Into the Badlands airs Sunday nights at 10/9CT on AMC.
It all begins with the most uncomfortable looking pair of black boots I’ve ever seen.
It’s The Widow. She’s in a bar. It’s dingy, dark and full of go-go dancers, one of whom is using an angle grinder on her bustier. How creative. The Widow spots who she’s looking for.
It’s her former Regent, Teague. The Widow’s not impressed by how he’s spending what he pilfered, but she’ll let bygones be bygones if he helps her out. He goes for his sword, but she kicks it away before he touches it. She sits at his table, sending his companions scurrying. I can think of at least a hundred situations where such a presence would come in handy!
He says, “Don’t waste your time, Minerva.” Minerva. Isn’t that the Roman goddess of wisdom? It doesn’t matter. She’s The Widow now and she wants to discuss the future, not the past. He doesn’t think she has a future, because it’s only a matter of time before the other Barons kick her ass. None concern her aside from Quinn. Teague chuckles. Quinn’s the strongest Baron with the best Clippers. Even if all the other Barons hate him, they’re not stupid enough to do anything about it. She disagrees. She believes if she makes a move, the rest will follow.
Their conversation doesn’t go much further. Teague gets an axe between the eyes. The battle begins.
Much like Sunny, The Widow’s not fazed by a pack of nomads. She slices and dices her way through one assassin after another. There’s no dramatic slow motion. There isn’t time. We haven’t even seen the opening credits yet. In less than five minutes, the entire bar is trashed, soaked in blood and full of dead bodies.
The Widow places a ridiculously high heel on the throat of a not-quite-dead nomad. He tells her Ryder sent them. She thanks him for the info before crushing his windpipe. Brutal.
M.K., still on the lam, stops at a stream. I get it. He’s thirsty after running all night, but drinking unpurified water never turns out well … Naked and Afraid, people … I wish him the best. The last thing he needs is dysentery. He looks around and notices stone columns adorned with the same butterfly logo we saw last week. Why does The Widow think butterflies and badassery mix?
M.K. hears something and sees a girl around his age. She’s dressed in blue and cute enough for him to lose his good sense. He watches her from behind a tree. She’s practicing with Chinese stars … shaped like butterflies (come on)! She’s damn quick and accurate, too.
The girl disappears from view and seconds later, she’s holding a butterfly to M.K.’s throat. This is clearly the beginning of young love. She threatens his life. He lies about being the son of ambushed farmers. She gives him some bread. He tells her she rocks the butterflies. She gives him one. And when they hear barking of hounds, she whisks him away … right into The Widow’s clutches.
Seems Tilda (Ally Ioanides) is her daughter. I can’t believe anyone has luck worse than mine.
Once inside, Tilda approaches her mother. The Widow turns around and lays eyes on M.K. It’s clear she knows exactly who he is. S–t.
At The Fort, M.K. is the topic of dinner discussion. Quinn smells a rat. Why did the kid rifle through Ryder’s room? Ryder hands over the medallion. Quinn asks Sunny about it. Sunny plays dumb. How did the kid get away? Shoulder shrugging. Someone’s a traitor!
Ryder vows to find him, but once again, Quinn shuts him down. Looking at Ryder with serious stink-eye, he mentions the attack on The Widow. He sure hopes it wasn’t “an unsanctioned act” from within. Ryder, also a terrible liar, says he’d never do such a thing. Quinn knows better but says, “I know that son. I value your loyalty.” Fantastic guilt-trip! Quinn knows neither is loyal. As Sunny leaves, he gets a dose of stink-eye, too.
Trapped in a tub to wash off his stink, M.K. gets a dose of The Widow. She starts asking questions. Again, M.K. proves himself a horrid liar. His folks farm tobacco. The Widow looks at his hands — they’re squeaky clean. It’s harvest season. They should be stained brown. She says he’s safe … she’s not like Quinn. She knows he’s the boy she’s been looking for, and even though he knows she knows, he lamely tries to convince her otherwise. I just shake my head and wish he’d stop.
Quinn takes Sunny on an errand, and we get Quinn’s backstory. His father, a Cog, was killed for something menial. He never raised a hand to protect himself. Quinn, just a skinny lad then, requested to become a Clipper. The Baron threw him into the pit with the biggest brute. Quinn broke the kid’s neck within ten seconds. “It was the first time I felt alive.” Sounds more like a threat than a story.
Meanwhile, The Widow is having a discussion with Hud, a nomad smarter and less thuggier than the rest. She wants his help to take Quinn down and offers him part of her land in return. He laughs. Take on Quinn with a bunch of girls? He gets up to leave, but The Widow stops him. If Tilda kills one of his lackeys, he has to honor her request. Thinking it impossible, he says Tilda’s theirs if she’s unsuccessful. The Widow agrees.
Both Tilda and I glare at her … what a b-tch! Less than a minute later, Hud’s one man short and toasts The Widow “to new alliances.”
Quinn’s errand is a trip to see Doctor Vernon about the headaches. Not what I expected. Hannah, Vernon’s wife, is hanging out clothes to dry. All is well, the conversation is cordial and Quinn goes in for his “check-up.”
Vernon and Hannah are Veil’s “parents.” She was gifted to them by Quinn when Vernon saved Lydia’s life during Ryder’s birth. Wow! He’s been effing things up from day one.
Quinn gets bad news. His headaches are the result of an inoperable tumor and he’ll be lucky to see the Winter Solstice, whenever that is. Vernon promises to keep it secret. As Quinn leaves, Hannah asks if all is well. Quinn assures her it is. Once outside, he tells Sunny to kill them both.
Sunny doesn’t get it. He kills threats, not nice old people who happen to be his girlfriend’s parents. Quinn defines threat differently. Doc knows Quinn’s fate, making him more dangerous than any other enemy.
Sunny refuses the order, so an irate Quinn grabs Sunny’s sword and goes in to do it himself. Outside, Sunny hears the couple beg for their lives. His expression is telling. His days with Quinn are numbered.
Quinn emerges a bloody mess, shoves the sword into Sunny’s hand and says, “I’ve never given anyone a second chance. As far as I’m concerned, you killed them.” Before leaving, he tells Sunny to torch everything.
Afterward, Sunny pays a visit to an old gentleman in a wheelchair. He’s tending to his birds, and the red leather garb tells me he was once a Clipper, too. I’m guessing he trained Sunny. His name is Waldo (Stephen Lang) and he sees pensive written all over Sunny’s face.
Sunny wonders if something better lies outside the Badlands. Waldo doubts it. Freedom is “an illusion.” His birds fly free every day, but return to the safety of their cages every night. The people in the Badlands are no different. It’s not what Sunny wants to hear, but Waldo reminds him that Quinn will never let him leave: “Sunshine, you can never outrun who you are.” Before Sunny departs, Waldo proposes a toast to “freedom and cages.” It’s the bleakest toast I’ve ever heard, but it pretty well sums things up.
The Widow and Tilda discuss M.K. The Widow is sure he is who he is, but wants Tilda to confirm it. When Tilda hears of M.K.’s “dark power,” she doesn’t buy it. He’s clearly a wimp. The Widow assures her he’s not, hands her a knife and tells her to cut him. Again, she puts Tilda in harm’s way.
M.K will now be schooled in self-defense, whether he likes it or not. The Widow leaves him with Tilda. Tilda, pissed that he lied to her, pounces. Maybe she’s serious. Maybe she’s not. I can’t tell. When she knocks him down and jams the knife in his face, he begs her to stop. He just wants to find his mom. Tilda softens, tells him to scream, cuts her hand and rubs blood on his face. He storms off without becoming a monster. It looks like it worked. The Widow, watching, appears disappointed.
Sunny, burdened with very heavy s-t, finds Veil mourning her parents. He says Quinn did it and they’re leaving the Badlands.
Elsewhere, Ryder’s in bed with a hooker — guess Jade’s busy. She’s got A LOT of premium opium. Ryder, well aware she didn’t buy it, grabs her by the neck (his signature move) and demands an explanation. It’s a lovely set up. She lies: Nomads are skimming it and storing it in an old turbine station. Score one for The Widow.
M.K., desperate to escape, requests Tilda’s help. She tries, but hears The Widow and Hud approaching. Looking frantic, Tilda grabs M.K. and kisses him. It works. When they’re caught, M.K is no longer welcome. For a second, it seems his luck is turning around. Unfortunately, Hud offers to take M.K. off her hands. Unbeknownst to The Widow, M.K. is worth a hefty bounty. Instead of going free, M.K. ends up in the back of Hud’s car.
Quinn believes the opium conspiracy is fact. Having finally gained dad’s confidence, Ryder does the impossible and becomes an even bigger ass. Sunny (skeptical) and Ryder (smug) check out the situation at the turbine station. Because it’s a trap, they obviously see suspicious nomad activity.
Inside the station, there’s no opium. Quinn’s crates are filled with sand, and a pile of nomads descend on them. Within seconds, a chain encircles Ryder’s neck and he’s yanked into the air. The Widow requested he die slowly, so, as he dangles and strangles, Sunny’s left to deal. I know Sunny has mad skills, but it’s crazy how so many nomads with so many weapons are so ineffective. They’re all dead before Ryder. Sunny cuts him down just in time.
As Sunny attends to him — damn Ryder! — Hud strikes. It figures he’d be the one remaining nomad. It looks bad for Sunny, but it’s not like he’s going to die. Using Tilda’s butterfly, M.K. frees himself and saves the day.
When Sunny tells him to scram, it all comes out: M.K. knows exactly how to get back to Azra, but he can’t do it alone. Sunny sees a glimmer of hope — not so much for him, but for Veil and their kid-to-be. Sunny, M.K. and a limp but alive Ryder make it back to The Fort.
Ryder is rushed into the house, and Quinn demands to know how the hell M.K. escaped. M.K. spews another awful lie about waking up to a broken lock — no idea who did it. Thank goodness for distractions. Sunny jumps in, says M.K. saved him and Ryder, and that he’d like to take M.K. on as his protégé. Quinn, too flustered to say no, agrees, but stresses he’ll be watching M.K. He insists the boy pledge his loyalty. When he does, M.K. looks Quinn right in the eye! He’s making progress!
Quinn declares war.
Let’s discuss! Comments, please!
- Does The Widow seriously believe the smudge on M.K.’s face is an actual cut?
- Who’s Waldo, and what is he holding back?
- Do you think Tilda’s crush and her beastly mother will prompt her to go after M.K.?
- Quinn can rely on neither Sunny nor Ryder. Is he declaring war to keep up appearances before the Winter Solstice?
- Will Ryder be grateful to Sunny, or just a bigger jerk?
New episodes of Into the Badlands premiere Sundays at 10/9CT on AMC.