Previously on Into the Badlands, “Chapter XXI: Carry Tiger to Mountain”
Now singularly focused on meeting Pilgrim thanks to Ankara’s cryptic divinations in “Carry Tiger to Mountain”, Sunny and Bajie snuck back in the Badlands to find a means to reach “The Temple”. Their clandestine journey led them to a populous barter town that’s packed with more than its share of scum and villainy – at the very least, Bajie feels right at home. It wasn’t long before the duo made contact with Bajie’s former smuggling partner/pirate co-captain/paramour Lily (Sophia Di Martino), and made her feelings for her ex abundantly clear by her ice-cold stares in his general direction.
Much of the action in “Black Wind Howls” occurred during its first act as Sunny, Bajie and Lily took on their pursuers in the cramped environs of the settlement. Naturally, they took some creative license during their defense, fashioned improvised weapons out of sellers’ wares. I never would have imagined I’d see it on Badlands, but it made perfect sense that Bajie would use an octopus as nunchaku. Although Sunny’s partner-in-crime hasn’t displayed the same level of martial skill, it’s nice to watch Bajie get into the thick of it on occasion and infuse a bit of whimsy into an otherwise weighty fantasy series.
That being written, the tone reverted to its customary somberness once the three leave port. During the fog shrouded excursion to The Temple, we’re privy to Bajie and Lily’s turbulent history, as well as Sunny’s repressed memories which are suddenly revealing themselves at an alarming rate.
Lily is clearly a solitary creature that doesn’t work well with others, thanks mainly to her sordid past with Bajie. His reappearance in her life has brought up old feelings thought long buried, some of which she shares with Sunny in the middle of the night. Regrettably, Bajie’s presence spurns Lily to call upon the River King (Lance E. Nichols) and gain a portion of the bounty put on Sunny. Believing he had the upper hand by threatening Henry, the King made a grave miscalculation and became a unwilling passenger on Sunny’s voyage to Pilgrim.
“We work together or we die. It’s time to make a choice.”
Back on the mainland, Tilda was learning a few more hard lessons about the sacrifices one must make to ensure success, be it warfare, staging a revolution or flights of love. Lydia remains a contentious ally due to her own selfish designs, yet the accord with the Viceroy struck with Tilda had strained her and Odessa’s relationship considerably. It’s difficult to know who has the best interests of the people in mind: Lydia has been seduced by power before yet endured great loss because of her ambition and need for revenge. Odessa, born a cog, flipped into a doll and rightfully distrustful of the elite, wants immediate, comprehensive change across the Badlands however her vision of the future appears woefully short-sighted on occasion.
Both women have meant a great deal to Tilda in their respective way, and now she’s stuck in the middle of these opposing personalities. Worse of all, who Tilda decided to align with could literally alter the fate of the Badlands. Surprisingly, Odessa (Maddison Jaizani) admitted to Tilda that she’s weary of the constant battling, the loss of friends, the perpetual back and forth between clans that appears to have no end in sight. Once more, Odessa dropped a doozy of an ultimatum on poor Tilda: prove you love me by leaving everything behind, or stay in the vain hope of saving refugees and lose me forever.
It’s an obvious choice for Tilda but painful nonetheless. It’s also an odd play by Odessa, who had inspired Tilda to turn against The Widow and ultimately create the Iron Rabbits. Perhaps now that the cell had been eliminated by Moon and Tilda is back under Minerva’s protection, Odessa realized nothing within the Badlands will truly change? Although the ladies are on the outs and Odessa seemed determined to get out of dodge, it wouldn’t be too surprising if she popped back up wearing the colors of either Chau or Pilgrim.
As for those conspiring parties, Otto (Wayne Gordon) delivered the refugees Pilgrim demanded and reported Castor’s alleged death during the mission… all news to the charismatic leader seeing as he’s very protective of his “son”. Ever the pragmatist (of sorts), Cressida admitted to Pilgrim she persuaded Castor to use his talents for the good of Azra, while he still had life inside him. Though he may understand why he engaged the enemy, Pilgrim’s house is slowly collapsing in itself as Cressida believes Pilgrim isn’t doing enough or what’s necessary to reach Azra. Coupled with the inclusion of the chaos-bringing known as M.K., life in this nomadic cult that is bound by the promise of paradise that is Azra has frayed at its seams.
Despite Castor (Dean-Charles Chapman) being returned to Pilgrim by The Widow, his presence at The Temple did everything but return things to normalcy. Dying and slightly mad, Castor tried to warn Nix (Ella-Rae Smith) that she should question everything that comes out of Pilgrim and Cressida’s mouths. Faith can only take one so far when reason has proven their perspective has been skewed.
Unfortunately for Castor, no one, not even Pilgrim was interested in the truth, especially if it would compromise his quest and cause unrest among his acolytes. Everything Castor fought for to his dying breath was suddenly and coldly betraying him. It’s an unceremonious end for the boy who gave Pilgrim his all, only to be rewarded with swift snap of his neck.
If there was a lesson to be learned in this episode, no one can trust anyone. The Badlands are called that for a reason and its savagery had been lost somewhat during the reign of the Barons. Now that what little order was enforced has been handily collapsed, no matter Tilda’s, Lydia’s or even Pilgrim’s best interests, the pain and discord perpetuated by the countless nomads that roam free may further descend the Badlands into ruin.