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"Kung Fu Crabtree" is the sixteenth episode of the seventh season of Murdoch Mysteries and the ninety-fourth episode of the series. It first aired on March 24, 2014.


With Detective Murdoch taking time away from the Station House, Constable Crabtree finds himself investigating the death by poisoning of a visiting Chinese official who was in Toronto seeking men who had participated in the Boxer Rebellion back in China. The immediate suspect is Wu Chang but as Crabtree gets to know the young man, he is convinced of his innocence. Meanwhile, Murdoch and Dr. Ogden are trying to confirm if their nemesis, James Gillies, is alive. Things take a strange twist when the Cobourg police inform the Inspector that they may have found Gillies' remains. If ballistics settles the issue, who sent the threatening letters to Julia?

Station House No. 4 attends a banquet at a Chinese restaurant. Inspector Brackenreid thought they were supposed to bring their wives; Mrs. Brackenreid declares she didn't want to come because she heard they eat duck feet and eyeballs. Crabtree reassures her, telling her he's eaten Chinese food and it's actually quite good. Detective Murdoch is conspicuously absent.

The Chinese dignitary Chow Wei asks for help in arresting leaders of the Boxer Rebellion who may be hiding in Toronto. The man on his right stands up, Sun Yang, a detective from Hong Kong, distributes photos of wanted Boxers and emphasizes that these men will be brought back to China and punished for their crimes. Suddenly, Chow Wei is killed after eating a bite with shrimp paste, as he has a hypersensitivity to it. Brackenreid demands to know why they didn't take precautions, but Sun Yang states that they traveled with a taster, but he was upstairs at the time with a woman who was also part of the entourage. Brackenreid quickly orders Crabtree to gather all the kitchen staff and food and bring it down to the station. 

Meanwhile, Murdoch and Julia clandestinely meet at the Queens Hotel to talk about the threatening notes and photos from James Gillies. One of the photos was taken at the station, Murdoch recalls two strangers there that day, a blond woman and an old man. Murdoch suspects one of them was Gillies in disguise, and sends a note to Brackenreid. Back at the Station House, the Boxer Wu Chang is uncovered among the staff. Brackenreid moves to arrest him, Wu Chang fights off the inspector, Crabtree, and Higgins by stealing nightsticks off two officers' and escapes. Constable Crabtree returns to the restaurant and finds that the stolen nightsticks have been connected with a short chain. Wu Chang then attempts to attack Crabtree, but the officer quickly handcuffs him, right before a group of men enter the resturant. While handcuffed to Crabtree, Wu Chang defends himself against the men.

At the morgue, Dr. Grace patches Wu Chang's wound up. Crabtree and Emily learn that Wu Chang is searching for his sister, Ling, in Toronto. He went to the restaurant after finding a message supposedly from his martial arts master, Yu Da, to meet with him there. Wu Chang is not a Boxer and knows English because his father believed China's future was in the West. Before they can find out more, they are interrupted by Leslie Garland who has a date with Emily.

At the Queen's Hotel, Brackenreid understands why Dr. Ogden refused Murdoch's proposal. Murdoch asks Brackenreid to find out the identities of the old man and the blond woman. Julia is a bit scared, but Brackenreid assures her that he'll be discreet. The Inspector also sets off to talk to the constabulary in Cobourg about James Gillies as well.

In Chinatown, Wu Chang explains that kung fu is not a martial art, but any act achieved through hard work and diligence. Wushu is the proper name for martial arts and Crabtree begs to learn a move. Wu Chang demonstrates a way to free a hostage from an opponent, and gains George's trust. Afterwards, Constable Crabtree decides to hide Wu Chang in his apartment. Wu Chang calls him a man of honour for sacrificing his happiness for Dr. Grace's. The next day, Sun Yang reveals evidence that Wu Chang killed a man in China. George leads officers back to his apartment in disillusionment, but finds Wu Chang has escaped once more. Searching for Yu Da in Chinatown, Crabtree meets Mrs. Brackenreid, who wants to learn to cook Chinese food. When Mr. Lee, the vendor, hesitates to give George information about Yu Da, Mrs. Brackenreid asserts herself and demands he do so. Mr. Lee tells them the man lives on Chester Street. Crabtree finds and talks with Yu Da, who is blind. He discovers Wu Chang's chained nightsticks after Yu Da denies Wu Chang is there, and Wu Chang confronts Crabtree about his "betrayal." George asks about the man he killed, but Wu Chang says he killed him in defence of his father. Yu Da interrupts to reveal three men are approaching, the same attackers as before. He orders George and Wu Chang to hide, and fights the three men with his staff in the dark, defeating them.

Sun Yang and Brackenreid discuss the case in his office, and Mrs. Brackenreid comes by with a Chinese feast. Brackenreid is reluctant, but enjoys the meal, and the couple stays a little longer at the station.

At Yu Da's house, Wu Chang finds a photograph of his family with Yu Da and the true emperor. They had supported the emperor's wish to reform China into a constitutional monarchy, but the Empress Dowager had taken over, imprisoning the emperor in the Forbidden City, and the usurpers took the streets, killing foreigners. The reformers were hunted down by the usurpers, so they had to flee, with China accusing them of being Boxers to alienate them from everyone else.

The following day, Crabtree informs the Inspector about the Chinese government hunting down democratic reformers, but Brackenreid insists on questioning Yu Da and arresting Wu Chang; Instead, handcuffing Wu Chang to himself, the three go to Chester Street, but find Yu Da murdered. A note saying the attackers have Wu Chang's sister, Ling, and Wu Chang escapes again. Crabtree recognizes the characters in the note are the same as the ones on the Chinese restaurant's sign. 

A Kung Fu combat showdown erupts as Wu Chang frees his sister. Brackenreid and Crabtree arrive, with rifles, but Mrs. Brackenreid walks into the fray and is taken hostage. George swings into action, using moves learned from Wu Chang plus a spinning heel kick, and Mrs. Brackenreid is released. Inspector Brackenreid quickly takes control the situation and unmasks Sun Yang, who admits to hunting reformists for the Empress Dowager and killing Yu Da. Crabtree knows that Wu Chang is innocent, but his sister had motive, opportunity, and the means to kill Chow Wei. Regrettably, Wu Chang confesses to the crime to save Ling from the noose.

Meanwhile, things take a unexpected twist when the Cobourg police inform Station House No. 4 that they may have found Gillies' remains. An autopsy, facial reconstruction, and a ballistics match confirms the identity of the decomposed body, but one question remains: who wrote the threatening letters?

Character Revelations


  • One of the photos Dr. Ogden received was taken at the Station House, during the sting (ep.713) to trap Eva Pearce which later helps Murdoch uncover the truth in this case.
  • The result of James Gillies' death leap off the bridge in 'A Midnight Train to Kingston is discovered when his body is located and examined by Dr. Grace and Dr. Ogden.
  • Murdoch tests the bullet Crabtree shot but was never removed, concluding that Gillies is indeed dead.
  • Emily ends her relationship with Leslie with a hard slap upon learning he is the blackmailer, impersonating Gillies.
  • Julia chooses not to have Garland arrested, instead commands him to leave his brother's house with his possessions, otherwise anything remaining will be sold.

Historical References

  • The Boxer Rebellion in China (1892-1900) was caused by peasants who wished to get rid of the Qing dynasty and foreign influence. However, once the Empress Dowager backed the rebellion, they decided to simply get rid of all foreigners, and massacred Christian missionaries and Chinese Christians. However, an international force of Austro-Hungarian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Russian, British, and American soldiers subdued the rebellion and took Peking, China's capital.
  • The Tongzhi Emperor ruled from 1861 to 1875. He attempted to have political reform in China, however, he was overshadowed by his mother, the Empress Dowager Cixi, who took over state affairs and made sure the imperial system continued forward.
  • The Ward will become home to Toronto’s growing Chinese community and eventually be known as the city’s first Chinatown.



  • Sun Yang speaks Cantonese with an English accent.
  • Cantonese and Mandarin, though two very different dialects, are spoken and understood by most of the Chinese people in this episode, though it's possible they are all bilingual.
  • George Crabtree says "fingerprints" instead of "fingermarks" after Yu Da fights off the assassins.


Main Cast

Yannick Bisson as William Murdoch
Hélène Joy as Julia Ogden
Thomas Craig as Thomas Brackenreid
Jonny Harris as George Crabtree
Georgina Reilly as Emily Grace

Recurring Cast

Lachlan Murdoch as Constable Henry Higgins
Kristian Bruun as Constable Slugger Jackson
Brian Kaulback as Constable Hodge
Arwen Humphreys as Margaret Brackenreid
Giacomo Gianniotti as Leslie Garland

Guest Cast

Allen Keng as Wu Chang
Russell Yuen as Sun Yang
Daniel Park as Yu Da
Tsu-Ching Yu as Wu Ling
Robert Lee as Chow Wei
Warren Chow as Head Chef
Dominic Fung as Mr. Lee
Norman Yeung as Taster
Michael Chan as Man in Chinatown


Murdoch Mysteries Season 7
"Murdoch Ahoy" • "Tour de Murdoch" • "The Filmed Adventures of Detective William Murdoch" • "Return of Sherlock Holmes" • "Murdoch of the Living Dead" • "Murdochophobia" • "Loch Ness Murdoch" • "Republic of Murdoch" • "A Midnight Train to Kingston" • "Murdoch in Ragtime" • "Journey to the Centre of Toronto" • "Unfinished Business" • "The Murdoch Sting"•"Friday the 13th, 1901"•"The Spy Who Came Up to the Cold"•"Kung Fu Crabtree"•"Blast of Silence"•"The Death of Dr. Ogden"
Season 1Season 2Season 3Season 4Season 5Season 6Season 7Season 8Season 9Season 10