In another packed hour of action and adventure, members of the Shen family are given their own moment in the spotlight, the mysterious identity of Zhilan is revealed by an unconscious professor who has become a prisoner and recovers another magical weapon playing cat and mouse with a high role between two enemies.
After finding the mental clarity she missed in the pilot episode, Nicky tries to get back to the physical side of things by participating in an early morning workout with Henry at the Chinese Joint Center. As they wait for news of the whereabouts of Professor Chau, “the only eight-weapon expert in the world,” Henry notices that Nicky’s distracting moves have become restless and sloppy.
“Well, if you’ve just learned that shifu she was killed by her own sister who has now probably abducted a person who might know where the weapon is – which means you may never find Zhilan – and you would be distracted, ”says Nicky before knocking Henry to his back and throwing him a playful smile. (Touché, Nicky.)
The two of them hold their gaze as Henry gets up, before Evan interrupts them, marking the first meeting of Nicky’s two potential love interests. To say that there is little tension between the two wedges would be an understatement. As Henry gives a disarming salute, Evan decides to go on the offensive, trying to mention that Nicky and he are “coming back” as they shake hands with Henry. Desperate to change the subject, Nicky tells Henry that she will talk to him later and leaves with Evan to hear his latest news about Zhilan.
After one of Evan’s sources on the surveillance bar caught Zhilan with Professor Chau, Singapore police tried to raid a luxury hotel room that must have belonged to Zhilan, but they leave empty-handed. In reality, Zhilan, like the irresistibly beautiful villain she is, ran away with Professor Chau. The episode splits straight to her lavish seat, where she uses thinly veiled threats that Chau, whose body is tied to a swivel chair, discovers the location 双鉤 (shuāng gōu), or a pair of swords with hooks. She tells him to follow his every move since he published his first book on ancient Chinese history and begins her “gentle” but “painful” torture with a simple statement. “Now you’re going to tell me where he is,” he says as he pulls his head back. “Shall we start?” (Yvonne Chapman plays this role with a quiet zeal that makes you wonder if you’re more terrified or obsessed with the biggest villain on the show.)
The rest of the episode alternates between Zhilan’s ridicule of Chau and Nicky’s quest to find Zhilan and help a sick and underpaid factory worker, with a few subtle nods to the unknown lives Nicky’s family has been living since fleeing to China. In an early kitchen scene at her family’s restaurant, Nicky struggles to reconnect with her brother Ryan, who was once her closest confidant, and her mother refuses to allow help at a catering event due to a small accident that happened a few years ago. “Patience, Nicky. It takes time. You have to earn goodbye, ”Pei-Ling tells her in an inconspicuous way, which is one of the strengths that Vanessa Kai brings in this role.
After Ryan refuses to go out to lunch, insisting he is too busy with patients at the community center clinic, Nicky meets a patient named Faye (Doralynn Mui), who tells her that Ryan went and treated people from their community. Faye, an underpaid and overworked worker at the King Kwong street brand factory, also tells Nicky that she is trying to collect signatures to start a union because she has only been paid the minimum wage and has no sick leave. For a show that tries to highlight underrepresented communities outside of Chinatown alone, it’s no surprise that writers decided to deal with unions so early, but they manage to do so in a very natural and empowering way.
After meeting Faye, Nicky goes to the University of California, Berkeley, to meet Henry, who has scheduled a meeting with Chau’s teaching assistant. Henry doesn’t very subtly ask Nicky about Evan while he waits for TA, saying he only wanted to know because he liked Evan’s suit. Since the first episode, Olivia Liang and Eddie Liu have leaned into their off-screen friendship to create undeniable on-screen chemistry, using a combination of stolen looks and playful smiles between lines of dialogue to make it very difficult to cheer for #TeamHenry right now. (Your move, #TeamEvan.)
But when TA doesn’t show up for the last minute of the college meeting, the two criminal partners decide to take matters into their own hands, with a little help from Henry’s lock-picking skills acquired on YouTube. They manage to break into Chau’s temporary office, where Nicky discovers a drawer with a fake bottom. He finds an old puzzle box at the bottom that has a crane, just like the one on Zhilan’s necklace. Returning to the community center library, where they planned to inspect the box before returning it, Nicky sees Faye being pulled out of the center on a stretcher after fainting at work again.
After deciding he wants to help save Faye’s job, Nicky sets off in search of Ryan, who has left his job for the day, and finds him at a popular bar, where he inadvertently breaks off his relationship with striking activist Joe (Bradley Gibson). (Oops.) Nicky is visibly surprised to see that Ryan is so openly attached to another man, but she tries to listen when Joe tells her about Eddie Kwong (Curtis Lum) – the owner of King Kwong – and the party he will hold later. that night in the showroom next to the factory. Before she can even get out of the bar, Nicky calls Althea and asks her to take her as a plus one to a big party.
At a VIP party, Nicky meets Eddie, a well-meaning but uninformed young man who eventually pledges her for his CEO, Brett Slakter, whom he calls “Brometheus.” (Yikes.) When Nicky takes Faye away, Brett convinces her that he was a great ally and that he was helping speed up the syndication process. Nicky is initially pleased with this response, but is soon called by Ryan, who shortens her date to help her. She tells her that hospital tests found a high level of an artificial chemical in Faye’s blood, forcing her to do a little investigative work on her own at a nearby factory. Nicky sniffs the factory’s main floor and finds Faye’s bag, which she has recognized since their first meeting, in the trash and all of Faye’s hard-earned papers in a “To Be Shredded” bin.
When Brett catches Nicky in the pantry, she confronts him trying to poison Faye, as her results were consistent with a direct ingestion of the harmful chemical. But before Nicky manages to threaten Brett, he locks her in a room, orders the killer to “clean up” the situation, and returns to the party. Without a signal on the phone, Nicky tries to punch a hole big enough to reach out and unlock the door, prompting her to think about the time Pei-Ling taught her to break stone blocks in half. “Stop thinking about breaking stones. Stop thinking about the results. You have been trained all your life to achieve results and goals, ”she said shifu he told her. “Impatience is the desire for the future. Impatience is the fear of the present. Let go of the desire. Let go of fear. Be in the present; be in now. Go slow. ”
Eventually, Nicky can break through the door and sneak out of the room. When confronted face to face with the killer, she flawlessly disarms and knocks him out, ties him up and steals his phone to mess with an indignant Brett. She sneaks back into the party and lures Brett by phone to full confession, where he admits to poisoning Faye and taking advantage of Eddie, which she records and plays on the main stage so everyone can hear. So far, we’ve only seen him in three episodes, but there’s a unique pleasure when we see Liang improve her final vacation week after week, after her character outwitted another morally corrupt man.
While Nicky is preoccupied with rescuing King Kwong’s alliance, her sister, her parents, and her archnemeza are busy navigating their trials and tribulations. Shortly before Nicky began exploring King Kwong’s seat, she was abandoned at a party by Althea, who saw a woman calling her incessantly. When she tries to escape from the party, Althea is in the corner of the same woman, most likely a journalist, who tells her that it is important to tell her story. It seems that Althea’s past is not haunted by an unwanted ex, but by a former boss who has made her unwanted progress through a number of other women as well. In her first truly emotional scene in the series, Shannon Dang shows that she can handle both dramatic and comic moments, telling an unidentified woman, “For the last time, let me alone. ”
Returning to the family restaurant, Shen’s parents quarrel over a 22-year-old refrigerator nicknamed Jerry which could point to bigger problems in their marriage. As Mei-Li does not want to part with a broken refrigerator, the couple is forced to stretch their fragile finances to fix it, despite offers from Althea and Dennis to buy them a new one. This leads to the most emotional scene of the hour, where Tzi Ma and Kheng Hua Tan held an absolute acting master class. “Nicky is trying to reach you. You drove her away! Our daughter, she’s trying to fix things, and you refuse, ”says Jin. “And this old machine breaks down and you don’t save effort and cost to repair it. Our family hurts … I love you. But sometimes … I just don’t understand you. “
Finally, in Singapore, Zhilan’s attempts to dissuade Chau (both literally and figuratively) are successful, but in the process, we discover more about her enigmatic identity from the professor. Her pendant represents one of eight foster families, her full name is Zhang Zhilan, and her father was killed when she was just a child. Although she is initially rejected by the professor’s knowledge, she regroups and is forced to tell her the location shuang gou before poisoning him to death with a cup of coffee. (Later, we see footage of Zhilan hanging swords with a hook after her skilled team stormed a palace in Dubai.)
Returning to San Francisco, Nicky reconnects with Henry at the community center library after rescuing Faye and providing assistance at his family’s restaurant. Henry tells her that they found a “turducken of puzzles” because he managed to solve a big puzzle, to meet a smaller one. Nicky, recognizing the pattern from which Pei-Ling showed her the sword in the convent, manages to use the same combination to unlock the box, revealing a mysterious key.
• The morning after exposing Brett, Nicky feels really nice with Ryan, where he calls him a hero, offers to take over the catering event so he can go on another date with Joe and give him a pair of complementary (but very expensive) King Kwong sneakers. (Jon Prasida plays Ryan with a naturally charming charisma, but given that he loves sneakers in real life, I think his reactions were even more sincere in this scene.)
• Althea reveals to the woman at the party that she has not told anyone about her experiences with the old boss – not even her family. Judging by the way Althea cried to sleep after that conversation, I have a feeling she will get to her breaking point and eventually confide in Nicky before anyone else …
• At the end of the episode, Evan calls a favor and asks his friend to look at Henry, believing he is leading Nicky down a dangerous path. What skeletons does Henry hide in his closet?