Kung Fu Harmony Dennis Ryan

‘Kung Fu’ season 3, episode 4 in conversation: Lil Dumpy is the canary in the coal mine

Kung Fu season 3, episode 4 brings us “Clementine” on steroids. “Harmony” reunites writer Richard Lowe and director Richard Speight, Jr. to bring us the most bonkers episode of Kung Fu yet. Read on for our review of “Harmony.”

The grand reopening of Harmony Dumplings is finally almost here, but Mei-Li’s instinct to hold off on the celebration until they get through opening night turns out to be very prescient as Harmony Dumplings’ successful opening is suddenly threatened by an unknown enemy.

In attempting to find and neutralize the threat, the team tracks down Mei-Li’s one (1) ‘frenemy’ and Nicky’s… 114 known enemies. Althea gets an opportunity to shake down her old nemesis, Leif, who is currently bored out of his mind in San Quentin, while Nicky gets a surprise when she tracks down season 1’s Master Drake. Nicky discovers he has set up a self-help grift that purports to cure these criminals of their obsessive need for revenge on Nicky, but only if they subscribe to the premium package. When Althea and Nicky strike out, Mei-Li is left dealing with the actual culprit, who decides to put a stop to the reopening in person.

The official synopsis of “Harmony” reads:

HARMONY DUMPLINGS’ GRAND REOPENING — With the grand reopening of Harmony Dumplings just around the corner, it’s all hands on deck to make sure it goes off without a hitch. However, things take an unexpected turn when the Shen’s receive a mysterious threat on the eve of the restaurant’s reopening. Elsewhere, Jin (Tzi Ma) faces a new challenge and Ryan (Jon Prasida) scrambles to find Sebastian (JB Tadena) the perfect gift. Olivia Liang, Kheng Hua Tan, Shannon Dang, Eddie Liu, Gavin Stenhouse, Tony Chung and Vanessa Kai also star. Richard Speight, Jr. directed the episode written by Richard Lowe.

Catch up on all of our Kung Fu reviews right here, and keep reading for our chat about the unhinged events of Kung Fu season 3, episode 4 “Harmony.”

‘Kung Fu’ season 3, episode 4 review in conversation

Natalie: So this week’s episode “Harmony” covers the long-awaited reopening of the family restaurant, and the night before the big event, everything seems pretty perfect. Everyone is happy, and excited, some of the old staff are back in the kitchen, even though they’re still interviewing line cooks to make up for the ones Melody Dumplings stole. Bit last minute, but there you go. Everyone is on site — all the family, Carrie, Lil Dumpy… making final preparations. Plenty of things are set up in this scene, but then we cut to 24 hours later, with Carrie returning to find the place trashed. So right away, we know that we’re going to backtrack over the day and see how everything fell apart at the last minute. However, in the calm before the chaos, there’s still a fair bit going on. But weirdly, one of the first things I wanted to ask was about the decor. What do you think of the new, upscale look of Harmony Dumplings? Before the destruction.

Nichole: I actually really like the new look! I mean, look, I love going to a nice restaurant. It’s pretty much my main vice. And I liked Harmony Dumplings before, so it’s not like I think, “Oh it’s so much better!” But I do like the way it looks. I think it still suits Mei-Li’s personality, but just, like, Mei-Li with resources.

Natalie: I have no idea if it’s like “too trendy” for that old school family restaurant vibe, but it generally seems nice. I like the green a lot.

Nichole: I like the plants in the nooks.

Natalie: It just feels, like, a lot more modern and in a way I am not sure that is what appealed to the community about the place, but I assume everyone signed off on this. We aren’t quite sure how much time has passed, but Carrie and Mei-Li are apparently getting along really well! And Mei-Li doesn’t seem too upset about being partially funded by outsiders. The ownership thing doesn’t currently seem to upset her at the moment. What did you think about how that investment situation seems to be playing so far?

Nichole: Right now it seems to be going great. Mei-Li obviously has some anxiety about being judged, but Carrie just seems to want her to succeed. Although Carrie’s Lil Dumpy feels might be a precursor of things to come. Like, something charming and wholesome that gives Harmony Dumplings personality, but that doesn’t jive with the corporate image. I don’t know. I’m still nervous about it.

Natalie: I think we’ve had a hint that things might kick off, but yeah, the whole Lil Dumpy isn’t classy enough and not our image thing is what I meant about the upscale vibe and less sort of “shabby wholesome family place” — it’s very slick now and it may become TOO slick.

Nichole: Yeah. I am curious if the food itself will become an issue. Because that is obviously the main draw and where both Mei-Li and Sebastian are personally invested.

Natalie: Yeah, or maybe the prices? Like, trendier food with bigger prices? Rather than sort of that old school family restaurant place.

Nichole: That could definitely be an issue since the whole neighborhood is still recovering.

Natalie: Yes, we also have a visit from the competition, Melody of Melody Dumplings. Was not expecting Melody to actually be CALLED Melody which makes for a great joke later. But her business becomes a plot point down the line too. What did you make of her and her orchid?

Nichole: OMG. That actress’s face. She was so good. I really could not tell if she was being sincere or sarcastic. Every scene with her and Mei-Li was amazing. They were having a literal face-off — who could have the most repressed emotions not actually repressed in their facial expression. I love the idea that she might really be clueless about how much she’s ripped off Harmony Dumplings.

Natalie: Yeah, she was one of the more surprising elements of the episode! To be continued on her. What else is going on? We’ve got the banner, we’ve got Lil Dumpy, we’ve got line-cook taste testing, which, unbeknownst to us in this moment, is an inciting incident…

Nichole: The champagne…

Natalie: We’ve also got some personal catch-ups before the toast. Nicky and Mei-Li about Pei-Ling, for starters, The bruising. Honestly I will say the transition into this episode from “The Compass” was kind of abrupt? Like, where we left Henry and Nicky, and cutting to this… there’s a LOT that’s happened between then and now with moving Henry back home and all (Moving Pei-Ling out of his place so he can return) and presumably his powers and just… I did think we would see a bit more of the aftermath, but clearly Nicky has been caught up about Pei-Ling’s attack.

Nichole: Yeah, it feels like a pretty big jump cut from Henry might be dead to this.

Natalie: I do like this episode (at the end) serving as his re-entry to the family, but I might have, if this was my show, done one more episode between here and now. But as it is, he’s come home with Nicky and so Nicky is back at the Shen’s but Pei-Ling apparently did not go with her. More on that soon, but this surprised and saddened me.

Nichole: Yeah, I mean, I guess I understand it, but it was sad.

Natalie: We’ll catch up with her soon and see her new “home.” Moving on to something more positive, how was it to see Seb back in that chef’s jacket again?

Nichole: Hot Chef™. It was good. I love how much of a team he and Mei-Li are now. Like, less boss/employee and more partners in the success of the restaurant.

Natalie: Yeah, the vibes are impeccable, but importantly, I liked it when he tossed the towel over his shoulder.

Nichole: It’s the little things.

Natalie: He definitely seems to be the head chef now, Mei-Li as of right now is not cooking in the kitchen and is more managing the place, especially with Jin in a new role. It used to be Jin chef, Mei-Li manager, then she became the chef and he managed, and now it’s Seb as the head chef I think?

Nichole: That seems like what is happening.

Natalie: At least for opening when she’s like the sort of face of the place. Anyway, he’s hot and competent. It was really in Ryan’s best interests to make up with him. What were your thoughts when you heard that little tidbit about the boyfriend competition?

Nichole: My first thought was, “What is wrong with these boys?” Like, can they not just try having a normal reaction instead of these wild swings? I don’t know how long they can sustain this, lol. But I guess they are still in the early stages, especially of living together, so they have to work out the kinks (no pun intended). That said, it was very cute and I love Ryan grossing Althea out with his overshare.

Natalie: I don’t think competitiveness within a relationship is good, and I was concerned about how this would play out. Luckily in this episode it just makes for a cute and disgusting side quest that seems mostly resolved but I worry it may escalate into forced pleasantness.

Nichole: Same. Last week’s fight and this week’s competition are not sustainable ways to be in a long-term relationship. But I feel like I’m overthinking it. I do think it’s just supposed to be cute.

Natalie: I agree, I feel like I’m doing that sort of thing too, but like… implications matter to me, about behavior! We shall see, I guess. But back to the toast — or the pending toast, with the 1997 champagne. Should have just drunk it then and there, pals. A nice family moment to remember.

Nichole: Hindsight is 20/20.

Natalie: Cut to — utter chaos.

Nichole: So much chaos! What did you think had happened to get us to this point?

Natalie: I definitely assumed some kind of sabotage. Which ultimately was correct. But what and how, really wasn’t sure or what sort of level of disaster we were looking at.

Nichole: Did you suspect Melody at all?

Natalie: In a way. It seemed too obvious, the whole “hope nothing bad happens,” but it does make sense she’s on the suspect list. Honestly I think I expected some sort of high level corporate sabotage for insurance or something even though Carrie came in. But the episode takes it to a lot of places.

Nichole: Interesting. Corporate sabotage was not on my list.

Natalie: I don’t know, it wasn’t a good theory and it doesn’t make sense. Don’t worry about it, lol. Most of the episode is dedicated to re-visiting the events of the day and what led to this issue, but a couple of people have their own plot that isn’t directly to do with the Harmony sabotage. One was Ryan’s side quest, part of his “arms race” with Sebastian, and the other was the first day of Jin’s new job. Hell of a day. Which one of these do you want to run through first?

Nichole: Let’s do Jin. He shows up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for his first day at work only to be treated like a cog in the corporate machine. What were your first impressions of Anthony’s campaign manager?

Natalie: Awful, and it made me think less of Anthony for putting Jin in this position. I had no idea what Anthony wanted Jin to do, but this wasn’t it. It feels like it was irresponsibly handled. Like he didn’t inform this guy that Jin was not an experienced campaigner, and that he was coming from a different sort of community outreach.

Nichole: Yes. All of that. I think that campaign manager has to go, to be honest. He seemed actually a bit jealous of Jin and wanting to put him in his place? Which I did not like at all.

Natalie: I’m not blaming Anthony entirely, I blame him a little and the guy, Robbie, plenty as well. He didn’t take time to hear about Jin’s experience and just slotted him in with the rest of the team. Devil’s advocate says that they’re very busy and they know things like the statistics of what works, but Anthony hired Jin for change. It wasn’t how I expected this to go at all. Not that there isn’t value in canvassing, but not a lot of listening was done and it just did not seem right.

Nichole: No. And seeing Jin in that kind of micro-managed role, when he’s basically been working as his own boss his whole life felt very bad. Like, show some respect. I think canvassing is powerful, but not if you are doing it to check off boxes the way this guy wanted.

Natalie: Yeah, it didn’t really seem effective? Like, don’t try and convert people? That has a lot of conviction that people have already decided on their vote. I don’t know the stats on that — in my country voting is compulsory, so campaigning isn’t ever about just reminding people to vote at all, it’s definitely about who you’ll vote for.

Nichole: Yeah, I mean here some organizations are mostly focused on getting out the vote, but usually if you are affiliated with a campaign, the point is to convince you to vote for that person!

Natalie: Anyway, Jin has no experience so it isn’t like he could just become the campaign manager himself, but I think I agree about the jealousy or putting Jin in his place. Or maybe he just didn’t care, like he cares about the campaign but not the methods, like “we know this works just do it.” And what he didn’t see was Jin’s power to convert 1 person who then converted 100, rather than getting 100 randoms from 500 doors.

Nichole: I loved the moment of Jin just shutting off the phone notifications. He just said, “No, thank you. I know what’s important.”

Natalie: I mean when he brings the name back after helping that woman, “Your target was 100. We’ll see what Anthony has to say.” — this was such a telling moment where you just felt SO uncomfortable because you know that the person who thinks they’re the dominant player in the situation has misjudged badly. Does he not know Jin is a personal friend and I guess, like, childhood elder of Anthony? Like Jin isn’t trying to pull rank, but it’s so weird the other guy does?

Nichole: Yeah, he was so… icky. It was upsetting.

Natalie: And there’s a little moment where Jin clearly is like “I don’t know if I’ve done the right thing,” but also like “this guy is a dick.” He’s uncertain about what the hell is going on.

Nichole: Yeah, I do love that he wasn’t really cowed by the guy. Like, he was eager to do a good job, but not willing to compromise his principles. Jin is a fully realized adult human, he doesn’t have to let someone treat him like that (not that anyone should, but it’s harder when you are young and lack experience).

Natalie: It’s always also just so awkward to watch someone badly misjudge like, the level of a relationship or something with an important person. I’ve seen it happen in situations, you know, in the industry. Seen people treated a way, or even been spoken to a way, and then like “Oh, you know THEM?” or “Oh, you weren’t talking out of your ass?” And then kind of have… you know… soured the situation by being gatekeepy or superior. Conditional respect.

Nichole: Some people just really can’t stand when life isn’t a hierarchy.

Natalie: It makes me extremely uncomfortable. Anyway, once the chaos at Harmony is resolved, we revisit this with Anthony as he attends the opening and is very happy with Jin’s work. A new endorsement and everything. Suck it, Robbie.

Nichole: I wonder if Anthony really saw the full picture there or if he’s clueless about how Robbie treated Jin.

Natalie: Well, Jin also takes the chance to start a conversation about the day to day role — feels like that conversation should have happened before the first day of work, but… there you go. I don’t think Jin is the man who would outright complain about Robbie, but he might be honest about how he didn’t think it worked. Anthony does seem a bit clueless in general. Also, due to the chaos, Jin hands out campaign shirts to cover people’s dirty clothes, effectively turning the opening into an endorsement, which the Shens are good with, but… corporate may not be? Though Carrie doesn’t seem concerned about that so maybe it’s fine. But you’d imagine the political connection will be in the newspaper articles about the opening.

Nichole: It didn’t occur to me to think corporate might not like it. But, I suppose, a very clear political leaning can put people off.

Natalie: It’s a potential issue in real life, a corporate partner not okaying a political stance that may exclude clientele (though a family owned business would have every right to do it) but I don’t know if this is an issue for them in the show. I just thought it might be. I don’t know what will happen next with Jin’s role though. Any thoughts?

Nichole: I think Jin will do more real community organizing. Maybe getting local groups together to talk about the issues. Looking for real solutions that involve the community.

Natalie: That sounds good on paper, but I do not know what kind of things they would actually be. I guess we will find out. There’s an episode coming up which seems to have a case of the week involving the campaign. Now, this Jin element was the episode’s most serious and grounded plotline. The other side quest, Ryan, was about as far as it’s possible to get from that.

Nichole: Most unhinged.

Natalie: First of all, where are these men getting thousands of dollars to drop on gifts? They’re not that rich. I’m sure Sebastian would make a great sugar daddy but he’s been barely employed for 6 months.

Nichole: Right? I mean, I know Ryan will eventually be making doctor money, but I don’t think he is yet or hasn’t been for very long.

Natalie: No, Ryan is only doing his residency or whatever you call it there, that’s not high pay. Actually, I just looked it up, it’s not bad.

Nichole: Although Ryan does have a vibe that he’s probably put away every cent he’s ever made and only occasionally splurged on fancy tennis shoes.

Natalie: In the UK it’s extremely low. Apparently the average residency salary is about $65k USD, and that’s a lot in my eyes.

Nichole: It’s not really a lot if you live in San Francisco though. I mean, let me put it this way, it’s over the average salary in the US, but it is not enough to splurge on $2000 knives or whatever.

Natalie: In the UK, a junior doctor doing placement after uni makes about half that. Even with conversion rates.

Nichole: I mean, I would hesitate to drop that kind of money on a gift for Aaron without really thinking about it or saving specifically for it.

Natalie: Anyway, yeah, a gift costing over $1000 is a lot for anyone. If you don’t think that’s objectively a lot for a gift, no matter what money you have, you’ve lost sight of the value of money.

Nichole: Yes.

Natalie: But these men have apparently lost the plot. They’ll go broke doing this.

Nichole: Well, when they’re homeless space won’t be an issue.

Natalie: Like, Ryan would be the more wealthy one right now and Seb did drop however much on this limited edition jacket. Maybe they get a friends and family discount from King Kwong.

Nichole: Throwback!

Natalie: We chatted a bit about this before, Kung Fu dropping in all these little bits of world building from past episodes. We know this brand was popular with the gang and now Eddie Kwong owes them so… What do you think of them sort of having these little things to touch on?

Nichole: I really love it. I love a world that builds. I love being reminded of the smaller, more inconsequential parts of the world. We have to keep in touch with some of the bigger mythic issues, but it is fun to have these touchstones that only serve to make things feel real and complete.

Natalie: The show doesn’t forget that things happened, which I always appreciate. To be continued on that front! But when Ryan stupidly decides to one-up Seb’s gift with a going back to work present, “Why did I do that” is an appropriate sentiment… especially by the end of the day.

Nichole: Yeah, he really dug his own grave with that one. Jon really, really shines with that deadpan delivery though. He’s got such solid comedic timing.

Natalie: I think my favorite moment of the whole ep might be the phone call between Dennis and Ryan on Ryan’s lunch break (Or after an extremely short shift in the ER).

Nichole: Dennis, my king! Of course he’s a good gift-giver. OF COURSE HE IS.

Natalie: Ryan is such an airhead here in a way that feels very Youngest Child and true to character. Dennis is so smooth.

Nichole: And it’s clear that Dennis isn’t just good at gifts because he had a lot of money. He pays attention to people.

Natalie: The more this show goes on, the more I feel like I may be Dennis-coded. He’s gotta be an Earth Sign for sure.

Nichole: You are a really thoughtful gift giver. The things you brought over when you were here this summer! I would have been like, “Well, it’s impossible to transport these things halfway across the world.”

Natalie: I’m really bad at receiving them though, lol

Nichole: I love a good present.

Natalie: Even if it came by means of… well. Let’s discuss. After some gloriously dumb ideas, Ryan pulls up the details of a high quality Japanese chef’s knife that Seb desires and Dennis finds a used local one for sale. This is also me. I am the person who like, if people idly say they want or need it, I’m like here’s a bunch of links and options right now. I am incredibly nosy and meddling about other people’s logistical needs and I actually have two people right now living in apartments I found them on real estate listings from afar, just from being nosy and wanting to be involved, lol. I am an extreme “What about this?” (link) person… like Dennis. So off they go to buy a knife out of some guy’s trunk. It’s a lot like love…

Nichole: …there are no rules. When the guy notices that Ryan is a doctor and changes the deal, I 100% thought he wanted more money.

Natalie: Yeah, me too. I think that would have been a fair assumption, and Ryan should not have come in uniform for that reason. Like buying a car. But no, he doesn’t want more money. Listen, I need to walk you through my thoughts here because, okay, I know that he said that he took the ring OFF and it ended up inside Honzo.

Nichole: Honzo

Natalie: But for a moment. I definitely thought Honzo was his gay lover and he’d lost it while fingerbanging him.

Nichole: The whole thing was so impenetrable at first. I definitely had a similar misconception while still realizing Honzo was a dog, soooo… On rewatch, I’m not totally sure why I thought that. I think it took a while for my brain to catch up with what was happening because I thought it was going somewhere else. I mean, we know his wife was out of town and the implication is that he was cheating on her, so even though he had specifically said he had taken the ring off, I was still very much in the mindset that he was doing something he shouldn’t be doing.

Natalie: Yes.

Nichole: And then when the dog entered into it, my brain just put the pieces together very wrong.

Natalie: The loss of the ring felt linked to sex. So I was like…

Nichole: Also, I liked that guy too much for someone who cheats while his wife is away. Maybe he wasn’t cheating, he just takes his rings off while she’s gone because he really likes to bake.

Natalie: Yeah, there’s an extremely good faith read of this situation where this is literally just about the removal of the ring at all, not as a euphemism. She doesn’t want him to take it off full stop, but he needs to in order to use his hands for something — not to signal he isn’t married. There’s an angle where you could force that read.

Nichole: Yeah, but the easiest read was certainly that he takes it off to prowl the town.

Natalie: I don’t really understand why he didn’t just wait for the dog to poop. Why did Ryan have to finger the dog? Why?

Nichole: There wasn’t time. His wife was due home.

Natalie: Also, I definitely thought he was going to charge him the money PLUS the dog fingering. It seems like he was willing to let it go just for the “vet” help.

Nichole: Desperate times…

Natalie: I liked Dennis being like… “lol no. Come on.”

Nichole: I know! I loved Dennis being the practical one here. Like, “This is nuts, Ryan.”

Natalie: Dennis will be bringing this story out when he is best man at the wedding.

Nichole: Absolutely. His face when he’s covering for Ryan, “Yeah, he’s busy. Don’t ask.” Amazing.

Natalie: What does doing this say about his love for Seb (or his competitiveness?)

Nichole: When I put it in the best possible light, it says he just really wants to do something thoughtful and now that he’s committed, he’s committed! But, I do think there is a bit of competitive steak in there and he is refusing to lose the battle for best boyfriend.

Natalie: Well, the knife has a role to play later on in the chaos and there is a very fun moment when they kind of pause from the drama to be like awww for me? That is again a highlight for me. But that part is better addressed in the flow of things. For now: Ryan is successful in his mission.

Nichole: But he’ll never be ok again.

Natalie: So to get into the main plot of the episode, the chaos plot, there’s a little more seriousness to be had first as Nicky pays two visits to invite people to the opening. Pei-Ling and Henry. They’re both pretty miserable moments.

Nichole: Ugh. Yes.

Natalie: Before picking up the live lobsters for the opening, which I’ll state on the record that I hate, and kind of hate a little more giving that job to a vegan — obviously the restaurant cooks meat but having the vegan bring the animals to be boiled alive was a bit much for me and I really would have loved the whole lobster plot to not be in this episode as funny gag — she checks in with Pei-Ling who is living in the basement store room at the community center. This is pretty grim. Have they got permission for this? It’s very neat and tidy with a proper camp bed.

Nichole: It absolutely feels like they do not have permission for that. It’s also hysterical to me, because part of Pei-Ling’s motivation seems to be to stay away from people, but the community center is filled with people all day? Like, if she goes full Xiao, there are lots of people she could hurt.

Natalie: I guess she does not leave the room?

Nichole: But only because she’s in control. What happens if she’s not in control? I mean, I guess we’ll find that out next week.

Natalie: How did it make you feel to see her sitting in the basement? Nicky doesn’t seem very happy about it.

Nichole: This Nicky was also not very happy about it. I mean, she was a monk, it’s not like she needs luxury, but the furtive quality of it was upsetting. I feel a bit like Nicky is a bit mix-messaged about what is going on with Pei-Ling. On the one hand, she invites her to come to the opening, so she can’t be too worried, but then she does seem to know something is wrong.

Natalie: Maybe she disagrees with the isolation premise and Pei-Ling insisted on it.

Nichole: It does seem like Pei-Ling insisted on it. But this scene introduces the true crime of the episode. Nicky gives Pei-Ling that sexy jumpsuit and we never see her standing up in it!

Natalie: Oh no, I’m sorry for your loss.

Nichole: Thoughts and prayers in this trying time.

Natalie: She doesn’t bring Henry a jumpsuit.

Nichole: She just brings Henry pain. I would just like to take a moment, before we delve into Henry’s pain, to say that I finally recognized a song on the soundtrack. When we cut to Henry training I was like, “Oh hey, I like this song, and then OH WAIT I KNOW THIS SONG.” As a certifiable old, I felt very cool.

Natalie: I never know any of the songs. I do know that the music supervisor, Laura Webb, is brilliant at finding great tracks that aren’t too well known and using them well, she was on Teen Wolf with MTV and did their music too.

Nichole: Look, a lot of things came together to create a circumstance where I started listening to more Mandarin-pop/hip-hop/rap than the average American, so I was like, “One day they’ll put one of these songs I like on the soundtrack!” But it took a while to get there.

Natalie: Congratulations.

Nichole: Thank you. We have to appreciate our small accomplishments in life.

Natalie: Does this feel to you like this is the first time they’ve seen each other since flying home? Maybe they even traveled separately.

Nichole: It did feel like they hadn’t seen each other recently. But I’m going to assume they traveled home together because it is implied he was unwell when they got back. If he were weak or whatever, I don’t think Nicky would have just left him to find his own way home.

Natalie: True. But since then he’s been alone and doing his research and working out. Did it surprise you to learn that he’s the only person EVER to have activated the Compass? Not like once in a generation or once in an age or whatever. Never. I thought it might be more of a pass it on thing.

Nichole: Yeah, I would have assumed that as well. But I guess we have to find a way to keep our research genius from having the resources to figure out what is going on.

Natalie: To me, Henry seemed keen to share/unload on Nicky, like update her with everything and it felt like he wanted more engagement from her than she was giving. Like she kind of feels like, “Okay just seeing you’re not dead, byeee.”

Nichole: I was surprised she hadn’t told him about Bo prior to this.

Natalie: I was surprised she told him about Bo and then we find out he’s basically ghosted her. It’s a bit like “and for what?” Lol.

Nichole: Ok, but just to speak to that moment between Althea and Nicky. That line where Nicky says to Althea, “It’s like every conversation we’re breaking up all over again” was SO POWERFUL. It was like this really keen observation in the middle of this bonkers episode.

Natalie: The continuation of that conversation between Henry and Nicky about moving on, did lead me to think yeah they basically didn’t talk on the plane or maybe Henry just didn’t want to deal with it, so yeah, I think I know what Nicky meant when she said that to Althea. Like whenever we get into it, it’s this whole hurdle and this upsetting thing where we have to come to terms with the situation, and so have avoided engaging.

Nichole: Yes. Ugh. Poor Nicky. Poor Henry. It’s a sad situation all around.

Natalie: I feel like she can’t just collect exes and make them part of the family. Ryan is like, “No! You can’t get rid of Henry, I need him!”

Nichole: “Nicky, that’s my emotional support your ex-boyfriend!”

Natalie: Ryan, you’ve already got one of those! Well, he’s more Althea’s emotional support ex-boyfriend. One each

Nichole: Jinx. I was literally typing that.

Natalie: Here’s my thing. We have this small side plot — Bo isn’t in the episode — where Nicky seems to value her new relationship with Bo more than the long term with Henry, and I don’t get it on a few levels. I like Bo, but does this mean that she genuinely doesn’t have feelings for Henry any more? I feel like if she truly was in love with him she’d forgive him and go back to him. For me it really feels like his choices, or the separation, killed her feelings for him.

Nichole: Yeah, I don’t think not getting back together with Henry is about Bo. It’s about the hard work she had to do to get over Henry.

Natalie: She’s hung up on making things work with Bo, and if we get Hicky back, is Bo going to have to fuck up and prove to be a bad choice? I don’t know if I see her just falling back in love with Henry and being like sorry Bo, I’ve gotten over the fact I moved on from him. Like she is fairly all in about making this new relationship with him work, and I don’t really know how she feels about Henry now. I don’t know how they’d get back together. Even if it’s not about one boy influencing the other. It’s more that I meant she seems available to care and pine over and commit to Bo because she genuinely seems over Henry. It doesn’t feel like they’re playing at her secretly pining for him or even conflicted.

Nichole: No, I think Nicky thinks that putting up that boundary with Henry is a good idea. She was so heartbroken and miserable and had to drag herself out of it. I mean, it’s solid self-care imo. But I do think once they are forced to actually communicate for plot related reasons, we might see Nicky become more conflicted. Or, I don’t know, maybe not. Maybe we are just going to have to watch Henry come to terms with this.

Natalie: What would you prefer?

Nichole: Don’t ask me that, lol. I don’t know. I really assumed they would get back together, but that was before I knew he was gone for 4 months without a word! I think I’m super hurt for Nicky, so part of me wants her to move on and be happy on her own or with someone else. But also, I love Hicky! I think I also may soften once they start spending more time together.

Natalie: How do we get rid of Bo then? Might be jumping the gun a bit, lol

Nichole: I also don’t want to get rid of Bo! Maybe we’ll finally get a viable threesome!

Natalie: Maybe Henry will die.

Nichole: Jesus, Natalie.

Natalie: Look, I can’t work this one out!

Nichole: I mean… it could happen. It could happen.

Natalie: Let’s move on to the actual death of the episode: Lil Dumpy. RIP in pieces.

Nichole: Poor Lil Dumpy. I want a Lil Dumpy plushy. He’s so cute.

Natalie: I both think he’s kind of cringe and also hate Carrie for judging him lol. Jin tried hard and it makes me sad to think about it.

Nichole: I understand he is supposed to feel cringe… I guess… but I legitimately think he’s very cute and a good mascot!

Natalie: I think Carrie feels like the place is now too upmarket for a mascot.

Nichole: Booo.


Nichole: Kim Rhodes would never.

Natalie: I kept thinking this, she would never even judge him this way lol. Anyway, the destruction of Lil Dumpy is the canary in the coal mine of the chaotic cluster fuck of opening night. The sabotage begins.

Nichole: Along with Lil Dumpy we lose the 25 year old Opening banner and get a threat written on the newspaper article about the re-opening. The eyes being crossed out was a nice touch.

Natalie: The banner is a harsh loss to me, that’s sad. The eyes crossed out made me know we were dealing with someone irrational. Or someone faking a drama.

Nichole: Yeah, the banner was a low blow.

Natalie: So the race is on to find out who might do this while also trying to open normally and keep the attack a secret from Carrie. This could have been an episode where you know, this was a sincere threat, but because of the way it’s all played, you know it’s going to basically not be. The solving of the case is all comedic. I don’t think Mei-Li thinks it’s very funny, but she sure is funny while doing it!

Nichole: When she’s ranting about Melody and Althea is just sitting on the couch like, “uh…” But Sebastian is there to back her up! I love how they are both equally certain about her.

Natalie: “She probably changed her name” was a real reach.

Nichole: There’s nothing for it but to confront her!

Natalie: With her trusty sidekick Sebastian. This poor woman.

Nichole: She does continue to behave very suspiciously though! Her face — and I cannot emphasize this enough — her face.

Natalie: She can’t help her face!

Nichole: I am honestly a Melody stan now.

Natalie: The hand to chest offense about the orchid “that was a gift!” She rightfully thinks they’re both nuts. But she’s got her own problems. These two are not very good at shaking down people, they came in too strong shaking down with direct accusations, just admit it, etc lol.

Nichole: I really love that Sebastian and Mei-Li both brought it so hard. Like, they are on the same wavelength even when that wavelength is bad, lol.

Natalie: They are truly made for each other. In whatever sense.

Nichole: Yes.

Natalie: So it turns out that’s a bust and Nicky is the real target. That makes a lot more sense given how many actual criminals she knows.

Nichole: 114

Natalie: Thats a lot of enemies

Nichole: Enough to, say, fill an entire whiteboard?

Natalie: The board spinning was actually my fave moment of the thing. I really made a funny noise out loud. Between that and Nadia talking around her salad. Love her.

Nichole: Why is she so cute? I just want to squeeze her.

Natalie: The whole scene in Evan’s office was a lot of fun and included something I’d never thought about before — references to cases they’ve handled that were not on screen. The seasons of Kung Fu usually cover a tight time period of a couple of weeks or months of Nicky’s life. We sadly never saw the jewelry thief at Dinoland.

Nichole: Give me a Dinoland flashback!

Natalie: But we are given these anecdotes of things that happen for the group in between episodes, or in between seasons. I really enjoy that, the whole, in-universe information thing.

Nichole: I would love to get a clear shot of that whiteboard and try to figure out which names are from episodes and which are made up.

Natalie: There have to be some easter eggs on there. Crew or something.

Nichole: Absolutely.

Natalie: They get a couple of good leads, one being Drake, the MLM martial arts master and the other being Leif, aka Director Dick. WHO HAS BEEN SENDING NICKY DEATH THREATS! NICKY!!!!

Nichole: Please, Nicky. You should always mention the death threats.

Natalie: I mean if there’s anyone you’re not going to take seriously… but still!

Nichole: Yeah, it seems like something you mention even if it is far-fetched.

Natalie: For sure. But what did you think of Althea giving instructions on hacking? It’s very like, obeying the letter of the law and not the spirit, lol.

Nichole: I think we both feel the same way about this internet ban. It just doesn’t make sense on any level.

Natalie: She definitely could get Evan into trouble. Also, “hack his social media post” and then do all this other stuff — hack it how? It isn’t that simple girl! You’re leaving Evan in the dust!

Nichole: None of it was specific enough unless Evan is also an amateur hacker!

Natalie: Look, she’s going to write it down.

Nichole: It’s fine. Althea is now a hacker by proxy and we just have to deal with it.

Natalie: I didn’t know Richard was going to be on screen in this episode and honestly didn’t expect to see him, so Althea facing off with him in jail was quite a moment. He’s been keeping up with his nail varnish.

Nichole: He’s got to keep himself busy somehow.

Natalie: I feel like the cast really enjoy Richard so this was able to be a bit off the wall.

Nichole: He was such a good character. I loved seeing him again.

Natalie: I mean obviously the whole episode — this episode is a Richard/Richard collaboration like “Clementine,” and it kicked it up a few notches from that one! This moment is obviously really harking back to meeting Leif in “Clementine” and the destruction of Althea’s car, she’s got a grudge.

Nichole: She’s going to take him down!

Natalie: What did you think of how she tricked him? Her sob story was pretty honest… she was unloading a bit, lol. But within that, caught him out.

Nichole: She tricked me with the story! I was like, “Oh, no, Althea is so upset!”

Natalie: Well, it was true!

Nichole: It was all true!

Natalie: She chose to suck him in with the truth and her emotions. Just not the dry cleaners.

Nichole: It was good.

Natalie: My favorite was when she got what she needed and he was like “Don’t go!” He is very bored, lol.

Nichole: He just wants a little company!

Natalie: What a ridiculous man. Nicky is also dealing with a ridiculous man. Of all the things, and I feel like we’ve even discussed, like, Nicky’s reputation in the criminal underworld, I absolutely did not expect, in a million years, to see a Nicky Shen “AA” meeting.

Nichole: I love the build up as Nicky eavesdrops. It all sounds so threatening!

Natalie: It’s so ridiculous, as I realized what was happening I was kind of like … “Oh my god, are they for real?” And then it was revealed that Drake is running a racket again with enlightenment levels by access! Come on, man! Get a new gig!

Nichole: He’s just going with what he knows!

Natalie: Now, the collection of people who were there, this always makes me wonder like… how they book people. Do they specifically select people for their back story, or is it like “we need to book 2 or 3 or 4 ex villains, see who you can get and we will write around it.” Drake was necessary it seems — at least for the MLM element. It could have worked with another main guy if it wasn’t MLM and genuinely was AA. Just an authentic leader. But it was Kendall that made me most curious because we are getting an episode about Dennis’s sister soon. Finally,

Nichole: Can’t wait to find out what the family has been up to without Dennis.

Natalie: The show kind of helpfully did flashbacks to who everyone was, going back to Nicky’s very first San Francisco case of the week… but she didn’t recognise Benny, the guy from 3.01, and he was so offended. What did you think of Olivia having to kind of confront that room on the back foot? “So good to see you guys!”

Nichole: It was so funny to see her try to get out of there without riling them up. Like, “Maybe I can just quietly step away from this.” When she was like, “That’s on me,” I was like, no it’s not, they were literally breaking the law, it’s on them. But it did make me laugh.

Natalie: None of them are in jail, how much did she really ruin their lives? They’re lucky, they’re fine!

Nichole: For real. But at least Nicky gets the chance to beat them all up one more time for old times’ sake!

Natalie: In a very cool outfit. Cue up the big fight music. This is a real brawl. These are not other martial artists like Razor or Tony Kang. This is just a bunch of stupid idiots. Mugs are thrown.

Nichole: She does wipe the floor with them pretty quickly.

Natalie: People get whipped with belts. It’s a lot less finessed.

Nichole: I forgot about the belt.

Natalie: Of course Drake is a trained fighter, but we cut away from that confrontation and just see Nicky exit and basically dust off her hands. Sorry for your relapse!

Nichole: Well if Leif is out and Master Drake is out… who could it be????


Natalie: After ruling out the enemies from Nicky’s life of heroism, the truth is… shall we say… a bit more… unhinged. Mei-Li figures it out just in time, at the same moment the real culprit smashes the orchid from Melody (which Mei-Li has finally accepted as a goodwill gesture and told Ryan to display.) I kind of like that Mei-Li was the one to “solve” the case even if the timing didn’t matter so much.

Nichole: Yes. I did love that.

Natalie: I find characters like Tracy extremely frustrating, but I’m relieved it wasn’t something more legitimately threatening like another serious criminal or killer, like something deep and nefarious. I completely disagree with the end result of them not pressing charges and just sending her home to her mom, even if she was meant to be like, 19, she needs to be in a locked ward.

Nichole: I feel like I would normally hate Tracy, but something about her really appealed to me. She was just such a powerful, tiny terrorist.

Natalie: I have no sympathy.

Nichole: It was funny that they just sent her home. She did some serious damage.

Natalie: Mei-Li was pretty good about how she tried to handle her. Nicky… oh Nicky!

Nichole: She wins the award for worst liar for sure.

Natalie: Oh my god, just… the frantic increase in “convincing” tone.

Nichole: Mei-Li, Ryan and Sebastian in the background wincing.

Natalie: I think they all tried their very best to talk her down, but what they really needed was a tranquiliser gun.

Nichole: I think the fleeting scraps of quotes from people as she flipped her way around the restaurant were some of the funniest parts to me. Jin walks in and then you hear him go, “Little girl, stop!”

Natalie: I know this was based on Tracey Flick from Election, which I totally see, but she was also like an army of feral raccoons. The sheer physicality of that stunt scene was so insane.

Nichole: She was Mary Lou Retton possessed by Chucky.

Natalie: I also noticed some really funny background lines! But one of the best was a moment you actually see, where she throws the knife and Seb is like “Is that a Kubumoto?” “Yeah! I got it for you!” “Awww!” The “Awww” just… killed me.

Nichole: Yes. Perfect.

Natalie: Nicky throwing Ryan out of the way… “She’s going after the plants!”


Natalie: For some reason Tracey crawling across the bench seats on her tummy like an army routine was just… like… it just hammered home that she is not in her right mind. SO CRAZY. The music soundtrack, it was good too, like the manic quality.

Nichole: The actress was so buck wild. She just gave it 200% for sure.

Natalie: It was a really big stunt to shoot for something that was effectively a joke, they must have had a lot of fun.

Nichole: It really seems like they did!

Natalie: And to cap it all off, Althea taking her down with the door! Did you have a fave moment of this bananas setpiece?

Nichole: I loved so many parts of it! The mom saying, “It never made sense, she’s so naturally athletic,” and the look on Nicky’s face when she says, “Yeah, I noticed that.” I don’t know, somehow that being the final take, made me laugh. But, probably my favorite part was Nicky trying to lie.

Natalie: Total word salad. Do we know if it was scripted or if Olivia just went wild?

Nichole: I don’t know. It feels like it could be either or both.

Natalie: They should do a making-of for the DVD of this episode. I am sure they have a lot of stuff.

Nichole: That would be amazing. I want commentaries!

Natalie: To be serious, I’m like… they should not have just sent her home with her mother. Anyone who would respond like this to any situation needs to be in psychiatric treatment. Choosing a job in a new industry doesn’t stop the fact that this behavior is in her. I know this is like meant to be a joke, but that girl isn’t okay! Prison probably would not be helpful… but you know what I’m saying?

Nichole: Maybe she’ll be back one day as the big bad of the season.

Natalie: I just laughed out loud really big, lol. When Carrie comes in, did you think shit was going to go down? She was surprisingly supportive.

Nichole: I don’t know what I expected. Maybe slightly more of a freak out. But I was glad she took it in stride.

Natalie: It was very like “Explaining right now would be a waste of time, we’re just going to have to make it work.” Practical.

Nichole: Yeah. She just got everyone right to work!

Natalie: Did you catch Ryan saying “Let’s get you both patched up” to the plants and knocked-out Tracy, lol.

Nichole: Ha, no, I missed that.

Natalie: I really hope no one ends up with stray glass in their food. I mean they had a big job, pulling out all that carpentry so it at least didn’t look broken… all that water from the tank…

Nichole: It was a mess. Maybe slightly unbelievable that they could get it done so quickly, but that is the magic of television.

Natalie: Yeah, they manage it! At least the food wasn’t compromised.

Nichole: I wonder if the new line cooks were like, “What have we gotten ourselves into?”

Natalie: I didn’t even think of that!

Nichole: Quite a first night at your new job.

Natalie: It all seems to go well in the end and everyone shows up to support the Shens — did Mel-Li opening the place up make you emotional?

Nichole: I mostly felt so relieved. I really want Mei-Li to be successful. So when she opened the doors I was just like, “Ok. Yes. Good.”

Natalie: And Pei-Ling and Henry both show up!

Nichole: I was so nervous when Jin stopped to talk to Pei-Ling!

Natalie: Why? Like she might attack?

Nichole: Yes. I didn’t want to see any Xiao at the big night. But it would have been nice if she had at least stood up in that fancy outfit. I feel like Rich has a lot to answer for.

Natalie: I love how stuck you are on this.

Nichole: I distinctly remember behind the scenes pictures with Vanessa in that outfit and I was like EYEBALL EYEBALL.

Natalie: Do you think the kids took turns sitting down at the table? Because Ryan is dining with the friends table and the girls are working.

Nichole: I imagine it’s a bit fluid.

Natalie: I hope so side eye. Anyway, we don’t get much chat from Henry but the others are clearly happy to have him back and Nicky is inspired to text Bo, and I’m a bit like… how did this fizzle so much? Like, what is even there? How well do you know each other? But I guess he’ll be back on screen soon.

Nichole: I am looking forward to seeing what happens when he and Henry meet.

Natalie: I am sure someone is going to get bitchy.

Nichole: Maybe Henry and Bo will both get bitchy and Nicky will just give up on men altogether.

Natalie: That sounds possible. I can see a lot of like Henry being like you don’t even know her, and Bo being like you fucked her over. I don’t think it’s going to be fun for anyone involved.

Nichole: No, I don’t think so.

Natalie: On a more fun note — Athevan. Do you think we inspired this?

Nichole: I mean, how can you inspire the inevitable? It was meant to be.

Natalie: You make a valid point. I’ve enjoyed them over the past couple of seasons so much and I am excited for them to become partners in not-crime. Or… crime for the sake of not-crime.

Nichole: Put that on their business cards.

Natalie: I still think research requires the internet… but look. I need this to go well.

Nichole: They’re going to make it work. I have so much confidence in them as a team!

Natalie: Finally, I wanted to ask what your thoughts were about the final toast between Mei-Li and Jin, like the active decision to take that moment between them as partners and not parents. I am not a parent, so I’ve never had to make that sort of delineation and have that kind of, is this a family thing or a couple thing. But it felt… important?

Nichole: I liked that. I like that we see them as a couple independent of their kids.

Natalie: And sort of rare?

Nichole: Yeah, you know, their children are grown up. It feels nice for them to take a moment for themselves. I overthink a lot of things about parenting — shocker — and one of them was wanting to make sure I kept things I was interested in, because I didn’t want to pour all of my energy into parenting and then feel hurt when my child, rightfully, was ready to be more independent. So, I really loved that little moment between them.

Natalie: A really happy ending with the photograph there of what they started together 25 years ago. Any other general thoughts about this episode and what they pulled off, or what is coming next? It really diverted from the main plot.

Nichole: I liked the way this moved us along with a lot of character arcs. Like, Althea finding a new goal, Henry coming back into the fold, Nicky moving forward with Bo, Jin’s job. There was this wacky background, but the individual stories were still grounded in what we hope and dream for each character.

Natalie: I just have no idea what’s next? Do you think there’s a Tan-like big bad behind that earlier Chinatown meddling? Or will it be Xiao? Or just bits and pieces of things, like what Henry’s power will lead to? It was said to be the thing that first brought magic to our world, so maybe he’ll be the one to connect to the other realm and get Zhilan. CAN YOU IMAGINE IF THEY STARTED DATING.

Nichole: How can he date his mother? (I’m sorry Yvonne, I know you hate that theory) But also, how do you think Nicky would react to that?

Natalie: I think Nicky would react to that extremely badly.

Nichole: Yeah. Maybe Nicky and Zhilan can date instead.

Natalie: Well, here’s another question. Last season we had “Clementine,” which was meant to be a kind of silly episode in terms of the villain and circumstances were really crazy. It didn’t massively change the tone of the show, Nicky and co were still very much themselves, but they got caught up in the absurd behaviour of others. This episode was like that doubled, and intentionally. A funny, silly episode outside the normal tone. This one kicked it up a bit to use more comedy and have the Shoobies in on it, like Mei-Li and Nicky especially were shot in a humorous way and doing funny things, like Mei-Li’s whole delivery when going to catch Melody. And Nicky both at the MLMAA and with her dumpling lie. My question is like… what’s coming for season 4? If this is Clementine on steroids, what would “Harmony” on steroids look like?

Nichole: I’m not sure they can push it much further, but I’m ready to be surprised! I’m worried the season is taking a dark turn now that we had some fun. I’ll just be over here biting my nails until next week.

Natalie: With dumplings.

‘Kung Fu’ airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on The CW. Episodes stream free the next day on The CW website. ‘Kung Fu’ season 1 and 2 are streaming now on HBO Max.