Into the Badlands is the newest offering from AMC Networks and it’s different from anything else you are watching on television right now. This is not an opinion or some haughty brag. This show is decidedly different in look, concept, and character.
Very loosely based on the Chinese fable “Journey To the West”, Badlands opening narration by MK gives you the outline of the world you are about to see. Set in the distant future after a war – there’s always a war – the world has changed considerably. What is left of the world (referred to as the Badlands) is now ruled by Barons. The normal folk, referred to as Cogs, serve the Barons in exchange for protection in what was assumed to be a dangerous world to live in. This is also a world where guns have been outlawed or no longer exist, but in this first episode, not one firearm is seen.
The Barons also have their own protection in the form of the Clippers. The Clippers act as enforcers, hitmen, and pretty much anything else a Baron may need done. Beginning with a look at the shows lead, a Clipper known as Sunny, who serves Quinn, a Baron who has control of poppy, all of the poppy by the looks of his fields.
Sunny (played by Daniel Wu) has a presence and gravitas, not something a lot of leads in shows of this nature have these days. After dispatching a number of bandits working for The Widow (another Baron), in a fight scene that is way too good for TV, and what may be the calling card of this series, he discovers a young boy, MK, locked in a trunk.
MKs origins are unclear.
The Widow wants him, he has a pendant with a city of sorts on it, and when he bleeds, he goes into a trance and develops super strength. So in the first 20 minutes, a great fight scene, feudalism, and what appears to be mystical blood powers. See? Very different from anything else on television right now.
This first episode does a lot of world building. The Barons run everything, but seem to not coexist all that peacefully. One Baron controls poppy, the other controls all the oil needed to process the poppy. Clippers are trained from what looks to be a very young age, and being a Clipper seems to be a welcome alternative from toiling away in poppy fields for a lifetime of servitude.
Marton Csokas (Triple X, Kingdom of Heaven) plays Baron Quinn, the first Baron we meet, married to an ice queen, with an entitled teenage son, and about to take a very young bride as Barons can take all the wives they want, but it is Daniel Wu who grabs your attention and is very clearly the star of this show.
His origins are unknown, he was found by Quinn at a young age, but he does possess a compass that matches the medal that MK has. This show has built an intriguing world and provided intriguing mysteries. Hopefully the show garners enough attention so we can get those answers.
Into The Badlands airs on AMC, Sundays at 10pm, and will be on right after The Walking Dead for the next 2 weeks, with a 6 episode order