Game of Hunting 猎场 - Episode 1 (Impression Post)

kakashi: Trying out a new format for this drama! I'll call them impression posts - no recaps, but thoughts and rambling about the episodes. This drama has 52 episodes... that's a lot. That said, the first one was unexpected, but captured me from minute 1 to minute 46.
JoAnne:  While I spent the whole first episode thinking 'what the hell is this about...I thought it was a thriller, corporate espionage, high stakes business/govt intrigue kind of thing.'
panda: I had the same first impression as Jo but once I settled into the fact that they wanted to show his journey from the beginning, I enjoyed it. 
SakiVI: I thought what Jo thought. I was mildly irritated with getting two episodes of background, maybe even more.

Episode 1

Zheng Qiu Dong (Hu Ge) is a motivational speaker for hire - he has a silver tongue, but there is little good in his life right now. He returned to Beijing after going to Nepal (where he smuggled cordyceps - did he go to prison for it?), where the woman he loves (Luo Yi Ren, Jian Joyce) is now the girlfriend of his college senior Bai Li Qin that he admires. He was gone four years. Said senior is a famous literary critic (and professor, it seems), but he has bone cancer - it's currently stable, but it doesn't sound like it's curable.
I like Bai. I'm not really sure I like sad sack Qiu Dong. I kept expecting it to be an act, that once he walked away from his customers he'd straighten his shoulders and walk away like in the final moments of The Usual Suspects.
I must admit my first impression with Qiu Dong after the speech was Uh? The speech was cool. I thought they were going to do more with the "plagiarism thing" but they dropped that thread very fast. Qiu Dong might seem defeatist but I like that he is trying his best to make the best of a near-impossible situation. Bai is cool but I totally didn't get a love vibe from him and Yi Ren conversation and I think he knows it. 
I was surprised a motivational speaker who was so popular could be so pathetic.
Also, I don't like Bai.  I hope he dies quickly.  Maybe it's the actor because I pretty much hated him and wanted him gone in Ode to Joy and was so happy when he stopped being a regular cast member there.
As soon as Qiu Dong reconnects with Yi Ren, it is more than crystal clear that these two still have feelings for each other, very deep feelings at that. Most of episode 1 is subtle interactions between Qiu Dong and Yi Ren. Glances in the rear-view mirror of her car, he sends her a song his neighbor made, she likes it. They meet for a late dinner at a kebab place and both talk about how expressing love is not what they are good at. Later, in the park, Qiu Dong says he wants to hug her - and hug they do, followed later by a kiss and a long night of, I assume, talking, because there's a heartless dorm guard who makes sure Yi Ren cannot take a male visitor upstairs.
Yeah, this is where it began to dawn on me that the act might actually not be an act and I began to wonder what I was watching.
I liked the glances in the mirror, very subtle and well done. At the lunch/dinner could not decide if Bai was being slightly douche-y or not. He truly does seem like a good Hyung though.
Bai is a douche.  It's all over his face.
Yi Ren has flunked several of her courses, she won't graduate - so this is a time of change for her. Her and Bai's relationship isn't going very smoothly, apparently, and the older man has told her to walk away from him anytime, since he does not want to be a burden to her with his illness. Still, she does not muster the courage to say anything the next day and even though it was just a kiss, we end the episode with what is cheating. Bai is both their friend, a very kind and helpful man, it seems, but this could very well get very ugly.
I became rather impatient with Bai here. It's a cowardly move to put the decision on her. If he fears being a burden, he should be a man and take the step himself.
Bai is being selfish like a lot of men, still as Qiu Dong told her it's not about either of the men but her. She should be able to make her life decisions based on what SHE wants. Did Bai get Qiu Dong that job to get him away from her?
See?  Bai=douche.

Qiu Dong made me pity him, he's not a bad guy either, but someone whose dreams have turned "to dust". There are two women who call him Watanabe, after the protagonist in Murakami's Norwegian Wood, a book he received from Yi Ren and starts reading again before meeting her at the kebab restaurant. I'm not quite certain yet which aspects of Qiu Dong's personality made Yi Ren call him Watanabe and I wonder what parallels to Murakami's famous novel we will see in the drama (the college set-up, the feeling of nostalgia, that is there), but it is clear that there are more such hints to literature and pop culture. For example, the first move Qiu Dong and Yi Ren watched together was Chungking Express, which by chance starts playing in the background when they are at the kebab restaurant. Yi Ren even quotes from the movie: “If memories are to be canned, I hope this can won’t expire.”
So the rare unicorn drama that got Kakashi to watch something new is....a ROMANCE?
I felt a bit tricked because I thought this was going to be about corporate espionage.  Then, I figured maybe this is how he becomes tougher in the end, fighting for his love and for revenge after this romance doesn't work out.
Overall, I liked this first episode a lot. I think I know what kind of man Qiu Dong is, so I'm more curious about her. She seems (and calls herself) lazy, is seemingly without a lot of ambition and quite undecided, but I cannot imagine that these two men would fall in love with her if she did not have some intellectual qualities that we are yet to see. I am also looking forward to learn more about work and life in modern China; sure, I won't believe everything I see in this drama, but for me, it's the first I watch that focuses on career and the difficulties of finding a place in the workforce.  
You could knock me over with a feather right now, I swear it. Not that the drama is bad, no.  So not what I expected. I hold out hope that this is merely set up for a more cut-throat future version of Qiu Dong.
I think the credits show your hopes will come true Jo. One thing I want changed ASAP is HuGe's hair! Gosh, I hate this one so much! It ages him and makes him look haggard. I liked the first episode. It's obviously set-up but gives a pretty clear definition of who our protagonist is. Now, we need to start kicking some corporate butt.
I'm withholding judgement on this series until I've seen a week's worth of episodes.