Back in Time: Long Time No See
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Back in Time: Long Time No See (Cong Cong Na Nian: Hao Jiu Bu Jian) is a Chinese webdrama that aired in late 2015 – early 2016. The drama is a sequel to season 1 titled Back in Time, but you do not have to watch season 1 to understand what is going on in season 2. Season 1 was based on a novel, so I’m assuming that season 2 must be based on the continuation of that same novel. It is really hard to find any information in detail (in English) about this drama, since it wasn’t as popular as the first season.Season 2 continues where Season 1 left off, showing us how this group of friends untangle their twisted relationships, all the while working towards their career goals and became contributing adults in society.
BiT: Long Time No See, Season 2 stars Vin Zhang as Qiao Ran, Molly Wang as Fang Hui and Jin Kim as Chen Xun. This trio makes up our central triangle. The drama also stars Yu Yilia as Chen Xiao Tong, Chen Xun’s fiance, Sui Yong Liang as Zeng Wen Hui, the third man in love with Fang Hui, and Li Chuan (as Zhao Ye) and You Una (as Lin Jia Mo) as the other two friends in this circle of 5.
Season 1 introduced us to Chen Xun, Qiao Ran and Zhao Ye, who have been friends since they were in elementary school. They meet two girls Fang Hui and Jia Mo in what I assume is high school, although the subtitles kept referring to it as middle school. Zhao Ye and Jia Mo ultimately pair up and are together in Season 2 without much drama. In high school, Chen Xun confesses to Fang Hui, and she accepts him. Qiao Ran backs off, even though he has been in love with Fang Hui the entire time and was the first one to reach out to her in friendship when others (including Chen Xun) were bullying her. Chen Xun and Fang Hui are happily in love together, so much so that Chen Xun skips a 13 point question just so he can go to the same university as Fang Hui. At university, Chen Xun meets and falls in “love” with Xiao Tong, and Fang Hui catches the two together as they are passionately making out. Fang Hui and Chen Xun break up, and Fang Hui sleeps with another student in retaliation, her theory being if Chen Xun can do it, why can’t she? Fang Hui becomes pregnant from that one night stand, and goes for an abortion with the support of her friends. Then one day, Fang Hui disappears, leaving everyone and everything behind. The End.
The story picks up in Season 2 from where season 1 left off. It has been I think about 3 years since Fang Hui left. She is currently in Japan, doing odd jobs to make ends meet. Her visa is soon expiring, and she plans on returning to China.
Qiao Ran is in Japan in charge of a medical conference. He comes across Fang Hui accidentally, and spends the next few days looking for her. He is unable to find any trace of her, and ends up going back to China, disappointed.
Jia Mo and Chen Xun are graduating from college, along with Xiao Tong. That night, as they celebrate their graduation, Chen Xun proposes to Xiao Tong, who he has been dating this entire time. The two plan on getting married soon.
There is a character that they call Da Ge/Big Brother who is visibly disappointed by the proposal, and we can see that there is some unrequited love going on there for Xiao Tong.
Fang Hui returns by way of being the wedding planner for Chen Xun’s and Xiao Tong’s wedding. Despite her clear pain/anger at the two of them, Fang Hui tries to do a good job in planning the wedding. Qiao Ran sees how she is hurting, and how her return has caused problems between Chen Xun and Xiao Tong. He tries to intervene, attempting to fire Fang Hui as the wedding planner, but she refuses to be fired. He then warns her that she will cause too many problems, and needs to back off, but Fang Hui doesn’t see anything wrong with what she is doing.
On their wedding day, all the friends are there to wish Xiao Tong and Chen Xun well. Instead of getting married, the two end up calling it off. Xiao Tong wanders off. (She marries another man, who turns out to be a jealous AND abusive jerk. He beats her up badly, and Chen Xun catches him. He beats him up, and then convinces Xiao Tong to leave him. She ends up divorcing him, and then wanders off once more.) Chen Xun happily begins to pursue Fang Hui, telling her they were meant to be and that he will never hurt her again. As Qiao Ran watches from the sidelines, his heart breaking once more, the two end up reuniting.
While all of these events are happening, Chen Xun has begun an office job, which he got through connections. Qiao Ran opens up a store for the family business, giving in to his mother’s demands that he not become a doctor. Fang Hui begins working for another company, getting the job through her chance friendship with the manager. And Jia Mo and Zhao Ye begin an internet cafe.
Through his work, Chen Xun comes into contact with the man that Fang Hui slept with years ago, and the man that he fought with upon discovering that truth. He has to bow down to that individual just so his company can get much needed funding for the upcoming year. When Fang Hui catches him doing that, he places the blame on her for being the “___” who slept with him in the past. She’s hurt. Chen Xun backs off, and then later on beats up the guy for being too much of a sleazy jerk. Tired of being in that kind of job, Chen Xun impulsively quits and goes into sales. He spends the next few episodes trying to make his first sale.
Fang Hui is doing great at work, but has come across a work rival, Amanda, who disguises herself as a friend. She hints to Chen Xun that Fang Hui has a relationship with the manager. Chen Xun believes it, catching Fang Hui come back in designer clothes bought by the manager.
Qiao Ran is there to comfort Fang Hui, the two talking to each other under the stars and discuss the Little Prince, which is their favorite story. He is there to cheer her on whenever she is tired and comfort her when Chen Xun hurts her heart once more. The two are so close and comfortable with each other, that they can even fall asleep while watching movies, wake up together, and feel no discomfort.
When Chen Xun comes over to apologize face to face, Fang Hui is understandably wary. He is incredibly rude to her manager, telling him to back off now that Fang Hui’s boyfriend is here. The two go outside, and Chen Xun When begins to tell her that she should be over her anger, and urges her to stop fighting. She asks for some time, and he says that he doesn’t want to be a fool, alluding to the fact that her supposed behavior is making him a fool. She says that she is feeling ill. He goes off on her for not believing in him, saying that just because he’s not rich, is his love not enough? He begins accusing her of cheating on him with her manager, saying their relationship is dirty. He is so angry and jealous that he cannot see that she is falling down ill. She tells him that they should just break up, that it’s time now. He agrees, stalking off in anger.
Qian Ran gets there in time to catch her as she faints. Qian Ran brings Fang Hui home, and spends days taking care of her. He spends the nights on her sofa. He cooks for her, bathes her with a cold towel at night, and dries her hair after she bathes. As the two spend all this time together, Fang Hui goes from begging for Chen Xun to stay/imagining Qiao Ran as Chen Xun to feeling something when her hand touches Qiao Ran’s, feeling something when his face gets too close to hers, coming out secretly at night to pull the blanket over him, being blushingly silent when he’s drying her hair while shirtless and pretending to sleep when he comes into her room. She is so rattled by him, that she almost walks into traffic in her distraction. When Qiao Ran yells and then hugs her after saving her, she stands there, accepting that hug.
On the sidelines, Jia Mo’s and Zhao Ye’s internet cafe has failed. The two then go into an online sales business, per Qiao Ran’s suggestion. The two are able to find some success with that, after they ask Qiao Ran to model for them. They move out of Qiao Ran’s place, hoping that this will give him the chance to get a girlfriend and bring her back home.
Meanwhile, Chen Xun is scrambling to make his first sale. He idiotically takes out the minor child of a potential sale for drinking, pissing off the mother, who worries about his intentions. He then gets pulled into a scam, where he risks losing a lot of money. In trying to learn the sales techniques of the scammer, he has to ask Qiao Ran to borrow money just to pay for the dinner. He then asks Qiao Ran for money to invest in the scam, who refuses to turn over the funds without checking out the business. Chen Xun goes off, incredibly angered by Qiao Ran’s refusal.
One night, Fang Hui awakens at her desk to see Qiao Ran sitting beside her. She asks him how long he’s been here (not long), and how he found her since her phone battery was dead. He answers he just thought to check. At her prodding, he admits that he went to her home, their favorite restaurant and their rooftop place before lucking out at her work. He tells her that he used his intuition, since there was no way to contact her, just like he used to do in the past when there were no cellphones. He then tells her that there is a place he wants to take her.
He takes her to his car dealership, and underneath it to an artist’s studio. He tells her that he knows she likes to hide, and he wanted to make her a place where she could come. While she looks at the room and the paintings there, he confesses to her. He explains that it has taken him so long because he was afraid that she would reject him and then they could no longer be friends. He kisses her, and she returns his kiss. The two have some carefree moments in the garret, while Chen Xun is getting drunk and vomiting on the street, and failing miserably.
Fang Hui and Qiao Ran agree to keep their relationship a secret. To highlight the differences between Qiao Ran as a boyfriend and Chen Xun as a boyfriend, we see all the great things Qiao Ran does. He agrees to keep their relationship a secret without a second thought. He picks her up for work and brings her breakfast. He doesn’t push her into anything sexual, willing to take it all slowly. He listens to what she wants to do, bringing movies for date night. When he sees her talking to her manager late at night (the same man who confessed to her), he feels absolutely no jealousy.
During a hot pot dinner one night at Qiao Ran’s home, Chen Xun discovers the truth about Fang Hui and Qiao Ran’s relationship. At this point, the two have been dating for 2 months. Chen Xun plays the betrayal card, accusing the two of betraying him by keeping this a secret. He then leaves. Chen Xun ends up at a bar and gets drunk, having his own one night stand with another woman named Chi Chi. Qiao Ran is heartbroken at losing his closest friend, feeling that he truly has betrayed Chen Xun. While he is sorry, he also admits that it was too tiring to hide her in his heart anymore; it was too hard to let her hurt anymore.
Chen Xun comes across the two while they’re on a date, and, with his bitterness, spoils the proposal that Qiao Ran had planned for that day. Chen Xun is so angry at the two that he even goes to the man that slept with Fang Hui to strike up a business agreement. Fang Hui is feeling her own guilt at the unhappiness between Qiao Ran and Chen Xun, admitting that she should not have agreed to date Chen Xun again. At this point, Jia Mo comforts her, saying that if she can end up with the man that has patiently waited by her side for ten years, then that’s not wasting youth, either.
When Qiao Ran tries to speak with Chen Xun alone, Chen Xun just spouts how he’s been betrayed by Qiao Ran. He accuses Qiao Ran of stealing Fang Hui, forgetting that the two had broken up due to his own trust issues. He then severs all ties with Qiao Ran, melodramatically breaking a pool stick before heading out the door. When Fang Hui attempts to speak with Chen Xun, he reiterates they only broke up because of his girlfriend-stealing friend. When Fang Hui turns to leave, Chen Xun heaps both his and Xiao Tong’s woes on her and Qiao Ran’s heads, saying those two are to blame for all of their issues. He then gets drunk, and begs for another chance to be with Fang Hui, while flaunting his new found wealth. She refuses.
While all of this drama is going on, and being witnessed by Zhao Ye and Jia Mo, Qiao Ran and Zhao Ye speak over beers. Zhao Ye asks him why can’t he just give up on Fang Hui. Qiao Ran turns that question around and asks what if I told you to give up on Jia Mo, would you? Zhao Ye backs off, but then begins once more, urging Qiao Ran to consider whether Fang Hui has really kicked Chen Xun out of her heart. He mentions their history together. Zhao Ye urges Qiao Ran to let her go, saying that it’s time to move on, that he will get hurt. Qiao Ran points out bleakly that if that was true and Fang Hui really didn’t love him, he would leave.
Fang Hui gets an offer for a promotion and a move to Japan. Qiao Ran offers to go with her, saying that he’ll continue with his medical studies there. After another bitter encounter with Chen Xun, who just will not let Fang Hui go, Fang Hui asks Qiao Ran to go with her to Japan. He agrees. The two hug it out. Zhao Ye is tired of the constant fighting, and explodes at all of them. He tells them how disgusted he is by the two of them (which I thought was really unfair to Qiao Ran.)
Chen Xun gets drunk once more, and then goes all in on another investment scheme when Fang Hui comes to tell him that they’re leaving for Japan. Chen Xun first reacts by signing the contract (to show off), then tries to make excuses, but eventually makes an unselfish choice for once. When he finds out about their leaving, Chen comes to Qiao Ran’s birthday party to wish him a happy birthday. And no one is more happier about that than Qiao Ran.
The scammer who has been circling this entire time, finally takes all of Chen Xun’s money and runs off. Chen Xun hits rock bottom, losing everything that he has earned. His friends try to rally around him, but he avoids them at every turn. At this time, he momentarily reconnects with Chi Chi, and the two commiserate with each other about their lost loves. Chi Chi tells him to go and say goodbye to Fang Hui for closure. Chen Xun admits that he doesn’t want to cause any more trouble, and just wants her to be happy with Qiao Ran. Chi Chi urges him to go and give her peace of mind by allowing her to leave all of her problems behind.
While racing to the airport, Chen Xun gets into a car accident. Qiao Ran and Fang Hui stay behind to make sure he is alright. They read the future diary he worked on for them, both touched by his blessings. Fang Hui spends day and night next to his bed, incredibly worried for him. And Qiao Ran sees all of this, and knows that Fang Hui has not let go of Chen Xun.
When it is time for the two to leave for Japan one week later, Qiao Ran goes instead to Wenchuan (the site of the 2008 earthquake) to volunteer, and urges Fang Hui to go on to Japan and find herself. While he writes the excuse that he cannot leave with her when Chen Xun is like this, but he is really letting her go before she starts feeling trapped. He believes that she will ultimately go back to Chen Xun. Instead of doing that though, Fang Hui listens to Qiao Ran’s advice and heads to Japan.
Seven Years Later . . .In 2015
Qiao Ran has become a doctor, and is now doing his surgical rotation. Chen Xun works for the state government. Fang Hui has become a director in the advertising agency.
Qiao Ran and Fang Hui run into each other in Japan. While out playing tourist, their car breaks down. Qiao Ran goes to the nearest town, but when he returns, he is unable to find Fang Hui. The two fight over her moving from the place he left her. She argues back why should she have to wait? It’s not like he ever returned. He shoots back that she didn’t wait because she didn’t trust him. The two can’t seem to agree on who is/was right, their past clearly coming between them. Qiao Ran then goes back to China without saying goodbye to Fang Hui.
Jia Mo and Zhao Ye are still going strong, but Jia Mo has grown tired of waiting for Zhao Ye to propose. In order to get married, Jia Mo tricks Zhao Ye into believing that she is pregnant. Zhao Ye then proposes marriage, and the two begin to plan their wedding. Fang Hui returns to China for the wedding. When Zhao Ye learns the truth, he refuses to get married and Jia Mo leaves the home.
Qiao Ran and Fang Hui work together to get the two back together, but really only plan one dinner. Fang Hui then mentions that they have a chance to go back to high school for a day to relive their youth. Everyone returns to the original location of their meeting, and while there, Jia Mo and Zhao Ye kind of reunite. Fang Hui and Qiao Ran also have a moment together, while Chen Xun looks on with acceptance.
They then get news that Da Ge has passed away. Xiao Tong comes back into their lives, telling them how Da Ge was going to come back and propose to her, and she was going to accept him. She urges them to live life without regrets. Everyone listens.
Xiao Tong goes off to travel, deciding to finish the wishes that Da Ge had.
Jia Mo and Zhao Ye plan to get married. He realizes that she has spent the past 14 years with him, and will spend the next however many years with him. So then, what is he waiting for?
Chen Xun goes off with Chi Chi to travel the world. He has completely moved on from Fang Hui.
Qiao Ran and Fang Hui reunite. Fang Hui admits that it was only when Qiao Ran abandoned her that she realized how much she loved him. Until then, their friendship had outweighed everything else. When he left, having prepared all the things she would need for her trip to Japan, his shadow followed her everywhere. And it was that shadow that aroused her real feelings for him. Qiao Ran also admits that he has spent the past 7 years thinking about her, aching for her, and trying to forget her. And nothing has worked. They hold hands and look to the future.
I don’t think Back in Time: Long Time No See was that popular when it aired in 2015. I can’t understand why the production team would do a second season but replace the actors? That makes no sense, and maybe it didn’t make sense to the audience, either.
I didn’t see the first part, so really had no connection to Chen Xun-Fang Hui as a couple. There were flashbacks cluing any new viewers into what had happened, and letting us know what the Qiao Ran-Fang Hui-Chen Xun history was. I also think the production did us a disservice by not showing us Jia Mo’s/Zhao Ye’s past. It was only at the very end that I kind of figured out that Zhao Ye might be all alone in the world? I’m still not sure if that was the truth.
Additionally, I’m not a big fan of dramas that are heavy on the nostalgia, since I’m not looking back at my own past. There might be some similarities, but the downside of watching dramas from other cultures is that there is no connection, even though, I myself am from the same age group as these characters. Additionally, I don’t yearn for my youth, so didn’t understand how some of the characters were so desperate to cling to the past or yearn for it.
So, I took this drama and story as is. It was about the eternal triangles that drama teams like to torture us with, and a group of friends that were screwed up for decades because of first loves.
The Characters . . . were all consistent in their actions, but what those actions were and what those personalities were was another thing. While each character never changed on us, surprising us by their actions, I still disliked some of them for the reasons detailed below.
Fang Hui – was our wishy washy heroine. I don’t like how she was written, but that’s because I didn’t agree with her choices. I would have chosen Qiao Ran from the get go, but I also agree with what Fang Hui did after her first bad choice. She’d been royally screwed over by the man she loved, so when she came back, she had to try again with him. It was only when she saw his real personality, as someone who would eternally blame her for her mistakes did she have the courage to turn her back on that first love. It took her a really long time to appreciate Qiao Ran and realize her love for him, and I’m just grateful that she finally did. I shudder to think what would have happened if Qiao Ran hadn’t stepped back; Fang Hui would never have realized her love for him and would never have appreciated him for the man he was. Part of me also wonders why she initially agreed to date him if she only thought of him as a friend, and I don’t feel that was answered in the drama.
Chen Xun – was a horrible person. He was small, petty, and insecure. His obsession with Fang Hui ruined lots of lives. I couldn’t call it love, because he sure as heck never made her happy. He cheated on her. He then dumped Xiao Tong (after 3 years of dating) when Fang Hui came back in his life. He belittled Fang Hui, brought up her past, and accused her of cheating on him in the present. Even when they broke up, he blamed Qiao Ran, he blamed Fang Hui, but never took responsibility himself for their relationship ending. Career wise, he quit a stable job, went into sales without thinking and then got scammed out of all of his money because he never thought before leaping. In 2015, he did wise up when he realized that his friends were leaving the country because of his pettiness and continued with his boring state job, but he even chucked all of that away to go travel the world.
Zhao Ye – mostly benign, until he started interfering in his friends’ relationships. He tricked Fang Hui into going to watch a movie with Chen Xun when she came back from Japan the first time. He told Qiao Ran to back off because Fang Hui might still love Chen Xun. And he refused to marry the woman that had loved him for 14 years. He was a coward, and one had to wonder if he would have held off on marrying her forever if Da Ge hadn’t died.
Jia Mo – A very good friend, a beautiful woman, with a lot of sense. She was there to support Fang Hui. She also controlled Zhao Ye when he got out of hand. And she just wanted her friends to be happy. I liked her interactions with Qiao Ran. She knew that he liked Fang Hui, and she always wondered why Fang Hui couldn’t be with Qiao Ran. After the accident, she tried to comfort Qiao Ran when he witnessed Fang Hui’s obsession with Chen Xun. She was an overall good woman, even though she did try to trick Zhao Ye into marriage with a fake pregnancy.
Qiao Ran was my favorite character by far. He was very well written. He was the perfect person. When he realized that the woman he loved and his best friend were together, he shut his love away and stayed quiet. When Fang Hui came back into their lives, he let her decide what she wanted to do. He finally confessed when the two had broken up, and allowed himself to dream. Even then, because of his good heart/friendship to Chen Xun, he couldn’t be completely happy. He apologized and tried to make Chen Xun understand. But despite Chen Xun’s anger, he would have stayed with Fang Hui. It was only when he saw her hesitation and her feelings for Chen Xun did he leave her so that she wouldn’t have to leave him. And he only comes back to her, even as his heart aches on a daily basis, when she begins to chase him. The writer wrote one scene between him and Chen Xun, where he told Chen Xun that he was really good at basketball, but he never competed with others / with Chen Xun because it was okay with him to stand back and let Chen Xun win for them. He then warns Chen Xun that he’s not going to sit back anymore.
The Passage of Time
One thing that really bugged me about the show was that it was hard for me to tell where these characters were in their lives. It was hard to tell when time passed, or how much time had passed. When Fang Hui and Qiao Ran were keeping their relationship a secret, it turned out they had been dating for 2 months, but nothing had been shown to indicate that until Chen Xun said it straight out.
At the beginning, since the writer never made this clear in season 2, I never knew when Zhao Ye-Chen Xun-Qiao Ren met. I’m guessing elementary school. I don’t know when the girls came into their lives. I’m guessing high school. I also don’t know how long they were together before Fang Hui left for the first time. I’m guessing up until the end of first year of college. I don’t know how long Fang Hui was back before she left once more to Japan. I’m guessing 3 years?
This lack of time markers and then lack of growth in our characters even after the passage of time lead to a stagnating story and most likely why a lot of people said that the heroine spent too much time on the wrong guy. As stated above, I don’t really have a problem with the time Fang Hui took, but the time issue was most prominent in the part where Fang Hui was thinking about Chen Xun while sick, and literally two minutes later was feeling something for Qiao Ran. That did not put her in a good light.
Once again, another language means it’s really hard for me to judge how these actors did in terms of acting. But I believe that every one of the actors playing the friends did a good job.
Especially Vin Zhang. I loved his Qiao Ran, and I could see the effort he placed in playing this steady, perfect character.
The Music . . .
Additionally, I feel that perfect music was chosen to accompany the drama. The lyrics were meaningful to the story itself, and I got used to hearing them while watching the drama.
The use of the music and the judicious use of flashbacks even made me feel teary-eyed for the demise of the Da Ge character, though we had only seen him in maybe 30 minutes of the entire drama, and he was a character that I knew nothing about outside of the fact that he loved Xiao Tong.
Overall, I would give this dram a 6/10, and say it is worth at least one watch. And definitely a must watch for any Vin Zhang fans out there for the great work he does.