The Jonathan Tropper created period drama Warrior saw its first season finale before anyone realised it. Time surely flies when one is having fun. The first season, consisting of ten episodes, premiered in these United States on Friday, 5 April 2019 with the Assaf Bernstein directed episode ‘The Itchy Onion.’ Ten weeks later, Friday, 7 June 2019, the Loni Peristere directed ‘If You’re Going to Bow, Bow Low’ hit our television screens.
With the exception of the Kevin Tancharoen directed ‘The Blood and the Sh*t,’ Tropper’s series is set in San Francisco. It’s the mid-nineteenth century. It would not be San Francisco without significant political scheming and intrigue.
In eight of the previous nine episodes, the teleplay writers Tropper, Evan Endicott, Kenneth Lin, Josh Stoddard, Brad Kane and Adam Targum proved to their audience they could present a historically accurate series without compromising the quality of the drama. This series has been filled to the brim with scheming, fighting and Tong gangs at each other’s throats. We are now talking about the first season finale. For many of the characters this season has introduced us to, their stories will find an uncompromising conclusion. If there is a new chapter for these characters, it will take a very different path to the one that they are currently travelling.
SPOILER ALERT: If you have yet to see the first season finale of the Tropper created period drama series Warrior, stop reading at this point and return to this article once you have viewed the episode.
In the aftermath of his defeat very much at the forefront of our minds, in the opening scene, we find Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) doing gruellingly hard labour. Because of how he displeased Father Jun (Perry Yung), Ah Sahm is sent back to work with the lower echelons of Chinatown’s people. With how exhausting the work is, it is not surprising we see Ah Sahm stumble as he makes his way back to his bed.
At the Hospital
In the closing moments of the Peristere directed ‘Chinese Boxing,’ we saw Officer Richard Lee (Tom Weston-Jones) attacked in Chinatown as he walks home. As a result of the attack, Lee has been in hospital. At Lee’s bedside is Officer ‘Big Bill’ O’Hara (Kieran Bew). Big Bill has been spending every night for at least a week at Lee’s bedside. Lucy O’Hara (Emily Child) Big Bill’s wife, implores to go home that he might get some sleep but he will not have it.
Big Bill correctly tells his wife that Lee has no people in San Francisco. “There is no one to be there when he wakes up,” Bill said. “No one to mark his passing if he doesn’t.” This is a side of the character we had not previously seen. Lucy relents and gives her husband the breakfast she made for him.
The police sergeant is determined to find the individual responsible for Lee’s condition. Big Bill eventually locates the person responsible but ultimately determines he is no match for the Chinese fighter that took down Lee. Consequently, Big Bill retreats to the safety of the precinct where he ponders an alternative way to take revenge on the Chinese.
An Agreement is an Agreement
Even though it is clear not everyone is completely happy with the arrangements, the Hop Wei and Long Zii have come to an understandable agreement. As a result of Mai Ling’s (Dianne Doan) warrior besting the best Father Jun could muster, she seems to have the upper hand but that is not the way the meeting plays out.
Father Jun is clearly not impressed with his female counterpart. He’s a traditionalist. Father Jun believes women should not have positions of power. Mai Ling reluctantly accepts the map Father Jun presents at the meeting.
Two Black Men Walk into an Irish Pub…
When two black men walk into the Irish pub, they are met with significant hostility. The Irish are ready for a fight. When one of the regulars stands up, with brass knuckles ready for use, Dylan Leary (Dean Jagger) arrives and insists the boys to keep drinking. Leary sides with the visitors over the regulars.
“These men have done nothing to you,” Leary said. “Everything has been done to them. Do you think their people wanted to come here? They were f***ing dragged here in chains. They paid their f***ing dues Mac. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve paid for their drinks too.”
Even though Leary allows the visitors to have their drinks, he tells them that they should know better to walk into an Irish pub. As the Irish follow his direction, Leary discovers the politicians have been lying to him and his fellow Irishmen. There are apparently not 100 jobs for the Irish. Walter Buckley (Langley Kirkwood) lied through the back of his teeth.
A Visit to Bryon Mercer
Bryon Mercer (Graham Hopkins) soon finds Leary is not someone one should cross without due consideration. Leary’s anger at the way his men have been tossed to one side is apparent for all to see. Penelope Blake (Joanna Vanderham), not that she was given much say in the matter, leaves the room so the two men can discuss business.
This series is set in a period of American history when a handshake carried significant weight. The look on Leary’s face when he tells Mercer, “You shuck my hand,” speaks volumes as to his mood because the Irishman made promises to his men based on what the industrialist said to him in their agreement.
Penelope Blake confronts Walter Buckley
After what transpired between her father and Leary earlier in the day, Penelope sought out Buckley for a friendly chat. It is highly unlikely Penelope’s father is wise to what she is doing because if he were, he would not be pleased.
Penelope informs Buckley about Leary’s visit. When Penelope questions whether it is her pleasure or his that is more important to the mayor, Buckley swiftly metaphorically cuts the mayor’s feet from beneath her by pointing out, Mayor Samuel Blake (Christian McKay) would be at home and not at a Chinese brothel if it were her pleasure he values. Unfortunately, Buckley has a point. Blake cares little for his wife’s pleasure.
Buckley Threatens Mai Ling
“The king is dead,” Buckley said, “Long live the queen.” Buckley has respect for Mai Ling. One can see this in the way he addresses the Tong leader. Despite this, the same could be said for Mai Ling in reference to the mayor’s assistant.
While Buckley warns Mai Ling that she is no one outside Chinatown, she correctly observes “a lot can happen in half a mile.” It is unlikely Mai Ling harbours any real concern for Buckley managing to “get home safe.”
The Itchy Onion
Wang Chao (Hoon Lee) happens upon Ah Sahm between shifts. Chao believes the work Ah Sahm is doing is beneath him. Ah Sahm disagrees, He says that he’s no different to anyone else in Chinatown. To a certain extent, Ah Sahm is correct but there is, of course, the question of his skills. He has significant fighting skills which very few people in San Francisco’s Chinatown can match.
Chao’s backstory is enlightening. It gives us a real glimpse into why he is the person he became. While he is no onion, there are many layers to his personality which makes one want to cry.
Big Bill is at Lee’s bedside when the officer awakens. The first thing Lee asks Bill is what happened to him. The sergeant explains to his officer what occurred. Lee seems in shock to find he has been in hospital for about a week.
When Lee asks if they got the guys that attacked him, the scene cuts to police officers chasing Chinese men through Chinatown and beating on them. Big Bill is having his officers take the fight to the Chinese. Numerous Chinese men are beaten by the police for no apparent reason.
The raids are increasing. This does not go unnoticed by Mai Ling and her men. The burden of leadership is telling on the new female Tong leader. When Mai Ling is not happy to discover the police raids are a result of an officer having been put in the hospital. She wants to know “who could be so reckless?”
Young Jun meets with Ah Sahm
Young Jun (Jason Tobin) seeks out Ah Sahm for his help. It is evident from the way he speaks, Young Jun is not happy with his father, Father Jun, “giving away the store” to his enemies. Violence is increasing in and around Chinatown. Young Jun needs his friend back at his side. Even though Young Jun asks Ah Sahm to return, he refuses. Ah Sahm is not quick to forgive. Consequently, he has not yet forgiven them for how they treated him after the fight. Ah Sahm is not trash. The Tong cannot simply toss him away and pick him back up when it’s convenient.
Leary takes his fight to Buckley
Leary confronts Buckley about the cable car contracts. Because Buckley does not like Leary’s tone, the Irishman quickly adjusts it by pulling a knife. As a result of the confrontation with Leary, Buckley is physically ill to the extent he literally vomits in the street.
Leary and His Men at the Mercer Business
Because Mercer saw no choice but to hire Chinese labour over Leary’s men, the Irishmen brought their fight back to the factory. When they arrive at the factory, the Irishmen look overly confident. The Irish begin beating on the Chinese. The Irish think they can take out the Chinese without too much difficulty. Little do the Irishmen know Ah Sahm is at the factory.
Except for Leary himself, Ah Sahm takes out all the Irishmen single-handedly. The police arrive on the scene before Ah Sahm and leary can truly lay into each other. During the attack on the factory, Mercer suffers a stroke and dies.
The choreography that goes into creating this fight sequences as the one in this episode must take serious work. Up until Leary joins the fight, Ah Sahm has the Irish outmatched. Even with at least a dozen Irishmen fighting Ah Sahm, they had no chance against him.
The Tail End of the Episode
At the closing end of the episode, Big Bill and Lee are patrolling Chinatown and Ah Sahm re-joins the Hop Wei. Mai Ling practises her sword fighting technique and everyone’s fate continues to hang in the balance.
Are you ready for the second season? I know I am. The next season will hit television screens in these United States later this year. Which direction will the story take? Before the series returns with its second season, you might consider reading up on mid-nineteenth century San Francisco history. You might find it every bit as entertaining as the series we have been watching.