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‘Kung Fu’ 1×04 recap: Nicky and Henry hunt down artifacts

WHAT'S IN THE BOX?!

‘Kung Fu’ 1×04, Season 1, Episode 4, “Hand,” Aired Apr. 28, 2021

In Kung Fu 1×04 Nicky and Henry track down a private art collector; the Shens put together dinner with the Soongs, their future in-laws; and Joe and Ryan go out on a date. 

Nicky’s Quest Continues

Last week, the episode ended with Nicky unlocking a puzzle box and finding an ornate key inside. This week’s episode begins with Henry figuring out what the key unlocks, and Zhilan continuing to source experts to find the rest of the biange.

Henry has stumbled across a Chinese folk story called “The One True Warrior.” The illustrations of the story show a box that looks eerily similar to the miniature puzzle box. Nicky and Henry discover that a private collector, Travers, has bought the box a few years ago at auction. Knowing that their request at a private audience with Travers will be turned down, they plan on sneaking into his mansion to check out the box.

With a little bit of sleuthing, they successfully unlock Travers’ front door. Henry’s in his element, identifying objects with historical significance. But he immediately becomes concerned when he sees a priceless artifact casually sitting on a mantel. Nicky finds the box, but before she can unlock it, a man in black sneaks up on the two of them and manages to run away with the box. 

The man in black is working for Zhilan and sends her an update. Zhilan is pleased and immediately sends a courier to pick up the box. 

Nicky is tired of Zhilan managing to stay one step ahead of her. To cheer her up, Henry contacts his friend Randall, who works out of an abandoned factory and heads up a network of thieves. Turns out, Randall knows the name of the thief who stole the box: Razor, a legendary thief. He tells Henry the name and address in exchange for the artifact that had disturbed Henry.

Nicky can’t believe that Henry stole one of Traver’s artifacts. Henry tells her that Randall is one of the good guys because he “repatriates” stolen artifacts, and he can guarantee the return of the artifact to the rightful owner. Upset, she asks Henry what else he hasn’t told her and lets slip that Evan has looked into Henry’s background. Before the two of them can talk it out, Nicky and Henry are yanked out of their car by Razor’s gruff bodyguard. It’s only because Razor hears their Randall connection, that he lets them in. 

Razor taunts the two of them. Having bested them once, he doesn’t understand why they’re back for more. Nicky challenges Razor for the box and key. The two face off, and Razor’s both amused and intrigued by her. He immediately picks up on her Shaolin training and says his favorite movie of all time is The Executor from Shaolin. That movie taught him that everyone has a weak spot. Only, Nicky doesn’t have a weak spot (or so she claims) and she finally gets the upper hand. 

Right when the courier gets to Razor’s is when Nicky gets to open the box. (I was half expecting Zhilan to be inside the car and kill everyone.) The box holds the knife scabbard! And the pain that had plagued Nicky’s hand ever since she grabbed the sword at the monastery stopped once she touched the scabbard.

Zhilan receives the box from Razor; he also threw in the key. Breathless, she unlocks the box — only to see it empty. She is enraged. 

Nicky and Henry are back at home. Before she gets out of his car, Nicky apologizes to Henry for doubting him. She entrusts him with the scabbard as a peace offering. As a thank you, Henry tells her about his storied past. A childhood of petty crime led him to the Chinese community center where he fell in love of research and history, which helped him get out of his troubled past. Enamoured, she kisses him. 

Althea & the Soongs

Jin and Mei Li are hosting Dennis’s parents for dinner. Nicky teases Althea about the “bride price” dinner, expressing her dismay at the almost callousness of tradition. 

Mei Li is determined to impress the Soongs. That means that dinner has to be fancy duck, no dumplings. Which is a bummer because Jin has been experimenting with different fusion dumplings all day. But he relents because no matter how high maintenance and shrieky Mei Li can get, Jin loves her and just wants his wife to be happy. 

Althea gets ready for dinner, and Dennis is there, being his supportive but oblivious himbo self. He suggests that she wear her pink power suit, because that’s what she was wearing when she got her promotion. Althea immediately puts that suit away, her good mood shattered. To put a cherry on top of things, Bridget Ross, the journalist who has been doggedly calling and emailing her about the sexual allegation story, keeps texting her. But she has good news this time: another woman is coming forward, the story against Althea’s former boss is coming out, and she won’t contact Althea again. 

Time for dinner! The Soongs are uber fancy. They gift the Shens a bottle of champagne from 1990, the year they emigrated to the States. (There’s a slight dig there, as the Soongs emigrated three years later, and seem to be in a higher tax bracket.) 

After exchanging a few pleasantries, the Soongs decide, in the name of transparency and directness, to go for the kill. They request that Althea sign a prenup. Everyone is shocked, and even Dennis is upset at the gall of his parents. During the pandemonium, Althea gets a text from Bridget: the other woman, the other source, has decided not to come forward and so the expose on her former boss is put on ice.

Unable to deal with the amplified stress, Althea asks point blank whether the Soongs have predetermined her value. She takes off the gifted necklace, gently sets it down, and walks away. A little bit later, Dennis walks to the kitchen to find her after he’s told his parents to back off. He probes Althea to ask what is really bothering her, but she’s not ready yet to tell him about her experience. 

After the Soongs are sent home, Jin and Mei Li giggle over the night’s events, as they get drunk sipping on the champagne that the Soongs brought over. 

At the end of the night, Nicky and Althea debrief about their days. Althea, in a fit of bravery, tells Nicky about her boss. She’s conflicted about telling her story versus wanting to put this moment behind her. She doesn’t feel like she has the right to ruin a man’s reputation over a mistake. She also doesn’t know if she’s brave enough to help bring that man down. Her relief at someone else stepping forward to tell their story was cut short and now she doesn’t know what to do. 

Joe & Randall

Joe is visiting Ryan at the clinic, who’s stressed and can’t find his stethoscope. Joe cutely finds Ryan’s missing stethoscope and manages to garner a date from Ryan for later that night. 

The two end up at a pop-up art exhibit but for the first portion of the night, Ryan has his nose stuck in his phone, unable to stop working. But Joe’s determined to help Ryan relax and unwind and take his mind off things. So he teases Ryan until Ryan hesitatingly explains that he’s not experienced in serial dating. Joe doesn’t really care, and they share a cute moment. 

Henry vs. Evan Week 4

This was definitely a Nicky and Henry episode. 

Evan only appears twice in this episode and, in both scenes, he worries about the bad influence Henry can have on Nicky. He’s asked an investigatory friend to look into Henry’s files and discovers that Henry has a record of breaking and entering, and a history at juvie. Feeling like he has to tell Nicky what he’s found, he gets the ice treatment from her. She can’t believe that he would do something as unethical as unseal Henry’s juvie records.

Althea totally calls Nicky out for insta-stalking Henry and doesn’t understand why the two haven’t “locked it down” yet. Happily for Althea (and the viewers), Nicky does indeed lock it down with Henry by the end of the episode.

Good Deed of the Week

This week’s B plot didn’t revolve around Nicky helping out a victim. Instead of Nicky Robin Hood-ing her way through San Francisco, we get two familial storylines. Jin and Mei Li prepare dinner (and their nerves) with the fancy future in-laws, and charming Joe convinces Ryan to unwind and relax during date night. 

Nicky’s Jacket of the Week

Further venturing away from her leather jacket supply, this week, Nicky wore a gorgeous, patterned, shearling jacket. 

Final Thoughts

Last week’s episode was incredible in showing a little glimmer of empathy and backstory into Zhilan. I was hoping for a little more this week, but we’re back to her being rich and aloof as a generic villain. 

Additionally, showrunners: please, please, please don’t turn Evan into a wet noodle. While I understand his purpose in the show, I don’t want him to turn into a disapproving, protective ex-boyfriend who gets in the way of story and plot progression.

Overall, I liked this family-centric episode. The “Nicky saves XYZ from their fate” storylines from the past 3 episodes are fine and tolerable, but they’ve already become formulaic. I like learning more about each Shen family member and I love that we get to see more of Dennis. My only complaint is that Ryan’s storyline was the slimmest. And why didn’t we get a super cute kiss between Joe and Ryan?!

Best Quotes of the Episode

  • “Surprises are for people who don’t have jobs.” — Mei Li
  • “The object never has a say in what she’s worth.” — Althea

 

Tune into Kung Fu every Wednesday at 8/7c on The CW.

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Jasmine Lee

Jasmine is a coffee-swilling, movie and TV quote-dropping, social media-obsessive pop culture junkie. She's previously written for ScreenPrism, MuggleNet, and Audrey Magazine. She currently wields her research skills at a tech company in Chicago. She watches at least one episode of either Friends or Cheers every night before going to bed, and she loves physical DVDs and Blu-rays just as much as she loves actual, real books (read: a lot). Her happy place includes: lots of blankets, a mug of coffee as big as her face, dependable WiFi, and hours of parsing through her favorite televsion shows and movies. Her dream leading man would be a combination of John Wick, Rory Williams, Jason Walsh, Aladdin, Tristan Thorn, and Ron Weasley.

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