“Not for a Drink, a F*ck, or a G**damn Prayer” delivered an all-time-great Warrior action sequence in what was easily the best episode of the second season thus far.
This recap of Warrior season 2, episode 5, “Not for a Drink, a F*ck, or a G**damn Prayer”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
For everyone who, like me, has been complaining that this season of Warrior hasn’t had enough great action, “Not for a Drink, a F*ck, or a G**damn Prayer” feels like it’s raising a bloody middle finger right at us. Not only does it have action, it has maybe the best action the show has ever produced, and it even burdens the entire sequence which a lot of narrative heavy-lifting, paying off multiple subplots all in the midst of some masterfully choreographed carnage. Honestly, it was basically showing off.
That was the main event, so let’s get some housekeeping out of the way before we unpack it properly. After opening with a shirtless Li Yong almost daring us to believe he won’t claw someone’s eye out by episode’s end, we catch up with the devastation at Mercer Steel after Leary’s attack and find Penny inadvertently getting wise to Ah Sahm’s finessing when the smell of opium can’t be ignored. Their relationship is wrecked, probably irreparably, and the Mayor still wants delivery on time. All in all, a bad day for Penny.
It isn’t a particularly good day for the police, either, since O’Hara is on a mission to enact revenge on the Fung Hai for the attack on his home and family, and a strung-out Lee is going to be along for the ride, hopefully sober. You know how cops get when one of their own is targeted, but there’s also a general sense that nobody in San Francisco pays the police much mind anyway; when Flannagan visits Leary and intimates he knows he’s behind the bombing, the Irishman is totally unfazed.
Elsewhere, Ah Toy visits Nellie’s winery and reveals some heretofore hidden depths to her character when, presumably charmed by the scenery and some misty reminiscences of her tomato-rearing grandmother, she shares a passionate kiss with Nellie. Hmm. Wherever might this subplot be going?
Anyway, things aren’t great with the Hop Wei either, since all their opium has been lost and they need a way to replenish the supply without being found out. This is set up for later episodes made a lot more interesting by the fact that Hong deduces what they’re up to and enthusiastically pledges his allegiance to the cause, making for a fun triumvirate that’ll hopefully get into some exciting knockabout adventures together going forwards.
Ah Sahm’s desire to replenish his opium also leads to the cliffhanger ending of “Not for a Drink, a F*ck, or a G**damn Prayer”, in which he asks Vega about that lucrative international tournament she was telling him about in an earlier episode. Yes! That’s exactly what we want.
Speaking of exactly what we want, let’s get into the real highlight of Warrior season 2, episode 5, which saw Chao’s plan to set up Zing come to fruition in the bloodiest and most enjoyable way possible. With the SFPD assembled outside waiting for his signal, Chao snuck Li Yong and another Long Zii into the meeting disguised as delivery men and set about antagonizing Zing into holding him captive and force-feeding him mare’s milk. In the meantime, Li Yong skulks about and plants Ah Toy’s sword right where he knows Zing will find it, preparing for the ensuing mayhem. And blimey, is there mayhem to be had here.
What’s fantastic about this sequence is how it essentially incorporates three different conflicts: Chao versus Zing’s goons, Li Yong versus Zing, and the SFPD versus everyone. All three conflicts have different styles of choreography and are littered with fun character moments and gory details. Chao fighting back against his captors is especially satisfying, with his sleeve derringers paying off twice, and when the cops come in guns blazing, the gunshots have a heft to them rarely seen on TV – or perhaps even in film. O’Hara and Lee get their own moments to tax the show’s effects budget, and while the sequence is deliberately chaotic, it’s always easy to follow. It really is masterfully done.
And that’s to say nothing of the long-awaited duel between Li Yong and Zing, which pits the show’s two most experienced real-life martial arts practitioners against each other and does not disappoint, either in the brutality of the alacrity of its choreography. When Li Yong dropped the overt Bruce Lee homage I was almost on my feet. Truly great stuff. And as I alluded to right at the top of this recap, this sequence also had a lot of narrative utility. Chao’s plan was successful. Zing is shot and captured while wielding Ah Toy’s revenge-killing sword. O’Hara has avenged the attack on his home. Li Yong has gone against Mai Ling in a way that creates something of a wedge between them. Virtually everything that happened in this sequence mattered in some way. And everything that happened in this sequence was awesome.
If “Not for a Drink, a F*ck, or a G**damn Prayer” is the turning point for this season, the moment that marks the shift from set-up to pay off, then I’m here for it.
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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.