REVIEW: ‘Warrior,’ Season 2 Episode 2 – “The Chinese Connection”

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Warrior Episode 2

Cinemax’s Warrior is based on Bruce Lee’s treatment for a television series centered around a Chinese immigrant in the American West titled “The Warrior.” Last episode, we were reintroduced to our main cast of characters and shown how they have been living their lives after the events of season one. Young Jun (Jason Tobin) is pushing his father. Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) is seeking to feel something in the fight pits. Ah Toy (Olivia Cheng) is running her business and leading the way for seeking justice against the racists in San Francisco, namely the Teddy Boys. And finally, Mai Ling (Dianne Doan) is using her newfound power to give back to those around her while also attempting to solidify her strength with the other Tongs. Now, in Warrior Episode 2, we’re given larger context around the white characters in the series and how their paths are careening towards that of our leads.

Warrior Episode 2, “The Chinese Connection,” does a lot of work to situate the residents of Chinatown into a larger narrative. While last season was focused on warring Tongs, season 2 seems to be focussed on how Ah Sahm and the other characters are interacting with the world around them. Leary (Dean Jagger) and his thugs continue to abuse and target the Chinese workers of Penny’s (Joanna Vanderham) factory which forces her to seek help from Ah Sahm. Bill (Kieran Bew) has become an enforcer for a Tong and can’t pull away and is still trying to solve the swordsman murders while Lee becomes increasingly dependent on medication.

While Warrior Episode 2 showcases how the stories of each character is being pulled together, this episode also pushes the character beyond the boundaries of Chinatown that we saw all last season which offers interesting and new dynamics. This is most prominent through Young Jun. With Ah Sahm’s help, Young Jun seeks to expand the Hop Wei’s power by ignoring his father’s choice to remain loyal to product from China. Young Jun’s determination to secure power for the Hop Wei has led him to a Black community in San Francisco to seek a partnership. This is the first time in the series we’ve seen a substantial amount of characters who are not white or Asian which helps to showcase how this season of Warrior is expanding its story from beyond the Tongs of Chinatown and more into how the city of San Francisco is a whole and how our leads move through it outside the Pond.

Episode 1 of season 2 had a stunning amount of fight sequences. Warrior Episode 2 on the other hand dives deep into building up intrigue between characters and pushing the story forward through interactions and shifting dynamics. Now, that doesn’t mean that this episode doesn’t have the fight sequences that the series is known for, only that they aren’t in the spotlight. Instead, the showrunners are more focused on expanding the narrative. While we get this with the points mentioned above, it’s the introduction of a new character in Ah Toy’s path that interested me the most.

One of the elements of the series we haven’t seen completely explored is the position of women in Chinatown, the exploitation of their bodies, the trafficking the women and girls underwent, and ultimately, how Ah Toy has to reconcile with her position in it all. While we’ve seen hints of this, it hasn’t been given a focus. But with the introduction of Nellie Davenport,  a rich white widow with a goal of ending the exploitation of Chinese women. Her inclusion in Warrior is the story element I’m most excited for because she can be a way to explore the dynamics between women and how race plays a role in that.

That said, Warrior Episode 2 also returned to showcasing how it utilizes multiple languages. If you’re unfamiliar with the series, the language used by each character changes based on the perspective the story is being told through. In one episode we’ll see Ah Toy speaking with Ah Sahm and other main characters in Cheng’s normal speaking voice, no accent, and in English but when we see white characters observing her interacting with other members of the Asian cast she’s speaking  Cantonese. Additionally, when Ah Toy speaks to white characters we hear her speak with an accent. The way that Warrior uses language is one of the revelatory elements of the series and sets the bar for how language should be treated by television in the future. To see this back on display in this episode was exciting.

Overall, Warrior Episode 2 does a lot of work to further build out the story this season and set up elements that will be exciting to see paid off. This episode also allows the actors and story to thrive outside of the phenomenal fight sequences, showing that this is both an action and an intriguing drama.

Warrior airs new episodes every Friday at 9pm CT on Cinemax.

Warrior Season2 Episode 2 - The Chinese Connection
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Overall, Warrior Episode 2 does a lot of work to further build out the story this season and set up elements that will be exciting to see paid off. This episode also allows the actors and story to thrive outside of the phenomenal fight sequences, showing that this is both an action and an intriguing drama.