Netflix series, “Shards of Her” is a Taiwanese drama that deals with the trauma and dissociation experienced by victims of sexual assault. Lin Chen-hsi was a headhunter who was well-known for her job performance. She is featured in magazines for excellence in the professional field. Lin Chen-hsi did not have a social life; she preferred to keep it that way. She has a caring boyfriend, Li Hao-Ming, but she decides to end their relationship. Li Hao-Ming knew that there was something Lin Chen-hsi was trying to keep away from him, something that was bothering her. Li Hao-Ming met Lin Chen-hsi’s mother one day, out of the blue, she confided to him that her daughter had abandoned her and, after the death of her husband and son, she was all alone. Li Hao-Ming wanted to understand what Lin Chen-hsi was dealing with, but she was not ready to share her troubling past with him.
‘Shards Of Her’ Plot Summary: What Is The Series About?
Lin Chen-hsi dedicated herself to her job, but the boss’s cousin, Danny, was envious of her success. Unlike the rest of the employees, Lin Chen-hsi kept to herself. This was what bothered Danny. He could not accept that Lin Chen-hsi was not making him feel important, and he decided to ruin her life to punish her. When he could not out beat her at work, he started to act as if Lin Chen-hsi was harassing him. He would blame her for behaving inappropriately at work to attract the attention of their coworkers. One night, Danny called her to the office to work on a project together. He stated that she might lose her job if she refused to cooperate with him. Even though Lin Chen-hsi doubted Danny, she could not risk losing her job. As she entered the empty office, she was attacked from behind by Danny. He taped her mouth and attempted to rape her. She grabbed hold of a pen and injured his face. She ran as fast as she could and got into her car. She waited at the signal but soon realized that her car had stopped working. As she tried to figure out a solution, she was hit by a truck and went into a state of coma.
Lin Chen-hsi woke up in a different reality, a time when her father and brother were still alive. She was living in her parent’s house in the village she grew up in. Her parents explained that she suffered from amnesia. She met with an accident that injured her brain. She tried to figure out whether her life as a headhunter was a reality or a dream, she was living in. The building where she worked was now replaced by another office. Her boyfriend, Li Hao-Ming, did not belong in her world. But she found it almost impossible to accept that the love she felt for him was all just a dream. She had a social life with her two best friends from high school. Lin Chen-hsi was glad to have her family by her side, but the difference between dreams and reality was gradually becoming blurry for her. She could no longer trust her memory. In this reality, a high school friend of hers was in hiding after she was accused of murdering their physics teacher, Hsieh Chih-chung. Yen Sheng-hua was Lin Chen-hsi’s high school friend. She worked as a nurse and had fled after murdering their physics teacher. While Lin Chen-hsi had no recollection of Yen Sheng-hua, she felt as if everyone around her was trying to keep the truth from her. Why did Yen Sheng-hua murder the physics teacher? Was Lin Chen-hsi associated with the murder before the accident? Was she living in reality or a dream?
Was Hsieh Chih-chung Actually Dead? What Did Lin Chen-Hsi Find Out About Her Past?
Lin Chen-Hsi met with a police officer, Li Hao-Ming, who was her boyfriend from another reality. But Li Hao-Ming did not recognise Lin Chen-Hsi. Nonetheless, they became good friends over time. He wanted to interrogate Lin Chen-Hsi since she was Yen Sheng-hua’s classmate and was in contact with her. But Lin Chen-Hsi did not remember the past at all. Initially, Li Hao-Ming doubted Li Chen-Hsi, but after going through her reports, he sympathized with her. Lin Chen-Hsi was determined to know her past, and when the people around her refused to help her, she decided to figure it all out by herself. She was determined to know what had actually happened that night at the hospital and also to find out how she was related to Yen Sheng-hua.
Lin Chen-Hsi noticed that her father would often live in another house to look after his orchard. She could sense the growing distance between her mother and father. Even though her parents had stated that they did not know Yen Sheng-hua, she could not trust them completely. She also noticed that her brother went out every night to feed the stray dogs, something that he had never used to do before. His brother mostly kept to himself and preferred to stay locked up in his room. After visiting the scrapyard where her car was destroyed after the accident, she was handed over a few documents left in the car. Amidst it all, she found Yen Sheng-hua’s business card and, behind it, a number. She called the number and found out that it belonged to Hsieh Chih-chung, now used by his wife. The wife invited Lin Chen-Hsi to visit her but asked her to keep it a secret from everyone else. She blamed Yen Sheng-hua for the murder of her husband. She stated that her husband tutored Yen Sheng-hua for free, and she gradually started to develop feelings for him. Yen Sheng-hua killed him because her husband did not reciprocate her feelings. At Hsieh Chih-chung’s house, Lin Chen-Hsi felt uneasy. Looking at his shoes and a particular room, she could feel the tension building in her body, but she could not remember the reason why she felt so. While Lin Chen-Hsi was trying to figure out her past, tests conducted by Li Hao-Ming confirmed that the soil found in the hospital where Hsieh Chih-chung was killed was similar to the soil found in Lin Chen-Hsi’s father’s orchard house. Along with it, the sleeping pills found at Hsieh Chih-chung’s house were the same pills used to overdose him at the hospital. The police officer concluded that the perpetrator was trying to frame Hsieh Chih-chung’s wife for the murder of her husband. The footsteps found on the wet cement at the hospital were from worn-out shoes similar to the ones worn by Lin Chen-Hsi’s brother, Lin Chen-yeh.
When Lin Chen-Hsi requested her brother and mother to confess the truth, they had an argument that resulted in Lin Chen-Hsi injuring her head by accident. The injury helped her remember her past. She remembered going to Hsieh Chih-chung’s house for tuition classes. He used to help her solve problems and would often state that she was one of his favorite students. Lin Chen-Hsi was happy to have a teacher who was willing to help her academically at any moment. But soon, she realized that Hsieh Chih-chung was not the kind of teacher she had always thought him to be. He was a monster behind that kind face. One day, when Lin Chen-Hsi reached home early for class, he raped her. His wife knew about it; she had seen him do it to his teenage students, but she chose to maintain silence. When Lin Chen-Hsi could not take it anymore, she informed her parents about it. Hsieh Chih-chung’s wife supported her husband even then, blaming Lin Chen-Hsi for lying and defaming her husband. She stated that Lin Chen-Hsi’s reputation would be tarnished if people started to discuss this in public, forcing her parents to rethink before taking a step against her husband. Lin Chen-Hsi’s father started to silence his daughter. She was not allowed to speak about it to anyone. By keeping the assault, a secret, Lin Chen-Hsi suffered. Yen Sheng-hua was also raped by Hsieh Chih-chung, but she could never talk about it because he helped her financially, and her grandmother was indebted to him. Lin Chen-Hsi and Yen Sheng-hua wanted to disappear into the darkness of an abyss, but they decided against it. Yen Sheng-hua stated that they must make such a decision only after growing up. Maybe by then, they would not even wish to disappear. Lin Chen-Hsi now knew why Hsieh Chih-chung was murdered; she now knew why she felt uneasy at that house and that her brother was the one who strangled him to death. He did it to seek revenge for what Hsieh Chih-Chung had done to his sister. Li Hao-Ming later joined the pieces. The father had entered the hospital room to kill Hsieh Chih-chung, but he was asked to leave by Yen Shung-hua. Yen Shung-hua used sleeping pills to kill him, but that did not work, and ultimately, Lin Chen-yeh entered the room at night and strangled the already sleeping Hsieh Chih-chung to death.
After this revelation, Lin Chen-hsi returns to the current reality. She is at the police station trying to file a report. When a truck speeded over her car, she was injured and hospitalized. The reality she was living before was an illusion. It was the reality that she wished for. She wished for her father and brother to fight for her justice and for her boyfriend (who was a police officer) to help her find the truth. She knew that her teacher was paralyzed and that Yen Shung-hua had studied at a nursing school. With the information she already had, she created an imagined reality through which she, her family, and Yen Shung-hua sought justice by murdering the perpetrator.
‘Shards Of Her’ Ending Explained? How Did Yen Sheng-hua Help Lin Chen-Hsi?
The trauma of the present helped Lin Chen-Hsi face the past. When Danny attempted to rape her, she was reminded of what had happened in the past. She was a teenager then, who did not have the support of her family to fight for justice, but now she was an adult who was stronger than ever. She had to punish the man who forced her to relive the experience that changed her life completely. She knew that Yen Sheng-hua was now Danny’s wife; she had met her at a party. Since Lin Chen-Hsi preferred to keep the past buried, she chose to not interact with Yen Sheng-hua. But now, after analyzing the situation and knowing how they together could be powerful enough to take down a man such as Danny, she decided to approach her. Yen Sheng-hua was a docile woman who catered to her husband’s every need. She was taught to always bow down in front of men, and she continued to live a life where she was treated as dirt. When Lin Chen-Hsi discussed what Danny had done to her, Yen Sheng-hua tried to reason with her. She believed that because Danny’s mother was an authoritative woman who dominated him all his life, he could not tolerate powerful women. He always wanted the women around him to treat him as superior. But Lin Chen-Hsi explained that his childhood experience must not ruin the lives of the women who live with him at present. There cannot be any justification for his behavior.
Lin Chen-Hsi requested Yen Sheng-hua to find the camera Danny used to record the assault. After her conversation with Lin Chen-Hsi, Yen Sheng-hua realized how she was living a submissive life even as an adult. She was in the same position as Hsieh Chih-chung’s wife. Yen Sheng-hua could either protect her husband, as Hsieh Chih-chung’s wife did, or she could be the woman she wished for his wife to be. Instead of cleaning up the mess left by her husband, she must punish him for his actions. She risked getting caught and found the S.D card used in the camera. She handed it over to Lin Chen-Hsi. As a teenager, Yen Sheng-hua stated that when she became an adult, she would decide whether or not they must enter the dark abyss to disappear. Now that she was an adult, she realized that they must never disappear. Danny was taken into custody after Lin Chin-Hsi and Yen Sheng-hua filed a report against him and, along with it, they submitted the video.
Lin Chen-Hsi reconnected with her mother. She realized that she chose to distance herself from her family after high school. She could no longer live with her father, who silenced her when she needed support and strength. Even though her father asked her mother to not inform Lin Chen-Hsi about his deteriorating health, he would often murmur her name in his sleep. Soon after her father’s death, her brother died in an accident. After graduating, he rode the bike to meet Hsieh Chih-chung but died on the way. He regretted not supporting Lin Chen-Hsi enough when she was vulnerable. Maybe that was why Lin Chen-Hsi imagined that her brother murdered Hsieh Chih-chung, knowing that it would have helped him die in peace. Lin Chen-Hsi started taking therapy to cope with dissociation and trauma. Her boyfriend, Li Hao-Ming, supported her by attending classes for the partners of survivors of sexual assault. Even though Lin Chen-Hsi did not wish to entangle him with her past, he was willing to learn about her life and provide her with the support she needed. Yen Sheng-Hua applied for a divorce from Danny and moved to the South to start her life afresh. Lin and Yen decided to stay in touch no matter what. It was their united strength that helped them right the wrong. Lin met with her high school best friends. By visiting her past memories, she realized that they were naive teenagers when they made the mistake of sharing her secret with the rest of the school. She forgave them and decided to give their friendship another chance. Hsieh Chih-chung was still alive. He was paralyzed now and lived in a wheelchair. Sometimes his wife wanted to choke him to death, knowing the kind of person he was. She was forced to look after him even though he was the reason she lost all her pride. Later, Lin traveled to the dark abyss in her village; she now had the strength to walk to the end of it to see what lay after. The dark tunnel opened to a beach. Lin could finally breathe. She did what she could not do as a child. She fought the darkness and found the light at the end of the tunnel.
It is not just Lin’s past and trauma that “Shards of Her” deals with, but also the rampant sexism practiced in the workplace. From asking female colleagues to tag along while visiting clients to shaming a woman for taking maternity leave. The series also highlights how female bosses sexually harass men in junior positions, knowing that they can be easily manipulated. “Shards of Her” deals with the aftermath of sexual assault. And how often survivors bury the memory, to the extent that they find it hard to recall it later in life. The trauma that she experienced resulted in dissociation, Lin would end up in places she had no memory of traveling to. Her life was a blur, and only after facing the past was, she able to take a step toward living a healthy life.
“Shards of Her” is a 2022 Taiwanese Thriller series streaming on Netflix.