I knew Ah Sahm will lose. The other one is much better than him, it was clear from the beginning of the series. They're both skilled, Ah Sahm has that raw skill that needs more training. I loved the episode. This was amazing, the show keeps surprising me. So much happened, it's all interesting, too.
The first sixteen minutes after the title sequence was great. That fight between Ah Sahm and Li Yong lasted a lot longer than I was expecting. I really liked it, and while I don't have a definite opinion on the choreography and whether or not it was the best we've seen, I do think the fight sequence itself was the best fight sequence that we've seen. I like the little detail that implied why Li Yong is accustomed to getting hit, with the way he had two Long Zii hatchetmen continuously hit him with wooden sticks. And given the way Ah Sahm fights and trains, he's definitely not used to it, and his hits probably don't pack as much power as Li Yong's hits do, either. I also liked the correlation of Ah Sahm's master's words about how you can't fight if you can't breathe to when after Li Yong broke Ah Sahm's nose, that was when the fight was over; when, if that hadn't happened, Ah Sahm would've likely kept getting back up and may have ended up beating Li Yong. But I do think that the writing was a little too obvious, and not to mention, cliché: in that, it was written to tell you that both of them won't survive, one of them will be killed, and then a third party intervening and preventing that from happening. I think the writing of that was a little too in-your-face and on-the-nose. I'd say that the beginning of the episode and the ending of the episode were the highlights of this episode.
One thing that I noticed was Zing in the background, and that he didn't look impressed with what he was seeing. He looked very unimpressed and nonchalant while his Fung Hai hatchetmen were into it and cheering a little. That, and the ending of the episode, which showcased Zing's capabilities a little further beyond what we saw when he was introduced, gave me the impression that he may be more skilled than Ah Sahm and even Li Yong. If so, Li Yong made the right choice to get Mai Ling to agree to the dual instead of going to war some more against the Hop Wei with the Fung Hai as allies. If they would've ended up betraying the Long Zii, Zing would've been able to beat Li Yong.
The cinematography in this episode was great. I'm not well-versed or knowledgeable enough when it comes to cinematography; so, I have no idea whether the general cinematography in this episode was great. But I think there were examples of specific shots that really caught my eye that I really liked. The above-head shot with Chao in the middle of the square ring, looking up as the camera view rose above the circular ring of fire right before the title sequence began, was one of those shots. The other shots were the ones with young Ah Sahm and his master, and that one shot with young Mai Ling leading him down the dirt path towards their farm. Those shots, especially, were fantastic. Whatever location that was, it was a great choice.
I thought that the references to minor details that were "brought up" earlier in the season were nice. The jade and the mechanical thing with the gun. I had a feeling that the scene a few episodes ago where Mai Ling went to Chao to set up a meeting with the Fung Hai for her and the fact that he tried to get her to buy the mechanical contraption that goes on your arm where you can hide it and then shoots out the gun into your hand was foreshadowing that it'll be significant at some point later on in the season - and it was finally used in this episode. And the jade was expanded on in this episode. It was revealed that it's actually Ah Sahm's jade, given to him by his master; the one who's responsible for Ah Sahm's fighting skills; Ah Sahm gave it to Mai Ling when they were younger.
The further development of the real-estate tycoon's murder, done by Ah Toy, in that Bill and Lee went to Chao and tried to follow up on that was surprising. I guess I thought there wouldn't be any effort exerted in that regard. But Ah Toy and her reputation as a Chinese swordsman killer was brought back into relevance at the end of the previous episode, so the fact that Bill and Lee are still focused on that and went to Chao for what they were hoping for; information, is not something out of nowhere. And he may know that Bill killed Jack Damon. The last thing he said to Bill during that scene seemed a little telling. He would likely know about that considering that he's associated with everyone; the police, the Long Zii, the Hop Wei, and even the Fung Hai - and Jack worked for the Fung Hai. Who knows how deep Chao's connections go.
But I do think the last thing he said to Bill was slightly telling in another regard, too. I'm guessing that Chao knows that it's Ah Toy and that it'll be a plot thread that's resolved in the next episode; it's the finale, after all. My theory is that Chao is aware of Ah Toy's revolution plan and is on her side with it. They've had scenes together, and I got the impression that they're close, beyond her being the owner of a brothel and him being a frequent customer. And they're both mysterious characters, so it's likely for two mysterious characters to be connected, right? I think that the Chinese swordsman plotline will be (seemingly) resolved in the finale because Chao will throw someone else under the bus, offering up a scapegoat that isn't Ah Toy or Lai, and that'll be enough for the police, and that'll be that.
"A guilty fox hunts his own hole." I wonder what Lee's Southern wisdom means. From a writing perspective, it's obvious what he said must be significant; that it has an important meaning. But I don't know how to interpret what the meaning of it is. I don't know how it could relate to Ah Toy, especially. You'd think that it's a metaphor that relates to her. The reason he said it was because the topic of discussion with him and Bill was the Chinese swordsman, after all. I have no idea what it could be, though. It's possible that it doesn't have anything to do with Ah Toy and that it had to do with Mai Ling. She did tell a story that had to do with a fox two episodes ago. It was my impression that she was THE fox in the story but that in this particular instance, more than one fox was surrounding the tiger - Long Zii, and that's why her speech went the direction it did. The guilty fox that hunts his own hole could be referring to her being the fox borrowing terror from (Long Zii) the tiger, and that she's a guilty fox because she killed him and because he was on the same side as her.
The previous episode was slow, and I think this episode was likewise slow. The difference between the two is that I found this episode to be more entertaining and enjoyable. This episode's biggest focus was on showing and depicting the aftermath of Ah Sahm's bloody and physically damaging loss to Li Yong. It used that as a way to show us a smidgen of his past through a flashback; how he met his master, the promise he made to his sister by giving her the jade that we saw her take out of a drawer a few episodes ago, and most importantly, to showcase that he's probably thinking back on that memory through the lens of the way she used to be because earlier in the episode, she gave Li Yong the go-ahead to kill him when they fought.
This episode did two other things to note. The plotline with the cable car track was progressed, and the development of it is now underway. And because of Buckley, it seems like Mercer will "betray" Leary and the Irish by hiring Chinese workers, perhaps replacing all of the Irish workers or only a few. The other thing of significance that was done in this episode was the ending. It seems like the Fung Hai is finally starting to close in on Bill. Needless to say, those two things will be focused on the most in the finale. I seem to remember that the cable car track plotline was concluded in the finale, but I'm not sure about the plotline with Bill's debt to the Fung Hai. That may be left open-ended and then explored and developed further in the second season.
It started off really well, but then it just dragged on and added a whole bunch of filler scenes.
This show is squandering its potential.