Recap: Althea Finds Her Voice in ‘Kung Fu’ Season 1, Episode 4 “Hand”


Note: This episode of Kung Fu includes descriptions of sexual harassment and assault.

In “Hand,” we see more of Althea and Dennis’ relationship as the Soongs come to dinner. But Althea becomes the focus in another key way – the article about her boss is going to print. She wrestles with complicated feelings around her own experiences, and Shannon Dang gives a heartbreaking performance as Althea faces what happened to her. We also get more of Henry’s past as he and Nicky get closer to finding one of Zhilan’s treasures.

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Nicky is scrolling through photos of keys as Jin adorably shares his Swiss-Chinese recipe with her (delightedly exclaiming “It’s fusion!” while melting everyone’s hearts). Mei-Li enters, quipping that “surprises are for people who don’t have jobs” when she overhears Jin discussing surprising her with the recipe. Mei-Li is stressed because the Soongs, Althea’s future in-laws, are coming for dinner. It’s part of the “bride price” tradition, which Nicky objects to on feminist grounds as Althea defends it, saying it’s a big deal to Mrs. Soong (and it doesn’t hurt that she gets presents out of the deal). Nicky remarks that the Soongs sound snobby while Althea grabs Nicky’s buzzing phone. Althea sees that Nicky has Henry’s social media up and gently teases her for “researching” him, before giving the sisterly advice that Henry is eligible and into her: why not make it official? Nicky brushes her off, but is clearly thinking about it.

At the library, Henry and Nicky continue to try to figure out what the key goes to. Henry found a Chinese fairytale with an illustration that matches the design on the key. The story is about a little girl opening a box, but the text ends before finding out what was inside. They realize that the story must be true, and they find an ancient box that was recently sold for millions of dollars to a hedge fund manager named Tom Travers. He’s in Napa Valley and is known for collecting Chinese art (“Charming,” quips Henry, as they look at the photo of an older white man proudly displaying his collection of stolen artwork). They both know Travers will never let them get close to the box, but they find out he’s speaking in Amsterdam this week and won’t be home. Henry suggests they go on an adventure, and Nicky smiles. At the office, Evan is on the phone with Brad, who dug up something surprising: Henry’s criminal history.

Joe is visiting Ryan at the clinic, but Ryan can’t enjoy it as he is slammed with patients. He’s even lost his stethoscope (which is hanging around his neck). Joe notices this and tells him that if he finds it, Ryan has to go out with him after work. Ryan takes the bet, and Joe flirtatiously takes the scope off Ryan’s neck while saying “see you at seven.” At the restaurant, Jin continues to experiment with his recipes as Mei-Li worries that the Soongs will find their food “too country” considering they normally dine at more expensive establishments. Mei-Li is worried that Althea is going to morph into one of them, but as always, Jin is confident that Althea will always be the daughter they raised.

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Althea and Dennis are preparing for the dinner, with Dennis reassuring her regarding her outfit choices. He pulls out a stunning necklace and says it’s a family heirloom from his mother. She has nothing to worry about from Mrs. Soong. As Dennis leaves, Althea gets another call from Bridget, the journalist. She found a different woman to go on the record, and the story is coming out that night.

In Napa, Henry and Nicky break in, with Henry showing off his moves without revealing how he’s so good at breaking and entering. Henry, a history buff who knows the history of all the art, sees a piece that the Chinese governement has been searching for for decades. He laments that all the art Travers has was stolen from their culture, but Nicky tells him to keep his eye on the prize. They see the box, but as they’re about to try the key, a masked figure leaps out at Nicky. They fight, and it’s clear this mystery figure is just as good a fighter as they are. He runs with the box, and Zhilan gets a call. The man in the house was working for her.

Diana and Alfred Soong arrive, and Diana starts off by complimenting Mei-Li’s skin routine. Alfred gives them a wine bottle from the year the two immigrated to the U.S., and it’s clear they are also trying to make a good impression. Althea breathes a sigh of relief. Henry takes Nicky to an abandoned factory, where he tells her he has a contact named Randall who may know the the person who took the box. He tells her to stay in the car and goes inside. While she’s passing the time, she calls Evan back. He tells her that Henry’s juvenile record is full of breaking and entering, and she stops him, asking how he found records that should have been sealed. Evan protests that he just wants her to be careful, and she hangs up. But the call rattles her, and she leaves the car to go inside the house. She sees that Henry did take the artifact he was eyeing in the mansion, and he seems to be presenting it to Randall.

Nicky waits back at the car, where Henry returns and is oblivious that she saw him with the artifact. He excitedly says that Randall knows the thief: it’s Razor, a skilled man with a gambling addiction. He says Randall told him a courier is going to Razor’s place tonight to pick up the box, and Nicky hides her skepticism.

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At dinner with the Soongs, everything is going well … until Alfred says they want Althea to sign a pre-nup. Dennis is upset, asking his parents if they planned this. As they begin to argue, Althea gets a notification – Bridget’s source dropped out, and the story won’t be published after all. Diana tries to cut the tension by saying that Althea looks lovely with her mother’s necklace, and Althea stonily says “Am I worth more with it on? Is that why you gave it to me?” It seems the news about the story has hit her hard, and Mei-Li takes her hand. She rants about the idea of the bride price, and as everyone looks at her, stunned, she says “the object never has a say in how much she’s worth.” She takes off the necklace and leaves as Dennis stares angrily at his father.

Joe and Ryan are at an art exhibition, where Ryan has not looked up from his phone once as he deals with his neediest patients. Joe playfully tries to get him to have fun by taking him to the basement (Ryan: “Is this where you murder me?”) where he has a special exhibit for him. Ryan confesses that he has never really dated anyone, just one night stands and occasional dates. He says that’s part of why he’s been hiding on his phone. Joe says that he already knew and that he doesn’t mind as they watch the show together.

While Nicky and Henry drive, he asks if everything’s okay. She tells him what she saw, and he says that the artifact was how he got the information. He also says that Randall takes back stolen artifacts and art, getting them back to their home countries and rightful owners. Nicky asks about his record, revealing what Evan told her. Henry says that if she had questions, she could have just asked him. They arrive, and immediately are greeted with a floodlight in their faces. A man with a gun forces them out of the car, saying that they’re on private property. Henry mentions they know Randall, and Razor tells the man over walkie talkie to let them in.

Inside the house, Razor has the box on a table. He says it’s already sold, so Nicky proposes a wager (knowing his weakness for betting). They’ll fight, fair and square, and the winner gets the box – and the key. She says even if she wins, she’ll let him keep the box since they just want what’s inside. He agrees.

Dennis goes to Althea and tells her he told his parents the pre-nup is out of the question. She’s embarrassed, but he says it was nice to see his parents taken down a peg. He even gently teases her before asking if the argument was really about the pre-nup … or something else. She says she’s not quite ready yet, and he doesn’t push her. Razor and Nicky fight, and she wins as Henry proudly smiles. They open the box, and inside she finds the scabbard for the sword – the one Zhilan is after. In Zhilan’s lair, she opens the box to find it empty.

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Jin and Mei-Li discuss the dinner, laughing at Diana’s reaction. In the car, Nicky tells Henry that the burn on her hand has stopped hurting now that she’s found the scabbard. She apologizes for not going to him first with questions about his past. She says they both have things they don’t know about each other and that she trusts him. She gives him the scabbard to protect it. Henry tells her he wants to explain. He grew up poor with his grandmother and got mixed up in petty theft as a kid. After juvie, he took a Chinese art history class in community college and became passionate about finding his own roots. He says that’s why Travers made him so angry, saying “real history shouldn’t be hoarded in a house somewhere, it should belong to everyone.” Nicky is moved, and they kiss.

Nicky sits with Althea to talk about dinner. Nicky is about to talk about Henry when Althea gets upset. She confides in Nicky about the story about her boss, and shares that her boss assaulted her too. She describes the pattern of sexual harassment leading up to the assault. She says she feels awful for feeling relieved when she heard there were others because it made her feel less alone. Nicky cries, saying she’s sorry for what she went through and is even more sorry she wasn’t there. Althea says she knows she has the power to speak out, but she just can’t do it as Nicky hugs her.

Kung Fu airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.

I am a nurse and dedicated nerd from Boston, MA. When I'm not at work, I'm rewatching old favorites like Supernatural or discovering my new obsessions (too many to count!). When not fangirling, I can be found reading, writing, or listening to a true crime podcast. You can find me on Twitter @juleswritesblog for more nerdy nonsense.

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