“Not How We Do Business” introduces a compelling new character and puts an established one through the wringer in an effective, functional chapter.
This recap of Warrior season 2, episode 3, “Not How We Do Business”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
“Not How We Do Business” is very much a middle chapter. It’s functional. Utilitarian. It has a couple of major objectives and a few minor ones, and it goes about accomplishing them with admirable efficiency. If it lacks a bit in certain areas, it makes up for that in long-term value, introducing an intriguing new character and putting a firmly established one in a bloody new predicament. This might not be as deft and stylish as the show has been, but it’s a grimy and messy installment that certainly has its uses.
You can tell the vibe is a bit different when the episode begins after Ah Sahm’s latest scrap at the Barbary Coast Fight Pit. That might seem like a missed opportunity, just seeing his hulking challenger drop to the ground, beaten off-screen, but it serves a purpose. Ah Sahm is getting used to being here. He’s getting through challengers with less difficulty. We probably won’t see another pit fight until the inevitable high-stakes international tournament that Vega teases here, and by then we’ll be ready for it.
But until then we have other matters to attend to. One of them is the development of several underlying subplots, with lots of ominous conversations about the dangers of San Francisco gangsterism. The usual stuff. The second is the introduction of Hong (Chen Tang), which is where things get interesting. He arrives as a hatchet-man on the order of Father Jun, which causes some friction between him and Young Jun, but Hong stands out among the new recruits. Both Ah Sahm and Young Jun are suspicious of him but take him to a brothel regardless, where Ah Sahm keeps quiet about his homosexuality. After, they both watch him effortlessly handle some Fung Hai goons with a whip chain, some flamboyance, and obvious real-life martial arts experience. We’ve discussed the value of this before. “Not How We Do Business” makes great use of it.
It’ll be interesting to see what Warrior has planned for Hong. Giving him an introduction like this virtually guarantees he won’t just be a supporting player, but where he fits in the broader narrative is anyone’s guess. For now, he has ingratiated himself with Ah Sahm and Young Jun, complicating their buddy dynamic a little, but I’m curious to see where he falls long-term.
The same could be said of Li Yong, especially after last week, and he does get a couple of decent moments here. He and Mai Ling go to give Zing a telling off right in the Fung Hai rec room, and Li Yong gets to chop a goon in the throat. But that’s really not the important bit. What really matters is recognizing what he’s seeing in Mai Ling when she echoes one of Zing’s zingers – Zing has thus far been presented as a cartoonish and uncomplicated villain, so the implication of this is that Mai Ling is on her way to becoming something similar, much to Li Yong’s dismay. It’s subtle, but it’s very much a continuation of his development this season, which I still think might well be building towards him and Ah Sahm teaming up.
We see this, too, in a conversation Li Yong shares with Chao. The scheming is beginning to happen around Mai Ling at this point; Li Yong is being positioned as a character in his own right rather than just an extension of her. Zing, too, is being propped up as the Big Bad, such that everyone is planning to take him down. The interesting question is what happens once he’s out of the picture.
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. There are a couple of crucial things that also occur in Warrior season 2, episode 3. The first is Leary finally hooking up with Sophie. This isn’t a surprise but it is important, given Leary’s firebombing of factories employing coolie workers and such. So, that’s a whole thing. But easily the most impactful moment of “Not How We Do Business” involves O’Hara and Lee. The latter is over the former’s house for dinner when Tong enforcers sent by Zing invade the house to punish O’Hara for calling off their arrangement. It results in a scrappy, violent fight that even the wife and kids get involved in, and for a while, I forgot this is supposed to be a stylish Bruce Lee homage. The fight was dirty and elongated and felt like it had real bodily consequence – it wasn’t simply entertainment in the form of cool choreography as many scraps in this show tend to be, but genuinely fraught violence that endangered innocents, not just the characters who exist on both sides of the law. Choosing to end on this sequence was smart since it gives a clear indication of the direction this season is clearly heading in. Things are getting real. And nobody is safe from what’s coming.
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.