Spoiler Warning: If you haven't watched the Season 3 episode of Into The Badlands, “Leopard Catches Cloud” you might want to turn back now. Besides, as we all know: No one escapes the Badlands.
Hey, Badlands fanatics! I feel like I wind up saying this every week, but tonight’s midseason finale (don’t worry, the show’s coming back!) may have upped the ante in terms of the most epic battle scene I’ve ever watched — that is, when I was watching instead of peeking through my fingers. Talk about intense!
Previously: The Widow had a bit of a mutiny on her hands, but a little assistance from Nathaniel, Lydia, Tilda and Gaius quickly nipped that in the bud. Sunny learned that a group called the Black Lotus is very keen to know his whereabouts, and even Pilgrim’s most loyal followers are starting to question everything.
We encounter a very familiar face when the episode kicks off, one we haven’t seen in quite some time: it’s the Master! After getting her meditation on, she opens her eyes and calmly states (in spite of being visibly shaken at first): “It has begun.”
Cut to the refugee camp, where MK just casually informs Nix that if she wants to trigger her gift without cutting herself, she needs to draw on a memory, “one that hurts more than any knife.” Hmmm… maybe like that memory-that-may-not-be-a-memory of Sunny killing your mom, MK? Nothing says coincidence like our favorite former Clipper and Bajie walking up to the refugee camp right at that moment, but MK isn’t happy to see his old mentor — and the first fight of the episode is on. At least MK gives Sunny the chance to hand baby Henry off to Bajie before trying to whoop his butt. With MK’s gift reactivated, it’s an even tougher fight for Sunny, but he doesn’t want to hurt MK any more than he has to. The same can’t be said for MK, who nearly snaps Sunny’s neck before Pilgrim intervenes.
After the opening credits, Cressida is treating Sunny’s wounds, but Sunny isn’t concerned about a couple of cuts and bruises when he’s finally located the one person who can help heal Henry. Cressida and Pilgrim keep referring to Sunny as “Sanso,” which is apparently his real name. Bajie’s not feeling inclined to trust either of them, something he shares with Sunny once Cressida is out of earshot. “Just because a man calls you ‘brother’ doesn’t mean he’s your brother,” Bajie quietly warns, before Sunny heads off for a one-on-one with Pilgrim. Alone, Pilgrim claims that he and Sunny grew up together as chosen sons of Azra, meant to bring peace and order to a broken world until the Black Lotus showed up to wreak chaos on the city. According to Pilgrim, Sunny’s the reason he’s even alive today — Sunny and his sister Kanan, that is. He admits he doesn’t know what happened to her after that. When Sunny asks Pilgrim to heal Henry, Pilgrim gives him a long speech about how they should control the gift together and save the world, and all I keep thinking is that this is going to end poorly for someone.
Gaius and the Widow walk together in the Sanctuary’s gardens at nightfall, and this is a smooching setting if I’ve ever seen one. Gaius suggests throwing every Clipper they’ve got at the frontlines to end this war, but the Widow says that if they’re going to end the bloody cycle they need to be there personally in the thick of things to see it through. They can use the tunnels below Chau’s manor (the same ones Gaius used to smuggle cogs out) to get inside and kill her, ending this war once and for all. But the Widow needs to know that when the time comes, Gaius will be willing to deliver the killing blow. “I would do anything for you,” Gaius replies, and you can hardly blame the Widow for what she does next — which is to kiss the one man who has proven his loyalty to her time and time again.
After getting lots of people to do lots of digging for him, Pilgrim’s finally unearthed what he’s been looking for: a way into the Meridian Chamber — or the birthplace of Azra, as Pilgrim calls it. It’s also the place where the Ancient Ones unlocked the gift, as Cressida explains to Bajie later on, but it also led to the destruction of the Old World. Once inside the Chamber, Pilgrim and Cressida study the old symbols and the machines that can only be turned on one way: by an Azra compass. There is still one element missing, and that’s the Catalyst, aka Sunny. Good thing they’ve got one of those lying around.
Gaius and the Widow aren’t the only ones who decide to spend what could potentially be their last night on Earth getting… closer. Lydia and Nathaniel are chatting in a bedroom while Nathaniel sharpens his sword, and I think you can see where this is going. First, though, Lydia informs Nathaniel that she’ll be riding out to battle with her Clippers, same as him. He begs her not to put herself in harm’s way, but she reminds him that if the Widow doesn’t make it back they’ll need a new Baron. And then they decide to, well, stop fighting that loving feeling and give into it instead, and more smooches ensue.
In the morning, everyone prepares for war. The Widow presents Lydia with the gift of a crossbow (you know, just in case) and the two note with some amusement that they’ve been cleaning up the mess their former husbands left behind after they died. Lydia seems pretty confident that their side will win the day, and with the way she looks in that fur-collared coat of hers it’s hard not to want to put faith in her. “You sure you’re ready for this?” Nathaniel asks her as they ride out together. “Try to keep up,” she replies, and yep, at this point I’m convinced they deserve the world.
MK may have tried to kill Sunny, but Sunny approaches him later to talk. I’m guessing he brings baby Henry along to act as a cute buffer; who would want to fight with that preciousness in the room? MK recounts the memory of Sunny killing his mother, but Sunny says he doesn’t remember that happening. It’s possible he doesn’t recall a lot of the killing he did under Quinn’s heel. For Henry’s sake, though, he needs MK’s confirmation one way or another if Pilgrim is to be trusted. Standing with earshot, Nix looks as if she wants to say something, but refrains, and all MK replies with is that everything Pilgrim says comes true, good or bad. Which… isn’t really a yes or no? Bajie takes a firmer negative stance on Pilgrim, warning Sunny that the Meridian Chamber can be used to give or take away the gift — from anyone. But Sunny’s still resolved to get Pilgrim’s help, even turning Bajie in later for planning to blow up the Chamber. Is that decision going to come back to bite him?
We’ll have to find out later, because the scene shifts to war. On the front lines, Nathaniel’s Clippers and Butterflies attack to draw Chau’s reinforcements away from the manor, leaving the Widow, Tilda, and Gaius to sneak inside. Nathaniel and his men charge forward, but not before he orders Lydia and her forces to “hold the line, no matter what.” The battlefield is a sea of white and blue and red, and once Nathaniel rides in he starts to make quick work of Chau’s Clippers, but just as quickly takes an arrow in the shoulder. He might get his bowler hat knocked off, but the Regent takes to the ground instead, slicing and dicing along the way with both sword and the blades in his metal hand. Eventually, he’s surrounded, his sword knocked from his hands — before someone fires another arrow, but this one saves his life. Lydia sits supreme, crossbow in hand, and then her horse freaking rears back while bombs explode behind her and the whole thing happens in slow motion and IT IS BEAUTIFUL. So much for holding the line, but sometimes you have to save your Baethaniel. Lydia hauls him up onto her horse and they ride out together while their fighters force Chau’s Clippers into a retreat. Once to safety, they pause to steal a kiss — but then Lydia drops to the floor, bleeding from her abdomen.
Meanwhile, the stealth faction of Team Widow has made their way to Chau’s manor. Tilda handles the Clippers in the foyer while the Widow and Gaius head up to take on Chau themselves. When Gaius gets waylaid by Chau’s Regent, it’s up to the Widow to follow her — and Chau doesn’t make it easy on her. The two women draw swords for a time, but when the Widow chases after Chau she finds herself quickly surrounded as Chau taunts the Widow about Gaius’ feelings for her. The Widow won’t let Chau get under her skin so easily, and Chau soon orders her men to fire all their crossbows directly at the Widow. Every single arrow freezes in midair, turns and then hits everyone but the Widow herself — and then the Master walks in. Like, what?! I’m still picking my jaw off the floor, but all the Master says is, “It’s been too long, Minerva. Time to put aside your little war. Something far more dangerous is coming. I need you to prepare.” And with that, she presses two glowing fingers to the Widow’s forehead. Could the Widow have her gift restored after all?
Deep in the Meridian Chamber, Sunny and Pilgrim prepare for the ritual — while a chained-up Bajie continues his friend that he’s making a mistake. As Sunny touches one of the stones in the center of the chamber to activate it, Pilgrim uses it to siphon the gift out of Henry. “He’s cured,” Sunny says. “Thank you.” And Pilgrim opens his eyes — which have now gone black. “No, brother,” he replies. “Thank you.”
Holy [redacted]! Now I’m a little bummed that we’re going to have to wait so long for the next half of the season, because that was a heck of a place to end things for now! How is Pilgrim’s new acquisition going to change things in the Badlands? And will the Widow have an advantage of her own? Feel free to share your reactions in the comments or tweet us @Syfyfangrrls. And don’t forget to check out our interview with Daniel Wu about tonight’s episode!