Kung Fu 3.09 Nicky and Henry

‘Kung Fu’ season 3, episode 9 in conversation: Bad times afoot in the private penal system

Kung Fu is back from its mid-season hiatus and no one is having a good time. Read on for our review of Kung Fu season 3, episode 9 “The Architect.”

The Kung Fu mid-season finale “Betrayal” left us with Nicky, Macbeth style, trying to wash the literal and metaphorical blood from her hands after an alarming confrontation with her boyfriend/betrayer Bo. Things don’t get much perkier in “The Architect,” with Jin’s political opponent Anthony Chan unleashing an attack ad targeting her violent ways, a move that rubs away at Nicky’s newly exposed nerve. Nicky puts up a brave front for her family, and is as dedicated as ever to keeping innocents safe, but her insecurities and self-doubt cloud at her ability to think clearly, making her careless.

We finally get a peek at Delta Security Endeavors’ big plan for San Francisco, which involves illegal profiling, manipulating crime statistics, funneling taxpayer dollars into a fraudulent ‘rehabilitation program, and getting rid of Nicky so Delta can be the new hero. We meet Delta’s CEO, the titular ‘Architect,’ played by Patrick Fabian, of Better Call Saul fame, with a menacing dash of tech bro hubris. Is this rock bottom for Nicky? Let’s hope so, because that means there is nowhere to go but up!

The official synopsis of “The Architect” reads:

LOU DIAMOND PHILLIPS DIRECTS — After a campaign ad targets the Shen family, Mei-Li (Kheng Hua Tan) takes matters into her own hands. Elsewhere, Delta Security’s influence over the city becomes apparent after Ryan (Jon Prasida) makes a shocking discovery at the hospital. Olivia Liang, Tzi Ma, Shannon Dang, Eddie Liu, Gavin Stenhouse, Tony Chung and JB Tadena also star. Lou Diamond Phillips directed the episode written by Hayley K. Goldstein.

Related: ‘Kung Fu’ showrunners Christina M. Kim and Robert Berens on season 3 so far: ‘This is a different, evolved, mature Nicky who makes mistakes’

If you need a recap of where we left everyone in the mid-season finale, you can read our extensive interview with showrunners Christina M. Kim and Robert Berens. or you can catch up on all of our Kung Fu reviews right here. If you’re ready to dive into episode 9, keep reading for our chat about the Kung Fu season 3 midseason premiere, “The Architect.”

Natalie: So, welcome back! It’s been an extremely long time.

Nichole: Forever.

Natalie: Coming back into Kung Fu season 3, this is not exactly a fun-filled romp. Though there are balloons.

Nichole: And singing!

Natalie: And presents!

Nichole: None of them for our girl though.

Natalie: No. Nicky is straight up not having a good time, bro.

Nichole: I would venture to say this is rock bottom.

Natalie: Yeah, you can tell that this episode is serious business, because there’s no side plot for levity. There’s a few fun moments that seem isolated but nope, they all gotta escalate! Though Xiao is in the wind and therefore on the backburner for now. The troubles today are all due to San Francisco’s current biggest threat, Delta Security Endeavours. First of all, the ad. Anthony Chan’s smear ad. What did you think of that?

Related: ‘Kung Fu’ star Olivia Liang on Henry, Bo and Nicky’s internal reckoning: ‘Am I helping or am I hurting with everything that I do?’

Nichole: Ugh. It was so upsetting. I think it felt worse because, this era that we are in, I feel like I have learned that, oh, right people are actually swayed by that. People love to get hyped up and have an enemy. I think there was a time in my life where I would have said only a small percentage of people would fall for something like that. And, I mean, maybe I would have been wrong then too, but the way things are now… Pretty brutal timing.

Natalie: Especially if it’s been seen by the whole city, when realistically only a few hundred people actually know Nicky and her situation (not her magic, but her helpfulness.) Obviously this is not what Nicky needs at all, witnessing how her violence looks to the outside after everything with Bo. Her parents can see this, and I love the fact that they’re aware of everything with Xiao and Bo, and they know they can’t do anything about it, but what they CAN do is go the route of getting that shit out of circulation. They’re doing what they can.

Nichole: I did really love how Mei-Li can see that Nicky is not okay. I felt like there wasn’t a lot of outside acknowledgement of how not okay she was.

Natalie: I mean… it’s pretty obvious to me in her face, but I guess the others are kind of treating her like business is usual.

Nichole: Yeah, I really wanted someone to treat her like they really knew how upset she was. If Zhilan had been in it this week, I think she would have clocked it.

Natalie: Yeah. I agree. I wonder if they do know, but just… this sounds so bad, but like… They don’t have time for it? Like shit is bad, so they need her to do things, regardless of her emotions. But Jin and Mei-Li decide to do something. Something aside from Jin dropping out of the race. Side note: Mei-Li stress chopping. Thought we might be getting some more of that good good blood.

Nichole: I had a little PTSD with that knife. I was pretty happy when Jin took it and put it down.

Natalie: Did you have any thoughts about what Mei-Li might actually do?

Nichole: I assumed she would confront Anthony, but nothing past that. I was a bit at a loss to what she thought she could do. I should never underestimate her.

Natalie: Correct. The sooner the better, Mama, because Nicky is very much not okay, which we see fairly graphically when she goes to teach her class (much diminished! Surely the community center girls know better!) and she can’t go through a routine at all without just being triggered by her memories of wailing on Bo. Poor, innocent, probably dead Bo.

Nichole: I was very disappointed in the girls from that class! Shame on them. And Bo’s only mostly dead!

Natalie: Damn. But yeah, we know he’s okay because after Nicky has to cancel her class so she can go sadly sniff Pei-Ling’s pillow, she asks Henry to take over the whole search for Xiao, Shen family protection gig. She’s pretty upset and she lets her honest feelings about everything spill onto Henry. What did you feel about their friendship at this point? I know in your chat with Olivia she mentioned this sort of level of relationship outside of their dating history, an unconditional relationship that really solidifies in episode 9.

Nichole: I really liked it. I appreciate that they can still depend on each other even outside of a romantic relationship. I think if that is as far as it goes, I’d be happy with that. I do however see it as a potential segue into reevaluating that relationship. I don’t know. I’d love for Nicky to have some HAPPILY single time, but that’s probably not in the cards.

Natalie: I doubt it. Did anything she said to him really surprise you? Like, her feelings about the situation?

Nichole: I was struck by her saying that she wished she could hide and that she couldn’t stand people looking at her. Not to jump ahead, but that felt a bit familiar in terms of how Zhilan was hiding from her actions. Do you feel like Henry got how upset she was? I felt like he knew she was upset, but he didn’t really recognize the depth of it.

Natalie: I mainly was like, when she said “I wish there was somewhere I could go,” I assumed… monastery?

Nichole: Yeah, true. That would be one way to go back full circle.

Natalie: I wonder if that’s the plan for the finale.

Nichole: It would be interesting to see her back there. I guess Mia is still there?

Natalie: I would assume so!

Nichole: I’m always game for more monastery content, but I don’t think I’d want the season to end with her staying there. That said, the writers are pretty good at winning me over.

Natalie: With Henry, I do think he took her seriously, but they did get interrupted by Ryan’s phone call. That whole story was a lot. When they brought that guy in screaming, I definitely thought he’d been shot by a robot dog.

Nichole: I mean, you weren’t too far off. Ryan really shines in the funny moments and I loved him busting into the room like, “Okay, that’s going to blow up in my face, spill the tea!!”

Natalie: Do we know what Damien actually did in the past? I guess he was caught up in something bad and Nicky helped him. We’ve met him before?

Nichole: He was from season 2. One of the neighborhood kids Nicky caught early on. And she was like, “Damien Wu, does your mom know you’re here?”

Natalie: The people she told off when delivering food?

Nichole: Yes.

Natalie: Yeah, I thought so. It really chilled me when the security guy said only that one doctor was allowed. Immediately it was like, he’s been bought! Stressful.

Nichole: Yeah, it is such a creeping kind of scary, like, the inability to trust what should be a trustworthy institution.

Natalie: Ryan discovering the codes on the medical chart is very savvy of him and the whole thing just seems super troubling, and Damien’s story is frankly terrifying. It’s always hilarious to me though when American shows use the threat of a lawsuit as a way to get something. The rest of the world is just not that litigious.

Nichole: We love a lawsuit.

Natalie: Barely anyone in this country would ever think to sue for some sort of damages. It happens, but… Not like you guys. You guys LOVE it.

Nichole: I mean, not me personally, I don’t even like to complain if I get served the wrong food, but, as a country, we sure do.

Natalie: It’s so arrogant and it assumes so much bad faith. However, in the case of Delta Security letting my health deteriorate… I might be tempted.

Nichole: I think in the case of Delta Security I might forgo several guiding principles to take them down.

Natalie: Damien should not have signed that creepy form. What rehab? What is going on?

Nichole: That rehab thing is a little confusing. Like, I understand generally what Delta is doing, but is the rehab just for making money?

Natalie: Or brainwashing.

Nichole: That was my first thought, but then by the end of the episode I didn’t think that any more.

Natalie: I think it’s probably bad though.

Nichole: It seemed like they just wanted bodies to funnel into the program to get cold hard cash. Yeah, maybe we’ll learn more specifics about that. At first I actually had a bit of a Buffy flashback.

Natalie: Oh?

Nichole: Like, they were like The Initiative. Maybe making super soldiers or something.

Natalie: Oh God. Well I have other super soldier feelings later. But no, I don’t think they’re doing experiments. Maybe the people from the rehab are obligated to work there though. Like indentured servants.

Nichole: Maybe, but I mean, this is another thing America loves, the prison industrial complex. Just making money on locking people up.

Natalie: Wheeeeee. Seems like it should be illegal.

Nichole: SEEMS LIKE.

Natalie: Well, despite handing things over to Henry and saying she needs a break, Nicky does come running to the hospital when Ryan calls, because Damien needed her. But he’s gone!

Nichole: I was so surprised he was gone.

Natalie: I definitely had some sort of feeling with the whole spying on him in advance part, that this was all some profiling thing that they know really isn’t legal. So got him out ASAP. I guess Ryan aroused enough suspicion. But now it’s like, where is he? How many people are they holding?

Nichole: I got the impression that Damien might be in the first sweep. Like, maybe they don’t have a lot yet because Ordinance 11 just went into effect.

Natalie: It sounds like Delta straight up planted evidence in his place, even though the other elements, like the plea agreement, were allegedly above board.

Nichole: Yeah, they are bad news.

Natalie: It’s useless to ask the question like, why haven’t they been vetted for legitness. Especially if they’re brand new.

Nichole: Yeah, and I’m sure they are greasing palms. It’s all about the money and power.

Natalie: There’s some discussion from Evan regarding pre-trial diversion programs actually being a good thing, which I can see! We love people to not be in jail. But not this shitty rehab.

Nichole: Yes!

Natalie: It becomes increasingly clear that the money is going in a circle, from hiring Delta as a private contractor to funding the Delta diversion program. Money money money.

Nichole: I don’t care what Bob says, capitalism is the big bad.

Natalie: And this is when we are introduced to the concept of David Wheeler, the CEO who is a statistics whiz.


Natalie: Now, when you try to equate crime management and statistics, X stands for profiling. So the lay of the land seemed fairly clear to me after that, that they’re targeting people who on paper they could make a case for being a risk. But they’re fairly sure that Damien was framed.

Nichole: Yeah. Even at the end it’s still not totally clear to me why they felt like they needed to frame him.

Natalie: We can get into it, but it’s ultimately because Wheeler believes that Damien is someone he can correctly advance profile, but the actual advance profiling is illegal. So he frames him in order to get him. Because the actual stats work he is doing, the targets he’s identifying, that part of the work is not legal or allowed.

Nichole: Right, I guess I just mean there must be legit criminals, lol. But I guess if you really want to juice the numbers.

Natalie: He’s a candidate Wheeler wanted to take in, I think, to prove the success of the rehab? Look at what a nice good boy he is now. As opposed to an actual criminal. Here’s someone who can show our successful process, because he didn’t do anything wrong. Now, just from the magazine cover, do you know this actor? Wheeler?

Nichole: I do not know him, but evidently the cast was thrilled to have him! I didn’t watch Better Call Saul because I’m a heathen.

Natalie: I haven’t seen any of those shows.

Nichole: That makes me feel better.

Natalie: Sorry to this man, etc. So just to quickly cut in here, the slightly light plot of this episode is the Soongs apparently trying to buy Dennis back with gifts. A coffee machine, and a designer handbag for Althea. I’m still unsure of where we’re at with them and the whole Althea’s rapist thing.

Nichole: They really haven’t addressed that at all! It feels like they are not going to. Althea doesn’t seem the least bit bothered by the idea of Dennis reconnecting. It’s like she’s only resisting because Dennis is resisting.

Natalie: I’m really a bit lost here. We know that he was offered a job again and refused. I assumed that was due to the rapist. Then he went to Napa and things are amicable. But he doesn’t want these gifts. Maybe there was a line cut about Chase being gone, that Dad has done the right thing or maybe it’s all still brewing.

Nichole: I would feel better if that were the case. I can see Dennis struggling with deciding if he wants to be beholden to them even after he knows his dad cut Chase out. But if he knows his dad is still working with Chase none of it makes sense. I feel like maybe the show just doesn’t have the time to give us more to that story, but then I almost feel like why bring them back into the picture at all? I mean, except to pay Nicky’s bail. SPOILER ALERT.

Natalie: Would you have accepted the gifts and just not given back any attention in return? Just like let them keep giving them and not doing what they want?

Nichole: I think it depends on the situation with his dad. If his dad has repented, then I think I might be able to take the gifts and just divorce myself from the idea that I owe them anything because of that. But if the core issue for the family rupture is still in play, then absolutely send those gifts back.

Natalie: I believe Dennis’s parents are in episode 10, so we may see some more real details then.

Nichole: Yes. I hope so. I’m ready for a little clarity on that situation.

Natalie: What did you think of Althea asking for Nicky’s Shaolin wisdom in the moment, though?

Nichole: I was a little bit like, “Read the room, Althea!” But I’m not sure Althea even knows what happened with Bo.

Natalie: I felt a little bit grateful that this was something Nicky could actually do. Even though she clearly was like “Lord, not now.”

Nichole: Yeah, it was cute how she powered through in Althea’s time of need. But it really had me thinking, like, Nicky’s in so much worse shape than anyone really understands. And that makes sense because, aside from Henry, she hasn’t really communicated it. But I was like, “Stop asking her to do things! Someone burrito this woman in a blanket and put her to bed.”

Natalie: I have no idea if they’re all meant to know. Ryan talked about giving her space. Maybe they know what Bo did, that she’s hurting. But only Henry and Zhilan know what Nicky did. So they’re really not aware of how messed up she is, or why.

Nichole: And she is holding it together on a surface level for the most part.

Natalie: This moment is really only a diversion from the case work they’re all doing at the Shen house – everyone is digging into Delta and trying to find out what the deal is with these codes and the people they’re holding in this rehab. The way they describe holding people against their will on false charges at a quasi legal black site… sounds… so bad.

Nichole: Very ominous.

Natalie: Like, cannot stress this enough, bad times afoot in the private penal system. Althea has some idea that I only vaguely understand about hacking into Delta via their own cameras – they can’t get in remotely but apparently they might be able to hack a camera and go that way. Sure. I’ll go with this due to the result. I also feel like the courtyard of the bar is private property and there should not be public security cameras there, but again — I’ll go with it because of the result.

Nichole: Yeah, the level of overreach from Delta would be bad even if they weren’t framing people and holding them against their will.

Natalie: Blah blah blah hacky hacky blah, skip to the good bit. Dennis Soong is a fucking genius.

Nichole: He officially became Dennis Soong, my beloved, this episode.

Natalie: That poor man. He tries so hard. And my God did he succeed today.

Nichole: He nailed it.

Natalie: I just… the balloons. It was such a good idea. So quick thinking. Maybe my favorite scene from Kung Fu… ever. That may be an exaggeration. But when he started to sing!

Nichole: The improvised singing. I was swooning.

Natalie: And he was like, good, not like OMG you’re a rock star, but it was like.. too good for a normal situation. And everyone was like what? And the way the security guard was absolutely just like “oh, right, okay” when it zoomed out and he saw the balloons. Total acceptance. Genius! I also enjoyed Althea phantom typing and pushing Evan, and Evan pushing back.

Nichole: They continue to be so cute together.

Natalie: So thanks to Dennis, the hero, they’re able to get into Delta, and they start to discover some things that line up with what Mei-Li is discovering elsewhere with Anthony Chan. They don’t know how it lines up, but we do. I don’t think it was a big shock to any of us that Anthony is being blackmailed and forced to run those ads against Nicky, right? But the way Mei-Li called his mother…

Nichole: I mean, we obviously knew he was being blackmailed, but I feel like the idea that they were specifically targeting Nicky, not just making Anthony do their evil bidding, was a surprise to me. Mei-Li knows how to get it done. But also, how has his mom not seen the ad herself!

Natalie: If it’s brand new, like that day… But yeah. Calling his mother in order to pull him into line ethically sure is one way to go. I was surprised he admitted everything so easily, but I guess it’s a sign of how… I don’t mean to say weak like pathetic, but I guess how pressured he is. How much he isn’t keen on what is happening.

Nichole: Maybe it was a relief.

Natalie: I think so. Mommy can take care of it. You said you could see a redemption arc where Anthony maybe did win and Jin didn’t have to, but this man maybe doesn’t have the spine for politics.

Nichole: That’s true.

Natalie: It’s still possible, though. Did your feelings shift on him again? I find this actor quite emotional.

Nichole: Yeah, I mean, I felt like, okay, he’s not a heartless monster. He’s in a bind. Like you said, I still have to wonder if he really has the integrity to be in politics, but I don’t hate him anymore.

Natalie: Now, regarding Nicky, I think you have to look back over the season in how everything connects and is tied together. We know the influence was there to get Delta the contracts. Hearing that Delta wants to take Nicky down is surprising at first, but they do spell it out later. At first I thought maybe they wanted to get her arrested and use her as someone in their rehab. But it’s more than that. We will get into it, but they see her as I guess… competition. In terms of diverting people from crime.

Nichole: She’s bad for their brand emotionally and numerically.

Natalie: So she’s told. So when they plan to stage a break in and get data from Delta’s hub of information, the news from Mei-Li makes everyone say, “Hey, Nicky, you’re a massive target. Maybe you should not be the one to do this.”

Nichole: She was so determined to do it. It felt so bad. Like, you know, high risk behavior when you are not feeling mentally well.

Natalie: What did you think of her digging her heels in here? Did you understand it? Did it frustrate you? I did understand it in terms of being like, “I fucked up many things but I did help Damien so maybe if I keep helping him… I can get back to who I am.” I don’t endorse it, but I understand it.

Nichole: I think there was an element of that to it. She wanted to do something… to fix something. But her singular focus just felt like a big red flag.

Natalie: At least this time she didn’t do it alone. We’ve seen people break into facilities plenty of times on this show, but I did really enjoy Nicky and Henry the garbage people.

Nichole: They were very cute. I liked how it felt like old times but with a little hint of melancholy. Like both of them recognizing how easy it is to work together.

Natalie: Are you keen for them to get back together now? Where are you at about that?

Nichole: I think I’m neutral. I feel like the story, or maybe the vibe of the show wants them to get back together, in the sense that I feel like the breakup didn’t really make sense from a relationship perspective. Like, they were pretty perfect together, so it makes sense to me that they could have grown from this experience, get back together and be very happy. But on the other hand, I think where their relationship is now is also good, so I’m fine if they don’t get back together. As long as they are both happy, I think I’m good.

Natalie: Zhilenry.

Nichole: I think what is attractive about that is that Henry could fight back with Zhilan. With Nicky he’s almost always trying to be supportive and a touch submissive to her. But I think if Henry and Zhilan disagreed they could fight about it openly.

Natalie: Nicky would NAHT be okay with it.

Nichole: No. I do not think we have enough time left in the season to deal with the mess that would create.

Natalie: I mean I am still holding out hope for my babygirl Kerwin. But it is dwindling.

Nichole: Yeah, feels like it would be a little out of nowhere at this point.

Natalie: You know I am frustrated with Nicky’s treatment of Zhilan and what better way to make Nicky wake up and realize that everyone aside from her is chill with Zhilan… than Henry dating her. From our chat with the showrunners I don’t think they’d agree though.

Nichole: I mean, Christina did praise the Henry/Zhilan dynamic.

Natalie: True. True.

Nichole: I don’t know. It is still hard for me to wrap my head around Nicky and Henry not ending up back together no matter how I personally feel about it.

Natalie: I think you’re probably right. Though some shows really pivot their endgame couples. In this case, I do think that by the end of this season there will be some Hicky progress though.

Nichole: Yeah, I feel like there will have to be some closure on that one way or the other. I don’t think it would make sense to leave it an open will they won’t they at this point.

Natalie: Overall, this was a solid episode for them, and I mean, I don’t think Bo is going to become a contender again, do you?

Nichole: I don’t think so. I am not ruling it out completely, but I would say no more than a 10% chance. I think that rupture was too abrupt and although there were extenuating circumstances, it doesn’t feel like something Nicky could get past. I could see them being friends or allies, but I don’t think romance makes sense at this point.

Natalie: Yeah — probably not, unless she fully comes to understand him and pity him. But I hope not.

Nichole: Pity’s not great relationship material.

Natalie: In a way I’m glad, because we had that struggle at the start of the season like… how the hell does this get resolved! Bo is great! But Henry! They made it easier for us.

Nichole: lol, for sure.

Natalie: So once Nicky actually gets access to the data they need, it gets muddy for me in terms of what is legal and illegal for Delta — the footage putting Damien at the crime scene. I can’t work out if they re-did the time stamps, or just meant he was there in advance and framed it as a stake out. But she does find things that Delta cut from their own tapes and hid from the police — like proof of an alibi.

Nichole: I thought they used the fact that he was near the scene of the crime around the same time to frame him and just hid the proof of his alibi.

Natalie: So basically, with Delta as the ones owning the city’s security video, they can hide evidence of innocence. So fun!

Nichole: It all seems like a lot of work on Delta’s end. I know the algorithm is supposed to be doing the work, but in Damien’s case it feels like a lot of very specific effort.

Natalie: If it’s early days, they must be really looking for “model cases,” but that being said, what we learn later — I think that the algorithm can identify the targets, but the Delta folk still have to frame them. Again, the advance targeting is not legal, so Delta have to tailor every case the algorithm suggests with a dodgy reason to get them. What did you think, though, of Nicky not just leaving things at Damien and digging deeper? Right call? Wrong call? The rest of the team was very much like, okay we can save this one guy, now leave!

Nichole: I think sneaking Sebastian’s name in there made me understand Nicky’s insistence more than I might have otherwise, because I am nothing if not a hypocrite! I think from everyone else’s perspective, they could find another way to help everyone else later, and that was probably the right call, as we see. Nicky’s motivation seemed correct, but it was all muddled up with her emotional state and her ability to think clearly. Was this purely motivation to help people? Was this pushing herself too far to prove she was still “good”? Was it self-destruction that she could claim was something else?

Natalie: I mean I did truly have a heart attack at Sebastian being on there.

Nichole: Yes. I gasped.

Natalie: I think for me, it was this mix of logical and illogical. It was definitely a good call in terms of opportunity. But it was also framed like Nicky pushing and being reckless.

Nichole: I think they did a good job of making me feel torn about what she was doing.

Natalie: Just the time element, I guess, the risk of right now vs knowing what to look for later. If this was the only chance… Like I said, this really does from some angles seem sensible and some not.

Nichole: And it’s not like Nicky hasn’t made risky choices that paid off before.

Natalie: Side note – I loved Henry’s fight with the guard, but surely he could have stalled and just stuck with the mix up story. Said his partner was using the bathroom, lol.

Nichole: That flip off the wall??? Henry seemed a bit more powered up than before. I couldn’t tell if I was imagining that.

Natalie: Ooooh. I didn’t really think of it like that… but it was a good fight.

Nichole: Yeah, it was a great fight. I could be imagining it. I am not super sophisticated at “reading” fight scenes, but it felt a little different.

Natalie: I feel like I just don’t remember because it’s been a million years since we last saw a Kung Fu fight!

Nichole: Too true!

Natalie: But speaking of fights, I liked that Nicky just straight up chucked a stapler at that guy.

Nichole: Use the tools at hand, lol.

Natalie: Of course, her fight to escape had to trigger some violence trauma and stress her out. If her martial arts class could do it, this definitely would. Still wasn’t expecting the taser, though.

Nichole: I mean… It was so shocking. We’ve never seen Nicky falter like that. And for it to be so easy. Not even like overpowered, but just BUZZZZZ.

Natalie: Just because she hesitated. These people are efficient. Meeting the CEO, the Architect, felt like one of the more sinister scenes on the show so far.

Nichole: Definitely. I feel like it was the first time it really felt like a villain held all of the power when facing off with Nicky. It was particularly sinister when, I can’t remember the exact line, but Nicky was like, “I’ll stop you.” And he just leans in and goes, “From where?” I don’t normally believe the villains when they threaten Nicky, but that felt REAL.

Natalie: The whole thing was very gross, in part because he was so soulless. In part because it reminded me of the villain plot in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with the SHIELD plan to target millions of predicted threats and then, because it was really Hydra, kill them. In part because I couldn’t tell if this was about money only, or a sick belief, for this guy.

Nichole: Yes! I couldn’t tell what his underlying motive was, but in the end I decided his only real motive was to be “right.” Kind of like a certain billionaire who is wreaking havoc on twitter right now. Like, I have figured out how to do this thing so I’m doing it, never mind the consequences. Those don’t matter because the only important place to guys like that is inside their own mind palace and how smart they look.

Natalie: It’s weird, because he does say framing Damien was a special case, that he was a great example of someone they could “fix, ” but that others wouldn’t need framing. But he also admits that preemptive arrest is illegal… for now.

Nichole: It was weird because Damien didn’t need any fixing? He was already reformed. As I said, I’m still confused.

Natalie: Well that was the orchestration, like make it look like he did something, then trot out this good boy post rehab because he was already good-boy-ified.

Nichole: Maybe it was a test case for how easily they could get away with the framing? What feels weird about that is, how do they expect him to come out of their reform school pleasant and a good example when he knows they put him there under false pretenses?

Natalie: Fear?

Nichole: Good point.

Natalie: I guess my question is with the people the algorithm suggests, he admits that pre emptive arrests are the goal, and not currently legal, but also that they don’t need to frame others. So are they planning to wait until the second someone on the list does what they expect? And swoop in? Because that’s not getting in before, but maybe they do plan many framings and he was lying.

Nichole: Yeah, maybe he means eventually they won’t need to frame people because they will have proved their methods and they will be able to make the preemptive arrests legal? Like, “Oh, see, all these people we predicted were going to do a crime, did, and we caught them, so therefore our algorithm is correct.”

Natalie: Yeah, that could be it. What’s interesting about this guy, I think, is that Nicky has obviously done shit like break in to places and assault security, as he says. But when that was like, Russell Tan’s warehouse… There’s a level of it that’s like — what Tan was doing was also dodgy. Sometimes people she faces do sort of take an authority stand, especially when Tan was bribing the DA. But this guy is so confident in his legitimacy and that is a big power move. Usually she is fighting villains who also have stuff to hide so may not want to alert higher authorities either.

Nichole: Yes. He’s very sure no one will believe her over him.

Natalie: And she sort of just gives in to it. What did you think of that, of how she acted when Henry came swinging in to save her? She decides to give herself up. I’m sure there have been other moments where she has been reported to the police… But here, she really just gives up.

Nichole: First off, I feel like it was a GREAT scene for Henry. His desperation felt very real. I was torn about Nicky’s reaction. She’s not wrong that this is a different situation. She doesn’t really have plausible deniability. If she gets out, the police are coming to arrest her at her house, you know? It’s not a maybe or an “if they can identify her” situation. So, I get not wanting to be on the run and feeling like the only way out of this situation is to see it through, but also it felt like she was punishing herself.

Natalie: I think that about sums it up. Other moments, she’s had the confidence that the person she’s messed over is also avoiding the law. Or we’ve had Evan literally tamper evidence. Which… was a whole other story. So again, yes, on one hand this is the logistical, practical truth. And on the other, yeah, punishment. So Nicky actually getting arrested and going to jail — we did joke about seeing everyone in prison, but this was still quite strange.

Nichole: Did not like. The booking scene was pretty brutal.

Natalie: Nice and orange, just like Zhilan.

Nichole: Viscerally reminded of Zhilan when they handed her that jumpsuit. The whole thing, in fact, made me really think about Zhilan’s time in prison.

Natalie: What exactly did it bring to mind?

Nichole: I was thinking about how Zhilan was “hiding” from herself in prison and wondering if we are going to see a parallel to that with Nicky. She obviously says she wants a place to hide early in the episode and now here she is. So, how will that play out, emotionally for Nicky? I think her restless pacing and the fact that she was obviously about to flip out until she sat down to meditate was interesting. I feel like we might see Nicky get back to her roots. What I would actually LOVE is for her to see Pei-Ling the same way Zhilan did.

Natalie: Ooooh. We never got an answer about that, about what kind of a Pei-Ling that was.

Nichole: I think, based on what Bob said in our interview, we can assume those Pei-Lings were generated by their own memories and internal struggles.

Natalie: But the back to her roots thing makes me think we may see her go back to the monastery with Pei-Ling at the end of the season as a full circle closing of the chapter.

Nichole: Oh, I didn’t even think of her going back with Pei-Ling! Holy shit. I think I’ve been too busy mentally preparing myself to lose Pei-Ling.

Natalie: I suppose she could go back alone too…

Nichole: I like the idea of her going back with Pei-Ling MUCH better.

Natalie: How are they going to explain it to the girls? “Surprise!”

Nichole: Ha. Well, I’m sure they’d think of something.

Natalie: In the outside world, we get two pretty crucial scenes as well, to tie things up. One is Henry taking charge of the Shens. It’s not much, but it really shows him trying, I think, to step up and be a sort of anchor, lead the charge of what needs to happen like Nicky asked.

Nichole: Yeah. He’s trying. Everyone did seem at a bit of a loss, so I think they needed it.

Natalie: Mei-Li and Jin hugging in the background really bummed me out. And I guess Nicky’s bail is pretty high, because they have to ask Dennis’s family for money.

Nichole: Yeah, I can imagine it will be with such a powerful force trying to take her down. It has been really funny this season how many times Dennis innocently comes home from work to be hit with the download of what has happened while he’s out living his extremely normal life.

Natalie: This poor man just wants to make cocktails and bang his wife.

Nichole: I want that for him.

Natalie: Now, the last big scene was between Ryan and Sebastian. I wasn’t expecting to see Sebastian this week! And this felt incredibly intense.

Nichole: I was also surprised to see him. I really loved this scene. The way Ryan was low-key panicking the whole time. It was very sweet.

Natalie: I was SO stressed that when Ryan interrupted with you need to go that he was White Fanging him. I thought maybe Ryan was going to say that he hated Seb and that Seb should get the fuck out of his city — like make him feel unwanted, just because he was so abrupt.

Nichole: I had that thought as well!

Natalie: Luckily it wasn’t that at all, and Ryan explained properly. I don’t think I could have handled that sort of stupid drama.

Nichole: No. That would have upset me for sure. Of course, I was thrilled that Sebastian had done some personal growth while he was away. I feel like he might be more emotionally ready to take on some of the other family business, so to speak.

Natalie: You mean the magic stuff? Sebastian the Shooby?

Nichole: Yeah, like maybe his relationship with his past will be less fraught, so getting in and maybe beating up some bad guys will be okay. This is me selfishly wanting more fight scenes for JB.

Natalie: That’s fair. I mean Seb certainly is a skilled fighter who doesn’t get used at all by the team. And in a way I’m like good for him. But now it sounds like he’s ready… bub.

Nichole: “Bub,” please. You can do better for a cute nickname, Sebastian. I mean no one can beat Dennis and Althea in the cute nickname game, but bub sounded like he was about to put his son to bed. “Time for bed, bub. I’ll read you one story and then lights out.”

Natalie: No! I disagree entirely. Bub is very sexual to me. It’s very Daddy.

Nichole: Oh god. I guess I know more than one family where the nickname for the son is Bubbie.

Natalie: I have only heard wives call their husbands that…

Nichole: I have never heard that.

Natalie: To me, bub is dominant-sexual in a “here’s looking at you, kid” way. Very hot in this circumstance to me.

Nichole: Wow. I am… happy for you, that you got to experience it that way, because I was forcibly ejected right out of the moment. Lol. My mother has also definitely bub’d me, like, “Listen, bub,” so I just cannot get on that train.

Natalie: This is blowing my mind. I thought you’d be on the floor.

Nichole: I mean, I was able to compartmentalize. It was a very good scene!

Natalie: Not to make it weird, but that stern mom use is not far off from the same vibe. It’s a bossy term. But in this case… sex bossy.

Nichole: I can see it intellectually but I cannot feel it in my heart.

Natalie: I feel sorry for you.

Nichole: Me too, to be honest.

Natalie: Seb did seem very zen, though. Can’t wait for him and Mei-Li to have a fight scene together when we know what’s up with her good good blood. United, I mean. Not fighting each other.

Nichole: EYEBALL EMOJI! Yes, I want that. I want Sebastian to protect Mei-Li in a big fight scene.

Natalie: That would be very cool and hot. All the temperatures.

Nichole: My body is ready for all of the temperatures!

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