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Spoiler Warning: If you haven't watched the Season 3 episode of Into the Badlands, “Chamber of the Scorpion” you might want to turn back now. Besides, as we all know: No one escapes the Badlands.
Badlands fans, you've been waiting long enough and now the moment is finally here: it's the midseason premiere! Best of all, this blessed return is only the first of a two-part premiere, with the second episode rolling out tomorrow night — so we get double our faves as the show charges towards what promises to be a bittersweet series finale.
Previously: War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! Okay, we did get the advantage of some truly epic battle scenes, as the Widow and Baron Chau's armies finally went head-to-head in a giant clash of swords and crossbows and trebuchets, but that's not the only fight that looms, as Pilgrim seized advantage of the opportunity to cure a sick baby Henry by removing his gift — and giving it to himself instead. Good thing we pick up right where we left off this week, huh?
The Master and her Abbots are delivering a heavily-chained chest to the monastery, and one can only guess what — or who — is inside. Once the chains are struck off, the lid flies open and its contents catapult into the air, landing in a pair of vastly impressive heels. It’s the Widow, and she’s none too pleased to be the Master’s latest kidnapping. In fact, she wants out of there immediately — something she can have, the Master promises, if the Widow gets past her first. To call the fight sequence that ensues “epic” wouldn’t be doing it justice, so I’ll just say that you need to watch it as many times as I did. The Widow is fighting from anger and frustration, which the Master warns her against and encourages her to be more without it. Of course, the Widow pays for her choice to battle emotionally when she’s ultimately defeated by her former mentor, hand speared by a sword’s shard and knocked out completely.Meanwhile, a watchful Sunny looks over Cressida’s shoulder as she tends to baby Henry, testing him to confirm what they all already know: that the gift has been removed from him altogether, only to be transferred to Pilgrim in the process. Sunny is still wary, telling Pilgrim, “I’ve never seen anything good come from the power you just gave yourself.” He wants to leave, and he wants to take Henry and Bajie with him. Pilgrim questions Sunny’s loyalty to his friend, but Sunny defends Bajie’s “good heart,” which Pilgrim vows will soon be put to the test.
He also shares an anecdote with Sunny about their time together as “brothers in Azra,” revealing that the two had often sparred together as young men growing up. It was never an equal match, according to Pilgrim; Sunny would always beat him mercilessly. The Sunny of the present quickly apologizes to him for any past hurts, but Pilgrim assures him, “You made me the lion I am today, Sanso. Without you, I wouldn’t be here.” Sunny appears as conflicted by that knowledge as I am; if he played such a prominent role in shaping Pilgrim, is he to blame for how everything has played out since? The fate of the Badlands definitely seems to rest in his hands, at least partially.
In the aftermath of the battle between Baron Chau and the Widow’s armies, Tilda and Gaius are searching the grounds of Chau’s home in search of the defeated Baron. Newly freed prisoners are eager to rise up and kill their oppressors, but Gaius insists that they need to remain unharmed. “We are offering them something that my sister never did: mercy. We did not fight this war to become like them!” There’s no sign of Chau or the Widow within, and when Gaius uncovers a secret tunnel, they find the body of a dead cog and Chau’s coat left behind. “There’s only one person alive who could tell us what happened in that room,” Gaius says, and based on the bloody footprints they’re tracking, Chau hasn’t gotten very far.
It doesn’t take us — or Sunny — long to learn how Pilgrim plans to take control of the Badlands: by giving the gift to others, faithful followers. “I call them my Harbingers,” Pilgrim declares, approaching the central stone in the Meridian Chamber. Through a shared link, energy courses through Pilgrim and his chosen few, and when the connection is severed, each of them opens their eyes to reveal the dark chi that now resides within. (Raise your hand if “uh oh.”) Pilgrim’s building an army, and there’s only one person Sunny can turn to now — and they’re locked up in a cage. When the two reunite, Bajie rightfully takes Sunny to task for turning on the Meridian Chamber in the first place, even if his intention was to save his son. Maybe, Bajie points out, whoever blocked Sunny’s memories of the past did it to prevent something like this from happening. Sunny confesses he’s going to stop Pilgrim, but he needs to play along a little while longer — at least while Bajie and Henry's safety are at risk.
The Widow’s recovering from her fight with the Master, but it’s slow-going and she’s a little annoyed at being cooped up at the monastery while a war’s going on. But the Master’s quick to inform her that while she’s been busy with squabbles over resources and territory, an even greater threat looms: Pilgrim and his army. Now that he can give the gift to others, he might be unstoppable. The Master offers an alliance: the two of them together against Pilgrim and his forces to save the Badlands from an even worse enemy. Minerva later agrees, but on one condition, because the Widow can’t do anything without making a deal for herself in the process: once Pilgrim’s been defeated, she gets her gift back.
Looks like Pilgrim’s plan to test Bajie’s heart is going to be carried out sooner than we thought. As punishment for his attempts to destroy the Meridian Chamber, Pilgrim orders that Bajie stand judgment against one of those new Harbingers. Bajie immediately calls out the situation for the unfair fight that it is. However, if there’s one thing we know about this teddy bear in the sheets and warrior in the streets, he shouldn’t be underestimated, and he holds his own long enough to deliver a pressure point that turns off the Harbinger’s gift, immobilizing him long enough for Bajie to snap his neck. “You’re not the only one who can switch them off,” Bajie declares, and Pilgrim orders him hauled back into his cage, looking a little shaken with the reveal that his army may have a weak spot after all.Sunny’s already rethinking his decision to lay low, and he quickly dispatches Bajie’s guards before rowing him and Henry to safety. “I have to make this right,” he insists, telling Bajie to take Henry to Lydia’s for safekeeping. “I’ll buy you some time.” By that, he means destroying the Meridian Chamber once and for all, and he actually gets as far as removing the Azra compasses and smashing the machinery before someone shows up to break up the party: MK. Delivering Sunny to Pilgrim is his way back into the fold, and Pilgrim is pleased enough to accept his efforts. He’s less pleased with Sunny, regarding his actions as the ultimate betrayal — and now, he’s going to do what he couldn’t before and kill the long-lost brother who’s lost his way.
In the battle that follows, it’s clear the two are closely-matched, fighting to each other’s strengths — but once Pilgrim activates his gift, Sunny realizes he may be in over his head. “To think I wanted to be you, that I looked up to you,” Pilgrim says. “You’re poison, Sanso. A snake in the garden.” A beaten and bloodied Sunny, too weak to fight any further, makes one last attempt at reconciliation. “Brother, please.” “My brother is dead,” Pilgrim coldly replies, throwing him through a window into the water below.
— It was touch-and-go for a little while with Lydia there, but Nathaniel Moon rode hard for the safety of his lady (I mean that in the non-dirty sense, get your mind out of the gutter), and seeing the two share a kiss after she woke up warmed the cockles of my cold, cold heart. Fingers crossed we see more love for these two as the season continues because they certainly deserve happiness.
— Nix continues to harbor her own doubts in regards to Pilgrim, and it’s been interesting to see her worries slowly start to seep in, but I did laugh when a caged Bajie kept trying to annoy her. How many times has he gotten himself released purely on account of being just too aggravating?
— Acting MVP of the week has to go to Lorraine Toussaint, who remains powerful, magnetizing and truly enigmatic onscreen as Cressida, especially in her confrontation scene with Daniel Wu’s Sunny.
— “I love you.” “I love you too!” Best bros or best bros?
Don't ask me to predict what's going to happen tomorrow, because I don't think I can even begin to come up with any ideas. Will the Widow get her gift back at the end of it all, or will it there be a price to pay for this deal she's striking with the Master? How will Sunny move against Pilgrim now that he's been knocked down a few pegs? Feel free to share your reactions in the comments or tweet us @Syfyfangrrls. And don’t forget to check out our interview with Al Gough and Miles Millar about tonight’s episode before you tune in tomorrow night for more!