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Zhilan Zhang (chinese: 張志蘭) is the main antagonist of Season 1, and a supporting and main character from Season 2 onwards.

She is a cryptic woman with deep criminal ties and a mysterious connection to the Shaolin monastery where Nicky trained in Kung Fu. Her quest for power led her to murder Nicky’s mentor in order to get her hands on The Sword of Liang Daiyu. Thus proving that she will be a determined and dangerous foe.


Early life[]

In Patience, Professor Chau reveals he knows a lot about Zhilan; starting with recognizing her Crane necklace as the insignia of the Zhang family, one of the eight guardian families. He further explains that he read somewhere that Zhilan and Pei-Ling’s father was murdered. Around the time this happened, Zhilan was just a child.


One night, the monastery at the Yunnan Province, is lit on fire as raiders come after the warriors, but the women fight them off as Nicky desperately tries to get to Pei-Ling. As the fight rages, Pei-Ling faces Zhilan, the leader of the raiders and someone she seems to recognize. Zhilan incapacitates Pei-Ling and steals a mysterious sword from her.

As Nicky finally reaches Pei-Ling, Zhilan stabs Pei-Ling and vanishes. Nicky sobs as Pei-Ling begs her to retrieve the sword and dies.

Nicky pursues Zhilan, and the two fight. Nicky briefly holds the sword, but it makes a noise in her hand before Zhilan takes it back. As Nicky finds herself clinging to the edge of a cliff, Zhilan leaves her there and departs with the mythical sword.

After searching for Zhilan in vain, Nicky returns to her home and estranged family in San Francisco’s Chinatown where her father Jin welcomes her with open arms.

In the end, Henry reveals to Nicky the fabled magical potential of the weapon that Zhilan now has in her possession. Nicky realizes she must defend her hometown from Zhilan as her sworn enemy who seeks to unlock the mythical weapon's powers.


When Nicky goes to the marina, she intercepts Evan Hartley running his usual route, and asks him if he has any leads on Zhilan. He jokes that all she gave him was a first name and an admittedly good and detailed sketch, and Nicky says she wishes she knew more.

Later, Nicky goes to her room, where she meditates to remember more details about Zhilan. This seems to do the trick, assShe remembers a distinctive necklace and sketches it, including a symbol of what looks like a crane.

Eventually Nicky shares more of her last night at the monastery with Althea Shen, who is incredulous that Nicky wants to put herself in danger again by going after Zhilan. Nicky, still hurting from reliving Zhilan’s attack, lashes out, saying not everyone can live in a “bridal fantasy world”.

When Nicky goes to the park alone, she starts her training,and flashes back to her time in China and the night Pei-Ling died. She replays her fight with Zhilan, and loses again.

At Althea's cake tasting, Ryan Shen makes a remark about Nicky “hunting down an international assassin,” and Nicky realizes Althea told him about Zhilan. Althea protests that she had to tell Ryan because her plan is unrealistic.

Later, when Nicky calls Evan later to thank him for his help, he tells her they found out Zhilan is in Singapore. But more importantly, that Zhilan is apparently Pei-Ling’s sister.

In the stacks at the library, Henry tells Nicky that he found the symbol. It’s a symbol for one of the families guarding each of the eight weapons, which makes Zhilan and Pei-Ling part of these guardians.

In Singapore, Zhilan menacingly walks up to Winston Chau, a professor who is an expert in those symbols and introduces herself to him.


As Nicky and Henry spar, Henry observes that Nicky is visibly distracted by the news that Zhilan has resurfaced in Singapore and is likely linked to the disappearance of Professor Chau due to his expertise on the mythical eight weapons she is on the hunt for. The sparring match is then awkwardly interrupted by Nicky's ex-boyfriend Evan, who confirms Zhilan kidnapped Chau by sharing CCTV footage of her approaching him forcefully in a parking garage.

However, Zhilan is able to elude the authorities, interrogating Chau in a secret location to discover where the next mythical weapon is located.

As Zhilan intensifies her torture and interrogation of Chau, he notices her medallion and deduces that she is Pei-Ling's sister and her father was murdered when she was young based on her family history. Normally unflappable, Zhilan is shaken at being called out and identified by Chau, stopping the torture and revealing to him the myths beyond the Eight Weapons are real in exchange for additional information. Satisfied with the information he gives, Zhilan fatally poisons him as she continues her hunt for the remaining weapons and recovers the next set after launching a daring heist in Dubai.


Henry and Nicky's research eventually leads them to a local, wealthy entrepreneur linked to the key who conveniently happens to be out of town so Henry suggests that he and Nicky should break into his palatial estate to investigate for additional clues. Just as Nicky finds the box to be unlocked by her key, though, she and Henry are ambushed by a masked cat burglar who recovers the box under orders from Zhilan.

On the other side of the world, Zhilan visibly loses her cool as she discovers she has received an empty box, with the scabbard missing.


Nicky remembers reading an ancient legend about a small band of Chinese warriors who won a battle with magical, green-glowing weapons. She further recalls that the sword that Zhilan stole also glowed green, but beyond that, she also remembers being inexplicably drawn to the sword and seeing a mysterious woman in a hooded robe who disappeared after glowing green at the monastery in the Yunnan Province.


Nicky confides in Evan at being frustrated because they recently hit a dead end with Zhilan and her whereabouts.

At the gala, Nicky tells Ryan and Althea that she’s leaving and to look after their parents, as more goons for hire could be around. However as she’s waving goodbye to Jin Shen, she sees that Zhilan is talking to him.

Zhilan’s posing as Charlotte Yang, a curator from the Beijing national museum. The two young woman have a thinly veiled conversation about the dagger, in which Zhilan reveals she hired the men that Nicky and Henry fought. As Jin walks away, Zhilan threatens Nicky’s parents and Henry before patting Nicky down and taking the dagger. Previously believing Nicky to be dead, Zhilan says Nicky should take the second chance she’s been given and stop fighting Pei-Ling’s battles, citing how her sister isn’t worth the effort.

When Henry comes to get her, Nicky tells him what happened with Zhilan. Obviously worried, he begs her to be smart and not to go after her, saying that Zhilan will kill her this time.

Eventually, Nicky tells Henry to get her family away from the gala before she goes after Zhilan. Evan looks on in concern as she marches away. Outside, and at the back of the building, Nicky confronts Zhilan, demanding that she give the dagger back. Zhilan says that she’ll once again have to fight for it before the two begin to duel for it.

Rather quickly, Zhilan bests Nicky, leaving her sprawled on the ground, grasping her arm in pain. However, Nicky manages to briefly gain the upper hand with some new tricks by kicking the dagger that glowed green in Zhilan’s hand out of her grasp. She angrily accuses Zhilan of killing her shifu. As they fight, Zhilan paints a different picture of Pei-Ling by saying how anger has blinded Nicky, and she knows nothing about her or Pei-Ling. According to Zhilan’s version of events Pei-Ling was no shifu. Instead, what she is in Zhilan’s eyes is a thief and a murderer.

Zhilan claims that Pei-Ling murdered their father and stole The Sword of Liang Daiyu and proceeded to hide out at the monastery in the Yunnan Province. Zhilan once again gains the upper hand. As she is about to stab Nicky with the dagger, Nicky holds her hand up as if to beg for mercy. Zhilan sees the markings on her hand and is visibly shaken. She spares Nicky, telling her to “go back to Harvard, little monk. You’re not cut out for this,” before knocking her out and walking away.


Zhilan begins to recall her own memories of Pei-Ling, in which it was quite obvious that their father clearly favored her over Pei-Ling as a child, which made her older sister visibly jealous as she cared for her. Zhilan further remembers that ancient text that her father was studying matched the text scarred into Nicky's hand from the mystical jade sword.

While Zhilan reconnects with her uncle, she remembers the childhood trauma that set her apart from her sister forever: When their father attempted to sell the jade sword, a weapon passed down through generations of the family for the women to safeguard, a scuffle between him and Pei-Ling lead to him accidentally being stabbed to death as Zhilan watched.

Blaming Pei-Ling for the death of her beloved father, Zhilan broke off her familial relationship with her as a heartbroken Pei-Ling took the sword and departed.

While Ryan advises Nicky to refrain from training and fighting to give her body a chance to heal from injuries endured during the fight against Zhilan.

After Zhilan recalls her last conversation with Pei-Ling, two years before their fatal showdown, she learns that her uncle was secretly receiving money from Pei-Ling to raise her all along. Feeling betrayed, Zhilan angrily confronts him while revealing she was the one that murdered Pei-Ling before forcing him to tell her where his research on the weapons is located. Her uncle ends up revealing that the ancient text her father studied had been sold to the powerful Tan family in Taipei. Zhilan intercepts Kerwin Tan, one of the family's affluent sons, with a proposed alliance which he readily agrees to take her up on.

Unbeknownst to Zhilan, as Nicky returns home, she learns that her mother Mei-Li Shen secretly watched her daughter battle Drake and saw firsthand that she has claimed her martial arts destiny, thus revealing that Nicky is fated to reclaim the Jade sword, as she is evidently linked to Pei-Ling and Zhilan as a long-lost family member, stemming all the way back to Liang Daiyu, which makes the inevitable rematch between the two woman all the more personal.


As Nicky regroups with Henry to make a new plan to stop Zhilan. Nicky thinks finding Mei-Xue is the key to getting ahead of Zhilan, and they look at Mei-Xue’s last letter that arrived with a red panda figurine.

Meanwhile, somewhere else in the world, Zhilan and Kerwin lay in bed together discussing Zhilan’s past. She shares that after a childhood of surgeries, she’s used to pain. He asks if that’s where her anger comes from, and she says that it comes from betrayal. She notices scars on his arm that he claims are from a car accident. Kerwin then insists they get back to reading the scroll. But unfortunately, Zhilan is disappointed as he walks away.

Zhilan and Kerwin continue to search the scroll for clues, with Zhilan suggesting Kerwin call his father. Kerwin refuses, and Zhilan is angry that after she translated the scrolls, Kerwin isn’t willing to take the next step. He menacingly tells her that calling his father isn’t an option. Zhilan holds his wrist and asks if his father was the one to give him those scars. Kerwin steps back in shock.

Elsewhere, Kerwin shares his childhood trauma with Zhilan, and reveals how one night, his father gathered his three siblings together and ranked them, with Kerwin ranking last despite doing everything his father wanted. Apparently, his father wanted him to push back and find himself, and not doing so was a sign of weakness. Kerwin drunkenly drove home and got into a car accident, crushing his hand and giving him the scars. Kerwin says the only reason he’s working with Zhilan is to see what his father’s face will look like when he achieves what his father couldn’t. Zhilan shows him the weapons she already has, asking him what else he hasn’t been telling her.

Eventually, Zhilan and Kerwin compare notes. Kerwin’s father has three weapons, making six between the two of them. Kerwin says it won’t be easy to get the weapons from his father, but he can when the time is right. He asks why it’s so important to summon Biange with the weapons, and she says it’s to ensure no one can betray her again by gaining power. Kerwin shares that his father has poured money into an archaeological dig in Myanmar, and a weapon must be there. He wants to go there with Zhilan and steal it from his father.


Kerwin tells Zhilan to take a break from reading the scroll because they stole the axe, one of the weapons, from Mr. Tan’s excavations site in Myanmar. Zhlian however wants to get the weapons from the Tan family vault before they pursue the Meteor Hammer, which will take longer.

Back at the community center library, Nicky and Henry are looking at Mei-Xue’s tapes and journals, respectively. Nicky can’t take her eyes off of Henry, and Henry notices something is up with her. Henry notes that in Mei-Xue's tapes starts talking about a place called “The Forge.” As she listens to the tapes some more, Nicky learns that the weapons, having continually lost their power over time, would unleash the terrible power they held only if all eight weapons were reunited where they were created, the place with the most Biange energy: The Forge. Thus, Nicky and Henry must find The Forge to protect it from Zhilan.

As Zhilan and Kerwin are planning how to get his father’s weapons when a flashbang is dropped into the room. A team of men invade Zhilan’s home. Leading them is Edgar, who is Mr. Tan’s head of security.

Back at Zhilan’s house, Edgar tries to bribe Zhilan into giving up the location of the axe. When she refuses, he threatens her, holding a knife to Zhilan’s throat. Kerwin agrees to show him where the weapons are.

Kerwin shows Edgar Zhilan’s weapons vault. Edgar tries to convince him to bring the weapons to Mr. Tan and kill Zhilan, handing him the dagger. Kerwin hesitates before stabbing Edgar instead. Zhilan, who had been sawing at her restraints, takes out the rest of the hired grunts. Kerwin looks astonished at what he’s done.

Back at Zhilan’s, Kerwin is visibly stuggling about killing someone he cared about. Zhilan tells him the first time is always the hardest.


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She's uninhibited, she's vile at times, she's alluring, but with all of that she's also really heartbreaking and very, very much human. She might be seen as a villain by other, but to her, she's also very much so the hero of her own story.[1]



Promotional images[]



  • On May 12, 2020 it was originally announced that Gwendoline Yeo was cast as Zhilan in a series regular role, but at some point, she was re-cast (now portrayed by Yvonne Chapman), and the character became recurring instead.[2][3]
  • On April 20, 2021, Chapman mentioned how she loves that Zhilan is such a badass, and that she's "having so much fun playing a villain because [she] get[s] to do things and think things and get into a psyche and way of motivation that [she] would never, never do in [her] day-to-day life. And [she] get[s] to wear clothes that [she] would never wear in [her] day-to-day life".[1]
  • Her full name is revealed to be Zhang Zhilan in Patience, the series third episode of Season 1.