Previously on Into the Badlands, ‘Fist Like a Bullet’
Starring: Daniel Wu, Orla Brady, Sarah Bolger, Aramis Knight, Emily Beecham, Oliver Stark, Madeleine Mantock, Ally Ioannides, Marton Csokas | Director: David Dobkin
Quinn goes on the offensive after the botched assassination attempt on Ryder. Widow and Tilda and stage a new campaign against their enemies. MK gets on Sunny’s last good nerve and requests Waldo to begin his training. Meanwhile, Veil is unwittingly thrust into the sinister machinations of The Fort, which is the last thing Sunny wants for his beloved.
NOTHING TO LOSE
In a desperate attempt to save face, Quinn engages in open war with the Widow and hastily acquires The Lodge and her oil fields, the one resource every baron covets intensely. More powerful than he’s ever been, Quinn believes all is in hand. However the wifey reminds him that more territory equals more problems. The barons certainly won’t accept his power grab, plus Quinn’s clippers – no matter how effective – won’t be able to protect his increased holdings. Ultimately the baron has only dumped more on an already huge pile of crap that can’t be swept up.
Rather than heeding his wife’s warning, Quinn does what every megalomaniac would in his position: have sex with his soon-to-be second wife to spite his first wife, who’s in the adjacent room attending to their comatose son.
You Only Live Once, right?
The mass growing in Quinn’s head in all likelihood already cut off the reason centers of his brain. Knowing his reign could draw to a close far sooner than he’d like, Quinn appears to have adopted a ‘no Fs to give’ policy for The Fort’s long term designs. Every person the baron appraises except for Sunny appears expendable. His doting wife Lydia, his gutless son Ryder, Veil, his prized horse… everyone. This doesn’t bode well for the longevity of The Fort.
BEHIND EVERY GREAT MAN
Time is running out for our heroic duo as Sunny learns Veil has been called to service at The Fort to save Ryder. Thanks to Quinn’s foolishness in clipping the only reliable doctor on his territory, the family must now rely on the young maker to keep them all healthy and happy (or else). Madeleine Mantock has adeptly fashioned a character that’s equal parts sensitive and assertive. Veil is a woman that can hold her own thanks to her grounded upbringing among the cogs and relations with other makers like Ringo (Yohance Myles). The grim circumstances many endure in the badlands typically result in a dispirited, suppressed demeanor. Veil is aware of the shortcomings of her status yet exhibits a sensible, confident approach to her standing, which in turn makes her the most relatable lead for viewers among the cast.
Perilous her current situation may be, it isn’t in Veil’s nature to back down or give in to demands easily (with exception to the Baron. She doesn’t have a death wish).
Veil knows what it takes to survive possibly better than anyone, so when Quinn comes to her without an escort in the middle of the night, asking for a favor, one can be sure she’ll do her damndest to not upset the man who holds every cog’s life in his hands.
HELL HATH NO FURY
Badlands has been one roller coaster of a ride so far but it was invigorating to view the female leads assume a more imposing presence in “White Stork”. The Widow continues to be an impressive foil to Quinn’s maddening desire for open war. Though both share the similar goal of an undisputed autocracy, they impose contrasting strategies that haven’t exactly worked in either’s favor. For The Widow is as calculating and persistent as Quinn is egotistical and ruthless. What has wrecked the barons’ respective plans is their boundless source of hubris.
With Quinn’s eyes wide open and the remaining barons scrambling for an unnecessary conflict, all the Widow and her clippers can do for the moment is lick their wounds and amass their remaining forces from their secluded safe house.
Lydia (Orla Brady) was finally given more to do instead of being relegated as Quinn’s worrisome attendant. There’s more to the Baroness than meets the eye, perhaps even beyond Quinn’s deceptively shrewd gaze. It seems Lydia has her little birds everywhere, on account of her disclosing to Quinn that Doc Vernon is dead under mysterious circumstances. Lydia recognizes her talents are being squandered by a man who once held her in high regard. Viewers may have realized this within the first two episodes, but anyone who’s been in a toxic relationship can inform you that it takes a while to finally accept it’s never going to go anywhere. And now, Lydia has had enough from everyone.
Whatever their long-standing issues may be – the chief culprit mayhaps being Ryder’s kidnapping and his costly rescue from nomads years ago – Lydia has now turned the tables on her son, decided to cut her losses and go solo.
“I’m so glad you’re finally conscious, my boy. So yeah… about our mutual desire to take The Fort from your father. I’m gonna side with him because you’re a dope and I really wish you didn’t go through puberty. You were WAY smarter and rational pre-testosterone. k, bye.”
Something like that. Lydia may have cut ties with Ryder but it’s not a certainty she’ll After all, she still has to contend with Jade who continues to play both sides until either Quinn and Ryder are the victor. Jade’s role as the opportunistic wretch is beginning to feel more like a cover for an even more ominous task. It wouldn’t be surprising to learn the Widow’s web of spies permeates more areas of the Badlands one wouldn’t suspect.
“White Stork” introduced another clipper named Zephyr (Ellen Hollman), regent to the baron Jacobee (who will make his appearance in “Two Tigers Subdue Dragons”). She and Sunny have a past of some kind, though the latter doesn’t feel comfortable bringing it back up during their secret meet. Like the Widow, Zephyr is extraordinarily self-assured and undaunted in her abilities. She also attempts to lure Sunny into her steady, suggesting he eliminate Quinn and save everyone the trouble. It’s not difficult to agree with the woman, but that darn Code still has a hold inside his noggin.
The all too brief dust-up between Sunny and Angelica (Teressa Liane) was a fine example and testament to the rigors and demands of producing a martial arts series of such high caliber. Ryder’s doll from “Fist Like a Bullet” was revealed to be an agent for Minerva; Sunny was tasked to acquire Angelica before her retrieval by Tilda. Unfortunately, Angelica won’t be seen for the remainder of the season, as she bravely made herself chunky salsa on the concrete in loyalty to The Widow. It remains a very impressive performance nonetheless, enough to warrant singular distinction. If Liane continues along her career with such energetic performances, her star will shine bright.
CURIOSITY KILLED THE KID
So much occurred during “White Stork”, MK’s struggles with authority and respecting one’s elders were incidental to the overall progression of the storyline. The boy will absolutely play a more significant role in future episodes and beyond this season, but like most kids his age, he’ll have to take a few hits to the head before learning his lesson. Thankfully, Waldo (Stephen Lang) was up to the task, taking noticeable pleasure in whooping MK’s ass from here to Azra. Still, MK remains a persistent bugger – in a good way – and seeks to better himself as a person and a fighter to assist his newfound friends. He just has to acquire a bit of humility along the way.
Into the Badlands S1E3
Sadly, there are only three episodes remaining (!!!) until the first season concludes but like the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining. In this case it’s Badlands effortlessly hitting it out of the park every Sunday night. The initially condensed post-apocalypse is steadily becoming quite larger with increasing references of the other barons, as well as the incoming addition of Jacobee and his equally sordid agenda.
The chemistry between the leads in their respective relationships continues to gel quite well and provides a compelling appeal, making each of their plotlines engaging and gratifying to watch. The interconnectivity between characters – though some haven’t yet met – plays well. Each move any character makes soundly affects all their schemes.
The most impressive aspect of “White Stork” was the development of the female characters, who exhibited a myriad of emotions and motivations, unlike the males who’ve been mostly portrayed as decidedly good or evil. Hopefully this practice of writing more complex women continues as it can only provide more enriching stories.