Kung Fu season 3, episode 6 delivers a shocking twist to one love story while following through on an inevitable heartbreak in another. Read on for our review of “Rescue.”
This week’s Kung Fu could not have been more jam-packed. As the name implies, we got to see the power of Henry’s love rescue Nicky and Zhilan from the wasteland. But just as Nicky takes the next step in her relationship with Bo by letting him fully into her magical secret life, we discover he has secrets of his own.
Meanwhile, Jin makes a huge personal decision by taking his mission to help the community all the way to its logical conclusion — running for office, Althea discovers a huge personal decision that Dennis has kept to himself, and Carrie takes away Mei-Li’s ability to make decisions for the restaurant, forcing Sebastian to sacrifice himself for the wellbeing of Mei-Li and Harmony Dumplings.
The official synopsis of “Rescue” reads:
A HEARTBREAKING DECISION AND AN UNEXPECTED REVEAL — Nicky (Olivia Liang), Henry (Eddie Liu), Ryan (Jon Prasida) and Pei-Ling (Vanessa Kai) try to make sense of some disturbing information they’ve learned about Xiao (Vanessa Kai). Althea (Shannon Dang) and Dennis (Tony Chung) help his sister after she learns that money has gone missing from their family’s charitable trust. Elsewhere, Mei-Li (Kheng Hua Tan) is forced to make an impossible decision. Tzi Ma, Gavin Stenhouse, Yvonne Chapman and JB Tadena also star. Kristin Windell directed the episode written by Matt Young.
Catch up on all of our reviews right here, and keep reading for our reactions to Kung Fu season 3, episode 6 “Rescue.”
‘Kung Fu’ season 3, episode 6 review in conversation
Natalie: So! Big episode! Episode 6 is such a transitional episode with nothing resolved, everything pretty much marked “pending” and left hanging in the balance at the most fraught moment. How do you find yourself feeling around this time in the season?
Nichole: I was super pumped up after this episode! I wanted to get up and run around my house. I feel like the back half of the season is taking shape more now. So many things we’ve been anticipating dropped this episode. None of them were resolved, of course, but it was still very satisfying.
Natalie: It surprises me to hear you say that as usually you get so stressed out at drama!
Nichole: I know! I think this episode was just so good I couldn’t focus on my anxieties. lol. Of course, I’m unhappy for my sweet son, Sebastian, but it was so well done — pulled every heartstring — I cannot complain. And as for the end of episode twist, I almost whooped I got so excited. Maybe I’m growing as a person.
Natalie: I think that the wait between episode 6 and episode 7 will be one of the hardest, and then if episode 7 doesn’t address some of these things left hanging, I’ll be climbing the walls…
Nichole: I’m honestly so excited to find out how they solve it all. Everything is such a puzzle on the mythic side and then the personal dramas are so good too!! I’m just a very happy girl.
Natalie: Well, we said last week that we thought we would probably get the whole Nicky telling Bo about magic thing glossed over, like “How did he take it?” “Fine, he’s processing.” Nope. Not at all. That’s not what happened and I mean in retrospect we know why, I guess. So let’s talk about first impressions of that conversation and then sort of… retroactive impressions.
Nichole: Oh man. So different. My first impressions of it were so good! I was like, “Ah, this is perfect. Exactly what I wanted! I can’t believe we got this.” His cute little face. His reactions were so expressive and the lighting made Ben Levin’s face look like a painting and it was just overall so enjoyable. And then in retrospect it was like, which parts were surprising to him? Obviously not the magic parts, but maybe the Nicky being magical part? I don’t know. I’m perplexed. He seems so genuine! I mean, honestly, this is how much I like this episode, I would normally be so worked up about how much I like Bo and how I don’t want him to be a bad guy, but it was all so perfect that I’m just into it!
Natalie: I still think he doesn’t really know what’s happening to him, but we will get there. Like I feel like he thinks it’s a dream or he disassociates or something and only this time, when he met Nicky in the realm, has he processed it is reality.
Nichole: I disagree, but we’ll get there, lol.
Natalie: So from that perspective I could see the conversation as totally innocent and naive. Truthfully, I am not worked up about the Harvester being a bad guy because I don’t think he is a bad guy or he doesn’t think he is. I mean, this reveal at the end, everytime we see him we’ve been like “We must know him!” even if the stunt actor wasn’t obviously Ben or Ludi or Eddie. But I’ve been watching even how he moves and I’m like, “We know this guy, we must know this guy.” I wonder if you went back to compare, how similar their fight style would be. If they’ve been made to move the same, because I did keep thinking this guy’s movement is familiar… but I didn’t study it under a microscope.
Nichole: Oh. Good point. I’m very bad at seeing that kind of thing, so I probably couldn’t see it, but I bet they did put thought into that.
Natalie: Anyway, so, here’s my thing, I guess: Yes, his first “innocent” response about Nicky being the good magic was lovely and sweet and of course maybe a bit too easy, but it did feel pretty authentic. It’s impossible to discuss this without jumping ahead to theorize about the reveal of Bo being the Harvester, but… Say Xiao is somehow the mentor, from either another world, or whatever… We don’t know Bo’s origin, whether he’s re-animated like Pei-Ling, or just a random person Xiao connected with. We don’t know if that was a face-to-face thing in the other realm, if he comes from another place or anything… but the point I’ve made about the Harvester since Day 1 stands. I don’t think he thinks what he’s doing is bad, and I don’t think he thinks he’s killing enemies or whatever. I think he thinks he’s sending souls on to where they need to go, and that he probably thinks Xiao, his mentor, is good and doing things for good.
Nichole: Yes, I agree.
Natalie: So here’s my question. Why would he not share his magical traveling with Nicky, innocently, when she shares her truth? Why would he not be like… “I’ve been keeping the same sort of secret but thought YOU’D think I was crazy? You know about magic too? This is such a relief.”
Nichole: Huh. Ok, that is a bit of a stumper. It could be that Xiao has taught him to never tell anyone. After all, look what happened to her because the emperor was afraid of her. So, it may be that his reaction was genuine, because he is surprised specifically about Nicky, but not about magic in general and he just wasn’t ready to tell her about himself because he doesn’t have any experience sharing it.
Natalie: It could be… Or he doesn’t know what’s happening to him. Or it is more sinister than that and he already knew about Nicky and this is all an act… but I don’t think so.
Nichole: It just doesn’t feel like an act. I guess it could be, but that doesn’t feel right in my gut.
Natalie: Well, he certainly put on some sort of act, if he’s at all aware of his own role. Maybe not that level of sinister, but he reacted naively like he was a “civilian” when he does actually know, at least about Xiao and himself… so unless it is my suggestion, that he isn’t consciously aware, he didn’t exactly respond honestly. Which was the biggest surprise, really, due to how much he’s been pushing for Nicky to let him know her and felt so much out of the loop with the truth of her situation. That’s part of the reason why I think he doesn’t know — the prior stuff was too honest. I thought maybe the sword guy who knew Xiao from the past, the one they researched about, he might be taking over Bo, the way Xiao is in Pei-Ling. So then it would mean the Harvester is not in fact Bo, but the person possessing him, but it totally takes him over, so he isn’t aware. But then seeing Nicky cut through for Bo and gave him some control? I don’t know, it’s all kind of confusing. Maybe he thinks he’s dreaming.
Nichole: You could be right, but as soon as he was revealed an entire backstory unspooled for me that I’m very attached to, lol.
Natalie: What is your backstory for him?
Nichole: I assume he is a person, from our timeline, all that is normal, but he was a little baby traveler like Xiao and somehow ended up with her in the realm at some point. So she takes him on as his mentor and teaches him how to control his power. Does she do this out of the goodness of her heart or to have someone on the outside? I don’t know. So anyway, he is super dedicated to her because she taught him about his power and also probably helped him escape some bad situation in his life caused by this power. But he is fundamentally good either in spite of her influence, or because she wanted him to think she was good, or because she does care about him. So he thinks whatever she is asking him to do must be for the best. It doesn’t even occur to him that it might be bad. And now that he’s seen Nicky, it kind of shatters his worldview, because he doesn’t know if Nicky is bad or if he is doing something bad.
Natalie: That all sounds plausible, but I’m a bit stuck on why he wouldn’t be like “OMG I’m good magic too!!!” when Nicky revealed her truth, or why he would be so pushy with her about getting closer and more “all in” when he himself was keeping secrets he wasn’t willing to share.
Nichole: That is a slight flaw in my theory.
Natalie: That being said, he certainly didn’t let those secrets stop him from being “available” the way Nicky apparently was being held back by her secrets. We shall have to see.
Nichole: Do you think that alert he got was really for his shift at the cafe? Like, how is Xiao communicating with him now? Because I thought it was weird he just disappeared after that conversation and we didn’t see him for the rest of the episode.
Natalie: God, I have no idea. I assume mentally. In his head. I don’t know if that alert was meant to be related or not, or even how time passes in the other world…
Nichole: Yeah, I guess via cellphone does not make sense.
Natalie: Let’s talk about Olivia though, and how Nicky went about delivering The Talk for a second, because regardless of Bo’s truth, how do you think Nicky handled it? If you were a normal civilian being given this information what would you think?
Nichole: I was so charmed. I love Nicky being just a little bit weird or awkward, because I find it adorable and also because it humanizes her and keeps her more real. She’s not just perfect at everything, she doesn’t always know what to say. The whole delivery made me laugh out loud. As to what I would think? I don’t know. I really don’t know how I would react.
Natalie: I would definitely want some proof. I don’t know what kind but I think if I was Nicky I would want to carry a little token of proof or something, a glowing rock, anything. Because I feel like I would be like… “I love you baby, I’m worried about you. Are the magic bad guys in the room with us now?”
Nichole: Pffff. I think that is probably a realistic reaction.
Natalie: Yeah, I mean in TV shows where magic is secretly real, skeptics are always kind of the bad guys — see the Buffy episode “Normal Again” — but like, let’s be realistic. If you’re truly trying to conceptualize how a real normal person in a world with no awareness of this would respond, people generally wouldn’t be that quick to believe. Not without proof. Supernatural usually had to do ‘the talk’ after someone was attacked by something they themselves witnessed or whatever. Anywho, Nicky did her best.
Nichole: She did.
Natalie: So do we think Nicky snuck out while Bo was in the shower or did they have a normal “I gotta go also,” type mature goodbye?
Nichole: I think they probably had a normal goodbye.
Natalie: You’d hope so. Well, when she got home that was quite a drama of people coming and going! A lot of moving parts! Althea, Dennis, Sebastian, Mei-Li, Jin… all with their own stories to follow through on this episode and some we will have to jump back to in turn. But it’s like Grand Central Station in here this morning.
Nichole: How much did I love Sebastian just popping in to see Mei-Li? So much.
Natalie: To be continued! Because it’s going to hurt so good. Or bad. But Nicky sneaking back in was… a little ridiculous. Very funny.
Nichole: It was so funny. But also, she is a grown woman. Just own it, girl.
Natalie: Especially because Mei-Li didn’t even care! There’s a hang up there that is actually unfounded. And I found that really funny, Mei-Li tormenting her.
Nichole: Exactly. I loved Mei-Li’s reaction! I actually loved Mei-Li’s whole vibe in this scene. I guess it was to better turn the knife later.
Natalie: That’s something to come back to yes, because I think her lightness and contentment was meant to be a high that got crushed. After a quick change Nicky is back out to meet her magic club at the library and everyone is up to speed on the matter at hand — Henry seeing Zhilan in the realm. Pei-Ling is obviously very concerned and Ryan is there to… I don’t know… contribute? He’s pretty inner circle about magic stuff now. Henry and Pei-Ling are becoming pretty bonded too.
Nichole: I really enjoyed the two of them working together. I am taking so much joy in every relationship Pei-Ling gets to have this season.
Natalie: Me too, but Henry is getting pretty tetchy. For whatever reason, he’s all over the place this episode. He isn’t really handling having power all that well and it makes him very skeptical and wary. But before that, they pull up some stuff about the Harvester and his blades, and I don’t know, maybe I take back the idea that the original forger is possessing Bo because Wu Jian, the blade maker, was, as Nicky says, “a magic mystic bloodline hater” and that doesn’t fit with the Harvester’s behavior or really even with Xiao. It sounds like he was an enemy of Xiao, theoretically, even if he lived in a later time. He didn’t like what she stood for. So maybe they’re just using his weapons in a different way.
Nichole: Yeah, that was the feeling I got.
Natalie: So the timing of Bo becoming the Harvester is in line with the earthquake and the source realm. Four months ago.
Nichole: What was he doing before, I wonder.
Natalie: Well, if the date stamps on the videos they watched to find him are to be believed, he was still doing the ‘Oakland Vigilante’ hero thing years before. One of them is marked like, 2018.
Nichole: Do you think he was consistently in contact with Xiao?
Natalie: I think his relationship with her predates four months, because of the story he tells about his mentor. If that’s Xiao it sounds like it’s far in the past. Or if he is a traveler, maybe his mentor was someone else in the realm that he would visit with, someone truly good, and Xiao appeared to him with her face.
Nichole: Yeah, I think they’ve known each other a long time, but I wonder if he could just always find her or if there was a period he couldn’t.
Natalie: Going back to the first episode of the season he talks about moving around a lot as a kid and her teaching him how to fight and defend himself. I think it was definitely a lifelong thing where he sort of maybe even thought it was a dream at first, if he was a kid.
Nichole: You’re really set on him not being fully aware of what is happening.
Natalie: It makes the most sense to me. Anyway, him being a traveler is a good call but now Nicky wants to get into the wasteland realm too and stop the soul-sucking power. This is quite an ambitious plan that sounds pretty impossible, but I was still a bit shocked by Henry’s reaction to it, he was really almost aggressively skeptical or against it.
Nichole: He was so mad!
Natalie: Do you think it’s about his own sense of responsibility or involvement? Like he doesn’t want it to be down to him to fail, or win, or trap Nicky?
Nichole: I wondered if it was a little bit of last season’s fight. He feels like Nicky is trying to railroad him into something he’s worried about.
Natalie: Obviously they kind of have a chat about it, but the fire behind it for him feels to me like he basically doesn’t feel confident with this being on his shoulders and so he gets kind of angry about being pushed into being the one responsible for her life.
Nichole: Yeah, there was a lot of anxiety there, which is a pretty rational response to being asked to use the power you don’t understand and can’t control to put the woman you love in mortal danger.
Natalie: Weirdly, what hit me hardest was his rejection and skepticism over taking a chance on something from folklore rather than fact. Because they’ve done it before, and he’s always so excited about things like that. Seeing him here be so rigid and, I guess, scared, of anything other than a pre-assured detail, it was quite a harsh change but I guess understandable, he’s saddled with this power to be focused and he really doesn’t feel like he can handle it.
Nichole: Yeah. I think it’s interesting how he’s reacting to his powers and it’s a good contrast to Nicky’s journey. I like that he’s having some very real anxiety about it.
Natalie: Yeah, I definitely “get it” on some level. But they sort of steamroll his initial concerns and forge ahead with a plan to rebuild the pendant and hope it works, and rustle up some sort of witch too. Wasn’t expecting a throwback to Honzo but I guess Ryan is scarred for life.
Nichole: That did make me laugh.
Natalie: I do feel like his reappearance… “Good news! I did it! Bad news! It looks like that” was really up there for the best line reads of the episode. JP’s so funny at the moment.
Nichole: It was very funny. The whole concept of just slapping it back together was pretty funny and I liked that they did it, but it looked like garbage.
Natalie: I mean hopefully it would even work once shattered but… good job Ryan. I really don’t know if I expected Henry to remove himself from the situation so entirely, because this whole oh maybe this will work” winging it stuff has really been something they’ve done before and he’s been a part of before. On the other hand I do actually understand him being like, “I feel much more responsible for this now, it is depending on my magic, and I can’t be the reason this fucks up.” But he and Nicky do have a conversation about all of that. Like she actually says, “I’ve never seen you like this.” What did you think of his sort of “final decision” and Nicky turning him around?
Nichole: I don’t know. I had mixed feelings about it. I, of course, want them to be a strong team regardless of their relationship status, but I didn’t quite know if she had the right. On the other hand, I love Nicky’s power of love/friendship speeches, so a little from column A, a little from column B.
Natalie: She talks him back into it, I guess, but it isn’t really addressing the concerns he has of the weight of his own responsibility and managing the power. Maybe after this episode he needs to get a mentor.
Nichole: Mentors for everybody!
Natalie: Here’s a question, were you expecting Nicky to literally vanish? Physically leave?
Nichole: I was expecting her to physically go to the other world, but I expected her to walk through a portal or something, not POOF!
Natalie: I don’t know if I was. I think I thought it would just be her consciousness. Though I guess that doesn’t make a ton of sense. Either way, she sure did go POOF!
Nichole: Big POOF!
Natalie: So she’s physically there, trapped presumably if things go wrong, just like Zhilan, and she finds Zhilan pretty quickly as well. Zhilan was caught in a game trap by some spirits — maybe a mother and son or maybe just some people who have banded together. Once again I am asking the question of why do they need to hunt or get supplies? They are spirits. So I definitely thought the trap was for the Harvester, not for like, a deer. Regardless, Zhilan went for a bit of a dangle and then ended up living with these folks.
Nichole: I thought it was a trap for the Harvester too.
Natalie: I am extremely disappointed that Zhilan didn’t run to Nicky to hug her without thinking.
Nichole: This episode needed more hugs.
Natalie: Even if she’d then awkwardly been like… “Oh. No. Ew.” I wanted an automatic relieved clinging. More hugs!
Nichole: Yeah, Zhilan is in such a different place emotionally and it would have been a good example of that.
Natalie: I think she was impressed with Nicky coming there even if she thought it was stupid and hopeless. She was very like, “Ugh, silly Nicky, so sexy of you.”
Nichole: We did get a little peek at the old Zhilan when she was like, “That’s so you,” but it was like, half disdainful and half, “I love you.”
Natalie: How about Zhilan’s reaction to hearing Pei-Ling is alive?
Nichole: Good stuff.
Natalie: Anything deeper? Lol.
Nichole: I mean, I’ve been wondering if she was expecting to find Pei-Ling, and what exactly she might think she would say if she found her. But Nicky kind of cuts her off. Like, “OK, YES, I SEE YOU ARE SORRY, WE HAVE TO SAVE HER.”
Natalie: Yeah, and in turn Zhilan is like, “You did WHAT with the Harvester’s WHAT? Stop talking, we have to fight him.” I was pretty shocked that Sarah locked them into the cottage as an offering… Harsh.
Nichole: I was so surprised! Really every man for himself out there, I guess.
Natalie: I wonder how that younger boy died in real life. Anyway, he has a bit more decency or guilt and tries to help them but it’s no good really and Zhilan and Nicky have to do a silent sync-up door bust.
Nichole: I loved them rolling out onto the ground together. They should do that every episode.
Natalie: Snort. Now, obviously we know who it is and we’ve discussed that already, but in real time, when the Harvester grabbed Nicky and said her name in confusion, what were your thoughts in the exact moment?
Nichole: I actually wondered if you had been right about Henry!
Natalie: Me too for a second, actually, but I think I knew in my soul that it was Bo, even a bit earlier than this. Subconsciously it slipped into place sometime during this episode because I definitely wasn’t shocked by the reveal at the end, so something before this pinged me. I wonder if it is actually Ben Levin’s voice in the final warped dub of the voice over?
Nichole: It must be. I feel like I just have to say again how into this episode I was. I was on the edge of my seat!
Natalie: It’s a lot coming together at once. Nicky finding out that Zhilan isn’t actually a spirit means of course that’s someone else to rescue.
Nichole: Do you think she consciously brought her back or she was just in the orbit of what pulled Nicky back?
Natalie: I think she did it intentionally. So in the real world Pei-Ling helps redirect Henry’s focus to putting his magical pull into Nicky herself, from love, not just concentration of the mind. What do you think that says about the future of Hicky, especially given Bo?
Nichole: I feel like it ought to have pushed me back over to being sure they’ll get back together. But I’ve been pretty solidly 50/50 and I still feel that way. I think it does give us a more clear path for Nicky and Henry to get back together, but it doesn’t feel like, “Oh, of course.” Especially since I don’t think Bo himself is evil. And even if he was “That boyfriend turned out to be evil” is not a great reason to get back together with your ex. Obviously it proves Henry still really loves Nicky, but that wasn’t really in doubt.
Natalie: Regarding Zhilan, I do think when Nicky said she ran out of time to kill the Harvester and that she had to make a choice… I interpreted that as like, she chose to grab Zhilan and make sure they got back together.
Nichole: I like that.
Natalie: Maybe it didn’t mean that, and it just meant her making the choice to travel back herself? But I definitely first interpreted it as meaning choosing to save Zhilan now that she knows Zhilan isn’t a spirit. Waffles for Zhilan might be fast approaching.
Nichole: I cannot wait for her to meet the family.
Natalie: Like, Pei-Ling is In The Fam, and I very much assume Zhilan will stay with her. Maybe they’ll get an apartment together. So sooner or later Zhilan is going to get folded into the Shen family like an angry kitten.
Nichole: Who do you most want to see her interact with?
Nichole: The sunshine and the grumpy one.
Natalie: I’m still not over Evan being like… “We don’t wave to her, babe.” But there are many great options. I have no idea how much the parents know about how “evil” she has been. I feel like she could have a lot of respect for Mei-Li… she probably won’t deal all that well with Althea and Dennis. What about you?
Nichole: I want different people for different reasons, but if I had to pick one it might be Jin. I think she could use a good dad hug.
Natalie: She could use any hug at all at this point.
Natalie: I really hope she stays in town and doesn’t just bolt off on her own quest.
Nichole: If she disappears I’ll be so mad! Let’s deal with the Zhilan issue!
Natalie: She! Needs! Waffles!
Nichole: BANGS MAPLE SYRUP ON THE TABLE!
Natalie: Okay, so I know we’ve talked a ton about Bo, but… in the ending montage when everyone is sort of sitting with their problems, we have the official reveal of his identity and he only has one sword, because Nicky has the other. Had you guessed it was him before the reveal, and what do you think is going to happen with the split swords? Now that Bo the Boyfriend is in the fold, what will happen when Nicky asks for some help researching her new magic bad guy? “Uhhhhhh.”
Nichole: I hadn’t guessed it was him until like the moment before he took off his face covering. Like when you see him back in our world I was like SHIIIIIIIIT. Is Bo going to try to pretend everything is normal? I’m all jittery just thinking about it!
Natalie: There is, however, one storyline that’s kind of open and closed solved this week. Kind of. It still sets off a consequence that will continue, but… one problem is in fact solved! By Althea the investigator.
Nichole: Althea has found her second true calling.
Natalie: I don’t really have any idea about how this works in a professional sense because we honestly haven’t really seen her and Evan take on any non-personal cases, and we haven’t seen how they would operate “above board” — in a legal sense — with I guess a “normal” case, but this one is quite personal and comes via Dennis. Apparently he’s the only person his sister, Chloe, can turn to in the hour of need when things are going wrong at the family charity. A lot of money has gone missing on her watch and she wants to recover it before the parents find out. I’ve wanted to go back to Dennis’s family issues, as I’ve mentioned. I’m not sure this episode totally ticked that box for me but it did something.
Nichole: Did we know that Chloe had taken over Dennis’ job? We didn’t, right?
Natalie: Did they say that specifically? That she took his actual old job? I thought he worked for their for-profit company.
Nichole: I feel like Althea implies it. Or maybe they worked together and it’s hard without him? She says Chloe is drowning without him. I also would have thought he worked for the for-profit. But I don’t think we ever really got specifics.
Natalie: I took it to mean just like, without Dennis, Chloe is struggling to step up and be The Soong Heir Having Responsibility At One Of Their Endeavors. The conceptual issues of more pressure or being this sort of role for the family. I didn’t think she had his actual job.
Nichole: It wasn’t clear to me, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter. The emotional bit hits regardless.
Natalie: Yeah, I mean all in all, they make a lot of money, and they funnel enough of that money into charity to make a separate charitable trust branch with quite a few employees as a part of their business. Remember in season 1, Dennis and Althea met a woman who was grateful for the oncology ward the Soongs funded? It’s big money. I assume maybe the idea is that Dennis was in charge of X and now Chloe was in charge of Y and if Dennis was there they’d have like, board meetings or something at least to kind of connect on how everything is moving.
Nichole: That makes sense. Some part business support some part moral support.
Natalie: In season 1, Chloe and her friends were doing reckless crimes for funsies and that was a whole thing. I think they said the family sent her to work or live in Hong Kong to get her away from the local friends, but it kicks off again at Althea’s bachelorette party. So Chloe being trusted and responsible is sort of a new situation where she’s making up for past major errors — crimes, really — and deeply does not want to fuck it up. She comes straight to Dennis for help at the Apothecary bar — at this point in the story, this reunion, did you feel like you had any thoughts about where the Soong family stuff may be going?
Nichole: I didn’t have any strong ideas. Just the way Chloe was presented, I had a feeling that it was going to be a more light-hearted separate story and not somehow connected to the overarching parental issues. Like, I didn’t think it was going to be shady business practices or whatever one might expect when the patriarch of the family condones sexual assault. The Dennis/Parents reveal did come as a big surprise to me. I wasn’t expecting that at all.
Natalie: Yeah, I think that’s something to discuss, because I am so confused by it. But what about the case? They solved it pretty simply, I guess it was there as more of a vehicle to kind of get Dennis to that point that that reveal puts him, but there were great Dennis moments along the way. With Evan out helping others, Dennis was brought in as “person allowed to touch the computer” as Althea had her big brain thinky thoughts. It was cute.
Nichole: Dennis and Althea are always cute, but they were especially cute this episode. I liked her flip phone.
Natalie: Is it weird that I kind of like Dennis being cynical?
Nichole: Which part would you describe as cynical?
Natalie: Honestly just the way he treated Chloe for a lot of the research part. When Althea is like “I’m sure your parents won’t think you stole it!” and Dennis is just stone faced like “They will.”
Nichole: Yes, true.
Natalie: And when he pins her about a motive like “Did you and your friends need money when you started your bling ring?” There was kind of this like… don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he suspected her or anything. But we don’t usually see Dennis being bossy, or sort of in the superior power position in a relationship, or wielding any sharpness. Big brother Dennis hits different! There’s a firm dynamic with Chloe that isn’t really around in any other dynamic we see him in.
Nichole: That’s true. I really liked that too. He is normally so sweet and soft. It’s nice to see dimensions. Not to say I don’t LOVE the sweet and soft.
Natalie: Chloe’s pout after he says that bling ring thing was epic. Ultimately due to circumstances, they narrow down the suspects of people who could have had the right access to just one, a girl called Marina, after the other two were ruled out via kiss cam. That’s one way to get an alibi, I guess.
Nichole: Always be sure to get on the kiss cam before a crime goes down!
Natalie: What did you think of Chloe being so naive to the idea of alibis, or so sure that it couldn’t be Marina? I’m not sure how much it matters — the importance kind of depends to me on if her character will start showing up more. But this kind of stuff as a personality trait did say to me that she probably shouldn’t be a manager or anything like that. Her thinking isn’t very… broad.
Nichole: She was much, uh, fluffier in this episode than previously. Like, where is that sharp Chloe that will knock over a vase to distract people? She’s obviously trying very hard to turn over a new leaf, but she didn’t seem really cut out for the role.
Natalie: Maybe she’s trying to eliminate all crime related behavior, including calculated thoughts.
Nichole: I snorted.
Natalie: I’m being serious! Anyway, I guess I can understand the reluctance to suspect someone you chose and trusted and befriended but when we actually met this girl… Ooof, I was struggs. “Aspen girls, not Vail,” had me wishing for the meteor to come and take us all.
Nichole: Yeah… it was a little painful.
Natalie: Listen, they used the vibe against her. But it’s a vibe I don’t ever want to be within 50 feet of. Hearing distance at least.
Nichole: I have elaborately curated my life to avoid dealing with those people, but turns out this girl is elaborately curating her crimes to BE those people.
Natalie: I was NOT expecting identity theft. I was expecting like… just some brat.
Nichole: Same. But the identity theft was a nice touch. Tinder Swindler vibes.
Natalie: Here’s my question — before Althea pins her, do you think Chloe believed the first alibi? She seemed to be discussing other suspects pretty openly with Marina when Althea comes back to pressure her.
Nichole: Yes, she wanted to believe it so much, so she just took it at face value, I think.
Natalie: Have to give a special shout out to Althea shaking her down. “The money. Duh.” A true highlight.
Nichole: Of all the reasons I thought Althea would be a good PI with Evan, I didn’t expect this level of tripping up the bad guys.
Natalie: I’m not sure that solving problems under the table is the best thing for Evan’s legal firm brand though? Like this definitely should have been reported and charged with some sort of criminal offense. Not just “Fix the problem or we will tell the cops.” What’s to stop her doing it again?
Nichole: Maybe Kung Fu really is taking an ACAB stand this season, between this and Tracy.
Natalie: Could be, yeah, like “We don’t want to show handing people over to real law enforcement.” But I’m not entirely sure what the sort of punishment for someone like Fake Marina would be — stealing from a charity is pretty bad.
Nichole: It was a lot of money.
Natalie: Tracy clearly needs mental health help but Fake Marina just sucks.
Nichole: Fake Marina was so unpleasant.
Natalie: I still feel like someone will still notice the money going out and going in… but there we go.
Nichole: Right? I’m willing to overlook it though.
Natalie: But Chloe and Althea’s conversation takes a turn I didn’t really expect. It starts out all “Oh, little Chloe, you don’t have to work in this job, you can make a change,” and I’m nodding along like, “Mmhmm, okay, sounds like a good call, the right direction.” Then Chloe tells Althea that Dennis’s exile from the family is self imposed, that an olive branch was made and Dennis refused. Now, me, I’m thinking, what? Did we see any of this? Did we miss something? But unless we are both blanking on it, I think this is retroactive filler information, right?
Nichole: Yes, I’m sure it is retroactive filler information. We absolutely would not have forgotten that. We would have obsessed over him not telling Althea.
Natalie: So obviously this was quite confusing to us because the first thought is like… Okay, Mr. Soong reached out and tried to get Dennis back because the earthquake made him rethink his life or whatever. But what about Chase Matheson? Did he cut ties with him — the reason Dennis walked? This isn’t mentioned at all, and it isn’t mentioned as either a motivation or a roadblock when he and Althea talk about it. I am really confused.
Nichole: It was so weird. I do get that Althea may be willing to overlook it to encourage Dennis to help Chloe, but for it not to come up at all is so strange!
Natalie: It does feel extremely crucial for that not to have been a mentioned motive, either to include the fact that the Soongs DID cut him out to get Dennis back, but Dennis said no anyway, or that he’s still involved and Dennis would say that as a reason to not go back, not just “not being in their shadow.” I am really a bit lost on this one. Maybe an explainer line was cut?
Nichole: Maybe. Or maybe it will come up later. It was conspicuously absent.
Natalie: Anyway, it looks like he may be going back so I can assume we will see more of this Soong family issue. It doesn’t really feel like the direction I hoped for, which was Mom and Sister unite with Dennis to take Dad down due to those Chase decisions but… we shall see.
Nichole: I’m trying to keep an open mind about it, but yeah, I was hoping for something more like that too.
Natalie: Now, you also hoped Jin would run for office but the story seemed to bog down in a place where that wasn’t the plausible path. How the turn tables.
Nichole: I guess I didn’t have a sense that there was enough time left for that to work, but here we go…
Natalie: I guess we are going full scorched earth on Anthony. I was expecting Jin mentoring him and helping him to fix the corruption. But nope! He’s now the unfit opposition and Jin is running against him to see if he can do a better job.
Nichole: Our first Anthony instincts were right!
Natalie: I feel a little bad for Anthony at this point though? I did feel he was redeemable.
Nichole: He may still get redeemed. I don’t think it is off the table.
Natalie: It may be that Jin’s campaign isn’t sustainable but he makes his point, and Anthony kind of helps to bring things back into the light regarding that blackmail and the security… but it’s an interesting dynamic.
Nichole: Yeah, I’d like to see Jin get through to him in the end.
Natalie: Althea is the one who plants the idea about blackmail to Jin. I wonder if she will be involved in the final stages of that plot coming together with Delta Security.
Nichole: I bet she will. I wonder if she’ll be back to hacking eventually.
Natalie: Anthony did have the chance to come clean to Jin and ask for help, when Jin properly confronted him about being blackmailed. He had the chance to get help and be honest to his values, but he insisted he meant it and tried to offer Jin a fancy job.
Nichole: The face I made at the TV. You know the gif of that angry little girl with the brush. That was me.
Natalie: Hahaha from Look Who’s Talking Now?
Nichole: Is that where it’s from? I just know it from reaction gifs. Lol.
Natalie: Yeah, I watched that movie a LOT as a child. Don’t ask. Anyway, the sentiment stands. I enjoyed seeing him talk it over with Evan as the general family legal counsel. But he brings up the options at play with Anthony. Sources within the external contractor for research, a mole inside the campaign, or general spying. I think a mole is the most dramatic option and probably where it’s going.
Nichole: Hopefully we’ll get a better glimpse of the Delta Security plan soon. I feel like that’s the one plot thread that has been hinted at that is still a bit opaque.
Natalie: Yeah, and the consequences of it still aren’t too clear to me. There may be a bigger motive than just buying the contract.
Nichole: We have to see more soon. I think it will be something bigger for sure.
Natalie: Like, to have that chaos instigator come along, to have a mole or a spy… I mean money does do a lot of evil so maybe there isn’t a higher plot, but either way, it’s ended up with Jin running on his own. I have no idea how this is going to go.
Nichole: I guess that’s a puzzle for a future conversation.
Natalie: I honestly feel sorry for Anthony, so I don’t know what I want to happen. I think he wanted Jin to stay pretty badly, like he wanted someone to lean on who he knew was good and in some way could help or save him. I feel bad for him but I guess he’s quite weak. So maybe he shouldn’t be a politician right now.
Nichole: Jin’s right. If they have dirt on him, they own him. And in that case he really isn’t fit.
Natalie: What would you kind of like to see happen here?
Nichole: I honestly don’t know if I want to see Jin elected. On the one hand, it makes sense because he is so dedicated to giving back to the community. On the other hand, being in politics can be so terrible. I don’t know if I want to see that for him. I would like to see Anthony redeemed either way. I don’t know. What about you?
Natalie: I also somehow don’t see this ending with Jin elected. I’m not sure why.
Nichole: It doesn’t feel quite right, but maybe…
Natalie: Maybe there will be some sort of drama that means he withdraws his campaign and asks them to support Anthony, or… I don’t know. Aren’t these campaigns very expensive?
Nichole: Usually, yeah.
Natalie: Look. This is yet another plotline hanging in the balance.
Nichole: We still have over half a season, so I guess that makes sense, lol.
Natalie: So the final thing, also unresolved, maybe the most tragic, is what we predicted last week — Sebastian leaving Harmony because Mei-Li is told to fire him. It’s not great!
Nichole: NOT GREAT. I have so many feelings about it that they are all kind of in a bottleneck.
Natalie: I mean as we said it starts on this real high, Mei-Li being in her element and home with her best friend slash son slash lover dropping in to pay her a call. Don’t think I didn’t miss that Sebastian is planning Ryan’s birthday party, which I assume was meant to be a private event at the restaurant.
Nichole: He made a seating chart. SOB.
Natalie: But his dessert options are too complex. Not enough carrot cake apparently.
Nichole: Sebastian has committed himself to a man with simple tastes.
Natalie: The comfort levels were high in this scene. Don’t these writers know it’s meant to go hurt THEN comfort?
Nichole: They need to get on AO3 and see how it’s done.
Natalie: It was truly giving us great heights to fall from, in terms of the whole partnership love story thing. Because Mei-Li and Sebastian really are a love story, sexy jokes aside. We said last week how strong that story is, how Seb is here with Ryan and here with Mei-Li and the fact that they’re mother and son barely even matters. Like it does, but it’s almost two totally separate focus points for the character of Sebastian. His investment in Mei-Li and Harmony isn’t really to do with Ryan, and vice versa. They’re separate loves.
Nichole: It was really something else to watch. Like, weighing it with this other very fantastical story that is happening, which was extremely exciting and fun to watch. It feels like it shouldn’t work so well to marry these two kinds of stories, but I was just as invested in this sort of heartbreaking, quiet scene between these two characters that we’ve grown to love so much.
Natalie: It’s quite difficult to rationalize the stuff from Carrie. For whatever reason, she likes Mei-Li but not Sebastian. I don’t know if the fusion thing is a real business issue she sees as a problem, or if it’s all down to that hint of disrespect to Carrie from Seb, but the fact of the matter is she went looking for details on Sebastian after not liking the idea of Mei-Li and Sebastian being so united. She found the criminal record and then is able to use that to pressure Mei-Li about Sebastian. But honestly the way into that conversation is ludicrous. A sexy article about him and the restaurant? Not a problem! I don’t believe “all press is good press” but all POSITIVE press is good press!
Nichole: I was fuming.
Natalie: If the restaurant is doing well, financially, with the menu and creative team it currently has, who cares that he’s doing a bit of fusion? It’s Mei-Li’s vision too!
Nichole: And Mei-Li is so oblivious to Carrie’s mood. She just can’t fathom someone being so petty.
Natalie: The dedication to the traditional idea of the brand that she keeps going on about… It seems borderline racist in some way, or xenophobic. Like maybe they’ve invested in a Chinese restaurant as a gimmick? I don’t get it at all. It’s not like the business is doing badly? Like… who cares? Unless they’re planning to use it somehow in some way Mei-Li isn’t aware of, to represent some interest to someone else? The daily customers do not seem to see Sebastian’s cooking as an issue!
Nichole: I do not understand it one bit. I understand the sort of human underpinnings of Carrie wanting Sebastian out of the way better than I understand the business stuff to be honest. Carrie got her feelings hurt and doesn’t want to have to be around the big meanie and so she’s lashing out. I hate it, but the motivation makes sense in a petty way. But framing it as a business problem does not.
Natalie: It is an extremely weird excuse and I want to know how much of this is personal and how much is like, genuinely the rigidity of the upper levels of the investors. Like maybe Mei-Li could take the issue upstairs and they’d be like “We don’t care… Carrie, you crazy.” So far it’s Carrie’s word as law and we do not know what that means. She was obviously very keen on Mei-Li from the start, maybe she’s a creep.
Nichole: Maybe it was all an elaborate plan to seduce Mei-Li and she needs Sebastian out of the way for that.
Natalie: I can’t shake off the discomfort of the racial element, like what Seb said about policing the borders in Asian cuisine, and this focus on fusion and him being Filipino in the article. There is something very unsettling there to me. I don’t think that’s the actual reason, but it makes me uncomfortable that it’s a factor.
Nichole: It all just feels weird and wrong.
Natalie: Mei-Li is incredibly dedicated to not letting this go down, which I loved. I mean this played out exactly like I predicted. She won’t do it, so he quits. But wow, she was really, really trying and it was upsetting to watch how much she loves him.
Nichole: It was so good. The quality of the acting was so high. They play so well off of each other. Heartbreaking!
Natalie: Evan’s really doing the most for these parents this episode. I’m still pretty curious about his family, since he was always around the Shens as a teen, even though he wasn’t fully accepted.
Nichole: Such a dutiful not-son-in-law.
Natalie: He’s sort of in the fold now due to the reconnecting after Nicky’s return, but we don’t know anything about his own background or family despite also being local and growing up in the same area. I’m always a bit curious. But he’s so great.
Nichole: He is so great. But you’re right, it would be cool to get some backstory on him.
Natalie: Of course Mei-Li is absolutely dedicated to saving Sebastian, for so many reasons. They’re close friends and creative partners and she sees him as a vital part of all of this as well as her biggest support. But even on a practical level, getting a deputy head chef to run a kitchen, and be the sort of main cooking person in the room? That’s just a pretty big ask even if they weren’t close. If you’ve got someone running your kitchen with all that oversight of how things work…
Nichole: Mei-Li is going to find herself very busy, because she’s not going to be able to replace him.
Natalie: Was Carrie expecting to replace him with someone more biddable? Because that wouldn’t be the job. Unless Mei-Li decides to get back in the apron and run the kitchen herself, they need someone who knows the job for this restaurant.
Nichole: I am guessing Mei-Li will be doing it.
Natalie: There’s a lot of ego in the chef industry. They’re not going to hire someone who is less independent if they’re the (needed) level of chef who can run a kitchen and boss others. There’s a hierarchy in kitchens and you work your way up, and what you’re working your way up to is a creative leadership role. Finding someone who can run the kitchen to the specifications already in place, bring no new ideas, but be a strong overseeing force… Someone without any ambition really, just some strict ideas about control… That person sounds like they would suck.
Nichole: Not ideal.
Natalie: So of course Mei-Li never even considers the option of sacrificing Sebastian but he overhears the discussion about it when she is on the phone to Jin. I mean, I am really quite impressed with her unwavering loyalty. It would suck so much worse if there had been anything other than “I can’t fire him” as opposed to “It looks like i’ll have to fire him” or anything at all.
Nichole: I knew she’d go down fighting.
Natalie: For Sebastian it makes it that much easier for him to just lay it all down for her, knowing she won’t do it.
Nichole: Yeah. If nothing else, he knows she loves him.
Natalie: Honestly their love story is so strong, and maybe more fundamental to the overall landscape of Kung Fu than him and Ryan. No offence to them, the power of gay love did save the day and all. But this feels like… Okay, if I was forced to like, rank every single version of love on this show, like Evan and Nicky, Evan and Althea, Jin and Althea, Dennis and Ryan, whatever… I think Mei-Li and Sebastian would rank higher for me than not only Sebastian and Ryan, but Mei-Li and her own children. I am sure she loves her children the most in terms of her, you know, personal feelings! But to me, watching the show it doesn’t feel as heavily weighted. It’s less crucial to the DNA of the story. But this relationship is a fundamental one that we keep returning to as a plot point.
Nichole: Certainly this season it does feel that way. I don’t know if I could have described it quite that way, but what you are saying does resonate with me.
Natalie: It’s not like I’m ranking her own inner levels of love or whatever. But like… Mei-Li and Ryan’s dynamic is not as important to Kung Fu right now as Mei-Li and Seb’s. That kind of thing. It’s heavily weighted.
Nichole: Yes, exactly.
Natalie: The conversation where he finds out and he talks about the rest of the staff and how she needs to go along with it was definitely one of the biggest moments of the season. He’s so noble and good.
Nichole: My perfect… perfect son.
Natalie: “I will not be the reason you lose it all. I refuse.” I mean… come on.
Nichole: It was so good. I don’t even know what to say about it. Direct hit to my heart.
Natalie: They’re both trying so hard not to fall apart, and he really does have a sheen of glossy unshed tears when she tells him that she sees the place as his too, together. He knows, Mei-Li! That’s why it means so much to him! You’re making it worse! He is suffering. We are all suffering.
Nichole: Suffering feels good in a place like this.
Natalie: I don’t see a way out of this where Carrie becomes someone likeable, do you?
Nichole: I do not. I didn’t even sense an ounce of remorse.
Natalie: I can’t wait to see Mei-Li and Sebastian pining for each other, but I can’t work out the way this may resolve. Taking back full ownership of Harmony? With what money?
Nichole: Dennis about to be loaded again… But that doesn’t feel quite right either. Mei-Li can figure it out though. I trust her.
Natalie: I mean, Carrie made Sebastian cry like a little boy. That was a lot. That was pretty unforgivable.
Nichole: Carrie is dead to me. That shot of Sebastian collapsing into Ryan’s arms. I cried.
Natalie: I wonder if Ryan will get angry about it with Mei-Li, and try and get her to pull out.
Nichole: I don’t think Ryan will get angry at Mei-Li, because he’s going to know she didn’t want to do it.
Natalie: Yeah, not at her exactly but worked up about it and sort of… I mean he has kind of gone off at people this season a few times, for not trying other options. He could fly off the handle again even knowing that. But I don’t sense it’s going to be a very happy birthday party for him.
Nichole: On top of everything else Carrie has ruined Ryan’s birthday! Grrr.
Natalie: I wonder if she’s going to show up at the party.
Nichole: Lol. No. She is not invited. I’m deciding that right now. If she’s on Sebastian’s seating chart, he better cross her right off.
Natalie: Do you feel like this will be resolved by next week’s episode? Or not? The whole Sebastian thing.
Nichole: I don’t think it will be resolved by next week, but sometimes Kung Fu surprises me with how fast they move. We might know what potential options are on the table though.
Natalie: Hmmm. Well, I’m stressed about it!
Nichole: It is stressful!
Natalie: Well, right now it’s the thing I’m most stressed about, including what may happen when Bo meets Pei-Ling and Xiao may leap out!
Nichole: There’s a lot to be anxious about!
Natalie: Are you still thrilled about that fact after going through it all here or…
Nichole: I mean, I am? It’s not really in my nature to wish pain on my blorbos, but it’s just so good. I’m not worried that Sebastian is going to stay miserable and I think it’s going to be a great arc.
Natalie: You just like to see Sebastian cry.
Nichole: What don’t I like to see Sebastian do?
Natalie: That’s a question between you and your God.