In Cinemax‘s Warrior, tensions have come to a head and characters are dealing with their choices, their circumstances, and much more. Based on the writings of Bruce Lee, Warrior has been giving audiences a blend of Westerns, drama, and Kung Fu cinema. Last episode was shaking, with Leary blowing up Penny’s factory – and unknowingly, the Hop Wei’s drug storage. Additionally, Chao (Hoon Lee)made the decision to side with the San Francisco police as they planned their revenge on the Fung Hai for their attack on Bill (Kieran Bew) and his family. Now, in Warrior Episode 5, “Not for a Drink, a F*ck, or a G**damn Prayer” the avenues have converged and the blood is flowing.
In Warrrior Episode 5, we get the chance to see multiple elements of season 2’s story come to fruition, dealing with the explosive moments from episode 4 and some of the more subtle pieces of the narrative that have been bubbling just under the surface. To the latter, we see Bill and Chao put their plot against the Fung Hai into action which is gutwrenching to watch. While the Fung Hai have been built up as villains to both the other Tongs and the police, there is something terrifying about watching the white San Francisco officers burst into their building and kill indiscriminately. While this would have been unsettling at any other time, this is almost unwatchable given today’s current situations. While the fight with the Fung Hai offers up some of Chao’s largest moments of the series thus far, including getting the chance to see him deal with violence in his own way, it is just an unsettling sequence overall.
Where the Fung Hai confrontation comes in like a wrecking ball, we are given two other moments in Warrior Episode 5 that details out more emotional elements of the series and does so without violence – which for once, I’m thankful. In this episode, we see a guilty Mai Ling (Dianne Doan) try to make things right with Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji). Siblings, Mai Ling seems to have a short term memory in her longing to reconnect with her brother. Ah Sahm on the other hand hasn’t forgotten that she gave the orders to have him killed, nearly immediately after he betrayed the Hop Wei to save her life. There is a distance between them that is palpable in how Doan and Koji act in the scene. At the same table, it feels like there is a cavern between the two of them.
Koji is able to radiate a stoic chill that you can feel through the screen and for the first time we get to really see beneath Doan’s mask of strength that she is forced to maintain while with the Long Zii. But the two also do a good job of showcasing their closeness, the bond they can’t separate from their familial relationship that is commented on by another character who mistakes them for lovers.
Finally, comes Ah Toy (Olivia Cheng) and her visit to Nellie’s Sonoma winery. What seemed like a work camp when Nellie first described it, Ah Toy finds out is a place of agency. Yes, Nellie seems like the white woman with a savior complex, but when we get to see the winery, we learn that there is a concerted effort to provide a pathway towards giving the Chinese women their economic freedom even when Nellie is gone. This is part of the equation that hits Ah Toy. While she cares for her girls, what will happen to them without her?
Cheng’s ability to act without dialogue shines through in her conversation with Nellie. When Nellie points out that the women are taken care of with or without her, the camera comes in tight on Ah Toy’s face. You can see her heart drop. There is a sadness and a fear as much as a realization. As the series continues, it’s becoming even more clear that Ah Toy contains multitudes. She holds her own trauma. Her own hopes. And her own fear of the reality that awaits the women that she can’t offer help to – even if the help she offers is to give space for the women to sell their bodies and an option that is not as brutal as the other brothels.
Warrior is a series that I have admired for its large action sequences and callbacks to Western and King Fu cinema. It’s a series with some of the most physical moments of any series on television and features beautiful costuming to boot. But, for season 2, the series is thriving in its quiet moments. In the scenes where the actors push the story with their emotions and not their bodies. It’s a thrilling experience and one that leaves me wanting more.
Overall, Warrior Episode 5 is difficult to get through because of the Fung Hai confrontation, but it is also an episode that offers up emotional moments that showcase the impact of their choices. There is a lot more in store, that much is clear, but I hope we’re moving past the cops as a group central to the story – or at least when it comes to their violence.
New episodes of Warrior are available on Cinemax every Friday at 9pm CT.
Warrior Season 2 Episode 5 - "Not for a Drink, a F*ck, or a G**damn Prayer"
Warrior Episode 5 is difficult to get through because of the Fung Hai confrontation, but it is also an episode that offers up emotional moments that showcase the impact of their choices. There is a lot more in store, that much is clear, but I hope we’re moving past the cops as a group central to the story – or at least when it comes to their violence.