'Warrior' Season 2 Episode 9: Leary and Ah Sahm's fight is on, and all tongs band together to wage a war
'Warrior' Season 2 Episode 9 sees Leary's men hang a Chinese man Jacob up, and the incident leaves us shocked. What is further disturbing is the bloodshed that ensues
In a terrifying scene in 'Warrior' Episode 9, Ah Toy (Olivia Cheng) asks Mai Ling (Dianne Doan) why she was helping her tend to the wound and Mai Ling responds, "Today we are Chinese, and they're not. That's all that matters". In the episode titled after Bruce Lee's 1973 movie 'Enter the Dragon' we see how all the tongs band together in the face of an attack by the Irish working class and it is war. The Irish men, march to Chinatown with one intention and that is to tear everything in their path down. They disrespected fellow human beings when they decided that it was okay to express their anger at the system by hanging a man who had only saved his employer from being murdered.
Yes, the entire episode reeks of racism and the way Jacob is treated from when the cops capture him to when the Irishmen hang him is something that comes across entirely different from when we had seen the racism play out in the first season because of the current political climate. The more hatred we see portrayed, the deeper we understand the motivations of Ah Toy when it comes to how much she hates white men and women. We understand how the Chinese have been illtreated from the first time they crossed the sea, as they were forced to give up their culture, their beliefs, and their honor in return for a chance at a better life. The fact that Chinese labor is cheaper ends up harming the Irishmen and they are right in feeling frustrated at this. However, regulation of labor is what should have been the aim, not demonizing men who want to work.
This is why we see ourselves rooting for Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) and Young Jun (Jason Tobin) when they give up their color of Hop Wei symbolically to say that the tongs, for that day alone, will not be divided by their tongs but fight together. For that day, all that they are is Chinese and if they were to go back to fight among themselves, they would have to survive that day. The tongs band together out of necessity, to survive and anything beyond that is us reading too much. It is Ah Toy and Mai Ling who help us draw this line. That between Long Zii and Hop Wei, there are differences that cannot be resolved overnight and the war that is at their door is only enough for a truce to be called.
As the truce is called, we see two different kinds of men attempt at breaking each other's body and spirit and the resulting bloodshed is disturbing. As much as we love to see Ah Sahm throw his nunchucks around, beating men up left, right, and center; the context behind this war is distasteful. The one person who really understands the situation is Sophie. Until a day ago, she had been with Leary (Dean Jagger), she had supported his cause against the Chinese men and had also suggested that he gain the power to sit at the table where decisions are made. However, things changed for her after Jacob saved her sister Penny from death. She begins to see Jacob as more than a manservant, as a person who has emotions and thoughts as active and full of fervor just as her. She even begins to see a chance at liking a Chinese man and even being grateful to him. However, the realization that Sophie has when she sees that the Irishmen and herself were blind to the person behind the skin color comes after watching Jacob get punished for saving her and her sister.
It is mainly this play of belief system shattering one after another in some cases, while it remains steadfast in others is what 'Warrior' is all about. With Lee supporting and fighting for Chinatown, with Mai Ling watching over Ah Toy, and with Leary doing his best to ensure a good life for his men -- each of them are standing by their beliefs and that conviction throws us off for the longest time until it doesn't. So after the war ends and the cops manage to control the gangs on both sides, Ah Sahm, Young Jun arrive at Leary's pub not to start another fight but to bring Jacob down and pay the dead the respect they deserve. The look that Ah Sahm and Leary share is what hints at an oncoming fight between the two and we cannot wait to see it happen.
'Warrior' Season 2 episodes will be aired on Cinemax every Friday at 10 pm ET.