Social commentary is an aspect of Warrior that makes it must see series of 2019. The series makes one think about the America we actually live in. The overtly racist content in Warrior is appropriate because it accurately reflects the period in American history in which the series is set. For serious period drama aficionados, this is an element of the production which entices us to keep viewing it. Created by Jonathan Tropper, Warrior accurately brings to television screens an authentic realisation of Bruce Lee’s writing.
The “ducks,” as the Chinese refer to the whites, are typical of the period. Most of the characters exemplify attitudes common among San Francisco residents during the nineteenth century. Is this acceptable? No but it is historically accurate. One cannot produce a historically accurate period drama without acknowledging what the socio-political-climate of the day was like.
Brief Episode Synopsis: “The Blood and the Sh*t”
Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) and Young Jun (Jason Tobin) have no choice but to spend the night with three strangers at a frontier saloon. Their detour turns perilous. When a notorious band of outlaws seek a lucrative payday, they find themselves significantly outmatched.
SPOILERS ALERT: If you have yet to watch this episode, please feel free to stop reading at this point in the article. Continue reading after you watch the episode.
While “The Blood and the Sh*t” is a significant departure from the rest of the current season narrative, despite it not being whitewashed, this episode is reminiscent of a certain 1970s television series. In this Kevin Tancharoen directed episode, Ah Sahm and Young Jun take on the personas of Chinese cowboys as they defend themselves and the people they are travelling with from outlaws.
Is this an Eastern or a Western?
“The Blood and the Sh*t” is a nod to the quintessential American Western genre and it’s various tropes. The teleplay for this episode was written by the series creator, Tropper, and Kenneth Lin. It must have been a lot of fun for the teleplay writers to place two Chinese gangsters in what is essentially the Wind West. During the closing scene, naturally to the genre, Tropper and Lin had the heroes ride off into the sunset.
Despite being completely out of their element, both Ah Sahm and Young Jun rises to the occasion. In some ways, if one pays close attention to the principle characters, the narrative helps cement a closer bond between the two men. The situation Ah Sahm and Young Jun face affords them the opportunity to really connect on a personal level. Prior to this point in the series, Young Jun was unaware Ah Sahm speaks English fluently.
These characters, court between being American and being Chinese, are in limbo. They are merely trying to do their best to fit in with what society expects of them. There are other sides to both characters we have yet to see.
Period dramas are not easy to produce. It takes more than a basic understanding for the period in which the series and or film is to be set. Fortunately for Warrior fans, this is not an issue. The series producers have a series which reflects mid-to-late nineteenth century America accurately. There is no attempt to sugar-coat or whitewash an aspect of the series. Because of this, viewers can be sure what they see on screen is accurate to the period. Some viewers, however, might find much of the content disturbing simply because it is difficult to not look at the series without the lens of modern society.
“Now what are you yeller fellows eating?’ Gareth (Ryan Kruger) said. “And what are you doing with them dammed sticks? Nobody teach you any table-manners?”
I don’t believe it’s Gareth unfamiliarity with the Chinese culture which makes him racist as much as it is an intolerance towards anyone not like him. Gareth is not a singular case. There are many examples of people just like Gareth. People such as Penelope Blake (Joanna Vanderham) during the period in which the series is set are few and far between.
The social commentary we see in such shows as Warrior adds to the conversation rather than obscuring it. Today, like that seen with the Chinese, Hispanic people are the butt of much discrimination. American history is repeating itself. As a result, it seems society has not been willing to learn anything meaningful.