Previously on Into the Badlands, “Leopard Stalks in Snow”
Badlands executive producer and fight coordinator Stephen Fung sat in the director’s chair this week, crafting an episode that was less action-oriented and more introspective. As Sunny’s health rapidly declined from Cyan’s final blow – while simultaneously confronting his inner demons – M.K. and Bajie shared their disdain for the monastery and the secrets that lie therein.
Sunny, now in a coma after Cyan’s brutal attack, had created a subconscious realm where he’s lived in peaceful isolation with Veil and an adolescent Henry. In this elaborate dreamscape, short of the occasional encounter with wolves, Sunny and his the young family live comfortably deep in the woods… or so it seems. As Sunny’s physical condition worsened, a dark figure began to manipulate events in his idyllic fantasy. Ultimately this entity corrupted Henry and urged Sunny to remember his past; specifically the hundreds of nameless faces he slaughtered as Quinn’s regent.
While the vengeful spirit Henry called Artemis (Hazel Doupe) is a construct of Sunny’s imagination, her presence confirmed the ex-clipper has been wracked with guilt before we ever saw him kill for the first time. Sunny’s experience was not only reflective but prescient; while Sunny has a good idea that the son he’s never seen would be named after Veil’s father, the presence of Nathaniel Moon’s sword and the arrangement of the slaughtered pigs may allude that his “work” is not done. Yet the death of Dream Veil and the corruption of Kid Henry spell out the very real possibility that Sunny’s actions will cost him down the line.
It didn’t take long for The Widow and Quinn to put in some work and complete annihilate Jade’s barony; before the shit truly hit the fan, her cogs and even some clippers ran for the lives at the sight of the duo’s superior numbers. In short time, Jade was their captor and her holdings will likely be carved up between the victors. Having been no real threat at all, The Widow gives Quinn the honor of doing whatever the hell he wants to Jade. Minerva’s lack of concern for women in this and last episode even gave Tilda pause seeing as The Widow’s alleged objective is the liberation of all women across the Badlands. In a weird twist of fate, Quinn shows Jade the mercy The Widow lacks, banishing her from the territories and free from retribution.
The one time Quinn plays nice is the moment when it may end him, well before the brain tumor has a chance. I’m still unsure if Jade truly loved Ryder in spite of her spirited rant to Quinn. She was so deliciously petty and selfish during the first season, it’s hard to believe she developed a conscience once she finally became a one-percenter. That time has come and gone real quick but something tells me she may “pull a Quinn” and rise up with a makeshift army of her own.
One question remains: does The Widow know Lydia is in the custody of Quinn? Surely the wheels have already begun to turn between the power couple, given their passionate reunion. Potential conspiracy or not, Quinn is assuredly scheming to pull the rug from under Minerva once they’ve neutralized the remaining Barons. It would be slightly amusing if the most hated man in all the territories became more powerful than ever thanks to the Barons’ constant squabbling and ineptitude. Then again, it would be a welcoming deviation to the grand plan if Lydia herself managed to pull off a triple-cross. If the raids continue with great success this season and bleed into season three, I wouldn’t be too surprised if Lydia finally rids the world of her darling sadist, fully embracing her inner killer and new role as Mother Superior of the Badlands.
As for that other “family” of outcasts and psychotic zealots, Bajie and M.K. crept back into the Monastery to find Sunny’s miracle cure (and the compass), only to be confronted by The Master (Chipo Chung). Before the pair finally decided to carry out their harebrained plan, M.K. and Bajie shared their experiences at the Monastery, affirming the order is a merciless, unendurable enterprise. Both men managed to lose women they cared for thanks to the Abbots’ unflinching code, further opening their eyes to the hypocrisy they bought into for a brief moment.
During this sequence it’s obvious that neither The Master or Bajie can be trusted. Though the two have continued to prove themselves disreputable, at least Bajie hasn’t enforced his interest with savage purpose. Clearly The Master isn’t a title bequeathed in honor of her enlightened state of mind but to fortify the indoctrination of the monastery initiates and promote her mysterious cause. No question Bajie is a dubious character; the choices he’s made since being chained up to Sunny have proved that no one and no quest is above himself. When instructing M.K. to cut the students to turn them into mindless killers, he knew the Abbots would react in an exacting manner and eliminate their own.
The Master’s increasingly aggressive stance added another query in the overarching mystery that is The Gift. Considering how this power is coveted by the Abbots and seemingly rare, how could The Master and her senior Abbots casually neutralize or dispatch the Gifted? Obviously the untrained can wreak absolute havoc – as evidenced by the blitz in the mess hall and Bajie’s story about his novice, Flea. Given how they are willing to put down a wayward monk, perhaps this Gift isn’t as scarce as we’re lead to believe. We don’t know the origin of The Gift, how it’s transmitted or the full extent of its power, but it’s likely for the best to keep things under wraps for an indeterminate time and allow our burning desire to know all to overwhelm us.
“Black Heart” concluded with the tiniest morsel about Bajie’s motivations: to find Azra in the hopes of reuniting with Flea. Why he wouldn’t want M.K. or Sunny’s help is beyond our understanding at the moment, but on the surface, Bajie can’t trust them any more than they can him. The Badlands has earned its moniker for a reason and having a renown clipper and his former colt on your side raises one’s chances for survival longer than most. Finding a way back in the Badlands may be easier for the trio now that fear and chaos is spreading throughout the territories. Despite their sketchy partnership, Sunny, Bajie and M.K. have no other choice but to watch each other’s backs or they’ll be against the wall as enemies approach from all sides.
Into the Badlands S2E7
"Black Heart, White Mountain"
Into the Badlands – S2E7 – Black Heart, White Mountain | Daniel Wu, Orla Brady, Sarah Bolger, Aramis Knight, Emily Beecham, Oliver Stark, Madeleine Mantock, Ally Ioannides, Nick Frost, Marton Csokas | Writer: Michael Taylor | Director: Stephen Fung