Things have started to move along with “Moon Rises, Raven Seeks” on Into the Badlands.
We open with Pilgrim and Cressida (Babou Ceesay and Lorraine Toussaint respectively) who find out one from of their little murderlings, Nix (Ella-Rae Smith) that Castor (Dean Charles-Chapman) their other murderling, isn’t feeling so hot after his last killing spree on their behalf. There’s nothing like Pilgrim, whose introduction is essentially as a mass murderer, telling someone their gift is for the greater good and how proud they are of them, to set up a character quickly.
Pilgrim and Cressida come upon the first temple of Azra, which they plan to claim and turn into their kingdom. What could go wrong?
Meanwhile The Widow (Emily Beecham) equips Nathaniel Moon (Sherman Augustus) with a brand new ornate fake killing hand. It’s like a prerequisite these days that every major saga has to have at least one, one handed character (Star Wars, Game of Thrones, Avengers/Marvel). Moon and the petulant M.K (Aramis Knight) go mano a mano and M.K reveals his connection to Sunny (Daniel Wu).
Speaking of! We rejoin Sunny, Bajie (Nick Frost) and Lydia (Orla Brady) back at the refugee camp, where they’re discussing how baby Henry could have inherited the gift. It appears when Sunny was originally found he was wearing the totem of Azra around his neck. Two paths are presented, trying to find the master, which according to Bajie would be a bad idea, or trying to find the “mad witch”, named Ankara, which could be an even worse idea. It appears a road trip is about to ensue.
The Widow sends out Moon to find the Iron Rabbit, Tilda’s (Ally Ioannides) new moniker since she was transporting Bajie. This seems to please Moon to no end.
We learn that Ankara was Bajie’s first master, and that he still still feels pangs of regret for his faith not being rewarded.
Cressida and Pilgrim arrive t their new digs, which are complete with T-Rex and Triceratops skeleton decorations. I’d like the name of the Azran interior decorator please. When their followers doubt the choice of new location, Pilgrim delivers a faith rebuilding sermon in the form of … blindfolding himself and killing the non-believers. Being a benevolent maniac, he did give them the chance to attack him first.
Sunny and Tilda run into each other for the first time, leading to an awkward encounter. It’s quickly interrupted when Nathaniel Moon rolls into camp with some dapper lackies. Apparently we’re getting all sort of reunions as Moon and Lydia (who is holding Henry for some added suspense) reunite. She covers for Tilda, calling the Iron Rabbit a he. Sunny and Bajie prepare for a fast exit, with Tilda stepping up to help cover the situation. Lydia offers to go talk to The Widow to help diffuse the situation.
Back in camp Pilgrim/Cressida, we see remains of the world that was, including a View-Master with a still of Azra. Castor’s illness continues to spread. What are the odds on both murderlings surviving the season?
Junkie M.K slowly comes to terms with that he may have to take a different approach with The Widow.
Pilgrim himself expresses doubts to Cressida about their choice of settlement. Toussaint proves an incredibly valuable add to the season, delivering Cressida’s steely resolve and confidence that takes the borderline cheesy dialogue from absurdist to mythical.
M.K has found a weak link in The Widow’s staff and manages to get himself some of the sweet sweet drug relief he desires. It results in a less than pleasant trip for him down memory lane, where he faces down with inner evil powerful him. Psyche-Mk. Reveals to him that the master manipulated M.K into thinking he’d killed his own mother, but really she was struck down by Sunny (gaaaaaassssspppp) as she was telling M.K to hide. Looks like that did the trick in reviving M.K’s ability to access his powers.
Moon brings Lydia to The Widow, reminiscing over what could have been. The Widow stresses the importance of capturing the Iron Rabbit. A philosophy showdown ensues between the two women. The Widow offers to make Lydia a viceroy in return for the Iron Rabbit. It’s wonderful to see the women holding power front and center this season.
Tilda convinces Sunny to allow her to go with them by using the stolen transport. It’s unclear whether Tilda is in this for redemption or some sort of nefarious plot.
The Widow discovers tripped out M.K and expresses what could almost be construed as motherly concern.
Cressida and Pilgrim complete a sacrifice to the old gods, which of course involves blood. I could have done without the close ups of the ritual, which involved putting meat hooks into Cressida’s back and raising her up with chains. No thank you.
Overall, “Moon Rises, Raven Seeks” moved along at a healthy clip. Once again it felt like it was setting up the players for some of the larger things to come this season, but at least we got a few peeks into back story and where this whole Azra thing is going to play in.
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