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Starting as it means to go on, Episode 8 of Badlands Season 3 gets stuck right into the conflict, pitting Sunny against a vengeful M.K. in a spectacle of an action sequence. After weeks of build-up on all fronts, Leopard Catches Cloud may simply refer to the satisfaction audiences receive when a show as captivating but uneven as Amazon’s Into the Badlands lives up to its potential.
After M.K. and Sunny work out their differences – almost to the death – Daniel Wu’s travelled warrior finally meets Pilgrim, and begins receiving answers to his questions almost immediately. Badlands’ tendency to use a revelation to produce five more frustrating mysteries is controlled well by writer Matt Lambert, who also manages to wrestle Nick Frost’s jester into a position of real emotional connection, by placing him opposite Sunny, rather than as his sidekick.
Elsewhere in the vivid, tribal world, other scores are being settled. The Widow’s battle with Chau comes to a head, as Emily Beecham’s driven Baron decides on a surprise attack. The following battle sequence is truly something to behold. Medieval war scenes of this scale are rarely seen outside of HBO, and Badlands is forced to up the ante with the inclusion of martial arts, but carries off the bloody spectacle superbly. Helmed primarily by Sherman Augustus’ honour-driven Regent, the visual impact of his flowing blue coat and ringed-sword slicing through white-coated adversaries on a field of blood and dirt cannot be overstated.
Using the carnage as a distraction, The Widow hopes to execute Baron Chau in her home – where not everything goes to plan. A real win for the episode is the dedication Lambert and director Paco Cabezas put into each character. Gaius and The Widow’s decision to attack is difficult and strained, Moone’s scenes with Lydia before heading into battle are overflowing with tension and connection – every move the episode makes, it makes thoughtfully and with passion.
Concluding with a twist, and further revelations, it’s clear that Leopard Catches Cloud is one of the best episodes to date of Amazon’s epic feudal drama. Ever-innovative fight scenes, conflicts with relatable emotional weight, and a phenomenal battle scene prove that Into the Badlands can be one of the most satisfying, interesting, and stunning shows available on-demand.
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