There is only one way to describe the fourth episode of We Best Love’s Fighting Mr. 2nd: complicated.
The way this episode tackled mental illness, patriarchal protectiveness, and inferiority complexes is nothing short of brilliant. Yet, I think many viewers will walk away from it feeling torn and confused despite all of this.
Feeling uncertain about conflicting human emotions is precisely what a show tackling these kinds of issues should feel like.
I have been a big fan of the Taiwanese We Best Love BL series since the drama first premiered, and while I adored season one, the second season has pulled out all the stops. The fourth episode alone is so jam-packed full of complicated feels and revelations, it seems only fitting to break it down by the couples showcased.
Shi De and Shu Yi
Episode four brought reconciliation to our leads, Shi De and Shu Yi, masterfully using flashbacks to highlight the bond and misunderstandings that first tore them apart. Each scene showcased how these two deeply in love men managed to allow the world to come between them.
The quiet Shi De allowed his lack of self-confidence to build a wall between himself and the one thing he wanted most: Shu Yi. Self-confidence is a demon. We sell our souls to it, either possessing too much or too little. There’s a fine line between arrogance and modesty. Shi De is too modest. He believes he doesn’t deserve Shu Yi, which has been evident since his character’s first appearance. Actor Sam Lin does a fantastic job expressing Shi De’s sense of inferiority. Those with too little self-confidence tend to seek that confidence from others. When Shu Yi no longer replied to Shi De’s messages in America, Shi De’s shaky confidence began to crumble. And when Shi De returned to Taiwan and found himself facing off with Shu Yi’s father, the rest of that confidence fled, leaving him heartbroken and determined to prove his worth.
But Shi De has always been worthy.
The headstrong Shu Yi gets what he wants out of life, and while this should make him hard to relate to, he’s actually likable and compassionate. Stubborn as hell, naive, impatient, and sensitive; yes. Unlikable; no. There is something wondrous about Shu Yi, something open and beautiful about the way he loves. He throws his entire heart and soul into his feelings. It’s overwhelming at times, and because of this, I can understand why being in love with and being loved by Shu Yi can be intimidating and all-consuming. Unfortunately, however, the same headstrong, passionate traits that make Shu Yi overwhelmingly irresistible are the same traits that stand in his way. His impetuous sensitivity causes him to run away rather than face a problem head-on when he catches Shi De having a picnic with an unknown woman and baby in America. He’s immediately heartbroken, leading him down a path of tormented tears that proves he is just as scared as Shi De, his self-confidence weaker than it appears. He wears his outgoing personality like a shield to protect his insecurities.
Shi De and Shu Yi’s mutual low self-esteem opened the doors for the misunderstandings that followed. These same insecurities also allowed Shu Yi’s father to take advantage of the situation by using Shu Yi’s broken heart and Shi De’s low sense of worth to separate them from each other. In a way, Shu Yi’s father believes he’s protecting his son, and I can’t hate him for that, even if I disagree with his methods. But what Shu Yi’s father doesn’t know is that he’s also set these two heartbroken men up for a much more stable future. Together.
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger!
Lack of communication paired with mixed emotions played a significant role in Shu Yi and Shi De’s youth and the breakup that ensued, but their growth and maturity paved the way for where this now takes them. Raw from years of pining, they explode back into each other’s lives like two pieces of broken glass that need gluing back together. The glass, once glued, may not look pretty, but the beauty is in the scar. Finally, by communicating and learning about each other through the people who surrounded them during these lonely years, Shi De and Shu Yi are taking a shaky step toward a much richer, more mature relationship.
Shi De and Shu Yi own my heart, and while I love that they are now finding ways to bridge what they’ve missed, it is the secondary couple in Fighting Mr. 2nd that owns my soul.
Shou Yi and Zhen Xuan
I’ll start this off by saying most of how I feel about Shou Yi and Zhen Xuan is my opinion only. It is speculation forged around my general lack of knowledge about their past relationship together. We’ve gotten only small glimpses into how the two met and how this affects their current state of chaos.
The past Shou Yi is a former doctor battling Affective Disorder. Zhen Xuan is a complicated student he met while working at a school, a student with mental diagnoses ranging from Aspergers to obsessive disorder. To name a few.
That’s it. That’s all we know.
From the few clues given, it is easy to deduce that Shou Yi left his former job because of Zhen Xuan and has been hiding from their past attachment ever since. On the other hand, Zhen Xuan has spent all of this spare time looking for Shou Yi. By accident, Zhen Xuan finds him, and a very visceral emotional struggle develops between the former doctor and the former student.
This struggle is where things get complex because we know Shou Yi is moody and blunt from the moment we meet him in season one. Suffering from Affective Disorder, Shou Yi also harbors obvious feelings for someone from his past, the ramen he keeps hidden in his office a reminder of their time together.
Season Two introduces Zhen Xuan, the boy Shou Yi can’t forget. He’s a little peculiar but endearing, his wide, vulnerable eyes at odds with how particular he is. The technical officer at the firm Shi De presides over, Zhen Xuan immediately draws attention. Even knowing little about him, it’s easy to see why Shou Yi fell in love.
While following Shi De one evening, Zhen Xuan discovers that Shou Yi now owns a street cafe, and the two of them come face-to-face. Zhen Xuan smiles, and all seems right with the world until Shou Yi cruelly pushes him away with harsh words and actions.
It’s hard to understand Shou Yi. At times, it’s even easy to hate him for his behavior toward the vulnerable Zhen Xuan. But armed with what little knowledge I have about Shou Yi and Zhen Xuan and their past together, I also find it hard to write Shou Yi off completely.
I can see where Shou Yi is coming from, but it also hurts me because I see how vulnerable Zhen Xuan is. There is a reason why the former doctor is behaving the way he is, and I feel like a lot of this stems from Zhen Xuan’s obsessive tendencies. I also get the sense that Shou Yi is having a hard time separating Zhen Xuan’s love and his obsessiveness. I find myself wondering if Shou Yi doubts Zhen Xuan can love someone while dealing with all of his diagnoses and the emotional trauma that no doubt caused some of them.
Zhen Xuan has to prove his emotional attachment to Shou Yi is more than just his diagnoses, that he is capable of loving someone beyond his obsessiveness and beyond all of the other issues he has. Zhen Xuan needs to be able to express that, and he hasn’t had the opportunity yet. In truth, Shou Yi isn’t giving him that opportunity, but I think Shou Yi is also using his brusque “let’s shut Zhen Xuan down” behavior to protect himself. Something happened that hurt both of them in a big, big way. In a way that scares Shou Yi. People act out in peculiar ways when they are afraid.
It’s also important to remember that Shou Yi struggles with his own psychological issues, most notably his mood swings. From what I’ve gathered, Shou Yi’s specialty as a doctor is not psychology. Instead, it appears to be general medicine, so I think it is a little much to expect him to understand how to handle certain situations with Zhen Xuan, especially while dealing with his own mood disorder. I’m sure Shou Yi never expected fate to lead him to Zhen Xuan, which opened Shou Yi’s heart up to a whole world full of emotional complications. Affective Disorder is also a tricky thing to deal with. I have family members who struggle with the shifting mood swings from this disorder, making them hard to get close to. Actor Ray Chang has done an excellent job of portraying this with Shou Yi. His moodiness colors how Shou Yi behaves toward Zhen Xuan, and Zhen Xuan’s many issues color how he acts toward Shou Yi. So, we have two people who are not only coming face-to-face with each other and their feelings for one another but also coming face-to-face with their individual diagnoses. It’s a game of “I am in love with this person, but I don’t know how to deal with his issues while also dealing with my own issues.”
Out of the two of them, Zhen Xuan is much easier to relate to in this series. I think people hurt for Zhen Xuan and feel sorry for him because he has a vulnerability to him that Shou Yi doesn’t have. People aren’t going to relate to Shou Yi the way they do to Zhen Xuan, and I pity him for that.
I am drawn to Shou Yi and Zhen Xuan’s story in a way I didn’t expect to be, and I hope with only two episodes remaining that the upcoming third season focuses on their love story. A love story that blossoms in the face of mental illness is unique, and I need to know more about both of them.
Fighting Mr. 2nd proves that the second season of a show can be just as great as the first. Each episode gets better and better, proving that We Best Love deserves the attention it’s been getting. Bring on Episode 5.
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