Episode 5, Monkey Leaps Through Mist, marks the halfway point in the second season of Alfred Gough and Miles Millar’s martial arts-driven tale of wastelands, political, and morality. Sunny finally meets Bajie’s famed smuggler associate, Lydia reacts to Ryder’s murder, and Waldo is given a difficult task.
And then there’s Quinn. Just when you think Quinn can’t possibly go any more kinds of crazy, he doesn’t disappoint. Having taken revenge upon his son, he is now plagued with visions and paranoias of conscience, especially concerning Veil. While Marton Csokas’ wide-eyed lunacy never fails to entertain, the episode handles the situation in a clunky, pressured manner in an attempt to amp up the pressure, as an unstoppable Sunny edges closer.
And edge closer he does, currently in an armoured Fury Road-esque vehicle, a child prostitute, her dying mother, and a there-when-it-matters Nick Frost – how far he has come from being Quinn’s chief hitman. Sunny’s escapades this week are enjoyable, but again feel time-sensitive and lacks depth. It now seems as though whatever blocks Sunny’s path, he can fight his way through – saving the damsel and never really slowing. Although his path is entertaining and packed with multi-level fight sequences, Sunny’s role as the morally-conflicted ex-killer never seems to factor into his storylines.
Restricted to one fight scene this week – a multi-level, gymnastic one at that – Badlands does a fine job of keep attention using plots, visuals, and a shocking explosion. The real success of Into the Badlands lies within the environment created by Gough and Millar, and that pseudo-steampunk style. The colourful factions, the taut alliances, and the spectacular sets add just as much charm to the violent drama as the unrelenting characters and exceptional martial arts.
Indeed, one thing this episode perfects is the atmosphere that everything is spiralling towards something. With Lydia back, sword in hand and bent on avenging her son, and with Waldo tasked to align The Widow with Quinn, and with Sunny and M.K. both on the loose, the sense that the future is unpredictable and full of bodies is thick in the air.
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.