AMC canceled Into the Badlands after three seasons, and judging from how this last episode went down, no one working on the show knew that at the time. There are a few unresolved plot points suggesting something bigger for the fourth season, but really, this is all we got.
I am largely fine with that.
To be clear, the producers have apparently stated they are hoping to one day do a made-for-TV movie to resolve the rest of the plot threads like Deadwood did. I have no idea if that will happen, and if it does, I’ll be glad to watch the story end. If it doesn’t, well, I got one hell of a ride out of this.
And as befitting a final episode, whether for the season or the series, we do have a coalition of unlikely allies riding off to deal with Pilgrim one last time at the head of a Black Lotus army. There’s Sunny, the Widow, Gaius Chau, Tilde, Moon, Bajie, and Kannin. It’s a regular length episode, but the people making this show know what folks came in for, and it wasn’t necessarily for the characters. True, we finally have the Widow resolved as one of the good guys and not some morally ambiguous figure who talks a good game but not much else. Moon is there for vengeance which he pointedly doesn’t get, and the last half of the episode is the series’s patented martial arts fighting sequences, the sort that defies physics but who cares? M.K. fights Tilde, the Widow, and Gaius while Kannin, Sunny, and Bajie take on Pilgrim. Moon follows Cressida, but she gets away once she realizes how cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs Pilgrim is. M.K. dies, and I’m fine with that because I never really like that character type anyway. Pilgrim dies, and while he isn’t the best baddie this show ever came up with (that’s still Baron Quinn, scene chewer that he is), Pilgrim goes down after mortally wounding Sunny in a move that sees Kannin, Bajie, some chains, a pair of hooks, and Sunny’s leaping ten feet into the air to stab Pilgrim through the heart while bleeding out himself is just plain cool.
And that’s how Into the Badlands played everything the show did. Is it cool to look at? Yes? Then include it. Worry about logic and science and biology later.
So yeah, we may end with the last surviving member of Pilgrim’s gang finding a working handgun that he somehow knows how to shoot, the gun still works, and we end with the first and only gunshot in the entire series going off.
Was there much to Into the Badlands beyond cool fight sequences? Not really. Characters often behaved in whatever manner the plot required. Take Bajie for example. Nick Frost gave the guy a ton of personality, even if it was Nick Frost’s usual personality, but when we first saw him, he looked like little better than a disreputable sneak who could barely fight. In the end, he was a martial arts master, deadly with a pair of nunchucks in his hands, and he knew how to shut the Gift off. My constant wondering whether or not the Widow was really one of the good guys, and the fact she and Sunny seem to be on good terms in a more permanent way for this episode says he got over her betrayal of Veil that he had earlier more or less said he never would. And, as I said, I’m fine with that. Those large scale martial arts battles went a long way for me, and sometimes you just want something to shut your brain off and enjoy. Into the Badlands did that for me.
Sure, I may never know why Cressida’s eyes turned red that one time or what the bigger threat Sunny, revived by his own latent Gift, needs to face off against according to the Master from the other side, but I got a lot out of something I picked just to fill some time until another show came back.
8.5 out of 10 black-eyed jerks.
Oh, and that other show did come back. So, starting next week, I’ll finally be finishing up the German sci-fi series Dark.
Now that’s a show you shouldn’t turn your brain off for…