Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wo Ju – Snail Space 蜗居, Episode 12

Young Bei gleefully comes home and takes off his pants and turns off the light. Haizao says she is reading, and spurns him. She feels grimy like a toothbrush that had been used by two people. Haizao is reading a book called Hearbeat, by Nora Ephron [There is no such book in English or Chinese. However the title, 《心动》, is the title of a work of fiction by author Hai Cheng. Perhaps the connection is there. Also, the Chinese characters used to write "Ephron" are different from the typical way: compare 伊弗龙 and 艾佛朗 as very similar transliterations of Ephron; the one used in "Wo Ju" (i.e. the latter) is more typical of "Efron"; the name Nora is the same in both. Might just be error.]. Young Bei sleeps and Haizao flashes back to Secretary Song kissing her on the floor. [From the language, she was clearly not a virgin before her encounter/rape by Song, so the blood came from his violence].

Su Chun returns home and finds the 60,000 yuan. He thinks it is not right and Haiping should ask Haizao about where she borrowed. Haiping says that not everyone is like him with poor friends.

Su Chun wants to return the money, but his colleague is unhappy since they had an agreement.

Haiping picks out a special outfit and goes to meet the foreigner. "Delicious, food, money". They only speak English. The foreigner's name is Mark, a (white) American with a beard [he is a news presenter from CCTV channel 9, and speaks Chinese with a thick accent]. Haiping claims to have learned new English phrases.

Haizao flashes back to Secretary Song again, but this time she remembers him saying that he wants to help her, that he cares about her. Does she want call him to thank him for her sister, or for her own reasons. Haizao accepts Song's invitation to meet the next night.

Haizao is walking on the street with Young Bei, thinking about how Haiping is getting kicked out of her apartment for demolition. She says she will go to an intermediary, 中介 [there are literally thousands of these in Shanghai, and they compete fiercely, even violently, for business. Their front windows are papered with ads for sale and rent in the nearby area]. Standing in front of a window for an intermediary, they see signs for 1800, 2000, and 2500 yuan per month. Too expensive. They leave.

Secretary Song doesn't call Haizao, but eventually he does. He tells her to come to his office, since he needs to finish something right away. She arrives and tells him about Haiping not having a place to live, and looking for rentals. Song says that the area they are looking in is too far from Mark, the foreigner, so there will be no bus at night. Song offers to lend an apartment to Haiping for a short period, and he hands her the key. Song says: "Of course, you don’t get love with money, but many of the roads that lead to love are material."

Song takes Haizao to a restaurant that looks like someone's house. It has no sign on the door, and customers are only people have been introduced to it. The food is extravagant, and Haizao loves it. She says it is the first time she has even gotten full at the banquet table.

In a different scene, Su Chun's colleague returns the money to his aunt, who stares at the envelope since it has a small, strange drawing on it [remember, the money came from Haizao, who got it from Secretary Song. Foreshadowing dire events, no doubt].

Haizao leaves the restaurant with Secretary Song and says "Goodnight [in English]". He grabs her forcefully by the wrist and says her night is too short, and his is just starting. He drives to the place he took her before, a private townhouse residence. She feels trapped and unable to flee. He takes her to the bedroom and takes off her clothes. He asks her to look at him but Haizao refuses.

Secretary Song returns home. It turns out his wife is the aunt of Su Chun's colleague. She says the mark on the envelope was one that she drew herself. Song says the world is small.

The scene changes back to Grandma Li in the longtang. They are talking about the grandson who never comes back to visit. Grandma Li says, "the entire hopes of this family in this house. In the rest of our lives, will we drink water or drink soup? We’ll what comes of this gamble."

The episode ends with Haizao giving Haiping the key to the apartment of Secretary Song's friend.