“Oooh, a killer with principles.” Into the Badlands continues with the second episode of the new season and, frankly, it is spectacular. Unlike anything else on television, Into the Badlands has the scope for the grand unfolding of nationwide politics while managing to keep the focus very much on each individual character. Coupled with the incredible colour palette, expertly executed fight scenes and a supremely striking talent pool, it is difficult to think of how it could be improved upon.
Episode 2 simply does not hold back. Progressing ruthlessly through the story without feeling rushed, it also spends time evolving each of the characters, allowing the audience to compare their current outlooks and circumstances with the grandeur and setting of the first season. For most of the roster, Season 2 is less about how to win and more about how to survive.
This idea is never more obvious than with Sunny himself. Daniel Wu’s expert killer is forced to make an alliance, and his double act with streetwise Bajie could not be more entertaining. Nick Frost’s unshakable hustler proves his worth, with the writing allowing him to help Sunny just enough that you believe this might be an ideal situation for the both of them, as well as all of us watching.
Quinn, however, is a different story entirely. Quinn has always been crazy – Martin Csokas did an enviable job of creating the megalomaniac ruler in Season 1 – but this season, he has developed a new style of crazy for the fallen leader. Obsessing over Veil and her newborn, Quinn’s motives are as blurry as ever, written and performed to the point where he is somehow less trustworthy than when he was loudly announcing his evil plots on-screen. Their odd relationship of captor/protector is played to perfection with Madeline Mantock’s Veil never shying away from Quinn’s devoted madness.
If the idea of Season 2 is to have the characters fight their demons, then M.K. is making good headway. Placed in a trance to battle his darkest self, his scenes stand out even in a great episode. Between the rune-covered mirror hall and his forest fight, M.K.’s depth has not only greatly added to his character value, but also allowed the production team to craft some truly beautiful scenes, as he struggles to control his powers.
45 minutes of spectacular production and gripping narrative prove that Into the Badlands is one of the most incredible action shows available, and one of the best shows on Amazon’s streaming service. The remarkable visuals, and innovative fight sequences may take the centre stage, but behind these lie transfixing characters and an epic storyline that could lash out in any direction, at any time.
Into the Badlands Season 2 is available to watch online exclusively on Amazon Prime Video UK, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription. New episodes arrive every Tuesday, within 48 hours of their US broadcast. Season 1 is already available.