REVIEW: ‘Warrior,’ Season 2 Episode 7 – “If you Wait by the River Long Enough…”

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warrior episode 7

Words can not describe how impactful and revolutionary Warrior has been both for decentering whiteness in Westerns and presenting some of the most skilled fight choreography on television. The Cinemax original series based on the writings of Bruce Lee is getting close to the end of its 10-episode season 2 and in Warrior Episode 7, “If you Wait by the River Long Enough,” the ante keeps being upped.

Last episode ended with Young Jun (Jason Tobin) and Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) returning from the Mexican Border to an angered Father Jun (Perry Yung). Warrior Episode 7 picks immediately where the last left off. What seems to be the end of Young Jun’s attempt at power turns into a moment where the respect he’s endeared within the young members of the Hop Wei pays off. This pushes us to see the tenuous relationship between Father Jun and Young Jun moved to its climax. Patricide is how power is transitioned. But when Father Jun urges his son to kill him and even offering to take his own life if Young Jun can’t stomach it, the son instead puts him under constant guard. Now, this is important to what will happen in the next episodes, and while it’s a moment we’ve all been waiting for, Warrior Episode 7’s strongest moments don’t belong to the Hop Wei. They belong to the women of Warrior. 

In Warrior Episode 7, we finally get to learn more about Ah Toy’s (Olivia Cheng) backstory and struggles. We get to see her make the tough choice of realizing that Nellie’s (Miranda Raison) path is in fact better than what she can provide to women seeking refuge and autonomy. In one of the most extensive fight sequences given to just women characters since the series started, we see Ah Toy and her protege take down an entire brothel full of men. In a dark building where the women are chained and abused, the two women sneak in and in a cathartic action sequence of brutal take-downs, we see their strength. While the series has been able to showcase explosive fight sequences with both emotion and action in equal measure, there is a beauty in the violence of this specific scene.

Throughout Warrior, while we see the strength of its main female characters, we haven’t gotten a cathartic moment where they get to confront and defeat an element of their pain. In Warrior Episode 7, that happens. The abusers and rapists in the “brothel” are stopped, violently. And they suffer. Beyond that, the scene is given heavy emotional weight given the revelations of Ah Toy’s past.

warrior episode 7

While we’ve been given peaks behind Ah Toy’s powerful and stoic mask, this episode, while she’s in bed with Nellie, she finally removes the mask fully. Ah Toy had it all. She had a husband, she had land through him, she was loved, and then it was all taken away when he was murdered on their trip. Instead of being raped and abused by the remaining men on the boat, Ah Toy chose to become the ship captain’s concubine. She chose to be harmed by one man instead of many. And as she explains her pain and how she arose from it, it hits you. Cheng has done a phenomenal role since season one letting audiences know that there is more to Ah Toy than just her beautiful clothes or her sword. It’s rewarding to see Cheng given the time and space to showcase Ah Toy’s vulnerabilities and defiance in such an intimate setting.

With Nellie, Ah Toy is finding out that there is another path for her to walk and for which to bring the women she saves. This one conversation sparks a domino effect that changes Ah Toy. After rescuing the women from the brothel, Ah Toy of the past would have just brought them to hers, giving them the option to make money they can keep and be protected by her. But not now. Now she brings them to Nellie to safeguard, and for a truly new life that only belongs to them. This move also sparks Ah Toy to end her partnership with the wealthy white man who has been using her money to secure her land.

But Ah Toy isn’t the only woman who takes the spotlight this episode. So does Penny (Joanna Vanderham).

Penny has always been a steadfast character, dedicated to maintaining her father’s business and this season, moving out from under her husband’s thumb. Over the course of this season, we’ve seen Penny push past her husband and his needs as Mayor of San Francisco to pursue her own interests. While this has been liberating to watch, as a viewer, I’ve been waiting for the other shoe to drop and in Warrior Episode 7 it does. With her husband canceling the city’s deal with her factory, she seeks out others in the industry to buy her steel. You know, the steel not made by the Irish but by Chinese laborers. This directly contradicts her husband’s plans to stop factory owners from using Chinese labor to undercut the white workers in San Francisco.

When he finds out, there is a violent confrontation between the two. But unlike the other women we’ve seen in the show, Penny and her sister are women of high stature and of course, unable to stop his attacks, even though they try. It’s a rough sequence to watch and while it closes out the show, it feels like it takes a whole hour itself and that isn’t a bad thing. But when her vallet, a Chinese worker named Jacob, saves her from this violence, it’s clear that episode 8 is going to see more violence, more fear, and more attacks on Chinatown.

Overall, Warrior Episode 7 is extremely well done. It’s packed with action but the emotional moments and character development it gives its female characters deliver what I have been waiting for since season one. With Ah Toy pulling her money from her white male partner and Penny being abused by her husband and the fallout from that, the next episode isn’t going to be easy to watch, and I can feel that in my bones.

Warrior airs Friday nights at 9 pm CT on Cinemax.

Warrior, Season 2 Episode 7 - "If you Wait by the River Long Enough…"
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TL;DR

Overall, Warrior Episode 7 is extremely well done. It’s packed with action but the emotional moments and character development it gives its female characters deliver what I have been waiting for since season one. With Ah Toy pulling her money from her white male partner and Penny being abused by her husband and the fallout from that, the next episode isn’t going to be easy to watch, and I can feel that in my bones.