‘American Born Chinese’ Recap & Ending, Explained: Did The Iron Princess Kidnap Jin’s Parents?

If you haven’t seen the new Disney+ series American Born Chinese, go check out our review to know why you should see it! A lot goes down in the 8-part series, and here we’ll attempt to make sense of it all. The series is based on a graphic novel that goes by the same name and was written all the way back in 2006, making it uniquely fantastic. The show promises a good time with good dialogue, fun costumes, and a fantastic cast. Let’s get into it immediately.


Spoilers Ahead

Plot Synopsis: What Happens In ‘American Born Chinese’ Series?

Up in the heavens, the Jade Empire faces an uprising from the Bull Demon. The iron staff Jingu Bang, which is wielded by the monkey king Sun Wukong, can stop the bull demon, or with it, he can destroy Heaven and Earth alike. But Wei-Chen, Sun Wukong’s son, decided to steal the staff because he had a dream in which a crane spoke to him, telling him that there was a fourth sacred scroll. That is the scroll of power, and Buddha sprinkled it into the world so nobody would get absolute power. Then a couple of families became obsessed with the fragments of the scroll and began a war with each other, even though they were once peaceful. Finally, Buddha decided that only if the warring factions find peace and balance with each other will the power of the fourth sutra reveal itself. Wei-Chen hopes to find this fourth scroll with the help of his staff, the Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin, and a young boy on Earth, whom he believes is his guide to finding the fourth sutra. Over his time on Earth, Wei-Chen encounters his father and his father’s men, but with the help of Guanyin, he is able to extend his time there to make friends and save the two worlds.


On Earth, Jin heads to a new school year where he hopes to try out for the soccer team and live his best life. His best friend Anuj isn’t talking to him anymore because of some of Jin’s new friends, and while he isn’t happy about that, he decides to side with his new friends. Immediately at school, Jin has a crush on a girl named Amelia, who doesn’t know that he’s been around for many years, but some sparks seem to be flying. When a new Chinese kid joins the school, the principal thinks it’s right for Jin to be his “guide,” and Wei-Chen, said kid, becomes his shadow. At the same time, Travis, the guy who insulted Anuj, continues to make strange remarks about both Jin and Wei-Chen. Wei-Chen seems to be a very confident young man in comparison to Jin because he can stand up for himself and not hide his real likes and feelings. At home, Jin doesn’t love the Chinese food he has to eat or the fact that his parents are always fighting.

On the other hand, an old popular sitcom named “Beyond Repair” makes a return to TV across America, and one of the protagonists, Freddy Wong, is the butt of all jokes on the show as he says, “What could go Wong?” before something terribly bad happens to him. In the present day, this has become a huge meme on the internet, and people begin to take videos of small accidents that regular people get into and make memes out of them with the “iconic” line. In reality, Jamie, who plays Freddy, doesn’t love what he did back then and only did it in the hopes that it would open up many opportunities for him. At school, while Jin is arguing with Wei-Chen about not being his friend, he gets into a small accident that gets recorded and uploaded as one of the Wong memes. Jin thinks it’s Travis who’s taken the video, so, at the soccer tryouts, he decides to act up and tackle the guy, making his nose bleed. Jin confesses to Wei-Chen that he lost his spot on the team because he tried to take revenge on Travis, but Wei-Chen is the one to recognize that it’s not Travis who took the video by zooming in. Jin sees that it is Greg, the team captain, who took the video and feels terrible for what he’s done and also for being treated like crap by someone he was excited to get to know.


Guanyin joins Wei-Chen on Earth and hilariously lives like a regular immigrant aunt, aside from the amazingly graceful fighting skills and all. Quickly, the school cultural team decides to have an uprising of their own against the video of Jin, but Jin just wants everyone to forget the video. Wei-Chen, who is still trying to be Jin’s friend, ends up telling the club that it was Greg who took the video. Greg’s big move is to tell Jin that he will talk to the coach for him because he believes he’s a great player. Jin realizes he’s being used, as his little video was considered an act of bullying. Jin decides to talk to the coach himself and manages to win him over by saying he’ll set up the new equipment room, but in the end, Wei-Chen, who decides to help, is too strong, and the whole room is messed up in about 5 seconds. But it helps because, in the end, the coach gives him the spot. On the same day, Jin happens upon Wei-Chen fighting with one of Sun Wukong’s pig-faced men, and Wei-Chen tries to convince him to be his guide.

It’s Jin’s first day on the soccer team, and at a party for all the football kids, there’s a ritual the team does every year. All the newbies must complete some tasks to win a pair of golden cleats. Jin is doing a great job until one of the tasks ends up being very difficult. He has to cover a big bear statue with toilet paper. Wei-Chen says he’ll help him if, in return, Jin helps him find the fourth scroll. They succeed, and Jin promises to help Wei-Chen, but in the middle of the excitement, the staff that was used by Wei-Chen to help Jin ends up being stolen by the Bull Demon! But why is the bull demon doing all of this? It turns out that many thousands of years ago, Sun Wukong and the Bull Demon were the best of friends, but, just like Jin, the Bull was shy and unconfident, so Sun Wukong tried to push him to do the best for himself. Instead, he ended up stealing the powerful staff for himself and becoming the next great sage for the empire. Many years later, the Bull Demon decided to take things back for himself and become “confident” like Wukong wanted.


Wukong takes Wei-Chen back home after the staff is stolen, but after realizing the boy was just trying to follow his dreams and be more like his father, he sends Wei-Chen back to finish his quest. Wei-Chen finds Ji Gong, who was supposed to be the actual next sage, and as he expected, Ji Gong, too, is looking for the last scroll. Ji Gong gives Wei-Chen the lowdown on the warring factions, and Wei-Chen rushes to tell Jin the whole story. Instead, he finds that Jin’s parents have pendants that are made from two extremely unique jades—green and orange—that fit within each other to make a whole. Wei-Chen thinks this combined necklace is his answer—the fourth scroll. But, accidentally, he leads Ji Gong straight to the Wangs’ home. Ji Gong pretends to be Wei-Chun’s uncle and takes the Wangs out to “his” restaurant in order to steal the necklace. He’s successful, and in their drunk states, the Wangs also end up having a huge fight that Jin ends up watching, leading him to be more upset than ever. But in a fight with Wei-Chen, Ji Gong loses the pendant to an earthly magic trick. Wei-Chen requests that Guanyin figure out if there’s a way to open the scroll without his father’s staff. But she finds out that the necklace isn’t the real deal, so they’re back to square one. But the Bull Demon crashes Jin’s birthday party because Ji Gong informs him of the necklace. Wukong shows up too and Bull Demon almost kills Wei-Chen’s father with his own staff, when a shard from it lodges itself in his stomach. A weakened Wukong can’t fight, and the Bull Demon takes him away, leaving Wei-Chen completely heartbroken and blaming himself for the whole mess. Jin comes up with a plan to deceive the Bull Demon again by pretending the necklace is actually the scroll in return for Wei-Chen’s father. At school, he finally has the chance to play soccer in the position he wants, but he has too many things on his mind, the biggest of which is his parents’ big fight. Jin lashes out in school again, and his parents get called by the principal. After spitting out some problematic things, the principal is shut down by Jin’s father, who defends Jin’s mother, and things look better for them, if not back to normal.

At the same time, Jin appears on TV as the meme during the reunion of “Beyond Repair,” but Jamie, who is asked what it felt like to become the biggest meme and play such a legendary character, answers back that he wanted to play a hero after making that show. He says that back then, there were no heroes who looked like him on screen, and he wanted to change that, but he never got the opportunity. He hopes that things will change now, and it’s as if he’s directly telling Jin to accept his identity and be a real-life hero! Go on his own journey and show real courage.

Wei-Chen finds the bull demon and his father after being encouraged by Jin’s idea. Bull Demon is too strong for Wei-Chen, and he’s about to kill him, but Ji Gong switches lanes and tells him to leave the boy alone. The bull demon hurts Ji Gong terribly, but he manages to give Wei-Chen some beads and tells him to escape before the Bull kills all of them. Wei-Chen sees the place catch fire with his father inside.

Is There Really A Fourth Scroll?

Before the big game at school, Jin gets a strange dream with Freddy, his parents, Anuj, and Guanyin all on the set of “Beyond Repair.” In the dream, Jin realizes that there are clues to everything that is going to happen that day. Jin sees that if he doesn’t do something, a terrible thing might happen. It’s the Autumn Equinox, and this is the only day there’s a gate that can connect Heaven and Earth, so the Bull Demon plans on using this opportunity to destroy Heaven. The Wangs go in search of their lost necklace together and instead find an unconscious but alive Sun Wukong. Mrs. Wang gives him a flask of herbal powder that was blessed by Guanyin herself. This powder traveled from Mrs. Wang to Wei-Chen to Jin, meaning back to Mrs. Wang, and she finally gave it to Wukong, who needed it the most. In the meantime, Anuj, Jin, and Wei-Chen find clues in years of Monkey King comic books about how he defeats the enemy after his staff is stolen. They realize the place that is perfect for Bull Demon’s plan is the football match.


Because he’s a shapeshifter, they make a plan to draw him out of the crowd at the match. Additionally, Jin’s other dream of being with Ameilia comes true as she realizes that she likes him too (how adorable), but Jin has bigger things to handle at the moment: the cosplay club. Before the match, the club planned on showcasing a play, but Jin and Wei-Chen sabotaged this play with Anuj’s help. In the play, Jin pretends to be the Bull Demon and essentially narrates all his own insecurities, which happen to be the same as the bull demon’s. When he looks in the mirror, he feels lost and lonely. At first, Jin tries to appease the Bull and bring him to the good side, but when that doesn’t work, he brings up all of the Bull’s failures and why he could never be great like Wukong. This brings the Bull out, and Wei-Chen and he have an epic battle in front of the whole school, who think it’s part of the cosplay club’s act (they even address the flying parts as something that’s possible because Anuj’s parents are loaded). But the Bull does manage to put the staff into the ground to use the power of the Earth to destroy Heaven. With time ticking away and Wei-Chen not being able to defeat the Bull Demon, Jin decides to try himself.

Finally, Jin understands what he’s been missing this whole time. The balance between the two sides of the warring factions was not the necklace; it was Jin himself! He is the fourth scroll, and as a last leap of faith, Jin jumps over the staff covering the gate and saves the day! Wukong has also come to save his son, and they disappear off the field into thin air.


Why Did The Iron Princess Kidnap Jin’s Parents?

After the match, when Jin is in front of his house, Wei-Chen appears. He tells him that he came to say goodbye and that he was really thankful to Jin for saving his world. They hug it out in hopes of seeing each other again soon. But wait, that soon might be much closer than they expected. At the end of the episode, the iron princess has kidnapped Jin’s parents, and he has to go with her if he wishes to see them again. Of course, this means that there will be another season, but the question remains: what is the iron princess’ goal? We previously saw her thousands of years ago in the flashback when she helped the Bull Demon and told him not to forget who helped him. According to Journey to the West, she’s Bull Demon’s wife, which means he didn’t forget her words, and now she might be taking revenge for what Wukong did to him all those years ago and what his son did in the present day. We’re excited to see all the new characters that will join us in season 2 of American Born Chinese.

Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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