Kung Fu 1×02 Review: “Silence”

Silence Kung Fu
Pictured: Olivia Liang as Nicky Shen — Photo: Kailey Schwerman/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Nicky struggles to reacclimate to “normal” life in “Silence” while also doing her best to keep investigating the mysterious Zhilan, with help from both Evan and Henry.

There is some progress on the Zhilan front in “Silence”. With Henry and Evan both working the case from different angles, while we still haven’t learned much, we are taking steps. Evan discovers that Zhilan and Pei-Ling were actually sisters, and Henry deduces – thanks to a sketch of Zhilan’s pendant courtesy of Nicky – that the two women were the sacred guardians of the sword. Each mystical artifact has a guardian family, but there isn’t much information available, since most people believe these stories to be just that.

It looks like I spoke prematurely in last week’s review when I said that the Tony Kang plot would be a multi-episode arc. Judging by this episode, it looks as though Zhilan and the sword will be a season-long mystery while we get a story-of-the-week in every episode as the B plot. Tony Kang may still come back – there is no way that someone like him just goes down with no repercussions, but it won’t be a main story the way I thought.

However, we do get hints of something deeper happening with Althea that aren’t resolved by the end of the episode, so it seems as though that will be an ongoing issue as well. I’m intrigued by her mysterious phone call. Does she have a stalker? Is it a former business associate? Did she lend her hacking skills to some unsavory characters?

Nicky says something to Henry about having spent the last three years helping sisters in need, which leads me to believe that each episode will feature Nicky being a good Samaritan to someone. Of course, in the case of Ronda in “Silence”, sometimes Nicky’s help just makes things worse. She was surprised by the abusive boyfriend coming back unexpectedly, but she revealed her hand too early and gave him the chance to escalate the situation.

I’d like it if Nicky gets better at intervening as the season goes on, but I suspect that won’t happen, because otherwise how would we get to see Nicky use her kung fu? It also gives the show a reason to keep throwing her and Evan together as she keeps turning to him for legal help.

Which reminds me that this show needs about 50% more Henry. It’s unfair that Evan has so much more to work with, but Henry is doing the best he can. I do like that he is encouraging Nicky to keep up her training; her family hasn’t said much about it – other than amazement as she takes down armed thugs – so I’d wager that Henry will be a strong advocate for Nicky’s skills in that area. Based on the preview for next week’s episode, we may even get to see them train together.

Silence Kung Fu
Pictured (L-R): Olivia Liang as Nicky Shen and Jon Prasida as Ryan Shen — Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

I very much like the exploration of the family dynamics in “Silence”. Nicky has returned after three years and no doubt expected her family to be a little more emotional about it; instead, she discovers that life has moved on without her. Her parents and siblings have obligations and routines that don’t include her, and as she tries to slot herself back into their lives, she is struggling a bit. 

Mei-Li is suspicious about her daughter’s return, which I think is interesting. She doesn’t seem to realize that the reason Nicky ran away is because she felt pressured into accepting a life she didn’t want – by Mei-Li – and suspects that because Nicky abandoned the family once, she will do so again. It’s likely that Mei-Li will be “proven right” at least once this season, as Nicky works to balance her sleuthing with her attempts at reconciliation. We’ve seen this a thousand times – a character trying to do too much at once and ultimately falling behind at one thing.

We’ve already seen the beginning of this in “Silence” when Nicky promises to continue the game of Go she and her father were in the middle of when she ran away and comes home to find him asleep on the couch. Mei-Li confronts her, and it seems as though some of her suspicions are because she doesn’t want to see her husband hurt the way he was when Nicky left the first time.

She’s also failing her brother, who has been pressuring Jin to get a check-up and asks Nicky to encourage him as well. She makes up for both by the end of the episode, starting a new game with her father – as proof that she doesn’t plan on going anywhere – while also convincing him to go to the clinic.

I really like that Kung Fu took this route; often when a character is torn between something that is important to them and something that is important to others, they will choose the former, alienating their loved ones. “Silence” has Nicky acknowledge that she is trying to do right by her family and taking steps to atone for flaking on her promises. I think it’s important that Nicky is trying so hard, especially after she admitted to her mother that she only returned home because she had nowhere else to go.

I am extremely surprised that she’s so far been able to keep all of her commitments regarding her sister’s wedding – participating in not only dress shopping but the cake tasting as well. I really love her and Althea’s relationship and am glad to see them spending so much time together. I’m also pleased that even though they argued during “Silence” – Nicky’s keeping secrets about what happened in China while also making assumptions about Althea’s “fairy tale” life – it didn’t turn into something super dramatic. Althea not only still expected Nicky to show up at the cake tasting, she even helped her with Ronda and her mom’s situation.

What did you think of “Silence”?

Author: Jamie Sugah

Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.

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