Earlier this year, RZA teased that the second season of Wu-Tang: An American Saga will focus on the recording of the group’s seminal debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). And although the season, which premiered on Hulu on Wednesday, September 8th, does get into the recording of certain songs that ultimately appeared on the album, it seems like it won’t be taking a deep dive into the album’s recording until the very end, with its first eight episodes focused on building up the group’s formation and mythos.
However, that doesn’t mean that the second season isn’t good. Continuing from the where the first left off, this season begins with RZA in Steubenville, Ohio, and, assuming you know about the Wu-Tang leader’s real life, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the first set of episodes center around his attempted murder case that led to him committing to music full-time.
From there, RZA (Ashton Sanders) is on a mission to bring the Wu together, which means not only bringing together the still feuding Dennis aka Ghostface Killah (Siddiq Saunderson) and Sha aka Raekwon (Shameik Moore), but getting all of them to believe what he has in store for them as a part of the group. It’s here that, despite the 36 Chambers‘ omission, the fan service is still being served. Viewers see each member not only discover their Wu name but embody it in their rapping abilities; the dramatized versions of people who were integral to Wu’s rise in real life gradually get introduced; and, of course, there are Easter eggs scattered throughout the season that only the most diehard Wu heads will get.
An American Saga‘s second season is still world building. Which is fine, not just because of the subject matter or how visually good the series looks, but the storytelling and acting. You can tell that the main Wu members have gotten into a rhythm with each other — even including new additions U-God (Damani Sease) and Inspectah Deck (now played by Uyoata Udi instead of Joey Bada$$) — all of them quick to share advice and assurance just as quick as they are to roast or even direct angry outbursts at one another. The humor, seriousness, competitiveness — These elements make the Wu what it is, and it’s always a treat to see the cast embody the group’s youthful camaraderie as they’re trying to rise to the top.
However, some moments — primarily its musical pieces — can feel contrived. This happens when RZA attempts to cook up the beat for the group’s debut single. What starts off as an inventive approach to showing how the instrumental gets built — RZA taking a part samples while adding his own piano plinks to the beat — becomes overdone as it stays on the scene for too long. Or even with live performances of songs — at times the cast sound so different from the Wu member they’re playing that it takes you out of the watching experience. To a degree, it’s cool because it’s meant to be authentic. But that can dampen the impact these musical moments are supposed to have, especially when we’re witnessing the group perform songs that ultimately became their greatest hits.
Overall, the second season of An American Saga is good, pushing the Wu’s story forward in a way that’s compelling and entertaining. If you were hoping to see the cast recreate the recording sessions for “C.R.E.A.M.” or “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nothing Ta F’ Wit,” you’ll have to hold out until the very end — the last two episodes of the season are titled “C.R.E.A.M.” and “As High as Wu-Tang Gets.” But for now, rest assured that season two is well worth the wait.
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