This Warrior review contains spoilers.
Warrior Season 2 Episode 8 Review
This episode’s cold open has Hong (Chen Tang) telling a story to Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) and Young Jun (Jason Tobin) as they are eating. It’s a tale of a killer who uses violin strings as a weapon to explain why Hong uses his signature whip chain. Ah Sahm and Young Jun tease him by constantly interrupting his story and as the camera pulls back, we discover that they are casually eating over a pile of dead Fung Hai men. With their leader Zing (Dustin Nguyen) in jail, the Fung Hai were easy pickings for the Hop Wei.
Ordinarily, skipping to after the fight scene without showing any action would be disappointing for a martial arts-based show like Warrior, but it’s such an artfully crafted interaction between the Hop Wei threesome that the absence Kung Fu is forgivable this one time. Their gangster buddy chemistry is on point and remains one of the best things about Warrior. It adds some much needed levity to a grim and nasty world, However, this is another episode that is weak in the action department with only one fight scene.
Buckley’s (Langley Kirkwood) backstory is revealed when relives having his leg amputated during the Civil War in a PTSD flashback nightmare, which finally explains his limp and cane. He’s awakened to learn that Mayor Blake (Christian McKay) has been killed and joins Chief Flanagan (David Butler) at the scene of the crime. Flanagan questions Penny (Joanna Vanderham) who refuses to give any statements, partly in shock and partly to protect Jacob (Kenneth Fok), their valet, who saved her life by killing Blake. However, Sophie (Celine Buckens) snitches in hopes to protect her sister, completely throwing Jacob under the bus. Buckley realizes that it’s another opportunity to vilify the Chinese and as he strategizes, Flanagan reminds him that he’s now the acting mayor.
Meanwhile back outside Fung Hai body pile, Ah Sahm tells Young Jun that their attack was a tactical move to provoke his sister, Mei Ling (Dianne Doan). Mei Ling spies on them from a nearby window and understands his play. Both tongs must behave without offending the Six Companies, which restricts them from launching an all-out gang war. She lets Li Yong (Joe Taslim) know she has other tricks up her sleeve outside of Chinatown.
Young Jun returns to the Hop Wei compound and pours a drink for Father Jun who he has incarcerated after his takeover of the tong. He boasts about his victories over the Fung Hai and Long Zii hoping for some paternal approval. But once again, Father Jun rebukes him for losing men. Young Jun has only been the Hop Wei leader for two days, and the violence is escalating.
With the rising xenophobia, the SFPD launches a major crackdown on Chinatown, pulling out all stops to find the Chinaman who murdered the mayor. After Flanagan briefs the squad on the importance of their mission, Lee (Tom Weston-Jones) accuses O’Hara (Kieran Bew) of planting the watch to set up Zing, and the two get in a fist fight in the precinct station. Their partnership has gone completely sour.
The Irish union starts to question Leary (Dean Jagger) about the jobs he’s promised. They’re tired of waiting. They don’t want handouts. They want jobs. Leary believes the mayor will throw the coolies out. Sophie arrives with a black eye from fighting with the Mayor and tells Leary about Blake’s death. Leary realizes he’s lost an important ally for his mission to find jobs for his fellow countrymen.
There’s a nice composite scene as Buckley is sworn in as acting mayor. His oath taking is juxtaposed against the cleaning of Blake’s blood at the Mayoral manor as Penny prepares to go her slain husband’s viewing with Sophie. Meanwhile, the SFPD begins to march on Chinatown. The police raid is merciless, grabbing every Chinese male and comparing them to the line drawing wanted poster for Jacob. Jacob hides in an alley in fear.
Buckley settles into the Mayor’s chair and then pressures Flanagan to catch Jacob quickly. He wants to manipulate this to his political advantage as he’s been pushing for the Chinese Exclusion Act for several episodes. Leary catches up with Buckley and asks him to deputize his men in hopes of getting them some jobs. He says three dollars a day would do it, and then drops to two, but Buckley rejects him entirely. Leary tries to threaten Buckley, but Buckley, confident in his new found power, brushes him off. Later Buckley meets with Mei Ling privately in his carriage. He demands that she find Jacob and threatens to takedown the Long Zii and their opium trade. Mei Ling agrees as long as Buckley helps her crush the Hop Wei later.
O’Hara begins to tap his Chinatown connections to find Jacob. He searches Ah Toy’s (Olivia Cheng) bordello, and the police presence forces her to close. In the back alley, O’Hara crosses paths with Ah Sahm. He reveals that he was the reason the Li Yong didn’t kill him in their duel in Season 1, but Ah Sahm is nonplussed. O’Hara tells him to stay off the streets while they search Chinatown for Jacob. He hoped for some clues but gets nothing from the tightlipped Ah Sahm.
Nellie (Miranda Raison) visits Ah Toy at the bordello and invites her to come to her winery to escape the police harassment. But they are interrupted by the butcher hitmen, Cleaver (Brad Kelly) and Hammer (Jason William Day), so named for the weapons they wield. They were hired by Ah Toy’s former real estate partner, Patterson (Frank Rautenbach) in previous episode. They arrive disguised as police and get the drop on Ah Toy, injuring her badly. Nellie tries to help her lover fight but is quickly knocked out.
This is the only fight scene in this episode and although it’s gruesomely sanguineous, Ah Toy’s Kung Fu is subpar. Granted, she’s fighting wounded, but she lacks the finesse of her previous fight scenes, narrowly escaping the two hitmen, crawling away as she evades their attacks. It’s suspenseful because as we’ve seen from the previous episodes, major characters are dying, and no one is safe. Inevitably, she dispatches Hammer with her hairpin throwing dagger and then manages to recover her sword (a new one, not the one presumably in the evidence room incriminating Zing) to decapitate Cleaver off screen. After the fight, Ah Toy sends Nellie away, telling her this is ‘no place for a white woman.’
Ah Toy brings the decapitated heads of Cleaver and Hammer to Patterson’s home. She’s a bloody mess and it’s not clear how she escaped the Chinatown curfew in her injured state, but she’s Ah Toy and has her ways. She knows that Patterson sent the hitmen after her, and with her sword on the dinner table, she threatens him and his family, forcing him to finally sign off on her property. She tells him to vanish saying in her clipped accented English, ‘If I ever see you, you dead man.’
O’Hara finds another cop pinning Chao (Hoon Lee) to a wall, interrogating him about Jacob. O’Hara pulls him off Chao in a classic good-cop-bad-cop tactic, although this seems unrehearsed. He asks Chao for his help to find Jacob. Chao acknowledges their past exchanged favors yet leaves disgruntled. He returns to his place to find his door ajar. He draws his derringer and finds Jacob is hiding there, begging for help.