Alright, I will give recapping a try! Love & Life & Lie is a 2017 Chinese drama starring Zhen Dong Yu (Sparrow) and Chen Xiao (Romance of the Condor Heroes). We’ll see if I can make it through all 41 episodes.
Love & Life & Lie begins with our female lead, Xin Tong, taking on three students at a taekwando class. It turns out, she’s not a student here but a delivery person who makes regular deliveries to this class. She gave up going to college to support her mother by working part-time jobs, but sneaks in to classes when she can.
Xin Tong stops by to see her mother, and we see that she is kind and caring. Her mother feels guilty that Xin Tong has given up college, but Xin Tong is positive and cheerful. She seems like a character we can root for.
Now we see the total opposite: Ji Zhi Zhen. It is Zhi Zhen’s graduation day and her family is here. She’s excited about being able to marry her fiancé Yao Nan soon now that she has graduated, but the smiles on her parents’ visibly dampen when she asks where he is. Before the day can be ruined though, Zhi Zhen’s mother gifts her daughter a brand new car. Her father, however, doesn’t seem to be happy with her mother spoiling Zhi Zhen.
Xin Tong drives by on her motorbike smiling happily – foreshadowing that their lives may be about to collide…
At a photoshoot in a park, the models fawn over Li Yao Nan, but then an actress shows up who the director says is a rising star known to be hard to handle. Yao Nan notices that she loves her dog, so he takes her dog and pretends to save it from being run over by a car when she appears. Then, Yao Nan pretends not to know who she is and she gives him her business card and tells him he can call any time, 24 hours a day. Is he skilled at this, or what?!
This is actually a pretty hilarious scene so here’s a look at Yao Nan’s act:
Yao Nan gets into a car with his dad, who has prepared an engagement ring for him to give to Zhi Zhen. The engagement is pushed onto him by his dad for the sake of gaining an upper hand in a joint venture between their two companies. According to his dad, Zhi Zhen is the heir to her family’s company because her brother Zhen Yu is adopted. Meanwhile, an unnamed young man sits in the driver’s seat listening in until Yao Nan’s father orders him to start the car.
The moment Yao Nan walks into Zhi Zhen’s graduation party, he gets pulled over by a group of girls. Zhi Zhen’s mother looks at Yao Nan disapprovingly. (Can’t you already tell that she’ll be giving that look a lot throughout this drama?) Then, Zi Zhen’s father, Ji Bai Jun, announces that their company will be listened on NASDAQ the following week and he is giving 10% of his investments to Zhi Zhen, who will start working at the company (WE Group). Xin Tong receives a delivery order and it is for none other than the Ji home. She is in awe of the beautiful, large house.
Not pictured, but the young man who drove Yao Nan and his father? He stays by Yao Nan’s father’s side – and it turns out he’s his son as well but things seem icy between the two of them.
Zhi Zhen asks Yao Nan where his special gift is, and he smirks and kneels with a jewelry box – but it’s only earrings. Seeing her disappointed face, he jokes, you didn’t think it would be a ring, did you? And then he laughs – no, CACKLES – hysterically. Clearly, this guy is a huge troll who doesn’t take anything seriously.
The chef in the kitchen tells Xin Tong to bring the food into the party because he’s short-handed, but when Yao Nan grabs her, she is taken by surprise and accidentally drops it towards him. Zhi Zhen yells at her angrily, but Xin Tong isn’t one to be walked over so she tells Zhi Zhen off for having bad manners. Zhi Zhen grabs her and refuses to let go unless she apologizes, and the ensuing struggle results in her falling into the pool. Xin Tong walks out of the party, while Yao Nan just watches and smiles.
It isn’t until Xin Tong has walked out of the gate that she realizes no one paid the pizza bill. She waits outside and when Yao Nan emerges, she tells him that since he looks rich, he could help pay the bill. Yao Nan yells at her and calls her crazy, so Xin Tong yells back. lololol, great first exchange for our two leads.
Xin Tong returns to the house the next day and lingers outside because she’s salty about having to pay the bill but feels weird about asking for the money. She sees Ji Bai Zun leaving the house for his morning jog so she follows at a distance, but a mugger targets him. When he pulls a knife, Xin Tong puts her taekwando skills to use and fights off the mugger. Ji Bai Jun has hypertension and tells her to call his son, Zhen Yu. Zhen Yu hurries out with his medication but he notices that Xin Tong is injured so they take her to the hospital.
Xin Tong’s mother arrives at the hospital, and does a double-take when she recognizes Bai Jun. In flashbacks, we see that many years ago, Bai Jun and his wife helped take her to the hospital where they both gave birth. When Xin Tong’s mother was handed her baby, she realized it was not her baby — her baby had a mole, and the baby she was given has a gold locket that says Zhi. For twenty-one years, she has been looking for the family who has her baby. Meanwhile, the young woman that came with Xin Tong’s mother looks at Zhen Yu with interest. (A blooming secondary characters relationship??)
Xin Tong’s mother leaves the room overcome with emotion. She’s torn because she knows her biological daughter has a good life with the wealthy family. While she’s outside the room, Zhi Zhen and her mother arrive at the hospital. When Zhi Zhen sees Xin Tong, she recognizes her and is immediately suspicious that she was in cahoots with the robber. Zhi Zhen’s mother agrees with her, and words get heated. Xin Tong tries to get out of bed to fight Zhi Zhen and they both have to be restrained. Bai Jun is adamant, however, that Xin Tong is his savior and tells Zhi Zhen to apologize to Xin Tong or give up the keys to her new car. Zhi Zhen gives up her keys and leaves angrily with her mother.
Bai Jun tries to give Xin Tong money to help with her recovery, but Xin Tong refuses it, saying that if she takes it, won’t Zhi Zhen’s words that she did it for the money be true. Bai Jun leaves Xin Tong his contact information and tells her to contact him if she needs anything.
Xin Tong’s mother misses this entire chaotic encounter and returns to Xin Tong’s room after everyone has left. Xin Tong’s mother apologizes to her daughter that she doesn’t have money and has caused Xin Tong to suffer. Xin Tong comforts her mother, telling her that they will never be separated. Xin Tong’s mother is sad that she has lost this opportunity to see her biological daughter but then she sees the contact information Bai Jun left behind.
Xin Tong’s mother lingers outside of the Ji home to catch a glance of her biological daughter (honestly, she looks pretty suspicious), but Zhi Zhen sees her and accuses her of being a thief. Xin Tong’s mother clings to Zhi Zhen and pleads that she is not a thief but Zhi Zhen shoves her away. (A stranger grabbing someone is pretty questionable, I’d be alarmed, too, but there’s something so arrogant about all of Zhi Zhen’s actions.) Luckily, Bai Jun returns home just in time and recognizes Xin Tong’s mother. He helps her up and invites her in.
I have the tendency to start a drama from the 5-7th episode and then if I end up liking it, I go back to the beginning. So this is the first time in a while that I’ve watched a first episode so thoroughly. This is actually a pretty solid first episode. I liked Xin Tong and Zhen Yu, and Ji Bai Zun seems fair. But then we have Zhi Zhen and her mother, and I have a feeling the two of them will be very, very unlikable. Yao Nan is intriguing and his mysterious brother will surely have a role to play.
But at 41 episodes, I feel like it will take 40 episodes for the truth of the baby swap to come out. I’d rather the truth came out halfway through so that we can see what happens after everyone learns the truth – but I guess all we can do is let the drama chips fall where they may…