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I enjoy a good cliffhanger as much as the next person, but I wasn’t eager to see how Toshiyuki and Yume’s night in Sapporo would unfold. When we last saw these two, they were sitting close to each other in a dark bar. Toshiyuki was urging Yume to drink more alcohol as he mustered the courage to express his very obvious feelings for her.

As this episode opens, we see Yume choosing her words carefully after listening to Toshiyuki’s little speech. While she enjoys hanging out with him, she doesn’t feel strongly enough about him yet to start dating. “But you do like me, right?” he asks, wanting to make sure he still has a shot. “You’re on my radar,” Yume answers.

Toshikyuki continues to encourage Yume to drink more Champagne — another red flag in a series of questionable acts — until finally neither of them can drink anymore. Toshiyuki says his belly is full of liquid. Yume lightly touches his stomach and, in return, Toshiyuki reaches over to put his hand on hers, but she quickly swats him away.

Undeterred by a slap on the wrist, Toshiyuki excuses himself and heads to the bathroom, freshening up his breath with mouthwash and returning “completely revived” to continue their night of drinking. While he’s away, however, Yume efficiently signals for the check.

Drinking buddies: Toshiyuki (left) and Yume have a drunken night out in Sapporo on ‘Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.’ | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT
Drinking buddies: Toshiyuki (left) and Yume have a drunken night out in Sapporo on ‘Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.’ | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT

Once arriving at their rented house, Toshiyuki and Yume drunkenly flop on the living room couch. Yume, slumped over and resting her head against Toshiyuki, repeats over and over how tired she is and how much she wants to sleep. “Let’s sleep together first,” Toshiyuki says, stroking her cheek, but Yume turns him down, mumbling that there’s no chance of that happening. I was filled with dread, wondering what he might try next, and fought the urge to yell, “Girl, get out of there!”

After a lot of back and forth about going to bed, the pair make their way upstairs and Yume stumbles into bed, practically falling asleep the moment her head hits the pillow. Toshiyuki tucks her in and whispers “good night” to her, but she barely responds. It’s clear she’s completely down for the count, and then, thankfully, we see Toshiyuki retreat to his own bedroom, where he ends up sleeping alone.

It’s tempting to think this is somehow Toshiyuki striking out, but this is what should have happened from the get-go: A guy taking care of his friend while she’s in a vulnerable state. Let’s see if the commentators view it that way.

Back in the studio, Yama-chan, once again flying solo to provide commentary, declares the entire night “a close call” and “dicey.” He says Yume’s move to pay the bill was “the scariest scene” because it clearly meant she wanted to get out of there, while Toshiyuki was busy swishing mouthwash and preparing for at least a kiss or two. Also, he says the scene at the house was “a showdown between (Toshiyuki’s) virility and Yume’s liver,” and that Yume ended up the victor.

This is problematic framing. Being able to sleep alone and in peace should not be a battle, Yama-chan.

When the pair return to Tokyo and talk about their weekend in Hokkaido with their housemates, Toshiyuki and Yume tell very different tales. Toshiyuki tells the guys that Yume needs more time to develop her feelings for him, but Yume spills to the girls that she likes him but doesn’t feel a strong desire to touch him or be close to him.

Reo isn’t deterred by Toshiyuki’s account of the overnight trip and asks Yume out for drinks right in front of the guy. Yume looks like she’s thriving in this love triangle, as she gives the thumbs up to Reo’s date while not-so-covertly playing footsie with Toshiyuki under the table.

Reo even says he and Yume should partake in some “heavy drinking.” “You get wasted on every date,” Hana chimes in. “Go ahead and put ‘getting wasted’ in your calendar.”

So, off Reo and Yume go for a night of flirting and drinking two bottles of wine. Yume clears the air about her feelings for Toshiyuki — she’s not waiting for anything to develop, she simply doesn’t want to date him — leaving Reo with the impression that things could possibly develop between the two of them. Yume lays it on thicker when Reo asks if they should head back home and she simply says, “No,” she’s not ready just yet.

After they do come back from drinks, all the housemates decide to head to the playroom to watch Episode 34 of the show, in which Yume makes her first appearance and Toshiyuki cozies up to her by sharing a bottle of beer. Almost immediately after watching the “bottled beer incident,” Toshiyuki checks his social media accounts to see what kind of comments viewers have posted about him. His face drops as he reads them aloud: “Toshiyuki is unquestionably gross,” “Leave the house immediately” and “Pervert CEO.” I wonder what the comments will look like after the Kyoto Tower scene in Episode 37 airs?

About halfway through this episode, we see the first signs of COVID-19 affecting the lives of the housemates. Filming seems to have taken place in late February or early March, just as Japan was bracing for a wave of infections and began shutting down schools. Hana mentions that her wrestling matches have been scaled down or canceled, and that her pay has been sharply reduced. Hana, like millions of people around the world, is unsure of when she can go back to work.

True friends: Hana (left) and Vivi share a sweet moment during Vivi's goodbye party on 'Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.' | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT
True friends: Hana (left) and Vivi share a sweet moment during Vivi’s goodbye party on ‘Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020.’ | © FUJI TELEVISION / EAST ENTERTAINMENT

Speaking of precarious job situations, Vivi announces she’s moving out of the house to pursue her acting career, but it seems to me like the timing of her decision is not ideal. Growing concerns over the pandemic and closing borders may mean she’ll have to put her dreams of Hollywood on hold the moment she leaves the house.

Vivi’s departure is bittersweet, as she reminds us once again how mature and thoughtful she is during a conversation with Reo about her personal growth. However, whenever someone leaves the show, a new member inevitably joins, bringing with them fresh drama.

So, please welcome 24-year-old Monroe Ron, a model and singer from China who is dead set on mastering the Japanese language — and maybe finding a boyfriend in the process. Monroe uses her limited Japanese to introduce herself to the housemates, and while her language skills don’t rival Vivi’s, her undeniable passion for Japan will definitely work in her favor.

 

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The Japan Times is posting weekly recaps of “Terrace House: Tokyo 2019-2020.” Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section. New episodes of “Terrace House Tokyo 2019-2020” stream on Netflix and Fuji TV on Demand (FOD) and air on Fuji TV on Tuesdays.

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