There was a much better balance between the plot development and action this week, and the flow of the episode was much smoother overall.
We're really liking the blurring of lines when it comes to enemies and friends as it adds more substance to the characters.
There seemed to be some moments where Chau and Sunny seemed out of character, but it's possible we'll get another look at their motivations soon.
The other two Barons were dispensed with rather easily considering how on guard they should be with what's going on in the Badlands.
Battle lines may have been drawn but nothing is set in stone in 2X08 “Sting of the Scorpion’s Tail”
Fresh off his near death experience care of the Abbots, Sunny heads straight into another dangerous situation after Bajie secures them less than reputable transportation through the wall. They don’t even make it through to the other side before Chau’s clippers catch them sneaking through. Luckily, the Badlands are Sunny’s territory, and he knows just how to get what he wants. In the blink of an eye, he’s standing in Chau’s extravagant but cultured home, proposing to remove Chau’s barriers to power in exchange for his freedom. The next thing we know, he’s dressed in white and leading a legion of clippers back into battle.
Meanwhile, The Widow kills Baron Hassan as her part of the unholy pact she has made with Quinn. When they meet in West Avalon, he presents her not only with Baron Broadmore’s head, but that of all of his wives and children. The Widow and Tilda are both appalled, but the former sticks to her word and meets with him while the latter’s apology to Veil is rejected. Later, Chau’s “defector” arrives and tells her of the discovery of a demon boy, and she immediately gathers some of her girls to go after him. Once there, she discovers Sunny is not only alive, but very pissed off. She quickly turns him by offering to take him to Veil and Henry, and they take out all of Chau’s clippers. Tilda seems to have completely forgotten about Odessa once she lays eyes on M.K., but she’s not so besotted that she doesn’t save his life first.
Speaking of Veil, things go from bad to worse once she returns to Quinn’s custody. He announces to both her and Lydia that he plans on marrying her and taking Henry on as his official heir, shocking them both. While Veil is physically sick at the thought of doing anything of the sort, Lydia talks her into it by reminding her survival will not happen without it. HIs first wife reluctantly officiates the ceremony before watching Quinn take Veil away for their wedding night. Having been asked by Veil to take care of Henry, Lydia makes a break for it but gets caught by one of the clippers. Luckily for her, news reaches the underground fort that Sunny has been spotted with The Widow, and Lydia takes advantage of this to break in and stop the wedding night, saving Veil and finally giving her hope for a reunion.
“Sting of the Scorpion’s Tail” makes it very clear we’re heading into the showdown of the century, which is timely considering we have only two (!) more episodes in the season. While we are incredibly thankful for the announcement that AMC has already renewed Into the Badlands for another season, we shouldn’t sit on our laurels. Let’s take a few minutes and discuss what made this episode great, shall we?
She might have sworn to call The Widow Mother, but she’s not above challenging her
Having already shown a propensity to go against her mother’s wishes when it comes to doing what she is asked, Tilda (Ally Ioannides) finds herself at a crossroads when she accompanies The Widow to West Avalon to meet with Quinn. She is quick to anger when he reveals that he has beheaded not just Baron Broadmore, but his wife and children as well. She doesn’t exactly enjoy being hushed by her Baron so publicly, and her mood continues to darken when she discovers Veil nearby. She tries to apologize for what The Widow did, but Veil responds by making it clear that she places the blame squarely on Tilda’s mother and her thirst for power. Veil reminds her that she had the opportunity to poison The Widow once and she didn’t take it, comparing it to how she herself didn’t kill Quinn when she had the chance.
The Widow: “The beauty and mystery of a female voice.”
The Widow: “I know. You’re angry at me about Veil. Well, it was the only way to form an alliance with Quinn. Well, but the truth, uh, the truth is I also wanted to punish her.”
Tilda: “For what?”
The Widow: “Trying to turn you against me. You’re everything to me, Tilda. I hope that you know that.”
Tilda: “That doesn’t change what you did.”
The Widow: “How many of your sisters did we save because Quinn’s forces are leading the charge? If the cost of that is sacrificing one person who had no allegiance to our cause, then so be it.”
While she has made her allegiance to The Widow known to many, including Odessa, we have always seen that Tilda follows a moral compass all her own. She’s shown that rebellious streak in the way she helped M.K. escape in the past, and more recently, in taking it upon herself to take out the clippers who harmed Odessa. She also came to her mother’s aid during the conclave, which was strictly against The Widow’s command. With this latest blow from someone she tried to help, we can see that Tilda’s beginning to question whether everyone is right – that her mother wants power more than equality. With M.K., the one person she chose over The Widow in the past, returning to her life, she might turn out to be the factor of unpredictability that could turn the tide of the war.
Sunny may be clipping again, but he belongs to no one now
Having been caught while trying to bypass a checkpoint through the wall, Sunny (Daniel Wu) and his friends are thrown into Baroness Chau’s dungeon to rot. While Bajie’s charms may have worked in the Outlying Territories, the Badlands are Sunny’s turf. Revealing his identity to a prison guard, he asks to be taken to Chau (Eleanor Matsuura) with a promise that she’ll see him. His words come true soon enough, and she wastes no time in confirming that Quinn is alive and offering him a position as her regent. Sunny refuses, but counters with an enticing proposal of his own – The Widow on a platter in exchange for his freedom. Although the Baroness is suspicious of him, she nonetheless agrees when he reveals the rival Baron’s search for M.K. Setting a trap, he leads a small group of her clippers in an attack against The Widow, only to double-cross Chau for greener pastures.
Chau: “Broadmore and Hassan have already lost their heads. And I have it on good authority that I’m next on their kill list.”
Sunny: “And whose authority is that?”
Chau: “One of Quinn’s Loyalists. I’m afraid he bit off his own tongue before he revealed their location, but I know it won’t be long before Quinn strikes. Which brings me to my offer. You were once the deadliest Clipper in the Badlands. I want you to take up that mantle again and become my Regent.”
Sunny: “I am done fighting for Barons. But I have a proposal of my own.”
Chau: “You’re in no position to dictate the terms, Sunny.”
Sunny: “I know how to lure The Widow out into the open. I take her out, then she leads us to Quinn. In return, you give me my freedom.”
Chau: “And why should I trust you to deliver?”
Sunny: “Because I’m the only one that wants Quinn dead more than you.”
We’ve heard Sunny say over and over this season that he’s done with being a clipper, but it seems that he’s finally realized that fighting for his family means – literally – fighting. With his poison-induced vision of Veil and Henry, we suspect Sunny’s desperation to reunite with them is at an all time high. His conversation with Chau represented his journey coming full circle, starting out as Quinn’s unquestioning compliant slave and ending up as the architect of his own destiny. We love the way that Al Gough and Miles Millar transitioned our clipper gradually into this new perspective, because it would not have been nearly as impactful otherwise. We’re also not going to deny our love for Sunny in Chau’s signature white, with Giovanni Lipari’s design making him reminiscent of a knight in shining armor. However, his new ally will have him seeing blue soon, a color we hope only applies to his uniform.
Lydia may love her husband, but it won’t stop her from doing what she knows is right
Whether she felt compelled or trapped into staying with Quinn, Lydia (Orla Brady) has remained by his side despite what he did to Ryder. Unfortunately, she is quickly reminded of why tensions were high between Quinn and her in the first place when he abruptly reveals his plan to marry Veil (Madeleine Mantock) and take Henry as his own. It seems that a brain tumor and a near death experience did not deter his philandering ways, and his insistence that it’s his right to have as many wives as he wants clearly upsets both women. However, Lydia has learned to survive under Quinn’s authority, and when preparing Veil for the wedding ceremony, she does her best to advise the terrified woman on how to handle things. After presiding over the wedding herself and trying to figure out how to help, she is handed the perfect escape when news of Sunny’s return reaches them.
Veil: “I can’t do this.”
Lydia: “Yes, you can. One foot in front of the other. A few words and then it’s done.”
Veil: “Done? This is the beginning of my nightmare.”
Lydia: “Calm. Calm.”
Veil: “You don’t understand. Maybe, maybe I can make it through the ceremony, but I will not, I will not consummate this sham with the man who butchered my parents. I won’t. I I’ll kill him first.”
Lydia: “No. You can’t do that. That will put your life in jeopardy.”
Veil: “I don’t care.”
Lydia: “It’s not just your life. It’s Henry’s too. If Quinn dies, his Loyalists won’t hesitate to take their revenge.”
Veil: “I can’t. I can’t.”
Lydia: “You can. You can. And once we’re done, I will find us a way out of here. I promise. I promise.”
This scene between the two women was poignant and powerful on so many levels. We see a woman who is still deeply in love with her husband but cannot reconcile the horrible things he does. Lydia has already forgiven him twice before, but once again she is faced with watching him disrespect her. Lydia couldn’t save Ryder, but she can save Henry, and that’s what she intends on doing. Veil has done everything she can to keep her son safe, but giving up the one thing she has left to Quinn is unthinkable. She had been protected from the harsh realities of the Badlands until this point, but now she feels utterly helpless. Madeleine Mantock and Orla Brady were equally breathtaking in their exchanges, with their broken looks but steely determination to see things through. We suspect the bond forged in this moment will be one that will lead both to freedom.
Final Verdict: We’re getting close to the final stop with “Sting of the Scorpion’s Tail,” but we’re not ready to get off this ride
With Sunny, Bajie, and M.K. back in the Badlands and the Barons’ civil war nearly at its peak, “Sting of the Scorpion’s Tail” laid the groundwork for the last two episodes of the season. Barons Hassan and Broadmore are now out of the picture, leaving only Chau, The Widow, and Quinn to contend with one another. Sunny, once Quinn’s greatest weapon, is now a free agent, clipping with the singular purpose of retrieving his family. With Lydia and Veil now allied together, Tilda growing disillusioned with her mother, and Quinn steadily getting crazier, this has been one hell of a journey already.
The show may not have known about renewal when this episode was filmed, but they still left us plenty of questions. What is Bajie going to do now that he’s seen what went down with Sunny and The Widow? What is going to happen with Tilda now that M.K. is back? Is Waldo’s warning to The Widow one she will remember, or will she let her wants blind her to all else? Veil may have received a temporary stay from her wedding night, but how will she keep Quinn away from her now?
There were a couple of minor points that bugged us. With Chau as razor sharp as she seems, we’re surprised that she didn’t take more care in protecting herself against a betrayal such as this. Sure, she only let him have 11 clippers, but we’re surprised that she wouldn’t have been more suspicious and sent a scouting party after him to make sure he did what he promised. As for Sunny, we can’t say that it’s not desperation that made him a turncoat for The Widow, but he should also have a healthy dose of wariness for her. After all, she is allied with Quinn, the one man who would likely kill him on sight.
Nonetheless, we felt like “Sting of the Scorpion’s Tail” had a better balance of plot development and action compared to “Black Heart, White Mountain” last week. With Tilda’s uncertainty towards her mother and the commiseration between Lydia and Veil setting a strong tone, there was a better flow throughout the episode. Madeleine Mantock and Orla Brady were phenomenal in delivering the emotions of their characters, and we can’t wait to see them featured more!
Now that Sunny has added a new enemy to his growing list by betraying Chau, the price on his head might just exceed even Quinn’s. We can only hope that The Widow keeps her word and reunites him with his family, because this time Sunny won’t let her escape. Quinn is looking sicker by the minute, so it wouldn’t be surprising if he takes bigger risks knowing he won’t live long enough to face the repercussions. As for Bajie, we know what he’s looking for, and we are clamoring to find out just who Flea is.
The thing about war is that sometimes, you find yourself fighting on all fronts. With the Barons’ energy focused on each other, this would be prime time for cogs or clippers to revolt and take back their freedom. We know that only one baron can rule in the end, so we know that at some point, both The Widow and Quinn will throw their alliance out the window in a bid for power. However, it’s anyone’s game if they’re willing to risk it all, and that’s why we will be clearing our schedules for the next two weeks!
Quick! While everyone’s distracted, let’s talk about those questions we have…
- What do you think is Bajie’s next move? Will he really look for Flea?
- How long do you think Sunny will remain with The Widow before leaving her behind as well?
- Speaking of The Widow, do we think she has an exit strategy for her alliance with Quinn? Will she just kill him?
- Who do you think Tilda will choose? M.K. or Odessa…or no one?
- What about her mother? Will Tilda stay with The Widow if she does turn out to be less than altruistic?
- Will what nearly happened to Veil be Lydia’s final straw?
- How will Lydia, Veil, and Henry escape Quinn’s grasp before he ruins them all?
- Will the Abbots come for Bajie and M.K.? It doesn’t seem like them to give up so easily…
- Oh, that reminds us! Is M.K.’s mother really dead? We’re not convinced.
- We swear, Giovanni Lipari needs to come and redo our wardrobe!
- What color do you think Sunny will wear once he’s done with all of this?