Friday, November 6, 2020

REVIEW: 'Warrior' - Vega's Past Complicates Ah Sahm's Quest for Money in 'To a Man with a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail'

Cinemax's Warrior - Episode 2.06 "To a Man with a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail"

Ah Sahm, Young Jun and Hong travel with Vega to Rooker's Mill, a U.S.-Mexico border town owned by Elijah Rooker, the wealthy host of a lucrative fight tournament that Ah Sahm is determined to win. As he learns more about Vega, Ah Sahm draws the attention of another fighter, Dolph, and later, Rooker himself.

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.

"To a Man with a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail" was written by Jonathan Tropper & Brad Kane and directed by Dustin Nguyen

Every season seemingly feels the impulse to get Ah Sahm out of the confining space of Chinatown for a little bit. In the first season, Ah Sahm and Young Jun had an adventure on the road in "The Blood and the Shit." And now, they head down to the border to win big in a tournament Vega knows about. They are completely focused on the money. They need to cover their losses before Father Jun learns about their side business that imploded quickly. But the priority of these episodes away from the central location of the series seems to be offering perspective for these characters. They get the chance to see different paths they could take. They don't have to be solely devoted to the tongs and the drama happening back in the city. They have agency in their lives. The conflicts that have defined them lately don't have to be the only things driving them forward. Vega offers a new life to Ah Sahm. He may be willing to take her up on her offer. However, it's not destined to be because the narrative feels the pull to get the action back to Chinatown in the end. Vega has served a somewhat limited purpose this season. She has been the conduit for Ah Sahm to continue fighting and building up his prowess as the best fighter in the region. Now, he can test his skills with what are suppose to be the best in the country. He needs this money. That's the priority. Young Jun and Hong still tease him about the potential sexual connection between him and Vega. And yes, the two of them do eventually act on that attraction. That's the first true suggestion of intimacy and vulnerability between them. They have maintained a business relationship up to this point. He views her as the person who can set up fights for him to win. He needs that financial security from her. She now offers him the greatest price he could receive so far. But the two of them don't actually know anything about the other. In fact, it seems like they are kindred spirits who believe they would do anything for their families. That loyalty and connection is incredibly important to them. That's the only reason why Ah Sahm hasn't left the city. He feels the need to be close with Mai Ling because she is the only family he has left. He may have hatred for her. However, those emotions are powerful and propel him to remain a part of this world. Meanwhile, Vega has been longing to regain what was once taken away from her family. She was made to suffer. She built a life for herself in San Francisco. She was never happy there. She has been plotting this return. She can take this land back from the white conqueror who ripped it away from her father. She delivers her vengeance. It's a complete shock to Ah Sahm. It may not have been to the audience because it was clear some dangerous twist was coming. There was no real reason to be concerned about the well being of the protagonists either after they are captured and sent to face justice. Vega is the one who can be given a tragic fate here. She worked hard for this reunion. She sees this as a better life that Ah Sahm could have as well. He never gets to make that choice. She is killed trying to get away. He returns to the tong because that becomes the only reasonable option for him. That is tragic as well. This life continually pulls him back in. He can't escape it. It's a part of him. It's as dominant as his need to fight. He is comfortable in that aspect of his life. He knows that he can defeat whichever fighter is put up against him. The show has a lot of fun displaying the various fighting styles that define this tournament. And yes, Ah Sahm makes a valuable impression. He takes the money home with him even though he isn't declared the best. That isn't important in that moment. It's more vital for Vega to exact her revenge. She ends by offering her sister a chance at freedom. She won't get to share in that. It's a tragic ending but one that propels only more drama back in the city with Ah Sahm, Young Jun and Hong returning home to Father Jun demanding answers. That seemed inevitable. But it may also confirm that life in the tong may not be for any of them despite how unified they are throughout this endeavor at the border. They differ in style. Hong and Ah Sahm notice things that Young Jun doesn't. They have come to rely on each other. And yet, they remain constantly surprised by the world and how people will always act in their selfish interests instead of always offering them support. They have lost so much without a lot to show for it. They have the money to survive. But what exactly does the future hold if they remain indecisive about everything beyond fighting and remaining loyal to one another?