Kung Fu 1×06 Review: “Rage”

Rage Kung Fu
Pictured (L-R): Eddie Liu as Henry Yan and Olivia Liang as Nicky — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Last week’s episode of Kung Fu was a little heavy, dealing with some prominent and important issues that our country is currently facing. “Rage” was almost the polar opposite tonally, revolving around a comedy of errors heist as Nicky, Henry, Althea, and Ryan tried to steal the dagger from a museum.

“Rage” may very well be my favorite episode of Kung Fu yet. It had everything I love about this series: Shen sibling bonding, Althea being badass, Henry being adorable, and acknowledgment of multiple dangling plot threads. 

First off, the dagger heist! I’ve got to admit, I did laugh a little that Nicky’s first thought to obtain the dagger was to break into the museum. She remained committed to the idea, even after she admitted she had no idea how she was going to do that. I’d say that Henry’s illicit past is rubbing off on her, but she’s the one who had to talk him into it, so it looks like she’s the bad influence in this relationship.

I theorized last week that Nicky’s obsession with tracking down the weapons may end up driving a wedge between her and Henry, though I wasn’t sure how that could happen, as he seems to be just as eager. Tonight’s episode gave a glimpse as to how that may come about. Yes, it ended up being a fake-out, but it’s still worth considering that at some point, Nicky’s zeal could end up pushing Henry away.

He’s worried that she is going to become so consumed by tracking down the weapons that she ends up getting hurt or even killed in the process. Mostly, he seems to be worried about the fact that she doesn’t seem to care about her own well-being. At least we know she does care enough about her family to throw in the towel when necessary.

On a semi-related note, I have to say that I found it hilarious how unbelievably awkward Henry is around Jin and Mei-Li. That he can be so suave with Nicky while they’re sparring and so tongue-tied around her parents is just hysterical. It also makes me giddy at the fact that he admitted it’s because he wants to make a good impression.

But it does make you wonder where Nicky and Henry stand, relationship-wise. She likely referred to him as “just a friend” to her mother because she didn’t want Mei-Li prying into her private life, but they do seem to be in some sort of limbo after their kiss a couple of weeks ago. Henry is clearly interested in her, but with Evan around a lot in “Rage”, they really played up the potential love triangle.

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Pictured (L-R): Jon Prasida as Ryan, Shannon Dang as Althea, Olivia Liang as Nicky and Eddie Liu as Henry — Photo: The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

I have loved all of the Shen sibling shenanigans that we’ve had over the last couple of episodes. “Rage” had all three of them teaming up to steal the dagger. I was a little surprised at how quickly Althea and Ryan agreed to break the law, but I was absolutely thrilled watching them work together. They ended up not doing as much as I thought – although I always appreciate the reminder of how clever Althea is – but it was still awesome to see them come together like that.

Their plan seemed a little, how do I say this… flimsy? They didn’t seem to have much of one, and they were clearly acting suspicious. Even if Evan hadn’t realized they were up to something almost immediately, they literally stopped in the doorway and talked all about how they were going to disable security and create a distraction. (Side note: I sure did enjoy Ryan’s distraction.)

During the opening scene, I found myself ruminating that it’s a little upsetting how a show called Kung Fu has so little of it. The scene at the beginning of “Rage” and the scene last week revolved around training sessions and did not put Nicky into any actual fights. So it was nice when she and Henry ended up having to fight their way out of the loading dock after finding the dagger. You can see it in their training sessions, but they make a good team! I’m sure we’ll get to see more of them fighting together as the season goes on.

Not only that, we got another Nicky versus Zhilan showdown! I wasn’t expecting it to happen this soon, and I’m impressed that Nicky was able to fight so competently in heels, seeing as how she couldn’t walk in them earlier. Not that I am at all opposed to watching beautiful women fight while wearing gorgeous outfits.

But can these scenes happen in the daytime? I have trouble following them because they’re always in the dark.

Nicky’s fight with Zhilan in “Rage” revealed some information about Pei-Ling that Nicky did not want to hear. Zhilan claimed that Pei-Ling murdered their father and stole the sword; it’s entirely possible that this is true, but context is everything. Pei-Ling’s family were the guardians of the sword, and maybe she felt as though they were no longer worthy of it for whatever reason. After all, Zhilan is trying to track down all of the other weapons and gather their power – and she’s killed multiple people to do so – so I highly doubt her motives are altruistic.

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Pictured: Olivia Liang as Nicky — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

But this admission will definitely cause some soul-searching for Nicky, who has been using Pei-Ling’s memory as her conscience since she returned to the United States. Not to mention, her quest to stop Zhilan is largely about vengeance rather than justice, and it seems clear that she’s willing to stop at nothing to stop Zhilan – possibly to the detriment of other aspects of her life.

I thought for sure that “Rage” was going to end either with Evan getting hurt or him finding Nicky in the alley. That lingering shot of him watching her follow after Zhilan definitely made it seem like he would go after her. He knows that she is hiding something, and it has to be something big to get her siblings and Henry involved.

I don’t like how Kung Fu keeps adding and dropping Evan as it sees fit. Maybe it’s a good thing that the lone white guy isn’t a more present character in this series, but it’s making his storyline a little uneven. In the past few episodes, he’s only made a few token appearances; I actually appreciated the nod to this when Nicky dropped off the delivery, because he assumed she’d come to ask him for help. “Rage” brought back Evan’s girlfriend – remember her? – and played up the potentially lingering feelings that we haven’t really seen recently.

“Rage” also dealt with Althea’s continuing predicament regarding her pig of an ex-boss. This time, she was tracked down by her former employer’s lawyer, who pressured her into signing a non-disclosure agreement, hinting that it would be very difficult for her family if she refused. Althea initially rejected him – it’s not like she was running to the press anyway – but in the end, she gives in, using the payoff money to help keep Ryan’s clinic open.

Watching Althea deal with this alone is very frustrating. I just know that eventually Nicky is going to end up going after Althea’s old boss, and that will be extremely satisfying. But right now, I just want to see Althea confide in her fiancé. Dennis seems like an amazing person, and I can’t imagine he wouldn’t support her. It’s hard to watch her struggle on her own.

What did you think of “Rage”?

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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