Kung Fu season 3, episode 7 brings the chills with a race to find Xiao after she’s accidentally-on-purpose released into the community center during an attempt to pull her out of Pei-Ling and trap her inside the Harvester’s sword. Read on for our review of “Villains.”
After the episode 6 reveal that Bo is the Harvester, the stress levels are high as we watch Bo pretend to work on the Shoobies’ side, while secretly sabotaging the plan. Bo’s tinkering lets Xiao free, allowing her to temporarily possess someone new. Sebastian is the unlucky victim, but his loss is our gain as we finally get to see JB Tadena unleash some of the fight skills that have been under wraps due to Sebastian’s traumatic past.
While the gang is ultimately successful in removing Xiao from Sebastian and trapping her in the sword, the shocks keep coming — Bo’s betrayal puts both Pei-Ling and Mei-Li in grave danger, and Sebastian is so shaken from his experience that he is afraid to be around Ryan, leaving their relationship in question. Plus, the family dinner Zhilan was finally going to attend is ruined, much to our disappointment.
Meanwhile, Jin proves he’s ready to stand up for what he believes in, Mei-Li’s house is squeaky clean, Evan and Nadia get freaky in the office after a little push from a good friend, and Althea takes up a new hobby — birding.
The official synopsis of “Villains” reads:
TAKING DOWN XIAO — After her latest mission unearths some startling information about Xiao, Nicky (Olivia Liang) and the team devise a plan to deal with her once and for all. Althea (Shannon Dang) gives Evan (Gavin Stenhouse) some advice on his relationship with Nadia (guest star Marissa Cuevas), and Jin (Tzi Ma) prepares for his first interview. Kheng Hua Tan, Jon Prasida, Eddie Liu, Vanessa Kai, Yvonne Chapman and JB Tadena also star. Joe Menendez directed the episode written by John Bring.
Catch up on all of our season 3 reviews right here, and read on for our reactions to Kung Fu season 3, episode 7 “Villains.”
‘Kung Fu’ season 3, episode 7 review in conversation
Natalie: So this week’s episode starts with a traditional family dinner at home — this time, it’s all three kids, no partners (for a variety of reasons) and our “old friend” Pei-Ling. Little bits of catch-up, Jin’s officially a write-in candidate, Mei-Li is sad Sebastian isn’t there, Natalie is sad Zhilan isn’t there… Little did I know what gifts this episode would bring me in THAT department.
Nichole: Yes yes yes.
Natalie: But when Bo comes a-knockin’, it was clearly with intent. He wanted to get Nicky alone, and I don’t think it was for sexy reasons. Instead he’s roped into a family dinner which draws back the curtains on a few suspicions, but my question is why was he coming over in the first place? Did you think he wanted to tell her something important?
Nichole: That’s a good question. I got the impression he was anxious and wanted to figure out how to categorize things. He was obviously having a lot of internal dilemmas throughout that scene. His whole demeanor was a gift to me, personally.
Natalie: Really? It was so shady! Explain.
Nichole: I didn’t see it as shady! He was so lost! And like, confused. His world is being rocked. He obviously doesn’t think Xiao is evil, but now he’s getting all of this new/conflicting information and he doesn’t know how to process it!
Natalie: Okay, given my theories about him being not from this world… Despite the Zindle-tube videos of him being dated like, 2018, what about the way he answered where he was from and about his parents? If he was normal he would have normal answers!
Nichole: I think he might be an orphan or Xiao helped rescue him from a very bad homelife. He doesn’t have normal answers because he’s had a weird life because he can travel to different worlds.
Natalie: Yes, those things “parents not in the picture” or “I’m from all over” could be true even if he was from this world, but my opinion is that we are being asked to think about him in the sense of like, he might have just popped up. I guess we will have to wait and see.
Nichole: Natalie, I’m so set on my backstory, you don’t even know. I feel it in my bones.
Natalie: I mean, sure. I’m not going to be mad if I’m wrong, it just feels like what they’re asking us to understand to me. It kind of sounds like you’ll be mad if you are wrong though.
Nichole: I won’t be mad, but I also don’t think I’ll be wrong. I could have some details wrong, but I feel like the vibe in my mind is pretty solid. And you know I never feel that way. It could be a lot of different things and still fall under the gist of what I’m thinking. Cue me, two conversation reviews from now, eating my words.
Natalie: Yeah, I mean sure, she could have rescued him from a bad situation… in another world. Anyway, Pei-Ling being not dead really, really throws him. Stupid Ryan’s stupid big mouth.
Nichole: That was quite a moment. Her being not dead, and also, seemingly not a villain.
Natalie: It’s all kind of interesting to me. Bo really seems quite honest in his desire to be close to Nicky. Even when she invites him in, I felt like his “you sure?” was quite yearning, like “I would love to meet your parents and be your real boyfriend.” It could have been a polite act, but it seems like he’s trying to compartmentalize pretty hard.
Nichole: Yes. He is a sweet puppy and he just wants to be loved.
Natalie: But Pei-Ling is something he cannot handle. Do you think he knows Xiao is in her? He seems pretty thrown that she is alive at all. So where did he think Xiao was?
Nichole: I don’t know if he knows where she is or not. She’s obviously just been speaking to him telepathically.
Natalie: Maybe like, “I’m in the body of a person I resurrected” but didn’t know it was this person connected to Nicky. But yeah, a bit confusing there. And we have to assume Pei-Ling can’t feel Xiao being like “It’s my baby boy, the Harvester!”
Nichole: Pffff. Probably because Xiao is in the cage, she isn’t as connected to Pei-Ling’s consciousness.
Natalie: Yeah, I suppose so. Would have been handy though. Why exactly do you think he chose to bounce rather than hear the story?
Nichole: Because he was freaking out. And he probably wanted to hear from Xiao. Maybe he wanted to try to figure out how to find her or try to be useful to her in some way. He didn’t really seem equipped to be calculating about it and try to find out more from Nicky or Pei-Ling. Like, he was trying to at first, but then he sort of freaks out.
Natalie: Yeah, I guess he does run home to cry about it. I don’t have a ton of sympathy for him now.
Nichole: He just wants to be good so badly! He needs approval!
Natalie: Yeah, it’s annoying now.
Nichole: You prefer daddy, but this is my kink.
Natalie: It’s pathetic!
Nichole: Don’t kinkshame me!
Natalie: And I like some really pathetic people!
Nichole: It’s kinda giving John/Dean vibes…
Natalie: No way do I have the same sympathy for him as Dean in this circumstance, lol. He sounds so pathetic to me, plus he outs himself as creepy, knowing about Nicky and knowing she was special.
Nichole: I’m just sayin’, he’s a dutiful son to a morally questionable parent.
Natalie: No. Also, I’m no John fan but like, Xiao is pretty evil and I judge him for not realizing he’s on the wrong side. And him talking to her was so whiny. I’m sorry, I just hated it so much. He’s so obsequious! And his voice is all trembly.
Nichole: We’re just going to have to agree to disagree on this one.
Natalie: No! He sucks and so do you. Wrong! Anyway, I now see him as incredibly weak, in terms of moral fiber. Daddy was a lie. What do you think of the real Xiao? The actress and all?
Nichole: I love her! She’s the perfect amount calm, but creepy with something angry lurking under the façade. She’s also gorgeous, but on Kung Fu, I guess that’s to be expected. When she’s on screen I’m like EYEBROWS — CHEEKBONES, wait, what did she say?
Natalie: I thought she was good too. Vanessa was good obviously, but it was by design not quite natural, due to it being a possession. This feels like a whole person. I’m not entirely sure I understand the “magic science” of her scraping away at her cage, but let’s just roll with it. She must be pretty bored.
Nichole: Nothing to do but be angry.
Natalie: Okay look, weak woobie voice aside, ugh… Be real for a second — what did you actually think, theory wise, of this idea that Xiao had been leading Bo to Nicky and that he effectively stalked her or knew about her and the general false pretenses? I’m a bit confused as to when that was meant to have started but I assume from the time he showed up to help her in 3.01.
Nichole: It’s not totally clear to me when he started. As to his deception of Nicky, I think for whatever reason, he trusts Xiao implicitly. He thinks she’s good. So if she tells him to do something, he assumes it is for, not just a good reason, but also for GOOD. So yeah, he is getting to know Nicky under semi-false pretenses, but his interest in her is real and separate from whatever he thinks Xiao needs. It’s like the gang’s hacking. That’s technically illegal, but from their perspective it is for the greater good. For whatever reason I think he’s totally naïve around Xiao. I imagine there is something fairly traumatic in the backstory there.
Natalie: Given the events of this episode — do you think that’s mutual? Not the naivety, but the care and connection? Does she love him or has she been using him?
Nichole: I keep going back and forth. I think she is mostly using him, but I think there probably is care there as long as he doesn’t step out of line. I don’t think she would let him stand in her way, though.
Natalie: No. Probably not. Well, we will see them meet later and Bo gets to be sickeningly eager to please in a way that made me want someone to hit him with the fire axe. Before then, though. Zhilan. Please. I can’t.
Nichole: There was so much good Zhilan this episode.
Natalie: First shout out is to her hanging off of Henry’s doorway and glaring up from under her eyebrows. But my reaction when she says that she was INVITED TO DINNER and DIDN’T GO. Do they hate me or something? This just ended me. I was so worried she would bolt out of town or something. Why didn’t I get to see this awkward invitation? Why didn’t she go so I could see those interactions??? I know, I know. Plot. But still. Waaaah.
Nichole: I enjoyed that she’s still a bit of a snarky bitch.
Natalie: She just has an antisocial personality. And I think that’s very sexy of her. Her face when she’s looking around Henry’s apartment all judgily, and then making herself at home and Henry is like… what is going on. He settles into it with her pretty fast though. What did you think of this dynamic?
Nichole: I was surprised how quickly Henry was like, “Huh, ok, we can work together.” I think maybe he’s really missing that partnership of working closely with Nicky. But I would be lying if I didn’t have a moment of, “Uh, are they going to get together now?”
Natalie: Same. Maybe we shouldn’t categorize everything this way, but if she feels like an outsider and has decided to cling to Henry of all people… That could be… interesting.
Nichole: I think they would make interesting buds. I also think Nicky’s reaction if they did hook up would be fun/painful to watch.
Natalie: Yeah, I just think the dynamic of them as partners in any way, with her bluntness and ruthlessness, would be fun.
Natalie: I definitely wasn’t expecting it and neither was Nicky it seems when she got that text!
Nichole: I guess it’s going to take a while to get used to having Zhilan partner with anyone.
Natalie: But oh how I hope it continues.
Nichole: Waffles are coming.
Natalie: They’d fucking better be. How about the actual details they discover? The swords calling to each other? My first thought was that Bo would be coming for the other one, like he could track it to them. I mean he already knows Nicky has it, but you know what I mean. He is probably a step ahead on all of this.
Nichole: He certainly should be.
Natalie: The first plan is “Lure out the Harvester,” which Nicky is conveniently anti. The second plan is to reap Xiao’s soul and store it in the blade, which is a pretty theoretical idea to be honest.
Nichole: It makes sense though, because it is made to house souls.
Natalie: Yeah, I guess it’s plausible, I just didn’t get how it would work in the real world, not the spirit world. Why wouldn’t it also reap Pei-Ling?
Nichole: I guess because Pei-Ling isn’t just a spirit, she’s alive in a body.
Natalie: Okay, I have a side question. Do you think Zhilan spent the night at Henry’s? Sexily or not. She comes over in the evening and is still there when Nicky comes over the next morning.
Nichole: Oh, I thought that was the same day. Like she went there after dinner.
Natalie: Nope! She goes the next morning after the delivery from Carrie.
Natalie: Henry is in different outfits, but I can’t quite tell if Zhilan is under her jacket. It may be the same vest top. Then again maybe she doesn’t have very many clothes due to her circumstances. Anyway, this is the idea they agree to try with the sword but I did kind of like the slight friction of Henry and Zhilan siding against Nicky for the first idea, drawing the Harvester to them.
Nichole: It was a good dynamic. I like the idea of Henry having someone he can maybe complain about Nicky to.
Natalie: Shahshshhs. Okay. Yes. Let’s see it. So with Sebastian, post Harmony, I wasn’t really sure where things would be going for him in this episode. I definitely was thinking in the direction of more job-related stuff, either a resolution or a deeper dig into the Carrie situation. I wasn’t so much expecting to see him join the mytharc story this week. We’ve talked a bit about this before, how he never gets involved in this stuff, does he avoid helping out intentionally to avoid being around violence… We got that one big showdown from him when we discovered he could fight, but he very much stays away from the Shooby Gang as a rule. We weren’t sure if that was intentional or circumstantial. What was your first initial response to realizing Ryan was going to coax and goad him into what he thought would be a fun magic distraction?
Nichole: I was so excited! You know I’ve been wanting to see him interact with the gang more. I also thought it would be a fun magic distraction! And Ryan was so cute. “Is it working?” CUTE!
Natalie: It was pretty cute. And stupid. Sebastian has big Taurus energy being met with the antics of an Aquarius or maybe a lighter Aries. I really enjoyed the whole dynamic of Seb coming to the library and just being very practical about the magic plan. In a way that honestly made them all look a bit stupid.
Natalie: This whole scene though, panning out to Zhilan being like “Can’t you do it? This research is boring” to Henry, lol.
Nichole: Every interaction was gold.
Natalie: I’m going to go ahead and call this the best library scene ever.
Nichole: Strong agree.
Natalie: What a good group. Also, Henry got an extreme Sam Winchester “according to the lore” in there. They may have said it before but this one really leaped out.
Nichole: He must have said it before, but, yeah.
Natalie: Nichole. “You make movie references? You watch movies?” The Zhilan lore in the Shen family is, apparently, very dark and mysterious.
Nichole: Ryan had such good quips this episode.
Natalie: Zhilan is a real girl! She’s seen Ghostbusters!
Nichole: She’s not a savage!
Natalie: I wonder what happened to her fancy apartment and her jumpsuits when she went to prison. Does she still have a home in China with her stuff in it? All her DVDS?
Nichole: I was wondering where her clothes came from. Is she wearing Nicky’s clothes?
Natalie: It’s possible. She’s a fair bit taller than Nicky though. Maybe they gave her some money. But I don’t think I can explain to you how satisfying it was to me that Seb was like, “Can’t we just plug it in with electricity.”
Nichole: He was perfect.
Natalie: Credit to Ryan for the lightning idea and credit again to Seb for being like, “Hey, he’s not stupid!” But there’s another hurdle. Pei-Ling can’t meditate good enough to make her mind safe to release Xiao! Too much personal turmoil! They do come up with some interesting ways of getting from A to B on Kung Fu.
Nichole: Yeah, that was interesting to me too. Like, “Oh, this is why we have to have this conversation right now.”
Natalie: Yeah, creating a reason why it became important to tackle. I quite liked that angle.
Nichole: Me too.
Natalie: Side note: I would love to be able to meditate to the point where I no longer have a mind to speak of, lol. I am sure I could learn this through deep dedication and training, but that sounds hard.
Nichole: I kept thinking about how my brain is like a bag of cats at all times.
Natalie: Just take my mind away.
Nichole: What do you need it for anyway?
Natalie: Who knows? It’s only gotten me into trouble so far. What did you think of Nicky offering to be the one to support Pei-Ling’s family drama as a return the favor type thing?
Nichole: I liked Nicky supporting Pei-Ling. I like Nicky essentially offering to talk to Zhilan, because I like Nicky and Zhilan talking, lol.
Natalie: Fair enough. It honestly still slightly confuses me — not in a negative way, but I’m still thrown every time — to see Pei-Ling living life as a civilian human and having a lot of insecurities and sort of being subdued or her body language being sad or turning in on herself. As opposed to a calm and confident monk. I’m still wrapping my head around it.
Nichole: I feel like she was really on the road to being this new Pei-Ling who is used to being alive again. I mean, of course, the writers were just leading me on.
Natalie: I cannot believe you like Bo more after this episode. He is to blame for everything.
Nichole: I mean, I don’t like him more. But I’m drawn to a tragic backstory! I’m drawn to someone discovering their life is a lie and trying to figure out what to do about it with some missteps along the way!
Natalie: Well, when he shows up, we get our first proper creepy little cut to his sinister face. Remember we talked about that convention earlier in the season, that sort of television language? They do that as soon as he shows up and Nicky is excited to get him involved in the Library gang!
Nichole: I liked how even when they are doing that, like emphasizing his shadiness, he still manages to look a little bit conflicted about what he’s doing.
Natalie: I’ve got a strong feeling that he isn’t going to end the show in a good place. I don’t think he will “see the light.” I think he will prove to be a weak person who can’t turn away. Sorry Ben.
Nichole: I don’t think so, but we’ll see. I think he will try to do the right thing eventually. It might not end up being enough, but I think he’ll try.
Natalie: It angered me, how excited Nicky was and how casual Ryan was greeting him and even Henry being like, “Yo.” He is abusing their trust as requested by Xiao. It’s already a point of no return for me.
Nichole: He is. That’s true.
Natalie: Let’s focus on the important thing — Sebastian being like “My idea, unless it doesn’t work.”
Nichole: I felt like that was a little new side of him we were seeing and I loved it.
Natalie: That is such a relatable energy. Earth sign, I’m telling you. I wonder if he says the same thing about inventing new recipes.
Nichole: I think when he’s inventing a new recipe, he knows it’s going to work. That’s his sweet spot.
Natalie: Well, you never know. Mei-Li is a great chef and her inside-out dumpling was kind of a flop.
Nichole: That’s true. I guess if you take risks, sometimes they don’t work out.
Natalie: That must be true even at high levels. Anyway, so Bo’s knowledge of both hacking and technology like electrical stuff does make me think you know, he didn’t spend his whole life in some other realm without the equivalent of our society. I’ll give you that. But I still have a feeling he only showed up here recently after maybe being somewhere else. What were your general thoughts on him getting a foot in the door with the Shoobies and seeing what they’re doing to his special sword? This is all completely false pretenses, every second of it, no question. He’s pretty good at acting earnest. But someone who is good at acting earnest is a big threat!
Nichole: Yeah, I mean he obviously fools them all! Even Henry comes around to him. I absolutely understand why you hate him for doing this, but I guess I was fascinated by Ben’s performance. There was just a lot of angst in it, in my opinion. It made me want to know more about him before I make any judgements.
Natalie: I didn’t see that angst, personally. I felt he was just on Xiao’s side. I didn’t see conflict.
Nichole: Wow. I mean, it jumped out to me. I don’t know. Maybe I’m losing my mind.
Natalie: I think he likes Nicky, but not enough to not be committed to what he is doing. I didn’t see him struggle with any of it once it all kicked off. Were there particular moments that jumped out as like, you felt he was suffering?
Nichole: When he was talking to Xiao in the library, “You’re not going to hurt them?” Even when he was offering to take the sword, I felt like he was doing it because he felt like he had to.
Nichole: Then before he shatters the element holding Xiao, he looks conflicted.
Natalie: I am a hair away from calling you delusional, lol. The “not going to hurt them” moment I read a bit differently, but I see the angle. The other two… No! He could have made any other choice and he didn’t. Anyway, we will get to them. Back to something we agree on: Zhilan. When she was carving the wall, and Nicky is like “Vandalism? Really?” I was reminded of our conversations about how Nicky takes Zhilan in much worse faith than we ever have, because she sees her as an enemy whereas we have followed Zhilan’s point of view and know her feelings. How did you feel about a slight return to that bad-faith thinking?
Nichole: I felt like it was weird. Of course she’s not vandalizing the walls?
Natalie: To be honest, Zhilan probably would get bored and carve a wall in some circumstances. But probably not this one.
Nichole: She was obviously extremely invested in making this work. Nicky doesn’t have reason to doubt that.
Natalie: It just gave me this little bit of a ping about how badly Nicky takes her. There were obviously a lot of things learned by Nicky in the season 2 finale about the fact that Zhilan is good, but it just gave me a little reminder that Nicky kind of thinks poorly of her, even after this. It made me worry about how this conversation was gonna go. Like her assuming the worst, rather than being like, neutrally, “What are you doing?”
Nichole: It was a bit of a throwback. It’s almost like 2 steps forward 1 step back. But they are definitely moving forward overall.
Natalie: The conversation didn’t go too badly after all, but I still think Nicky is a bit judgey with her. It gets softer though.
Nichole: It does.
Natalie: I feel like maybe Nicky wouldn’t forgive Zhilan for the things that Pei-Ling would, lol. But here we are.
Nichole: Pei-Ling is older and wiser.
Natalie: So Nicky’s talk seems to work well enough to send Zhilan to Pei-Ling’s apartment in the basement. Is she living there too?
Natalie: It seemed like the camp bed she sat down on was a different one to where we originally saw for Pei-Ling. I think they’re sharing, making their avoidance even harder. I definitely got the vibe that it’s been like that.
Nichole: That would make it pretty awkward.
Natalie: Where were you expecting this conversation to go? In terms of what was actually said?
Nichole: I thought it would maybe be more of a “let’s start over.” Like, I knew that Pei-Ling didn’t want or need an apology, but I thought it would be about assuring Zhilan of that. Were you surprised by the way it went?
Natalie: I was, I think. I didn’t really retain much clearly about the whole Pei-Ling dad murder thing, but it makes sense that she would want to apologise for her part in Zhilan’s trauma.
Nichole: Yeah, in retrospect it was perfect.
Natalie: I think saying “I cannot absolve you of that” in terms of Zhilan’s villain era was an interesting way to put it. To me, that was like… it wasn’t really about “I can’t forgive you for killing me,” it was like, “I can’t make this better in terms of how YOU feel about that.” Do you agree? Or do you think she meant I can’t forgive you?
Nichole: I don’t think she meant that she can’t forgive her. You don’t hug someone like that if you are holding onto a grudge like that. I think she meant “you’ve done a lot of bad shit and I can’t tell you it was ok.” Like you said, Zhilan has to find a way to come to terms with it. In the end, it’s not ok! She killed people and destroyed families! So it’s more about how Zhilan is going to live with that and what she’s going to do moving forward. I really liked that Pei-Ling accepted that culpability for hurting Zhilan. That she said, “I ran away to protect you, but we would have been stronger together.” My heart!
Natalie: It was pretty big of her.
Nichole: It seems very her.
Natalie: Sometimes… So I’m trying to think of how to say this right. Sometimes I think those kind of situations can be quite selfish. Like, admitting to something or apologizing to clear your own mind is sometimes less about the other person.
Nichole: I think in this case though, it cuts through Zhilan’s inner monologue, which is that she’s bad and unworthy.
Natalie: Yes — I don’t think it’s applicable in this case, but it made me think about how often it is. It made me think about how this was an opposite circumstance, where that kind of unburdening from Pei-Ling is actually a gift to Zhilan, really. And she finally got a hug.
Nichole: Such a good long hug. They really got in there and got it done.
Natalie: In advance of the gang coming back together to electrocute the sword, we get a bit of Henry and Bo alone together for the first time. Obviously we don’t know, til everything goes down, exactly what sort of sabotage Bo did, but we could safely assume if anything went wrong, it was due to him. Still, I didn’t expect him to be doing it intentionally wrong with Henry watching — I guess he had confidence in Henry’s lack of knowledge. But what did you think of their suspiciously polite conversation?
Nichole: I felt like Henry was pushing a bit, trying to figure out what his deal was. But trying to be chill about it. And Bo was mostly responding as if everything was normal and he wasn’t getting politely grilled by his girlfriend’s ex who he was in the middle of sabotaging.
Natalie: Bo’s being kind of almost too honest, in that the whole “moving to town right after the earthquake” is a super dodgy story and he could have made up some reasoning for why.
Nichole: His lying technique does seem to be staying close to the truth.
Natalie: It’s not a bad way to do it, really. If you’re going to tell lies.
Nichole: Very practical.
Natalie: But do you think Henry is suspicious at all? Like something is off with this guy? Or is it just personal annoyance?
Nichole: I think he is. I think he’s suspicious with a dose of personal annoyance, lol.
Natalie: They’re definitely getting Ben to do the Villain Smirk behind people’s back a lot now. Which is why I don’t think he’s that torn emotionally.
Nichole: I didn’t really see a lot of Villain Smirk. When he didn’t look explicitly torn he looked determined, but not smirky.
Natalie: He did it behind Henry when they left here! Maybe you blinked. Anyway, all things seem alright until the power cuts out mid sword-sucking. At this point, did you think this was a genuine “the electrical plan didn’t work” situation or did you think Bo had fucked with it?
Nichole: I sort of assumed Bo had done something.
Natalie: When Xiao got free, I did sort of immediately see where this was all going to go, like… she’s in one of them and we won’t know who. The shape of it all.
Nichole: Yeah, when they were all “Where is she” I was thinking, couldn’t she possess anyone? But I wasn’t totally sure if it had to be a warrior or guardian.
Natalie: Good point, I didn’t even think of that element. It does somewhat play into it though later, like that the vessel was temporary and she wanted back in Pei-Ling. I wasn’t expecting the whole blood test situation, and I definitely wasn’t expecting the final reveal. It was an odd choice to me. I mean, one we loved, but in her world, from her perspective, I would have gone in Nicky. Anyway, the magic blood tests.
Nichole: I wonder if she thought Nicky would be harder to control.
Natalie: I’ve got to say, when Ryan tested Pei-Ling’s blood originally, I have no idea what he even would have had to look for. I guess like… mutated cells? Like, does this appear normal and human.
Nichole: I have no idea, I just sort of accept that Ryan knows what he’s talking about. Sometimes you have to let art flow.
Natalie: Well, my point is that it would have been really great if he could have had the brainwave to test for magic earlier. But here we are. Ryan the potion master always kind of interests me though. I wonder if he will ever try to come up with some sort of magical healing situation.
Nichole: Hmm. That would be interesting. I could see it coming up in some kind of one-off to heal a magical illness, but not something that marries magic to his day job.
Natalie: You never know. He could get some brainwave, get too mixed up in something, and then have some crisis. Maybe not this season. Anyway, Henry is getting ever more suspicious of Bo lurking around, but the test seems successful and everyone is lined up ready for the verdict. How stressful. Did you have a suspicion of who it may be?
Nichole: I really didn’t have a suspicion, but I absolutely discounted Sebastian, for reasons I cannot even really articulate to myself.
Natalie: Hahahaha really?
Nichole: It was sort of a general “They wouldn’t do my boo like that” feeling. I’m so dumb.
Natalie: I thought it would be Bo, because he would willingly give over control. I think I dismissed Seb because of the sexy little Rybastian moment and kiss before the test. Like, why would she do that, lol.
Nichole: Well, we find out why… But I felt very betrayed by that sexy non-con kiss.
Natalie: It felt like she was still letting Seb have the reins there though? I’m not sure. Like, I need to know how non-con.
Nichole: No, she was deliberately distracting Ryan to switch the lids! I think she was in full control.
Natalie: Didn’t Bo switch the lids? I thought he did that on his own. Like, I’m A Good Boy, Mommy. Maybe I’m remembering wrong.
Nichole: No Seb/Xiao did it. JB posted a behind the scenes on Instagram that shows him actually doing it during the kiss. But, before I saw that, I assumed that’s when he had done it.
Natalie: Oh, okay. I remembered it wrong!
Nichole: You obviously don’t see who did it in the episode.
Natalie: So she swapped Henry and Seb’s. I really would have chosen Bo if I was Xiao. Full cooperation.
Nichole: True, but with Bo on the outside she has another helper.
Natalie: Yeah, I guess this way she has a two person team. Well, now we know why it was such a big JB episode!
Nichole: Even going into it knowing it was a big episode, I was still so surprised. Sometimes I am in awe of myself.
Natalie: Obviously you discussed this in your interview with him — How glad are you that we got that screener early before the interview? We heard “6 and 7 are big for him” and I thought it was going to be about the same story. More on Harmony.
Nichole: Oh my goodness. I was so glad we had gotten the screener before the interview. My questions would have been way off base and he would have had to deflect so much! And it was fun because he was so excited about it. We got to talk so specifically about this one episode in a way that isn’t always the case.
Natalie: It was definitely an unusual circumstance for an episode and I didn’t really get why it had to be him, not anyone else, until the very end. Then I was like yeah… it did have to be him.
Nichole: I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.
Natalie: I mean, it’s a pretty sad character to sink to rock bottom with extra rocks attached. They’re really beating up on him this season.
Nichole: “With extra rocks” lol. Yeah, it’s been tough. Like, on the one hand, I love to see Sebastian spotlighted, on the other, can my man have a good time?
Nichole: Bob, is that you?
Natalie: Hahahaha. There are so many moving parts here, or like, ways to separate people I guess. Each trapping rune needs some guards.
Nichole: So much happening!
Natalie: What did you think of the sexy axe? And specifically Bo getting hit with the sexy axe.
Nichole: Natalie, that scene with Xiao and Bo was probably my favorite. Their dynamic just made me laugh. JB said Ben called him mom all week and now I love it even more. The episode was so tense, but Xiao being like “Of course I won’t hurt them,” [chucks axe at head], “Sorry, it had to be believable.” I mean, I did laugh.
Natalie: I feel like she really didn’t have to hit him that hard to prove they’d tussled. It definitely seemed like she just wanted an excuse. She probably thinks he is needy and pathetic.
Nichole: You get the feeling she just really wanted to do it, yeah.
Natalie: It was pretty funny. Because she definitely didn’t have to hit him like that.
Nichole: No, she does not.
Natalie: I think it being JB added a unique physicality to it too, like fighting with Nicky, even before your interview I could tell he did the majority of the stunts. And his shape, his shoulder width so the way he used his arms and the axe, made it all quite brutal.
Nichole: He was so good. I love how he did it. There were so many ways he could have gone to try to convince us it was Xiao in there and he went with the absolute subtlest and nailed it. I just loved that there wasn’t really anything feminine about the performance, but it still felt like Xiao.
Natalie: I felt there was an element of the really classic camp villian, which is an old trope that I still kind of like, but the movement was all Seb really. It felt like she knew how to use his body to her advantage, rather than try and do her own thing.
Nichole: Yes. She was taking advantage of what she had to work with.
Natalie: So Nicky and Henry are paired together and then the sisters are paired together. And when Xiao catches up with the sisters we learn that Pei-Ling is now in a sort of true vessel situation because the existing power Xiao consumed is still tied to Pei-Ling. I’ve got a few thoughts and theories about that.
Nichole: Oh. I want to hear them.
Natalie: Did it make you think of anything for the future?
Nichole: To be honest, there was so much else going on in this episode that I didn’t give that a lot of thought in terms of what it means for Pei-Ling the rest of the season. See above, me just letting major clues fly right over my head because I’m too distracted.
Natalie: Well, I think that if they’re as inherent to Pei-Ling as they were in Xiao, all the reaped spirits inside of her, that if they can dissipate Xiao somehow, Pei-Ling still contains those spirits and will likely have to somehow sacrifice herself or become the new realm for their Heaven or whatever. We’ve talked before about them being sort of re-set in the source realm. If they’re in Pei-Ling, even without Xiao, she’s going to have to do something about that. That may involve her dying again or becoming a spirit god or something. She can’t just carry them around as a normal person.
Nichole: Hmmm. Yeah, that’s a good point. I just want Pei-Ling to have like 3 or 4 happy episodes in the real world where nothing goes wrong and she eats ice cream and has a nice time being alive. Is that so wrong?
Natalie: That’s asking too much.
Natalie: You can have her fighting side by side with Zhilan. Will that do?
Nichole: I mean — that’s very good.
Natalie: What did you like best about that scene?
Nichole: I think I liked the moment that they looked at each other and nodded like, “Together.”
Natalie: I appreciated being reminded that Zhilan was very ill with spinal issues and that all her fighting and stuff is in spite of a disability. I’d actually forgotten about it.
Nichole: That is something that doesn’t make that much sense to me. How can she do all that?
Natalie: I guess she paid a lot of money to have operations. But hitting her in the back is still not good for her.
Nichole: Yeah. That was pretty brutal.
Natalie: And so, after everything, they do manage to cut her soul with the sword and reap her. After Pei-Ling willingly agrees to possession to save Zhilan.
Nichole: I know Pei-Ling didn’t want to be responsible for Zhilan dying, but also, letting herself be possessed — she would be responsible for all the mayhem Xiao unleashes.
Natalie: Maybe she thought she could trap her again, either way, it’s just all not great. But they think they’ve handled it in the end. The aftermath, however, is full of highs and lows.
Nichole: The episode that keeps on giving, except what it is giving is pain.
Natalie: A minor low point was Bo gaining Henry’s approval under the false pretenses. I hope Henry beats him up real good. A high was Zhilan finally coming to dinner. “I’m not a savage.” I just…
Nichole: She was so awkward and cute about it.
Natalie: She is so good. A low is that they keep cock-blocking me from actually seeing her at the table.
Nichole: There’s always something.
Natalie: A big low is Hicky handing the sword over to Bo with approving smiles. Oh my god. I just died. I was so frustrated.
Nichole: It was a big ouch.
Natalie: What was the worst low point? Sebastian’s reaction, or the Xiao attack? They’re both pretty bad.
Nichole: God. I don’t know if I can choose.
Natalie: I didn’t really know how the sword storage worked, so didn’t expect Xiao to pop right back out. Bo sucks.
Nichole: That’s his mom!
Natalie: He is a liar, and after all he’s seen, he hasn’t questioned like “hey, why are all the good guys doing this?” Yes, he’s kind of considering what to do, but I saw that more as like “how can I make this work?” I think it doesn’t help that we don’t know what version of things that he believes. Like why ultimately he makes this choice to stick with believing in the whole Xiao is good thing
Nichole: I hope we find that out soon.
Natalie: He is either a jerk or very brainwashed. And we don’t know what his version of the story is. Why he thinks there’s some greater good, I guess. Despite what he saw today. There’s a whole episode’s worth of plot in the kitchen fight alone though, because obviously Xiao travels across the bay in spirit form to repossess Pei-Ling. She goes for Mei-Li first, just for the hell of it I guess, because this level of violence is actually counterproductive, it would have been smarter to keep hiding. But she discovers that there’s something special about Mei-Li via licking her blood, which was upsetting.
Nichole: I think she went for her for the same reason she, like ‘awoke’ or whatever when Pei-Ling touched her arm. There is something about Mei-Li! But what is it???
Natalie: So this idea related to Mei-Li having some sort of special thing. Well, at first, I was like yeah she’s from a warrior family, you know that Xiao, even if she wasn’t the one who was the chosen one of a generation. There’s a little warrior flavor in there. But it has to be more than that.
Nichole: Yeah, I feel like there has to be more, because why would that be surprising? But, ok, can we talk about the knife lick?
Natalie: Do we have to? You can talk about it, lol.
Nichole: We do, because I found it waaaaaay sexier than I should have. Like against my will I was like, “DAMNNNN.” I guess I just feel like I need to confess my sins.
Natalie: Look, you do you. She needed to test that blood somehow I guess. Anyway, she’s well and truly outed herself, whereas staying hidden may have been more useful. I’m not sure what that means for what she has in mind next.
Nichole: Yeah, what is her goal? Do we know?
Natalie: Not that I can think of. I mean shout out to Jin with his… vase? It looked like a bowling pin. Some sculpture Mei-Li was sad-cleaning earlier. Just fully whacking her in the head without a second thought. A fight for all the family. Even the fridge door got involved. It was a lot in a compact space.
Nichole: I loved Jin coming in with the big hit!
Natalie: Any idea at all about the magical Mei-Li mystery? She already has enough going on!
Nichole: I don’t know. I mean, it can’t be a warrior/guardian mix. We’ve done that. What would be in her blood?
Natalie: Nichole, I have literally no fucking idea. This has thrown me.
Nichole: Maybe Ryan will have to do another magical blood test.
Natalie: Ryan will be too depressed to help out any more.
Nichole: MY BOYS.
Natalie: Let’s talk about that, because really, this also surprised me in a way it maybe shouldn’t have. We’ve talked a lot about how Seb’s mostly avoided being involved in the Nicky arcs, even though we know he’s a fighter and could have been useful. We weren’t sure if this was coincidence or design. We wondered if he really wants to stay away from any combat situations or if it was just sort of incidental. And during his Xiao possession I was like, “well he definitely won’t be hurrying to be a part of magic club in future.” But this turned out to be the moment where they actually heaped on the trauma and made Sebastian’s past weigh on him. The incident has made him afraid of that sort of violence in his past and the fact that he killed someone by accident. Ryan didn’t say “Hey, Nicky probably kills people all the time, don’t worry about it.” It may not have been a helpful thing to say, lol. But… What did you make of them tying these experiences together for Sebastian?
Nichole: I was surprised. I think the way Sebastian’s past has been presented so far, we didn’t necessarily have any reason to think his life had been particularly violent. It was presented more as like, he got in a fight with an asshole and it had terrible consequences, not Seb’s out picking fights every night. But I feel like this maybe recontextualized that a bit. Maybe there was more violence in his life at that time and it’s been a journey to move past all of that. I was pretty disappointed that he wouldn’t work through it with Ryan. Being alone never seems like the greatest solution to a situation like that. It was a very clever way to tie it all together though. I was pretty impressed that we could not only get him in the mytharc, but we could use it to activate a preexisting trauma.
Natalie: So now what happens for him? No Ryan, no restaurant. Is he leaving for a while?
Nichole: Where is he even going to go? I don’t know. I really don’t know where it’s going.
Natalie: I don’t know either. Once again we are left in a place of extreme confusion without any resolution for any of the huge situations. Leaving us hanging. I can’t predict anything at the moment.
Nichole: That’s probably right where they want us to be.
Natalie: Very cruel. Well, aside from the big Xiao drama, there’s a couple of side plots in the episode, about the parents and about, of course, Evan and Althea (and Nadia.) The EH Legal Firm plot is sort of resolved in theory but not in practice, in that there’s a small “case of the week” that they solve for the client but the answer is obviously a massive question mark about the wider city corruption. There’s also a bit of stress regarding Evan and Nadia having conflicting schedules, which is a sweet little story here but may also lead to some bigger issues between them down the line.
Nichole: They are so sweet. Evan is a “Let me hold you in my cupped hands and give you tiny kisses on the head” boyfriend. Which is a thing I just made up.
Natalie: As in, you want to do that to him? Or that’s how he treats a lady?
Nichole: As in that is the vibe he gives off. Like, his whole being around her is… he’s so soft. I mean, until they decide to get busy. I find it hard to imagine him being that way with Nicky.
Natalie: Well, they were younger.
Natalie: But you never know. I don’t think we’ve ever seen someone be totally tender with Nicky in that way, either. Sweet isn’t really a word I would ever apply to any energy surrounding Nicky. Not in a bad way, it’s just not the vibe. She’s so practical, I feel like it wouldn’t interest her to be treated like that.
Nichole: Yeah, it would conflict with her “I’m about to do something very dangerous and I need you to pretend that’s fine” vibe.
Natalie: I’m a bit lol about the line outside the office for appointments? Do they just take walk-ins or something? Are they advertising as some sort of pro bono legal aid thing? Or dirt cheap, anyway? You don’t line up like that for a fancy lawyer, you have an appointment.
Nichole: I guess he’s not a fancy lawyer. That might be part of it.
Natalie: I also continue to be lol about the office set being so clearly delineated between Evan’s room and Althea’s, aesthetically. The moody old school room and her like, graphic designer loft.
Nichole: It’s so funny and cute. I love it. It feels like the plan is to really make this a long term partnership.
Natalie: I’m keen to know more about what this business actually is, because legal counsel and investigation are very different things, like legal counsel is you know, setting up contracts for people, this is a whole other thing.
Nichole: Well, I guess he’s more of a criminal lawyer. So, people who have been a victim come to him to sue someone who they say has done something criminal to them? And he investigates to see if there is a case there? Or, I suppose he might also defend someone who has been wrongly accused. And in that case you also need to investigate to try to figure out why your client couldn’t have done it. But I’m not a lawyerologist. I don’t really know.
Natalie: Sure. I really don’t know. I also don’t know if like, doing dodgy stuff to get evidence holds up for lawyers. PIs are a different story and are somewhat amoral, lol. Lawyers sometimes hire PIs for making a case, but a PI’s methods aren’t always legal. Evan seems to be an all-in-one? But, it’s fun, so we will go with it. Because they’re out on the streets checking out a claim about a client who wants a restraining order and thinks her ex is stalking her.
Nichole: This whole interlude had such a slapstick energy which was funny balanced against the rest of the episode, which was much more, old school horror.
Natalie: Listen, the technician throwing Althea off because he’s actually into birds totally was not something I was prepared for.
Nichole: It was so funny. I love Althea so much. I just would never have imagined when I first heard about her character that I would love her so much.
Natalie: Birding is her passion, Nichole.
Nichole: Hobbies are important.
Natalie: I have a few critiques. I think that her trotting away and saying a pigeon was an exit that could raise suspicion. Like she should have played it out more organically and sort of wandered off.
Nichole: It was so suspicious! Like, just be chill and wish him luck finding the bird!
Natalie: She should have said it flew away, or even looked for it with the guy, after Evan got out of the van. Kept up the act. But to be fair this man didn’t seem like the suspicious type.
Nichole: He was so dazzled by her bird knowledge there was no room for suspicion!
Natalie: She still should have played it off more naturally though. Room for improvement.
Nichole: Can’t be good at everything on the first try!
Natalie: But the idea of surveillance cameras being installed all up and down streets with no awareness of the residents seems very bad.
Nichole: Very bad. Is it being done without any kind of approval? Is the city doing it in cahoots with our security bad guys? That part wasn’t really clear to me.
Natalie: I think it’s being done privately, in advance of the bad private firm expecting to win the contract. But I don’t know.
Nichole: Yeah, that seems likely.
Natalie: Maybe, I don’t know. The whole CZI thing, they could be pre-gaming so they can promise this roll-out to be fast and actually have it pre prepared. That being said, the installer seemed like a nice guy and I wouldn’t like to think he would just smile and nod at putting up cameras at people’s windows from some shady company. It must have looked like an official order from the city council in some way?
Nichole: That was my thought too. He clearly didn’t think he was doing something bad.
Natalie: Well, Evan is more committed to finding out the truth than he is to banging his girlfriend, which is very noble of him.
Nichole: He has a bit of a one track mind. I think this little bit of development of Evan’s character has been like a slow build. Last season, when he was so unaware of Nadia’s feelings and now this. He can be really in his own head about things, it seems.
Natalie: Althea feels the need to intervene.
Nichole: Sticky beak!
Natalie: I personally don’t think Nadia would dump him for being committed to the work, but I did like the bonding moment of these two as old friends.
Natalie: I really enjoyed her saying he’s the best guy she knows. Aside from Dennis. I wonder if she ever had a secret crush on him when he was dating Nicky. Probably not, but like…
Nichole: I don’t know. She’s older, right? So probably not. When he and Nicky first met Althea was probably the cool older sister.
Natalie: I feel like she was only one year grade older. From memory.
Nichole: Yeah, I think they’re close. But still, in high school that can feel like a lot. I imagine her being a cheerleader and Nicky and Evan being kinda nerdy.
Natalie: I dated a guy the year below me in high school, lol. Twice, actually. And also one two years older.
Nichole: Yeah, it is obviously super common, I just mean in context of your younger sister’s boyfriend. That might make it seem more uncool, lol.
Natalie: Maybe? I don’t know, proximity can help or hinder. The point is, I still think they should bring Evan in as a third. Sorry Nadia. I like you, but still.
Nichole: Ha. I see the appeal, but I’m definitely team BFFs.
Natalie: Well, Althea’s advice leads to an office date and we get a bit more intel, the CZI is definitely Delta (duh) and Evan is starting to see the big picture. Then they decide to bang in the office which is upsetting to me because Althea has to clean that place.
Nichole: Evan is very polite. I’m sure he’ll clean up after.
Natalie: Still. We’ll know. Now, Nadia still works for the system that Evan no longer trusts, and she’s still sort of sneaking out info for Evan. Do you see this hitting a conflict?
Nichole: I don’t know. I feel like probably not? We’ve already had that with Evan, so, it would feel a bit weird to see it again. Also, Nadia is a cupcake. Don’t hurt Nadia.
Natalie: I’ve spoken to Gavin Stenhouse this week and he definitely said that I was sniffing in the right direction with questions about that.
Nichole: Oh boy.
Natalie: So more on that soon on Subjectify, but I think there will be something. Not sure the shape of it. But yeah, I don’t think it’s quite so simple.
Nichole: I want Nadia off in a protective bubble. She’s too sweet to traumatize!
Natalie: I guess we will have to see. With the Delta stuff, I wish I could tell whether it is in any way connected to Harmony, investors, their secret plans. Like are there two enemies this season, or three? Is the restaurant investment off on its own, or is it maybe connected to the Delta stuff in some sort of sabotage takeover thing.
Nichole: I don’t know! They have managed to tie some pretty disparate stuff together, so I can see it being related, but also it could just be two tracks.
Natalie: Given the fact they don’t have a lead sous chef any more, were you surprised to see Mei-Li avoiding the restaurant?
Nichole: I was. Who is running the ship? I guess I wasn’t surprised she was avoiding it emotionally, but practically I was surprised.
Natalie: Yeah, you have to wonder. I also was surprised to find out the idea of branching out into supermarket products like frozen dumplings. I don’t think that’s bad, I think it’s actually quite cool when a restaurant has the chance to do that. But sometimes it could compromise the quality and all.
Nichole: I was so surprised! Again, it’s not bad, it just doesn’t feel like Mei-Li.
Natalie: It’s not like they’d be making them on site. It would just be a recipe approval that was mass produced elsewhere. So yeah, it doesn’t feel quite right.
Nichole: Yeah, as much I’d love to buy those frozen dumplings, I didn’t like it.
Natalie: She didn’t seem too stoked on it either, but maybe that’s because she’s feeling bitter and sad about Seb. Maybe this was an opportunity she was excited about before the drama went down.
Nichole: Or at least she was tolerant of it. She must have known it was coming.
Natalie: I know she probably dropped those papers on the coffee table but it really looks like she dropped them on the floor in a huff. And I would have backed it.
Natalie: She pulls together some drive to take back control where she can after she’s inspired by Jin, which I think is nice, to kind of tie them together with how they see each other. However, I’m pretty worried about Jin being too sweet and innocent for this path he’s following. I don’t want him to be skewered by podcasters.
Nichole: SAME. Although I think we were supposed to take away from his practice session that he can handle himself.
Natalie: He’s so not a combative person and you really do have to be, in politics. This feels idealistic, the idea that Jin being quietly firm and speaking from the heart will be the thing to achieve something. I wish a nice man could just talk sensibly then everyone would vote for him.
Nichole: Maybe this is one area where we can just get what we want. Jin really can be a force for good in a bad system!
Natalie: That would be nice, but I’m worried about Mei-Li being distracted from her restaurant business by having special blood. She was on one path, will she now be on another?
Nichole: I don’t know! I really don’t understand where they are going with this. And what does Xiao want with her? Does she want to actually, literally consume her blood?
Natalie: That could get complicated. Is Mei-Li going to have a fight scene???
Nichole: Do they need to have a guard on Mei-Li at all times? MAYBE SEBASTIAN??? He’ll want to be there to protect her if it’s needed.
Natalie: Hmmmmm, I might enjoy that. I’m so confused though.
Nichole: JB did say we were getting more MeiBastian…
Natalie: God, what if he doesn’t need his job back because he dies protecting her?
Nichole: NATALIE, NO. NOOOoOooooOOoo. No.
Natalie: Just going to keep digging a hole to throw those rocks even lower. And on that note, we’re off for two weeks! Enjoy the pain, and the paranoia. Really let it sink in.
Nichole: And then — midseason finale. Can things get more cliff-hangery?
Natalie: Oh, before we go, did you like how Xiao burst through those French Doors and had the curtains billow? Very Zhilan season 2 of her.
Nichole: I had the same thought! It was good. God. I love seeing Vanessa being Xiao, because she’s so good and it’s so different, but I want my shifu back.