EPs Gene Luen Yang and Melvin Mar — plus stars Michelle Yeoh, Ben Wang, Jim Liu, and more — weigh in on season 2 of the action comedy series.
In the explosive American Born Chinese finale, Wei-Chen (Jim Liu) at long last finds what he traveled to Earth in search of in the form of his guide, Jin (Ben Wang). Yep, Jin himself is the elusive scroll, a revelation that thwarts Bull Demon’s (Leonard Wu) uprising in Heaven but culminates in a cliffhanger finale that spells trouble ahead.
Let’s recap: The series, an adaptation of Gene Luen Yang’s acclaimed 2006 graphic novel from creator Kelvin Yu, begins with the introduction of Jin Wang, a teenager trying to juggle his high school social life with home life and occasionally warring but loving parents. When he meets Wei-Chen on the first day of the new school year, Jin soon finds himself entangled in a battle with Chinese mythological gods.
That’s because Wei-Chen isn’t just Wei-Chen, but the son of the Monkey King (Daniel Wu), a trickster god popularized in the classic 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West. With rumblings of an impending uprising in the hands of his father’s friend-turned-foe Bull Demon, Wei-Chen embarks on a mission to Earth to track down the Fourth Scroll — the key to stopping the upheaval — and believes Jin is his guide. Though his father has reservations about the existence of the scroll, Wei-Chen also has the guidance of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy (Michelle Yeoh), who moonlights as his “auntie” on Earth.
The finale ends with the revelation that Jin is, in fact, the Fourth Scroll, which could be in the form of truly anything (say, a jade necklace) or anyone. The gang stops Bull Demon’s destruction of Heaven, and by extension, Earth, and Wei-Chen returns home. It’d be an otherwise happy ending, if not for that cliffhanger: Jin returns to an unusually empty house and finds a stranger (Poppy Liu, introduced in episode 4 as Princess Iron Fan), on the couch. If Jin ever wants to see his parents again, she informs him, “You’re coming with me.”
“One of the things about a serialized format in television, it reminds me of monthly superhero comics where you can just keep going with the story,” Yang, an executive producer on the series, tells EW of a potential season 2. “Because you can keep going with the story, you can expand the world, and we would love to expand the world of Chinese mythology and bring in many, many more characters.”
When pressed on the characters, both from mythology or his other graphic novels, that might make the crossover, Yang remains mum: “I don’t know how far we can get into it right now.”
Melvin Mar, co-executive producer, is slightly more forthcoming. “I think the way to think about it is: The Chinese god that isn’t in it [already] that pops into your mind right now is being talked about,” he says.
For Yeoh, “the possibilities are endless.” “I love the interaction of Heaven and Earth,” she says. “It’s the old classic tale of good and bad, how these two powers are always fighting with each other, and Earth always somehow gets caught in the middle. So the possibilities are endless. The stories that can be told have so many complex multi-layers that the writers and the directors will have so much space. The playground is so immense.”
As for the core teens, Wang and Sydney Taylor, who plays Jin’s classmate and crush Amelia, propose a body swap situation for a potential season 2. “I want a body swap with Wei-Chen and then a fight scene with the [Monkey King’s] Staff,” Taylor says. “Kelvin, if you’re listening, I want a Freaky Friday with Wei-Chen and a fight scene.”
“I want a body swap too,” Wang adds. “I wanna body swap Jin and Wei-Chen so I can pretend to be Jimmy and do cool action for one episode. And then we swap back at the end and it’s like, ‘Woah, what happened?'” Though Wang has asked Yu and director and EP Destin Daniel Cretton for fight sequences, “They’d say, ‘Jin’s power is his voice,’ but if there’s a body swap, then that excuses it,” he says.
Liu also proposes more “badass action scenes” for his Wei-Chen, with one plot addition: “Maybe Wei-Chen gets a girlfriend.”
Chin Han, who plays Wang patriarch Simon, says he wouldn’t mind popping into the heavenly realm. “There’s so many moving parts to this story,” he says. “There’s our world, there’s the high school world, there’s the sitcom world, there’s the mythological world. Often when we’re working, we don’t get to see what others are doing, but occasionally we’ll pop into the sets. For episode 4 [set entirely in Heaven], we popped into the set and it was so incredible.”
Yeo Yann Yann, who plays matriarch Christine, presumes the Wangs may have more hardships ahead, though, citing the challenges in Journey to the West. “I think for Simon and Christine, we are really living in a world where I don’t see the perfect utopia. We are [living] in the real world. We will have happy moments, we will have sad moments, we will have sad moments, we will have strength.”
Oh, and like the teens, Yann would also love to get in on those action sequences. “I insist [on fighting] with utensils in the kitchen,” she says. Her onscreen husband, however, not so much: “I’m a man of peace.”