HomeBad Ass AsiansEpisode 3: John Chinaman lays low in episode 3 of Cinemax' Warrior

Episode 3: John Chinaman lays low in episode 3 of Cinemax’ Warrior

Andrew Koji (center) plays Ah Sahm in Warrior

By Jana Monji

(Editor’s Note: Each week, Jana Monji will recap that week’s episode of Warrior.)

The “John Chinaman” of the episode’s title is unidentified not because he’s dead and has no identification papers, but because he wants to be incognito. The theme of this episode is who knows and who does not.

Last episode Ah Sahm (Andrew Koji) was in the jail on charges that he assaulted two White men, but is also targeted as a scapegoat for the murder of two Irish men, Morgan and Davis, who were assassinated at the end of episode 1 (The Itchy Onion).  The police have no evidence linking him to the murders, but he attracted attention to himself by defending the mayor’s wife, Penelope “Penny” Blake (Joanna Vanderham), and her valet, Jacob (Kenneth Fok), from two drunken Irish men (Episode 2, There’s No China in the Bible).  Although Ah Sahm pretended he couldn’t speak English when arrested by Sergeant Bill O’Hara (Kieran Bew) and later interrogated by O’Hara’s subordinate Richard Lee (Tom Weston-Jones), he revealed to Penelope he could speak English. However, he didn’t see it as an asset as O’Hara had clearly decided Ah Sahm would be the perfect scapegoat for the unsolved murders. Wang Chao (Hoon Lee) can’t come to Ah Sahm’s aid and the Hop Wei have decided that Ah Sahm’s arrest would help keep the police from looking further into the murders.

During the cold open, anti-Asian activist Dan Leary (Dean S. jagger) walks into a pricy dining room filled with White men and obviously uninvited, he sits down to dine with Byron Mercer (Graham Hopins) and talk about the cable car tracks. Leary pulls out a knife to eat an apple and the dining room quiets down.  Mercer knows that Leary is there to intimidate him, but tells Leary, he will “hire on your recommendation and in return, you’ll help me keep salaries manageable.” Leary gets a consulting fee.

Leary leaves to go to court to listen as Ah Sahm is charged with “two counts of aggravated assault in the first degree.” Prosecutor Stanton (Michael Bundred) objects and reminds the judge that Ah Sahm is the “prime suspect in a double homicide.” Judge Belstaff (Ron Smerczak) is by the book and not the one being written by anti-Asian activists and won’t consider the murders with charges or evidence. Still things do not look good for Ah Sahm because the prosecution has two witnesses, the O’Sheas, but despite Penny’s willingness to testify the “defense has no witnesses.” Remember, Jacob was there but he is Chinese and can’t testify against White people.

The trial is set for the next day at 9 a.m. Leary is troubled by how unmoved the judge was by the possibility of murder so Leary urges O’Hara to take action to insure the man signed in as John Chinaman meets some rough justice before the trial. “The people I speak for have already convicted” Ah Sahm for the two murders, Leary explains.

Later, O’Hara uncuffs three drunk Irish men and locks them in the same cell as Ah Sahm, telling them, “You boys behavior yourselves, you hear me?”  O’Hara walks away, smoking a cigarette and the brawl begins. When O’Hara returns, all the Irish men are down, including one in the neighboring cell.

Surprised O’Hara wonders out loud, “What the hell kind of Chink are you?”

To O’Hara’s surprise, John Chinaman replies, “What the hell kind of cop are you?” Ah Sahm challenges O’Hara because he clearly knows that the color of his skins makes all the difference to O’Hara and the police department.
Their conversation is interrupted by the sound of an opening door, and O’Hara leaves after an angry discussion with his subordinate, Richard Lee. Lee believes that O’Hara left Ah Sahm at the mercy of the three Irish men, but is not left to clean up the mess (None of them are dead). Ah Sahm loses his challenging stare and takes a soft apologetic face while pretending he doesn’t understand English when Lee asks him a question.

Lee isn’t the only one working on Ah Sahm’s behalf. After leaving the court, Penelope goes to a bar to speak with his defense attorney, Phillip Coleman (Aidan Whytock). He was expecting Penny because Buckley warned him and they obviously knew each other. One wonders if he was one of her beaus before she married the mayor. Penny wants to testify, but Coleman tells her, “Buckley has made it excruciatingly clear if I let you anywhere near this case then I lose my job.”

Dianne Doan as Mai Ling in Warrior

In Chinatown, Mai Ling (Dianne Doan) is holding court by herself and makes a decision for one of the Long Zii underlings who nervously asks, “Don’t I need Long Zii’s permission?” Mai Ling assures him, he has Long Zii’s permission through her, his wife. When the man leaves, Li Yung (Joe Taslim) advises Mai Ling, “Your brother was arrested yesterday.” Mai Ling isn’t the least bit surprised, but Mai Ling hasn’t completely cut her ties with her brother.

Li Yong (Joe Taslim) punches his way into the O’Shea residence before Mai Ling enters. Mai Ling makes it clear that the Long Zii will kill the women of the family if Seamus O’Shea (Warrick Grier) and his son Paul O’Shea (Andrew Jones Davies) show up in court to testify.

The next morning, O’Sheas don’t show up in court. The judge dismisses the case.  Lee protects Ah Sahm on his way out of the courtroom, but O’Hara, once alone with Ah Sahm, tells him to go out a side door because “that crowd will tear you to pieces.” O’Hara asks Ah Sahm “Just stay on your side of the line.”

The mayor (Christian McKay) speaks to the angry court audience members and the muckraking reporters, assuring them, “Friends I share your anger and your outrage” because “as you know my wife, my wife, was a victim of this attack as well.”  For him, this is “a sad day for our city” where the average (White) citizens cannot walk the streets “without fear from a foreign criminal element” and “our own courts can’t uphold the very protections put in place” to keep us safe. He promises all of the city’s resources will be devoted to the “safety and sanctity of every (White) man, woman and child of our great city. “God bless you all.  God bless San Francisco and God bless the United States.”

In the alley, Wang Chao (Hoon Lee)  finds Ah Sahm and gives him a ride in a covered carriage. While Ah Sahm thought Young Jun (Jason Tobin) sent him, Wang Chao advises Ah Sahm that as far as Father Jun (Perry Yung) was concerned “you were on your own the minute you step outside of Chinatown.” Wang Chao was sent by Mai Ling who Ah Sahm pretends not to know. Wang Chao wonders, “Why would Long Zii’s pretty bird concern herself over an onion” like Ah Sahm.  Wang Chao relays Mai Ling’s message: “Get out of San Francisco.” But it was Wang Chao himself who in Episode 1 (The Itchy Onion)  told Wang Chao that once branded by the Hop Wei, Ah Sahm cannot go home. He’s owned by the Hop Wei.

Wang Chao takes Ah Sahm back to the Hop Wei who are at Ah Toy’s brothel. Young Jun greets him and Ah Sahm pretends he didn’t understand what happened in court (because he implies he doesn’t understand English) and Ah Sahm also pretend “I had no idea I had left Chinatown.”


Father Jun enters with a measured walk and an angrily quiet face and demands that Ah Sahm look at the brand on his arm. Father Jun tells him “What makes you Hop Wei is your undying devotion to the tong, to your brothers in it.” He then reminds him, “You had no fucking business being out there at all,” meaning in the duck pond. Then he gives Ah Sahm a proper initiation by beating him up with a billy stick.

Ah Toy takes Ah Sahm up to her chambers to apply some ointments on his wounds and asks Ah Sahm to take care of himself because she has plans for him, but declines his offer to stay the night because she expects company already. Downstairs, Ah Sahm gets a missive tied in a ribbon delivered by Jacob.

Ah Sahm follows Jacob back to the mayor’s house to return the money sent by Penny. Penny advises Ah Sahm that her husband is upstairs and he might hear them, but she has used Chinese medicine to drug her husband so she doesn’t have to have sex with him. After returning the money, Ah Sahm admits he followed her because he wanted to prove he wasn’t a coward, but realizes that was a stupid thing to do. Instead of offering money, Ah Sahm tells her, “You could ask my name; here’s a hint: It’s not John Chinaman.” They part, but are obviously attracted to each other.

Elsewhere, the mayor’s man, Buckley, is meeting with Ah Sahm’s sister, Mai Ling. Buckley views the court case as a minor setback because now “the mayor has to show he is hard on Chinatown crime.”

Mai Ling admits that she broke the treaty, but while her “husband is still using restraint” but she assures Buckley that he won’t be a problem for long. Because the Hop Wei burned the shipment of Chinese molasses (opium) in Episode 2 (There’s No China in the Bible), she needs another shipment.

Buckley negotiates, saying, “And I need to see blood in the streets.”  Mai Ling assure him that will happen soon enough.

RELATED: Everything you need to know about the Bruce Lee-inspired Warrior

After the case was dismissed, Leary is angry and at the jail with the help of O’Hara bails his threesome out and asks his thugs, “Does anyone want to tell me how one skinny Chink managed to beat the hell out of all three of you?”  He also warns O’Hara, “You’ve got more concerns, Bill. Your bust didn’t hold up. That yellow bastard just made a fucking fool out of you.”

Leary then visits Seamus O’Shea and sets the O’Shea home on fire and the horde of O’Sheas flee as Leary warns Seamus to “take your family and leave San Francisco tonight. I don’t ever want to see you again.” Leary is the face of Irish terrorism in San Francisco.

If you’re keeping score, then here’s how things lie.

People who know Ah Sahm can speak English: Wang Chao, Penelope Blake, Bill O’Hara and Mai Ling. Possibly Li Yong.

People who know Ah Sahm is Mai Ling’s brother: Mai Ling, Ah Sahm, Li Yong.


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