AMC‘s Into the Badlands kicked off with a pretty major battle this week, with Pilgrim’s (Babou Ceesay) Harbringers storming the Monastery and pretty much wiping out all of the Master’s (Chipo Chung) troops.
Then Pilgrim went to work on the Master.
The fight was brutal, with Pilgrim smashing through walls and throwing the Master around like a rag doll. I seriously didn’t think the battle would go the way that it did, but it appears that Pilgrim’s access to the Gift is kind of like the Dark Side of the Force- he’s very explosive with the way he uses it.
Minerva (Emily Beecham), Sunny (Daniel Wu), Bajie (Nick Frost), and Nix (Ella-Rae Smith) find themselves stranded in an Abbot’s way-station after Ankara (Clare Higgins) causes their car to break down. Sunny sets to fixing the car, while Bajie finds needles to try and stop Ankara from further mischief.
Tilda (Ally Ioannides) and Gaius Chau (Lewis Tan) track Baron Chau (Eleanor Matsuura) to her hideout, the Iron Fan- and are promptly captured. The Baron wants to know whether Minerva is still alive, and sets about torturing Tilda and her brother.
This is one of those areas that Into the Badlands really gets to shine- things like the Iron Fan, which would just be an amusement park to us, is a psychological horror show to the inhabitants of the Badlands, who wouldn’t have any idea what a funhouse or Ferris wheel would be about in the first place.
Setting Chau’s hideout in such a location allows a lot of interesting backdrops for the ensuing battle, which I’ll cover in more detail in the spoilers, below.
Emily Beecham and Daniel Wu have an interesting exchange in Cobra Fang, Panther Claw, as Sunny still clearly hates her, but values her fighting ability. It’s a lot of fun to see this change in their dynamic, and I kind of hope they can continue to fight on the same side.
There’s so much to love with Into the Badlands. The post-apocalyptic setting is lush and real, the costuming is extraordinary, and the fight choreography is right up there with some of the best of the old ’90s Hong Kong Cinema greats.
Let’s kick up some spoilers!
Ankara sends Minerva off to find Tilda and Gaius, with Nix coming along for the ride. This entire episode is about shifting power dynamics, which are bookended by the episode’s major battle sequences.
First, Pilgrim shatters the Master, cutting off her access to the Gift and taking her prisoner. He then sets about waking up the “Sleepers”, former students that the Master has put into comas for trying to escape her Monastery.
It’s hard not to feel for Pilgrim, who clearly believes he’s doing the right thing by his people. Ceesay is so earnest in his performance, delivering a character filled with righteous zeal for his charges. He’s a pretty tragic character, but he’s clearly headed down the worst possible path.
The Widow, on the other hand, has been on the path of liberation since season one. Minverva’s drive has been to set the Cogs of the Badlands free, and Juliet Chau’s family has been providing Cogs as slave labor for over a hundred years.
The battle between the Widow and the Baron is pretty epic, with Minerva decapitating Chau in the end. The balance of power in the Badlands is suddenly tilted towards freedom for the masses, which means the Widow could cement her hold on power.
But, she made Sunny a promise, and might be the only person alive who could help him.
The episode ends with Sunny a prisoner of the Black Lotus, which has just left the Abbot’s way-station populated with two corpses.
One of which was really hard to watch. I’m not into spoiling everything, so let’s just leave that one for you to find for yourself.
Cobra Fang, Panther Claw had some intense fights and great story progression, but we’re not through the woods yet. On Monday, April 15th, AMC will air Black Lotus, White Rose– here’s a look at the mayhem:
From AMC Studios, Into the Badlands was created by executive producers, showrunners and writers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville) and is executive produced by Oscar(R)-nominated producers Stacey Sher (Django Unchained) and Michael Shamberg (Contagion), along with David Dobkin (The Judge), Stephen Fung (Tai Chi Zero), Michael Taylor (TURN: Washington’s Spies) and Wu.