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Spoiler Warning: If you haven't watched the Season 3 episode of Into the Badlands, “Cobra Fang, Panther Claw,” you might want to turn back now. Besides, as we all know: No one escapes the Badlands.
Just when you thought the stakes couldn't get any more dire on Into the Badlands, tonight's episode proved that absolutely no one is safe when it comes to the various evil-doers roaming around — Pilgrim, Black Lotus, you name them, and someone's probably going to wind up dead at their hands. After this week, I'm not so certain that everyone is going to make it to the end in one piece, but I'm crossing my fingers tightly that one person, in particular, will live to fight another day. You'll see what I mean.
Previously: Everyone's switching sides! Nix has shrugged off the shackles of her former mentor Pilgrim and chosen to fight for Sunny instead, while Bajie and the Widow teamed up to track down his former mentor Ankara on behalf of the Master. Oh, and Sunny and the Widow are actually fighting on the same side? I never thought I'd see the day, honestly.
We literally pick up right where we left off last week, with almost no time to breathe or to predict what’ll happen next. MK, Pilgrim and his loyal followers have rolled up to the monastery to not only ruin the Master’s day, but to commandeer her currently sleeping waywards in order to build an army to take over everything. Basically, it’s the Badlands equivalent of knocking on your neighbor’s door and asking to “borrow” a cup of sugar. Understandably, the “neighbors” aren't thrilled about these unexpected visitors, but before anyone can make it to the Master they’re going to have to go through her army first.
Abbots and Harbingers clash hard in a flurry of fists, staffs, and swords, but soon MK and the rest of Pilgrim’s dark-eyed ones are carving out a path for him to get to the Master — and then the real fight is on. It’s fairly evenly-matched, at first, even before the two of them activate their gifts, but then Pilgrim makes use of that pressure point Bajie had previously demonstrated — the one that turns off the dark chi — to give himself the upper hand. Pilgrim stands over a beaten and bloodied Master and declares that her way is not the “way of Azra.” To the Abbots looking on, he promises, “I am here to set you free.”In case you ever wanted to know what Into the Badlands: Roadtrip Edition would be like, look no further than Bajie, Sunny, Nix and the Widow making the drive back to the monastery from Blackwind with an unconscious Ankara in the backseat. When their truck starts to show signs of breaking down as Ankara wakes up, Bajie makes the executive decision to stop at an Abbot safehouse for needles to subdue her and to fix the engine, but they’d better get a move on soon. The agents of Black Lotus are hot on their trail. As it happens, all is not forgiven and forgotten between Sunny and the Widow, either. As the two search the safehouse for what they need, Sunny reminds the Widow that he would’ve been all too happy to let bygones be bygones if she hadn’t sent her men after him and his son, too. “Once this is over and Pilgrim’s dead, I’m coming for you,” he vows. Damn, Sunny.
Pilgrim and MK search for a way to wake up those sleeping in the monastery, presumably without any help whatsoever from the Master. The fact that he’s refusing to allow her to heal herself from their fight using her gift probably has something to do with it, but she also calls him out on the fact that he doesn’t have the gift, not really. Because he wasn’t born with it, because he stole it, she warns him that the darkness will devour him from the inside out. MK also takes his own opportunity to confront the Master, but she leaves him with his own warning: “You will try, and you will cause great suffering, but you will never see Azra.” There’s no opportunity for MK to dwell on the Master’s words, though, because Pilgrim’s located the scroll that mentions how to wake the sleepers. Time to go build an army.
Meanwhile, Gaius and Tilda are on a mission to take out his sister but don’t count on being swarmed by her guards and captured. Oops? Chau’s been operating out of what looks like a once-abandoned, now-repurposed amusement park, complete with funhouse rides, an old Ferris wheel, a carousel, and more. It’s kind of a badass place to hide out from your enemies when all of them are trying to kill you, but there’s no real time to appreciate the cool aesthetics of Chau’s fortress because she gets right to the literal torture-by-blow-torching of her brother after she finds out that their mother is dead. There’s no point in keeping him alive anymore, obviously.
At the safehouse, Ankara’s been freshly needled to prevent her from using her gift, and Bajie warns the Widow against removing it, so what does Minerva do once his back is turned? You guessed it. In response, Ankara gives the Widow a vision — a Ferris wheel, Gaius screaming in pain, Tilda coughing up blood — before Bajie gets around to needling her again. The Widow questions whether what she saw was the truth, or just how recent these events were, and Ankara says it’s up to her to find out. Guess it’s time for the Widow to roll out to rescue her loved ones, and she does so amidst Bajie’s protesting, but Nix goes with her for back-up, and before the two head out Minerva promises to convene with the others at the monastery afterward.Chau’s Funhouse of Torture (has a nice ring to it, right?) kicks off for Tilda with a fancy dinner, during which Chau makes her an offer: she's in need of a new Regent, and they’d make a good team. Tilda is as shocked as I am, instantly dismissing the suggestion, but Chau points out that the Widow was equally resistant at first, back when she was a cog owned by Chau’s family — and she broke too, in the end, after they locked her in a pitch-black cold store for 220 days. Day one, for Tilda, starts with a painful branding of Chau’s sigil and a few rounds with a pair of brass knuckles. For Gaius, however, the end appears to be nigh — until Tilda confesses that she was the one who killed their mother, not him. Of course, that’s also the exact moment that Nix and the Widow charge in to save the day, and the Widow faces off against Chau while Nix takes Gaius and Tilda to safety.
This fight has been years in the making. Between Minerva’s suffering at the hands of Chau’s family, all the way to her ascension to become one of the strongest Barons in the Badlands, to the war between their armies, to Chau threatening the people the Widow loves most: all of that and more happens in the badass battle as the two women draw swords and fight between the carousel. But the Widow has new motivation to beat back the darkness and ultimately delivers the final blow that takes off Chau’s head, defeating one of her greatest enemies once and for all. You go, Minerva!
In the short time Ankara had access to her powers, she’s been able to glimpse A LOT: she warns Sunny and Bajie that the Black Lotus are on their way and that Pilgrim has taken control of the monastery, but Bajie questions the legitimacy of her visions right up until Ankara confesses that she was the one responsible for the Black Lotus sacking the city of Azra in the first place, all those years ago. She and a young scribe from the monastery, Magnus, had vowed to travel to the golden city together, but Magnus was eventually revealed to be working in secret as an agent of Black Lotus, and eventually destroyed Azra. Only a few survivors made it out alive: Sunny, his sister, and Pilgrim, among others. The only person who has any hope of defeating Pilgrim now is Sunny, but his power has been locked inside him for years; his sister would have been able to help him tap into it, but Ankara seems to think she’s dead.
Again, there’s barely any time to process this reveal because Black Lotus has just arrived on the scene — led by, you guessed it, Magnus. They tear the doors off the safehouse, but Magnus says he wants Sunny alive. The group is given no time to fight back; Ankara’s gift is quickly subdued before Magnus runs her through with his sword, but that’s not even the most devastating part. He stabs Bajie too — dear, sweet Bajie! As Sunny’s unconscious body is dragged away and Bajie lies there bleeding out, his heartbeat slowing, we cut to black.
— Nix and Sunny’s burgeoning friendship is one of the best surprises of the season, as is her willingness to have the group’s backs even though she’s fighting on a different side now. When she tagged along with the Widow to help her rescue Gaius and Tilda? I SWOONED.
— “Liar liar, robe on fire” is one of the best lines this show has ever offered, let alone uttered in a sing-song tone by Ankara.
— Gaius and Tilda continue to look out for each other in ways I couldn’t have expected. When she stepped up to take responsibility for the death of his mother so Chau wouldn’t kill him, I cheered. What a badass moment.
Okay, but Bajie's not dead, right? Say it ain't so. I'm not ready to say goodbye to our teddy bear warrior and I don't think anyone else is either. What else is in store for our Badlands band of warriors next week? Feel free to share your reactions in the comments or tweet us @Syfyfangrrls. And don’t forget to check out our interview with Lewis Tan about tonight’s episode!