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Tokyo Vice – Season 1 Episode 3 “Read the Air” Recap & Review

Read the Air

After the ending of episode two, a meeting between Hiroto and Jake was expected to encapsulate episode 3 of Tokyo Vice. It happens, but not before the opening scene introduces us to Tomazawa; this time, in flesh. The menacing-looking Yakuza boss is apparently struggling with an illness and getting treatment for it.

One of his business associates outside the organization pleads to him to change their “business model” to prevent exposure. He refers to the death of Aoki and the burning man but is quickly turned down by Tozawa.

Jake and Hiroto talk about the incident at the bar. The former pleads with the latter to make him understand how the city really works. His helplessness in grasping his role as a journalist is helped by Hiroto’s explanation of the city. He explains that Tozawa has returned to reclaim Chihara-kai territory and that was an extension of this plan. Samantha meets a new customer, Matsuo at the club. Not a lot is revealed about his identity and the scene moves on to the bar. Kume and Sato pay the owner a visit. They offer a month’s free protection for the damage caused to the bar.

In a tense sequence, Hiroto goes to Tozawa’s office to arrest his men for the incident at the bar. He asks Jake to come along. Tozawa eventually budges and offers three men, as demanded by Hiroto, for accountability. Jake’s article is published in the next day’s paper. His friends wonder about the source of his intel. The focus shifts to Samantha’s club where Sato makes his intentions about her clear with his flirtatious attempts. As she heads home, she finds Jake waiting outside for her.

The two go for dinner. The conversation ranges from discussions on their interests, and Samantha’s job profile. It has a mix of caution and attraction in the right amount. The TMPD visits Ishida to discuss the upcoming international conference in the city. They request him to maintain peace and leave a good impression on the dignitaries. Sato’s peers in the gang derogatorily discuss Samantha. They suspect Sato and Samantha have a fling going on. Sato looks at Kume and proceeds to ask the gang member to a fight. But, Sato goes out of control and mercilessly beats him, forcing Kume to stop him.

Ishida watches from the back and threatens to discipline Sato by taking his finger. Instead, Sato strikes a bargain by promising to bring something “important”. Jake visits Hiroto’s house for dinner where he declares Japan as his home. He tries to gain further information from Hiroto about the “S” symbol on the packet but is unsuccessful. As he is leaving, Hiroto’s daughter gives Jake a folder with the required information about scammy loan sharks.

Unknown to Samantha and Jake, a mysterious person has been following them for the last two days. The person turns out to be a Tozawa clan member. He takes away Jake in a car from an arcade shop as his friends watch helplessly. This is probably the bargain that Sato struck with Ishida.

The Episode Review

There were a lot of meaningful progressions in the story during episode three. Unlike the other two episodes, “Read the Air” was more in the style of a short film than a television episode. The pace was quicker, and finally the distinct worlds of our characters seem to be colliding with that ending.

It was only a matter of time before Jake’s investigation caught unwanted attention. Just like Hiroto, he is at the precipice of getting caught in a brewing gang war that can go out of hand at a moment’s notice.

While these are not pleasant omens for the cinematic world, they will make a breathtaking watch for viewers. There was also the possibility of a romance developing between Samantha and Sato in the episode, although it carries the overwhelming possibility of heartbreak. The element of love plays not only the role of an efficient distraction in such intense gang-war narratives but also provides much-needed subtlety and warmth to their appeal.

Sato’s coming of age moment, referenced by the title, was shocking to watch. It just goes  to show how the series conceals some big secrets and surprises for us ahead. There was also an overt suggestion for other stakeholders in ‘Tokyo Vice’s cinematic universe to keep their eyes and ears open. Every move they make, the people they talk to, will lead them somewhere good or bad.

A small disappointment was the handling of Emi’s household and through it a larger theme of gender roles and subversion. It was signalled that something more will be divulged in the coming episodes but “Read the Air” kept silent. Overall, another solid episode that is mostly an equal match for the brilliance of the first two episodes.

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You can read our full season review of Tokyo Vice here!


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