Previously on Into the Badlands, ‘The Fort’
Starring: Daniel Wu, Orla Brady, Sarah Bolger, Aramis Knight, Emily Beecham, Oliver Stark, Madeleine Mantock, Ally Ioannides, Marton Csokas | Director: David Dobkin
The Widow continues to formulate ways to take over Quinn’s territory. Sunny’s wavering loyalty is further tested by Quinn’s reckless actions. Ryder fares no better than his old man and falls for a trap that injures him gravely. MK meets a young clipper named Tilda who’s far more dangerous than she appears. A friend of Sunny’s (Stephen Lang) warns him that freedom isn’t worth dying for.
ENTER THE WIDOW
Formerly known as Minerva, The Widow lives up to her new monicker as she easily dispatches eight nomads during an ambush in a dollhouse. Though extremely capable of handling herself (ask the guy who took a heel in his throat), her power base rests on unsteady ground. Her clipper force isn’t as intimidating as Quinn’s, plus her regent (chief clipper) abandoned her and is now quite dead. Not to mention the other Barons are in no rush to coordinate a concentrated strike on Quinn unless victory can be assured.
With her regent gone, the pact with Ryder apparently up in smoke and The Boy still in the wind, The Widow resorts to an unpleasant alliance with a group of nomads. Adept though her girls may be, sexism continues to be a hindrance 500 years from now. Tilda and her sisters prove to be well-trained clippers, yet there’s no need to risk Widow’s best killers on such a menial task like Ryder’s assassination. Let the dumb, uneducated, unwashed chauvinists handle it! Unfortunately for them, Sunny was present to make sashimi out of them all.
The Widow 1
Post-Apocalypse Patriarchy 0
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Thankfully, Marton Csokas was able to rein in Quinn’s erratic accent and turn even the most callous and cold-hearted commands into with his genial drawl. Sunny accompanies Quinn on a personal errand to assess why his headaches are becoming increasingly severe. Viewers are introduced to Veil’s adoptive parents, Hannah and Vernon, the latter being a doctor who has tended to Quinn’s family for years.
The couple are but humble tradesfolk that make the best of what the badlands provides. They don’t imitate a personal rapport with Quinn, theirs is nothing more than a professional relationship and is best kept that way, for their own sakes. So it was worth noting the dread Hannah expressed on her face when Quinn held her hand for only a moment, signaling a terrible deed was soon to occur.
Shockingly, Quinn robs Vernon and Hannah of their lives to keep his medical condition concealed. Sunny was dismayed by the baron’s actions, who ultimately placed the blame on him due to Sunny’s refusal to carry out Quinn’s order. This one time of disobedience was all the Baron needed to look at Sunny in a new light, one of a potential rival.
In the meantime, Ryder is red with rage thanks to a doll (escort) owning a brick’s worth of the family’s opium, far too much for a woman of her station. Ever the reactionary dumbbell, Ryder goes on the offensive and believes nomads are responsible for cutting into their profits. Sunny – suddenly concerned about his own place in the hierarchy of the clan – has no other choice but to agree with Quinn’s son, lest he wants to give the Baron any more doubts about his allegiance.
Clearly, Ryder is a man whose ambition overpowers his rationale, if he even possesses any. Perhaps he’s overcompensating for his physical impairment that was soothed by a doll before he saw her cache and put hands on the woman. It’s almost amazing how Ryder’s incompetence and entitlement are nearly as enormous as his ego. He only attempted to take out The Widow a few days ago (in Badlands time), and he isn’t concerned about retaliation? An ambush of any sort? Nah, let’s smoke opium and draw up another hairbrained plan to oust daddy. Wait, plan? WHO AM I KIDDING, I’M RYDER.
The callow man-child pays for his ineptitude with roughly a minute of ‘hang time’ inside a steel mill and possible brain damage, courtesy of the nomads hired by The Widow. If only Quinn knew a doctor that was alive and riding distance from The Fort. Way to go, dad.
ANYWHERE BUT HERE
How swiftly life changes. One moment, you’re a man who commands the respect of your peers and most especially, your Baron. The next, the world is drearier than ever and you’re questioning everything you’ve stood for. After witnessing Quinn personally clip two people who held no ill will to The Fort, the Code Sunny held dear from the time he was a boy no longer holds any weight. What is to stop his Baron from casually killing Sunny or anyone else he’s fond of? Can he ever be trusted?
In his heart, Sunny tires of fighting but is willing to sacrifice the better part of his humanity to protect his loved ones. Veil and his child are of the utmost importance but Sunny’s back is to the wall due to the sudden irrationality rendered by the Baron and his son. Laying low and being the obedient soldier is the only play Sunny can make at the moment, given the unstable Quinn, careless Ryder and opportunistic Widow are creating the perfect storm of deception and strife.
HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT
MK (Aramis Knight) had himself quite the time in “Fist”. If the threat of being decapitated and trained against his will to become the ultimate weapon wasn’t frightening enough, MK was creepily inspected by The Widow as he remained deathly still in a bathtub. Remember that one memorable scene in Coming to America? Yeah, it was the complete freaking opposite of that.
For the moment, the M in his name could stand for MacGuffin; MK’s “dark power” remains unexplained yet the Widow’s motivations for the boy are quite strong. Aside from the Baroness and Sunny, no one else appears to know even a hint of a rumor about a mystical boy-warrior. Details will surely be unearthed in future episodes but for now, MK is merely a plot device used to facilitate the chief goal of The Widow, which is to acquire all the lands from the barons.
After the sneaking and hiding and unsettling bathing practices, MK is back to square one but this time Sunny has made a concerted effort to protect the boy (while increasing their odds for survival outside the walls). With MK now confirmed as his Colt, Sunny has the opportunity to train an ally and eventual bodyguard for Veil, once she and MK are fully prepared for the journey to Azra.
By the end of “Fist”, the trust and integrity between friends and family has shifted hastily and significantly. It’s only a matter of time before war is upon everyone’s doorstep.
Into the Badlands S1E2
Tension is mounting slowly and surely in “Fist Like a Bullet”. It’s well established in this episode their desire for power is superior to their love of family and friendship. Weakness isn’t tolerated and swiftly removed from the equation before it can even be whispered by others. If the badlands are truly this terrible, the free lands beyond their realm must be a harrowing existence. At least, according to the barons. In any case, the layers of intrigue will hopefully provide a satisfying conclusion no matter the outcome. Again, the fight scenes were very impressive, as each character’s nuances were expressed in their respective styles. Emily Beecham in particular has formed a compelling antagonist that is more than expected. Despite her conniving behavior and malicious streak, The Widow has a charm to her, causing one to actually contemplate rooting for the bad guy… well, the better bad guy.