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Exclusive: Into the Badlands' Orla Brady talks Lydia's sincerity in 'Dragonfly's Last Dance'

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Jun 10, 2018

Spoilers within for the Into the Badlands Season 3 episode "Dragonfly's Last Dance."

In the post-apocalyptic world of Into the Badlands, it's no surprise that people need to resort to whatever they can to survive. Nowhere is that better represented than with Lydia (Orla Brady), former Baroness and current viceroy to the Widow (Emily Beecham). Not only has she managed to outlive her late husband Quinn, but she's also established herself as a formidable adversary — especially for those who underestimate her.

SYFY FANGRRLS had the opportunity to speak with Brady ahead of tonight's episode about Lydia getting in on more of the action this season, her growing allegiances with both the Widow and Tilda (Ally Ioannides) and her burgeoning romance with Nathaniel Moon (Sherman Augustus), as well as what Brady herself noted about the brutal and heartbreaking ending of "Dragonfly's Last Dance."

One of the great things about the show, in general, is the fact that it showcases all of those female characters, but through the different ways that they use their skills to kinda navigate their hostile surroundings in the Badlands. And Lydia has always been a little bit of a strategist, but she's also been able to get in a little more on the action this season. Are there any fight scenes in particular that you have been excited to be a part of in Season 3?

Oh, hugely! I mean, in this one, look, I just sense a very small moment when she sort of defends against one of the mutineers who is not merely being murderous but being quite creepy. [laughs] And I just like the fact that she doesn't go on the attack unless she is actually attacked. She's quite murderous when she's cornered and is quite unsentimental about that, which I love. I enjoyed that moment. I don't mean enjoyed causing terrible things, but I enjoy doing fights, you know, even though they involve kinda great violence. They're fun as a performer to do, they're a kind of extreme thing to do, so that's quite fun.

I don't know how much I'm allowed to say. There is something that I get to do with stunts around horses and that sort of thing in the next episode, and it's Sherman [Augustus] and myself working together. I was very looking forward to this, and I kind of hope that the fans love it, because it was great fun to do. But, in general, I suppose because they have allowed my character be a fighting character, which she wasn't in Season 1, there's more potential for things turning on a hairpin if you like, turning on a dime I should say. Things like the fight when the Widow and Lydia go to see Pilgrim for the first time. You know, they're attacked and a big fight ensues. Myself and Lorraine [Toussaint] got to do this part of the fight within a much bigger fight, so it's like everybody becomes involved in the central tenet of the show, which is that we fight to survive.

Of course, Lydia's way of fighting before has been strategizing, and it remains the case, but she's more akin to a modern politician or a sort of 18th-century, 19th-century courtier where she has to ally herself to power in order to stay alive. And she has to choose well, because if you choose the losing side always you can end up executed.

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It's interesting that you bring up choosing sides, because as we've seen, she has a tentative alliance with the Widow. And this episode in particular really tests that relationship, because we get other characters that are questioning whether the Widow should be trusting Lydia. But what's interesting to me is the Widow never really wavers in her belief that Lydia is going to help her against this mutiny that crops up.

I think that's always the case. LaToya Morgan, who wrote this piece and wrote others, she's very much the one behind relationships. And I very much see her as a writer putting the women together and seeing what happens between them. So earlier, Lydia's had the deepening of a relationship with Tilda, and the trust grows between them. Not that these relationships are kind of warm and fuzzy and huggy, because you're in a world where that's not really the thing, but there's a kind of great regard between these people, and I think Tilda and The Widow both ... they just get her. They get that Lydia is sincere. They get that she tells the truth. Her word is her word, and she doesn't double-cross.

I think she even says at one point, you know, at the end of this episode she says something like, "I always stand where I'm most useful, and right now that's by you." She doesn't sugarcoat it, she's not saying, "Oh, I love you, Widow!" She's saying, "I'm standing beside you right now; I believe you're doing the right thing; don't disappoint me." You know? So she's kind of straight up with people. And I think that relationship begins as a strategic one: "Fine, ally with the Widow, that will get me further along and where I need to be." But it continues and becomes an alliance of sincerity, I think, as she works with the Widow and gets to know her better and understand that although her methods are questionable and quite violent, but that her goal is a good one. And so her alliance becomes sincere, even though I don't think that Lydia particularly intended that at the beginning.

I'm glad you brought up Tilda as well, because I love that that's another kind of relationship that we've seen grow a little more, where Lydia's been trying to pass on some valuable advice to Tilda and maybe help restructure her worldview. Do you think Lydia sees a little bit of herself in Tilda?

Yeah, she's a daughter she never had, you know? And, well yes, you probably ... when you sometimes connect with a younger spirit, you probably see a little bit of yourself in it, and I think that may be the case. Also, you sort of want to tip people off. When you see somebody younger, full of enthusiasm, but you see they have very little in the way of strategizing ability, you so want to do your Catcher in the Rye and say to them, "Listen, you will help your case if you do this, I promise you. This is what happens from down the line." Now, of course, nobody ever really listens. The same way we didn't listen when we were 19, 20. It's hard to really take on board advice truthfully. You have to kind of live it and make your own mistakes and then you come to that wisdom yourself. 

But clearly this young woman is an extraordinary one. Tilda is somebody who is very principled, very brave, and very compassionate. And to see a young woman starting out like that, you would want to kind of offer all the help you could. And again, I think in that early conversation in Episode 2, I think it is, where Tilda breaks in and threatens to kill her, Lydia doesn't sugarcoat it. She doesn't say, "Hey, you're great." She just says, "Look. F*cking stop it, dear one, and listen." Just, "You could be rather great. You could be a leader. You don't need to be a rebel all your life. You could be on the inside, but you need to box more clever. You've got all the courage, you've got all the compassion, you've got all of the idealism. Now you need a bit of strategy, so just calm down." I think Tilda's thinking about it. I think she's becoming a very interesting character. It's one of the arcs I most enjoy, watching that.

Speaking of another arc that we have seen grow, at least over the course of this season: We learned at the beginning that Lydia has a history with Nathaniel Moon, and those feelings get rekindled when they have that unexpected reunion. So what was your reaction when you found out that Lydia was going to get a love interest this season?

Well, I was saying the poor woman deserves it after, you know, several years of Quinn ignoring her. I kinda thought, "Yeah, righteous!" We've only been with the characters for a few years, but you assume she spent many years being roundly ignored by her husband. So, don't you think it's a kind of a rather lovely thing for a woman who's not been appreciated to suddenly have a guy in her life who says, "Well, I see you, and I think you're rather wonderful"? I mean, I think she's bowled over by it. I think it's entirely surprising to her. And what a sweet thing, that that would come when you least expect it. I think that is sweet, frankly, how it happens, isn't it? When you're not looking for it, along it comes.

I think it may have been LaToya [Morgan] again doing this. I was very pleased when I heard, 'cause I rather admired Sherman Augustus's performance in year two, that beautiful episode where Nathaniel Moon meets Sunny and there's that lovely episode between them. When I heard it was him I thought, "Oh, that's perfect. That's actually perfect." I would never have thought of it myself, but I thought, "Yes, yes. This is kind of left field." I don't think I expected it, I don't think the audience will expect it, and it was beautiful then to work with him, because he's just, you know, great.

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I talked a little bit with LaToya about the relationship earlier this week, and I think the thing that makes it so beautiful is that it really does feel like a second-chance love story. What would happen after you ran into someone from your past when you both had led separate lives and had separate marriages? Especially putting all of that in the Badlands. Are we going to see any of that develop further? At this point, it seems like they don't really have much of a reason not to pick up where they left off.

Yes, the various spouses are dead. I think the one who's putting a spanner in the works is Lydia. I think Lydia's quite used to being a no-sayer, on the emotional front, I mean. She's quite used to sort of shoring up her position and being quite cautious around things emotional. So, again, back to Episode 2 or 3, I can't remember exactly where, when he comes in and makes this rather lovely play and she stops him. It's quite a dangerous thing in the Badlands. I think she's the one who's keeping it at bay.

You see, I don't know how much I'm allowed to say, but Episode 8, a little more interesting. I mean, who could keep saying no to him? Nathaniel Moon. I mean, he's this lovely lawyer, compassionate, strong, great fighter, you know, what's not to like? So I think that gets more interesting.

In this episode, one of the things I rather loved is that instead of making the rebels the baddies that have to be overcome by the leader, I think it's more complex piece of writing, because the rebels are young and idealistic and have a cause and see that there's a war never-ending and decide to take matters into their own hands. And they're treated by the writer [LaToya Morgan] very sympathetically, which I love, and they also cast ... The leader of the rebels is this really fantastic young actress called Tamsin Topolski. She's got a kind of natural nobility about her.

So you really invest in their cause, and that moment at the end, when the Widow has to execute them because that's just the law of the land and that's what she must do, but it's a dreadful moment that hurt her. And I just rather like that, because although it's fine that we do have death and the baddies in this, in some of the fights, I rather like that that wasn't the case here and it was made ... It was a harder story to watch, because you do see, like I said, youthful idealism. And it's sad that it goes awry. You see what could have been, and what wasn't.

At that end, that's what I took from the piece when I saw it. I had a bad feeling in my stomach at the end of it, if you know what I mean. And I like that of a piece of writing.

Nobody's fully right and nobody's fully wrong, and what happens when you have to make those tough decisions.

No, no, no, no. And the Widow is making some decisions, like I said, that are controversial. I mean, Lydia even is clearly worried about the line she's taking at the beginning when she just says, "You're doing what Chau did, you're just throwing bodies at us." She's concerned that the people, the common people, are becoming cannon fodder. And that's what all the Barons did, and the Widow may be getting desperate.

You can see everyone in this episode is getting a bit more desperate. War has gone on, everyone is getting kind of short of supplies. You know, it's very entrenched, nobody can seem to win or make an advantage or make an alliance. Everyone's getting very ragged. And that's when people's true colors come through. People either become their worst selves or become their best selves. It's harder to behave well if you like, when your back's against the wall. So that's why things are kinda getting interesting in this, I think.