In it’s second episode, Into The Badlands keeps the pace going, answering some questions from the previous episode and giving the audience a whole slew of new ones. Opening with The Widow (Emily Beecham), meeting with her former Regent in the Badlands equivalent of a dive bar, he informs her that he left because while the other Barons recognize her claim the title of Baron, Quinn still does not. She offers to take him back, and is interrupted by an assassination attempt. Showcasing another fight scene that will spoil fans of any other action show, The Widow dispatches about eight attackers with nothing more than two sets of daggers and six-inch heels. Interrogating the last attacker, she discovers that they were hired by Ryder (Oliver Stark), Quinns’ son, who seems to be working his own angle in this power struggle.
Having escaped, with Sunnys’ assistance in the first episode, M.K. emerges from a tunnel and crossing out of Quinns’ territory, he meets Matilda (Ally Ioannides). Telling her his parents were free farmers and attacked by nomads, she then takes him to her home and her mother, The Widow. Deducing he is not the child of farmers, as it is harvest season and his hands are soft, The Widow knows he came from The Fort and offers him shelter…for the time being.
Back at the fort, the news of the attack on The Widow reaches Quinn. Wanting to make sure it was not anyone from his organization, which would be considered an act of war, Quinn asks Sunny to accompany him outside the walls. Making a visit to the doctor, Quinn learns he has less than year to live due to a brain tumor. Sunny is beseeched by the doctors wife to take Vail, his pregnant lover, and leave the Badlands. Sunny refuses, stating he cannot as Quinn would hunt him down and Clippers are forbidden to have families. The scene does a great job of showing a conversation about death and life. Daniel Wu says very little but communicates so very much in scenes like this.
Upon departing Quinn orders Sunny to kill the doctor and his wife. Claiming that the knowledge of his health is a weapon that could be used to destroy him. Sunny refuses, Quinn takes a sword from Sunny and does the deed himself. Walking out of the home covered in blood, he tells Sunny he doesn’t give second chances and as far as he’s concerned, Sunny killed them.
While The Widow attempts to forge an alliance with the leader of the same nomads who attempted to kill her, she also pursues her theory about M.K. Offering to train M.K., she tasks Tilda with drawing his blood to bring out his powers. Tilda, thinking better of it, cuts her own hand, smears it on his face, thus misleading her mother. In her attempt to help M.K. escape, he is handed over to the nomads when they are both caught in The Widows’ study.
Ryder, visiting a doll house (the Badlands version of a brothel), we learn two things. Ryder is crippled or disfigured, missing three toes on his left foot, and that a group of nomads has been stealing his fathers’ opium. Reporting to his father, Ryder presses for retaliation, Sunny opts for caution, suggesting he and Ryder scout the warehouse the nomads are hiding out.
The last five minutes of this show is absolute eye candy if you love well choreographed action. Walking into a trap, Sunny and Ryder are surrounded by nomads. Finding out that The Widow wants Ryder dead and is ready to move on Quinn, Sunny does what a Clipper is made to do and what Sunny seems to excel at. Facing off against roughly 18 nomads ready to chop him to kibble, Sunny proceeds to dismantle the opposition. A sequence on the ground, a couple tight spaces, and up on crossed beams above the warehouse floor, Daniel Wu showcases that this is HIS show. Two swords versus a whole lot of axes makes quite the statement. Discovering M.K. again, Sunny returns to Quinn with a gravely injured Ryder and asks to take M.K. as his “colt”, Quinn reluctantly agrees and tells Sunny to get ready to go to war.
Another solid episode with a bit more world building, and a lot more fleshing out of character motivations, Badlands continues to deliver. A world that continues to expand, characters that continue to be intriguing, and action that you aren’t seeing on any other TV show.
Into The Badlands airs Sunday nights on AMC at 10pm EST