Warning: This contains spoilers. To find out how to watch online, click here.
“That is nice. Who’d you steal it from?”
After a tedious fifth episode, Into the Badlands’ third season moves up the pace a little. Opening on one of the most stunning shots of the series so far, the audience is introduced to Black Wind, a morally-corrupt gambling den of a market town – where Bajie is naturally in his element.
Nick Frost’s sidekick continues to mildly entertain, while conveniently driving the plot forward with revelations at key moments, but his irksome characterisation is dulled in Black Wind, as his past literally catches up with him. It’s the first hint at a third dimension for the ex-Abbott, and while his ‘mysterious thief’ shtick has worn thin, Frost’s charm and the suitable setting allow Bajie to handle the spotlight better than expected.
Game of Thrones alum Dean-Charles Chapman has an equally tricky episode. The Widow, having captured the weakening Dark One, opts not to torture him for information but instead use him as a bargaining chip with Pilgrim (Babou Ceesay – the third season’s best addition) – which only serves to cement Castor’s status as someone whose only use is to be manipulated by real power. While this may be familiar territory for Chapman, he carries it well, and where his Baratheon-counterpart was young and foolish, Castor remains tormented yet defiant throughout.
Emily Beecham’s Widow – still with minimal screen time – nevertheless manages to bring out the most interesting moments in Amazon’s brutal, feudal drama. Gifting a brutalised Castor back to Pilgrim, and then momentarily distracted by the offer of her dark gift back, it’s unclear as to who is winning their war of political niceties. With her on-off alliance with Ally Ioannides’ daughter/regent ever-bubbling, one of the major hopes for the future is that their emotional baggage is dealt with.
Black Wind Howls often feels like a stepping stone between the awkwardly progress-driven fifth episode and whatever comes next. Pilgrim’s name appears no matter what desperate district Sunny finds himself in, building the suspense as to his origin and purpose fairly well. Along with this, Sunny’s flashbacks, however contrived, do provoke some interest as he realises he’s retracing his steps from decades ago, without any clue of a destination. These story arcs fit a little better into this episode than the last, and the chapter provides some of Badlands’ trademark complex fight scenes – one arms Sunny with an axe to keep things interesting – but it still struggles to hold onto any character depth while forcing unneeded mystery into the story at every turn.
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