Friday, October 16, 2020

REVIEW: 'Warrior' - A New Recruit from China Does His Best to Impress Ah Sahm and Young Jun in 'Not How We Do Business'

Cinemax's Warrior - Episode 2.03 "Not How We Do Business"

With their new enterprise going well, Young Jun shares his worries with Ah Sahm about the new men Father Jun has brought over from China. And later, the partners are impressed by Hong, an enthusiastic recruit with a secret. Chao goes to Mai Ling for help keeping Zing away from his business. Sophie grows closer to Leary. Nellie's politics raise questions from her peers. Things take a deadly turn at Bill's home.

In 2019, the television industry aired 532 scripted shows across numerous outlets. The way people consume content now is different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, it's less necessary to provide ample coverage of each episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site provides 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 Cinemax's Warrior.

"Not How We Do Business" was written by Brad Kane and directed by David Petrarca

It shouldn't take high intensity action sequences in order for an episode of television to come alive. It's certainly a common problem with shows set in this particular genre. That energy is so expressive and elaborate that it then becomes difficult to make the rest of the show just as entertaining to watch. This show suffered in that regard early in its run because of its expansive ensemble. The show is still introducing new characters and point plots. It's a lot to handle. It is juggling a lot. It means Lee hasn't made any big advances in his search for the swordsman killer. That plot is relegated to a simple but fun visual of Lee striking a piece of meat with various swords to see which blade matches the weapon used in the crimes. That's inventive and shows his mental capabilities aren't particularly impaired despite his dependence on drugs following his recent assault. But again, it's just a brief moment in an hour that has to spend just fleeting seconds with every character in every episode. It can afford to be condensed down. The only significant story of this hour is Ah Sahm and Young Jun having to deal with a new recruit from China being very eager to prove his worth. That basically amounts to Hong coming across as crazy. That may not necessarily be the right energy needed for their new business venture to succeed. But it produces one of the action sequences that helps this episode come alive for a few brief moments. He attacks some members of the Fung Hai mostly as a way to prove himself. That's what Ah Sahm and Young Jun are essentially asking him to do. He may cling to them. However, they see a potential value in him. It's no longer a burden that Father Jun has sent to China for reinforcements among their ranks. Sure, the narrative keeps going back and forth on Father Jun and Young Jun caring about each other. One moment Young Jun is lashing out at his father for refusing to act in a sensible way to the changing dynamics of Chinatown. The next moment Father Jun is telling his son that he is the only one he can trust in the tong. And now, Father Jun doesn't back that up because he makes this major move without telling his son about it. It's a tense dynamic. But again, it seems to bend completely based on the needs of the plot at any given moment. With that being apparent, it takes the audience out of investing in that bond. The tension should grow as Young Jun is trepidatious about going against his father with Ah Sahm. But not enough time is spent in his mind for that concern to actually become a genuine part of the narrative. It can't only be briefly referenced before the action has to cut away to some other part of town. That means time is spent on Leary and Sophie growing more intimate while clashing over the pain he's experienced with her desire to escape her safe world. Chao grows concerned that Zing's reckless nature will lead to even more devastation for his business. He reaches out to Li Yong to broker a deal because they believe that Mai Ling is too concerned about the posture of strength instead of taking actions in a rational way. That's a new way to explore sexism in this world. However, that appears to be more of the chief concern with Penny and Nellie as they explore their passions through their work. They are the ones ridiculed with demeaning comments. Meanwhile, power is being taken away from Mai Ling because people believe they know what's best. Sure, she may be making the wrong decisions by continuing to support this alliance with the Fung Hai. It could all end in despair. Provocateurs are waiting for violence to swarm the streets of Chinatown. They are willing to help that happen. But again, that remains a fear for everyone instead of something happening quickly. It means the episode concludes with Bill's family coming under attack because he wants to stop working as an enforcer for the Fung Hai. He can't ever leave that relationship. He is now completely indebted to them. His family will suffer if he acts out against them. The family can fight off these intruders. It just further highlights how this one tong is the focus of all the meaningful violence when the conflict between the Hop Wei and Long Zii is simmering in the background. It could explode into something more. But that remains a conflict being teased along and planned for. One that isn't in a rush to explode into something costly for the core characters just yet.