Friday, November 27, 2020

REVIEW: 'Warrior' - The Tongs Unite to Protect the People of Chinatown After the Irish Invade in 'Enter the Dragon'

Cinemax's Warrior - Episode 2.09 "Enter the Dragon"

After Bill and his men are confronted by an angry mob, Chinatown erupts into chaos, forcing the tongs to work together to protect their streets. As Chao and Mai Ling seek shelter, Mai Ling tends to an ailing Ah Toy. Sophie opens her eyes to Leary's world. Lee decides which side he's on.

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.

"Enter the Dragon" was written by Jonathan Tropper, Evan Endicott & Josh Stoddard and directed by Dennie Gordon

The best episodes of the series have largely focused on a singular plot - Season 1's "The Blood and the Shit" and Season 2's "To a Man With a Hammer, Everything Looks Like a Nail." The normal storytelling structure in a given episode is to spend time with as many members of the expansive ensemble as possible. It has absolutely diluted the visceral energy of the show from time to time. It made several episodes drag on with the only excitement coming from elaborate action sequences. This episode is devoted almost entirely to the violence that erupts following Mayor Blake's death. That was always going to be a turning point for the conflicts that have long been brewing in this city. It was annoying that the show delayed this onslaught of violence by an episode just to set up more of what to expect. It was better for the show to let all of these conflicts come to a boil now because it puts everyone in dire straits. The entire city is dealing with this conflict now. It's not just Ah Sahm and his ongoing search for identity and purpose. This is a conflict that brings so many together against a common enemy. Now, the one drawback of this episode is that it features too many anonymous white goons as the perpetrators of this violence. That is very true to life though. The Irish mob is quick to action. They feel this is the only form of justice that is acceptable. It turns into pure anarchy. It is no longer about the death of the mayor. Instead, it's about them taking out their frustrations in their world against an entire community. The Chinese have formed a community in this city. It's one rich with its criminal elements and conflicts. That can be very distracting for those always caught up in these power plays. In reality, they are all belittled and discriminated against. They are always seen as second class citizens who are corrupting the white ideals that those in power have long enjoyed. Once that is challenged, the fragile egos of those involved can't seem to comprehend or reckon with it. Leary has been fanning these flames for the entire series. He fought against Chinese labor because it was destroying the livelihoods of his brethren. He has used violence to get what he wants. And yet, he is completely shut out of this decision to attack the police out of fear that they won't justly kill Jacob for killing Mayor Blake. He was portrayed as the leader of this uprising. And now, he is oblivious to it all. He is naive for thinking this wouldn't happen. As such, he lashes out at Sophie and oppresses her for his own misgivings. Penny and Sophie are the ones with a rightful claim of mourning. Their lives were in danger. Jacob saved them. And then, he is punished and killed for the actions he took. He was betrayed by so many people. There was never any hope of him being treated equally in the criminal justice system. He never makes it to that point. Instead, his death incites even more violence. It descends upon Chinatown. The people there have already been abused by the cops. The police have a very fine distinction of what is acceptable behavior. They know the force shown by the Irish isn't okay. They want to operate in good faith by not drawing their guns. But they still abused people who couldn't fight back. The tongs come together to protect their neighborhood. They force the invaders away. They choose to reveal their strength and power. They won't let these people take away their claims of a life in this country. They are just as deserving of opportunities and success. But again, there is no clarity that the world will change in a dramatic way after all of this. The community will mourn. These hostilities are in the open. The battle has been fought. No major characters are killed during this entire mess. That is surprising given how the show has felt the urgency to up the stakes this season. Buckley wanted all of this to happen. Now that it has, he is strangely no where to be found. Many individuals contributed to this as well. The deaths of the many will now rest on their minds. In the pursuit of ensuring they were never personally oppressed or abused again, they decided to take away the freedom of others. And yet, Ah Toy and Mai Ling are in the exact same position. They are fighting for their lives. The world may always push them down. That's horrifying. They shouldn't have to accept that. But they have further intensified this conflict as well. Mai Ling made deals with Buckley at the expense of her community. When Ah Toy sends her girls away, she sees the Hop Wei as the only salvation in the neighborhood. People look on at Ah Sahm in awe of his fighting skills. They cheer. They see leaders who will fight to protect them. That's in physical prowess. This riot puts things into context of who will stand proudly in themselves and their communities in the face of tyranny. That is unifying. It's also terrifying because the threats are seemingly all-consuming. It will only take one wrong move for all of this to happen once more. But again, the Hop Wei want to honor the life lost at the center of this. Jacob protected Penny. That's what he was always charged with doing. He saved her life. He saved Sophie as well despite her ignorance in all of this. He dies. Some care about giving him honor and decency in death. That shows that the Chinese are the respectable group here even though they too have many corrosive elements in how they pursue their interests in this world.