“Man on the Wall” can’t help but feel a little lacklustre given that a third season is unlikely, but it still does a good job in reminding us that there’s a lot more story left to tell here.
This recap of Warrior season 2, episode 10, “Man on the Wall”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
“Man on the Wall” was the Warrior Season 2 finale, but it didn’t feel like that. Whether that’s a criticism or not is unclear at this point, since so much of it teased a follow-up that, thanks to Cinemax wiping their original programming slate clean, might never emerge. It certainly didn’t feel climactic, as a finale should, even one that’s clearly setting up things to come. But it definitely, and this is important, felt like it existed in the context of what happened last week; like a seismic cultural shift had occurred and everyone was still left slightly unsteady by its tremors. I like that feeling, the idea that the story isn’t just occurring within the narrow parameters of a script but in a living, breathing world that has woken up to find many of its denizens dead in the streets.
In the aftermath of the riots, Ah Sahm has rather implausibly become a symbol to his people, rendered with hilariously lifelike accuracy in a giant mural depicting him in his wife-beater with his nunchucks under his arm. It’s an obvious and fitting visual reference, but the idea it could have been created overnight is just ridiculous, and nobody questions it, so it’s hard to buy into its supposed profundity.
But the knock-on effects of the riots are felt deeply in Chinatown, and also, as we see throughout “Man on the Wall”, within the SFPD and San Francisco’s political wing. All it took for Father Jun to willingly cede power to his son was, it turns out, a city-wide massacre, which I suppose is a pretty on-brand way of doing things for a criminal syndicate (Father Jun later packs his bags and leaves, sharing a respectful farewell with Chao). The carnage of the riots leads Lee to turn in his badge and go and sleep with Abigail, so he’s probably better off, while O’Hara fares much worse, both with Lucy and with Leary, who is still pretty sour about him being in the pockets of the Chinese.
It’s arguably the political side of things that’s more interesting, especially since Buckley’s full heel turn gives us the first major cliffhanger that we may or may not see a resolution to depending on if Warrior gets picked up by another network. Anyway, Penny confronts Buckley about Jacob’s lynching and then, after he pays off the reporter to bury the story, about his manipulation of the press, so he just stabs himself and claims she did it, and everybody believes him. It’s thoroughly ridiculous but also, in its way, not ridiculous at all given the historic – and current! – privilege of men in positions of power. So Penny is shipped off to an insane asylum for the foreseeable future.
“Man on the Wall” also sets the foundations for a third season to invert one of the core relationships of the first two – namely, the relationship between Ah Sahm and Young Jun, the latter of whom had no idea, but subsequently learns, of his friend and Mai Ling being siblings. He sees this as a major betrayal of trust, and despite Hong insisting that there might not have been a single “right” way of handling all this, it’s the beginning of a major rift. One of the final scenes of the episode and thus the season is Young Jun locking eyes with Ah Sahm’s mural. The implication is pretty clear.
Naturally, it’s Ah Sahm who participates in the big – and only – fight sequence of “Man on the Wall”, which is the predicted one against Leary teased at the end of last week’s episode. And it’s… disappointing, all things considered, lacking a great deal of the impressive choreography that this show has made its name on, and being mostly an exchange of big punches until one man falls over. There’s definitely a sense of meaning behind it all, and it’s still cool to see, and it’s kind of, in a metaphorical sense, bringing Ah Sahm down to Leary’s backstreet slugger level, but nevertheless, I would have liked to see more. Ah Sahm wins and warns the Irish away from Chinatown.
With the Irish having been defeated in mortal combat, that only leaves political recourse, which we see when Leary later presents himself on behalf of the Workingmen’s Party of California (Google it.) The obvious political oppression of the Chinese begins in earnest here, with Buckley justifying the draconian measures as a way to battle the Hop Wei. Warrior hasn’t always stayed true to history, but it does here; perhaps the third season has already happened after all.
Then again, we end with a glimpse of Zing beginning to loosen the bars of his prison cell, so there’s still plenty of made-up story to tell here. I hope that somehow, someway, Warrior gets the chance to tell it.
Thanks for reading our recap of Warrior season 2, episode 10, “Man on the Wall”. For more recaps, reviews, and original features covering the world of entertainment, why not follow us on Twitter and like our Facebook page?