Into the Badlands reminds us that friendly allies have darker depths

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Apr 2, 2017

Spoiler Warning: If you haven't watched the Season 2 episode of Into The Badlands titled "Red Sun, Silver Moon," you might want to turn back now. Besides, as we all know: No one escapes the Badlands.

Welcome back to another recap for Into The Badlands! Last week’s episode proved that lightning can definitely strike twice when it comes to this show, in spite of the fact that most of our characters are scattered across the Badlands with their stories playing out separately.

Previously: Our favorite former Clipper Sunny (Daniel Wu) escapes the Bordeaux Mines (well, that didn’t take long at all!) with the help of his new sidekick (and my new favorite addition to Season 2), Bajie (Nick Frost) -- but they encounter a Wall that may be tough to get through. As for Sunny’s love Veil (Madeleine Mantock) and their newborn son Henry, they’re being kept under the watchful eye of a not-so-dead-after-all Quinn (Marton Csokas), who appears to be training forces he calls Loyalists for some nefarious purpose. Lydia (Orla Brady) seeks out assistance from her son and newly minted Baron Ryder (Oliver Stark), but she doesn’t receive the warm welcome she’s hoping for. Besides, Ryder’s too busy calling a conclave of the Barons -- which the Widow (Emily Beecham) plans to attend (and tear apart) in her typically bloody fashion. And M.K. (Aramis Knight) continues to further his training with the help of the Master (Chipo Chang), but will he go to a place too dark for her to pull him out of? 

Sunny and Bajie continue to make their trek across the barren Badlands. Sunny quickly learns that Bajie may have been overexaggerating when he said he knew a shortcut to get around the Big Imposing Wall; his “shortcut” is actually a smuggler named Nos, who is willing to help them provided that they have something to trade for the  assistance. Unfortunately, Sunny and Bajie have both diddly and squat, but Bajie’s eternal optimism regarding their inevitable success is enough to drive them on.

Eventually, they come to a bridge -- which is being guarded under the watchful eye of a sword-wielding warrior. He brandishes his weapon, but not to use it against Sunny and Bajie -- rather the lowlifes who are close behind them. The two have acquired a nifty bounty on their heads since their escape from the Bordeaux Mines, and I’m guessing that bounty doesn’t specify whether they need to be dead or alive. Cue the first of this episode’s many phenomenal fight scenes (#HeadKick, anybody?). After the three dispatch the gang, the mysterious warrior instructs Sunny to follow him. “Live or die; it’s your choice.” By this point, we already know what Sunny has to live for, but Bajie remains uncertain. How do they know this guy won’t just kill them for the bounty? The Clipper kill tattoos that cover this warrior’s body are even less reassuring, but Sunny doubts any Baron would send a Clipper all the way out here to finish him off. Besides, he still thinks Quinn is dead (and he’s in for a rude awakening to that effect …).

Over at the mountain monastery, M.K. doesn’t seem to be any more “centered” in spite of his training sessions with the Master. When he seeks her out demanding to know what happened to his mother, the Master informs him that he won’t be returning to the mirror chamber any time soon. He lost control because he can’t stop fighting himself, and since the Master has to use her chi to pull him out of his visions every time - the consequences could be fatal for both of them. “It’s a long road, M.K. Don’t look for shortcuts,” she tells him.

The Widow meets with Tilda (Ally Ioannides) and Waldo (Stephen Lang) to discuss the upcoming conclave of Barons. She’s going to have to focus on winning over some hearts and minds since she’s not exactly the most popular one in the group. She also breaks the news to Tilda that her daughter won’t be accompanying her as her second to the conclave. Waldo can’t seem to resist pointing out that Tilda’s inability to follow her Baron’s orders is part of why she’s being asked to stay behind. Hmmm, methinks these two might be coming to blows sooner rather than later…

Meanwhile, Quinn continues to fully lean into his creep factor by reading fairytales to baby Henry, much to Veil’s discomfort. Remember back in season one when Quinn learned he had a brain tumor? Well, supposedly Veil’s been treating him for it, taking X-rays of his head to document the progress. Quinn says he’s feeling a lot better since they began treatment, but when Veil goes into the darkroom to develop the film, it’s clear the tumor has almost tripled in size. Veil covertly hides the real X-ray and takes out a clean one instead to show to Quinn. What’s her endgame here, exactly? Is she hoping the tumor will eventually do him in while occasionally plying him with medicine to mask his symptoms? We already know there’s no love lost between them since Veil learned that Quinn was responsible for murdering her parents, so that definitely gives her motive. It would also be somewhat fitting for Veil to be the one to succeed where Sunny failed in ending Quinn’s life. We also see her developing her own plan of escape once she learns that the station’s southbound tunnel could serve as a way out.

Sunny and Bajie are hiding out with the mysterious Clipper. While Sunny cleans up his facial hair situation, he recounts a story once told to him about a Clipper named Nathaniel Moon, a Regent who left the Badlands and never returned. Outed by name, Nathaniel admits he departed the Badlands because all the killing he’d done had “hollowed [him] out.” He was looking for a way to be whole again and found it with a warlord’s daughter and the son they had together. Unfortunately, the happiness didn’t last; Nathaniel’s family was killed in revenge for a Clipping. It’s clear the story hits home for Sunny. His thoughts drift to Veil and their child, but Nathaniel leaves him with one word of advice: “If you care for them, don’t go back.”

Later, unable to sleep (partly thanks to Bajie’s snoring) a restless Sunny finds Nathaniel moving through sword exercises. The conversation that follows is a fascinating look into the journey Sunny has been through within the last season; he wants to shed the skin of his old life and find happiness. Nathaniel, by comparison, chose to embrace Clipping as “the highest expression of [his] skill.” (He’s got 999 kill tats, for Pete’s sake.) Sunny says he may have been like that once before, but not anymore: “Maybe all I’ve known is killing, but I know that’s not all there is.” He recognizes the hope of a better life and wants to believe that it’s still possible for him even after all he’s done. Looking at Nathaniel, Sunny recognizes the man he once was and has no desire to return to ever again.

Sunny’s not the only one dealing with potentially dangerous allies. Back at the monastery, M.K. stumbles upon a disturbing sight: Some Abbots have caught up to another novice -- Tate -- who ran away and bring him back to a room filled with sadistic-looking instruments. Strapped down and unable to move, Tate promises not to run away again, but it’s too late. The Abbots jam his body with needles that appear to drain him of a black liquid, and all M.K. can do is watch in muted horror. Ava pulls M.K. away before he’s found out and offers him some kind of explanation: because novices are dangerous outside of the monastery’s walls, occasionally their gifts have to be “cleansed.” “You don’t want to go against the Master,” Ava warns, but M.K.’s had it up to here with the Master’s lies. He wants out, and he wants Ava to leave with him.

Sunny and Nathaniel were probably always going to have the ultimate showdown, especially once Nathaniel revealed that he’s been looking to Clip someone deserving of his 1,000th kill tat - or to die at the hands of a worthy opponent. Sunny’s not above killing someone, but only as a last resort. To call this a knockdown, drag-out fight would probably be an understatement, but there’s only two ways it can end. When it comes time for Sunny to deliver the killing blow, however, he refuses -- which gives Nathaniel the upper hand right up until Bajie lops it off with a perfectly-timed blade toss. The two abandon a bleeding Nathaniel on the floor, but not before he delivers some chilling parting words: “You leave a trail of bodies before you make it back to your family, and theirs will be the last ones.”

As for the long-awaited conclave, it looks like we’re going to have to wait until next week to see how things shake out between the Widow, Ryder, Jade and the rest of the Barons. Curse you, cliffhanger!

And there you have it! Let us know what you thought about this week’s Into The Badlands by leaving a comment below or sending us a tweet over @Syfyfangrrls.