More of those graceful, intricate fight sequences please (especially with The Widow)!
Everyone is starting out on different footing, giving them the ability to grow as characters.
Gough and Millar didn't just rely on the visuals, but kept the twists coming too.
Not much other than some minor, overly convenient plot points that allow characters to "just know things"
A harsh reality, a mysterious temple, and a new order out of chaos in Into the Badlands 2X01 “Tiger Pushes Mountain”
When we last let off in season 1, Sunny had just found himself in the custody of the River King, floating down the river to the Outlying Territory. M.K. is stolen off by a group of monks who are able to control the same dark power within him, and disappears to a place unknown. Quinn is dead, and Ryder is poised to take over his territory, while The Widow escapes with Tilda to plot another day.
When season 1 premiered, we found out Sunny was sold to the Bordeaux Mines in the Outlying Territory. After trying unsuccessfully to escape during his first day, Sunny finds himself chained to a loud, chatty con man named Bajie. Later, after accidentally revealing his back tattoos, his shackled partner agrees to keep his identity a secret. Sunny is determined to leave this place, and he manages to secure a map through Bajie. He intends to fight his way out through a huge mountain of a man named, ironically, Mouse. Unfortunately, when Sunny refuses Bajie’s request to escape with him, he ends up betrayed by him.
M.K. has been training with his new captors/teachers in the six months since his kidnapping, and has been waiting to meet with the Master. After sneaking into the Master’s private quarters, he is confronted by a female monk who exhibits a power he has never seen. He soon realizes that she is the one he seeks, but when he asks to be taught to control his powers, she refuses. He then demands to be allowed to leave, and she agrees on the stipulation that he show control over his darkness. He is cut on the cheek and loses control, only stopped by the Master when he tries to kill her. She later agrees to take over his training and to teach him the ways.
The Widow has been making alliances with the cogs, dolls, and discarded clippers from the other barons, amassing a following that she hopes will lead her to victory. She brazenly attacks Ryder and his new baroness Jade while he is touring the oil fields he took from Jacobee after his death, separating the two and sending a very clear and bloody message. We later see that she has made Tilda her regent, and with that comes an angrier, more dangerous young woman. When Quinn’s former clippers decide to leave, Tilda takes it upon herself to punish them for what the dolls told her they did to them.
With everyone split up and facing new challenges, Season 2 is looking to be quite an exciting time for all our favorite fighters. To make sure we’re up to date on the new alliances before the battle lines are drawn, let’s take a look at what happened this episode, shall we?
Bajie says he’s out for himself, but could there be more to him than meets the eye?
Sunny’s never been the sentimental type, or at least he tries not to be, but somehow he attracts his fair share of wayward souls. In “Tiger Pushes Mountain,” the person comes in the form of a foul-mouthed, chatty con man named Bajie. After being shackled to him and assigned together for mining, Sunny (Daniel Wu) gets a constant earful from his new partner about pretty much everything. While it is quite annoying to have someone talking incessantly in your ear, he manages to mine the career criminal for information regarding possible escape routes. When Bajie learns of his clipper past, however, their acquaintance takes on a more sinister edge. When Sunny formulates a plan to escape by using a map drawn by the oldest miner there, his partner asks to go along. When he refuses, Bajie turns him in to the Engineer in exchange for his own ticket out.
Engineer: “I had no idea that we, uh, we had such a celebrated killer in our midst. I heard they called you something in the Badlands? What, what, what’s the word? Hmm?”
Bajie: “Clipper, boss.”
Sunny: “You son of a bitch!”
Engineer: “Your friend told me that you were planning to leave our, uh, happy little family. And he thought that, uh, he would trade your freedom for his.”
Bajie: “Saw an opportunity. I don’t want to die in here either.”
Now, while it’s easy to demonize Bajie (Nick Frost) based on his actions so far, we can’t forget that he is a longstanding con artist. He’s survived his entire life using his wits and wiggling out of tight spaces, right? So, if by his own admission Sunny is both a valuable commodity and a dangerous killer, would he be so quick give him up? After all, the Engineer hasn’t exactly been generous with the rewards, so what’s to say he would actually hold up his end of the bargain? Plus, should Sunny survive, he would have a very pissed off killing machine coming after him. No, we think that this is all part of the larger con he’s running, and if Sunny pays attention, he’ll figure it out too. Of course, there’s also that little thing about Nick Frost stating in his Yahoo interview that
“Of course, Baije is also not telling Sunny everything. He isn’t going to lay all of his cards on the table. He is too clever for that.”
The darkness both gives life and taketh away, and M.K. must learn to wield both
We know a main theme running through both seasons is the dark force within M.K. and how he must learn to control it. M.K. (Aramis Knight) has spent six months training with others like him in the temple on a cliff, and in all that time, he’s been waiting to see the Master (Chipo Chung). He finally gets frustrated and sneaks off to look around. He finds himself face-to-face with a female monk who quickly reveals herself to be the Master. When he feels that she mocks him for his wish to reunite with his friends and go home, he demands to be released. She agrees, but only if he can control the power within him. As expected, he fails miserably and is sent back to bed. It is only then we see her broken forearm, and we watch as the Master repairs herself only to collapse onto her knees, drained of energy.
Ava: “She wanted to know about your progress. It’s my job. I’m your Abbot.”
M.K.: “I trusted you, Ava. I told you things that I’ve never told to anybody.”
Master (interrupting): “Thank you for your service, Ava, but I’ll be personally overseeing this novice’s training from now on.”
Ava: “As you wish, Master.”
Master: “Are you ready?”
M.K.: “For what?”
Master: “The hard part.”
We’ve seen the destructive potential that the dark power has when it takes over M.K.’s consciousness, but the scene with the Master is the first time that we see the positive potential. It is really interesting that she does not invoke her own power against him, but rather uses her fighting skill to stop him in his tracks. She shows us that there’s a way to dispel the darkness through specific points on the body, which is a great homage to the martial arts films of old (thank you Alfred Gough and Miles Millar!). The biggest kicker, though, is when we see her completely heal her own broken, protruding bone through a transference of the power onto her arm. Like M.K., however, it saps her energy to the point where she collapses, making us wonder if even the Master is truly in control.
The Widow is back, and she is a powerhouse with a purpose
We heard from Ryder and Jade’s conversation that The Widow has been laying low since the events of the season 1 finale, but she staged a comeback that will be talked about for all time. As the two tour the oil fields formerly owned by their nemesis, Tilda (Ally Ioannides) releases a rocket that destroys one of their vehicles in a spectacular fashion. The Widow (Emily Beecham) appears with her clippers, and they proceed to slice and dice their way through all of Ryder’s guards. She chases Jade (Sarah Bolger) and her guard Cormac up multiple flights of stairs, blazing a very bloody trail all the way up. She kills clipper after clipper, finally dispensing of the last few before putting a blade up to Jade’s neck and telling her to send her husband a message. Later, we see her admit to Tilda, her daughter and new regent, that she is worried she is not equipped to be a leader.
The Widow: “With the storm that is coming, I hope that I’m worthy of all the faith that these people have placed in me.”
Tilda: “I thought you’d be happy.”
The Widow: “I am. But each victory brings new challenges. I’ve always been a fighter but I realized that as our ranks grow, that I need to be more than that, I need to be a leader.”
Tilda: “You give these people hope, Mother. You give me hope. I can’t think of anyone better to lead us into this storm.”
We’re not going to lie. We’ve been rooting for The Widow since the first time we saw her pierce a man’s face with her stiletto heel during a fight. This is a woman who (possibly) killed her husband to take the baronship, built herself a territory during patriarchal times, and can do some serious ass kicking – all while looking ridiculously fashionable. Emily Beecham is a goddess in this role, and her fight scene this week was unbelievable. We know it took months of stunt training and take after take, but she and her stunt double Lauren Mary Kim made it look so easy. She is ferocious during the fight scenes and vulnerable during her exchange with Tilda, which really allows us to relate to her. We admit we a little worried about her trusting the wrong people, though, especially now that her own daughter has turned vigilante…
Final Verdict: Into the Badlands 2X01 “Tiger Pushes Mountain” was truly worth the two year wait, and we are already petitioning for Season 3!
We’ve been waiting a long time to see what happened to Sunny and the rest of the gang from the Badlands, and we got more than just answers this week. Into the Badlands delivered on their signature balance of amazingly choreographed fights and enticing plot, both provided by show creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. We were on the edge of our seats until the very last seconds, and that surprise twist – we won’t spoil it for you, but it is a great one – will keep us guessing until the next episode airs.
We’re only one episode into season two and already there’s so much to wonder about. How will Bajie talk his way out of the mines while not getting knifed by Sunny for betraying him? What the heck is going on with Tilda? Did something happen to her? Can M.K. truly learn to control his power in time to reunite with his friends and find his mother? Will Ryder take drastic action, as his father did, knowing the threat made to Jade by The Widow?
Honestly, trying to find a flaw in this season opener was like looking for a needle in a haystack. If we must pick on something, we would say that there were a few things that seemed too convenient to us. For one, in a mine full of that many people, how could Bajie have been the only one who recognized Sunny’s clipper marks? How did The Widow know that Ryder and Jade would be at the oil field at that exact moment? Speaking of The Widow, if she keeps such close tabs on her girls, how did she not realize a troop of them were missing when they went after the rogue clippers?
Obviously, these are small flaws in an otherwise spectacular season premiere, and we were again reminded of why the show was so captivating to us in the first place. We got mystery and intrigue, gorgeous sets, and finely detailed costumes (thank you, Giovanni Lipari). Then, we were gifted with an extended, beautifully choreographed fight scene between The Widow and the unfortunate clippers. Emily Beecham really stole the show, maintaining such a smooth transition between her and her stunt double we can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. We also love her in the quiet moments, in the expression of fear and anxiety in her eyes.
If you weren’t hooked by the end of this episode, then we must have watched two different shows. This season opener did exactly what it was supposed to. It hit all the marks when it came to a great show – action, scenery, costumes, casting, special and visual effects, and plot. It left just enough hanging that we cannot wait to see what happens next.
What are our hopes for episode 2? We want to see Sunny get out of the mines (preferably after taking down the Mouse in a David and Goliath manner), and M.K. finally learning a little of what he needs to control his gift. We’re rooting for another spectacular fight scene with The Widow, and maybe find out if you-know-who really is still alive. We’re ready for 2X02 to arrive, aren’t you?
You may ask the questions, but you might have to fight for answers
- What’s Bajie’s true agenda? We know he wants more than just to get out of the mines.
- Who is the Master and why are her monks capturing children with the gift?
- Speaking of which, what exactly is this dark power? Is it inherited? Are some more powerful than others?
- Exactly how far is the Outlying Territory from the Badlands?
- What is going on with Tilda? Is she planning something?
- Is Odessa in cahoots with Tilda? What would she gain?
- Where is Ryder going to get more clippers after losing so many to The Widow?
- Where are the other barons? What are they up to?
- Where can we order Jade’s blue dress from? We’re in love!
- Can Bajie come to our next party and liven things up with his foul mouth?
- Can someone teach us to fight in five inch stilettos like The Widow? We really want to learn.
Into the Badlands airs next Sunday, March 26th, 2017 at 10/9C on AMC
Into the Badlands 2X01 “Tiger Pushes Mountain” Review