Friday, October 23, 2020

REVIEW: 'Warrior' - Sophie's Rebellion May Destroy Her Family's Business in 'If You Don't See Blood, You Didn't Come to Play'

Cinemax's Warrior - Episode 2.04 "If You Don't See Blood, You Didn't Come to Play"

As the police prepare for retribution, Chao comes to Bill with a mutually beneficial proposal. A sympathetic Sophie offers Leary a new plan. Ah Sahm and Penny have a moment when he confides his plans for the future. Buckley urges Blake to take a stand against the Chinese. Lee seeks to ease his pain. Mai Ling invests in a legitimate business. Nellie urges Ah Toy to imagine a different kind of life for her sex workers.

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.

"If You Don't See Blood, You Didn't Come to Play" was written by Evan Endicott & Josh Stoddard and directed by Loni Peristere

At the end of the previous episode, it truly did seem as if the narrative was gearing up for a severe escalation. The Fung Hai invaded Bill's home. That puts things into stark contrast for Lucy. She has always been aware of her husband's vices that could easily invite destruction to their family unit. He has previously been afraid for the safety of his family. People have threatened them. This was the first time they were actually attacked. They fought off the intruders. However, it's still clearly devastating for this family. It feels like a line being crossed. The Chinese tongs are no longer keeping their actions confined to their neighborhoods. As such, the government and police feel incentivized to actually start attacking. This is the only justification they need. One of them was hit in their home. They must retaliate. They are no better than the gangs they are trying to curb. And yes, everyone is gearing up for that action. And then, Chao comes along and proposes a better plan for Bill that also happens to be beneficial for him. That sucks a lot of momentum out of the proceedings. After that, the story is all about Bill being lonely at home with his family now fleeing. Meanwhile, Chao has to convince Ah Toy to allow him to frame Zing for the swordsman murders. He constantly plays things off as being to the benefit of everyone involved. He can work with Bill and Ah Toy while exacting some revenge against Zing for refusing to abide by his rules. But again, it's a lot of rising action that feels incapable of getting to the point fast enough. Ah Toy is implicated in all of this as well. The narrative instead has her meeting with Mai Ling for the first time while having another tense conversation with Nellie about the working conditions of her girls. These stories all have fascinating beats to them. But a pattern is starting to emerge with the storytelling as well. The bulk of each episode is building the intensity up. And then, the final moments produce a stunning action that pushes this inevitable war even further into fruition. Here, it's seemingly all about Sophie's teenage rebellion. She stands out as a character but not for a particularly good reason. Her motivations are simply trying to prove she's not entitled only for her privilege to destroy several lives. She doesn't fully understand the consequences of her actions. She is simply lashing out because her life is enduring so much upheaval following her father's death. She doesn't want to listen to her sister. She feels like Leary is a kindred spirit who cares about her. She doesn't want her family getting special treatment. But she also ensures the destruction of the business her father built and her sister is trying to keep alive. Sure, the tension will come from Ah Sahm and Young Jun probably losing some of the product they were keeping hidden in this building. That will be devastating for them. Their business venture wasn't safe just because it was kept away from the rival Chinese tongs. It still got hit in the crosshairs of the violence that is always present on these streets. Leary looks at Ah Sahm as the obstacle standing in the way of his people being employed. In reality, the government and industrialists are the ones choosing to force cheap labor into being common practice. No one is willing to sit down and have an honest discussion about the right way to conduct business. How people chose to wield power is very revealing. Mayor Blake still largely does whatever Buckley wants despite him being appalled by the actions his Deputy Mayor will take. Meanwhile, Mai Ling is constantly surprising Li Yong by choosing to be more aggressive with her actions in order to remain in power. She is doing what she believes is best in order for herself to avoid poverty. Sure, she associates being weak with being close to that kind of despair again. She can't allow herself to ever embrace that livelihood once more. But Li Yong is taking it all as a shock that he can't support in good faith. He wanted to believe he knew how she would lead. He helped her rise in the tong. He is loyal to her. She may be making mistakes as a leader. And yet, that's the freedom she deserves and has fought to achieve. Her abusive nature was previously apparent. So many of these characters are willing to screw each other over in order to get something better for themselves. They have to aspire for more in these selfish ways. It just cements this world as one full of conflict but never quite pulling the trigger to ensure each action is as costly as it all seems. Sophie is forced to confront with the lethal consequences of her actions. But that's not as engaging as spending time with the more prominent characters at the forefront of these conflicts.