Loyalty and the lack of it turn out to be major game changers in the treacherous depths of the underworld, and the second episode of Peacock’s John Wick universe crime drama The Continental makes sure to convey that. After the pilot episode of the series established the central plotline in a rather jam-packed manner and ended on a tragic note, the following-up focuses primarily on setting plans for the climactic clash between two parties.
In the previous episode, set in 1970s New York, Winston’s elder brother, Vietnam War veteran Francis Scott, stole the High Table coin press from the notorious criminal refuge, the Continental, much to the dismay of the hotel’s manager and his mob boss employer, Cormac O’Conner. As Frankie went into hiding, Winston got dragged into the scene by the psychotic Cormac. As he eventually finds out about Frankie, it is revealed that the reason Frankie made such a rash decision was to get a chance to turn over a new page with his beloved wife Yen, whom he brought to the States from Vietnam, and smuggling the coin press was supposed to earn them that chance. Cormac’s enforcers and the Continental assassins hired by him chase the trio of Winston, Frankie, and Yen through the streets of New York, which eventually ends in Frankie sacrificing himself as a distraction to give the two a chance to escape. The second episode, “Loyalty to the Master,” deals with Winston’s near-suicidal plan of taking revenge against Cormac, and Charon’s role, as predicted previously, turns out to be most integral to that.
Mourning A Brother: What’s Winston’s Plan To Take Down Cormac?
The episode opens with a flashback in the Bronx during 1955, as teenage Scott brothers Winston and Frankie commit acts of arson, which we later know to have been on the command of Cormac. The beginning of both the first and second episodes form a link in hindsight, as previously we saw the duo getting questioned by the authorities for committing an unknown crime, and the beginning of this episode reveals what the possible reason might have been. Back in the present day, Winston remembers these past memories as his elder brother gets cremated. Through Frankie’s war buddy, Miles’ connection with the hospital coroner’s assistant, he has managed to be present during Frankie’s last rites and collect his belongings, which include a dog tag and a gold coin, the same one that gets used in High Table-controlled transactions.
As Winston returns to Miles’ dojo with Frankie’s memorial urn, he pledges to make Cormac pay for his cumulative sins and take down his crime empire. Due to his seeking the help of Miles and his crew, consisting of Lou and Lemmy, Cormac will be targeting all of them, which is why Winston implies that they have to strike hard and strike fast against Cormac and seize control of the Continental at the same time. This suicidal vendetta bewilders Miles’ crew, but Winston is adamant on his decision to attack first to be their best defense against Cormac and his enforcers. Winston states that whatever money he has managed to amass by living the life of a conman in London will be used to form a ragtag crew, which he will use to take the fight to Cormac.
On the other hand, an unconscious Yen, still reeling from the wounds she suffered from last night’s clash with Cormac’s enforcers, reminisces about her first meeting with Frankie in Vietnam. Her first husband, a Vietnamese soldier, intended to use her as a suicide bomber and sent her to destroy an American bar. Fortunately for her, the bomb trigger malfunctioned, and she met Frankie for the first time, and life gave them both a new chance to start over. After waking up, an aggrieved Yen joins Winston and co., instantly gets infuriated seeing her husband’s cremation has already happened without her presence, and leaves, not before incapacitating all of them. Without Yen’s assistance, bringing Winston’s plans of Continental takeover to fruition is impossible.
Situation At The Enemy Front: What Did The Adjudicator Tell Cormac?
Meanwhile, the High Table adjudicator arrives at the Continental to see Cormac’s situation and finds his lack of urgency regarding a grave situation rather unpleasant. The adjudicator threatens him that if he fails to retrieve the coin press within three days, the High Table will organize an interregnum, which is a fancy way of saying Cormac will be fired, and along with it, his protection will be gone as well.
Meanwhile, detective KD learns about Frankie’s death, goes to the hospital to check his belongings, and gets to know the coroner’s assistant, Ezra’s role in already passing those on to someone. As she presses Ezra to reveal details about the people who took Frankie’s belongings, he is forced to share information regarding their vehicle. KD goes to his senior officer Mayhew’s home to pressurize him into letting her investigate the situation (who was previously unwilling because of High Table’s involvement) by threatening to reveal their affair to his family. With a war brewing at the backdrop, KD might be unwittingly way over her head in wanting to snoop into the situation like any random crime case.
On the other hand, at their dojo in Chinatown, Miles’ sister Lou deals with the intimidation of a newly established Chinese gang leader and comes into direct conflict by refusing his crew’s attempt to install a cigarette machine at their dojo. After two intense fights with his crew, Lou makes her statement about staying off their turf, but the situation might not be resolved so easily as the leader plans revenge.
Whom Did Winston Recruit For His Battle Against Cormac?
Winston’s daring plan borders on bravery and stupidity, and to even have a chance to implement it, he needs to strengthen his numbers with haste, which is what the episode revolves around. Miles meets with his father’s friend, an expert sniper, Gene Jenkins, whose method of hiding parts of his rifle in baguettes is the most funny and unique way to introduce a sniper we have come across so far. Anyway, Miles is able to pique Gene’s curiosity, provoke him regarding his skills, and easily recruit him for their mission. John plans to attack the Continental in such a way that Cormac dies before even being able to declare the hotel a war zone by pressing a particular button, like in the first episode, and to do that, Gene will play an integral role.
Taking Lemmy’s advice, Winston goes to the Bowery to meet Mazie, the current leader of the expanded underground homeless gang, which has managed to rule the streets without being pecked by Cormac and his people so far. In exchange for Mazie’s support in his war against Cormac, he is told to share his story—a pretty unusual request, but the Bowery leaders always had a certain eccentricity about them. The series is also likely to highlight the Bowery King’s ascension to the throne, as he and Winston were John Wick’s last remaining friends in times of peril, for which they initially paid a high price at the hands of High Table (John Wick 3).
After returning to the theater in Alphabet City, where she and Frankie were living a life of seclusion, Yen finds herself surrounded by Cormac’s people but manages to take them down with relative ease. Charlie’s trailer, where Frankie and Co. initially took cover, gets raided by Cormac’s men, and they search for the coin press, but they are unable to find it. Yen returns to the dojo and agrees to help Winston in his mission and provide them with a layout of the Continental that Frankie had designed previously.
Later, Yen goes with Miles to steal a truck as per the requirements of their mission. Miles, helped Frankie bring Yen to the States, and now he is the only person Yen can share her mind with. Yen chooses to trust him, and the duo discusses Frankie. At the moment, they come across a leaflet announcing the fight of the century between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali.
Miles emotionally recalls how the real greatest fight Ali ever partook in was his battle with the States in opposing their stance in Vietnam, and how when the radio played Ali’s match, even the viciousness of either side in war ceased to exist. Despite their language differences, Yen is able to comprehend what Miles stated.
Will Charon Be Winston’s Key To Toppling Cormac’s Reign?
As Gene and Winston observe the Continental from a vantage point across from the hotel, Charon and the hotel’s cellist are seen to be spending time on the rooftop. The duo supposedly have formed a bond. The cellist asks Charon to speculate about a life for himself beyond the walls of the hotel and offers to come with him, as he has received a proposition of moving abroad and will leave his job at the hotel. Charon politely refuses and goes on to share details about his past. Hailing from a country in Africa where violence is arbitrary and rampant, Charon was sent to New York by his musician father to secure a livelihood, and despite the fact that the affairs of the Continental are marred with violence as well, there is a certain decorum and his own security is taken care of on the premises of the hotel. Charon also shares that Winston has offered to bring his father to the hotel as a reward for his loyalty and commitment, which is all the more reason he is not willing to leave the Continental. Although none of the three observers learn about the conversation, Gene rightly states to Winston that having Charon by their side will turn the tables in favor of Winston.
Later, while having a conversation with Cormac about leaving the job, the cellist reveals details about his conversation with Charon and the fact that he offered him the proposition of leaving the hotel. Cormac maintains his usual gruff ‘charm’, only to use a golf club to brutally bludgeon the cellist to death. The news of a death on Continental grounds, that too at the hands of Cormac, its current manager, reaches the adjudicator, who chooses not to act upon it, speculating that Cormac will be finished pretty soon anyway.
On the other hand, Winston and Lou take control of the bus Charon was boarding to return from his friend’s joint and learn about his past from a letter written by his father. Winston states their fate to be similar, as he knows what it feels like to be under the thumbs of men like Cormac, and warns Charon about his psychotic, manipulative nature by sharing a childhood story. While teenagers Frankie and Winston tried to skim off of Cormac’s collection from a pretty young age, they were taught a lesson by Cormac, who inadvertently realized their potential and, tricking their young minds with lavishness, earned their allegiance, thereby keeping them under his control forever. Winston offers Charon to join his side in the upcoming battle and gives away Cormac for his own good.
Charon returns to the hotel and witnesses Cormac’s carnage as the bloody, lifeless body of his friend lies on the floor of the Continental, and upon questioning, Cormac states that he did so as the cellist was caught stealing something from him. While this incident may seem to have verified Winston’s warning for Cormac, and viewers might assume that Charon will betray Cormac, at least during this moment he does the exact opposite and reveals everything about Winston’s plan to his employer. Including the fact that he was offered to join their side, and it felt like an opportunity as well. Charon’s brutal honesty and unwavering loyalty are what have kept both him and Cormac alive on the premises of Continental, and this incident was a glaring example of that. Keeping his end of the bargain, Cormac asks Charon to bring his father to the Continental as the new musician, but it is doubtful that Charon is ever going to do so after having a taste of Cormac’s true self. As the episode comes to a close, Charon asks Cormac about what the cellist was caught stealing from him, to which Cormac appropriately replies while making an affectionate gesture to Charon, saying that it was him (Charon) that the cellist tried to steal.
Both in the case of the Scott brothers and Charon, Cormac acted like a manipulative father figure, whose proposition of security and other amenities only entails servitude for his cause in disguise. Whether Charon proved his loyalty by revealing Winston’s plan to Cormac or by adhering to Winston’s advice, he is playing the long game. That will be known after the last episode of this season airs later this week, as a bloody, brutal clash for the possession of Continental will occur.