Teddy Boys – A British subculture that young men wore clothes that were inspired by dandies of the Edwarian period. Originally started in the UK in the early 1950s of post WWII, it was associated with American Rock and Roll music. It was to differentiate the teenagers from the adults. On 1956, at a screening of the film “Blackboard Jungle”, the Teddy Boys rioted in theatres where the film was shown.
Teddy Boys have forms various gangs and fought against other gangs and immigrant communities, one being the 1958 Notting Hill Race Riot where they attacked the West Indian community. In this episode, they attack the Chinese community, taking their queues as part of their initiation.
Before I get into Season 2, I will take note of the filming of the season took place in the late summer and fall of 2019 then finally premiering in October of 2020. This is going to come up in one of the reviews because this show took the time and got their season order filmed after writing the episodes. Whether or not Season 2 was a part of Bruce Lee’s original treatment, I will say that it was great to see Bruce Lee’s ideas and philosophies coming into 2020.
As bad as 2020 has been, this season was a highlight as Lee B. Golden and I discussed each episode at length of what influences and themes worked with each episode. Here we are now with Cinemax ceasing all original programming and HBO Max streaming both seasons and hoping for Season 3. Now with that out of the way… here we go again.
Season 2 takes place 2 months after Season 1, opening with Ah Sahm taking part of an underground fight club off the Barbary Coast… just broke rule 1 and 2. The fight club is run by Rosalita Vega, she oversees the match while Ah Sahm notices the Teddy boys taunting him with the queues of other Chinese. Ah Sahm wins, collecting his winnings from Vega as she asks what his purpose is in participating, which he gives no answer.
We are introduced to Sophie Mercer (Penny’s sister) visiting the graveyard, and sees Leary visiting his wife and sons. She offers a part of her bouquet to his family as they exchange words. She continues on to pay respects to her father.
Ah Toy finds Ah Sahm in the brothel as she knows he’s been fighting in the Barbary Coast trying to find a weakness. He brushes it off by telling her about the Teddy Boys. Ah Toy mentions to him about the risk of going after them which he states he is going to move with or without her help.
Mayor Blake is agitated by Penny’s denial of accepting Merryweather’s offer for her business. She declines to continue her father’s business as Sophie joins them. Buckley and Blake discuss Penny’s prowess as a threat to Blake’s political stance but Blake orders Buckley not to make a move.
Mai Ling walks around her new property acquired from the Hop Wei, offering her respect to other merchants but experiences disgust from Young Jun and Ah Sahm. Young Jun expresses his frustrations to Father Jun while Ah Sahm and Mai Ling meet in secret. She tells him about the fact that Father Jun’s time will come and Young Jun is not fit to lead.
Ah Sahm sees through her words as he still chooses not to side with her. Ah Sahm, Ah Toy and Lai save a Chinese worker from the Teddy Boys, killing them all. He finds Young Jun waiting in the morning, informing that the Long Zi’s opium source is being sold cheaper. Young Jun wanting to leave Father Jun out as he and Ah Sahm decide to go into doing the opium trade on their own.
O’Hara still collects for the Foon Hai but Lee has been reacting differently as they find the dead Teddy Boys. Lee now suffering from effects since his assault, he convinces O’Hara that they must talk to Wang Chao about the crime.
Leary has his men attack the Chinese laborers of Mercer Steel Mill while he bombs businesses that hire Chinese. Penny hears about this as she must find someone to protect her workers.
Ah Sahm finds Wang Chao, asking for a source to obtain Opium which Chao sees through Ah Sahm’s intentions and brushing him away. Chao confronts Ah Toy about the assault that cost him his shop to be shut down by the police. Ah Toy understands his frustration as she plans to lay low for the time being.
Ah Sahm goes back to the Barbary Coast, winning another fight, asking Vega for help to find a source for Opium.
I remember waiting for this season premiere in October, seeing how everything from Season 1 has set up for this season. We are introduced to two new characters and seeing where Ah Sahm, Mai Ling, Penny and Leary are in the series. For this episode, the theme of strengths and weaknesses are examined.
Sophie Mercer and Rosalita Vega are two of three new characters introduced in the season. Sophie is Penny’s little sister who lives with her and Blake since their father passed away. She is a respectable and vocal woman who says what’s on her mind. And we will get into more who she is as the season unfolds.
Rosalita Vega is someone with no connection to the characters but is aware of the people who inhabit it. A bar owner in the Barbary Coast who runs a fight club… did it again. She sees that Ah Sahm is an extraordinary fighter and as the season progresses, as she offers her services, it will definitely come into play when Ah Sahm and the audience gets to know her story.
We learn that Leary had a family who passed away from the plague and still a businessman as he collects from his men who have jobs. And now resorting to destroying businesses who hire the Chinese. This time though, he is given a piece of humanity when Sophie is introduced.
Now this is the man that inadvertently killed her father but she doesn’t know that… yet. This little moment where they first meet gives us a reason to get to know who Leary is. From being just an Irishman who hates the Chinese, to being an Irishman who had a family and looking for his own purpose. Seeing a pattern here? Oh… weird that it’s Sophie Mercer like how Penny was for Ah Sahm. Maybe a coincidence. That being said that will be coming into play through the season.
The two narratives with Lee and O’Hara with their Chinatown route and Buckley and Blake on their political affairs. Summing it up as it is just reintroducing the notion that these characters are still here but now progressing from where they were from Season 1.
O’Hara is finding disgust with collecting for the Foon Hai and settling the debt but Zing still ensures that O’Hara is still indebted to them. Lee has been suffering after effects since his attack and prompting a visit to Wang Chao. It is almost revealed to Lee that O’Hara is working with the Foon Hai by Chao but is cut short as they leave. This is where both officers partnership will slowly become fractured as Lee will find out eventually and how O’Hara will try to escape the Foon Hai.
Buckley and Blake are still squabbling as usual, and this is about Penny managing Mercer Steel Mill and how Buckley will deal with it. Blake of course does not want to follow suit as his political stance and image must be maintained. Buckley still goes through with his plan and let’s say Blake doesn’t change that much for now while Buckley has other motives.
Now Ah Sahm, there is no downward spiral, this is told by Vega and Ah Toy and it is evident he is trying to find something. As I have said, the whole theme of finding one’s purpose is throughout the show. As much as Ah Sahm is fighting for the people, he doesn’t believe in it.
The point of finding a purpose is you must believe in it and fight for it for you and for those who support you. Ah Toy sees that Ah Sahm is getting reckless with her pursuit of bringing justice to those who hurt the Chinese community whereas Vega wants to help him.
When Ah Sahm sees Mai Ling and knowing her motives, it is Young Jun that presents an opportunity for Ah Sahm to rival his own sister. Now it is a bit manipulation that Ah Sahm makes the decision for Young Jun to go behind Father Jun’s back, reasons because of honoring the truce but the Hop Wei will lose business.
This is a step for Ah Sahm to do something for himself, and bringing Young Jun to take leadership to go against Mai Ling. As his purpose is fighting for the people, it does take a backseat as he choose to find something to believe in and fight for it.
Now I don’t want to go philosophical but we do see the strengths and weaknesses of characters in this episode. O’Hara’s weakness is the money and the inevitable revelation to Lee, Blake’s political stance, and Young Jun’s reaction to Hop Wei’s business declining are showing their internal weaknesses while strengths whether physical or mental are shown in Leary, Mai Ling and Ah Sahm.
Season 2 has opened San Francisco to the Barbary Coast but we won’t stop there. We are also opened up to Ah Sahm and Young Jun planning to go into business together while Leary is making his stance known. Get ready to go deeper because when we get to Episode 9… you won’t be ready.