“Everything out here is barren and windswept.” The third episode of Alfred Gough and Miles Millar’s martial arts epic does a stellar job of modifying the pace slightly. Allowing a little more information to seep through the cracks between battles and betrayals, Into the Badlands manages to grasp our attention even more ruthlessly.
Sunny (Daniel Wu) gets a surreal glimpse into his future this week, meeting a former clipper who has lost everything and exists only to see if anyone is talented enough to kill him – a chilling figure and walking cautionary tale for our adventuring protagonist. While further exploring the outlying territories and the bond between Sunny and Bajie, this detour reminds us exactly what Sunny is fighting for and how far he has come. It’s a cold, suspense-driven way to give some context to Sunny’s whereabouts.
In M.K.’s world, his previous desperation to find answers is quelled by the residents of his new home, as well as the revelation that they ritually execute runaways. While this makes sense – everyone has seen the damage M.K. can do – it brings about an unease for both us and the character. M.K.’s immediately reaction to flee is understandable, but those at home might just need a few more answers before he heads back into the great unknown with his lethal talents.
With mistrust and dishonour spread across the factions, the spotlight is centred firmly on Ryder’s (Oliver Stark) Conclave, in which all the Barons arrive unarmed and only to talk. The Widow (Emily Beecham), accompanied by Stephen Lang’s killer and strategist Waldo, heads into the meeting to end the episode, with more than diplomacy up her sleeve. Whatever the writers have planned for this political meeting, all the people at home can do is grab a cushion and enjoy the carnage.
With Daniel Wu showdown on the bridge and one-on-one with someone nearly as deadly, Episode 3 of Season 2 provides the unique battle scenes expected of the show, but concentrates more on furthering the stories, establishing a backdrop and logic for what comes next. Bajie believes they aren’t too far from home, but all eyes will be on Ryder’s unsettling gathering come next week…
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.
Photos: Antony Platt/AMC