Wednesday, June 2, 2021

REVIEW: 'Kung Fu' - The Pain of Past Secrets Has the Potential to Disrupt Bonds Within the Shen Family in 'Destiny'

The CW's Kung Fu - Episode 1.08 "Destiny"

Nicky and the Shens deal with the fallout after a family secret comes to light. Althea prepares for her bachelorette party.

In 2020, the television industry aired 493 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 The CW's Kung Fu.

"Destiny" was written by Melissa Rundle and directed by Dan Liu

Nicky was personally stunned by the revelation that she is a descendant of Liang Daiyu with a destiny to protect the sacred weapons. That mission has shaped her world for awhile now. This twist makes it even more personal to her. Plus, it involves her family as well. They don't have these firm connections to the mythos that has come to define Nicky's life. And now, this revelation has an impact on all of them. It hits Jin the hardest because keeping this secret has shaped how Mei-Li parented their daughter. He believed they were a team in that endeavor. They were on the same page with every decision being made. And now, he realizes that keeping this secret has created so much tension. It was actively at the forefront of her mind with every decision made about Nicky. It's enough for him to also question his place in this family. He doesn't understand how she could keep this secret for all these years. He hasn't always been honest with her. He tracked Nicky down when she was at the monastery. In that moment though, he saw her exactly where she was suppose to be. This was the life destined for her. Of course, that introduces the entire conversation about choice and free will. Nicky wants to know how her mother knew that this destiny was meant for her. It may just be imagery and long-held beliefs. And yet, those are cherished and upheld within this culture. It provides clarity and guidance. That offers reassurance at a time when so much chaos has entered the Shen household. It's not Nicky's responsibility to fix everything for everyone. She earnestly tries to protect her family for as long as possible too. All of this also happens on the night of Althea's bachelorette party. She is already stressed out because Dennis' mother has decided to attend. Althea prevents herself from having fun because she needs to be mindful of how her behavior could be perceived by someone she knows is judging her. Her sister wants her to celebrate this moment. Nicky is also pulled into even more drama centered around Dennis' sister, Chloe. The bad influences that once plagued her life are actually people who break into houses. Her family's home is being targeted during this event. Chloe feels as if she can't confide in anyone about what is going on in her world. It's difficult to have these conversations with loved ones. So much pressure extends from the fear of letting them down. The discussions may not always be happy. But it's also more enlightening and rewarding to be honest and vulnerable. It's a showcase for what life is actually like for these individual people. They can't pretend to be someone else just to fit into the worldview of someone whose respect they admire. Althea making her presence known doesn't have to come at the expense of Dennis also shining brightly. Nicky helping take down Chloe's former friends doesn't prevent her from also providing clarity to her father. Moreover, it's emotionally brutal listening to Henry talk about the weight of keeping a secret and feeling as if others aren't offering him the support needed to live authentically. It's devastating. He came out to his parents. They haven't discussed it since. He hasn't been able to share his full truth with them. Jin is completely happy for and supportive of his son. He doesn't want him to believe that he is ashamed or disappointed. He needs to vocalize that love though. That's the only way Henry can feel it and embrace. His life is happy. He should have the ability to share it with his family. That moment of grace is found here. The show provides those searing emotional moments while still being a fun action adventure. Nicky has to toggle back and forth in those various modes of storytelling. That is more of a burden for her. And yet, the show is making these connections much more personal. As such, it's easier for the audience to invest. This episode provides those character beats that really enhance the storytelling. That means those relationships can be trusted to have meaning even when the show goes off in extreme exploration of the mythology of weapons and the family lineage. Everyone has a role they are seemingly destined to play. They should each have a sense of individuality in this world as well. The audience may not always agree with the choices made. The motivations should be understood and respected though. That makes the characters imperfect but capable of centering grounded stories for as long as the show runs. These qualities are being developed in ways that amplify the strengths of the storytelling even though some of the problems are still apparent too.