Previously on Into the Badlands, “Chapter XVII: Enter the Phoenix”
After a raucous premiere, Sunny and his cohorts settled back into their old roles somewhat in “Moon Rises”, knowing The Widow is willing to tear through the Badlands and cut anyone down to gain every scrap of knowledge about Azra. Although the ongoing war is slowly encroaching Lydia’s compound, she stood her ground against Minerva’s new regent Nathaniel Moon, distracting him from the presence of the insurgent Iron Rabbits and Sunny’s gifted son. In the meantime, Pilgrim and his flock staked claim in an decrepit museum of natural history to reorganize – and cast out any apostates from his true believers.
The mystery and wonder of The Gift/Curse remained at the forefront this episode as viewers learned a bit more about Pilgrim’s loyal soldiers Castor and Nix. Though the pair proved themselves to be holy terrors with their masterful displays of swordsmanship in “Enter the Phoenix”, it appears their ability to harness their supernatural powers isn’t fully achieved. Unlike the Master and her Abbots last season, Pilgrim’s unyielding desire to reach Azra called for an urgency within his best warriors, which apparently has begun to rob one from the promise of seeing the mythical city with his own eyes.
For all intents and purposes, Castor (Dean-Charles Chapman) has been fighting on borrowed time; the Gift has become a scourge, forcing the boy to confront his morality far too soon and doubt his purpose in Pilgrim’s caravan. He and Nix (Ella-Rae Smith) may not have said much (their actions speak much louder than their words) but it’s clear to me they feel a touch lost. Who knows how long the pair have been killing for Pilgrim and how many times he’s crafted affecting platitudes, delivered each time to lesser effect. In spite of the waning allegiances within the camp, Pilgrim and his “mother” Cressida (Lorraine Toussaint) knew the precise buttons to push among their followers, displaying equal parts violence, compassion and an ironic callback to primitive act of suspension in order to find the path to their futuristic haven.
In the thick of the Badlands, Sunny, M.K. and Minerva continued to examine their respective connections to The Gift, chiefly how and why the power denies them. At the refugee camp, Henry’s sudden affliction places everyone within it walls in danger. Of course, a baby cannot do much harm to anyone but knowing he’s the youngest person to ever access his power means Henry may likely be a great warrior in his formative years. In any case, Sunny, rightfully worried about the health of his son, learned from Lydia about a recluse named Ankara “The Mad Witch” who may reverse Henry’s current predicament. Unfortunately for Sunny – and possibly a greater extent, Bajie – Ankara resides in Vulture’s Peak, where much of the warfare is occurring. Naturally, Bajie had a history with Ankara as she was his teacher at the Monastery long ago, and was ultimately exiled because of her obsession with finding Azra. Given Sunny’s vague connection to the city and Henry’s gift manifesting so soon, the duo will likely
In the Sanctuary, Nathaniel Moon is officially installed as Minerva’s regent, complete with a bangin’ new hand with all kinds of gadgetry hidden away. Soon after M.K. left Moon unimpressed with his sloppy footwork and opium addiction, and vowed to take the boy under his wing… after he regains consciousness from Nathaniel’s straight punch. M.K.’s addiction has quickly spiraled out of control, compelling his Gift to reappear as a dark version of himself. Dark M.K. attempted a form of tough love on his counterpart but also tried to stoke the flames of revenge once more by accessing a long forgotten memory about who really killed his mother. Wracked with guilt after believing he was responsible for his mother’s passing, Dark M.K. revealed it was Sunny under orders of Quinn that raided the camp and personally slaughtered M.K.’s mom. Whether this revelation will reactivate M.K.’s powers is anyone’s guess seeing as he’s in the midst of an overdose. So yeah… yikes.
At another section of The Widow’s compound, she plied her considerable skill on Lydia, who claimed she doesn’t want to be a part of “the life” anymore. Except Minerva has other plans for the former Baroness and offered her the title of Viceroy, effectively granting Lydia the power to oversee parts of the Widow’s Sanctuary for her refugees – and put them to work in the poppy fields. On paper it looks like a damned-if-you-damned-if-you-don’t situation, but one could see a little twinkle in Lydia’s eye as she considered the prospect of having a modicum of power and influence once more. Her people would be better protected under The Widow’s army however this would call for the elimination of the Iron Rabbits, led by Tilda.
We’re barely into the third season and the stakes have been raised markedly for nearly all of Badlands’ main players. As the world burns around them, the hope of finding Azra hasn’t wavered. However the means in which they search for the fabled city may cost them the humanity they desperately cling to.