*This article contains spoilers for the entirely of Warrior Season 1, and Season 2, Eps. 1-3*
Now… that’s how you end a fucking television episode. Damn. It’s long been telegraphed that Sergeant “Big Bill” O’Hara’s (Kieran Bew) family might end up caught in the crossfires of the Tong Wars, but I didn’t expect it to come to a head so quickly, let alone in such brutal fashion (I guess I forgot which network we were watching for a second). With some distance and hindsight though, Officer Richard Lee’s (Tom Weston-Jones) descent into darkness and all those supper time invites, should have clued me in to where this was going. Honestly, when the final sequence of “Warrior” Season 2’s third episode started, I feared the show was going the way of “Deadwood.” I thought Bill’s son was about bite it, but… damaged, opioid-addict cop to the rescue!
Last week, I naively referred to Lee as “probably the closest thing the show has to a moral center,” and that may have been in the case back in the first season, but Tropper and Co. seem to have quite the messy spiral planned for the formerly by-the-book officer. Foreshadowing the climax’ imminent bloodshed with the butcher shop detective scene, and the sequence where he takes out personal revenge on the shopkeeper that drugged him, Lee has seen so much shit go down that his obsession with the Chinese Sword Killer essentially unhinges him. You’d think the near death encounter would bring our pair of law enforcement protagonists closer together, but Lee’s extreme methods seem to only heighten his self-loathing. The psychological toll of enforcing the law in Chinatown is probably going to get a whole lot worse before improving.
Speaking of characters spiraling down the wrong path, it appears my read may have been dead on regarding Penny’s sister, Sophie (Céline Buckens), who – not unlike Oraetta Mayflower (if that’s really her name…) in Season 4 of “Fargo” – seems to be hiding a secret agenda. Part of me hopes that her manipulative advances on Dylan Leary (Dean Jagger) is part of a longer political con, but, so far, all evidence points her to being a White Supremacist ally (of course, the show doesn’t use that term), her privilege allowing her to slip into the union organizer’s private office, where she advices him on his plan to target factories that employ Chinese workers. Sophie has thus far almost solely presented herself as the kind of woman who is confident she can get away with anything, if she says the right words at the right time to the right man. I can’t help but assume this is all leading to some sort of major confrontation between Ah Sahm and Leary, their rivalry spurned on by the relationship of their love interests. I sincerely hope it ends up being a bit more subtle than that though – the Sophie/Leary storyline is my biggest worry for the season.
Meanwhile, Chao (Hoon Lee) asks Mai Ling (Dianne Doan) for a helping hand. He’s being strong-armed by Zing (Dustin Nguyen) to fill an order of daggers placed before his shop was raided by the Chinatown squad. As the Fung Hai have an alliance with the Long Zii, one thinks this wouldn’t be an issue. But Zing continues to test the waters of allegiance – Mai paying him a visit after coming up short on his end of the molasses trade. He (shirtlessly!) proclaims that he subtracted a service fee, for helping her cleanse the back alleys of some meddlesome onions, in the previous episode, essentially insinuating that she and Li Yong (Joe Taslim) are losing their once dominant grip over the market. Zing appears to be attempting to carve out his own position of power in the city of San Francisco, and war seems to be on the horizon.
Continuing to test his fighting skills in Madam Vega’s (Maria-Elena Laas) ring, she decides to be open and honest with Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji), informing him that odds have gotten so bad he’ll need to throw a fight if he wants a purse to claim. She tells him of a tournament where the world’s greatest fighters test their meddle – setting up an “Enter the Dragon” scenario for later in the season. “You don’t know me,” Ah Sahm insists. She invites him for a drink. “I’m sure you have plenty of company,” he says. “Then I guess you don’t know me either,” Madam Vega responds.
After sharing the take for protecting Penny Blake’s (Joanna Vanderham) immigrant workers from being attacked by the “Teddy Boys” gang, the eager-to-prove himself, Young Jun (Jason Tobin), starts counting he and Ah Sahm’s chickens before they’ve hatched. The crime-boss protégé becomes infuriated with his father (Perry Yung), bringing in new men without consulting him. Among them is the over-zealous Hong (Chen Tang) who initially annoys the hell out of the two hatchet men, but proves himself a worthy fighter in an explosive set-piece, the new soldier taking initiative without needing to be given an order. He also so happens to be gay, getting antsy after Ah Sahm catches him coming out of a room with a male lover. The Itchy Onion dismisses the issue, advising Hong that he has “bigger problems being a Chinese man in America.”
Speaking of Penny, when Mayor Blake (Christian McKay) learns that she’s hired Hop Wei hatchet men to protect his investments, the big-bellied politician goes off in a fit of rage. Obviously this point of contention is going to be a major factor in the Chinatown/Teddy Boy feud moving forward. But, perhaps the most indelible scene of the third hour (besides the visceral wake-up call of an ending) is a snide dinner table scene among the elite, Nellie Davenport (Miranda Raison) sharing the story that shook her activism awake: her previous husband being found dead, naked in a brothel, having sodomized a young teenage girl. Ever since then, she has dedicated life to women like them, never again to another man. While Penny’s eyes go wide at the story, the Mayor can only awkwardly wipe his chin with a napkin while his bourgeois guests sit silently agape.
After the action packed third episode, “Warrior’s” second season is starting to kick itself into a higher gear. The show has a number of running plotlines going at this point, and while, I assume, they won’t be able to wrap them all up in the next 7 hours, many of the threads are starting to stitch together – the most tangential likely being Walter Buckley’s (Langley Kirkwood) vile, late-night escapades with his sex worker companions (tying in directing with Davenport’s speech). I’m quite curious to see how this side of the story might end up overlapping with our pair of law enforcement characters down the line, and their “serial killer” case, as the question of what makes a hatchet man continues to loom larger over our violently troubled Chinatown cast.
*NEW EPISODES OF WARRIOR AIR FRIDAYS @ 10 PM EST ON CINEMAX*