Let’s go back in time.
Y’all ready to return to some yesteryears with these recaps? If you’re game but want to find out a little more about Back in Time/Cong Cong Na Nian, check out the first impression post for my initial thoughts on this Chinese web drama. 1999, here we come!
In present-day 2014, 31-year-old Chen Xun is aimlessly wandering around the city. As he’s trudging along, he thinks to himself how people who love memories will inevitably move slower than those who don’t. He asks us and himself if time can be turned back if you just walk backwards. The answer to that is probably no. Then again, I’ve never tried it out…so who knows. He continues to wander around while doing a mental countdown of the years in his head. After quick snippets of major world events from the past decade or so, Chen Xun finds himself standing in front of a tree with some carved words on it that have been weathered by the years. He says that if he can go back to any year in his life, he wants to return to 1999 and that ridiculously sunny day when he was only 16 years old. And into the time machine we go!
In 1999, Chen Xun and his friend, Zhao Ye, decide to make a quick pit stop at the arcade shop to play a few rounds of video games before heading off to school. Their other bro, Qiao Ran, swings by with breakfast and reminds them that they’re all going to be late if they don’t get going now. But Chen Xun and Zhao Ye are so into their game that they just ignore him…until Zhao Ye breaks the game control, that is. Needless to say, the boys bounce outta there in a hot minute.
Despite their high speed bike riding, the Three Amigos still manage to get to school late. Since class is already in session, they got no choice but to creep around outside the classroom and wait for the teacher to turn away. The boys then sneak into their seats, one by one. Their teacher ain’t no dummy though, and immediately calls them out and makes them leave the classroom. The punishment is making them balance books on their heads while thinking about their mistakes. Instead, the boys are stressing out that they’re gunna miss the basketball game tonight because the whole class has to stay late. Chen Xun tells the other two to chill because he’s got a plan to make sure they get to watch the game.
During one of the class breaks, Chen Xun marches up to the front of the classroom to declare that wherever there’s oppression, there’s going to be resistance, and that’s the situation going on right here. How melodramatic. He asks the class if they’re really willing to stay in school until 9 PM tonight, and obviously everyone’s like, “Hell to the no.” Chen Xun preaches that their teacher’s tyranny cannot be tolerated, and that they must be able to leave on time today! Everyone raises their hand in support, except for the quiet girl, Fang Hui. She only raises her hand when the person behind her nudges her. She is also the only one who hesitates signing the petition that Chen Xun passes around, but does end up signing it.
In the school library, Qiao Ran is looking for The Little Prince, but the librarian tells him that someone just checked out the book. Don’t you hate when that happens? Luckily for him, he sees Fang Hui reading The Little Prince by the window. He asks her if she was the one who borrowed the book (no duh), and Fang Hui offers to let him read it first. But Qiao Ran says it’s cool because he already read it multiple times. He tells her that this isn’t best version of the book, and that the earlier edition is even better. Then, she quotes something from the book and he responds with another quote. So nerdy, but she loves it. Fang Hui gives him the book and tells him to read it first, and Qiao Ran watches as she walks away. Love sparks are flying around these stacks for sure.
Back in the classroom, the petition with all the signatures is taped to the chalkboard. When the teacher walks in and sees it, he rips it off and demands to know who’s behind this. Chen Xun immediately admits to it, getting the teacher all in a rage and says that he’s never seen a student as disobedient as him. Instead of apologizing, Chen Xun asks him if he knows how to write the Chinese character for “ren (person).” He writes it on the chalkboard, and then gives this speech about how the two strokes in the character represents freedom and independence. Chen Xun claims that the teacher took away their freedom, so how can they have the independence to be good students, let alone a person. Kinda shaky argument there. Teacher tells him to shut it, but Chen Xun keeps blabbering on. Teacher tells him that if he wants to talk so badly, then he can go write a 5000 word essay. Bummer.
Zhao Ye and Qiao Ran ask what the plan is now since the petition clearly didn’t work, but Chen Xun ain’t worried and reassures them that he’s got another trick up his sleeves. That night when they’re all still stuck in class, the Three Amigos wait until the teacher leaves to sneak out of the classroom. They find the school’s fuse box and somehow manage to knock out the power. Once the power goes out, all the students run out of there while they still got a chance. As the boys are leaving the scene, they run into Fang Hui and accidentally drop the fuse box’s lock.
All the students are gathered around this tiny TV in the school’s convenience store to watch the game. But the teacher eventually finds them all hiding out there, and drags them back to class. Another failed mission. He then tells Fang Hui to step outside of the classroom with him. Everyone is watching Fang Hui and the teacher chatting, and they all think that she’s ratting out the Three Amigos. When the teacher steps back into the room, he declares that he already knows who the culprits are, and urges them them to step up and confess. No one admits to it, but everyone’s sending death glares Fang Hui’s way.
When they’re finally allowed to leave school for the day, everyone’s gathered around their bikes to discuss whether or not Fang Hui snitched. Some mean girl says that the quiet ones are the ones you gotta look out for, and Zhao Ye wholeheartedly agrees. Qiao Ran is the only one who believes that she didn’t do it. When Fang Hui walks by to get her bike, the mean girl purposely says that people who try to be the teacher’s pet are the worst. Fang Hui quickly gets her bike and leaves without saying anything to them.
It’s “We Hate Fang Hui Day” at school because no one is willing to help her move the exercise mats during gym class. And when Qiao Ran runs by and offers to help, Zhao Ye quickly pulls him away. Then in class, everyone continues to ignore her when she is trying to collect the homework. When Fang Hui comes back from the library, someone placed a bucket of water at the top of the door so that all the water is dumped onto her when she opens the door. Kids are so mean. Qiao Ran walks into the classroom right after the water show and yells at the class for being ridiculous and immature. He chases after her and tries to give her his jacket, but she refuses it. She tells him that she’s fine and that she’s already used to it. Later, Qiao Ran confronts Chen Xun and the others for going overboard with these jokes, and defends Fang Hui in front of them. Straight-up knight in a school uniform.
As Fang Hui is carrying the homework notebooks, someone purposely runs into her and sends the books flying. While she’s picking them up by herself, a new girl comes up to help. She introduces herself as Lin Jia Mo, and says that she’s a new transfer student who’s been assigned to their class. During lunch, Fang Hui sees that Jia Mo didn’t pack a lunch, so she offers to share hers with her. BFFL alert! Zhao Ye thinks the new girl is cute and tries to cozy up to her during lunch, but she just laughs in his face when he tries to come across as some hotshot. The mean girl stops by and reminds Zhao Ye that Chen Xun told them that they aren’t allowed to talk to traitors. Jia Mo asks who’s the traitor, and they nod towards Fang Hui. Because she’s awesome, Jia Mo tells the haters to get lost.
Before they’re dismissed from class, the teacher tells them that he already gave the fuse box culprits a week to confess, and today’s going to be their last chance to do so. He threatens ’em that no one can leave until he gets a confession. When no one says anything, he makes Fang Hui stand up and lectures her that by sticking up for a bad student, she is also being a bad student. He asks her one last time who’s responsible, and she insists that she doesn’t know. Chen Xun is over in the back row with his jaw dropped because she didn’t rat him out. The teacher punishes Fang Hui for not telling the truth by making her run 10 laps around the school. Man…that’s brutal.
While Fang Hui is running the laps by herself, Jia Mo, Qiao Ran, Zhao Ye, and finally Chen Xun join her in running. The Chen Xun voiceover says that whenever one thinks of the past, there’s always going to be someone or something that you immediately think of. He says that if time could be turned back, he wishes he could go back to this day, running with his friends towards the future.
After their laps, Zhao Ye apologizes to Fang Hui for all that mean stuff he did to her. Chen Xun also apologizes and suggests that they go over to his place to watch some movie he has on VCD(!) to commemorate their new friendship. Qiao Ran says that the movie will have to wait because he and Fang Hui already have plans. Ooohhh. Nah, I’m just playin’. They’re only going to the bookstore to check out books. Major yawn, but I guess cute in a nerdy way. As Fang Hui and Qiao Ran are walking away together, Chen Xun watches them with an indecipherable look on his face. Jealousy? Envy? Sadness? Confusion? Which is it?!
Chen Xun is apparently the class president/leader. Yeah, that makes sense.
Fang Hui tells Qiao Ran that she’s super knowledgeable about the library’s sorting system because this is her usual hangout spot. Aw.
When everyone was busy hating on Fang Hui, Qiao Ran tells her that he knows she didn’t snitch on them. He says that someone who likes The Little Prince wouldn’t do something like that. What kind of logic is that? Gotta work on your flirt game, son.