While the focus and energy of Johnson’s family and friends has most assuredly been on his mother Ata’s recovery following a car crash earlier this week, the Young Rock machine moves on after a week off. In an episode titled “Once Upon a Time in…”, there are no new stories about any of the actual Young Rocks from the show, as Dwayne instead regales Gjelghiughm Prime Minister Angela Honig with tales of a young Pat Patterson, André the Giant, and Peter Maivia.
There has been plenty of tribute paid to these three men, all inspirational in different ways to Johnson, throughout the series. Creating an episode that focuses exclusively on them continues the show of respect, but also follows on the heels of the merging of two of Young Rock‘s timelines as the youngest actor Adrian Groulx seems to have run out of story to tell (and grown too old as an actor to keep playing the part anyway). With next week’s episode beginning to track The Rock’s acting career, all signs seems to be pointing to a culmination of the series at the end of this season.
For now, though, Johnson has plenty to say. When Honig takes him to her father’s coffee house and starts to talk about how she wishes to honour his legacy by protecting her country’s coffee, Johnson just can’t help himself and railroads her personal tale by sending us back to San Francisco in 1966. There’s a Battle Royale in The Cow Palace featuring Peter Maivia (Sam Puefua) and Pat Patterson (fellow Canadian Marshall Williams of Winnipeg), after which Maivia invites Patterson to come for dinner at his house with Lia (Ana Tuisila, and also Joseph Lee Anderson‘s Rocky Johnson, it turns out). Peter encourages Pat to bring his girlfriend, which Patterson graciously redirects to an invite for his “special friend” Louie.
During dinner, Patterson reflects on the Battle Royale and how it just gets too bunchy in the ring (my word, not his). What if, he wonders, you start with two wrestlers in the ring and bring in new competitors every couple of minutes? Well, that’s of course a fantastic idea, and Pat’s brainchild of a Royal Rumble would eventually become a cornerstone of WWE programming. This whole segment in the show, by the way, is presented with a Young Pat title card, before giving way to a new story of Paris in 1964 and a new title card, too: Young Giant.
André, here tall and lean and played by Jacob Warren, visits a bar and puts on performances to shut down some mouthy patrons and win over the crowd. He drinks, he arm wrestles, he lifts up four women onto his shoulders, all while professing to a man he’s sharing a drink with that he does not want to stand out. This man is a wrestler, going by the name Jacques the One-Armed Madman, who convinces André that he was born to stand out and starts the Giant on his path to worldwide fame.
After a segue between Johnson and Honig that has them share a favourite quote from The Princess Bride, Dwayne talks Young High Chief Peter’s work in Hollywood, starting with the James Bond feature You Only Live Twice. As Maivia, Puefua (who has also appeared in the STARZ wrestling show Heels) is shown giving Sean Connery (Nick Rhys) some tips to improve their fight scene. Connery appreciates his advice, uses it, and helps Maivia to get more work as a stunt coordinator. It’s a long path from here to Fast & Furious, but Johnson makes the connection to his grandfather carving a new path for himself and his own success in wrestling and Hollywood.
The Scottish-born Rhys, by the way, is very good as Connery without defaulting to a comedic turn on his distinctive vocal mannerisms as he dreams of someday playing something other than James Bond — maybe a defecting Russian submarine captain, perhaps?
Johnson and Honig bring it back once more to the still-dead coffee deal, one which Dwayne now understands given the story that he never really let her finish telling him … I guess? Notably, Randall Park is missing once again from the cast list of the episode, so fans of his awkward hanger-on caricature of himself (I am one) have to wait and see if he’s back next week.
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TOP IMAGE: Puefua, Warren, and Williams (L-R) appear as Maivia, André, and Patterson in this week’s episode of Young Rock