AMC somewhat unexpectedly (I guess as I don’t follow ratings) canceled Into the Badlands after three seasons, and season three had the same number of episodes as the previous two. Point is, this here is about the halfway point of this show full of martial arts insanity.
So, we might get something tossed in to shake things up a bit from here.
You know, when this show started, it clearly operated under the “Rule of Cool,” the basic idea being that it doesn’t matter if something is smart or logical or even makes a lick of sense. All that matters is if the whatever is happening looks cool.
And my God, does Into the Badlands look cool.
This is a show where massive martial arts battles break out on a routine basis. And just about everybody knows martial arts. Aside from the occasional small child, the only major characters who seem to not know martial arts were Jade, Ryder, and Veil. Jade was exiled for unspecified crimes, Ryder killed, and Veil…
That would be telling.
Oh, like I won’t tell anyway.
Much of this season finale, beyond setting up some future plot points, is basically about Sunny finding and rescuing his family from Quinn. The last time those two met, Sunny had stabbed Quinn through, but Quinn seems to be part cockroach as Sunny stabs him through two or three more times before this episode is over, and that’s after Sunny was buried in a landslide caused by Quinn collapsing a tunnel on him. And that’s when the Rule of Cool kicks in just that much more than it has before. Sure, there’s been Rule of Cool going on since the first few minutes of the first episode, but seeing Bajie show up, dig Sunny out, and then help him plow through the last of Quinn’s fanatical Clippers is a thing of cool-ass beauty. I mean, over the course of the second season, we’ve gotten hints that Bajie is more than just a chubby comic relief guy. Here he is fighting with a pair of nunchucks, and if you didn’t think you needed to see Nick Frost take out multiple assailants with a pair of nunchucks and make it look easy, then I feel bad for you.
I mean, Lydia, forced to dig her own grave by two of Quinn’s fanatics, manages to take one out with a shovel. And then Sunny takes the other ones out without breaking a sweat by just showing up and tossing a blade before the other guy got within ten feet of him.
That’s some good social distancing.
But somehow, the show does manage to make Sunny and Veil’s reunion sweet, and even gives some pathos to other characters. Do I care much about the relationship between Tilde and Odessa? Not really, even if Odessa does break Bajie and Tilde out of the Widow’s dungeon. Waldo helping them escape works a bit better. Lydia striking out on her own while everything else goes to hell works. The Widow determined to get her and M.K.’s gifts back even if M.K. doesn’t want it is clearly set-up for more since Bajie correctly surmises the only person who can save M.K. from the Widow is Sunny.
But then we have the ending, and two things of note. For one, while Sunny does get Henry back, Quinn’s last desperate attempt to claim the baby for himself means taking Veil hostage at knife-point. And so, after all manner of epic martial arts conflict, the one to take Quinn down is the gentle natural healer who pushes the blade through her own neck and into his throat. Sunny gets his son back, but not his baby’s mama.
There’s probably a dozen good stories involving a lone man and a small child traveling a wasteland.
But then there’s Bajie. We’ve gotten a hint that Bajie is keeping secrets. We’ve seen he gets caught in various lies repeatedly, but he never came across as evil or malicious. Shifty, sure. Out for himself, undoubtedly. But then he goes out of his way to try to save M.K. and Sunny while still doing whatever it is he’s doing. And when he does take a sharp blade to the leg, he mutters something about how he isn’t sure who will save the world if he can’t.
Save the world?
And at episode’s end, he takes the book and compass, goes to what looks like a room full of computers and transmitters, and uses the stuff he’s collected to turn the devices on to do…what? I don’t know. But we have a mystery that may or may not be settled in the show’s remaining season.
I guess I’ll have to watch for myself and see.