“If You Don’t See Blood, You Didn’t Come to Play” spends a little too much time setting up subplots to be paid off later, resulting in an action-light episode that talks the talk but doesn’t necessarily walk the walk.
This recap of Warrior season 2, episode 4, “If You Don’t See Blood, You Didn’t Come to Play”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
It seems like as Warrior progresses, it’s becoming less and less about the fighting. This is a problem for me, I presume a decent portion of the show’s audience, and on some level for the characters themselves. It’s still about fighting, you understand – it’s all anyone seems to talk about. But the talking itself is taking up an increasing share of these episodes, almost as if nobody has realized that you’ve got to walk the walk if you’re going to talk the talk. “If You Don’t See Blood, You Didn’t Come to Play” even makes a joke of this by having Sophie call out her date Spencer’s supposed lust for violence. As we know, there are two types of people in this world – those who can fight to survive, and those who die.
As we learned last week, O’Hara can fight to survive, but now he’s paying the price for it. His wife is devastated about what happened – particularly having to kill someone – and Lee is furious about O’Hara having been working for the Fung Hai. But the real bloodlust of that attempted assassination scene last week is missing from this episode. In its place is a lot of moving and shaking, and maybe it’s just me, but watching Mai Ling buy laundries as a legal business cover – much to the displeasure of Li Yong, by the way – isn’t quite as exciting as watching a full-on action sequence. This is a problem all throughout Warrior season 2, episode 4.
It’s almost another little joke of “If You Don’t See Blood, You Didn’t Come to Play” that most of the fanciful fighting we’ve come to expect from this show is seen in a street demonstration where Mai Ling and Ah Toy have a testy encounter. It’s a nice moment, to be sure, pitting the show’s two strongest women against each other, though not in a martial sense, and it feels like a lot of this episode – setup for things to come, teases for future conflicts. This is necessary worldbuilding and storytelling stuff, but it’s easy to wish the teases were being paid off sooner.
The same can be said of the aftermath of the attempt on O’Hara’s life, which in many ways works as a setup for more political machinations and more finessing on the part of Chao, who gets the cops to stand down for a couple of days so that they don’t blunder straight into a trap the Fung Hai has set. Chao, predictably, wants weapons in return, and Buckley, predictably, is still campaigning on the strength of anti-Chinese sentiment so doesn’t like the idea of O’Hara’s request for more time or the Mayor’s support of it. Chao’s plot to implicate an in-hiding Zing as the swordsman vigilante works on the same basis. It’s promising for future episodes but nothing much to write home about as far as Warrior season 2, episode 4 is concerned.
There’s a lot of focus on Blake, Penny, Sophie, and Leary in “If You Don’t See Blood, You Didn’t Come to Play”, and while stuff about contract finagling is dry, Sophie’s relationship with Leary is pretty genuinely compelling, especially in terms of how it relates to Leary’s attacks on factories employing coolie workers but not, conveniently enough, Mercer Steel. She likes to think that’s because of his affection for her, and we see some of that affection here, but he’s reluctant to admit it. As an extension of this, Sophie clashes with Penny over her hiring of Chinese over Irish and then leads Leary and his gang through a secret tunnel into Mercer Steel, where they fight with the Hop Wei protection. It’s the episode’s only major fight sequence and it’s appropriately brutal, if not necessarily stylish. Ultimately the Irish are successful, and Mercer Steel goes up in smoke, leading to a lot of remorse on the part of Sophie and presumably hell to pay for Leary. But that, like almost everything else in this episode, is something to be dealt with later.
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