The Wild West
Warrior returns this week with a change of pace and a stand-alone episode set in the dusty wasteland outside Chinatown. This setting works perfectly, acting as a break from the political intrigue and gang warfare for a more deliberate, straight forward episode to great effect.
The episode begins with Ah Sahm and Young Jun tasked with transporting a corpse into Chinatown. Out in the Wild West, there are no rules and without the sanctuary of the gang to fall back on, the two Chinese find themselves isolated and alone. As hostilities rise between Ah Sahm and the Irish, a bar brawl is avoided at the last minute by a priest intervening, offering to buy the Irishman a drink.
This ultimately acts as the catalyst for the drama here as the man continues to taunt Young Jun and Ah Sahm. After having sex with an Indian prostitute, Young Jun declares he’s in love but after offering to get a round of drinks in, the Irishman returns and pulls a gun on the men, telling them he’s going to sleep with the woman himself.
Before he can act though, he’s shot in the head by a group of outlaws that show up at the saloon. They rob everyone and demand Ah Sahm turn over the casket but he refuses. After fighting off the bandits, the leader runs away with the few possessions he was able to steal, leading the group inside the saloon to deliberate over the best course of action going forward. The bandit is notorious around these parts, the Chinese soon learn, and are forced to band together to protect what they have, knowing he’ll return with more men. Ah Sahm then reveals that the body inside the casket is being used to smuggle gold back into Chinatown and in the same instance, reveals he can speak English to the surprised group.
After some persuasion, Ah Sahm and Young Jun agree to stay and fight. They all share one final drink together before preparing for the bandits return. Lo and behold, the bandits arrive and with them, a big shootout breaks out in the saloon. As Ah Sahm takes out a few of the men with his martial art skills, the rest of the group work together to disband the remaining outlaws. After successfully defending the saloon, Young Jun and Ah Sahm take one last look at the saloon, before riding off into the sunset.
Warrior’s latest episode could possibly be my favourite episode of any show released this year. The musical score, with its combination of rock riffs and acoustic guitar strums, works perfectly to give this a real Western feel and alongside the isolated setting, does well to help this episode stand out. The racism is still here of course but there’s an interesting amount of foreshadowing too, with the romance between Young Jun and the Indian as well as the Chinese bar-keep and his wife giving us a taste of changing attitudes toward racism. It’s a subtle inclusion but something that works incredibly well here.
As a standalone episode, there’s a consistent arc with each of the characters and the entire plot is perfectly paced. There’s a good balance of action and characterization and given the past few dramatic episodes we’ve been served, this straight forward narrative serves as the perfect deep breath before diving back into the political intrigue next week. Whether Warrior will top the great work done here is still left up for debate but it’s certainly one of the more surprising series released this year and one that continues to grow from strength to strength.