Previously on Into The Badlands, “Chapter XVIII: Moon Rises, Raven Seeks”
The Widow and Chau’s war for dominion over the Badlands is at its tipping point. Each side has sustained heavy losses yet the hubris of the last two Barons is as unyielding as the loyalty pledged by their lowly foot soldiers. Unfortunately for Sunny and Bajie, they’ve no other choice but to cross the front lines to cure Henry of his ailment and learn whatever they can about Azra. Meanwhile, Lydia had done the unthinkable and turned on The Iron Rabbit – but for good reason! Honest! Although The Widow believed she neutralized one threat, her Sanctuary has now become a den of wolves as her “allies” are determined to weaken her influence from within.
Yet again, Sherman Augustus killed it (figuratively) in the opening minutes of “Leopard Snares Rabbit”. It didn’t take long for the Badland’s greatest clipper to find Tilda and her small band of insurgents and did he give her a big challenge. As usual the fight choreography was impeccable during this segment, in fact it appeared a lot more visceral and threatening, as seen in the all too brief encounter between Ally Ioannides and Sarah Agha, who portrayed one of Tilda’s former lieutenants. There was plenty of rage to go around and the Iron Rabbit made effective use of it in close combat. Once Moon arrived, the battle was over before Tilda knew it; still it was damn fun to watch Nathaniel confirm his status as the greatest warrior in the land.
Betrayed and handily defeated, Nathaniel returned to the Sanctuary with Odessa (Maddison Jaizani) in tow, intending to use her as bait to trap Tilda. Moon proved that he hasn’t survived this long based on his martial skills alone; his time as Quinn’s regent broadened his repertoire in the art of intrigue, as evidenced in his revealing of Lydia’s double cross. While it wasn’t surprising that Moon decided to keep her deceit in his back pocket, no one could have expected Nathaniel suggesting he and Lydia eventually usurp control from Minerva.
Nathaniel is quite the enigma wrapped in a riddle covered in royal blue velour… he claims nothing is more paramount than his honor yet he’s willing to break faith with his Baron for the unrequited love of his former Baroness. Moon revealed to Sunny back in “Red Sun, Silver Moon” that he left the Badlands because he tired of killing. It appears, like his rival, Nathaniel is plying his trade in a patient and deliberate manner to better his station. He may not want to sully his reputation by cutting down a handful of lowly clippers, but Moon is inclined to sacrifice a few dozens heads if it’ll insure the seat of power he desires.
As for Sunny and Bajie, the pair made it to the city formerly known as New York and their latest quest met an early impasse. Thanks to a ridiculously talented sniper (Dwane Walcott) stationed at the lone access point, scores of The Widow’s soldiers were downed either by his poison-tipped arrows or the booby traps lined throughout the surrounding buildings. With the leadership eliminated, all decisions fell to Arthur (George Sear), a clipper very much wet behind the ears.
It was easy enough for Sunny and Bajie to assume command of what’s left of Arthur’s company and devise a plan to cross the line. Problem is they underestimated the Sniper’s talent and a volunteer soldier named Wren (Tamsin Topolski) was winged, and from what was quickly gathered by Sunny when he first entered Sniper Alley, she would experience a slow and painful death.
Naturally, Sunny would find a day to outwit his opponent (and did), ending hostilities with an honorable accord – one Arthur wouldn’t recognize. Concurrently, Bajie took it upon him to save Wren by ordering the amputation of her leg as he used his training to transfer Wren’s pain to himself. Once dawn arrived and the alley was clear, Bajie and Sunny realized the efforts they underwent to save a few souls were for naught. The horrors of war, the fear of death, the anxiousness of losing one’s value for the campaign are ever present to these young clippers, many of whom weren’t formally trained but conscribed into service. Nevertheless, they believe in the promise The Widow espouses. For kids like Arthur and Wren, the war had given them new lives from the oppression they once suffered as cogs. In this instance, Minerva had succeeded… she had tapped into a resource that makes even the most weary of us brace ourselves and confront an overwhelming challenge: the hope of brighter future.
Sadly, these children won’t learn what Sunny, Bajie and their contemporaries are burdened with until much later in life… you cannot build a stable, peaceful future with blood on your hands.
“Leopard Snares Rabbit” concluded with Sunny and Tilda hastily actualizing their respective plans due to the hard lessons they learned earlier. With Bajie in tow, Sunny’s disdain for war grew deeper after Arthur murdered the sniper (who shared Sunny’s sense of honor), only to add insult to injury when the boy shared his inflated exploits to his cohorts. It’s a bit difficult to be mad at Arthur; he witnessed countless friends and warriors fall at the sniper’s arrows. This same misplaced rage resided in Wren, who detested Bajie for assisting the doctor in amputating her leg. As Sunny mentioned, they’re mostly children born of war, fighting in the name of Barons who will never regard them as nothing but fodder.
Unlike Arthur and Wren, Tilda heeded Lydia’s advice about playing the game, requesting an audience with Minerva to size up her former Baron. Though it appears The Widow had gotten what she wanted by welcoming Tilda back into the fold, she may have overplayed her hand. In securing The Iron Rabbit to her side, Minerva granted Tilda free reign to attack Chau however she wished, and granted Odessa and M.K. their freedom. Unfortunately for The Widow, M.K.’s gift suddenly reawakened and boy, was he not in the mood.
It’s been a rough stretch for the (kinda sorta) chosen one… between his kidnapping during the season one finale, the attempted indoctrination at the Monastery, the loss of his powers and subsequent depression that led to his opium addiction, M.K. has seen better days. Once his unconscious dredged up the lost memory of Sunny executing his mother, coupled with the abuse he received from the guards, M.K.’s dark side finally gained control once more. While Sunny has rightfully been the focus of the series, M.K.’s has been to complement his, yet it’s been a rather underwhelming narrative amidst the looming threat of civil war. Now that the Badlands are in chaos, it only seems fitting M.K. finally broke free from The Widow’s clutches (and most importantly his self-doubt) and is eager to strike out on his own – and eventually confront Sunny about his bloody past.
It’ll be interesting to see how Minerva survives this season. She has barely held the line against Chau as it is, and now the Baroness has dual conspiracies working against her. And still no one appears to know about Pilgrim’s presence in the Badlands. Once he and his lethal pair of tweens creep out of the shadows, no doubt the war will become far bloodier.
Ultimately it all comes back to Sunny’s journey to the North to cure Henry and learn more about his connection to Azra. If he and Bajie are able to receive even the scantest piece of verifiable intel from the Mad Witch, it could be the salvation the Badlands desperately needs.
Into the Badlands S3E3 Review Score
"Chapter XIX: Leopard Snares Rabbit"
Into The Badlands – S3E3 – Chapter XIX: Leopard Snares Rabbit | Daniel Wu, Emily Beecham, Aramis Knight, Orla Brady, Ally Ioannides, Sherman Augustus, Babou Ceesay, Lorraine Toussaint, Ella-Rae Smith, Nick Frost | Writer: Michael Taylor | Director: Toa Fraser