“Regeneration” Criticized for Weak Ending After Strong Start, Its Director Offers Another Perspective


Regeneration” (新生) captivated audiences with its intense start and intricate plot twists. The series opens with a shock: the protagonist, Fei Ke (whose name cleverly plays on the word “Fake”), is dead, and the attendees at his funeral each have their own stories about him. This intriguing setup unfolds through ten episodes, revealing layers of deception and complex character arcs. Spoiler Warning: The ending will be discussed below.

The Cast

Fei Ke, portrayed brilliantly by Jing Boran, is a genius and charismatic manipulator who spirals down a dark path, affecting everyone around him. The supporting cast, made up of his “victims,” include seasoned actors like Wang Yanhui and Huang Jue deliver impactful performances. C-pop idol Zhang Yifan, in particular, surprises viewers with a a very different side playing an innocent girl whose character undergoes very drastic transformation.

Fei Ke’s Character Journey

Despite the show’s strong start, popular opinion suggests it falters towards the end. The finale has sparked trending hashtags like “Regeneration’s bad ending (#新生烂尾),” “Regeneration’s forced moral conclusion (#新生强行上价值 )” and the very spoilery hashtag that simply states “Fei Ke is dead (#费可死了)”.

Fei Ke’s backstory as Li Zerui is tragic: his dad had an affair and a new family while his mom died. His misfortunes set the stage for his vengeful and self-destructive journey. He sabotages his brother by deliberately taking a test on his behalf and failing it, thereby ruining his own life as well. When his father asked why, Li Zerui said his life was ruined the moment his father had an affair. It marked the beginning of his journey using his intelligence to scam people using a fake identity. However, the ending turns the master manipulator into a pitiful character.

Jing Boran as Fei Ke

The Ending Was Expected, But Criticized Just the Same

The finale is particularly divisive. Many viewers feel it was a rushed and forced conclusion, likely shaped by the need to pass censorship regulations. In China, it’s common for shows to conclude with a moral resolution, ensuring that wrongdoers face justice. Fei Ke’s death in the final episode aligns with this narrative requirement.

The final confrontation takes place on a boat, where Wang Yanhui’s character tries to kill Fei Ke. Cheng Hao intervenes, leading to a dramatic and moralistic monologue from Zhou Yiran’s He Shan. She refuses to apologize for being the one to report Fei Ke all those years ago, stating that she wished she had outed him for his fake identity in college, as it might have stopped him from going down the path he did. Then again, she sort of did when she purposely left out his name back then. He Shan remains very self-righteous till the end, which many found off-putting since it felt like a forced lecture.

At the very end, Fei Ke saves He Shan from drowning at the cost of his own life.

Regeneration cast behind the scenes

Director’s Commentary

But then again, maybe that’s not the real ending. In the next scenes, we see He Shan finishing her novel. As for the rest of the characters, their endings are just narrated, with wrongdoers getting the punishment they deserve in the eyes of the law.

Director Shen Ao’s commentary adds another layer to the finale. According to him, “Regeneration” is not a tale about scams but a story about memory and perspective. Ending the show with He Shan’s novel, for him, was a significant motivation for filming the show. The final scene, as seen through He Shan’s eyes, may not represent the absolute truth but could be a product of her imagination.

This ambiguity suggests that the story is more about the characters’ perceptions and less about objective reality. Director Shen Ao notes, “In He Shan’s eyes, Fei Ke is self-destructive. She doesn’t think she outed him but imagines that Fei Ke would be willing to die just to save her. Eyes and ears can deceive our brain and heart.” This open-endedness leaves room for interpretation, inviting viewers to question the reliability of the narrative and the characters’ recollections. Perhaps Fei Ke could be alive starting a new life just as the Chinese title “Xin Sheng” suggests.

Source: Weibo

One Response

  1. HL

    May 16, 2024 1:41 PM

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