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“They ignored the signs of their destruction, so fate decided to punish them.”
One of Into the Badlands’ best features is its ability to be suited to its own timeless quality. While we have some context for roughly when these bright and bloody adventures occur, the feudal nature and mix of old/new/magic technologies provides an immersive agelessness to the epic unfoldings, occasionally breaking the rule for effect. Episode 2 provides one of these moments, sending a group of rogue Abbotts to an abandoned museum, allowing for a striking scene in which three armed men attack a blinded cohort, surrounded by dusty, forgotten dinosaur skeletons, on a floor littered with bright orange leaves.
Gough and Millar’s astounding visual feast continues, pairing this scene with a blood-sacrifice-vision-quest-prayer that suitably establishes Lorraine Toussaint’s Master as a force to be reckoned with, even with the mystery surrounding her merry band of murderous misfits, who seem to be closer to finding the promised land than any other player in the game. Not to mention her previous supernatural relationship to The Widow – who is already growing seemingly more unhinged by the episode.
Speaking of murderous misfits, M.K. meets The Widow’s new regent, as he and Moon face off for her enjoyment. Despite his high billing, Aramis Knight is still given little to work with, as M.K.’s past continues to haunt and his present continues to get only a few minutes of screentime. His lack of workload may promise big things to come, but for now, it still feels as though he’s being underused, and his character’s flashbacks serve to add twist after twist without providing much emotional breathing room.
Even Sunny is relegated to a secondary this episode, spending an uncharacteristic amount of time hiding. His decision to seek out a disgraced former Abbott known as The Mad Witch sounds promising, but doesn’t yield any motion as he continues to protect his sick child and wisely avoid Moon at all costs.
Overall, the journey of the Pilgrims is, quite rightly, the focus of Moon Rises, Raven Seeks. Their faith-based hunting, coupled with their odd relationships with respect and combat, provide enough enigmatic clue-dropping and brutally colourful spectacle that any other necessary plot progression is dealt with as swiftly as three non-believers. Even in a functional episode, Badlands still manages to seize any wandering attention by trading violence for gore, assuring that the world they are building is going to be filled with very dangerous people for a very long time.
Into the Badlands Season 1 to 3 are available to watch online exclusively on Amazon Prime Video UK, as part of a £5.99 monthly subscription. New episodes arrive weekly on Tuesdays, following their US brodcast.
Photo: Aidan Monaghan/AMC