TOKYO VICE Season 2 Episodes 1-2 Review: Ansel Elgort and Ken Watanabe Are Back With a Promising Start

The first two episodes of Tokyo Vice season 2 are now available to stream on Max. Here is our in-depth discussion of the promising start of the season.
Max Ansel Elgort Ken Watanabe Tokyo Vice

Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers for Episodes 1-2 of Tokyo Vice Season 2.

The second season of Tokyo Vice starts just moments after the last season ended, with Jake (Ansel Elgort) and Katagiri (Ken Watanabe) finishing the anticipated conversation that closed up the first season. The first two episodes are now available to stream on Max, and the interesting thing about them is how much the first one feels like the season 1 finale we never got, and the second one the actual season 2 premiere (which not only jumped forward in time but also started new storylines).

While last season may have seemed like it was all over the place, trying to set up the different crime factions and also the powers at play on the upper levels of Tokyo, this season seems to have a much more focused agenda: bringing down Tozawa. However, as the second episode teased, that will not come blood-free.

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So far, I’m liking this season, mostly because it felt like a direct continuation of the first one. To have a de facto season finale as the first episode of the second season felt a bit strange at first, but it also told me that they are not exactly turning a page on the first season and that this acts as a direct continuation of the first.

In season 2, Katagiri’s main concern will be how to operate in the shadows to try to bring down the criminal organization that threatened his family at the end of season 1. He’s hesitant at first about jumping back into the ring, but as he weighs his options, he realizes that he doesn’t have an alternative. And the second episode ends on a rather interesting note for him going forward.

Max Ansel Elgort Ken Watanabe Tokyo Vice
(L-R) Ken Watanabe and Ansel Elgort in Max’s Tokyo Vice.

Then there’s Jake, who begins season 2 with a brand-new assignment. I was a bit skeptical at first and I couldn’t figure out where creator JT Rogers wanted to go with this one. At the very least, I appreciate the introduction of a different side of the underground Tokyo life, which does nothing but add depth to Jake’s experiences. Ansel Elgort’s character is starting to embrace the darker side of the life he’s chosen. It was teased in Season 1 and is a long time coming, so I’m curious to see where this takes us. So far, Season 2 of Tokyo Vice seems like an Empire Strikes Back-like answer to an already dark first season.

The first two episodes of Tokyo Vice Season 2 are currently available to stream on Max. We’ll discuss further what went down in these two episodes, but for that, I should raise a spoiler warning first. Check back every week as we’ll be discussing new episodes on Thursdays.


Let’s start with the big bomb, the fact that Sato (Shô Kasamatsu) is still alive. Unless I missed something big last season, this came out of left field, and I was a bit surprised that Ishida (Shun Sugata) didn’t order it for some reason. In hindsight, it may have been absurd, as the oyabun seems to be pretty tight with the young thug.

It seems like it’s going to be an interesting season for Sato. First, he refuses to execute the guy who knifed him, which prompted a reaction from Ishida that I wasn’t really expecting. Then, his brother shows up asking for a job, which is certainly going to go down dangerous places. And finally, in episode 2, he’s back overseeing Samantha’s club for the criminal gang, and there are already hints that there are going to be clashes later this season between these two. I’m not gonna lie, I’m looking forward to seeing where this takes us.

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And speaking of Samantha (Rachel Keller), she’s already having troubles within the first three months of opening her new club. Her top girl exited after seeing she was bigger than her own employer and threatened to take her clients with her. One of the weaker aspects of the second episode, though, was the way this was handled. We’re led to believe that she owned half the clients of the club, yet the only one we see putting Samantha in an odd place is a much-discussed architect who had barely visited the club before Claudine’s exit. I am glad, though, to see her back in her natural habitat: engaging with clients directly.

I am also curious to see how her relationship with Jake evolves. Obviously, this isn’t going to be a romantic one, which feels all the more refreshing and I’m glad they wrote themselves out of that, but in the first couple of episodes, Jake has only come to see Samantha for help in his job. Will they simply have a quid pro quo friendship in season 2, or can they go beyond that? At this point, it feels like all of Jake’s relationships are about the exchange of information, though that’s also why the subplot with the gang of thieves seems to be working so well for me: it challenges him.

Shun Sugata Max Tokyo Vice Season 2
Shun Sugata in Max’s Tokyo Vice Season 2.

All in all, I thought it was a promising start to the new season. It feels like it’s going to go to even darker places, and our characters will suffer loss and betrayal on the way there, but I’m enjoying the storylines so far.

About Tokyo Vice

Release Date: Feb. 8
Created by: J.T. Rogers
Executive producers: J.T. Rogers, Alan Poul, Alex Boden, Josef Kubota Wladyka, Brad Caleb Kane, Adam Stein, Ken Watanabe, Emily Gerson Saines, Ansel Elgort, Jake Adelstein, Kayo Washio, Destin Daniel Cretton, John Lesher, and Michael Mann
Distribution: Max
Cast: Ansel Elgort, Ken Watanabe, Rinko Kikuchi, Rachel Keller, Show Kasamatsu, Ayumi Ito, Yosuke Kubozuka, and Miki Maya.

Synopsis: Loosely inspired by American journalist Jake Adelstein’s first-hand account of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police beat, season two of the series, filmed on location in Tokyo, takes us deeper into the city’s criminal underworld as Adelstein (Ansel Elgort) comes to realize that his life, and the lives of those close to him, are in terrible danger.

What did you think of the first two episodes of Tokyo Vice? Did you also find it strange that episode 1 was essentially a season 1 finale? What is the storyline that has you the most intrigued now? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter or on our Discord server, and come back next Thursday for my review of the third episode!

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