“Isolation” sends Nicky on a quest in the great outdoors as Zhilan takes some time off for romance.
This recap of Kung Fu season 1, episode 9, “Isolation”, contains spoilers.
Previously on Kung Fu, Nicky Shen learned that she’s the latest in an ancient line of warriors and guardians of mythical weapons, which is, you know, kind of a big deal. It’s also something she can’t quite sweep under the rug; Mei-Xue is too interesting and potentially important to be left alone, and that means Nicky has to venture into the wilderness to find her by retracing her steps through rural America. Of course, she won’t be doing it alone, since both Henry and Evan are along for the road trip. Cue petty one-upmanship, male bonding, forestry, and Nicky forging her own path through the woods, her life, and her relationships.
Elsewhere, Zhilan takes some time off to bond with Kerwin Tan (Ludi Lin, late of the new Mortal Kombat movie), swapping stories about their scars and backgrounds and ominously discussing the power of the mythical weapons in reshaping the world in their image. It’s classic villain stuff, in a way, but it’s rare that a show will allow the bad guy to spend an entire episode having a low-key knockabout romance. That’s for the heroes!
I suppose it makes sense since Kung Fu episode 9 finds Nicky a bit too busy for romance of her own, despite dragging both of her potential suitors along with her (Henry and Evan spend more time with each other than they do with her.) These three follow Mei-Xue up into the remote wilderness of the Yukon, stopping for a bar fight along the way and then meeting up with one of Mei-Xue’s old acquaintances, a gruff woodsman named Duke (Lorne Cardinal) who loads Nicky up with supplies for a trek into the wild, leaving Henry and Evan to spend the night together debating which of them she’ll ultimately choose.
While Nicky discovers her aunt’s audio legacy and the boys come to terms with having no say in their relationships whatsoever, Althea continues to grapple with having signed an NDA about her workplace abuse and considers violating it in order to protect an aspiring tech student named Courtney who has designs on working under the same nefarious employer. This would obviously mean opening up to Dennis about the matter, but that can’t be hard, can it? Dennis is the most reasonable guy ever.
Of course, Kung Fu season 1, episode 9 is really using all these personal journeys as an excuse to reinforce themes of togetherness. Nicky uses what she has learned about Mei-Xue to help patch up her relationship with Mei-Li; Althea’s predicament brings her closer to Ryan and will inevitably bring her closer to Dennis; even Zhilan has found a partner in her search for the mystical weapons of Chinese folklore. Even amid its grand adventures and quests, Kung Fu never quite loses sight of what’s most important.