Mountains and Ocean aired in September 2019 and stars Zhuang Da Fei (aka Sabrina Zhuang) as Xia Rui Ning, a girl from a rich family and Ma Xin Yu as Shen Zhen, the daughter of a woman who works for the Xia family, who pays for her tuition to the same university. There is a bitter rivalry between the two of them. Huang Sheng Chi and Fan Zhi Xin also star as two brothers, Ye Lin and Ye Miao; Rui Ning has a crush on one brother, while the other falls in love with her. This drama is available with English subtitles on YouTube.
I knew this drama had a love triangle (kind of a square, actually)—and even worse, with two brothers involved. I was curious though, so I skimmed through episode 1 and 5, and then skipped to 10 and watched to the end (episode 24).
The dramatic first scene should have told me everything I needed to know about this drama. In his car, Ye Miao pulls up to a stop in front of the gate of his family’s mansion right before he would have hit Rui Ning, who is standing there with her luggage. Then the drama rewinds to the events of six years ago. It’s clear from this opening scene that this is not a lighthearted romantic comedy. From what I saw, the love triangle was handled well, and the worst part of this drama is the irredeemable second female lead, Shen Zhen. It’s pretty obvious which brother Rui Ning falls in love with, and I thought their scenes together were cute. The other brother is also likable and doesn’t become an evil, jealous schemer.
However, the final four episodes take an extremely melodramatic turn. If you’re curious, I have recapped the final episodes below.
FINAL WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ye Miao rushes to Ye Lin asking if he’s heard the rumors of Rui Ning dropping out of university. Ye Lin shows him the letter (email) she sent him saying good-bye and apologizing for carelessly saying she liked him. It makes no mention of Ye Miao, leaving him heartbroken. Devastated to discover that her father has brain cancer, Rui Ning had dropped out of university to stay by his side with her mother.
Two years later, Ye Lin comes to see Rui Ning, who is working at an archaeological site. He has something to say to her and brings up the letter she left him that hadn’t mentioned Ye Miao. His mother calls and he has to leave.
After someone tells Rui Ning they saw her mother, Rui Ning catches her mother in a lie—she calls her mother, who tells her she’s out shopping. But Rui Ning is watching as her mother exits a hotel room. She pushes open the door to find Ye Miao and Ye Lin’s father there, and tearfully and angrily tells her mother that she switched universities, moved out here with her mother, and stopped speaking to Ye Miao for her. She tells her mother she hates her before storming off. Ye Lin’s father chases after her and admits that while he is in love with her mother, she has never accepted him. Ye Lin runs into them as well, but Rui Ning continues to run. She stops when her mother calls her name from the balcony. Rui Ning only exclaims again that she hates her before turning to leave, but the three of them stop in their tracks when they hear a thud behind them. Rui Ning’s mother jumped from the balcony.
Ye Lin holds Rui Ning’s face in his hands as he tries to comfort her, but she says she needs to join her parents at the hospital and runs off. Ye Lin follows her and as they run across the street, Ye Lin pushes her out of the way as an approaching car hits and kills him. (WOW, NOT A TURN OF EVENTS I WAS EXPECTING.)
Rui Ning wakes up in the hospital, where Ye Lin’s mother barges in and tries to choke her as she wails about her son. Ye Miao comes in to take her away, and when Rui Ning calls his name, he doesn’t turn around. Soonafter, Rui Ning tearfully says goodbye to her father as he dies. Then we arrive at the opening scene of the drama.
Rui Ning has been sent by her mentor (I’ll call him Dean Gu because that’s what the subtitles say) to work on a restoration project, and she intends to get to work immediately. As she unpacks her suitcase, she takes out a framed drawing of herself, which I assume Ye Miao drew for her. Meanwhile, Shen Zhen is notified that the person sent for the project is her former classmate Rui Ning. She angrily throws her glass at the floor.
In the morning, Rui Ning sets off on foot but Ye Miao pulls her into his car. They stop at a sightseeing spot and discuss the painting restoration project. This painting is the same one that Rui Ning’s mother and Ye Miao’s father were working on a few years ago. She tells him if he’s ever rude to her again, she will never work on a project for his family again. He asks if that’s all she has to say to him, but she just turns and drives away in his car.
Rui Ning studies an old journal and seeks out Ye Miao to ask for the story behind the journal’s owner (for the purposes of the art restoration project). Ye Miao tells her that the owner was the wife of a Ye ancestor and upon her death, the family became cursed: all the women loved by the Ye family are doomed to tragedy. (WHAT?! This drama really went there.) Rui Ning’s hand shakes and she excuses herself, but Ye Miao stops her and places her bottle of antidepressants on the table, asking if that’s what she’s looking for. Earlier, they had fallen out of her bag in his car. He warns her of the side effects, which he knows about because of how long his mother has been on them. He then asks her what Ye Lin’s final words were that day.
Ye Miao explains that his mother is obsessed with knowing everything Ye Lin had done and said, so he’s asking on her behalf. But Rui Ning tells him that she will carry the burden alone.
After she leaves, Ye Miao calls his old roommate and asks what happened to Rui Ning three years ago after he left. His friend replies that Rui Ning asked them not to tell him but Rui Ning’s best friend takes the phone and says she’ll answer him, which doesn’t count as telling him. Three years ago, Rui Ning spent a year recovering from depression and then re-enrolled at university. She donated her family’s collection and house, and became Dean Gu’s most talented apprentice. However, she can tell that since he’s called, he sees that Rui Ning hasn’t recovered but instead has hidden her pain.
Rui Ning takes an antidepressant and falls asleep, and has a dream where she speaks to Ye Lin and he tells her not to blame herself. Dream Ye Lin asks her to tell Ye Miao that the happiest thing in his life was to have been his brother. Rui Ning replies that Ye Miao would say the same thing.
The next morning, when Ye Miao’s family assistant tells him Rui Ning wanted to see the balcony, Ye Miao runs over, afraid that she’s planning to jump. He yells at her and tells her she’s not allowed to die yet. Shen Zhen shows up and asks to speak to Rui Ning. She brings Rui Ning to a tea house that she says is frequented by the rich and famous. She brags about how much she’s achieved. Rui Ning anticipates her warnings about staying away from Ye Miao and replies that the only reason she’s the only person with the skills and availability to work on this project, and even that’s because of her professor’s (Dean Gu) request. Shen Zhen plans to pick up the bill, but when the server says it’s on the house as a guest of the boss, she assumes this tea house is the Ye family’s. But actually, Rui Ning explains, she invested in her friends’ business and this tea house is owned by her friend.
Back at the Ye mansion, Rui Ning sees the condition of Ye Miao’s mother and then has a breakdown in her room. Ye Miao comes to bring her a glass of milk and she stops him from leaving. She apologizes tearfully and he holds her as she sobs. Shen Zhen is waiting for him when he leaves Rui Ning’s room, but Ye Miao makes it clear that her jealousy has made her ugly and warns her not to bother Rui Ning.
Episode 24 (Final)
Rui Ning is recording notes when Shen Zhen enters the room and accuses her of using her mental condition to bring Ye Miao back to her side. Shen Zhen vents that after all that Shen Zhen has done for the Ye family, she still hasn’t been able to win Ye Miao’s heart. Shen Zhen also drops a huge bomb: Rui Ning’s mother didn’t jump—Ye Miao’s mother pushed her.
In a flashback, we see that before Rui Ning called her mother, her mother had been arguing with Ye Miao’s father. She was rejecting him and asking him to stop. Ye Miao’s mother and Shen Zhen enter the room from the upper floor and overhear Ye Miao’s father saying that marrying his wife was the biggest mistake of his life. When Ye Miao’s mother sees Rui Ning’s mother at the balcony, she pushes her.
Rui Ning replies that the investigation showed that no one else was there, but Shen Zhen explains that the witness was promoted directly to manager the following year. Rui Ning asks Shen Zhen how she can hate her family so much without any guilt (and this is what makes Shen Zhen so irredeemable to me, that she doesn’t even feel guilty). Shen Zhen says she wants Rui Ning to live with this hatred and pain for the rest of her life, because even though she knows the truth now there’s nothing she can do. But she’s wrong, because Rui Ning hadn’t turned her recorder off. She grabs it and exits the room past a stunned Shen Zhen.
When Shen Zhen comes to her senses, she chases after Rui Ning and tackles her to the ground in the hallway. For SOME REASON that makes no sense, Rui Ning runs out onto the balcony. Shen Zhen pushes Rui Ning off the balcony, but Ye Miao runs over and grabs her arm. He begs her to live on as Shen Zhen yells at him to let her go and kill her. (WHAT? This won’t win you any points with him.) Shen Zhen picks up a brick and I’m uncertain what she was planning to do—throw it at Rui Ning’s head? But before she’s able to do anything, Ye Miao tells Rui Ning he loves her. Shen Zhen flashes back to the moments she shared with Ye Miao, and as Ye Miao loses his grip on Rui Ning’s hand, she throws the brick to the ground and helps pull Rui Ning up.
Then it cuts to Shen Zhen standing in front of the Ye mansion’s gate with her luggage and in an internal monologue she says good-bye. (This is more than she deserved.)
Rui Ning goes to see Ye Miao’s mother, who is in an institution, but ultimately decides not to tell her Ye Lin’s last words. A flashback shows that what Ye Lin told her on that day was that he wanted to make the person he loved happier. So he tells her about how Ye Miao still draws her portrait, follows her social media, and worries about her. He had brought her some of the drawings.
In the final scene, Rui Ning returns to the exercise bars (pull-up bars?) where Ye Miao had kissed her. She whispers that she loves him as he walks up behind her. After a montage of all their moments together, he hangs from the bar and kisses her upside down, just as he had done before. THE END.
This final scene would’ve been cute if there hadn’t been so much death and devastation leading up to it.