What to Watch Verdict
'Destiny' gave us an emotional-driven episode for the Shen family and gives us more reason to love Papa Shen
💥Growth between the Shen family.
💥Ryan & Jin's thoughtful scene.
💥Playful martial arts.
💥Showing Althea finally having a good time.
💥Lack of Dennis' story - we seem to know more about his family than him.
This post contains spoilers for Kung Fu "Destiny"
Check out our last review here.
"Destiny" was an emotionally-packed episode filled with betrayal, revelations, and trying to put the pieces back together again. After the big reveal from the last episode, it comes as no surprise that both Nicky (Olivia Liang) and Jin (Tzi Ma) felt angry and betrayed by Mei-Li (Kheng Hua Tan), but to have father and daughter both leave the house was really hard to watch. I don’t blame Mei-Li for keeping the secret of being a descendant of Lin Daiyu. After her sister, Mei-Xue, was never found again after leaving home, Mei-Li didn’t want Nicky to suffer the same fate--even though she did end up leaving to join the monastery for three years. Tan and Ma’s performance was heartbreaking as we watched this lovely couple separate, even if for a little bit, because it felt like your own family falling apart in front of your own eyes. Fortunately, with Nicky’s help, the Shen parents make up, and Nicky forgives her mother.
Although "Destiny"s side story was about Chloe (Chelsea Clark) being blackmailed by her former thieving friends to steal from the Soong family, the theme of the entire episode was heavily focused on parents and the love they have for their children. From Chloe’s relationship with her mother Diana (Françoise Yip) to Ryan’s (Jon Prasida) re-coming out to his father to Mei-Li giving Nicky more details about her destiny, it was all about reinforcing a parents’ love for their child. Even with Chloe’s trouble with the law, Diana was first concerned with her daughter’s well-being first when she found Chloe in the house.
As for Jin and Ryan’s relationship, "Destiny" was a great episode to premiere during Pride Month. Ryan did come out to his parents prior to Nicky’s return, but they were silent like most immigrant parents. It was refreshing to have Jin be so supportive after learning of Ryan’s pain. I commend the series for giving us a positive spin to Chinese parental acceptance rather than the most-of-the-time cold reality of parents either ignoring it or dismissing their child. Prasida does a wonderful job being this sort of comical character who is filled with so much anguish from a secret that is eating him inside. It’s hard to not feel Ryan’s emotions and the relief when told, basically, ‘you are enough’. I think that’s all we could ever want to hear, especially from our family.
Nicky, who now knows it’s her destiny to own and protect the sword, she understands and needs to forgive her mother. I am glad that Mei-Li has finally accepted her daughter’s path as the chosen one because holding Nicky back was what drove her away in the first place. Now, Nicky can truly be who she was meant to become. Also, learning that Jin found Nicky and left her alone at the monastery because she looked happier, felt so empowering. Ma’s acting was really highlighted in this episode as Papa Shen and it’s another reason why the Asian American community calls him ‘Everyone’s Asian Dad’.
The action in "Destiny" was fun as usual, but it felt like it was really one-sided since Nicky and Henry (Eddie Liu) were the experienced fighters going against amateurs. It didn’t make it any less fun though to watch privileged white kids getting their butts kicked. It reminded me why Nicky and Henry make a great team, but I’m starting to realize what makes Evan’s (Gavin Stenhouse) relationship with Nicky different from Henry’s. With Evan, there was no hesitation for Nicky to reveal all her problems and all the secrets that were revealed. She has this history with him, which makes it easier to fall back in. With Henry, it just feels new and a fresh start, but Nicky is still stuck in her past. It also didn’t help to give Evan a shirtless scene, which was quite a scene. I’m glad the series didn’t make him a bad guy by leading Nicky on and remembering his relationship with Sabine. The writers know what they’re doing and it’s working--you’re making me torn.
The other side story with Althea (Shannon Dang) and her relationship with her future mother-in-law felt extremely familiar. Like many typical Chinese mothers, they have higher expectations for who they want married to their son. The fact that Diana expected Dennis (Tony Chung) to be with someone ‘quiet’ and more reserved is something I’ve experienced in my own life as someone who is the complete opposite like Althea. It’s why Althea as a character has always felt so relatable.
Overall, I absolutely loved watching the growth within the Shen family and now the Soong family. This was just a family episode, without the frills and thrills of the mythical weapons, and I always emphasize how much I love that about this show—the family aspect. I know that the future stories will need to focus on the mythical weapons, but I hope we continue to get these episodes where it’s just all about the love between the Shens.
I do have some theories since we learned so much these past two episodes. Mei-Xue left when Mei-Ling was a young child to find the mythical weapons. Maybe Mei-Xue did find the sword and then started a family in China—having two daughters who also felt their calling to protect the sword. Those daughters being Pei-Ling (Vanessa Kai) and Zhilan (Yvonne Chapman). I believe that Pei-Ling and Zhilan are related to the Shen family, which means my shipping between Zhilan and Nicky must come to an end, if true. It just seems too easy. I hope they’re not related and that there are multiple families who were destined to protect these mythical swords, but I can’t help but to shake this feeling that everything is connected. Everything has a purpose and destiny.
Laura Sirikul is a freelance writer, researcher, and managing editor of The Nerds of Color. Throughout her career, she has written for Nerd Reactor, What To Watch, Nerdist, IGN, Movie View Magazine, Red Carpet Report, Mental Floss, Trek News, The Hollywood Reporter, Character Media, Bitch Media, and many other outlets. She has been on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, Nerdist's Fangirls, and many other news shows. For almost ten years, she has covered film and television extensively along with in-depth interviews with major studios such as Disney, WB, and FOX. She is also a member of the Asian American Journalist Association and the Hollywood Critics Association. Apart from addressing topics covering film and television, Laura is a strong advocate for social awareness for the underrepresented in the entertainment industry.