REVIEW: Banana Fish (Episode 8)

Episode 8: Banal Story | 陳腐のストーリー

I love the sassy title of this episode, but don’t believe it for a second. Sure, things don’t exactly go as planned for some, and for others, things go as planned but still suck. But the game is on, and the players have upped the ante. We aren’t quite finished with our Banana Fish sleuthing this episode, but we’re also rolling in a range of baddies who, for the record, are probably all out to kill one another in addition to our team of heroes, so no one’s safe and things are getting charmingly nasty.

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META: All guns are dick jokes. Thanks, Banana Fish, this meant a lot to me.

Alternate title: Literally Everyone Gets Kidnapped

We open with, you guessed it, Max’s ex-wife Jessica and young son Michael being held hostage by someone’s goons. The head goon calls Max and tells him the deal is to hand over Ash Lynx. Ash, who just sort of assumes that Max isn’t even thinking about agreeing to that just a little, stocks up on guns and drives Max over to the kidnap venue – where surprise, Jessica and Michael have already been freed. Ash lets Jessica and Max love/hate it out while he babysits little Michael, who reveals the kidnappers were – collective gasp – Chinese.

In the meantime, Eiji and Shunichi were left at the Dawson mansion with Shorter and Yau-si Dawson Yut-Lung Lee. As you recall, Yut-Lung commanded Shorter to kidnap Eiji last episode, but it’s more a matter of not causing a fuss as Yut-Lung flawlessly poisons them both to prime kidnapping condition by himself. Shorter’s not happy about the turn of events, to say the least, but he’s doing it anyway.

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Ash and Max return to the mansion in a frenzy to a mostly-paralyzed Shunichi and a totally-gone Eiji, Shorter, and Yau-si. Ash flips out, but they are interrupted by a random old fellow who accuses them of breaking into his house. Enter the actual Alexis Dawson, a chemist of Breaking Bad proportions and brother of the Abraham Dawson working for Dino. The Dawson brothers were the ones to invent Banana Fish, and it’s worse than anyone who isn’t the audience thought – it makes the victims go into nightmare mode, as well as being extremely impressionable to commands. Pop someone a Banana Fish and they’ll become your murder doll until they go comatose. Well, Alexis Dawson sucks for inventing this, so everyone takes a turn punching him.

And oh, by the way, Dino Golzine is going to sell Banana Fish to the U.S. government, for all the nefarious purposes that the military and politicians would find fit to use it. So pretty safe to say if that deal goes down as planned, the Corsican syndicate is going to do very well for itself, probably at the expense of the Chinese.

But for some reason, the Chinese syndicate is still (ostensibly) cooperating with Dino.

Yut-Lung, Shorter, and the unconscious Eiji meet Hua-Lung Lee, and by this point, Shorter is really feeling lousy about betraying his friends. Arthur, an aspiring right-hand of Dino who caused a ruckus earlier in the series, enters the scene again to take Eiji to Dino – whose master plan to make Ash really suffer is to molest Eiji to death. Naturally. Shorter says Arthur can get fucked and he’ll kill Eiji himself before he lets anyone else take him. Rather than anyone shooting Shorter in the face when it’s clear at this point that literally no one can trust him, both Arthur and the Chinese folks lay off a little and allow Shorter to play pretend-bodyguard over Eiji during the rest of the sordid affair. Yut-Lung, Shorter, Eiji, and Hua-Lung fly back to New York City, where they meet eldest brother Wang-Lung.

Things get weird with the Lee brothers. Yut-Lung, the youngest brother and demon of darkness, etc. gets threatened by his two older half-brothers: Hua-Lung wants to molest him because he looks like his mother (what?!), and Wang-Lung literally nearly snaps his neck in half because he doesn’t trust him (fair.) He shouldn’t: Yut-Lung’s internal monologue confirms he’s definitely still mad at his brothers for murdering his mom and he’s going to get on sorting that out sooner rather than later. For now, he plays along and agrees to be a hostage (and secret spy) to Dino Golzine.

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Finally, back at the Dawson mansion: oops, the Chinese syndicate goons break and enter and immediately kidnap Ash, Max, Shunichi, and the Dawson. I get the sense they could have cut a middleman or five and just done that from the start.

SHORTER WONG: BOTH A TRAITOR AND A BRO

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I’m calling it now: Shorter’s a dead man walking. He’s given Dino Golzine’s dudes the finger, and the Lee family knows pretty clearly by this point that he’s not a stable subordinate – telling them all to go fuck themselves and threatening to throat-stab Eiji to leverage authority over him isn’t particularly promising to a lucrative career in gangsterism.

Despite the fact that Shorter just almost definitely fucked up his own life, and neglected to, oh, I don’t know, send Ash a text to tip him off that Yut-Lung had compromised him and not to leave him in the same room as Eiji, Shorter was still the tragic star of this episode.

It’s not only Ash that Shorter hates betraying, it’s Eiji himself. There’s been a recent pattern of Shorter having a special infatuation with Eiji. First, last episode, he mentions he at first thought Yut-Lung was like Eiji – presumably gentle and kind – and then discovered he was actually a viper. Now he is obsessively holding on to Eiji, literally. He carries him around and won’t let anyone else near. When threatening to kill him to prevent Arthur from taking him, Shorter whispers to the still-unconscious Eiji that he “won’t let him go alone” and will suicide right after. Which is astounding, since they only met recently. Either Shorter is a stand-up dude who can instant-bro with people he’s just met, or he wants to bone Eiji, but I’ll take it either way.

The sunglasses remain artistically significant in concealing his intentions until the moments his feelings are exposed, and Shorter’s struggle is so painfully vivacious, he took center stage this episode in the same way a bomb does when you can’t see the timer. Anyway, Shorter, best of luck not dying next episode.

FAMI-LEE DRAMA

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Well, the Lee family has problems, but don’t all families?

Yut-Lung is such a weird character, not because he’s necessarily taken any crazy actions, but because he hasn’t. The worst he’s done is verbally threaten Shorter to submission, and then commit a kidnapping that was, relatively speaking, perfectly civilized. I mean fuck, Eiji doesn’t even know he’s been kidnapped yet, and Shunichi’s just fine after a casual paralysis-inducing drugging. Now, next to his asshole brothers who 1) killed his mom, 2) want to molest him, and 3) just threw him out to Dino as a hostage, you sort of feel bad for the kid.

What is significant is that Yut-Lung wasn’t kidding earlier about being super damn smart, because his skillset includes chemistry, which not only presumably allows him to use kidnap poison, it also means he knows what Banana Fish really is, and he’s not telling his brothers because fuck them.

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Anyway, Yut-Lung preps for his hostage day in the city by going out in full costume and makeup. Considering they are probably en route to a serial rapist of young men, this is a little disturbing, but I’m also not really worried about him. Yut-Lung is going to show his fangs any second. Definitely happening. Yep, any second, now.

ASH AND EIJI UPDATE

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I’m going to be honest with you, because transparency is important: there’s not much yaoi to report. One pseudo-flirty moment at the beginning of the episode before everyone gets kidnapped, and then Eiji’s conked out of commission for the next twenty minutes of the episode and while Ash start off pissed about Eiji being gone, Alexis Dawson distracts from all of that. So there we have it.

It’s clear from last episode why Yut-Lung kidnapped Eiji, but less clear why the rest of the mafia thinks this is a good plan. Yut-Lung is the one who saw that the pair were close, but the Chinese syndicate not only takes Yut-Lung’s plan in stride, they give Eiji over to Dino’s squad. I guess the plan is to draw Ash back to New York, but capturing Ash seemed to do the trick a lot more efficiently.

OTHER NOTES

Well, we’ve got to assume Arthur’s boring ass is going to be really important. I discerned this from the fact that he’s a) not dead yet and b) he’s solidly featured in the opening credits. We get it, he’s major jealous of Ash, though at this point, it’s a mystery why, because Ash’s life is not too great and he doesn’t have nice things coming when he’s shoved back into the presence of Dino Golzine.

I have faith Ash and Eiji both will survive at least until the end of the series, and baby, we’ve still got 16 more episodes to go.

WHERE TO WATCH IT (LEGALLY): Amazon Prime

Next: Episode 9
Previous: Episode 7

 

 

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