Gloomy Salad Days Episode 1




Here it is! Finally! Hey you guys, I'm joyjee, and I'll be writing recaps on Gloomy Salad Days with Shabei! This will be one, gloomy ride, but for the love of writing (and Aaron Yan), I'm willing to take up the challenge!




THE STORY:
Gloomy Salad Days is composed of 12 stories about the realities that teenagers go through both in high school and in life. It is a glimpse of the other side, the darker side where not every teenager has a complete family and a happy ever after.

THE CHARACTERS (MAIN):


Shen Qi (Aaron Yan) is nothing near ordinary, except for the fact that he's in high school. He is suffering from brain tumor, and this is the reason why he can see Death Girl when no one else can.




Du/Death Girl (Serena Fang) is tasked to ferry different people to the afterlife. She is the guardian angel of the Nai He Bridge, and the death god to those who cannot pass through the bridge.



EPISODE 1 and 2 CHARACTERS:


Huang He (Wang Zi) is the prince of the school. He is Mr. Popular, talented, rich and very good looking. But everyone has their own dark secrets, and Huang He is no exception.





Ah Pang (Mao Di) is the sunny guy, always cheerful, very outspoken and lively. He lives with his grandmother and is very fond of drawing.





Xiao Qing (Meng Geng Ru) is the subject of Ah Pang's attention. She's very intelligent, an excellent debater. She also cares for her family very much.



Episode 1

We open on what looks like an eerie, dark cave. Outside, a bulldozer works on the land, when an earthquake suddenly occurs. At the cave, a shining, colored rock falls to the ground. I have a feeling that we’ll be seeing more of this rock later on.


At school, as Shen Qi and his classmates head outside to safety, Shen Qi falls to the floor after feeling a great pain in his head. Ah Pang and Xiao Qing helps him to his feet, and the former asks what happened. Xiao Qing says a scary earthquake occurred, but Shen Qi thinks otherwise. He says it was the digging of the mountain at their old school compound, as if something came out. Ah Pang isn’t convinced though, doubtful of how an excavator can have that kind of power.


Alone in a room, Huang He is surprised to see a reflection by the window and blurts out: “Death Girl!” She asks him to call her by name, and he calls her Du. Asked why she is in the room, she says there is a breath of death in the place. Although Huang He did not look for her, she scares him by saying that those who are heading to death can also see her and that he is the best choice of rock for the Nai He Bridge (Oh, so that explains the rock at the first sequence. Interesting.) He tries to throw something at her, to no avail because she can become invisible. And why are we not surprised?


Two other classmates approach Shen Qi and the gang. Ah Pang asks why they did not help Shen Qi during the earthquake, but the two teases Ah Pang of liking Xiao Qing. They chase for a sketchpad with Xiao Qing’s drawing in it, and just when it fell to the floor, Huang He with two other students walk by. Huang He picks up the drawing and compliments Xiao Qing for being more beautiful in person. Flushed, she thanks him and says Ah Pang drew it, which is when Huang He throws the drawing to the ground. One of the students steps on the drawing, starting a petty fight with Ah Pang, until a teacher interrupts. His attention shifts to Huang He. The teacher’s compliments on Huang He tells us that he is no ordinary student, a teacher’s pet, perhaps.


Truly, Huang He is a school celebrity, as an assembly was called to celebrate his championship in a science exhibition. He thanks everyone, and especially presents his award to his teacher, Jiang Ping, who has been guiding him for two years. The look on Jiang Ping’s face is not of pride, though, and we have yet to know why later on.


While cleaning the school grounds along with the other students (Maintenance, anyone?), Xiao Qing stares at Huang He from a distance. She asks Ah Pang what kind of person Huang He is, and he responds by saying she better stay at a respectful distance from him. Huang He is a gifted student, so rich he can buy half the town. Everybody fears him, especially since he hangs around with gangsters. Apparently, he bought all the gang groups in school, making him the real gang leader. Ha. Genius.

Huang He meets Nicole in a room. Their relationship is not clear yet, until a flashback. One year ago, he was blackmailed to pay the Coke Gang a sum of 10 million. This is a (weird) gang who puts who-knows-what in Coke bottles and pretends to be friendly in order to get some moolah. Personally, I find their gang name very lame. And their methods too.


They also want him to join their gang. Uhm. What? I mean, come on?!?! Who would want to join a gang with that lame of a name? I guess that’s why the blackmail is necessary haha.

But because Huang He is the high and mighty character in this episode, revenge is necessary. He gets back at Ah Cai, the Coke Gang leader, and his girlfriend, Nicole. And the next thing we know? He decides to join the Coke Gang! But with some conditions, as expected: he’s the new boss (But he prefers the name President because that makes their gang a little more civilized) and they get rid of the name Coke Gang (Good move, President!). Now they are the Institute of Civilization. How…civilized.

But everything turns out to be just a play when Ah Cai takes out a dagger to attack Huang He. Mr. Almighty practiced his moves though, and when Ah Cai calls out to his “brothers” to attack Huang He, they attack him instead.

Back to the present, Nicole hands in six thousand and asks how long ‘til their terms finish. Huang He answers hers should end soon, and Ah Cai, one more month. What terms? We'll know later on.


At the construction site, a Dharma master picks up a rock, which I believe is the rock from the first sequence. The principal who also manages the construction discovered white bones after the earthquake, and asks the Dharma master to perform some black magic. They seem nothing, and she instructs that the bones be brought to the Na Gu tower where bone ashes are stored. The man inquires on when they can continue construction, to which she answers that it has nothing to do with the bones but with the drastic change in the magnetic field caused by the construction. She echoes Shen Qi’s words: something must have come out. But because construction work cannot be stopped anymore, she warns them to tell their children not to think of deadly thoughts because these can attract the death god. Someone’s life might be taken away.

Ah Pang picks up his grandmother—who is none other than the master herself—with a “feminine" bike and catches up with the school bus. He gives Xiao Qing a little something to cheer her on for her debate competition the day after. I really love and appreciate the sweet nothings by this two because it makes me forget all the dark feelings I’m getting from this drama. At least for a while.

Xiao Qing and her brother get off the bus at the next stop. Just after the bus left, a car drives in, and the car window opens, showing Huang He looking at Xiao Qing’s direction. He drives off without following her further.

Ah Pang and grandma arrives home, and grandma looks at her grandson’s drawings of Xiao Qing. Ah Pang takes them from her, saying they’re “homework”. She, in turn, takes out the rock from earlier, and tells Ah Pang it’s also her homework. He plays around and takes the rock from her.


In his sleep, he dreams about Death Girl. He gives back the stone, and asks her if she’s the legendary death god. She is only the guardian angel of the Nai He Bridge, she responds. (I won’t really use the word “angel”, though. Just saying.) But she adds: only when someone cannot pass through the bridge will she become the death god. Faced with challenges, it can get hard passing through “the bridge”, which can also represent life. If one can’t get through the challenges, he can use the stone and call Death Girl for help. But he also becomes one of the stones that will support the bridge. Right then, Ah Pang wakes from his nightmare, soaked in sweat and breathing heavily. He looks at his bedside where the rock and its sketched drawing is located.


At the school auditorium where a debate is going on, we see the last debaters: Huang He and Xiao Qing. Debating about supernatural research, Huang He represents the opposite party. He argues how science should be rational, civilized, and so believing in something that cannot be seen is an outrageous idea. And to this, his fan girls cry out: Huang He is number one!

Xiao Qing represents the supporting party, and Ah Pang cheers her from his seat in the audience. She impressively argues that the rational cannot explain characteristics, and if based on science alone, humans are no different to calculators. And to this, Ah Pang gives her a standing ovation. Awww you cute guy you!

Because of such an impressive argument from Xiao Qing, Huang He only came in second place. His thugs offer to take care of her (And to this I say: Why so serious?!) but he tells them she’s good looking. And he doesn’t believe in science anyway. But they were surprised to know that Xiao Qing is the sister of one of their “brothers”, Sha Dong. Huang He calls him in, and just when the thugs leave, Teacher Jiang Ping enters. She will tell him something tomorrow, lunch break, at the lab, she tells him. But he doesn't look excited about the appointment.


The thugs look for Sha Dong, and ask him about the money he borrowed from Huang He. Xiao Qing meddles, and Ah Pang comes in to the rescue. Sha Dong asks Ah Pang to take his sister home, while he goes with Huang He’s men.

Dead worried, Xiao Qing calls the school just before the last teacher leaves. She asks him to look for her brother. And where you may ask? But of course, the Civilized Research Center!


The thugs bully Sha Dong, asking him for the six thousand he borrowed. But isn’t Huang He, like, crazy rich? He should be throwing all his money away and not lending them for interests. The teacher who Xiao Qing asked to help her interrupts the interrogation, and persuades the students to go home. Huang He tells the teacher to trust him, and suddenly the teacher goes Certainly, Your Majesty. I stand corrected: Huang He is not the teacher’s pet. The teacher IS Huang He’s pet.

The bullying resumes and Huang He asks Sha Dong to return the money the day after. If not, then bring the sister to the top floor of the school instead. Because, you know, he just wants to be friends with her.

Sha Dong is deep in his thoughts while in the bus. A flashback brings us to three months ago, when the whole gang was hanging out in some bar. Sha Dong fancied Nicole, and wants to be friends with her.


This I-just-want-to-be-friends thing is more serious than it looks like, as we see that Nicole is prostituted to earn money. For every six thousand, five goes to Huang He. Sha Dong tries to stop her, but she says it isn’t their choice.


At Xiao Qing’s home, Sha Dong tells his sister that he wants to drop out of school and get a job. The conversation is interrupted when their mom enters. Sha Dong looks intently as his mom puts her wage in a drawer, and gets back at it in the middle of the night. He steals some of it, but Xiao Qing catches him.

At Ah Pang’s place, he gets ready for school when his grandma asks him to give her the rock back. He tells her to look for it in his room, but he actually takes it with him to school. Xiao Qing meets him in front of school and borrows his Swiss knife. He gladly lends her.

COMMENTS:

When I first saw the trailer, I was doubtful if I should still continue my plan on recapping this drama. I'm glad I didn't cancel on that plan. Truth be told: I'm not so hooked with it that I would want to watch the next episode asap, no. But truth be told too, that this has promise.

I really like how every story ends after two episodes. I can't imagine following a story where all the misfortunes happen on the same protagonist alone. That would be too painful for my heart to take. Maybe I can endure it, since we can sense a MARS vibe with this (All you people who liked MARS say 'Hey!') and I have been rewatching MARS, like, forever. But this drama right here talks about death. That's a totally different thing.

The tagline Dear death, please take away my misfortune, even if the price is for me to turn into a stone reflects the reality that hunts everyone, not only teenagers. The discomfort brought about by misfortunes makes you want to choose death more, because it sounds like a better bargain. At least when you die, you won't feel pain anymore.

I hope to see how this drama will change our perception of death, and of the alleged comfort it brings. This is why no matter how dark and eerie this seems, I will recap it with all my heart and soul, because at the end of the day, I'd like to learn something from this.

Plus, there's always Aaron Yan to look forward to, even if his appearance in this episode is so minimal. T.T

On a lighter note, just as I have mentioned above, I like Ah Pang and his bubbly ways, and I like how his story makes all this darkness seem bearable. This high-school romance is very much appreciated.

Very good, Ah Pang!



 
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