Kung Fu season 1, episode 12 recap – “Sacrifice” full circle

July 15, 2021
Jonathon Wilson 0
Weekly TV
4

Summary

“Sacrifice” brings things full circle just in time for a climactic showdown in next week’s finale.

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4

Summary

“Sacrifice” brings things full circle just in time for a climactic showdown in next week’s finale.

This recap of Kung Fu season 1, episode 12, “Sacrifice”, contains spoilers.


“Sacrifice”, the penultimate episode of Kung Fu, feels like it’s laying the groundwork for a blowout finale in ways that work and also ones that are a bit questionable. Nicky and Zhilan simultaneously searching for the Forge and ending up in many ways right back where they started is nice, neat storytelling, but another random relative being the key to the journey feels a touch like a*s-pull contrivance of a kind the show has typically swerved. Then again, The CW’s reboot has always treated its characters and their circumstances with more interest and sincerity than its plot, and there is some typically good character stuff here, on both sides of the moral divide.

At this point, both Nicky and Zhilan are looking for the Forge with the help of men who’re almost worryingly devoted to them. The dynamics are very different, though. Kerwin is somewhat disinterested in the Forge, believing simply acquiring the weapons should have been enough to allow them some chill-out time together, while Henry is adamant that the great Nicky Shen will solve the mystery despite her perhaps not believing it herself. The imminent arrival of Po Po (Fiona Fu) for Althea’s wedding has everyone on the Shen side of things on edge, too. The entire family seems intimidated by her and doesn’t plan on revealing certain things in her presence, and as soon as she arrives it’s clear why – she’s kind of unpleasant.

Speaking of unpleasantness, Kerwin’s father, Russell, fits the description. Earlier in Kung Fu episode 12, Nicky discovered the connection between the two, and also earlier, Tan himself called Kerwin to tell him he couldn’t trust Zhilan and didn’t properly understand Biange. At the cemetery where her parents are buried, Zhilan explains to him that his father owned the factory where her father worked; the pollution from that factory killed her mother and gave Zhilan her spinal condition. Destroying Russell is part of Zhilan’s agenda, and since Kerwin is a part of him, well… he’s on the chopping block. The show’s determined efforts at characterizing and humanizing these two pay off here, as Kerwin tearfully accepts his fate and refuses to fight back as Zhilan kills him.

Family difficulties are everywhere in “Sacrifice”, since Po Po is also part of the same warrior lineage as Nicky, and the latter is totally unwilling to maintain the illusion that everything is fine. At dinner, she reveals that her time working for a law firm was a complete fiction to cover the fact that she was in China at a Shaolin monastery, and now she knows Po Po can help her with her quest to find the weapons. Po Po is initially aghast, but it’s Mei-Li, of all people, who leaps to Nicky’s defense, and that makes for a great, earned character moment. Mei-Li blames Po Po for pushing Mei-Xue away, and for keeping secrets that have prevented them from achieving any closure. Nicky deserves the truth. And Po Po is willing to give it to her.

So, Po Po and Pei-Ling’s mother, Fang-Su (Leifennie) were the weapon-wielders before Mei-Li and Mei-Xue were even born, but the burden of responsibility was too much for Po Po, who swore none of her family would have to be shouldered with it – hence her issues with Mei-Xue. She recognizes Nicky’s burns as symbols depicting seven battles involving the weapons, and when plotted on a map, they match the constellation that Simon had tattooed on his arm. The eighth point of that map is the Forge – and the Forge is the monastery. It all comes full circle. There’s another nice character moment when Althea gives Nicky her blessing to swerve the wedding in order to do what she has to do, and a final one when Nicky tries to go alone and Henry refuses to let her. Both confess their love for each other, and Nicky has a nice moment with the specter of Pei-Ling, who reminds her that it’s the people around her who make her strong.

So, Kung Fu season 1, episode 12 ends with a perfect setup for the finale. Nicky and Henry arrive at the monastery to find the warriors prepared to fight and protect the Forge. This is just as well, since as “Sacrifice” draws to a close, Zhilan arrives for the final showdown.

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