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Into the Badlands offers hopeful reunions ahead of the war to come
Spoiler Warning: If you haven't watched the Season 3 episode of Into the Badlands, “Black Lotus, White Rose,” you might want to turn back now. Besides, as we all know: No one escapes the Badlands.
I know I said last week that this show was raising the stakes in ways I hadn't anticipated, but then it had to go and break my heart just a little bit more. Of course, no matter how many times my shows try to devastate me, I'm the viewer who's going to remain hopefully optimistic until the bitter, bitter end — and this week, it seems my faith in this show has actually paid off for once. If you're wondering what I'm talking about, read on!
Previously: There were rescues... and then there were losses. The Widow literally rode in on a motorcycle to come to the aid of a kidnapped Tilda and Gaius, but not before finally battling Chau and decisively removing her head at the end of it all. She's definitely not coming back from that. At the monastery, Pilgrim's begun to raise an army from their deep needle-induced slumber, while Black Lotus has taken Sunny away to lands unknown while leaving Bajie and Ankara to bleed out slowly. If you were sitting on the edge of your seat during that last bit, I'm right there with you, friends.
After last week’s emotional cliffhanger that saw both Bajie and Ankara, well, a little worse for the wear, we pick up with Sunny in chains, being escorted by members of the Black Lotus into what appears to be the bowels of yet another repurposed location: an abandoned prison known as Razor Ridge. The prison has been converted into a place for them to conduct their sinister operations. Based on the way Sunny’s glancing around, you can tell he’s already trying to discover a way out, but escape is going to be a little trickier than he anticipates — not just because there are guards at every conceivable location, but because his sister Kannin, once believed to be dead, steps out of the shadows dressed in the armor of the Black Lotus. Say it with me now: WHAT.
Understandably, Sunny’s reeling, not only from receiving the shock of his adult life but the news from Magnus that Bajie is dead — but wait! After the opening credits, we go back to where Bajie and Ankara are lying amidst the rubble, and after opening her eyes, Ankara uses her last remaining ounce of strength (and a not insignificant amount of the gift) to bring Bajie back to life! I knew it was too soon to say goodbye to this teddy bear warrior. But even this moment of happiness can’t come without its own loss, because it’s in saving Bajie that Ankara slowly slips away for good, leaving him (and us) to mourn her. We’ll miss you, ya old bat.At the monastery, Pilgrim and MK have successfully managed to wake all of the sleepers, but there’s one last thing needed to cap it all off before the group rolls out into the Badlands (get it?) and that’s a rousing speech. According to Pilgrim, his desire for his new followers is to “wipe the Badlands clean,” to offer a fresh start, but the Master warns everyone that he’s no liberator. Still, MK leads everyone in a cheer for their leader — and as their voices ring out, Pilgrim has to try and cover up the fact that he’s starting to cough up blood. He was never meant to have the gift; now that it’s in his system, what kind of havoc is it already wreaking on his body?
Sunny’s more than reluctant to believe that the woman standing in front of him is his long-lost sister — so she retrieves his memories for him, using her gift to re-open his mind. Instantly, we (and Sunny) are audience to his remembering when he was a little boy growing up in Azra, fighting with a young Pilgrim (known then as Tarin) and receiving a pendant in a sacred ceremony alongside his former brother-in-arms. Until now, Sunny believed that Kannin had sacrificed herself to the Black Lotus so that he could escape their clutches — which turns out to be partially true. Instead, we learn that his sister has been working with them this entire time, and privately, she vows to Magnus that she intends to unlock Sunny’s gift by the day’s end.Kannin claims that Sunny can only experience his once-locked memories in stages, otherwise, the shock will kill him — so we get the reveal of his past in bits and pieces over the course of the episode. After his pendant ceremony, Sunny witnesses the memory of the Black Lotus brotherhood sneaking past Azra’s defenses, and his father only leaves one of their group alive to confess how they managed entry. But to a young Sunny (aka “Sanso”), his father insists that it is his responsibility to end the man’s life if he won’t tell the truth: his first killing. Sanso immediately refuses, but something tells me dear old dad won’t be taking no for an answer.
Pilgrim’s not just coughing up blood at this point; the dark chi is literally coming out of his eyes. It’s pretty gross, actually, but in his weakened state, he’s open to attack even while he gloats over the Master. She tries to seize the opportunity and act against him, but even her guards are down and she’s caught off-guard by a sword through the chest. It’s MK, surprise sur-freakin’-prise, and as they leave the Master limp and lying on the floor, Pilgrim informs MK that he’s just been promoted to Loyal Son Number One. (Okay, but we remember how that turned out for Castor, don’t we?)
The Master is weak, but still alive when the Widow arrives at the monastery; she knows she doesn’t have long, though, and pleads with the Widow to get her to her mirror chamber for one final vision, one they share together. In it, she travels with the Widow back to a time before she became the Master, when she was just a girl named Aida who hadn’t yet manifested her gift. For the longest time, she believed that the monastery would be an oasis, a place of safekeeping for those with the gift to be sheltered from the world. But instead, she admits it became a prison with her as acting warden, making her no better than Pilgrim in the end. She imparts one final lesson on the Widow: “Stop looking to a great authority for answers. You need to find them inside you. Create a world where there are no more Masters.” And with that, the Master goes full Jedi and disappears, but not before telling Minerva that the time to strike against Pilgrim is now.It’s clear that in her time with Black Lotus, Kannin’s experienced some serious brainwashing. Not only does she believe that those with the gift are toxic and unworthy of happiness, but every line she spouts is clearly a product of Magnus’ corrupting influence drumming a bunch of untruths into her consciousness. Sunny continues to insist that this is not who she really is, that she’s been fed lies ever since she was a young girl. Of course, this also happens while Bajie has managed to sneak into the seemingly impenetrable stone fortress and knock out his way to Sunny. But Sunny isn’t willing to leave without Kannin, and Kannin is too wrapped up in her own misguided loyalty to help them escape… or so we think.
Because, you see, the lone Black Lotus agent that Sunny’s father left alive all those years ago? Magnus. And rather than kill him, a young Sanso helped him to escape instead. Now, Magnus intends for Kannin to unlock Sunny’s gift and use them both as a weapon in the fight against Pilgrim. But when confronted with her brother’s face, Kannin relives the terrible treatment she suffered under Magnus’ hands, and it’s that trauma that enables her to finally defy him for the first time. Using her gift, she sets Sunny free, and brother and sister take on the Black Lotus together in one of the kickass fight sequences this show is known for, also unshackling Bajie in the process. The three manage to make their escape together.
The episode closes on the former sleepers signing their loyalty to Pilgrim in blood as Cressida watches on, on Chau’s army surrendering to Gaius and Tilda, on the Widow retreating from a burning monastery, and Bajie, Sunny and Kannin hitting the road to presumably join the battle once and for all. Bring. It. On.
— “Welcome back, you little prick.” Leave it to Ankara to undercut even the most emotional scene with an insult delivered out of fondness.
— Honestly, there hasn’t been a lot of attention given to MK in these recaps, and that’s for the sole reason that he’s starting to get on my nerves (which means he’s doing a great job of being a villain!). But I’m also on the Master's side here; he’s following the wrong path, and ultimately it’s going to lead to his downfall, which is a tragedy in and of itself considering where he started out in Season 1.
— Maybe this is the shipper-slash-romance-reader in me, but I was really hoping for at LEAST a Gaius/Widow smooch this week upon their reunion. (Then again, the part where he was toting around his sister’s head in a bag might have been a small mood-killer.)
— Additionally, Tilda threatening to cut Gaius’ heart out if he ever breaks the Widow’s was a tiny moment that I couldn’t get enough of. We stan a repairing mother/daughter relationship.
— Thoughts on that "Sound of Silence" cover that played over the end-of-episode montage? I've gotta be honest: I was super into it. (It was the Disturbed version, if anyone's eager to listen to it again!)
Now that Sunny's sister has been thrown into the mix, it seems like Pilgrim might really have his work cut out for him in the battle ahead. What are your thoughts on how that fight is going to shake out? Who's going to make it to the very end? Feel free to share your reactions in the comments or tweet us @Syfyfangrrls. And don’t forget to check out our interview with Ally Ioannides about tonight’s episode!