Into the Badlands: Episodes 4-6

Okay, first off, WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THAT THE FIRST SEASON IS ONLY SIX EPISODES.I would have, I don’t know, slowed my binge down slightly. Just watched two episodes a night instead of three. BUT FINE. At least it looks like I’ll be able to catch up into season 2 with the AMC Xbox app.

Battle of the Sexes

What I was seeing in the first three episodes with the misogyny of Quinn’s barony and the Widow’s pushback has left subtext and gone straight into text. At least according to the Widow, who tells Tilda that they’re in this to create a world where men can’t hurt little girls (like the Widow’s former husband hurt young Tilda) any more. And there’s even more of a battle of the sexes setup as we find out Zypher has teamed up with the Widow and plans to off her master Baron Jacobee and take his barony for himself.

Though there is of course the hefty implication that putting the Widow and Zephy in power isn’t going to herald some golden age of matriarchal Utopia. If nothing else, they’re fighting to be top dogs in a sick system that just propagates abuse of power, rather than trying to overthrow the system itself. They promise things will change once they’re in charge, and I’m sure there would be some changes, but that still makes for a bad society.

Take the Widow stealing all of Quinn’s cogs. While she’s obviously got a plan to treat them better than he did—it would be hard to treat them worse—they’re still basically enslaved people. And then we find out that along with striking a blow against Quinn’s ability to run his barony, she took all the cogs so she could see if any of them was the special boy she’s been hunting for?

Yeah, new boss, same as the old boss. Though I’d still much rather be on Team Widow than Team Quinn.

I do think what saves this from being a straight on battle of the sexes thing (which I would be less on board with, to be honest) is that we get the hint that it’s not just women planning the coup—Waldo is the inside man in Quinn’s territory, even though we were initially faked into believing it was Ryder being used as a tool. And Waldo’s very clear that he’s looking to see the system itself get taken down and changed, which makes me wonder if he’s got plans of his own that the Widow and Zypher don’t know about.

Looking forward to seeing more of Waldo, that’s all I can say. That old guy gets cooler every time I see him.

Of Monks and MK

MK is still my least favorite character of the series, followed by Ryder. Because frankly, one of the major whirring engines of the plot is male entitlement, personified by both of these whiney little jerks. I’m just hoping they eventually get what’s coming to them.

But anyway, the major highlight of this second set of three episodes for me (other than the Widow dual wielding morning stars HELLO) was the monks. Mysterious badass brothers (one of whom sure doesn’t look like a brother, btw) showing up to collect MK and stick him in another chest just like the one he popped out of in the first episode. That was one hell of a fight scene, with some massive implications that MK getting carried away might actually be the best thing for all involved.

Of course, the mystery has also widened out about where the fuck MK came from, because it’s apparently the same place Sunny came from? Only Sunny doesn’t go all evil when someone cuts him, and there’s no sign that he had that problem in his childhood and outgrew it. And apparently the Widow is also from that special place, if you can believe a word she says? That also implies that there’s more than one kind of special kid that comes out of that city, but why? How are they special in their different ways? Argh!

Stop Asking Sunny Questions He Can’t Answer

I feel like the poor guy ends half his scenes facing an unanswerable question and looking really upset about it. No wait, don’t stop doing that to him, it’s making for some pretty good character development on his part. Sunny keeps getting more complex as a character, because there’s always the question of how much he’s doing out of trained habit, residual loyalty, or an attempt to maintain the appearance of residual loyalty because he knows damn well that he and Veil are still entirely in Quinn’s power. Like when he’s going to do as ordered and torture Tilda—he’s not going to somehow become sympathetic to the Widow’s side just because Quinn’s a dick and Sunny’s done with everything. Sunny’s on Team Sunny and Veil, and he’s of the opinion that maintaining the status quo gives the two of them (and MK) their best chance at getting out alive.

I think there might have still been a little of his duty to Quinn left in him until the end, when Quinn put a stake through its heart with his own two hands. At which point everything was ruined anyway, so I was beyond glad that Sunny got to kill Quinn himself. It was a satisfying moment that needed to happen, but of course plays into Quinn’s taunt that Sunny will always be a killer—but it’s not like Sunny could have just walked away at that point.

Poor Sunny. Next season looks like it’s going to be even tougher on him.

Lydia and Jade

Honestly, I felt like who really shone in these last few episodes were Lydia and Jade, because they finally got the room to really lay out their quiet but deadly internal political struggle. Both of them always trying to pretend that this time, they’d be the peacemaker, and they really do have to face this situation with Quinn together, while hating each other’s guts in a visceral way that not even Sunny matched when he ran Quinn through.

Honestly, I was surprised when Jade made the move, and I found that gratifying. Jade’s struck me the whole time as being kind of drunk on her power, maybe riding the ragged edge of disaster by playing father and son (and then wife/mother) all against each other. Especially when Quinn seemed to know very well what was going on. But she got her shit together enough to figure out how to out-game Lydia, and it was devastating.

We ended the season seeing Lydia reborn, in her own way, driven back to the religious cult that birthed her after taking no end of insult from her own son about it. I doubt we’ve seen the last of Lydia, and I can’t help thinking—Dad made her promise to renounce her physical possessions, sure. But nowhere did he make her promise to renounce vengeance, and vengeance ain’t a physical possession. We haven’t seen the last of Lydia, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Collision Course

Honestly, at this point I feel like Into the Badlands has set a bunch of extremely powerful women on a collision course, and I couldn’t be more excited. For all that Sunny is definitely the viewpoint character of the show and we’re getting his emotional and moral journey, all of the most truly dangerous, strongest people are turning out to be the women: the Widow, Zypher, Lydia, Jade, and even Veil. Because did we see Veil’s maneuvering that got her out of the clutches of both Quinn and the Widow? That woman is a mountain that will not be worn down. She’ll outlast you all.

I hope the series lives up to this promise. Let’s go, season tw

Leave a Reply