What to Watch Verdict
So many moments that pays off emotionally, but runs the risk of falling into a trope
💥 The shocking and unexpecting twists.
💥 The understanding between the Shen family.
💥 The quick-paced romance between Nicky and Henry.
💥 The risk of falling into the dragon lady trope.
This post contains spoilers for Kung Fu "Sacrifice"
Check out our last review here.
Kung Fu has been full of surprises this season and this episode was no exception. All the theories that fans--including myself--have been speculating went down the drain as we found out more about Nicky’s family history regarding the weapons and Zhilan’s drive for revenge. I have never been more at the edge of my seat regarding the season’s conclusion than I am after this episode.
With Nicky (Olivia Liang) realizing that she would have to leave her family to follow her destiny as a warrior at the end of last week’s ‘Attachment’, many speculated that she would go off on her own to fight Zhilan (Yvonne Chapman)--even if it means leaving her family and Henry (Eddie Liu) behind. We just did not expect that it would have to be during the biggest event in Althea’s life. But the Shen family do what they do best--be the best support for Nicky’s journey. It took a long time for Mei-Li (Kheng Hua Tan) to accept Nicky’s path and many emotional moments in the series, but it felt really satisfying seeing Mei-Li and Jin (Tzi Ma) give Nicky their blessing for her to leave to find the weapons. I am typically one to criticize the realism regarding how Asian parents, especially immigrant parents, would behave under these circumstances, but I was really satisfied with their reaction. The series also provided the reality of the disapproving Asian family member with Nicky’s grandmother (Fiona Fu) aka Po-po that many of us have dealt with. But they also gave Po-po some emotional depth beyond her stern exterior. Like Mei-Li, Po-po didn’t want this kind of life for her children and just wanted her family to thrive. There is this unexplainable generational burden of sacrifice to provide a better opportunity for our children. Po-po sacrificed being close to her daughter by allowing Mei-Li to make it in America. And the idea that her grandchild, Nicky, decided to go towards a path that Po-po herself rejected could feel like all of that was for nothing. But I’m glad that Mei-Li stepped up to her mother and defended Nicky’s choices, because it felt like the weight of that Asian guilt was lifted and now Nicky could just be free to be who she wants to be.
After discussing her path with Pei-Ling (Vanessa Kai) aka her subconscious, Nicky realizes she can change the warrior's lonely path by allowing Henry--after they both confessed their love for each other--to join her on this journey against Zhilan. I loved the quote that Pei-Ling tells Nicky: “Links in a chain hold strong together. If being home has taught you anything, it's that the people around you, the people you care for, are what make you strong.” This holds true for this entire season since Nicky has become a stronger person due to her family and friends being her support. It is this connection and the bond with her family and friends, including her fellow Shaolin warriors at the monastery, that may be Nicky’s greatest weapon against the now-alone Zhilan.
As for Zhilan’s storyline, that was the biggest shocker of them all--Zhilan murdering Kerwin (Ludi Lin) after confessing their love for each other. After learning that Kerwin’s father, Russell Tan, indirectly caused Zhilan’s mother to pass during childbirth and caused the scars on her back, Zhilan wasn’t collecting the weapons to take over the world. She was going to use it to destroy the Tan family--no matter what the sacrifices were. As much as I wanted Zhilan to realize her mistakes throughout the season, this action just felt unredeemable. My biggest fear is that she has fully fallen into the dragon lady trope because nothing is more important--not even love--than the path of revenge and power. I only hope we can find some sort of sincerity and compassion from the character in the finale because I would hate for her story to end with a trope, especially since the series worked so hard on giving her multiple layers in her backstory.
As for the wedding story for Althea (Shannon Dang) and Dennis (Tony Chung), I can’t help but to think that Dennis may be a little too perfect. After his impressive interaction with Po-po, it’s a bit annoying that this character does not seem to have any faults. He is handsome, successful, smart, a complete nerd, and completely dotes on Althea. As much as I love seeing Althea happy, there is something about him that I can’t trust. He’s not given enough backstory, so I’m hoping with the final episode, we learn the truth behind him--or that he really is perfect.
I do need to mention the romance between Nicky and Henry. As much as I do love the couple together, the 'love' moment between the two felt a but awkward. It could be because they have not dated too long and it felt rushed. The duo does have a good chemistry between the two, but it was hard to not cringe when they mentioned their love for each other. I understand the emotions in the heat of the moment were high, but it doesn't change the fact their declaration felt a bit forced.
Although there was not much fighting in this episode, the episode really served to prepare for the finale. With the end of the episode having Nicky and her friends come face-to-face with Zhilan, we should expect next week’s finale to end with a bang. Nicky and Zhilan will face off at the place they met in the pilot--where it all started and where it will, hopefully, end.
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.
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