Warrior Episode 3 Review: John Chinaman

TV

This Warrior review contains spoilers.

Warrior Episode 3

Okay. Now this is more like it.

Can’t say I have many sharply tongued criticisms about Warrior this week. Can’t say I want to find any, either. “John Chinaman” is a well-written hour of television that is less preoccupied with shock value and more focused on telling a meaningful story by defining its characters. Adam Targum, credited writer for this episode, did a fantastic job at making Warrior‘s odds, ends, and misfits gel together here.

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“What, no love for Jonathan Tropper’s efforts the past two weeks?” you ask. Of course there is! Let’s give him some props, shall we? Mr. Tropper set the stage well for Warrior’s ongoing conflicts in the pilot and its follow-up. He introduced us to certain characters in unforgettable ways. He also gave us a lot of, shall we say, “pleasant” imagery that will last a lifetime.

And yet “John Chinaman” adds ornate touches to the house of ill ripute that Trotter has built thus far by dialing up the show’s dignity just a little bit. Not much, but just enough to make Warrior slightly more palatable for me. I guess what I’m saying is, I didn’t get to see an extreme close-up of some dead guy’s poop this week. And for that, I’m grateful.

read more: Warrior and the Legacy of Bruce Lee

“John Chinaman” is the point where the show starts taking its themes about racism and xenophobia more seriously — or, at least, where it starts to navigate through the pitfalls and unjust power dynamics of a society built on white supremacy.

Ah Sahm’s wrongful accusation and subsequent trial for a perceived attack on Irish immigrants is a tough predicament to throw at us right away. Its ramifications could disrupt a status quo that hasn’t even fully been established yet. It ___ to change the game before we’ve been given the ground rules. As a plot device, this sticky situation creates ripples throughout the morally grey zone we’re still exploring — ripples that touch each of the characters we’re still getting to know, forcing them to react and show their true colors.

This helps the show feel more raw, more relevant, and more grounded in reality. Warrior’s cast of characters feels huge at the moment. Okay, not as many as other shows, but we’re still very much in the “getting to know each other” phase of the viewing relationship. Anything that helps define the people we’re going to be spending a significant amount of time with at this point is a big help, and Ah Sahm’s trial does the job wonderfully.

But because of that very reason, this massive conflict that stirs up a big bucket of shit is resolved in a fast and rather convenient way. Maybe too convenient, some might say. But I get why. This show isn’t a courtroom drama called The White People vs Ah Sahm; it’s a martial arts action noir called Warrior, which means that there’s still a lot of asses to kick out there. So, naturally, the show walks us away from the cliff that it joked about throwing us over minutes before and just kinda shrugs it off. But not before reminding us that nothing’s ever going to be that easy on this show. Nope. Never.

Keep up with all out Warrior news and reviews here.

Stephen Harber is the creator of the Batman/Doctor Who Adventures, a fanmade webcomic tribute. Read more of his work here, and follow him on Instagram @onlywriterever.

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