Spoiler Warning: If you haven't watched the Season 2 episode of Into the Badlands titled "Nightingale Sings No More" you might want to turn back now. Besides, as we all know: No one escapes the Badlands.
Welcome back, Badlands fans! The end of Season 2 is creeping up faster than we realize; as of now, we are officially one week away from what promises to be an epic season finale. That being said, this penultimate episode delivered on so many fronts -- and proved to be even more of a Widow-centric story than I had anticipated. (Not that I’m complaining.) In case you need to refer back to any previous recaps, you can find them all here.
Previously: Our noble no-kill Clipper Sunny has found himself in an interesting scenario: He’s allied himself with none other than the Widow in his quest to return home, but will that decision backfire on him? (I’m thinking yes.) Even those closer to the Widow are starting to re-evaluate that situation; Tilda’s feeling more than a little conflicted about the woman she calls Baron and mother. As for Sunny’s lady love Veil, she’s found an unlikely ally in Lydia as the two women try to survive the advances of ultimate creeper Quinn. (Seriously, shouldn’t that tumor have killed him by now?) Everyone’s starting to converge on one place, so things are going to get interesting.
The cold open title card is your first sign that we’re going to get some juicy backstory: 20 Years Ago. I’m rubbing my hands together in anticipation as we speak. The first sight we see is the monastery, then a familiar face; it’s Bajie, from back in his Abbot days. He’s speaking through a keyhole to someone locked inside a trunk: potential new novice? However, this novice isn’t going to allow herself to be chained up; she uses her dark abilities to break herself free and does a pretty good job of holding her own until Bajie uses a couple pressure points to bring her under control.
Several fans have already posited their own theories over the true identity of the young girl named “Flea” that Bajie was talking about, but one look at that red hair is enough to ID her even before she introduces herself as Minerva. Yup. Flea is the Widow, alright, and kudos to the show for not holding that secret aloft for practically an entire season. That being said, mini-Widow is ADORABLE -- and now we know why she’s so obsessed with translating that darn book. It was among her possessions when she first came to the monastery. Her father gave it to her shortly before he disappeared, but she only knows how to read one word from it: Azra. Here’s a thought: is the Widow from Azra too? Or is she only interested in deciphering the mystery that lies within the book she’s been holding onto for most of her life?
After the opening credits, we pick up with Sunny at the Widow’s sanctuary. Like any sane person, he questions her vision for breaking the existing system in the Badlands considering her alliance with Quinn -- but Quinn was a “necessary evil”, according to the Widow, and she’s done with him now. He’s a danger to everyone, so she fully intends on accompanying Sunny when he finally makes his move against the hideout. What Sunny needs from the Widow, however, is for her to protect M.K. given that he doesn’t have his dark abilities anymore. It definitely feels like more and more people are getting clued into the fact that M.K. is powerless, so how is that going to shake out in the long run?
Meanwhile, Bajie has finally caught up to the group after escaping from Chau’s cog pens, but in order to claim sanctuary from the Widow he’s got to make it look good. Cue lots of self-punching and Bajie running headfirst into a tree shortly before he says, “I’m coming, Minerva.” Wait, hold up. Has Bajie known that Flea and the Widow are one and the same this whole time?! We know Bajie likes to keep his secrets close to the vest, so frankly I’m not surprised -- and the Widow has made quite a name for herself both within and without the Badlands. Bajie’s bumps and bruises and dramatic acting skills are enough to earn him entry, so now the clock on the big reunion is finally ticking.
Speaking of reunions, M.K. and Tilda finally have the opportunity for a small heart-to-heart once they’re away from the main group. Privately, M.K. confesses that he doesn’t want his dark power to come back. “Now that it’s gone, I feel free.” What he wants to do with that newfound freedom is to find Azra once and for all -- and he wants Tilda to come with him. Oops. A mildly awkward moment ensues wherein Tilda admits she’s met someone; lest we forget, she’s been sharing some smooches with Odessa lately. It’s kind of adorable considering she calls Odessa her “friend” and admits she’s happier for having met her.
M.K., to his credit, is remarkably okay with having his crush bubble burst. He kisses Tilda’s cheek and tells her he’s glad she found happiness -- but then Odessa, who’s been sort of eavesdropping on their conversation, interrupts to tell Tilda the Widow’s been looking for her. When M.K. makes a friendly overture to Odessa, she’s not nearly as pleased to make his acquaintance -- and we find out why once Tilda confronts her about her frosty behavior. She was one of the cogs being transported by boat around the same time as M.K. and witnessed the bloody extent of his dark powers. Tilda’s quick to assure Odessa that M.K. doesn’t have that darkness anymore, but Odessa’s clearly jarred by the memory of witnessing M.K. slaughtering all those cogs -- and liking it. Tilda doesn’t seem to have an argument, but from what I can recall she’s also witnessed M.K.’s dark powers unleashed and knows firsthand that he can restrain himself if it’s someone he cares about. Either way, it’s always a tough sitch when your new girlfriend doesn’t like your bestie.
Raise your hand if you ever thought you’d see Quinn make something as innocent as the pleasure of eating ice cream creepy. Well, this episode manages to accomplish that as well as allude to the fact that ice cream is actually something of a luxury in the Badlands. He’s savoring a precious scoop along with one of his most devoted Loyalists Gabriel, who we’ve seen pull off some pretty advanced infiltration work considering his young age. Apparently going undercover at the conclave in episode four was only a test; the real task for Gabriel to prove his loyalty involves a bomb in a bag. It’s time for Quinn to strike back against the Widow -- “not with a whimper,” he says, “but with a bang.” NICE PUNNING, QUINN.
After sending Gabriel off on his mission, Quinn turns his attention to his new family. Veil doesn’t look too happy to be summoned, but Quinn says he doesn’t need a reason to want to spend time with either her or Henry, taking the baby in his arms. At first, Veil tries to pretend that the news of Sunny’s return hasn’t affected her in the slightest, but her contempt for Quinn gets the better of her and she slaps him when he tries to go in for a kiss. Quinn’s response is to slap her in return, then order some of his Loyalists to throw Veil in the ventilation room so she can basically think about what she’s done. As he kisses Henry’s forehead, he tells the infant he’d hate for him to grow up without a mother.
Now dressed in the royal blue of the Widow’s forces, Sunny has something of a happy reunion with his old mentor Waldo -- but he also doesn’t shy away from reminding Waldo he was quick to change sides when the tide turned. “Being adaptable is what’s kept me alive,” Waldo counters, and even though he hasn’t been fighting for himself he’s learned to fight smart. That doesn’t include emotions, which Sunny seems to have forgotten. “My emotions are what’s kept me alive,” Sunny answers, but Waldo isn’t convinced that he’ll be able to kill Quinn the time comes. The difference, Sunny says, is that he has an army now -- but he also knows that just because he and the Widow want the same thing it doesn’t mean she’s trustworthy. Before they part ways, Waldo tells Sunny he might want to make a pit stop at the old Clipper shed on his way to Quinn’s station. Does this mean we’re going to see Sunny suit up in his red Clipper leather once more? Gotta say I miss the sleeveless look.
The Widow seems to be making the rounds on her apology tour. Next stop: M.K., where she not only tries to apologize for her treatment of him last time around but also hints at the possibility of a way to reactivate his powers. The book itself is the key -- and both of them will be able to restore their gifts. M.K. doesn’t even let her finish her sales pitch before flat-out refusing. He wants to find Azra, and he wants to find peace. The Widow encourages him to take some time to consider her offer before heading out on his journey.
As for the Widow, she and Sunny are making preparations to head to Quinn’s territory. By nightfall, she promises, Sunny will be reunited with his family -- and then they can go their separate ways. The unexpected arrival of Gabriel throws a significant wrench into that plan when he takes a Butterfly hostage and slits her throat once surrounded. He has a message -- not for the Widow, but for Sunny. Veil is the Baron’s new wife, and if Sunny marches on Quinn’s territory with the Widow it will be a march that ends in his own death. Minerva recognizes this as the ploy that it truly is, but even she can’t deny the truth bomb Gabriel drops: that she was the one who traded Veil to Quinn in the first place. That’s when Gabriel reveals the bomb that he’s strapped to his body -- and hits the detonator. In the aftermath, amidst smoke and confusion, Sunny flees. It’s clear he can’t trust anyone now.
Between the Widow’s guards and her Butterflies, Sunny manages to escape the sanctuary without ever drawing his sword -- an impressive feat for a former Clipper -- but he is saved at the eleventh hour by a throwing axe, delivered by none other than Bajie himself. Perfect timing, as usual. They decide to split up so Bajie can get M.K. out, with a plan to meet up at the fort later on. Of course, by the time Bajie locates M.K., the plan has changed somewhat from what was originally decided. Bajie tells M.K. they need to grab the Widow’s book before they make a run for it. When M.K. points out the book itself is useless without the compass, Bajie pulls it out of his pocket to reveal he’s been holding onto it this whole time. There’s a great moment when you can see Bajie weighing over whether or not to tell M.K. the truth before he finally does so. Way to deal with those trust issues, man.
They head to the Widow’s conservatory to locate the book, only to be met with an ambush of the Widow and her forces. Turns out Odessa’s been eavesdropping left and right and alerted her Baron to the plan, having overheard M.K. and Bajie hashing it out. If you were hoping for an emotional reunion between Bajie and the Widow, you’re going to be disappointed. As her Butterflies swarm in, the Widow tells Bajie he needs to make good on that promise he made her 20 years ago when he said he’d help her decipher the book -- and it looks like he’s going to have to be a man of his earlier word whether he wants to or not.
Lydia and Veil continue to have each other’s backs even while trying to keep Quinn convinced he has them under his thumb. After she talks Quinn into returning Henry to his mother, Lydia tells Veil they can’t wait around for Sunny to show up with the cavalry anymore. Gabriel’s bomb wasn’t the only one Quinn had made; he’s rigged the entire place to explode. He’d rather die before he lets anyone take Henry, so as of this moment it’s time for Veil and Lydia to strike out on their own.
The confrontation between Tilda and the Widow has been simmering beneath the surface for a while now, and the two finally come to blows. The Widow can’t understand why Tilda doesn’t trust her, but Tilda points out she hasn’t done much to remain trustworthy lately. The Widow might paint her words in hopeful platitudes and general feel-good adjectives, but underneath she’s no less diabolical than any of the other Barons. “I gave you the world,” the Widow tearfully says, but Tilda’s not fooled by her act anymore. “I should have poisoned you when I had the chance,” she says, and that’s when the Widow’s composure finally breaks, as she backhands Tilda across the face.
From there, the situation escalates quickly: both women go at each other with fists, then draw swords. Unlike the fight between Quinn and Ryder, there’s no pulling punches. These two women won’t start what they can’t finish. Both of them are bleeding by the time the fight is over, with Tilda disarmed and crumpled at the bottom of the stairs, shards of a broken chandelier around her body. But Tilda, it seems, is still the Widow’s Achilles heel -- and instead of delivering the killing blow, she knocks her out instead. I suppose this fight had to happen sooner or later, but it doesn’t make the end result any less heartbreaking.
That’s it! Next week brings us the final episode of the season. Will Tilda and the Widow be able to recover from this rift between them? Will Sunny and Veil be able to lay eyes on each other for real this time? And will Quinn be able to outdo even himself in terms of his creep factor? Let’s chat in the comments or on Twitter @Syfyfangrrls.