We're really seeing a lot of growth in each character, for better or worse, and it's taking them places that we're excited to see.
Martin Csokas, Madeleine Mantock, and Oliver Starks stole the show with their three-sided argument.
At times, we felt overwhelmed by the number of revelations being thrown at us and could have used a slower moment.
There were a couple of details that seemed conveniently forgotten to move the plot along, but nothing we can't get over.
One can run from the past but not escape the future in 2X05 “Monkey Leaps Through Mist”
Sunny and Bajie return to our screens this week as they continue to move through the Outlying Territories in search of a shortcut back into the Badlands. Although reluctant to negotiate with the mechs that sold him into the mines, Bajie convinces him to meet with Nos, aka The Commandant. After a tense introduction, Silver Moon’s blade seems enough to convince the smuggler to trade with them. During their stay, Sunny meets a young girl named Amelia and her mother Portia. Once she realizes he is not interested in her company, Portia begs Sunny to help her kill Nos so he cannot turn Amelia into a doll. He refuses, but the next day their host makes it clear he knows about her betrayal and plans on doing exactly that. Sunny cannot accept it, leading Nos to attack him.
With her husband now dead, Jade inherits his baronship and immediately swears to take revenge on Quinn for his betrayal. She does the right thing and brings Lydia to say goodbye to her son, although it’s for her own ulterior motives. Jade suspects her former competitor knows where Quinn might be hiding, and after a tense moment, she’s proven right. Lydia gives away his location, but only in exchange for the promise that she will be the hand that takes his life. Once it is agreed, she leads the squad of clippers to the site, only to have the entrance blow up upon their intrusion.
Quinn, meanwhile, is starting to suffer a combination of a guilty conscience and the effects of his brain tumor. He begins to hallucinate visions of Ryder, who taunts him by telling him that Veil is lying to him and encouraging him to find the truth. Veil finds herself at the mercy of his regent Declan, who makes it clear that he knows of her deception as well as the fact that she killed Edgar. He threatens to reveal the fact that she hasn’t actually been taking care of Quinn’s tumor to the Baron unless she agrees to save his life, which she quickly does. Later, Veil discovers Henry is missing and terrifyingly discovers him in the sick Baron’s arms, and after a nearly fatal encounter, she takes advantage of Lydia’s attack on the bunker to escape into the forest.
The Widow is still licking her wounds from the failed Conclave compromise, and she’s furious at the outcome. She commends Tilda rather than punishing her for disobeying her orders to protect the Sanctuary, then reprimands Waldo for not being aware of Quinn’s reappearance. While he stands his ground and suggests that she prove her continued desire to compromise with the other Barons by bringing them Quinn’s head, she is reluctant to take his advice at this point. She ultimately makes a decision that surprises everyone, maybe even herself. Meanwhile, Tilda’s almost-love M.K. has decided to escape from the temple, and at the first chance he runs. Along the way, he encounters a group of dead people hanging from a tree, and he cuts one down in order to steal his clothing. He does give the young boy a proper burial, however, clearly distressed at the way he died. Then, he runs.
If last week was about predictable outcomes, this week was nothing but unexpected surprises. Let’s take a look at some of the ones that made us shake our heads, cringe, or scream at the TV, shall we?
For a guy who doesn’t want baggage, Sunny sure is terrible at traveling light
Sunny (Daniel Wu) continues the longest trip of his life through the Outlying Territories this week. His verbose partner suggests that they head into the territory of a well-known mech by the name of Nos, or as he prefers to be called, The Commandant. Our favorite clipper is clearly reluctant, given that mechs were the ones who sold him to the mines, but gives in when Bajie (Nick Frost) tells him they’ve got the fastest way through. As expected, Nos is less than desirable as a trader, but happily agrees to help them once he realizes Sunny’s defeated Silver Moon. They remain for one night to rest up, but then Sunny’s entertainment for the night ends up begging him to save her daughter Amelia. After refusing her, he later changes his mind when Nos makes it clear he plans on using Amelia as a doll.
Sunny: “Nice kid. How old is she?”
Portia: “Almost old enough to work as a Doll.”
Sunny: “She’s just a child.”
Portia: “Nos doesn’t care. No, I was her age when I started. I don’t want this for her. I have to get her out of here. Maybe you could help.”
Portia: “Kill Nos.”
Sunny: “I don’t do that. Not anymore.”
Portia: “No, I could pay you. See, I’ve been saving to run away, but that money is yours.”
Sunny: “I don’t kill for hire.”
Portia: “I’m begging you, please. That’s what your friend was bragging about. All the marks on your back, each one was for a life. What difference would one more make?” Sunny: “Look, I’m sorry about Amelia, but I can’t help you. I can’t.”
Portia: “Good luck getting back to your family.”
Try as Sunny might, he can’t stop being a magnet for the less fortunate. It seems that meeting M.K. was only the first step to earning back his humanity after years of serving Quinn, and now he champions every seemingly lost cause. While we are really glad to see that the clipper is opening his heart up to others more, we also know that it’s a very dangerous situation. He left both Nathaniel Moon and Nos alive, which means he has two more angry people to add to his growing list of enemies. Every person he saves becomes a liability that could be used against him, not to mention the fact that it’s much harder to stay under the radar with so many people. There’s also the very real possibility he’ll save the wrong person and be betrayed, so we’ll be carving totems of our own in hopes of protecting him!
We know The Widow is quite the strategist…but Quinn? Quinn??!!
With her ego stinging from the rejection and subsequent betrayal by other other Barons, The Widow (Emily Beecham) is in no mood to negotiate any further. After applauding Tilda for trusting her gut, she makes it clear to her regent that she wishes she had done the same. By not being aware of Quinn’s existence, Waldo has lost some of her trust in him, but he does his best to prove his loyalty by offering up an unexpected solution to their troubles – kill the embattled Baron. The Widow is less than enthusiastic about this option, not because of the killing, but because she feels like it would constitute groveling for acceptance from the other Barons. She feels that taking the compromise she offered at the conclave was as far as she was willing to go to appease them. Now, she’s ready to declare war, which she does in the most unexpected way possible.
The Widow: “I’ve considered your proposal and I’ve come to a decision.”
Waldo: “Well, you gonna keep me in suspense?”
The Widow: “I compromised at the conclave. I traded my principles for empty promises. But the lives of the innocent are at stake. I’m their only chance and their only hope. And I’m never gonna to let them down ever again. Which is why I’m making an alliance with Quinn.”
Waldo: “You can’t be serious. Quinn is way too combustible.”
The Widow: “We tried it your way. Now, we’re playing it mine. Now all you have to do is find Quinn. And may the gods help you if any Baron beats you to him.”
We don’t pretend to be great strategists, but The Widow seeking an alliance with Quinn seems like a really bad idea on the surface. After all, they have tried to kill each other on multiple occasions, and she was involved in helping Ryder overthrow him. This is a twist that left all our jaws on the floor, but now that the dust has settled, we’re thinking this is a brilliant move from Alfred Gough and Miles Millar. Why? Quinn’s murder of Ryder has put a target on his back even bigger than The Widow. As far as the other Barons are concerned, they are both hated for their views, which gives them something in common. Besides, Quinn has to admit that The Widow’s alliance with Ryder was a stroke of genius, and neither denies their opponent’s fighting skill. If they can get past killing one another, this alliance could be a powerful one.
It seems that even in death, father and son are an explosive combination
With his brain tumor not actually being gone, it was only a matter of time before Quinn began to notice a worsening of his health. It’s just unfortunate for him that Ryder’s death triggered the onset of hallucinations, because he needs to be fully healthy now that he’s revealed himself to the other Barons. His visions of Ryder reflect his internal struggles and paranoia, most of which revolves around Veil. We find out that he has shifted his affections towards her, but it’s also clear that Quinn is suspicious she hasn’t been healing him as promised. As the result of his imaginary conversations, he is prodded into drastic action, holding a knife to Henry to try to get the truth out of her. She manages to convince him of her affection to safely retrieve Henry, but his actions prompt her to escape immediately after, leaving him alone once more.
Ryder: “Wiping away the blood won’t change what you’ve done. What kind of man kills his own son? Look at you. Holed up here like a rat pretending to play house with another man’s woman and child. The child of the man who ran you through. How pathetic.”
Quinn: “Pathetic, hmm? Since the moment you first sucked air, you were a disappointment.”
Ryder: “Oh, there he is, huh? The mighty Quinn. You know, I used to think you were so strong. But you’re weak. No wonder all the women in your life betrayed you. My mother, Jade. You wanna know the truth? Jade always came running back to me because you couldn’t satisfy her. Think Veil will be any different?”
Quinn: “Shut your mouth! Veil is pure and honest. She and Henry are the only good things I got left in this world.”
Ryder: “Honest? She’s lying to you. You think the tumor’s really gone?”
Quinn: “She’s saving my life.”
Ryder: “Then why do you still get the headaches? You seem to be getting weaker by the day.”
Quinn: “I’m stronger than I’ve ever been.”
Ryder: “Then why am I here? You know, there’s a way to find out the truth. You get Henry, you put a knife under his tiny little throat. And you see what Veil tells you then.”
Seeing Quinn (Marton Csokas) and Ryder (Oliver Starks) continue their conflicted relationship past the latter’s death was like a wish come true for us. It’s fitting that Quinn would see Ryder as the visual representation of his own paranoia, since he is grieving for the loss of his son – even if it’s by his own hand. It’s almost like he’s punishing himself for his misdeed and hashing out his greatest insecurities through his child. Csokas and Starks blew us away by expanding on their impassioned performances from last week, adding more layers to the complicated emotions that they have for one another. Throw Madeleine Mantock’s Veil into the mix, and we’re left with an indelible scene that will be talked about for the entire rest of the season. With Veil now in the wind and continued guilt over Ryder, it’ll be interesting to see how these events impact Quinn in the upcoming weeks.
Final Verdict: Into the Badlands shows us the surprises won’t stop anytime soon in 2X05 “Monkey Leaps Through Mist”
We’re barely halfway through the season and the drama has already grown by leaps and bounds for our characters. Sunny’s actions have brought him a makeshift family to protect, while his real one has just made a run for it into the forests of the Badlands. There are uneasy alliances being made and proposed, but we know that trust must be earned and not taken. With this many lines being blurred and revelations left and right being made, we’re being swept into the eye of the storm – and loving every minute of it!
There’s obviously a lot of unanswered questions coming out of “Monkey Leaps Through Mist,” so let’s get to it. First, what happened to using the smuggling tunnels? How did we go from that to a rusty old car with a limited amount of gas? How is Sunny going to get Portia help for her wound before she bleeds out? As for M.K., how far will he get before he is captured? What will happen to him then? Is The Widow making a mistake trying to ally with Quinn, or will this be her greatest move yet?
To be honest, the biggest flaw we could think of for this episode would be the frantic pacing of the stories this week, but even that is pushing it. If Gough and Millar wanted us to get virtual whiplash to keep us on our toes, they definitely succeeded. Are there tiny details that seem to fall by the wayside? A little. After all, Ava should be on high alert after M.K. basically announced that he was running away, so his escape seems too easy. What about Veil? With the tunnel gate locked and Declan aware of her betrayal, you would think she would be on lockdown herself.
Obviously, these are small issues in an otherwise excellent episode, so we’re not exactly mad. Instead, we’re focusing on how impressed we were with Marton Csokas for his portrayal of a Quinn who is slowly losing his mind. His ability to layer on paranoia, guilt, and grief all together so convincingly was a sight to behold, and it just makes us so glad that he’s still part of the show. On that vein, we’re also excited to see that Oliver Starks is hanging around for now, because we secretly wanted him to rise to the occasion this season.
With ample doses of both drama and conflict in “Monkey Leaps Through Mist,” we’re more than a little enthusiastic about watching all the pieces fall in the upcoming episodes. The alliance between The Widow and Quinn would be fantastic to behold, but we’re also rooting for Lydia, Jade, and Veil to come out from under the fearsome Baron’s thumb and make their own marks on the Badlands. No matter what, we’re expecting one hell of a season and we’re not going to miss a second!
With Sunny, M.K., and Veil all scouring the Badlands for each other, we can only wait impatiently for some sort of reunion between them soon. In the meantime, we’re itching to see that first meeting between The Widow and Quinn, but also the reunion between Lydia and her husband. We hope that M.K. finds a way to escape his kidnappers and finally discover the truth about his mother. What about you? Tell us what you’re looking forward to most in the comments below!
Now that we’ve got our minds right again, we have so many questions…
- How will Sunny get Portia the medical help she needs when he has no idea where he’s going?
- Why were those people hanged on that tree? What did they do?
- Do we think M.K.’s going to make it very far before they find him?
- Where will Veil go from here? Does she know anyone who might be able to help her?
- The Widow. Quinn. How is this going to make it past hello?
- Will Ryder continue to haunt Quinn as his health falters? Who will save him now?
- Will Lydia really go through with killing Quinn? Could she have a change of heart?
- Will Chau and the other Barons recognize Jade’s ascension? Will she end up like The Widow?
- Amelia’s too cute for words. Can we keep her, please??