Episode 2 of Nowhere Man sees our characters sticking together in prison while more of their intriguing past comes to the foreground. With a continuation of the slow pacing from before and the main plot line finally coming to the foreground, Netflix’s latest Chinese Original looks set to kick into high gear from here.
We begin with the fallout from the kidnapping case last time out, starting our episode in 2010. Ah Gui drives to an abandoned scrapyard while a hooded figure stands tied up. He calls out for Boss Wan and looks around, before receiving a message telling him to switch the car around. Complying with the request, he drives through the abandoned rows of cars before coming face to face with the men who have kidnapped Boss Wan. It’s here we’re caught up with the events in the previous episode, as Boss Wan is dropped off outside the warehouse, just like before, and we see Ah Gui arrested away from the rest of the group.
Back in the present, we return to find Ah Quan phoning through to the hospital and asking Jing-Fang about their child. She tells him he looks like him and after a long pause, Ah Quan hangs up the phone as we see archival news footage showing Boss Qui and the triad members under pressure from the police and public.
It’s visitation day at the prison, and while Fu Xing struggles to speak, rocking back and forth in his chair, Xiao San finds himself face to face with Bai Lin, the woman from the club last episode whom he took a fancy too. While they talk, Ah Quan is greeted with hostility by Jing-Fang who shows him a divorce settlement. Silently, he stands up to leave while she bangs hysterically on the glass watching him walk away. While he ponders over his options in jail, it’s revealed that Ah Gui is in a relationship with Jing-Fang in present day where he’s raising Ah Quan’s child.
Back in prison, he and Xiao San discuss their plan while worrying about Fu Xing’s mental state behind bars. This leads to a series of seemingly mundane instances around the prison as we learn the different patterns of guards and see Quan contemplate his actions in the upcoming plan, broken up somewhat by another half-asleep flashback to him outside in the prison courtyard. All of this builds up to Quan hiding rope in the gardens during the day, hidden from the watchful eyes of the prison guards.
As they all head back inside, Xiao San talks to Gui who tells him he’s been busy and they cryptically discuss their plan together. As things look set to build toward a prison break, a shadowy figure approaches Ah Quan’s son outside his school and sits alone with him on the steps.
Despite a more driven and linear narrative this time around, Nowhere Man continues to suffer from its glacial pacing which fails to inject the series with enough pacing to make this a more exciting entry. With a smattering of artistic long shots and a number of different cinematic tricks, Nowhere Man fails to back up its style with substance and so far, feels very lackadaisical in its approach. Still, the ending promises some much-needed urgency being injected into this from here on out.