*This article contains spoilers for the entirely of Warrior Season 1, and Season 2, Eps. 1-8*
Hong is quite the character. I’m definitely happy he’s around, but I do sorely wish he had a little more actual impact on the narrative outside fun flavor. The opening of this week’s outstanding episode of “Warrior,” is a close to perfect example. The episode begins with Hong (Chen Tang) recounting a tale of a Hop Wei soldier known as The Violin Man. He became known by this moniker after strangling his enemies with the strings of his favorite childhood instrument. “What is the point of this story, again?” Young Jun (Jason Tobin) and Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) jest with him. Hong responds that the asked they he uses a chain when he fights. “It’s my trademark.” He tells them. The camera then pulls back to reveal a slaughterhouse, dead Fung Hai surrounding the three red pocket squares in sharp suits. This exchange sums up/embodies Hong’s role in the show.
“All Enemies, Foreign & Domestic” is the most politically prevalent hour of the series to date, as the manhunt for Mayor Blake’s innocent killer begins. Our trio of Hop Wei don’t have much to do for these forty or so minutes, so Hong’s opening bit is a welcome release of an introductory primer; a final calm before the storm. The last two episodes of what will likely amount to be “Warrior’s” final season are going to see blood in the streets. Under the advice of Ah Sahm, Young Jun hangs their clan’s banner over an establishment previously owned by their rivals, sending a message to Mai Ling (Dianne Doan) – Ah Sahm practically daring his sister to break the treaty.
The night before the search begins, Deputy Mayor Buckley (Langley Kirkwood) wakes from a sweaty nightmare – where we graphically bear witness to his leg being sawed off during the war – loud knocks on his door. He is called to Blake’s home by Chief Flanagan (David Butler), who’s corrupt cowardice knows better than to take the initiative in such a perilous situation. Penny (Joanna Vanderham) and Sophie (Celine Buckens) survived Blake’s assault with some bumps and bruises, and, while Penny has clearly been traumatized, she’s primarily concerned with protecting Jacob’s (Kenneth Fok) well being – initially keeping her lips sealed in regards to what happened to her husband. Of course, Sophie opens her spoiled mouth: the Chinese valet did it! Penny protests.
“Ms. Blake, what are you doing?! The Mayor of San Francisco has been killed in his own home. Somebody is going to be arrested for murder.” He then threatens the two women, candidly informing them that they can just as easily be faulted for what happened here, regardless of how many times they proclaim self defense, someone who isn’t a white male will take the fall for this.
Speaking of supremist macho fragility, Dylan Leary (Dean Jagger) is out and about shaking hands with the hungry, people fed up with his empty promises and insulted by hand-out offers. “Change doesn’t come overnight,” he tells the jobless. Yeah, no sh*t, Sherlock. While attempting to rally allies to his cause – allies he seems to be losing – Sophie shows up. Leary, of course, running right into her arms as soon as he sees someone has laid a hand on his girl. She breaks down in shock, telling him what happened, shamefully admitting to pointing fingers at Jacob. “You did the right thing.” the racist man assures her, fully aware someone is going down with the Mayor’s ship.
Leary then approaches Buckley after being sworn in as Mayor, expressing the concern many out-of-work Irish locals have developed over the city cabinet seemingly having lost all control of the lawless immigrant situation. He offers to bring Buckley men to be deputized, “one working man for every cop on the force” – a solution to an increasingly unsolvable economic paradox. But the city’s pockets don’t go that deep, especially with Buckley steering the current of the great material continuum. Their exchange gets heated, Buckley effectively telling the small business boxer to take a number – as the city’s got problems bigger than a bemoaning white workforce.
Buckley’s colored decision-making is further livened by an apt political cartoon, the newly anointed figure limping after a racist rendering of a “Chinaman,” shouting” STOP, YOU SAVAGE!” Humiliated, the newly elected Mayor scolds the Chief for the department’s failure to bring Blake’s killer to justice, ordering a curfew and road blocks be put in effect – no one comes in or out of the city. “Sir, if you want a Chinaman, I can get you one this morning, but not the Chinaman.”
With Buckley pressing his boot hard into the neck of law enforcement, Big Bill (Kieran Bew) and his boys – every cop in city having been assembled – start tearing stalls and shops apart. Jacob hides behind sewer grate, watching vile interrogations unfold. They even raid Ah Toy’s (Olivia Cheng) brothel, despite her usual arrangement. Buckley also arranges a meeting with Mai Ling, threatening that if she doesn’t aid in bringing Blake’s killer to justice he’ll shut down her opium trade. “Chinatown may not be long or wide, but it’s very deep,” she tells him (good line). Her confident presence in this scene suggesting that her, as-of-yet unseen, potential blackmail evidence might be coming into play soon, as Buckley’s one good knee keeps buckling.
Meanwhile, Officer Boy Scout Lee (Tom Weston-Jones) started to resurface last week, paying a visit to the widow of the owner of the pocket watch found alongside the Zing’s (Dustin Nguyen) other incriminating evidence. Realizing the man he once considered a friend planted the timepiece, the two have words, and Lee causes a scene, throwing the first punch. Ah Sahm isn’t around much this episode, but has an on-point exchange with Bill poking fun at stereotypes. “Remember me?” the Sergeant asks. “Hard to say, you all look the same to me,” Ah Sahm quips in a clever reversal. Bill pull out Jacob’s flier. “We don’t all know each other,” the Hop Wei enforcer bats. “That may be,” Bill concedes, “but he was Ms. Blake’s manservant. I know you know her.” “Barely.” Ah Sahm postures. It’s scenes like these that have me praying we’ll see a Season 3.
“All Enemies, Foreign & Domestic,” is a TV episode about the slow crawl of social unrest, city-wide chaos that comes about from closed door arrangements, ones that often bite the hand that feeds. In one of the most harrowing and gutting sequences the series has produced yet, Patterson (Frank Rautenbach), Ah Toy’s partner in land ownership, hires a pair of butchers to silence his former business partner. Nellie Davenport (Miranda Raison) goes to check up on her lover, given the urban situation. Two cops walk into the establishment, claiming they are here for another round of inspection, before brutally attacking the two women. With immovable tenacity furious and swordplay skills, Ah Toy thwarts off the assailants, showing up at Patterson’s residence at the end of the hour, pointing for him to sign on the line which is dotted, fresh blood still dripping from her hands. He tries to deny any involvement in the attack, but then Ah Toy points out the hired killers’ severed heads on the dining room mantel. He rushes to dip the quill in ink.
As all the shady political arrangements of the city implode in on themselves, it’s only fitting that the hour ends with Chao (Hoon Lee) uncharacteristically caught with his pants down. After sharing some street repartee with Bill and an ignorant copper harassing the back-door dealer, the man in the business of knowing everybody else’s business finds a certain stowaway hiding in one of his storerooms. It’s Jacob, throwing his trembling hands in the air. One assumes that in “Warrior” Season 2’s final hours, Mr. Chao’s true moral values may actually reveal themselves.
*NEW EPISODES OF WARRIOR AIR FRIDAYS @ 10 PM EST ON CINEMAX*