Big Red Riding Hood, 大紅帽與小野狼 (Dao Hong Mao Yu Xiao Ye Lang) Episode 1 Recap

This drama is a rare gem that outshines the mundane dramas airing in Taiwan right now. I’m a hard sell on asian dramas, being that I’ve watched too many to count, my favorites being My Girl, Coffee Prince, Hana Yori Dango, Fated to Love You, Kimi Ni Todoke, and of course BBJX (that one put me in a depression for days). Finding a good drama that can make you want to watch what happens next out of eagerness instead of morbid curiosity is so rare today that I didn’t think it would happen. Usually after the first episode, I know if I would watch it, watch it on fast foward, read it online, or stick it where the sun don’t shine. To my great dismay, I’ve found the next drama that I can not only sit through, but relish. I didn’t expect it. Especially because the name is not that interesting. But as all wise drama addicts know, you can’t judge a drama by its name. Or its actors.  This drama is the perfect companion piece to Agent X, the Tang Yang drama that I’m also recapping. Agent X is a serious drama about a kick ass spy who happens to be a woman in the 1920s, saving her country, one arms deal at a time. But Big Red Riding hood is funny, angsty, it tugs at the heartstrings and leaves you wanting more. Watching this drama is like taking a bite of your favorite cake after sipping a nice hot cup of bitter, sex coffee that is Agent X. ITs the Comedic Yin to the Serious, Dramatic Yin of agent X.

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Without Further Ado:

We start the story in a idyllic taiwaness town where a little girl rushes to school, saying hi to everyone. It’s clear that she’s well known and loved. Its the day of graduation from primary school and the little girl (our main character) Wu Zhang Mei sees a bunch of bullies beating the crap out of a little boy who has a severe stammer. She calmly begins to stretch and hurls herself thru a window into the fray to save the little boy. Beating up several of the other boys in the process. She takes the little boy’s hand and they run to her mom’s shop. The little boy’s name is An De Feng and we learn that Wu Zhang Mei regularly saves his bacon because he has the best lunchbox in the school. Which he happily gives her.

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During the graduation ceremony, An De Feng screws up his courage and tries to stammer out ot Wu Zhang Mei that he likes her. He turns to her as he’s about to confess, only to see her face full of tears. She tells him that the entire ceremony was so moving, and she’s really sad that she’s not going to see him any more. This means that she can’t have anymore of his lunch… and they are the best of the whole school. How will she live? Undeterred, he tries again with a note, which she mistakes for a napkin and starts wiping her face. Her furious wiping caused the word “Like” to dissapear. All she reads on the note is “I (hole) You” She asks him what he means by that. And he tells her “Xi” which means like but she mistakes it to mean “to wash” and she replies, there’s no need for me to wash my face. I can just wipe it. He finally asks her to meet him in the classroom and that its really important.

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Meanwhile. An De Feng’s stepdad came to present the class with their diplomas. Its apparent that there is history between An De Feng’s dad and Wu Zhang Mei’s mom. The rest of the first episode is too typical for me. Wu Zhang Mei’s mom gets into a car accident with An De Feng’s dad and she dies. Wu Zhang Mei is left to the care of a kind neighbor (guy giving her the bread in the picture) who takes her to the city. There is a birth secret, its (highly) probable that An De Feng’s stepdad is Wu Zhang Mei’s dad. But that’s for later.

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As for An De Feng, He walks to the class room and sees a girl, he tells her (thru a wall) that he likes her. Only to be told that he is a stammerer and too disgusting to be liked. A chalk eraser is thrown at his head and he runs away crying. His heart broken by a girl he thought the world of. I have to note that the girl in the classroom is most likely not wu Zhang Mei and there is a “Misunderstanding” here.

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Cut to fifteen years later. Wu Zhang Mei is not part of the security detail of Miss Beauty, who is a funny version of taiwanese Lady Gaga. They are at the airport where the fans go wild to Miss Beauty’s Arrival. Wu Zhang Mei is good at her job and manages to block a crazy fan. But in the process, a locket that her mom had given her flies and knocks off the glasses of a hot stranger. The crowd goes silent as they gaze upon his prettiness. Even Miss Beauty is enthralled as she goes to introduce herself, the crowd chants for Miss Beauty and the Stranger to kiss. The Stranger, instead of kissing Miss Beauty, grabs Wu Zhang Mei instead. Miss Beauty slips on Wu Zhang Mei’s keychain and pushes Zhang Mei into the Stranger.

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Zhang Mei is furious and tries to attack the stranger for stealing her first kiss, she had to be carried out by her security detail. The stranger watches it all go down with amusement. He picks up her keychain and walks to his new secretary, who is waiting for An De Feng, the little stammerer who was sent to the Americas. Little Boy is all grown up and he is back with a vengeance. Not only is he here to take back the company his stepfather is chairman of and which he believes that is rightfully his, he proves that he has a vendicative streak when he plans to sue the household staff into oblivion. In all fairness they are the nastiest pieces of human waste. They teased him mercilessless when he was a child and even gave him raw eggs for breakfast, telling him they were boiled. They still believe that they could bully him when he came back, by throwing pamphlets about autistic and stammering self help pamphlets on the ground to remind him that he has speech problems. An De Feng of course puts them in their place and scares the shit out of them, promising to torture them day by day as they did him.

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He targets his dad and throws out a press release announcing that the Heir has arrived. He has invited Miss Beauty. Who by the way doesn’t want to be there and dresses Wu Zhang Mei up as her, promising to pay the girl alot of money. Wu Zhang Mei, being the hardworking, candy-type (with a temper and a mean fist) agrees. But she is terrible and dances like a headless chicken. She’s basically fooling no one. An De Feng’s stepdad shows up and puts an end to the affair, telling An De Feng to hurry up and go away, he’s not taking over anything. At that instant, Wu Zhang Mei looses the wig and everyone can see Miss Beauty is a phony. Press has a field day.

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Unfazed by the negative media, Wu Zhang Mei tells the other bodyguards that as long as they are here, they should enjoy themselves. Her friends yells her name at her in exasperation. An De Feng immediately registers that this was the little girl he loved as a little boy. He yells at his secretary to go and get THE THING. He turns to Wu Zhang Mei and asks her does she know what she has done? Without waiting for her answer, he sits her down in a chair and I love his speech so I’m going to put the entire translation here :

“The people of the ancient times once said that shoes are the strength for a person to rely on. But today we think of every way to torture our feet. We don’t understand that Cinderella’s glass slippers were made so that she couldn’t run away from her prince. So that he doesn’t have to put in any effort to catch her. But I like a girl who can run. Because then, it has meaning.”

He puts a very expensive pair of coverse on her feet and carry her away

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He then carries her into a car and they ride off amid applause at his audacity. In the car he tells her who she is and she’s happy that a good friend as returned. He drops her off and remineses about what happened when he confessed. Its revealed that he was really hurt by the rejection (not knowing that the little girl he confessed to was not Wu Zhang Mei) and now he’s going to make her life miserable. He’s going to make her fall in love so that he can destroy her life.

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Thoughts: This drama doesn’t shy away from angst. And it uses it well in the story. I love the little boy who was so mistreated in his early life that its shaped his entire adult being. That said, there is something admirable about his determination, though, no his prejudice against Zhang Mei. His plan to make the girl fall in love has been so often seen in asian dramas, and american movies that it’s trite. However, the simple cuteness and the sweetness of the younger kids made me forgive the overused plot. Wu Zhang Mei’s character is a more violent version of Candy, but what this drama has done so well. is that it made her pain, her outrageousness, and her gregariousness believable. She’s not some loudy, dramatic, over weepy abused heroine who freezes at the first sign of trouble. She goes in with both fists up. This is what taiwaness drama has been missing, this is the kind of modern girl go-getter that makes the story all that more enjoyable. This is the drama that doesn’t make you want to put a bullet into your computer screen.

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