If you have been watching Warrior, there is a good chance you will know which way the wind is blowing, and it does not look good for many San Francisco residence. “Warrior,” based on the writings of legendary martial arts expert Bruce Lee, quintessentially exemplifies quality period drama perfectly.
While the previous episode, “The Blood and the Sh*t,” reinvigorates the cowboy genre for the small screen, we find our heroes back in San Francisco in this sixth episode. Unfortunately, even though the fifth episode is arguably the finest hour of television in a long time, it seems like a separate entity to the rest of the series. The David Petrarca directed “Chewed Up, Spit Out and Stepped On” reminds us the series is set in San Francisco.
Brief Episode Synopsis: “Chewed Up, Spit Out and Stepped On”
Tensions escalate significantly between the Chinese Tong factions Hop Wei and Long Zii after an assassination attempt; Officer ‘Big Bill’ O’Hara (Kieran Bew) sets out to pay his debt to Jack Damon (Brendan Sean Murray); Mayor Samuel Blake (Christian McKay) and Walter Buckley (Langley Kirkwood) get a mandate from Robert Crestwood (Patrick Baladi).
SPOILER WARNING: If you have yet to watch the David Petrarca directed Warrior episode “Chewed Up, Spit Out and Stepped On,” you should watch it before reading past this point.
With the opening scenes of the episode revolving around Chinatown’s Chinese New Year festivities, this is easily the calm before the storm. San Francisco has the largest Chinese New Year festival outside China. Historically speaking, what we see on screen is how the festival would have been during the mid-to-late nineteenth century. The dedication to detail is exemplary.
The Chinese New Year is possibly the largest set piece we have seen on Warrior thus far. Its magnificence is incredible. Virtually all the main characters are in festival scenes. For the people cast in this scene, inclusive of hundreds of extras, it must a felt like a real festival. The people operating the dragon and playing the drums knew they were responsible for bringing to the screen an accurate representation of a Chinese New Year festival. It is clear nothing is left to chance.
This relationship saw its beginnings in “The White Mountain.” Even though many television viewers will remember this episode because of this opening sequence, it will be difficult to not recall the degree of brutality shown. A bombing puts an end to the festivities.
War is Coming…
If you cast your mind back to the fourth episode, you will recall the bombing we saw in this latest episode was orchestrated by Mai Ling (Dianne Doan). The bombing causes significant ripples throughout Chinatown and San Francisco as a whole. While the various Tong factions exact their revenge upon each other, duck politicians talk about the Chinese Exclusion Act. As for the San Francisco Police Department, it turns a blind eye.
In his father’s absence, Young Jun (Jason Tobin) tries to influence the Hop Wei elders to take action. With a clear intention to scrap, Young Jun takes the decision to fight.
Ah Sahm support of Young Jun’s is not a product of their friendship. It is because Ah Sahm honestly recognises Young Jun’s legitimacy to lead the Hop Wei. Young Jun is his father’s son and the Hop Wei elders must accept this truth.
With support from both Ah Sahm, and Bolo (Rich Ting), Young Jun takes the fight to the Fung Hai. The showdown concludes with Young Jun pulling a gun. Despite pulling a gun is the only recognisable nod to the Kevin Tancharoen directed “The Blood and the Sh*t,” there is no denying this move establishes Young Jun as a Chinese American.
O’Hara does not make a distinction between the Tong factions. They are all the same in his eyes. There is no denying O’Hara is a racist. He is a product of his upbringing. The police officer believes “A Chink is a Chink and a criminal is a criminal.”
O’Hara cares nothing for the coming Tong War because it will only mean less Chinese. Richard Lee (Tom Weston-Jones), even though he is from a Southern State, does not hold the same racist views his immediate superior has. Lee recognises there is a war coming between the Tong factions.
O’Hara thinks he is manipulating Dylan Leary (Dean Jagger) to help him ease his gambling debts by exploiting Leary’s deep racist beliefs to his own ends but the table is quickly turned. Leary and Damon fight dirtily. The fight is brutal. The sound of flesh hitting flesh is jarring. It differs significantly from the fights we see between the Chinese characters.
O’Hara has no real interest in killing Damon but Leary manipulates the police officer to get his hands dirty. O’Hara has killed men before, but this is different. Damon was a friend within San Francisco’s Irish community. Because of O’Hara’s gambling addiction, the police officer finds himself in a difficult position.
Manipulation is a huge part of the series. Many of the characters are manipulating others to get what they desire. What do these characters desire? Power and money are the high on that list. Because of this, it is difficult to know which characters are trustworthy. Each character is playing the long game to getting where they want to be.
Did you hear, when O’Hara kills Damon, the piece of music playing? Whenever I hear “Nearer, My God, to Thee,” my first thoughts are typically of the 1997 James Cameron written and directed period drama Titanic. This piece of music is popular in Ireland. It has been for over a century.