebrations concluded for the night, Keith offers our Terrific Trio a ride home and instructs Ying Jun to sit with Karlie in the back. Ying Jun glares with a telepathic message (which Keith receives and confirms, ha!), questioning our CEO’s ulterior motives. Keith’s plans are thwarted unfortunately, with Karlie’s exclamation that she gets carsick and Chi Ching’s reasoning that as she lives nearby to Ying Jun and Karlie, she can just walk home with them, hahaha.

Still, recalling his earlier (petty) victory over Ying Jun, having secured his spot next to Chi Ching in a commemorative group photo, Keith smiles goofily to himself. Just as he sets to leave however, Chi Ching runs to intercept the car. Interrupting his rebuking of her (for almost getting herself killed), Chi Ching emphasises that what’s imperative is that she find her lost phone.

The two return to the karaoke bar and after finding her phone, Chi Ching decorates Keith’s face (in their earlier photo) with silly doodles. Keith asks if that was the sole reason she had been so anxious to find the cell and Chi Ching sarcastically quips that of course that had been it, which is precisely the reason for her reciprocating favour of accompanying him, sitting at the beach in the middle of the night to be victim to the wintery winds, LOL.

Indignantly, Keith exclaims that he had especially driven them to this spot because Chi Ching’s one word of thanks was nowhere near the gratitude he had expected for his efforts of the day. He dusts himself off and presents her with a description of all the international imports – from the food to the flowers, décor and even furniture – that he had flown in, just to perfect his planned birthday event for her.

Hearing that he had even been prepared to be fined for setting off illegal fireworks, Chi Ching asks Keith just how much he had spent on the occasion. Seriously (and cheesily, eek!), Keith returns that the cost (money) is unimportant, as long as Chi Ching can happily feel his sincerity. Truly moved, Chi Ching thanks Keith and assures him that he’s fulfilled her birthday wish. He smiles that throughout the whole night, her thanks was the most satisfying thing he’d heard.

At Keith’s account that he’d thrown away all the food in annoyance however, Chi Ching chastises him for being wasteful. She contemplates that at least the sea spirits were given a treat though and enlightens Keith with the tale of a long-haired ghost who would make her way up to shore each night. Keith, thoroughly spooked (ha) yells at her for talking about ghosts on her birthday (it’s a Chinese superstition kind of thing) and Chi Ching relents on her teasing.

With the ensuing lull in conversation, Keith pulls out a box from his pocket and presents Chi Ching with her birthday gift. Chi Ching marvels at the designer bracelet (which Keith had observantly noticed she’d had broken earlier when she’d been taken hostage) and confesses her one had only been an imitation bought by Uncle Do online, ha!

Keith can only laugh at the turn of events but he’s nonetheless pleased at Chi Ching’s gratitude. Not wanting to dirty the bracelet, Chi Ching gets up to wash her hands before putting it on. Keith reclines to stargaze but with the realisation that Chi Ching could be in danger because of the sea ghost, he jolts upright.

With Chi Ching nowhere in sight, Keith rushes into the water to find her and it’s only when she calls out to him from the shore that he breathes a sigh of relief. Chi Ching explains that she had belatedly remembered there was a public toilet nearby, thus, her disappearance. Nevertheless, moved by Keith’s reflexive actions, she helps to dry him off and the two share a long gaze before ending the night with her singing to him (the song, I’m sure you can guess).

And so continues the cute (or aggravatingly cheesy romantic gestures, depending on whether or not you’re Jade/on her side of the divide), as Keith passes by training class, just to check up on Chi Ching; even his piano-playing and reminiscing on happy childhood memories with his parents finds our CEO thinking back to Chi Ching and grinning like the lovestruck boy he is.

Still, his good mood is short-lived as he meets with Chi Ching’s father to give his latest updates on the older man’s daughter. Keith admits he partly regrets arranging the meeting between father and daughter, given how unhappy it had left Chi Ching and to this, Dad apologises, self-deprecatingly reflecting on his poor job at being a father.

He’s particularly remorseful for his earlier words to Chi Ching (words which in effect, affirmed his abandonment of her once more in favour of Jade and her mother) and he describes a time when as a child, his inherently kind-hearted daughter had gifted a boy she had only met once at the hospital her beloved toy; the bear plush had been a gift from Dad but having witnessed the boy crying sorrowfully, Chi Ching had given it away in the hopes of sharing her own happiness.

The story resonates (or at least partly seems to) with Keith and he concludes that the relationship problems of adults, most profoundly impact their children – thus, for example, his cynical disbelief in love, after his own father had left him and his mother. Despite Chi Ching’s father’s assurances that the right person may make him think otherwise, Keith argues that the impossibility of being able to guarantee the (undying) happiness of another means that love can’t possibly be.

Papa Yan offers the final piece of wisdom that some things – such as fate and compatibility – can’t be calculated (to be ensured) and that one can only give their best efforts. “There is one other option though,” Keith counters, “to not walk such a path at all”. He leaves brooding and it’s that night, scoffing at the idea of fate and happiness, that he messages the girl from the online discussion board, telling her of his willingness to gift her the bear plush.

The meeting place which the girl suggests – Chi Ching’s aunt’s dessert store – gives Keith pause although he makes his appearance the following day nevertheless. Parked nearby the agreed locale, Keith makes a call to Kelvin to verify that classes are definitely currently being held. With Kelvin’s confirmation, Keith addresses the toy in his passenger seat.

He tells the bear that its owner is unquestionably not Chi Ching and that everything will be over once the transaction is completed. Decidedly, Keith dials his buyer but though he’s relieved to hear a man’s voice on the line, it’s Chi Ching he sees arriving to collect the bear. Hurriedly, Keith drives away whilst Chi Ching returns to the dessert shop despondently, her uncles Do, Re and Mi each presenting their case on the no-show seller.

Uncle Do suggests Chi Ching call the seller just once more but on her own phone and not his (which Chi Ching had initially left as a contact number, given her need to attend, what was ultimately, a cancelled training class) – because of his expensive phone plan, ha! As it dawns on Chi Ching that the number is Keith’s, passing by a hillside on his drive, Keith throws the bear out the window, insistent that he won’t fall in love (as it doesn’t exist).

When Chi Ching therefore later approaches Keith at school, he icily replies that he knows nothing about what it is she’s after. Chi Ching is left stunned as Keith walks away and it’s at the very meeting which he leaves for, that he brings up the issue of the K.O Sky stunt.

Keith asks for the director’s opinion on the matter and Director Yip expresses that their trainees’ ability to upstage Sky should be applauded. He recognises however, that Keith has clearly, already arrived at a verdict and hence, excuses himself to finish his movie script, pronouncing he’ll second any and all of Keith’s decisions.

To start, Keith orders for all of the students’ academic results to be brought to him for review and given our underdogs’ breaching of school policy, they convene worriedly to discuss the matter. Ying Jun points out that with his level of skill, Alex shouldn’t need to be too uneasy; Alex however, considering himself solely responsible for the ordeal, promises to withdraw alongside anyone else who’s ousted.

Chi Ching pipes up that on the opposite side of the spectrum, she clearly has the worst grades and can best play the scapegoat and unaware of the most recent ‘falling out’ between the two, Karlie argues that Chi Ching’s friendship with their CEO means that things will surely work out. At the thought of their CEO having indeed, been friendly enough to karaoke with them, the gang collectively cheer to ensuring they’re all safe from dismissal from training.

Fast forward to post-school hours and Kelvin and Jade make an awkward run-in with one another, waiting for their passenger and ride respectively. Kelvin enquires as to whether Jade is aware of the dance evaluation organised by Keith as punishment and at Jade’s smirk, guesses that she knows Chi Ching will most likely be expelled.

Puzzled, he remarks that Keith must also already anticipate who will fail the evaluations and Jade asks if her explanation – that perhaps Keith knew Chi Ching’s presence dissatisfied her and thus he was making excuses to be rid of her – appeases him. Kelvin merely shrugs (disbelievingly) and excuses himself.

The next day, Miss Man explains that the forthcoming skills assessment will be a grading of the class’ performance at the Cheong Tao Group’s Annual Dinner. Agnes outlines her plan to give the students under review extra practice classes and at Alex’s volunteering to be the sole trainee ousted, she reprimands that this is neither the time to be so noble nor so pessimistic, aw.

Agnes encourages the group to not give up before the battle and at the underdogs’ fighting spirit, the idol-and-fans-gang leave (with mocking taunts and eye-rolls) for private practice. With the one final tip from their teacher that the group performance will also involve a solo for each of them to showcase their skills, practice commences.

Whilst the majority of the class shows steady improvement however, Chi Ching continues to lag behind and to add insult to injury, she’s sat on the sidelines after spraining her ankle. Pitifully hobbling state or not, when she chances into Keith outside, she’s walked past stoically and in the shadows, Ying Jun watches her worriedly.

Lunch rolls around and sitting together today, Jade coaxes Keith into taking a photo with her, justifying that her taking photos of her three meals a day isn’t for amusement’s sake after all, but so her mother will be assured that Keith is treating her well.

From their nearby table, the trainees are left once more to speculate on Keith’s sudden change in tune towards Chi Ching and likewise, Ying Jun makes a show of not wanting to eat in the same space as their CEO who “clearly has problems”.

Similarly wary, Jade pointedly questions the strangeness of Keith not worrying for Chi Ching, to which he snaps that all the trainees are paid and so it’s best to weed out those that don’t make the cut early on. Jade doesn’t argue otherwise and rather, temporarily appeased by his answer, she smiles.

Overall Thoughts

Granted, had I kept up with recapping this series as it aired, this recap may have been a much happier post, contributing to the air of romance lingering from right around/behind the corner (well, I’d started this recap before Valentine’s actually, oops haha!). Still, we do get a general theme of love throughout this episode and in its many forms too – from budding googly-eye-inducing crushes, to supportive friendships, familial bonds, cooled/reconciled (almost?)/forcibly extinguished passion and of course, the angsty stuff.

All my ire regarding our leads’ relationship aside, I’m still quite enjoying the dynamic between Kelvin and Jade, perhaps particularly so because in this episode we can see a hint of how more than parental machinations, the differences in their personalities also makes for a feasible catalyst for their separation. Moreover, I appreciate that Kelvin is made a more interesting and relatable character, given his confusion and his awareness of Keith’s feelings for Chi Ching (and thus his power to disturb the status quo).

Setting Keith up with Chi Ching after all, could potentially earn Kelvin more of his grandfather’s regard (as Keith would be engaging in a relationship with a ‘commoner’ whose standing is meritless to the family business) and Kelvin could even get himself the girl (Jade) by removing Keith from the picture; but simultaneously, that’s also only if Jade still agrees to see him once he sets his cousin up with her ‘nemesis’ and effectively removes the ‘power and claim’ which she possesses over Chi Ching by ‘having Kelvin on her side’.

The romance aside though (or at least for a moment), in comparison to the previous episode, I can’t say I was as much a fan of the music and even the direction which the story takes, although I suppose it had always been an inevitable road we’d have to travel. Still, the boys’ petty fighting for Chi Ching’s attention was enjoyable (not to mention, it’d certainly be a shame if it’s the last we’ll be seeing of it) and we’ve got the impending evaluations to anticipate.

At the least too, with rainbows being our show’s recurring motif, we can rest assured and expect to see our proverbial rainbow after all this storming, right? (Rhetorical question, we better or there will be blood haha!)


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