Previously on Into the Badlands, “Chapter XXIII: Dragonfly’s Last Dance”
My God, where to begin…
No doubt something massive was going to happen at the halfway point of the season, but no one could have suspected Badlands would go through such a transformative shift with its characters and overall arc. As Bajie mentioned a few times during the episode, Mother Fate was tested by most of the leads whose decisions could directly change the destiny of the entire badlands.
All the pressing questions we’ve had throughout the series – what caused the calamity that razed the world as we knew it, what exactly is this “dark power”, how is Sunny connected to Pilgrim, and how are Azra, the Monastery and Black Lotus connected – were answered succinctly yet plenty was left on the table to keep the mystery alive for the last half of season three and beyond. Couple these searing revelations with some of Badlands’ best fight sequences yet and a helluva surprise during the third act, “Leopard Catches Cloud” was an ideal example of how to leave an audience wholly satisfied while eagerly wanting more.
Unironically, the episode began at breakneck speed as M.K. wailed on Sunny almost as soon as he saw him enter Pilgrim’s territory. After a swift contest which Sunny actually gave M.K. a legitimate challenge, the clipper was saved at the last possible second by Pilgrim’s dark power-subduing abilities. Now under the protection of the “Cult of Azra”, Sunny was finally informed of his auspicious beginnings and glorified destiny to become a god among men. Formally known as “Sunzo”, Pilgrim revealed that Sunny is The Catalyst, the key to restoring order and balance across the world.
It’s been confirmed multiple times that Badlands was chiefly inspired by Journey to the West, as directly evidenced by the name of Nick Frost’s jocular scoundrel and jack-of-all-trades. However, Pilgrim divulging Sunny’s true name as Sunzo confirmed to die hard viewers the potential journey he may endure for the remainder of the season. Granted, the show is not promised to follow the ancient epic to a “T” but one has to wonder exactly which leads may turn into Sunzo’s warriors three.
Bajie has proven himself a loyal friend even when Sunny places his faith in his long lost “brother” that seemingly wants to cleanse the world with the dark power. Now that the Master (Chipo Chung) has returned to Badlands after sensing a great evil, she’s hastily rallying allies to curb the darkness that’s arriving, beginning with Minerva. If The Master is meant to represent the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, then The Widow mayhaps be the reimagining of either Sun Wukong or Sha Wujing, or a completely original protector written by the staff. In any case, The Widow kept to her word and effectively wrapped up the war by infiltrating Whitebone Manor and subduing Chau while Lydia and Moon occupied her remaining forces in the northern front.
Once more, Sherman Augustus stole the show as the world’s deadliest clipper, charging into the deep of Chau’s forces and laying waste to them like he was going for a max chain in Dynasty Warriors. It was a wondrous display of skill and choreography between him and the fight team while equally ramping up the tension and importance of his success in Minerva’s two-pronged attack.
Which brings it back to the Meridian Chamber, a long forgotten structure from the old world that was directly responsible for the cataclysm that nearly eradicated humanity. After discovering the cradle of all they hold dear, Pilgrim and Cressida hastily reactivated the chamber with Sunny’s help on the promise that Henry would be permanently cured. Any parent in Sunny’s shoes would certainly accept Pilgrim’s terms but I don’t believe any of us would outright dismiss Bajie’s concerns – especially since he’s so verse in most things Azra and has an uncanny knack for sniffing out a con.
Yet the risk is well worth the reward as Pilgrim upheld his end of their accord. Unfortunately for all, once Sunny’s desperation evaporated, he realized his complicity unearthed a threat the Badlands hadn’t experienced for centuries. Now imbued with the full power of the Gift, Pilgrim can now cleanse the land and reshape it in his image. As harrowing the last few months were across the territories, whenever the second half of season kicks off, the Badlands certainly won’t be the same.
Into the Badlands S3E8 Review Score
"Chapter XXIV: Leopard Catches Cloud"
Into the Badlands – S3E8 – Chapter XXIV: Leopard Catches Cloud | Daniel Wu, Emily Beecham, Aramis Knight, Orla Brady, Ally Ioannides, Sherman Augustus, Babou Ceesay, Lorraine Toussaint, Ella-Rae Smith, Nick Frost | Writer: Matt Lambert | Director: Paco Cabezas