Considering Sunny didn't make an appearance once in this episode, we were still glued to the screen over the intrigue and politics between the Barons.
The emotionally charged scene between Quinn and Ryder was perfectly portrayed by Marton Csokas and Oliver Starks.
We're on the fence about pitting Chau and The Widow against one another, as we think it would have sent a stronger message if they were allied instead.
As important as Ryder's death is to the growth of those around him, we will miss seeing his snark on screen.
The votes are cast and the results are deadly in Into the Badlands 2X04 “Palm of the Iron Fox”
While Sunny and Bajie are making their way through the Outlying Territories, the Badlands are getting ready for one hell of a showdown. The Conclave has been called, and all the Barons have arrived to cast their vote. The Widow consults with Waldo prior to the first meeting, and he instructs her to be fearless as she speaks with her potential allies. After taking a spin around the room, however, they both acknowledge that she is in the outs, leading her to approach the one other female Baron, Chau, to make an alliance. When the powerful woman promises to throw her vote behind her if she promises not to provide refuge for any further runaway cogs, The Widow agrees. Unfortunately, she is ultimately betrayed anyway.
Quinn has decided this is the time to make his move too, and sends his clippers to infiltrate Ryder’s mansion and provide reconnaissance. Gabriel proves his loyalty once and for all when he pulls off a boldfaced lie to Jade and kills one of Ryder’s clippers to open up access beneath the mansion for his Baron and the rest of his fellow clippers. Interrupting the Conclave just as the fight is about to break out between the others, he lets his minions loose on the Barons while he chases after Ryder, who has jumped through a window to escape.
Meanwhile, back at West Avalon, Veil is plotting her escape now that she’s only being guarded by one clipper, a young man named Edgar. She knows it’s probably her best bet at getting away, so she asks him to give her and Henry access to the ventilation room. She tries to climb her way to safety using a grappling hook tied to a rope, but she runs out of time and almost gets caught by Edgar in the process. She then tries again, this time by drugging the clipper before making a run for the tunnel Gabriel tried to use to escape. Unfortunately, a locked gate stands in her way, and she is forced to take drastic action.
M.K. is back doing what he does best as he sneaks into the Master’s room and runs off with her magical smoking origami. After inhaling it and passing out in the mirror room, he encounters the camp where his mother’s voice is heard. He runs in and sees her bent over, covered in blood. When he tries to ask her what happened, she gives him a cryptic answer about forgiving him before she dies in his arms. His dark self appears then, and they engage in a fight as M.K. demands answers.
While we missed Sunny this week, we were happy to get a glimpse into the world of the Barons. Let’s have a conclave of our own and discuss some of the major moments, shall we?
Veil and Sunny now share something entirely new between them
With Quinn busy with his plans to crash the Conclave, Veil (Madeleine Mantock) is left behind with Henry and only one clipper, Edgar. This is the same young man that she sewed up just a little while ago, and he seems more than happy to care for her in Quinn’s absence. Veil, on the other hand, wants to take advantage of this and make a run for it. She initially tries to escape through the ventilation room by using rope to climb up to the top. Unfortunately, her progress is too slow with Henry strapped to her chest, and she is forced to abort the attempt. Later, she drugs Edgar and tries to escape through the tunnel, only to find a chained gate in her way. Frustrated, Veil tries to break the lock but is stopped by Edgar, who will do whatever it takes to keep her from leaving.
Edgar: “I just wanted to tell you how much I admired Sunny. He always inspired me and the other guys. No one would ever accuse him of saying too much, but when he went into action, it was a beautiful thing to behold. The grace of his sword strokes, he made killing look so easy. Well, to Sunny.”
Veil: “To Sunny.”
Edgar: “I’m sorry. I didn’t want to upset you. I meant it as a compliment.”
Veil: “I understand. That’s just not the Sunny I knew.”
Edgar: “You think he’s still alive?”
Veil: “I hope so. Henry needs his father.”
Edgar: “I don’t feel so good. Wonder if those mushrooms…What did you do?”
Veil: “You’ll wake up in an hour or so.”
Veil: “I’m sorry, Edgar.”
When we were first introduced to Veil, she was the epitome of a gentle soul, something we still see after she saved Quinn and became his unspoken captive. This week, she faced her biggest challenge she attempts to escape the compound. When Edgar caught her trying to escape, she knew she was either going to die right there from his fury, or later when Quinn returned. Knowing her next move would either save or condemn her, Veil did something she swore never to do – harm her patient. Time will only tell if this will end up making her stronger or breaking her down, but we hope it’s the former. As hard as it is to watch Veil go down this path, hopefully it will help her understand Sunny better. After all, Edgar won’t likely be the first person she’ll kill to keep Henry safe, especially out in the Badlands…
There is no honor among thieves, even when they are Barons
After arriving at the Conclave, The Widow (Emily Beecham) and Waldo have an initial meeting with the four Barons who will cast their lots for or against her. It doesn’t take long for them to realize that the vote comes down to one Baron in particular, a woman named Chau (Eleanor Matsuura). The two powerful ladies are more than well-acquainted – it turns out that when she was still Minerva, The Widow was a cog serving under Chau. Her rival makes it clear that she does not approve or want to acknowledge her right to to the baronship, but surprisingly willing to throw her vote behind her if she promises not to provide refuge for any more runaway cogs. Waldo manages to convince The Widow to agree to this, but when the vote goes down, Chau reneges on her offer and supports Ryder instead. Of course, before anything can happen between them, Quinn arrives and throws everything into chaos.
Chau: “This isn’t about commerce. It’s about a way of life. One that my ancestors helped build. We’ve kept the Badlands running smoothly for over a century by providing a labor force. And yet, you have chosen to wage a war against that reality. Your vision of a Cog-free world is not only dangerous, but a threat to my very existence.”
The Widow: “Five-eight-four-three. That was my number in your Cog pens. I was 13 years old, we were herded like animals, jammed in until we could barely breathe. Torture and rape were a way of life. So please don’t lecture me on the virtues of the system. Because I’ve experienced it firsthand.”
Chau: “And yet, here you are, a Baron.”
While we’re not exactly surprised that The Widow won no supporters at the Conclave (something she herself clearly anticipated), it was still very interesting that Alfred Gough and Miles Millar chose to make the deciding vote another female Baron. The two women have a tense history together, and it’s easy to see why they dislike each other so much. However, we have mixed feelings about how the central conflict for this Conclave focused on two powerful women. On the one hand, it definitely made for a stunning twist to realize that The Widow was once Chau’s cog. On the other, however, we wish that the show didn’t fall on the easy trope of how strong women must be in competition with one another. Perhaps it was meant to show the contrast between the one raised in power versus the one who fought for it, but we’re not totally convinced that it was necessary.
Love can kill you, even when you’re not the one dying
It wasn’t until after Quinn arrived at the Conclave that his real intentions for coming back to the land of the living were revealed. He was after his son, and his son alone. Although he commands his clippers to kill all the other Barons, he personally chases Ryder down through the gardens until they faced off with one another. On the surface, Quinn is every bit the furious victim, lambasting the one who betrayed him through a rant about the mythical god Cronus. Having had months of being out from under his father’s thumb, however, Ryder is quick to strike back, correcting his father’s mistake by pointing out the statue he is gesturing towards is actually Laocoon. Of course, this is not the real cause of pain between them, and Quinn makes one last attempt to shove his son into becoming the man he wants him to be.
Ryder: “The world has been better without you. You should’ve stayed dead.”
Quinn: “Now that’s more like the boy I always wanted. The Ryder I knew never fought like this. What did you do with him? Hmm? Mmm? You wanted to take power. Here’s your chance. This time, do it with honor. Do it. Hmm? I didn’t raise you to hesitate. You take what’s yours. You take it. Hmm? Take what’s yours! Take it. Take it! Take it!”
Quinn: “Why did you hesitate?”
Ryder: “You’re my…you’re my father. My father.”
Quinn: “And you’re my son. You’re my son.”
We’ve seen the family resemblance between Quinn (Marton Csokas) and Ryder (Oliver Starks) through their equally stubborn personalities. It was Quinn’s rejection that fueled Ryder’s betrayal, and in this scene, we finally see the pain that has been eating away at both men. The raw way in which Csokas shouts his taunts at Ryder gives us the distinct impression that Quinn is filled with guilt over his assumed failings as a father, and it’s his last attempt to teach his son how to survive in this world. Ryder, for all of his bravado, cannot bring himself to truly harm his father, something that Starks conveys in his last words. This scene breaks our heart, because no matter their differences, Quinn never wanted to take his own son’s life. We have no doubt that this will haunt the Baron as doggedly as Lydia and Jade will to avenge their loved one.
Final Verdict: Into the Badlands 2X04 “Palm of the Iron Fox” gave us a window in the world of the Barons, and it was eye-opening indeed.
It’s not like we ever thought that being a Baron was all roses, but “Palm of the Iron Fox” proved just how cutthroat it truly is. We see that even in this futuristic world, the concept of class remains. The Widow isn’t just spurned because of being responsible for her husband’s death and taking his baronship. She’s also looked down upon because she did not inherit her title, and the fact that Chau is a respected Baron amongst her peers volumes about the society we’re observing. It’s one that we’re enthusiastic to see fall apart, and Gough and Millar seem more than happy to oblige by throwing Quinn into the mix.
The most pressing questions we have involve the consequences of Ryder’s death. What will Jade do now that Ryder’s gone? What about Lydia? Will she bury the axe with her former competitor to go after her son’s murderer? How is Veil going to explain away Edgar’s death? What is The Widow’s next move?
As we mentioned above, the slight issue we had was primarily with the choice to pit two women against each other in a bid for power. While the show does an admirable job expanding on their history together, it’s still hard to ignore the fact that these two powerhouses could have made quite a formidable partnership against the others. In the end, it almost feels as though Chau did what she did to keep the other Barons on her side rather than actually protect her interests in spite of what she said to The Widow about commerce. After all, The Widow did make her promise not to harbor any more runaways.
While we would have really loved to see more fighting, or at least Chau and The Widow partner up, this was still a strong episode for the fact that we got to see the psychological workings beneath each character. It was also really interesting to see how the Barons separated into those who have inherited their title and those who came into it, and how the latter are looked down upon by the former. Madeleine Mantock gave a powerful performance as Veil found herself with blood on her hands, and we’re intrigued to see how she deals with it.
The discovery by the other Barons that Quinn is very much alive will make for quite an exciting next episode, especially when we know that Lydia and Jade will take the offense very personally. The powerful Baron has always had the support of the women in his life, and now he will be their target. How he handles it, as well as how the shift in power will play out, is a great direction for the season and will no doubt have a major impact on Sunny when he returns.
We admit that we missed Sunny, and even the talkative Bajie, in this episode, so we’re looking forward to his return to our screens next week. We’re also interested in how The Widow will use this new situation to her advantage, now that the only two Barons who survived the Conclave are her biggest rivals – Chau and Quinn. We’d love to see if Jade will rise to the challenge of Baroness, and how Veil will protect her own son now that Quinn’s lost Ryder!
Should we get some smoking origami paper and get our questions answered too?
- Just who wants Nathaniel’s sword? What did Bajie mean by it being the ticket out?
- Did M.K. really kill his mother? What happened to him in the mirror room?
- Will Lydia bury the axe with Jade and join up to kill Quinn?
- How is Veil going to explain Edgar’s death? Will she say he attacked her?
- Did Odessa have a reason to convince Tilda to go to the Conclave?
- Will we get a longer fight between Chau and The Widow? In fact, can we just have an entire episode of that?
- Although it doesn’t seem likely, could Ryder’s death be like Quinn’s? Will he rise again?
- Who will take over the lands of the now dead Barons?
- We’re crushing on Chau’s outfit this time. Whose was your favorite?