American Born Chinese- Season 1 Episode 1 Recap & Review


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Episode 1 of American Born Chinese begins with a short sequence telling us the Jade Emperor peacefully ruled the heavenly realm for a thousand years. We are then given information about the Bull Demon who has mounted an uprising, and the Jingu Bang, the fabled iron staff of the Monkey King, the master of the 72 transformations, that holds the key to stopping him.

Sun Wukong, the Monkey King’s kid, steals his dad’s magical staff in the heavenly realm and makes his way to the West. We are then introduced to Jin Wang, an ordinary teenage boy with Chinese immigrant parents who moved to the US when they were children.

When Jin goes shopping, he tells his mother that he has been having issues with his close friend Anuj, who is busy with cosplay. Jin’s mom picks up a sweatshirt for him. Amelia, a classmate, notices him trying it on in the changing room. Jin doesn’t buy the sweatshirt because it embarrassingly says “Hot Stuff”.

Jin’s parents argue that night, and he tries to distract himself with music.

The next day, Jin’s mother drives him to school. Jin spots Anuj on his way inside the school building. When he tries to approach him, Anuj ignores him. Jin then interacts with his other classmates, some of whom enjoy football. They invites him to tryouts the next day.

Jin talks to Amelia during class and appears to have a crush on her. Their conversation is cut short when Wei-Chen, a fresh Chinese exchange student, shows up at Jin’s school. Given that Jin is Chinese, he has been assigned to show him around.

Wei-Chen attempts to connect with Jin but his assertive personality simply frustrates the American teen. Despite this, Wei-Chen and Jin realize they have a shared interest in Kugo Ren comic books. Wei-Chen then suggests that Jin ask Amelia out because he notices that he has a crush on her.

When Jin’s mother comes to pick him up from school, we learn about her disagreements with Jin’s father. Jin’s mother wishes for his father to summon the courage to ask his boss for a promotion. Unfortunately, Jin’s father lacks courage, which bothers his mother. At home, Jin’s parents continue to argue and they act passive-aggressively towards one another.

Thereafter, we learn that Sun Wukong’s kid is Wei-Chen. He was the one who took the magic wand from his father.

The following day, Jin asks Amelia out but she suggests they hang out as friends. Shortly after, Jin and Wei-Chen get into a fight. As a consequence, Jin becomes the object of a meme on the internet. As a result of his ‘acting out,’ he is removed from the school football team.

Jin apologizes to Wei-Chen during their conversation. Wei-Chen then learns about the meme from Jin. Wei-Chen discovers that Greg was the one who recorded the video and he shows Jin the proof.

We learn that Wei-Chen is on a mission to locate the Fourth Scroll, the all-powerful scroll wanted by Sun Wukong who visits Earth to retrieve his wand. He intends to employ it in order to stop Niu Mowang, also known as the Bull Demon King, from inciting an uprising within Heaven. Wei-Chen is confident that Jin will act as his guide and take him towards the Fourth Scroll. Wei-Chen and Sun Wukong get into a fight over the wand.

At Jin’s home, his parents are still at odds. Jin then asks them to stop fighting.

When Guanyin, a goddess of the heavenly realm, appears, she begs Sun Wukong to let Wei-Chen embark on his own journey. Despite Sun Wukong’s warning that the enemies will come for it, Guanyin gives the wand to Wei-Chen. Towards the end of the episode, Jin discovers that Wei-Chen gifted him the action figure by keeping it in his bag.

The Episode Review

The show’s structure is expertly built in the first episode by skillfully fusing mythical and real-life elements. We are introduced to many of the primary characters, including Sun Wukong and Guanyin.

Wei-Chen, who is searching for an old scroll, is revealed to be Sun Wukong’s son. Additionally, he keeps getting in the way of Jin Wang’s attempts to ask a girl he likes out on a date.

The action-comedy show deals with several relatable issues. For example, Jin Wang detests listening to his parents argue. These issues affect plenty of families, which helps to ground this nearly superhero show by infusing a certain aspect of reality into it.

Next Episode

You can read our full season review for American Born Chinese here!


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