“3 weeks, after that, you’re taking a trip to the White Mountain” –Jack Damon. I have been trying to find anything and everything if there is a definition for this term as most of the episodes have a nice nod to old terms or characters saying it in the episode. The only think I have found thanks to my mother, it is probably referring the White Mountains in California. And maybe how people died climbing up mountains but who knows.
The episode starts off with Sergeant O’Hara gambling in Chinatown. Suffering loss after loss, he is helped by a former friend turned Pinkerton agent Jack Damon. Jack helps obtain a loan where O’Hara manages to get lucky but luck runs out as he is cleaned out and Jack introduces him to the Fung Hai. Jack gives O’Hara three weeks to pay the Fung Hai back or they will come for him and his family.
Ah Sahm shares breakfast with Young Jun and Bolo, where he learns the true origin of who Bolo is and how he became to be known as the “Yellow Demon”. This continues the tension between Bolo’s suspicion of who Ah Sahm is and what is his purpose.
As Ah Sahm and Young Jun cement their friendship, Jacob invites Ah Sahm to meet with Penny.
Buckley orders the police to contain the Chinese population and violence from spilling into their side of the city, causing a raid in Ah Toy’s brothel. The first step of what is known as the Chinese Initiative. Meanwhile Mai Ling meets with the Fung Hai to organize an alliance on taking over the Opium shipments to overthrow the Hop Wei.
After their meetings, Mai Ling and Ah Sahm discuss while on stagecoach to the point where she urges him to leave San Francisco in which he tries to plead with her to go with him. Both on opposites of the impending Tong War and torn to the point the two inevitably facing off against each other.
For this episode, we have an episode that centers on O’Hara and how Lee manages to try and implement the ideals of being a righteous cop. For O’Hara, we are shown his addiction to gambling has now caught up to the point where he is now targeted by the Foon Hai, we will get to them soon. Here it shows how O’Hara is constantly careless with his money and his duty as a police officer.
Lee observed certain passes in Chinatown such as; Mayor Blake in Ah Toy’s brothel and O’Hara taking money from Ah Toy to stop the raid. This is where O’Hara has had enough of Lee’s righteousness. This culminates where O’Hara and Lee share a drink where Lee tries to bring O’Hara back to his own sense of righteousness of being a police officer but resorts back to gambling. A sense of own self destruction repeating.
And now a small history lesson which leads into who the Foon Hai are. As Jack Damon states: the Foon Hai are descendants of Genghis Khan. This gives each Tong a specific look and distinct style.
The Hop Wei is supposedly inspired by Hip Sing Tong, the main Tong that ran Chinatown. Dressing in suits and adapting to the Western style, while the Long Zi are somewhat preserving traditional elements with their clothing and keeping their queue ponytail. And the Foon Hai have adopted a mix of Chinese and Mongol style.
The Foon Hai is introduced during a meeting with Mai Ling and Li Yong, the meeting turns left when the original leader is killed and Zing (Dustin Nguyen) takes the mantle. This causes Wang Chao to cover it up as the meeting did not go as planned. This shows the depths Mai Ling will go to make sure the Long Zi are the prevailing Tong.
Now I did not talk about Father Jun’s best hatchetman Bolo because he was only in a couple of scenes in previous episodes. This is one episode where we are given a proper introduction of Bolo. A Utah railroad coolie who was always put into fights for white people’s entertainment. His victory in fights earned him the name “The Yellow Demon” which is why Father Jun came to Utah, making him his top hatchetman. As for his suspicions of Ah Sahm, it will be all revealed soon.
The two relationship developments within the episode are Ah Sahm with Penny and Mai Ling. Starting with the former, Penny has Jacob lead Ah Sahm to an apartment where she paints. It was at this point where Ah Sahm calls out Penny on her reason she wanted him to meet with her.
After their little international exchange of goods and services, both of them open up of their appearances are not what they appear to be. Ah Sahm opens up that he came for his sister but she doesn’t want to be found and Penny married the mayor to save her father’s company. The two of them with a sense of tormented past lives have brought them to this point in their lives where they want something more.
After Ah Sahm leaves Penny’s, Mai Ling asks him to talk inside a stagecoach. It is here that Mai Ling tries to get him to go back to China by giving him a ticket. Ah Sahm apologizes as it was his fault that his sister was forced to marry Sun Yang, saving their family and only wishing for her to return with him. The fact the Mai Ling shows that she still cares for her brother, it puts both of them in an awkward spot of what their plan is. As Mai Ling has called out Ah Sahm’s flaws and he has done the same, this sibling quarrel will continue.
The White Mountain is a character focused episode of O’Hara dealing with his addiction and Ah Sahm experiencing the duck pond with an ally. Maybe the title of the episode is that metaphor of how the grass is always greener but in actuality it is a struggle to maintain a good life.