The following article contains SPOILERS for American Born Chinese Season 1.
The end of the Disney Plus original series American born Chinese season 1 left more questions than answers and set the stage for a potential season 2. Developed for Disney Plus by Kelvin Yu and based on the graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang, the story follows a Chinese-American high schooler named Jin who finds himself in the midst of a battle between ancient Chinese gods. Brilliantly incorporating elements of comic book action with classic coming-of-age tropes, American born Chinese is unique in that it embraces Asian American heritage and explores specific themes pertaining to this community.
American born Chinese Season 1 garnered high praise from critics (via Rotten tomatoes), and offered a much more diverse lineup than the usual Disney Plus fare. Even outside of its strong thematic elements, the star cast of American born Chinese was a huge draw, and the action far exceeded most cartoon-based TV shows. Questions about the future of the show have abounded since the premiere, and the Season 1 finale certainly left the door open for more mythic storytelling. Unlike most finales that offer conclusions, the end of the American born Chinese season 1 was more of an escalation.
What happens at the end of American born Chinese?
With the autumn solstice looming and their conflict with the Bull Demon Niu Mowong (Leonard Wu) unresolved, Jin (Ben Wang) and Anuj (Mahi Alam) stage a pantomime performance to lure the Bull Demon out of its hiding place. Their insulting performance is enough to strip the god of his earthly form, and he begins to fight with Wei-Chen (Jimmy Liu) and his newly revived father, Sun Wukong (Daniel Wu). Despite the fierce fighting, Mowong is able to plant the staff and begin his final plan to start a rebellion against Heaven using Earth’s power.
In a last ditch effort to save the day, Jin jumps in front of the staff and stops its powerful beam. That act of sacrifice allows Wei-Chen to realize that Jin has actually been the mythical Fourth Scroll all along, and the defeated Bull Demon is sent back to heaven to face judgment before the other gods. Wei-Chen leaves with his father and Jin returns home to find that his parents have been taken by Princess Iron Fan (Poppy Liu) and she demands that Jin come with her if he ever wants to see them again, which creates a potential American born Chinese season 2.
American born Chinese season 1 delivered on its promise of exciting action, but it also wove a complicated web of plot threads that kept things interesting. The most shocking revelation at the end of American born Chinese came when Jin jumped in front of Mowong’s staff only to get away unscathed. Jin was actually the fourth scroll, the mythical artifact that Wei-Chen believed was the secret to defeating Mowong. Earlier in the season, it was mentioned that the fourth scroll could be any object connected to Jin’s family, and the prophecy turned out to be quite accurate.
While the importance of the mythical MacGuffin was left somewhat vague, Jin being the fourth scroll was a shocking twist that helps inform the future of American born Chinese and its history. The characters aren’t quite sure what it means for Jin to be the scroll, but it ultimately speaks to the young man’s search for acceptance and indicates that he will need to come closer to his own Chinese heritage in order to fully play his role in the story. Also, Jin is the fourth scroll fulfill American born Chinese Superhero mythology comparison made by the show’s creator.
Princess iron fan kidnapped Jin’s parents
Throughout season 1 of American born Chinese, the mysterious figure of Princess Iron Fan was shown a few times, though her ultimate role in the pantheon of mythical gods was unclear. However, the end of the season showed her stepping up to take her place as the new villain of the series, kidnapping Jin’s parents to gain influence over the recently revealed Fourth Scroll. Princess Iron Fan is Muwong’s wife, and she clearly has a vendetta against Jin and his godly allies, although her true motivation was not revealed in American born Chinese section 8.
What happened to Mowong?
Unlike a traditional movie or TV villain who can simply be defeated by the heroes and arrested or killed, Niu Mowong is the Bull Demon and his defeat did not necessarily mean his end. He served as the season’s antagonist, and his motives were revealed in episode 4, “Make a Splash”, when it was shown that he was passed over to become a sage in favor of the Monkey King Sun Wukong. When his plan was thwarted, Mowong was sent back to heaven to be judged by the Jade Emperor and presumably gone forever. However, the Bull Demon could certainly escape from his heavenly bonds and terrorize his fellow gods again.
Did Amelia and Jin get together?
One of the ongoing stories about American born Chinese season 1 was Jin’s quest to be accepted at school and improve his social status. Joining the football team was a start, but his feelings for Amelia (Sydney Taylor) continued to plague him even as he joined the mythical battle between the gods. When they first started spending time together, Amelia was adamant about remaining friends, but she quickly began to develop feelings for Jin, and they came to terms before the final battle. At the end of American born ChineseAmelia gave Jin the motivation he needed by confessing her feelings for him, essentially making them an item.
The real meaning of the ending in American born Chinese
Hiding under the many colorful characters and exciting action sequences American born Chinese season 1 was a deep stream of fascinating themes that helped elevate the show beyond the usual cartoon offerings. The graphic novel touched on ideas of racial identity and what it means to be both Chinese and American, and the show was certainly no different. Jin is a typical teenager in many ways, but he is also torn between the two different halves of his identity as a Chinese American. Wei-Chen in his human form represented a more open Chinese alternative to Jin’s personality, and he eventually helped Jin to accept himself.
The end of American born Chinese season 1 is a continuation in a way, but it also represents another big step that Jin takes towards becoming a less reticent Chinese American. When he meets Princess Iron Fan, he can barely understand her language, symbolizing Jin’s distance from his own heritage. Realizing that he was the Fourth Scroll not only strengthened Jin, but also showed that there was something greater within him that was a connection to his culture. American born Chinese season 1 can be seen as a superhero origin of sorts, and future seasons can build on season 1’s ending.