The short 15-episode series is a science fiction about time loop occurring in 2019 in a fairly small town of Jialin. An intense, fast-paced and mesmerising story-telling that ropes you into the series almost immediately, starting with the female lead Li Shi Qing realising that she is repeating a time loop in a bus when it explodes. Each time loop is tweaked slightly with different people affected.
In her 5th time loop & attempt to get out of the bus, she manages to pull out Xiao He Yun, a game programmer who is still destined to die. In her 6th time loop, she finds out that Xiao He Yun is now undergoing the same time loop with her. Thus begin their journey to escape the time loop, building a strong foundation of friendship and then more…
The 2 main characters are quite different whereby Li Shi Qing is simple but kind-hearted, more trusting of people around her and very willing to lend a hand as needed. On the other hand, Xiao He Yun is an extremely analytical person, who manages to pin down the pattern of the time loop quite fast. However, he is a little more pragmatic in his handle of daily affairs, preferring to play an inactive role rather than standing out. Under pressure, Li Shi Qing is very persistent and manages the stress level very well while Xiao He Yun buckles under the psychological pressure imposed by the police.
Precisely because of their conflicting beliefs & personalities, conflicts arise early on in their response to the situations encountered during the time loop. Instead of driving them apart, the conflicts help them to build a strong foundation for trust and bringing out the best in each other.
As they rely on each other, the story starts to peel the layers of an onion, each layer representing the story of a related person affected by the explosion, be it a passenger or others.
One passenger is Ma Quo Qiang who is an ex-convict imprisoned for a hit & run accident. He visits Jialin town to bring home-grown watermelon for his son Xiao Long. Looking a tad bit suspicious, the two leads test him only to find a generous old man who guards the watermelon closely due to the desire to send the fruits to his estranged wife and son.
Another passenger caught in the bus is the young chap Lu Di, asthmatic cat-lover who is into anime & hero-worshipping but tightly controlled by his parents. In one time loop, he is also saved from the explosion and generously shares his rented space & believes the incredulous situations that Li Shi Qing & Xiao He Yun encounter. It is quite surprising that Lu Di does not undergo the same time loop even though he has been saved previously.
The construction worker Qiao Xiang Rong is originally a suspect due to his large luggage, but he is quickly crossed out from the list when he shares his little belongings with Li Shi Qing (a sanitary pad too, such funny scene). As they encounter more loops, he has proven himself to be a helpful person willing to lend a hand in life and death situation.
The police officer Wang Cheng is well-portrayed, showing the kindness amidst taking his job seriously. Always taking care of his protégé police officer Jiang Feng, showing great empathy for the victims and keen observations with heightened sense of intuition, probably from years of experience as a police officer. In one time loop, when he loses his life to save others, protégé Jiang Feng is totally crushed but determined to seek justice.
The finale features the kind bus driver Wang Xing De, and the complicated situation he is in. Leading to his relationship with wife Tao Ying Hong who detonates the bomb. As more clues are revealed, the series follow their attempt to seek justice for their dead daughter Wang Meng Meng. The explosion is plotted in their desperation to join their dead daughter on the same bus line 45 and on the same bridge where she is mowed down by a truck after alighting from the bus midway.
Exploration of Mundane Everyday Life
The story revolves around the daily life of the mass, happening right on a public transport bus route. Everyone has their own story to tell, hence do not judge a book by its cover. A cleanly-shaven person is equally capable of being a pervert vs a slightly grubby person who generously shares what they have with others.
The struggle of the blue-collar working class is real, especially to maintain a continuous income for the family. No matter how hard they work, getting out of the vicious cycle is difficult. Qiao Xiang Rong losing his job (and his only living quarters) and the desperation of a father to provide education for his daughter.
Couple Wang Xing De and Tao Ying Hong portrays very well the desperation of parents losing their child unexpectedly. The key theme for the couple revolves around the inability to let go and the persistence to seek the truth in their daughter’s death. The realism in their struggle – the guilt experienced by Wang Xing De, the persistence of wife Tao Ying Hong for the truth, the blame game. I find it extremely sad that their inability to accept their daughter’s death and move on ultimately leads them to this route (and the key to the time loop).
Is the persistence to find the truth & justice worth the price they pay? Does it induce guilt to move on after the death of a loved one? Perspective as such may truly explain why some choose to run away from their reality, to start all over. The option may be an alternative route – rather than facing the truth, letting go and move on, or seeking the truth by persistently looking. And finally, if they find the “truth”, can they then accept it?
Similarly in Wang Meng Meng’s case, the truth is a simple case of sexual harassment in the public bus. There are a few questions I have – why did she not call out on the sexual perpetrator? Why did no one else stand up for her? Is her reaction a little over the top?
The bus driver is quite pitiful, as he also buckles under pressure to stop the bus in the middle of the road. He does not shirk the responsibilities as he admits to his errors, paying compensation & probably the guilt is deeper. There are so many what-ifs. What if she calls out the sexual perpetrator? What if someone stands up for her? What if the bus driver stops at the right lane instead of the middle lane? What if she is a little more self-aware of such situations and is better prepared to handle such issues? More importantly – What can be done to stop such situation?
Other Little Pieces of Gem
Director Du Ju, the lady boss in the main police station is portrayed by Liu Tao! With short hair, I could not recognise her in the first few episodes.
Xiao He Yun is portrayed by Bai Jing Ting, whom I first watched as Gu Nan Yi in Rise of The Phoenixes, the young guard to Ni Ni! He is 28 this year, but looks so young. Very realistic portrayal of a genius who is practical and stressed out in an environment that catches him off-guard.
Zhao Jin Mai is barely 19, but manages to portray Li Shi Qing very well. Her acting is not over the top, very realistic of a young impressionable student. She manages to even portrays the character’s tenacity under pressure & determination. I would definitely look forward to more of series that she is in.
The romance implied between the two leads are quite realistic. It builds slowly throughout their ordeals.
Reset series is produced by Hou Hong Liang, the same producer for many great series including Nirvana in Fire I, Ode to Joy, All Is Well. His productions are something that I look forward to, as there is a certain quality to them.
Netizens seem to dislike the “happy ending” with major complains on the overly optimistic concept of righting the wrong. Personally, I do not have an issue with the ending. Perhaps a little more optimistic and fairy-tale-like. Having watched The Bad Kids, this series definitely has a more “positive” ending. The Bad Kids actually send shivers down my spine, and the guessing game on the real clues to the ending is quite taxing.
But it doesn’t mean the show is without its flaw. Some of the things I keep wondering about
- Why would the time loop end precisely when they find out about Wang Meng Meng’s truth?
- Why are the two leads chosen?
- How is it that Lu Di does not get into the time loop even though he is saved earlier?
- How is there even a “safe mode”, where the leads dream while waiting for the other to commence the loop?
Watching this short series is the first time I am watching a Chinese science-fiction series. I am very impressed with the quality of the plot, story-telling and acting. I like the fast-paced story which pulls you in immediately. The acting is top-notch, especially the two main leads. Their chemistry is spot-on. Supported by the other veteran actors and actresses, who are equally good in their characters.
The conclusion is a little muted, but portrays a positive note to the story. I do like happy endings (sometimes even avoiding a series if the ending is a sad one!) but the series is not without its fair share of holes. Well, the series is a story after all. 😀 And a great story it is, something very different from the ancient costume drama series that I usually watch.
Take a day off, and binge on it. It will be difficult to stop half-way. Go ahead!
3 thoughts on “Reset (2022) 开端 : C-Drama Series Review”
Thanks so much for this spot-on review! I have loved” Science Fiction since I was twelve and yet, have often found this repetitive storyline more frustrating, than enjoyable. With this series, I was immediately hooked and mesmerized. The actors were all uniformly wonderful, the scope of direction to minimise the obvious need to provide numerous photos of the same route was cleverly broken with short scenes emphasizing various stops, additional passengers, etc.
I also felt the interaction between the leads happened naturally and realistically, without the drama that some personality types can bring to situations. Even when they disagreed, their was logic in their reasons. I have worked with two published writers before either of them had even one of their (now) eight books published. Consequently, I always enjoy seeing directors showing respect to well written stories.
Even though I rewatched one episode twice, where the police had found them on the spiral walkway, I found the show and tell to be clearly and cleanly done. It would have been very interesting to know more about the dead daughter, the serial attacker, her terror and silence (which is common with previous sex assault victims after NOT being believed the first time!!), and all the self-hatred that victims often place on themselves. Maybe she had not told her parents of the first time for one of several reasons, like they had her set-up with “the wonderful, peerless son” of someone important.” The parents’ part is what intrigues me the most, so I’ll certainly watch it again!! Then
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Did not notice another time loop, although the only delivery guy observed is the one who got onto the accident at the junction. 😀
Wonderful review. Thanks. I read the synopsis which talked about another ongoing loop of a delivery person. What happened to that? Any idea please?