I love the way Hulu release their Original content. The idea of dropping three episodes in one hit before sliding back over to a weekly release is something I wish more streaming services adopted. It’s clever too; something that satisfies both those who want to binge and those who like to take their time, avoiding eggshell conversations about Netflix Originals and ending spoilers, depending on how far into a show each person is.
As it happens, we return to episode 3 with the first glimmers of a future under the spotlight of the Wu Tang Clan. After being shot in the street, we begin with a hedonistic repeat of episode 2’s ending, this time with a video game interface and a first person view for Jah Son, as he manages to avoid death and join Bobby while he spits lyrics and makes it to the big time. It turns out Jah Son is running as a manager in this vision, seeing things through to a record deal and a big house, before snapping back to reality as everyone stands over him in the church and say their goodbyes.
A heartfelt speech then follows, as Jason’s Mum tells everyone they need to stop fighting and learn to co-exist, resonating with Bobby as he thinks over his own life choices. In the aftermath of this, Dennis flips the table and spills food everywhere, promising hell to pay for Jah Son’s death. As things calm down, Dennis apologises to his grieving Mum personally, before she offers him some food and tells him she understands.
While the rival gang deliberate over what to do next, Dennis shows Shurrie his home where they have dinner together, eventually stumbling upon his song-book. He asks him why he doesn’t pursue music and it prompts him to deliberate momentarily about a star-studded career, eventually pushing those thoughts out of his mind. It’s a subtle glimpse to the future he’ll eventually have but for now, these subtle far-away glances are enough to whet the appetite.
Meanwhile Divine runs into trouble in prison, as his Mum pleads with him to take the fall and admit to being a crackhead, rather than a dealer. If he can convince the judge that he was using rather than dealing, his sentence will certainly be easier on him. However, there’s bigger fish to fry as Divine learns the true hierarchy in the prison and comes face to face with the man running the joint.
Back home, Bobby learns of a rap battle coming to Staten Island, leading him to work harder than ever to prepare for the night. As Shurrie takes the poster and slides it under Dennis’ door, Shaw also catches wind of the battle as all eyes turn to the big night.
As the various rappers around Staten Island write their names down, we get a brief glimpse of the future as the various artists showcase their future stage-names. Fighting for $5000, the aftermath of Rakim’s performance sees the battle begin, both in and out of the club. An interesting juxtaposition of dance follows, as the inmates inside the prison fight for dominance while the different artists take to the stage of the rap battle, including D-Lover (Dennis) who tears the stage up.
Unfortunately, Bobby’s time is cut short by a trio of rappers that take his spot; a polished, confident performance that gets the crowd pumping. Bobby does manage to close the night out though, only to find his tape, and reputation, torn to shreds during a bizarre segment where he raps about sperm. Realizing that the key to success may lie together rather than individually, Bobby offers further teases to the future as he discusses, very briefly, the idea of the Staten Island rappers teaming up, before they all go their separate ways…but not before Sha approaches Bobby afterward.
Wu-Tang: An American Saga closes out its third episode in the perfect way, as it teases glimpses to the future and offers enough of a musical slant to make things interesting and engaging. After a few episodes of build up, seeing this all culminate in a war of words is a lovely way to top off this first round of episodes. There’s a deliberateness with Wu-Tang too, telling the story it wants to tell without ever spelling things out with masses of exposition. While a few of its subplots and various ideas do feel a little well worn, for the most part the series is developing nicely.
Aesthetically, Hulu’s Original series does well to keep things visually interesting, with the early video game segments a really nice touch. With the promise of more music to come and the group’s eventual formation seeing them rise to fame, there’s plenty of story left in this one and plenty of time to build on this to deliver a concise and enjoyable portrait of this eccentric group.