Spoiler Warning: If you haven't watched the Season 2 episode of Into The Badlands titled "Force of Eagle's Claw," you might want to turn back now. Besides, as we all know: No one escapes the Badlands.
Welcome back to another recap for Into the Badlands! Last week fans both new and old tuned in for a Season 2 opener that hurtled all of our favorite characters forward six months and scattered them across unfamiliar lands.
Previously: Former Clipper Sunny (Daniel Wu) finds himself in a harsh set of circumstances digging in the Bordeaux Mines, but thanks to the "help" of his shacklemate Bajie (Nick Frost) he's already started planning his escape. Ryder (Oliver Stark) learns that becoming the new Baron doesn't come without its share of problems -- including retaliation from the Widow (Emily Beecham). There's also the itty-bitty problem that Ryder's father and OG Baron Quinn (Marton Csokas) is actually still alive (having apparently developed a talent for midwifery on the downlow, as he delivered Sunny and Veil (Madeleine Mantock)'s baby into the latter's arms just before the cut to end credits). And M.K. (Aramis Knight) is continuing his training apace, as the Master (Chipo Chang) tries to help him in taming his dark powers. On to tonight's episode!
Now that Bajie has ratted out Sunny as being a Clipper, the grimy mine Engineer (Stephen Walters) is suddenly very interested in him for one reason: being his new champion in the fighting pits. Bajie's fully prepared to walk away from the deal he's just cut, but the overseer shackles them together, admitting that he has no patience for rats. So much for that plan, Bajie. Sunny considers killing him then and there, but Bajie conveniently adds that Sunny won't be able to do much fighting while he's "chained to a corpse." Even chain-linked to Bajie, Sunny holds his own very successfully against a rather muscled brute, and Bajie indicates that there's a way for them to make a quick exit. Muscle bro chases them out of the pits and down a side exit, where Bajie manages to wedge a sword between the blades of a ventilation fan to hold it open long enough for both he and Sunny to slip through. Unfortunately, muscle thug makes it through as well just before the sword gives way, but before he closes in on them Sunny delivers a kick that sends the thug careening back into the spinning fan to meet his particularly grisly demise. Blinking through blood and … other viscera, the overseer vows to recapture Sunny. Yeah, good luck with that.
When we come back from the opening credits, Sunny and Bajie have made their way out through a sewer to what Bajie refers to as the "outlying territories" - basically, a lot of open green land with no sign of people or anything resembling civilization. Time to start walking.
The wheelchair-bound Waldo (Stephen Lang) is sitting peacefully in the garden when Tilda (Ally Ioannides) attempts to sneak up on him - but the former Clipper isn't going to be so easily taken down. He points out that Tilda's decision to set the Butterflies upon those deserting Clippers in last week's episode isn't a popular one, but Tilda argues that she did what she thought was right. "A Regent who can't follow orders will get her people killed," Waldo replies, noting that the reason that Sunny made such a good Regent was that he kept his emotions locked away tightly where no one could get at them. No one's seen Sunny since the River King sold him up the creek, and Tilda wonders aloud about the whereabouts of her friend M.K., who disappeared around the same time.
Last we saw Quinn's wife and former Baroness Lydia (Orla Brady), she was being exiled from the fort for her perceived betrayal (which was actually a plan masterminded by Jade (Sarah Bolger)). She's returned to the lands of her father, Penrith (Lance Henriksen), who serves as the head of a peaceful religious commune. The group is celebrating a wedding, and Lydia toasts to her rediscovered home and the blessing of being back amongst her people when two Nomads show up and begin slaughtering the unsuspecting revelers. As the other members of the commune kneel in nonviolent response, Lydia refuses to sit idly by and watch them be murdered one by one. She picks up a knife and singlehandedly kills each of the men in turn, but her father questions her willingness to spill blood. When Lydia makes the point that they all would have died otherwise, Penrith is less than grateful for her brave actions. "Killing is a privilege left only to the gods," he sternly informs her, leaving her covered in blood among the remains of the ruined wedding day.
At the temple, M.K. appears to be dreaming restlessly -- or maybe even having a nightmare -- when he wakes out of a sudden sleep to find the Master standing above him. She quietly beckons for him to follow her down the hall and into a room of mirrors. "Inside every man lives a legion, a thousand versions of himself. One of them is blocking your path forward," she instructs him. His gift is the most powerful she's seen, but someone apart from him is using it. In order to move one step closer towards fully being able to control his abilities, he needs to tap into every part of himself. The Master crushes a white flower into thick smoke, and when M.K. inhales it he experiences a vision - of himself, standing in the midst of many dead bodies inside a ship's cargo hold. Although M.K. blames himself once he comes out of the vision, the Master assures him that it is not his fault but rather the fault of the one who controls his dark power. He's going to have to master his past unless he wants to remain a slave, but M.K. isn't convinced.
A group of men carries a recently slain deer carcass to an abandoned station denoted as West Avalon. Turns out these are the new stomping grounds of none other than Quinn, who is hard at work training those fighters who have remained loyal to him since the fort was taken - and keeping a watchful eye on Sunny's love Veil, who holds a brand-new baby in her arms. 10/10, still creepy.
Lydia seeks out an audience with Ryder (still covered in blood), but she's not just looking for a family reunion. She's seeking protection for the commune; back when Quinn used to be Baron, he would send his Clippers to keep them safe from roaming Nomads. She mentions that Ryder seems to be struggling as Baron in terms of the sheer quantity of his forces - he either needs to make his people love him or fear him - and offers him her assistance. Ryder visibly bristles at the idea, and while Lydia's intentions may have been good they also may have just cost her father's followers their armed backup.
Turns out M.K. isn't just special in the way of his abilities; he's also a superlative when it comes to the Master's tutelage. In a conversation with fellow trainee Ava, the Abbot reveals that since she first arrived at the age of 11 the Master has never taken on a novice to train. M.K. insists that it's not all it's cracked up to be - imagine the weight of your mistakes reflected back at you a thousand times over - but he's not the only one who has murder in his past, Ava reveals. Emboldened by this knowledge, M.K. seeks out the Master and informs her he's ready to deep-dive back in his own mind again. When M.K.'s vision begins anew, he's running through the woods. A woman cries out to him, a woman he recognizes as his mother, but suddenly he's cut off from reaching her by an opponent dressed in black with dark eyes -- an enemy who bears his face. They fight each other in a near-mirroring of moves, but inevitably M.K.'s dark doppelgänger pins him against a tree and punches him brutally. The Master wrenches him free of the vision with a few Power Pressure Points, but there are still no answers to be found here.
Back at West Avalon, Veil quietly sings to her newborn son - but senses a pair of eyes on her, eyes which belong to a leering member of Quinn's gang. Thankfully (and I never thought I'd use that word in conjunction with this character), Quinn himself shows up to relieve his lackey of his duty before anything sinister happens. Veil and her child are relatively protected here, partly because Quinn is now indebted to her for saving his life, but Veil argues that in order for her son to grow strong he needs to be exposed to fresh air and sunlight. Veil idly wonders aloud about Sunny but Quinn points out that he's likely dead since he hasn't tried to come for them yet. The question remains: how much does Quinn know about Sunny's whereabouts, and how close is he holding that information to the vest?
Now free of their chains thanks to a little handy lockpicking from Bajie, Sunny declares he's setting off north - sooner or later, he's bound to hit the Badlands ... right? He'll have to do it with some company, as Bajie decides to tag along for a little while longer.
Quinn holds a blessing ceremony for Veil's son, who he names the newest heir of the Badlands. However, if you think he isn't going to use the moment to strike a little fear into the hearts of his followers, you'd be mistaken. To reinforce that Veil and her child are not to be harmed in any way, Quinn breaks off one of the previously slain deer's antlers and stabs the leering offender from earlier in the episode - in the eye. That's one way to prevent creepers from getting the wrong idea. Veil doesn't look any more reassured by Quinn's twisted version of chivalry - but he does earn some brownie points when he brings her to a place within the station where Henry can get some fresh air and sunlight. Looks like the Baron does deliver on some of his promises.
We finally encounter the Widow(!) during a sparring session with Tilda. Waldo interrupts to confirm the news that Ryder has called a conclave - a meeting with all of the Barons under one roof. The Widow would prefer to fight than engage in diplomacy, but Waldo admits that most of the Barons don't really have much of a stomach for fighting. "Those Barons are the people responsible for the system I'm trying to break," the Widow says, and Waldo eventually suggests that if talking around a table isn't an option, maybe they can just draw swords and kill everyone. The Widow's willing to toast to that plan.
Sunny's walk back to the Badlands isn't going to be entirely unimpeded, as he and Bajie come up a hill to find a giant wall that stretches far in both directions. Sunny questions how the Barons could build something of that magnitude but according to Bajie, this wall predates even the Barons and there might be a way to get around it, depending on who you know - but that's going to have to wait until next week.
That's it for episode two! What did you think of tonight's Into The Badlands?