This week, Kung Fu wrapped up season 2 with episode 13, “The Source.” With Russell Tan’s plan in motion and San Francisco reeling from his bell-manufactured earthquake, Nicky, Zhilan and Mia must square off against him in the magical realm to attempt to keep him from draining the Warrior/Guardian power source and becoming a god. Read on for our review of “The Source.”
Nicky and the gang have been one step behind Russell Tan all season as he put together the pieces to his mysterious plan, and the finale was no different. With his head start in the realm, Russell makes it to the source and imbibes its power before Nicky and Zhilan can stop him. Mia makes it in time to provide a magical assist that doesn’t pack quite the punch she was hoping for, and with Russell Tan slowly becoming an immortal god in Kerwin’s body, they decide their best chance at saving the world is simply trapping Russell there long enough for the realm to crumble in on itself. Zhilan finally frees herself from her endless revenge mission by throwing herself on top of Russell long enough to let Nicky and Mia escape.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, all of the community-building Mei-Li and Jin have been doing comes back to them, as all of their friends pitch in to help them clean up Harmony Dumplings from the aftermath of the earthquake. We see human connection and joy thriving in spite of the destruction.
It wouldn’t be a season finale without a cliffhanger, and this episode provided us two big things to worry about over the hiatus. One: what the heck is going on with Henry? Did we just watch Team Hicky break up? Say it isn’t so! And two: why is Pei-Ling naked near the Golden Gate Bridge, wearing a suspicious amulet?
The official synopsis of “The Source” reads:
BLOODLINES — Nicky (Olivia Liang) teams up with an unexpected ally and sets out on a dangerous mission to take down Russell Tan (guest star Kee Chan) once and for all. Tzi Ma, Kheng Hua Tan, Shannon Dang, Jon Prasida, Eddie Liu, Gavin Stenhouse, Yvonne Chapman, Vanessa Kai and Tony Chung also star. Joe Menendez directed the episode written by Christina M. Kim & Robert Berens.
We’ve dedicated extensive coverage to Kung Fu season 2 this year. Keep reading for our final season 2 chat about the events of the Kung Fu season finale “The Source,” our reflections on season 2 as a whole, and our season 3 wishes.
‘Kung Fu’ season 2, episode 13 review in conversation
Natalie: Here we are, it’s the big one, picking up right where we left off. Just quaking all over the place as Krussell opens the glowy blue door to the magic realm. Before we get into any of the mystical elements, I wanted to talk about the damage. The house and the community centre are mostly alright, but Harmony Dumplings is really, really… fucked. Meibastian are very sad. Are you very sad?
Nichole: I was, for sure, at this point — all of Mei-Li’s hard work and success this season. I was crushed to see it in pieces. Although, emotionally speaking, I was comforted by the sight of Sebastian gently engulfing Mei-Li in his arms. It was… a lot… for me personally.
Natalie: How’s that for a love triangle, Jon Prasida?
Nichole: Absolutely what he deserves, lol.
Natalie: Also, what’s your take on villians who tell the good guys the functional details of their plans because they have so much hubris they think it’s unthwartable? If I was a bad guy, I would simply be silent.
Nichole: It was particularly noticeable right before Krussell went into the realm. Nicky was like, uh, just one more thing, please… and he kept answering. So, yes, I think if I were a villain, I, too, would simply not talk so much.
Natalie: Still, kind of a roll of the dice to interpret hybrid blood working the same as the blood of two separate people. I’m not sure this is a two halves make a whole situation. Obviously we know it is going to work, because TV, because holding hands, because friendship. But put yourself in Nicky’s shoes — or Zhilan’s. It isn’t like “we have to try, and if it doesn’t work, we bounce back.” It’s — it either works, or this magic light fries us to a crisp.
Nichole: I think this is probably why Pei-Ling said specifically last episode that Zhilan and Nicky were, “bound by blood,” to give this the ring of truth. Also, there weren’t a lot of options on the table. And frankly, every time they come up with a thorough, well-reasoned plan it fails, so maybe Nicky needs to do more flying by the seat of her pants.
Natalie: Well, it took a lot of guts. I probably would have been like, hmmm lets wait here and see if he comes back out.
Nichole: That’s why we are watching this show and Nicky is the hero.
Natalie: Poor Henry, though, abandoning his dad’s corpse and racing in just in time to see his girlfriend walking into the light hand-in-hand with Zhilan. Henry has a real bad time this episode. A really, really bad time. But more on him later. I’ve got to say, when the women get into the Blue Realm, as I’ll call it, I’m very much the Zhilan of this all. “Just vibes” is not the answer, Nicky! I’m not a very magical person. Because apparently just vibes is, indeed, the answer.
Nichole: I love just vibes. I’m all about it. I love it when my heroes just know.
Natalie: Why? Talk to me about that.
Nichole: That sweet, sweet escapism, I guess. Like, the idea that the hero has some kind of sixth sense about what needs to happen? Life is hard and knowing the right thing to do feels impossible sometimes. So, just being able to be like, ah, that’s the right thing to do simply because the hero did it. I don’t know, I am comforted by it. I mean, 100% of the time maybe that would be boring, but I can accept it A LOT of the time and be very happy.
Natalie: I really enjoy how Zhilan keeps calling her “monk” as like, an insult. No offence to monks.
Nichole: Until it becomes: monk (affectionate).
Natalie: The monk (derogatory) to monk (affectionate) pipeline is a good one.
Nichole: Very satisfying.
Natalie: Anyway, Zhilan discovers that vibes are, in fact, real in this place, which contains the source of their power. The place does NOT want Krussell to get that power and throws some obstacles at him, like the sound of his children playing to haunt him. Silly source, don’t you know he’s a fucking sociopath?
Nichole: Right? He literally does not care about them.
Natalie: I think seeing Juliette certainly shook him up a bit — it’s all very well and good to kill your kids, but maybe talking to them afterwards hits different. Like “oh, I really did that… whoops.” It isn’t really Juliette, of course, but it pulls a bit too much backstory out of Russell anyway. His explanation how all of this started was kind of… gross.
Nichole: Yeah, not really endearing. So I guess pretty much on point for Russell Tan.
Natalie: It made me think of like… so I guess he lost his love for Raymond too, when he got sick. Well, that child failed.
Nichole: His whole attitude toward mortality is wild.
Natalie: It is really, really some sort of madness. I mean, I hate death, but this is nuts. This is all Xiao, of course, trying to delay him… wearing Juliette’s corpse like a suit 😉
Nichole: Sick burn, Natalie.
Natalie: Do you feel like we needed to give Russell that time to tell his sob story?
Nichole: Yes, I was actually really glad to hear it! It’s been weird not knowing what his motivation was. I’m glad it sucked though.
Natalie: Ahahahhahahah. God, remember when we felt sorry for him because of the racist illuminati?
Nichole: Lol. Hate him for the right reasons, people.
Natalie: So here’s my thing. Krussell had a side quest. So did Zhilan and so did Nicky. Krussell’s is obviously fake, not really the person she appears to be. But she also tells him that this realm is Warrior and Guardian VIP, their afterlife. Normal mortal souls not allowed. This is taken, in the rest of the episode, to be true — we will get to that. But did you take the actual other people that the girls met, as really them? Or more manifested diversions? Is the realm trying to keep EVERYONE away from the source with a personal guilt tripper? Or was that really Zhilan’s mom?
Nichole: I have given this some thought, but I don’t know for sure. I think it had to be her mother. I don’t think Xiao would be trying to stop Nicky or Zhilan. She wanted Russell stopped. But I was surprised her mom was so harsh! As to Suyin, I wondered what her purpose was. And I guess it was about how Nicky brings something different to her role as a warrior. So I think I am leaning toward them both being real, but I don’t know for sure.
Natalie: I thought Suyin may be real, but yeah, Zhilan and Pei-Ling’s mother might be a diversion. I don’t know if Xiao or the realm might be wanting to stop anyone and everyone with diversions. Just as a matter of course. But if it really was the mom, it was… pretty awful. If Pei-Ling really is there, and really didn’t tell their mom, that’s interesting.
Nichole: Yeah, I don’t think Pei-Ling would tell. Because she would want Zhilan to be able to have a relationship with their mother. Obviously I’m Pei-Ling biased, but I think she wouldn’t need to tattle on Zhilan like that, lol. But, yeah, the mom’s reaction was… pretty messed up. I mean, I get it, murder is very bad, but she doesn’t even take a moment to try to figure out why Zhilan is who she is.
Natalie: She really wanted Mama to be proud of her revenge quest. And even before the reveal about Pei-Ling, Mom is like “dude, no.” And I get that, but she was not that gentle about it honestly. She was soft spoken, sure, but firm and it’s kind of like, bit late, mom.
Nichole: Yeah. You’ve been super dead for a while.
Natalie: Why not say “Oh child, you can stop now.” The harshness is what made me think she was a fake diversion, designed to incapacite Zhilan!
Nichole: I wondered too, but I just felt like it didn’t make sense for her to be fake.
Natalie: Maybe we’ll learn more about this next season. The way it was juxtaposed against Fake Juliette made me think that it was connected, framing wise, to that circumstance, but I’ve been wrong about links like that before.
Nichole: I would love to know the intention, but I have a feeling we’ll never know.
Natalie: I think we probably will, if, spoiler alert, season 3 involves Zhilan trying to get out of there.
Nichole: FINGERS CROSSED. Get our sweet baby out of there.
Natalie: Suyin… might have been real.
Nichole: I think so, because otherwise why did she just let Nicky go?
Natalie: Yeah, I think she probably was real, honestly, and quite a troubled soul.
Nichole: It would be interesting if Nicky’s conversation with her have some kind of future consequences.
Natalie: She’s not exactly helpful, like she doesn’t push Nicky in the right direction or anything, so still kind of just a diversion.
Nichole: Yeah, which is why I wonder about future consequences of proving that a warrior could be something different?
Natalie: But I’m still getting the feeling that this whole evil hybrid thing is like… Hybrid is defensive and reactionary because the world decided they were a threat and tried to kill them — Self fulfilling. Like maybe she wouldn’t be so dangerous if you stopped trying to kill her because you think the idea of her is dangerous.
Nichole: Maybe she just needs Nadia to be nice to her.
Natalie: I think that would probably work. So Zhilan’s crying on the ground, Nicky’s bleeding from the shoulder… she said “you can’t hurt me” but a pointy stick is apparently a pointy stick even in the blue realm… And now, for the first time since the opening, we cut back to the real world in San Francisco. Chaos at the community center!
Nichole: So much chaos! Also Frank!
Natalie: Gay little Frank. I’m sorry, perhaps he’s meant to have a wife and kids, but he will always be Jin’s bisexual artist fling to me. At what point in this episode did you really hone in on Eddie, on Henry just absolutely avoiding the story of what had happened on his side? It felt very impending doom to me.
Nichole: He was actually pretty suspicious right off! Like, he runs in all bloody and Ryan is like, “Are you ok?” And he just brushes off the fact that he’s covered in blood??? And we know his dad has probably died? I think that for that one you can maybe think, ok, he has other things on his mind that have to take precedent, but it didn’t feel great or right.
Natalie: Yeah, he knows at this point that his dad is dead and he’s just had to leave his body in the building site and deal with the people who are alive, but he is totally just… out of it. He is the one who saw Nicky go into the realm, and from the human side, apparently it is closing and there’s a fear of Nicky getting trapped. I guess like… did Russell know he only had a short window to get in and out, or will that source power reopen the door? Anyway, Evan brings Mia in as well, nearly dead, and I’m like boy, this is not a hospital, but he quickly does give us a good explanation for that.
Nichole: Henry seemed to understand a lot about how it worked for someone who was literally not there.
Natalie: I mean i guess he saw it… shrinking… and made some hyperbolic assumptions, which proved to be true.
Nichole: Sometimes you just have to trust the characters, I guess.
Natalie: With Mia, for a minute there I thought we were going to see someone hooked up to like a direct blood donation lol, like Mei-Li or Ryan himself. Hardcore.
Nichole: I was also thinking that! But I guess they have a supply at the clinic.
Natalie: But she seems to recover alright on her own thanks to the power of… vibes.
Nichole: That quick healing hybrid blood.
Natalie: They’re all still debating if they can keep the realm open when Mia pops on up like a little Energizer bunny and tries to follow her vibes back to the realm to stop Russell. Everyone is very anti this plan aside from dead-inside Henry, who’s very pragmatically pro.
Nichole: I was surprised Mei-Li didn’t want her to go. I mean, surprised and not surprised. I think it would be hard for me not to encourage someone to go save my child.
Natalie: I think it’s a matter of like… how many losses can they risk when there’s no actual chance at it working. But I guess if Mia can get in there at all, she’s the only one who can do anything. I think Mei-Li just doesn’t want anyone do do anything dangerous ever.
Nichole: True dat.
Natalie: However, it’s Bam Bam with the big save.
Nichole: OH MY GOD.
Natalie: Talk to me.
Nichole: Do love the power of D&D.
Natalie: This was… very silly. But it does produce results.
Nichole: I mean, my sweet D&D himbo to the rescue. I didn’t love Althea trying to hush him up to be honest. Let my man make his argument.
Natalie: There is no reason for anything in D&D to be true, but it is a basic mythological principle and it does set Mia on the path of remembering an artefact that Russell treated as powerful… yeah, Dennis is so valid.
Nichole: I mean, to be fair, this is a fantasy show and D&D is a fantasy game! They do follow similar rules! Just because Dennis doesn’t know he’s on a fantasy show, doesn’t make it less true!
Natalie: So while they’re deciding that they might as well just go with D&D rules because why not, Russell actually made it to the Source, and Xiao tries to stop him from entering with a series of sick burns. One thing that jumped out at me was that she accuses Krussell of wanting to steal the power, and he accuses her of the same. Which implies that this thing wasn’t created by Xiao’s magic, it is a huger, more natural thing that Xiao apparently tapped a little bit of.
Nichole: Yeah, it was interesting. His opinion is that she was essentially cowardly for not taking it all. Like she’s just wasting her immortality. It was a different vibe about the whole existence of the realm than I had had previously. What exactly is the difference between the jyu sa and the source? Like, the jyu sa give the warriors and guardians their power, but is the jyu sa pulling it from the source? The source didn’t seem to act like the jyu sa. Or are they different things being used for different purposes.
Natalie: Well, one is red and one is blue. Which sounds dumb, but the blue vibes in this episode gave me total confusion.
Nichole: It was really pretty though.
Natalie: Last season, the weapon magic, the biange stuff, was green. This season, all the magic relating to what’s going on has been red. All this glowing blue stuff is a sign of new territory.
Nichole: Well, hopefully we are confused because we don’t have all the information we need yet, not because we missed something important.
Natalie: Even the natural light, the “sunset” behind the trees in this place, is blue, so yeah, definitely a source all of its own. I need to give a little shout out to Krussell carefully hanging his blazer on a branch. IS MY BABY STILL IN THERE? Because that was such a Kerwin move.
Nichole: Yeah, or maybe Ludi is constitutionally incapable of turning down the suave.
Natalie: Anyway, Russell beats the women to the source and it isn’t even a close race because Zhilan is on the ground having a breakdown. Refusing to go on because she’s sad.
Nichole: Sad Zhilan is really brutal.
Natalie: All season, she’s had feelings pouring out of her, honestly. Since prison, she’s had really strong emotional reactions nearly every episode, but this was… rather a lot. Especially opening up in front of Nicky. I guess at this point it’s like, “might as well.”
Nichole: She has nothing left. Like, every bit of logic she’s used to keep herself going was just upended. We’ve seen her waiver in the past, but always buck up to carry on with vengeance. And now she doesn’t have that veneer that she is doing it for a worthy cause to protect her from her mistakes any more.
Natalie: In a way, it’s similar to Kerwin last week, the whole — the energy I’ve expended my whole life was pointless and useless.
Nichole: Yes. True.
Natalie: I could have cut my losses and been happy, but I followed this burning drive, for nothing, it was the wrong choice and it made me do unforgiveable things.
Nichole: I’ve been waiting for rock bottom all season, in the sense that I wondered what it would take to get her to finally realize she should be on the other side, and I guess we hit it. You were really down on Nicky for calling her a monster. We’re you satisfied with Nicky’s forgiveness speech?
Natalie: Hmmmmmm. Sorry to all involved, but no.
Nichole: I suspected you might not be.
Natalie: I felt it lacked empathy. I absolutely get it, and I get Nicky’s path here as well. I don’t think Nicky would, should or could be like oh I totally get it, etc. Obviously not. But it was very much about how Nicky’s feelings about Zhilan made Nicky feel. In a way, kind of zen, but still “you are still equally bad, but me going on about it doesn’t help us right now.”
Nichole: Yes. That’s the thing about it that was a bit eh? for me too. Like, “Feeling bad about you doesn’t serve ME.”
Natalie: I know that it would really be unforgiveable to deal with someone who murdered a loved one. Zhilan is getting more of a chance than in real life, she would get. But. We follow Zhilan sympathetically, Kung Fu paints that light, TV villains get forgiven more wholly than real life killers… And Nicky has, at the very least, learned that Zhilan is more emotionally complex than she expected. She has learned that Zhilan is softer and more caring than she expected. She learned that her big picture motives are inherently “on the right side.” I feel like to give none of that grace is unfair. And I feel like a better take would be “I don’t think I’ll ever get over what you did to Pei-Ling, but I know you regret it too, and I’ve seen more of who you are now, why you got to this place. I understand that you’ve gone to a dark place, but I know that you want what’s right, and I believe you can help me and get some red out of your ledger.” Anything in the realm of “I have seen that you are not as bad as I thought you were.”
Nichole: Yeah. I had mixed feelings. On an emotional level, that’s definitely what I wanted to see. Slightly more of a connection.
Natalie: Because she has, we know she has, so this felt quite cold and disingenous in a way. I do actually get the angle Nicky took, for sure. But I think we have seen too much sympathetic Zhilan as her own hero now for that to feel fulfilling. Maybe that’s on purpose, maybe Nicky’s only meant to get softer on her at the end after she loses her.
Nichole: My logic for why it goes down the way it does instead, is just that it would have been a pretty huge emotional turnabout for Nicky. In some ways, it does make sense that this was the best she could muster in terms of making Zhilan feel accepted.
Natalie: Ultimately for me it felt manipulative, like, “I just need to get her moving again.” Which is fine, that has its place.
Nichole: Just like Zhilan spent pretty much 2 seasons rejecting doing the right thing, Nicky keeps rejecting the changes in Zhilan. And like Zhilan had a few false starts in terms of looking like she was changing her ways, maybe this was Nicky getting halfway there, rather than all the way there.
Natalie: Though I do think she was very sincere! And honest.
Nichole: I loved the part where she was like, “It’s not about what you’ve done, it’s about what you do.” That part felt really good to me. Like, yes. This is what she needs to hear.
Natalie: Yeah, I think we do need to keep in mind Nicky’s lens, and that she hasn’t seen Zhilan all sad and soft as much as we have.
Nichole: Exactly. It might have felt over the top for her to suddenly be a great comfort to Zhilan.
Natalie: She does know that Zhilan is very mission oriented. And she is able to activate that again in her.
Nichole: So much hand holding.
Natalie: I think it is a nice moment ultimately, and yes, they get to hold hands. But I think we’ve seen too much nice Zhilan this season, so I wanted Nicky to tell her that she knew Zhilan was good really. And apologise for calling her a monster at least.
Nichole: Same. But Nicky is just not there yet.
Natalie: Hahahaha maybe I’m expecting too much. They’re too late anyway, Krussell snapped the source crystal right out and like, imbibed it. I legitimately don’t know what he wants to do with all his power, like, just sit on a throne and own the world? What does he want to see happen?
Nichole: I think he does! He wants to be a god. But, Xiao’s a super bummer when they run into her before they get into the cave isn’t she? “There’s no stopping it. This realm will crumble and die.” Like, you’re welcome for us risking our lives to try and fix this. lol.
Natalie: She’s not really helpful, is she? I wanted Zhicky to meet Pei-Ling together!
Nichole: God. Me too. I was like, WHERE IS PEI-LING? I was losing my mind. I had really worked myself up to expect to see her in the realm.
Natalie: Things move quite quickly and apparently the plan becomes “Trap Krussell in the realm” — like, stop him returning to Earth. I am not sure how they expect to do that because I think he could just open the door again in an instant — we see a display of proper magic here, like, sheer power. I am always on about like, what are Mia’s and Nicky’s powers? What is the special secret? They can jump high, hit harder than humans… Krussell has it all in concentrated form, and it just looks like sheer energy, directing and controlling energy.
Nichole: Ok, I have two things to say about this whole confrontation.
Natalie: Go ahead.
Nichole: One, I cannot get over how messed up Russell’s relationship to mortality is.
Natalie: Yeah, it’s actually pretty unusual.
Nichole: He’s like, “I lived under the rules of a mortal man my whole life.” Like, uh, yeah. That’s how it works, my dude.
Natalie: Yes, we’ve seen many characters seeking immortality, but his unique wordings about it are… Fucking weird, honestly.
Nichole: As if, somehow there are a bunch of people out there not living under the rules of a mortal man? We’re all carrying that particular burden. You’re not special.
Natalie: He dreams big, Nichole. Real big.
Nichole: Men will try to become immortal before they go to therapy.
Natalie: Did I already mention Raymond? His speech to fake Juliette reframes his “grief” at that loss. Weak-ass son gave in to cancer. Pathetic loser.
Nichole: It’s wild. Truly, I cannot connect with his thinking on any level.
Natalie: Is the second thing about his shirt coming off?
Nichole: SCREAMS. How did you know?
Natalie: Because I know you. And because it was ridic.
Nichole: I absolutely whispered, “Bob…” out loud when that shirt ripped open.
Natalie: So good. Like, of course. What a classic moment.
Nichole: I realize Kung Fu is a collaborative medium, but sometimes you just know.
Natalie: It was very important that we see the power glowing inside him.
Nichole: I mean, if you’re going to kill off our fave, it’s the least you can to, to be honest.
Natalie: Obviously we had limited time, but were you disappointed to not see any of Mia’s journey to the cave? I guess she’s already had her worst moments in the realm before.
Nichole: Not really. I’m not sure what that would have added.
Natalie: Though you’d think Xiao could have zapped all three women there sooner if she wanted Krussell stopped!
Nichole: I don’t think she could zap them anywhere without a gem to work with. The gem zapped Mia and the gem tea zapped Nicky. The time situation with Mia seemed a little wonky, but not enough to bother me.
Natalie: Yeah, no matter. Finally we see Mia, Zhilan and Nicky all teamed up to fight someone, though.
Nichole: It was a really good fight! So claustrophobic with all four of them. I loved the view from above.
Natalie: I wonder if those hexagonal basalt columns were recycled from the Supernatural hell set. Old pals. But yeah, it’s all chilly and minerally and then he starts caving in the ceiling. And the girls get to have a lively debate over who will stay and die.
Nichole: I know I suggested Mia might sacrifice herself in some noble way since she was losing her grip, but in the moment, I was like, no way will Nicky let her do this and I’m glad she didn’t do it.
Natalie: Yeah, and Mia being all like “I am soooooo evil I killed someone I can’t be saved” sounds like a tiny little kitten. Obviously that isn’t true, and Nicky has a convenient flashback to remind her. I like to think she can apply that messaging to Zhilan as well, because she doesn’t insist that the most evil of the group stay and die, lol.
Nichole: I loved seeing that flashback! I miss that Pei-Ling and I miss that Pei-Ling’s cool truck.
Natalie: You really love that truck.
Nichole: I do. I am zero percent a car person, but I love that truck.
Natalie: I think this scene, more than Nicky’s forgiveness speech, told me that Nicky trusts Zhilan, does see her, and like, knows that Zhilan will go help Mia, and probably protect the family forever and stuff. There’s a lot of longing looks and understanding passing by, here.
Nichole: Yes. They are the most in sync they’ve ever been in this scene.
Natalie: And then it all gets swapped around, and Zhilan gets an opening with the knife, and a rock fall means that Zhilan, instead of Nicky, will be the one to stay and hold Krussell back!
Nichole: GO HOME, LITTLE MONK (affectionate)
Natalie: Oh no! So tragic. Nicky is like, very unhappy to leave Zhilan. That’s her wife.
Nichole: I think the true depth of Zhilan’s arc maybe hits home here.
Natalie: But Zhilan needs to tenderly cradle and repeatedly stab her boyfriend on the floor. Lot of love flying around here, even in the stabbing. To be quite honest.
Nichole: God. The visual of Zhilan and the combination of her lover and her mortal enemy rolling around on the ground was a lot. It was like, here’s what I want, Zhilan and Kerwin together forever embracing, and the writers were like, ok, I hear you, but how about if we just run that through the pain machine a few times.
Natalie: The door spits Nicky and Mia out, and closes, but crucially, we do not see Zhilan or Krussell die.
Nichole: Zhilan has to be back. She has to.
Natalie: Is it just going to be them locked in like, a Sisyphean battle? All next season? Just forever rolling. Zhilan’s cosmic duty, just stabbing Krussell once every 30 seconds for eternity.
Nichole: Pffff. Here’s my question: was the knife important in the end? When Mia stabs him, he just pulls it out and heals himself. But it does seem to be doing some damage with Zhilan holding it there.
Natalie: Well, Mia got him in the shoulder, Zhilan seemed to be getting it into the source of his power. It certainly didn’t seem to harm his heart or body.
Natalie: When Nicky and Mia come out, there are still 12 minutes of episode. Did that surprise you, the pacing?
Nichole: I was surprised there was still so much time left once they got back. Overall, I think I’m glad we got some time to put the whole clean-up in motion and establish that the earthquake did damage but was not catastrophic, but I was waiting for the other shoe to drop the whole time.
Natalie: Did you have a favorite moment in the Harmony aftermath?
Nichole: Girl, you know I did — Sebastian looking like a total snack in his denim shirt over his black t-shirt smiling and drinking with Mei-Li. Are you kidding me? That’s catnip.
Natalie: Did you notice during the quake, Jerry the refrigerator’s door shook off?
Nichole: I didn’t notice it when I watched it, but I did see people tweeting about it! Poor Jerry.
Natalie: It’s time for Jerry to go.
Nichole: He’s had a good life.
Natalie: I wonder if next season, Harmony will look exactly the same or if they will jazz it up.
Nichole: That’s a good question. I don’t see Mei-Li wanting to do anything too fancy. I’m guessing enough time will have passed that Harmony Dumplings will be back in business when season 3 starts.
Natalie: Well, apparently Harmony was one of the worst-hit places, because all their friends come in to help clean up, which is nice.
Nichole: It was a nice tie-in to the theme of community that they’ve had all season.
Natalie: The Shens are all okay, the sisters have a cute moment about how awesome they both are, Ryan helps out with establishing some facts about the new mythology we’ve just learned. The afterlife, the potentially lost spirits. That’s all fine, but there are a couple of big things left to address in the aftermath, for certain characters. Henry is noticeably absent, avoiding the family, and we get back to his problems alone, and then Dennis and Althea discuss the issue with their app. Can we talk about Dennis and Althea for a second? Because this seems a bit… flippant and, as we say here, “she’ll be right, mate” for something that truly could be… majorly insane. When she says she wants to come forward, does that mean… about the bug, or about sending the text about the earthquake impersonating the government? Those two things are kind of different.
Nichole: That whole thing has me baffled. I felt like we were supposed to be left with the feeling that it would be ok, and not to spend a lot of energy worrying about Althea, like, going to prison. But… is that how this works? I don’t know. I actually really hate the thought of all the work she put into her company this season being down the drain. It just feels like a waste of a good storyline? Like, we’re invested in this! We want to see it succeed.
Natalie: Yeah, basically all her answers about rebranding and rebuilding… it sounded like, tonally, we’re meant to say, oh, they’re going to be okay. I do not think they are though? It sounds like she’s trying to convince herself. I guess we will have to wait and see.
Nichole: It feels like a thing they are going to have to grapple with. But to be honest, I’d probably prefer that it just blows over. I cannot emphasize enough how much I do not want to deal with Althea potentially going to prison.
Natalie: How about the Henry of it all? His aftermath is the most significant.
Nichole: Ugh. There’s a lot there. Can we talk about Eddie’s perfect delivery of the line, “I don’t wanna see you.”
Natalie: Okay yeah, but I thought he was saying it to Nicky!
Nichole: That didn’t even occur to me! It was such a vibe though. That’s exactly what happens when a salesperson comes to the door at my house. I have a completely inability to pretend to be happy to see them.
Natalie: He’s at home, he sees a text from Nicky, he ignores it, there’s a knock at the door. I looked away for a second when he opened the door… And it’s my mistake… but I thought he was saying it to Nicky. But no, obviously it’s Yuen. This is all pretty significant! When you spoke to Eddie, you didn’t have time to include a lot of questions about the Wan Zai element and how that might look at the end of the season. We didn’t know to prioritise it.
Nichole: I guess I should have dug deeper on that with Eddie after all! I was so taken aback by Yuen’s change in attitude! I continue to be confused about how the Wan Zai work.
Natalie: Well, it seems like Henry is like, the Wan Zai prince
Nichole: I… I feel like it has to be something different! The Wan Zai just aren’t that old. How could it be such a big deal?
Natalie: I truly don’t know. I think the key is whether Daniel’s dying words were like… Meaning “I’m sorry I didnt tell you about our secret past,” stuff we already know or something new and massive?
Nichole: Is… his mom someone else? Was his family already into something else mystical before the Wan Zai were formed? And maybe that’s why they were in the Wan Zai?
Natalie: IS YUEN HIS REAL MOM?
Nichole: I did think about that. But she doesn’t seem to know that, so it’s not high on my list. I’m just so curious if it is going to tie into the warriors and guardians somehow or if it is its own thing.
Natalie: Henry deserves to be the prince of something.
Nichole: Well, I would normally agree with you, but his I MUST DO THIS ALONE stance got him on my shit list.
Natalie: Kung Fu never confirmed this anyway, but do you now believe me that Danny and Yuen were romantic partners?
Nichole: I didn’t feel like this gave me more data to work with. She didn’t seem particularly broken up. Like, respectful about the death of a colleague, but not weepy. I think it could still go either way.
Natalie: Oh, I disagree. To me she looked like she was really, really upset.
Nichole: It vibed to me like, “Those bastards took down one of our own” or something.
Natalie: Especially for someone who is maybe not expressive, and Kung Fu has dealt with various Asian families being repressed in expressing emotion, as a cultural norm, I really felt a LOT from her. When she asked I need to know what happened, after saying that he will get the burial — so it isn’t like, she needs to know to check off a work form.
Nichole: I’m open to it.
Natalie: Anywho, Henry’s got Daddy’s box of Mysteries and a bad attitude.
Nichole: The box might as well have been labeled “Daddy Issues”
Natalie: Did him inspecting the ring throw you off? Did it make his eventual declaration more surprising?
Nichole: Well, I was entirely unprepared for the pseudo-breakup. Like, the ring did make me think about him saying that Nicky was it for him, but he was also acting so weird in general that it didn’t seem to me like he was about to propose. Remember how Eddie said in the interview about Daniel taking that bullet for him, “It might take a long time for Henry to process that.” After this I was just like, “Oh.” I was so far off in how I interpreted that I might as well have been on Mars.
Natalie: When he was playing with the ring, I thought, well, maybe his dad’s story feels differently to him now so he does want to use the family ring. Not, “Guess I better dump her.”
Nichole: To be fair, I didn’t actually perceive it as a breakup. The idea that they have to break up just because he has to travel around a bit, is ludicrous. I mean, they were very sad. Which I get, because when I drove with Aaron’s parents to drop him off to college, I cried for the entire 4 hour drive back home and Aaron’s parents have never let me forget it. But, come on now. They’re grownups — in the era of FaceTime — there’s no reason they have to break up!!
Natalie: No, but I mean the montage??? It did have a bit of weight to it like, I have to be this lone… duty driven… man
Nichole: Yeah, Kung Fu definitely wants us to cry for 4 hours while we drive home! I just couldn’t square it with what we know about them!
Natalie: I felt that hiding his dad’s death until the aftermath was quite relatable.
Nichole: Yeah, Eddie was amazing — he sold that so hard.
Natalie: Like there was nothing he could do, he didn’t want to put up his hand and make a fuss about his own pain. But we knew, and when he kept going through the episode without telling everyone…
Nichole: It felt bad!!
Natalie: I think it added to him being so firm about Mia having to go, like, no time to weigh costs, you’re the only one who can do it, just go fucking do it. We’ve all got a price to pay here. His resoluteness there, I think, was tied to him knowing the cost — what he’s sacrificed, and everyone else should do the same, maybe.
Nichole: Yeah, it was interesting how subtle, but still noticeably off Henry was being and how much it bothered me — the sense of foreboding, not in the sense of being annoyed, lol.
Natalie: Do we have a literal translation of the thing Danny was seeking — si nan? Tsi nan? Any key words, any theories?
Nichole: Well, I did whip out my trusty app Pleco, and one possibility is that it means a type of compass, which seems like it could work thematically? But, really, really hard to say with only that to go on.
Natalie: Yeah, if the spelling is just Si Nan, I saw that too — an ancient spoon compass. Could be an artifact, but Kung Fu also loves like… a theoretical concept. Apparently it literally meant south-seeker. It sounds like Kung Fu has a pretty firm idea of Henry’s arc, at least. There’s a plan here. A plan for him to leave.
Nichole: The thing is, with a time jump, he could be back pretty quickly.
Natalie: You said that you hated his it has to be me, alone, sctick.
Nichole: I DID! Haven’t we spent the whole season teaching Nicky to rely on other people?
Natalie: It did feel a bit out of place for Kung Fu, and Nicky’s lessons. I am still a bit stuck on who Henry really is, whether that’s like, “I’m sorry I didn’t bring you into our family secret earlier,” or if this is a new thing. And if maybe it’s more about that, his identity, but again, doesn’t need to be alone. Wants to be, maybe.
Nichole: It also felt a bit… I don’t know… there was just a touch of bad masculinity there? Like, Henry has been so emotionally mature and secure in himself. This felt like, not that. My most generous reading is that he doesn’t know what he’s going to find and is, maybe, afraid of what it is? And wants to be in control of that knowledge for himself before he lets anyone else know? Which, still not great!
Natalie: I would have been interested in seeing Nicky go with him and no longer be the like, center of attention? Not to take anything away from her as the hero, but they have a great wider team, and what it would look like for one mission where Nicky isn’t the one at stake. Like Henry’s “Lily Sunder” episode. Everyone helps Henry with a mystery/personal problem.
Nichole: Yeah, I am actually interested in what Henry is going to be doing, but I don’t realistically see how Kung Fu can give that much time if he’s off by himself.
Natalie: Yeah, I think that’s also a concern, so I’m curious if this is like a season long thing or… Maybe Eddie needed to book some time off so is being written out and will come back in the last few episodes of season 3?
Natalie: Or if yeah, he’s back from his trip all Mystery Princed Up from his off screen quest. I doubt it though.
Nichole: I just can’t see the season starting without him by at least episode 2! I refuse to be logical about this. lol. He will be back and he and Nicky will be fine.
Natalie: Sure, okay. But his classes! Are all! Crossed out! The music and the way they shoot Nicky feels like she’s been dumped. Sorry, it just does.
Nichole: YOU’LL NEVER CATCH ME KUNG FU WRITERS, I CAN CLOSE MY EYES SO HARD.
Natalie: Cry. In the car. For four hours. In the middle of all that, though, we do get a little happy ending for Mia — Nicky palmed her off on the monastery.
Nichole: She looks so young! That smile. SWEET.
Natalie: She is pretty young! This was maybe a good choice, maybe a great choice really!
Nichole: Yeah, and it felt like we finally get to see how young she really is.
Natalie: She could return to the main show at any time, or just get on with her life, maybe stay there permenantly. She heard Zhilan is into monks now and so she’s trying to make herself more appealing?
Nichole: Ahhhahaha. I love the monastery so much. I’d love it if we checked in on her from time to time. But, again, I doubt there’s time to do that much.
Natalie: Well, I feel like maybe we should all go to China for a bit? Nicky, Henry… Visit popo? There’s only so much China you can fake in Vancouver.
Nichole: Yes. Let’s do it!
Natalie: But interiors are okay
Nichole: That’s what blue screens are for.
Natalie: And CGI and stock footage. I feel like we can just… move a bunch of people to China for a few episodes. Especially given the very end of the episode… But first, do you think Nicky might be a good teacher at the community center? She really, really needs a job.
Nichole: I think she could do that. The scene of her with that little girl certainly set that possibility up. It’s so weird that we are ending the season without an obvious bad guy set up. Is Nicky going to go back to harassing petty thieves on the street?
Natalie: Maybe there are clues in this season about the next villian but we just don’t know yet. Or maybe the naked lady is the villian 😉.
Nichole: Yes, ok, is it time to talk about how I got my number one impractical Kung Fu wish in the last 5 seconds of the episode? I mean, something is obviously off with that glowing amulet. I don’t trust that one bit. So she could be the villain. She could be Xiao. Right now I’m leaning toward her being, possibly, both. Like, Pei-Ling is in there, but Xiao has control? Xiao somehow used the amulet to hijack Pei-Ling’s body and walk it out of the realm? It doesn’t totally make sense because where did the physical body come from? But I sure did scream.
Natalie: The amulet seems to be the same blue glitter as the source crystal. So, we assume, this is the realm’s last chance. Either Pei-Ling or Xiao carrying the realm. Or… Stay with me here… That woman is the realm made flesh and can, within Vanessa Kai, channel ANY dead warrior or guardian.
Nichole: OOOOOOh. That is thinking BIG.
Natalie: It just hung onto Xiao’s form, which happens to be Pei-Ling now. So… Vanessa Kai can play Simon Lau, y/y?
Natalie: I fucking love a concept becoming a person. It’s always pretty weird.
Nichole: It almost feels too big.
Natalie: Neil Gaiman is pretty big on it, there’s a Sandman comic character that’s a personification of a place, and he did the human TARDIS Doctor Who episode.
Nichole: God, I loved that episode.
Natalie: I’ve seen it elsewhere I think, like a single personfication of a non-human… magical… idea. So it could work here.
Nichole: It could. It definitely could. That makes some sense too with the conversation Ryan and Nicky had. Where are all those souls?
Natalie: Do you have any other theories, or desires, about season 3 at this point?
Nichole: I don’t really have theories, but I have some desires. I really want to see Sebastian get into the Shooby gang hi-jinx a bit more. I want to see what he brings to the table there. I’m interested in seeing where Ryan goes with the magical elements. I am DYING to see how they bring Nicky and Pei-Ling/Xiao/TheSource face-to-face. What will that look like? Will Nicky think she’s just the normal apparition or will she like, keep seeing her in unexpected places and then missing her for a while? Whatever they do with that I think it has the potential to be really great. And, of course, no prison for Althea. How about you?
Natalie: I’d like the concept of biange to have mattered, like, at all, so that coming into play with the realm and the guardian/warrior stuff I guess. Meibastian kiss. Jifrank kisses. Evicky kisses. I’m trying to hurt you, sorry. I would really like the Chase and Dennis’s dad thing to not be over? That seems like it needs to be finished.
Nichole: Oh yeah! I want some resolution on that too!
Natalie: I do not think we will have a big time jump, given Naked Kai. I think she won’t be stumbling around for ages, like I doubt we will have a six month gap. Maybe I am wrong, and it’ll all be fresh and clean and unearthquaked, but… I feel like… how long can she wander for? She is in San Francisco now!
Nichole: I guess it depends on who is in there? I mean, she could just wander around and steal some clothes and get to whatever business brought her there while Nicky is totally clueless. But, yeah, the Pei-Ling complication is probably the one reason I wouldn’t want a huge time-jump. I want someone to start dealing with that situation right away!
Natalie: I think they put this together just for you. Never stop believing.
Nichole: I honestly feel like I won the lottery. I wanted it so much, but I was like, there is no way to make that happen, please moderate your desires. But… now… here we are! Physical Pei-Ling in San Francisco! I WIN!
Natalie: Next season… Kerwin. For me.
Nichole: You can make it so, Natalie. You just have to wish hard enough, and be super deranged about it!
Natalie: Well, I know who to call. Did you send gifts? You sent gifts, right?
Nichole: That’s between me and my credit card bill.
Natalie: Do you have any thoughts on this episode, like, as a finale? In terms of things tied up vs loose ends, for the season as a whole? Or generally, the season, I guess, the threads that worked the hardest for you?
Nichole: Well, one thing about me is that I actually don’t do season finales all that well. I think because I hate uncertainty, lol. So they usually leave me feeling a bit unsettled. I struggled with the season 1 finale for that reason. But I was pretty satisfied with this one. There are some loose ends, but I’m not panicking about them. Trying to think about what I liked best over the whole season is tough because there were a lot of things I loved. I liked that they went a little harder on the magic this season. That worked for me, although I could see how that might be a fine line for a lot of people. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention how much I loved Sebastian. He was a success on every level. JB Tadena brought something really special and unique to that role and I think Kung Fu got super lucky to find him. I felt like this was a bit of a hard season for Nicky. Like, a lot of her facing some internal obstacles — being too stubborn about Zhilan, getting shifu-blocked by Mia, a lot of failed plans. I’d like to see that lighten up next season. I want our hero to feel like she’s succeeding! And be happy about it! I mean, I guess I could go on and on about this season (see the enormous number of words we’ve already written!), so I’m going to stop there.
Natalie: I think for me, despite the myriad of unresolved problems, if Kung Fu had ended with the season 2 finale, I probably could have accepted the place we left people in as like, okay, I can see the hazy trajectory that we could send them off into the future with. Things like Mia in the monastery, even Althea’s company drama or Zhilan’s unknown presumed death, if this had been the end-end, all feel like if there was to be no more, you can kind of make that an ending and imagine the future. I think the fact that it is NOT ending is obviously great, but it makes a lot of those elements trickier for me! Like we discussed, Althea’s company, Henry’s quest… if we never saw anyone again, I think I could take those calls in stride and be like right off they go — but knowing we are coming back soon, I’M REALLY curious and confused about which parts will be given weight.
Nichole: Yeah, I think that’s really fair. I don’t really know what to think about how those will be dealt with next season.
Natalie: I also think Nicky, as a hero, was really challenged this season, she did NOT have a good time and did not get to bask. And at the end, she’s supported, but she’s still seeking her place in the world. Ultimately, I don’t know what Nicky’s happy ending would or should or could look like.
Nichole: Yeah, we haven’t really gotten a clear message about what Nicky really wants long-term.
Natalie: Also thought we would see more people for-real die. Kerwin for real, Zhilan or Mia too. As it is, we kind of have a net gain on bodies alive or dead. I still think Kerwin’s soul could be shoved back into his body, and we did not see the dead body of Krussell. Zhilan’s not dead. Pei-Ling’s not dead. We gained. So that’s kind of interesting.
Nichole: I guess you could say we are being led to believe Zhilan and Krussell are dead or off the board for good, and Mia could stay tucked away indefinitely. But, yeah, in terms of potential come backs, they’re all still there.
Natalie: In terms of season 3, I guess I’m most interested in whether Kung Fu will broaden the focus on the ensemble and follow more points of view — Henry’s, maybe Zhilan’s, maybe the Pei-Ling Realm’s, maybe Mia’s… or whether those people will find their way back to Nicky quite quickly. I’m not actually sure what my preference would be!
Nichole: Same! I can see it working in a lot of different ways, so I don’t feel super-stressed about the resolutions. We’re in the hands of our “cruel, capricious gods” now as they work to craft season 3.
Natalie: Well, we won’t have to wait too long to find out!