OK, so, is this show a meditation on a life of violence while still showing a lot of cool violence?
I mean, it could be seen as hypocritical, but I don’t exactly go to Into the Badlands for deep philosophical conversations.
That said, this episode does address something that has made me think quite a bit on the subject of, well, who the good guys are here. Sure, we see Quinn, and he’s clearly getting worse as Veil hides the X-rays showing brain tumors. And M.K., who is ostensibly a more benevolent figure, sees what happens if you try to make a run for it from his current monastery home. Unsurprisingly, it isn’t good.
But in terms of good or evil, is there any character more up in the air than the Widow?
Sure, she says things that make her seem like she should be one of the good guys. She’s much more in favor of equality than any other Baron in the Badlands (certainly more so than Quinn and probably Ryder are), but she’s often depicted in a more antagonistic role. That may be because she’s on the opposite side of series protagonist Sunny, but the matter stands.
Anyway, Waldo is going with her to the Baron’s Conclave. She can take one assistant and no weapons. Ryder’s Clippers are security. It’s dangerous, but it’s the Widow’s best hope to win herself something, and Tilde can’t go because she’s more inclined towards violence than something like this requires. And the Widow asks Waldo why he signed on with her, and he says, basically, that life in a wheelchair after a life of violence changes one’s perspective, but he also knows that talk can be cheap, so she better be on the up-and-up. Power can be intoxicating.
See? That’s deep.
Plus, that “lifetime of violence” thing reflects well on Sunny’s plot for this story. Bajie knows a smuggler who can get them past the wall from the Outlying Territories and into the Badlands…and why is it the Outlying Territories look worse than the Badlands? The name of the place is “the Badlands”! It should look worse!
Regardless, the pair meet a former Clipper with, well, a lot of kill tattoos. He seems friendly enough at first, particularly when he helps Sunny take out a gang of bounty hunters because of course Sunny and Bajie have a huge price on their heads. So, you know, cool fight scene. And Bajie even takes one out.
But it turns out the other guy has 999 confirmed kills, knows nothing but violence, and wants to find a worthy opponent to take him out. That more or less forces Sunny into a fight to the death…where Sunny refuses to kill him. Let him injure himself doing crazy stunts, sure, but he won’t kill him.
Bajie will suddenly toss the man’s sword and take the dude’s hand off when he attacks Sunny from behind. And the sword can pay the smuggler, but this guy looks like he could be a good warning for Sunny about finding his family and giving up his violent ways.
You know, if that’s even possible in a world like this.