Wednesday, September 4, 2019

REVIEW: 'Wu-Tang: An American Saga' - A Funeral Helps Everyone Remember Their True Ambitions in 'All In Together Now'

Hulu's Wu-Tang: An American Saga - Episode 1.03 "All In Together Now"

The death of a friend sends Dennis spiraling and divides Staten Island.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of Hulu's Wu-Tang: An American Saga.

"All In Together Now" was written by The RZA & Alex Tse and directed by Darren Grant

Linda pleads with the audience at Jahson's funeral to avoid the cycle of violence that is destroying their community. And yes, many of them do heed her words. They understand the pain of this moment. They have lost so much because they feel this is the only way to survive in the world. It's the way that they have been conditioned. This is all that they can aspire to have. It doesn't have to be though. This episode marks a significant transition in focus from the criminal world to the music one. It happens pretty seamlessly mostly because the show suggests that all of these characters have musical ambitions. They are just choosing to delve further into them now simply because they have nothing better to do. They don't have the time to hit the streets selling drugs. They don't have the product and can't find work elsewhere. That could be absolutely crippling. It may be foolish for them to focus all of their efforts on music and trying to sign a record deal. And yet, the audience has the full understanding that it will all work out for the best eventually. Right now though, it's still a show straddling two worlds. Even when it goes all in on the rap battle, that sequence is intercut with a fight that breaks out in prison for Divine. That too is a scary moment. It could serve as a grand unifier for Staten Island. The crews don't have to be attacking one another. They should have pride in the neighborhood they all come from. Divine didn't need to be a part of this fight. He was anyway though because it's important to stand up for one's ideals and community. That may form a bond that helps him survive especially since he's reluctant to say that he was planning on using the drugs instead of selling them. He doesn't want to be seen as a crackhead. But that may be the narrative that his mother forces him to accept just so he can return to the family as soon as possible. The financial strain may not be felt right now but it is coming. Bobby has refocused his efforts on music. That's also the way in which the drug supplier gets back on the good side of the local community. All he has to do is stage this rap battle and promise a five thousand dollar cash prize. Opening the bar up as well makes everyone immediately forget about being angry over Jahson's death. It's cruel and unfortunate just how quickly people can move on. And yet, this is a clearly a formative moment for Bobby and his friends as performers. They enter this contest as individuals. They are all working towards a collective goal. This reward would be life-changing for any of them. But they see the value in using it to pay Divine's bail. That is the most pressing concern for all of them. Him returning to their lives could be enough to ensure a better future. This is the only way they can see raising the funds. And yet, they don't win because they all blend in together as musicians who definitely have the skills but the same hook. When a trio of performers take the stage, it's an electric moment because it's clear that something significant is happening. Sure, it also means the entire contest was rigged because these ringers were always poised to come in at the last second. Plus, Bobby's moment on the stage proves that you can certainly rap about sperm but most people don't want to listen to that. That's such an awkward moment. One that could have been demoralizing completely for Bobby and his musical pursuits. But instead, he is quickly back into the studio with the idea that his friends could be better together than any of them are as individuals. That's a genius idea. It just continues to be slow getting to that point. It's also clear that not everyone is completely on board with such a radical change in careers. There is still a lot of bad blood in this community. That mostly presents as obstacles that keep any of the real drama and narrative interest from happening though.