This Warrior review contains spoilers.
Warrior Season 1 Episode 4
The erratic momentum of Warrior’s first three episodes slows down in “The White Mountain”, giving everybody some much-needed time to get to know one another. Especially Ah Sahm and Penny (Penelope), who also get to know each other in the biblical sense of the word, if you know what I mean. Their budding relationship gets put on the fast track to f*cktown. After this, these two share their entire life stories in between heavy sighs. This is convenient, because we still know next to nothing about them, and we’re already halfway through the first season now, so something steamy has to happen, right?
But other than heating up his affair with Penny, Ah Sahm is also starting to find his groove in San Francisco. His recovery from that intense beating that Father Jun gave him last episode for being arrested and put on trial is a speedy one. And he’s continuing to make friends with the Younger Jun (Jason Tobin), who brings up the subject of trust with our hero while they smoke a molasses joint together. “You know you can trust me,” Baby Jun says.
Although I like him, I don’t trust Jun Jr. and wouldn’t encourage Ah Sahm to, either. Any character who says that raises a red flag for me, especially in gangster movies. About 15 of those popped up while I was watching this scene. It’s clear by the end of their conversation that the only reason Young Jun asked his was because he wanted to feel out Ah Sahm to see if he can trust him. There’s something disarming about Jun that foreshadows a streak of treacherous villainy underneath the surface.
By the way, how is Ah Sahm able to sneak away from Young Jun and the rest of the gang to go see Penny after getting in trouble for running off? Wondering this in the back of my head created a dramatic tension in this episode that I’m not sure was intended.
Looks like the repercussions of Ah Sahm’s miraculous dismissal are only just beginning to be felt across across the city. The whites aren’t too happy about it. The mayor, for one, sends out a warning through his deputy Walter Buckley to the chief of police that they will not succumb to the “Yellow Peril”. This could be another one of Buckley’s own secret machinations. It’s hard to tell because, just like so many of Warrior‘s characters, his only true allegiance is to himself.
Just like Big Bill, who shows off the shadier sides of his personality during the opening teaser when he gets the shit beat out of him for gambling debts to the Fung Hai tong by sending their Irish “stick boy” Damon to deal with him. He gets more time to figure out Lee, who he eventually bonds with. They both pose for a grim photo op at the sherriff’s station in which they are shown standing with other officers who are threatening to cut off the braid of an accused Chinese man for the newsapaper.
Meanwhile, Mayor Blake gets ready to have a really large gourd that looks like a penis rammed right up his suggestion box by a lady of the night. Huh. I wonder if Penny knows about her husband’s extracurricular activities? Judging by how quickly she jumped on top of Ah Sahm, I think so. As she reveals in her heart-to-heart with Ah Sahm, she married Blake to save her father’s company and take care of her family. “I sold myself the same way you did,” she tells him.
Ah Sahm’s sister Mai Ling aka Xiaojing (played by Dianne Doan) is by far the busiest character in “The White Mountain”. After derailing her brother’s trial by scaring the eyewitnesses into not showing up in the previous episode, she arranges a lunch meeting with the leaders of the Fung Hai tong through Wang Chao (Hoon Lee). She poisons their fish and winds up killing off a decoy set up by the real Fung Hei leader. Although this was a successful venture for Mai Ling, it didn’t make Wang Chao look good. As the black arms dealer said himself, he doesn’t like setting up top secret tong meetings unless he knows both parties will walk out of it alive.
Mai Ling also finds Ah Sahm after he leaves Penny Blake’s art studio of love. She offers him a ride home, and a one-way trip back to China. She warns him she won’t be so kind if he tries to interfere with her plans again because shit is about to get real, obviously. But Ah Sahm refuses to leave her again, taking to heart what she told him during the pilot episode. He blames himself for not fighting for her freedom hard enough when he had the chance. Now that he has a second one, he’s not going to give her up so easily.
I buy this as his motivation for facing the oncoming tong wars in SF, but after watching him cuddle with Penny Blake, one can’t help but wonder if she’s the one he’s sticking around for.
“The White Mountain” is another strong episode of Warrior. It explores and its characters and enhances the show’s noir atmosphere in the process. But in many ways, it feels like a mid-season episode — or the calm before the storm.