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Exclusive: Into the Badlands creators Al Gough and Miles Millar break down 'Chamber of the Scorpion'
The wait is over, Badlands fans. After an intense midseason finale that left Sunny (Daniel Wu) definitely grappling with his choice to save his son Henry — a decision that saw the gift transferred over to Pilgrim (Babou Ceesay) instead — we pick up right where we left off with all of our favorite characters in the aftermath of the fight between the armies of the Widow (Emily Beecham) and Baron Chau (Eleanor Matsuura), and the ripple effects that will no doubt be felt as a result.
But what lies in store with the Widow, now that she's in the custody of her old Master (Chipo Chung)? And how will Sunny and Bajie (Nick Frost) work past their differences to try and stop Pilgrim's deadly plan? SYFY FANGRRLS had the opportunity to chat with Into the Badlands creators and executive producers Al Gough and Miles Millar, who helped us break down some of the biggest moments of tonight's premiere.It's safe to say that the fight sequence between the Widow and the Master is probably one of the most epic of the entire show, but it's also part of a greater conversation about Minerva coming to grips with the anger that's lived inside of her for so long. How will the reemergence of this relationship from her past force her to evolve as a character through the rest of the season?
Al Gough: I'm glad you like that because that was really one of the core relationships going through these last eight episodes. It's sort of having the Widow kind of stripped down. All of the armies and the baronies have been taken away and she's back at this monastery with this woman who she doesn't like, and it's about both of them coming to terms with the sort of world do they want to leave. What are the realities, and what are the mistakes they've made? The Master has also made mistakes that she admits.
Part of it is [the Master] sees Minerva as someone who is very special and who has great potential, but she could go to the dark side in a heartbeat. You even get a little sense of that. She is power hungry. It really is the Widow coming to terms with her own self, so to speak. She's been called on it before. Tilda called her out at the end of Season two and they had that huge epic fight where she dropped the chandelier on her. So this is not a woman who takes to criticism. It's a really interesting emotional and spiritual journey for the Widow in this episode.
Speaking of relationships, one that took fans by surprise in a good way was Nathaniel Moon and Lydia. We get a little glimpse of that in tonight's episode. Is there going to be any more build-out of their romance through the remainder of the season?
Miles Millar: Absolutely. We really like the idea of exploring Lydia's rebirth and the idea that she started off in Season one as a woman people thought they knew, as an archetype, and that we've seen her evolve into somebody people thought they'd hate. What's been great is to see a woman who's coming into her own, who's stepping out of the shadows of a man and finding real love. That's something that we wanted to explore this season with Lydia and Moon.
Moon is also a character who audiences have really responded to. That unexpected romance and sense of hope in the show is interesting, as well as having a mature relationship, [and] something we wanted to portray.
One dynamic though that's definitely gone through its ups and downs through the whole course of the show is Sunny and M.K. Are these two ever going to find common ground?
AG: In that case, the rift may ultimately be too big to be repaired. Once M.K. learns the truth that Sunny killed his mother, that's something that he can't forgive. If you look at M.K., he's been betrayed or left on his own throughout the series. Obviously, his mother was killed and then Sunny took him under his wing, but then they were separated. The Master has lied to him. The Widow has tried to use him. He's somebody who people have tried to use for their own gain. Even Sunny just didn't have the ability to be the father figure that he needed to be.
Once he's with Pilgrim and all of the truth has been laid bare about Sunny and the Widow and the Master, he's just like, "You know what? I'm done with all of you. Especially Sunny. It's kind of a heartbreaking relationship from where they started in the first episode when Sunny saved him, but we wanted it to be that.
Again, Sunny has a lot to answer for. He's still a guy, when we first met him, who has killed 400 people. There's a lot of black marks on his soul. As good as he's been and as much as he's tried and as much as karma has really kicked his ass, he can't say, "I'm not that person anymore." Because you were that person and you did those things, and there's going to be a price to pay.One person who definitely seems to have a strong idea of who Sunny is is Pilgrim. Their fates feel really entwined this season. How much of what Pilgrim is saying about their history is entirely trustworthy, and how does the outcome of their big confrontation at the end of the episode effect that relationship moving forward?
MM: One of the arcs of these last episodes that's definitely central is this relationship between Pilgrim and Sunny, and that their history as brothers in Azra deeply affects what happens. It becomes this battle between these two men for the survival and the future of the Badlands. We wanted to just set up this epic, almost Greek, story and relationship of brothers and chart that trajectory through these episodes. You see, in this first episode, that relationship and where it's headed and how it spiraled out of control.
Pilgrim's sanity also spirals out of control, and the dark chi he gets tilts him over the edge. We see that very clearly as we go and that also affects other relationships with Cressida, with M.K. We see M.K. as this true believer, this rabid disciple, who will go to any lengths for Pilgrim. On the opposite side, we see Nix, who was a true believer, turn away. So we have all these different elements. Of course, Sunny is now on the outs trying to form alliances and knows that the future of everything is at stake if Pilgrim gets what he wants. It's definitely this epic battle and conflict that we set up as we head towards the climax. That's what the aim of these last episodes was about.
We see the beginning of Pilgrim's plan start to unfold, especially with this group that he calls his Harbingers. How much trouble do they spell for the Badlands?
AG: Everyone's in a lot of trouble. For Sunny, by saving Henry, he unleashed a monster and he's also given him a weapon. What it comes down to is, should people just be able to have the gift like that? We delve into that and we certainly, as the season progresses, get into the mythology of what happens and we answer questions about Azra, but it's all tied together. Bajie's right, and he's kind of been right the entire time. It's not going to end well.
Check out a sneak peek of Monday night's episode, "Raven's Feather, Phoenix Blood," below, airing 10 PM ET on AMC.