“Patience” gives the entire Shen family chance to shine as the overarching plot begins to heat up.
This recap of Kung Fu season 1, episode 3, “Patience”, contains spoilers.
You’ll recall that in the previous episode of Kung Fu there was a discussion about Nicky not having enough time to train, so the fact that “Patience” opens with her doing exactly that, getting a bit sweaty with Henry at the Chinese Community Centre, is making a clear point. Despite the fact that Zhilan is still in the wind and the world’s only expert on the eight mythical weapons she’s looking for isn’t easy to find either, Nicky is making some time for herself. Would she be as interested in training if it wasn’t with Henry? Good question. Their lingering glances suggest so, but the fact she still gets a little giddy when Evan arrives suggests she hasn’t settled on a man quite yet.
Evan has mixed news. Zhilan was caught on CCTV with Professor Chau, but nobody was able to catch them before she spirited him away. Kung Fu episode 3 reveals quickly that she has him bound to a chair in her hideout, torturing him for information on a pair of hook swords. “Patience” returns here a few times to see how things are getting on, but the bulk of the episode is devoted to Nicky trying to help Faye (Doralynn Mui), an overworked, underpaid, and sick factory worker for a streetwear brand hilariously named “King Kwong”. Faye is pushing to start a union because she doesn’t get paid sick leave and keeps passing out at work, so it’s no surprise when Nicky spots her being stretchered out of the community center after she and Henry have broken into Professor Chau’s temporary office and found a puzzle box in the false bottom of a desk drawer.
Continuing the show’s usual trend of everyone Nicky encounters being useful in some way, she gets the lowdown on Eddie Kwong (Curtis Lum) and a party he’s throwing later that night from Joe (Bradley Gibson), a handsome activist her brother Ryan is dating. She attends as Althea’s plus-one and quickly meets the witless Eddie and his obviously shady business partner Brett Slakter (David Lennon), whom he refers to as “Brometheus” in a manner scientifically designed to drive me bonkers. As soon as Brett describes himself as an “ally” it’s obvious he’s up to no good. Some investigation reveals high levels of a chemical in Faye’s blood and her important paperwork ready to be shredded but also lands Nicky in a storage room that she has to punch her way out of before a hitman can “clean up” Brett’s mess.
All’s well that ends well, though, since Nicky is able to trick Brett into a public confession during which he admits to both poisoning Faye and exploiting poor Eddie. It’s an open-and-shut case, admittedly, but at least it’s on-trend thematically; Kung Fu and The Equalizer are both doing a good job of tackling contemporary small-scale social issues on network television, and both happen to have a focus on family. This, though, is where Kung Fu solidifies itself as a slightly better show by giving characters other than Nicky plenty to do, and “Patience” isn’t short of these familial subplots.
Along with Ryan’s dating and work, we also have Althea’s mysterious caller, who turns out to be a journalist who is nagging her to tell her story of workplace sexual harassment, and both Mei-Li and Jin arguing over a decades-old broken fridge that allows them to have a frank conversation about the former’s frosty relationship with Nicky, despite all her best efforts.
The family affairs in Kung Fu season 1, episode 3 really help to give the story texture, and it’s impressive that it’s able to balance them along with the case of the week and development of the overarching plot. In that regard, we get some more backstory on Zhilan courtesy of Chau – her father was murdered when she was a child – and Nicky is able to use her presumably photographic memory to crack the puzzle box and reveal a key. But to what?