Let’s talk about the Chinese drama Reset, which grabbed our minds and our eyeballs and would NOT let go! This tightly woven story deserves all the attention. I mean, we talked about it in a podcast, but that isn’t enough; we have thoughts! So why did we like it so much?
NOTE: We have done our best to make this review as spoiler-free as possible. Part of Reset‘s brilliance involves not knowing what’s going to come next, because the viewer unravels the mystery alongside the main characters. If we seem a little vague, that’s why!
So there’s this bus…
That is the synopsis suggested by one of our Patreon members. “So there’s this bus…” It explodes…reset…repeat. The great thing is that they film every scene fresh for every iteration of the timeline, so there is always something new happening or a new point of view. If they give us a fast-paced section, they change it up with an in-depth episode as a respite so it never gets boring. (Notice the recycle signs on the bus.)
In the very first scene, we hear a phone call coming in to the police station, reporting a bomb on a city bus. Then we jump to see our female lead, Si Qing, sleeping on the bus and waking up, and we wonder where we are in the time loops. She tries desperately to leave and is successful in dragging one person off the bus with her. He is He Yun, our male lead. Soon we hear an explosion in the distance, and Si Qing winds up at the hospital watching the bus accident casualties being brought in.
Telzeytalks: I liked the jump start of being thrown into the middle of the time loops. That first scene was actually a little peek ahead, because at this point Si Qing doesn’t know there is a bomb.
Karie the Maknae: I felt like the opening was brilliant. We didn’t need to know very much going into the story, because we were discovering what happened along with Si Qing. This was a great way to get me pulled into the story, because I ADORE a good mystery.
MiataMama: This story is a bit like Speed meets Groundhog Day – seriously, hear me out! Take lots of intense action and mystery that kept me on the edge of my seat every. single. episode. Then add in an unending loop that allows our main couple to bumble, get frustrated, and ultimately display huge character growth. It has seriously been a hot minute since I’ve been as smitten with a drama as I was with Reset!
The writing is amazing
At the hospital, Si Qing is treated for a concussion. She’s confused and can’t think clearly. Junior police officers Jiang and Yu discover she’s a witness and try to jog her memory by asking questions. She slowly regains her memories bit by bit, but they seem to conflict with each other. However, by the time the police captain arrives, she can recall everything.
She tells Captain Zhang she had a dream within a dream. After that, he treats her very gently and is careful in what he says. She had fallen asleep on the bus and was woken up by a ringtone. There was a flash of light and she couldn’t see anything for a minute, and then she woke up on the bus a second time. She explains her whole experience, and we find out we are in the sixth time loop. He doesn’t believe her story, but she told him the bus accident was caused by a motorcycle, and that was something he thinks she couldn’t have known.
The way information is revealed to us is worked out in great detail, and is riveting to watch. The ringtone that woke up Si Qing was “Pachelbel’s Canon,” which is like a round that repeats with different variations. He Yun gets caught in the loop, and we see them walking up a spiral ramp and trying to figure out the rules of the time loops. They eventually discover the true destiny of the bus and use several time loops to investigate the passengers, and other time loops to learn how best to involve the police. Telling the police helps them in some ways and hinders them in others. Sometimes an officer gets hurt, and sometimes a passenger does. Sometimes something odd happens and they wonder if the timeline will reset or not.
Telzeytalks: The way the police ask questions and the way Si Qing responds is so well done. It’s one of my favorite scenes. Describing the whole thing as a dream prepares Captain Zhang for something strange, and doesn’t make an outrageous claim right off the bat. She lets him be the one to say she’s in a time loop.
Karie the Maknae: I was a little worried when the police got involved — in a Korean drama, that could go either way. But it was delightful to see the police portrayed as helpful and intelligent this time around, reacting rather normally to Si Qing’s seemingly outlandish story. I really grew to like the police chief, who was sensible and almost fatherly.
MiataMama: The relationship between Si Qing, He Yun, and Captain Zhang was very intricate. Obviously our two leads gain more knowledge with each run through the loop. But knowing how to share this knowledge or seek out more details from the police as they hunt for answers requires a multitude of calculated movements, much like a game of chess.
The acting is wonderful
Si Qing is played by Zhao Jin Mai, who is only 19. She uses very good expressions, and we can tell what she’s thinking by watching her face. She’s a college student who is used to deferring to older people, but makes gradual changes as she realizes it’s up to her to find a way to save the other passengers.
He Yun is a game designer. He is played by Bai Jing Ting, who is 28 but looks younger. He really sells his confusion and fear, as he at first thinks he had a very vivid dream, then realizes it is real. He analyzes the time loop as if it were a game, and figures out what they need to do to level up or solve the problem. These two grow to trust and depend on each other.
All of the passengers are very well played. In this picture, at the back of the bus is a man with a black face mask (he can’t really be seen). On the left are a man with a suitcase, a woman with a large handbag, a man with a big lumpy sack, a YouTuber, and then, of course, the bus driver. On the right is a woman with a red plastic bag, a man listening to headphones, and Si Qing and He Yun standing in the front.
Telzeytalks: A lot of the charm of this show comes from the likability of the characters, especially the leads. The police in particular are well portrayed and relatable, and it is very refreshing that they are smart and honest, because we have seen plenty of dramas where they aren’t.
Karie the Maknae: The entire ensemble was important to the story, which was layered like an onion around their lives and the reason they were on the bus that day. I was afraid that the entire drama would center around that, but it did not, instead moving forward brilliantly in ways I did not see coming.
MiataMama: I was so invested with the entire ensemble cast! Each character was given depth and purpose, and by the end I really cared for each and every passenger on the bus! I especially loved our main couple – I was so immersed in their journey. It didn’t hurt that they also had fantastic chemistry!! (And please tell me I wasn’t the only one getting Park Hyung Sik vibes from He Yun!?!)
Pussyfooting around the ending
Hopefully we’re giving you the feel of the show without giving away the surprises. We find out early on that the loops begin when the main leads wake up on the bus and continue until they fall asleep. The explosion happens at about 1:42 p.m. each time. Let’s just say that the ending is very satisfying, and the drama takes the time to explore themes like bullying, bystanders helping or not helping someone in trouble, learning to live life on your own terms, and much more.
We do get a hint as to why the loop occurred, a quick view of someone at the end, and we just have to assume that the loop was caused on purpose. Si Qing thinks she entered the loop in the beginning because she is one person who would want to save everyone. She thinks that she pulled He Yun into the loops accidentally OR because he was the only person who would help her in the way she needed.
Telzeytalks: I thought that some characters’ stories were a little weak, but oh well. They have to be there or there is no story. I loved it when everyone pitched in to try to help, and I enjoyed seeing the little snippets of life after the main story was over.
Karie the Maknae: One of my favorite parts of this series was getting drawn into other people’s perspectives and seeing life through their eyes. When I’m in public, it’s easy to forget that the people around me have lives of their own, but learning about those lives is an integral part of Reset, and it was very, very well done. I can’t wait to watch the drama again!
MiataMama: I’ve been recommending this drama to everyone! It really was such a well-woven story, with great acting and a very satisfying conclusion! I dare say Reset has displaced When A Snail Falls in Love as my all time favorite Chinese suspense/mystery drama!
Reset has 15 episodes and is streaming on Viki (https://www.viki.com/tv/38357c-reset?qId=73c84e2d95d42b161c73a5c4e5b2921c). Their synopsis says there are two groups of people in loops, but I watched the whole show and only Si Qing and He Yun were in one. Why don’t you watch the show and tell us what you think?
Until the next mystery loop,
Telzeytalks, Karie the Maknae, & MiataMama
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi