So much for the Badlands being a happy place of friendship, huh? In tonight's episode, it's clear that the lines have been drawn between the various groups staking claims on their respective territories—but far beyond the battlefield, Sunny and Bajie are way more concerned with how to help baby Henry, and we finally get to meet Bajie's former Master: Ankara, the Mad Witch.
SYFY FANGRRLS had the opportunity to chat with self-professed "teddy bear in the streets and warrior in the sheets" Nick Frost about Bajie's journey this season, including how the mission to save baby Henry changes his character, whether or not we'll see him using his Chi again, and which of his family members inspired the on-screen dynamic between Bajie and Ankara.
I'm really excited that Bajie is back this season. I think fans were really thrilled too. There's a little bit of a mystery at the beginning of the season because, last season when Bajie goes to send out the tower signal, he's not really doing too hot. It looks like he's hurting. But then when we see him in the premiere—granted he's in the back of one of the Widow's trucks as her prisoner, but he seems pretty healthy. So are we gonna learn what happened during that time jump between seasons?
How long was it, like six months or something? So maybe, I mean he hasn't grown that much, but I mean, it was just a superficial stab wound. And you know, he's used some Chi power, Chi magic, and he's just fixed himself or he's got better or he's drunk his way out of it. That's the thing about not having bullets in the Badlands, you don't have any of them ... bullets kind of fester and you die slowly weeks later, you know. I think he probably sewed himself up with some magic, and then everything was fine.
You joined the cast last season, and there was this great hilarious rapport between your character and Sunny, played by Daniel Wu. And it's really difficult now to even imagine Sunny going on adventures without Bajie. So how does their dynamic change or maybe evolve even more this season?
Well, I think later on in the series, maybe the second half of the season, you'll see that Bajie is his own man. He doesn't work for Sunny. He does this because he likes it, and he likes Sunny, and he loves the baby. I think, Sunny and Henry and what happens in the end of season two, it's kind of given him a weird reason to live. Watching all the internet people, they don't trust Bajie and that's fine. I don't think Bajie trusts Bajie, really, but, as we go on in this season you see that he's just, he's world-weary and he's cautious, and sometimes then Bajie can go, "Well, maybe we shouldn't do this." Maybe Sunny should listen to that, you know?
I spoke to Al at the beginning of the season, and he mentioned Sunny's journey to heal Henry, because Henry has the gift now—in doing so, he's going uncover some truths about himself. Since Bajie's tagging along, how does that mission ultimately end up changing him?
I think that eventually Bajie becomes Henry's mum, or you know, at least his second dad. Which, there's almost a sitcom there, isn't there, in the Badlands? My Two Dangerous Ninja Fathers. I think he loves that kid. I think he knows that that child has got a very, very difficult future. Sunny's come back obviously after losing Veil, and ... for the first few episodes of this season, you get a sense that he's a little bit mentally and emotionally ... he kinda could kill anyone at any moment. And I think Bajie understands that, and he understands that potentially he could do his bit and just help a little bit.
Speaking of help, it seems like, at least last season, Bajie was a little bit reluctant to even kind of talk about the fact that he has a gift. But this season it seems like he's using it more often—like the episode where he helps that girl Wren, who gets the poisoned arrows in her leg, even though that kind of backfires at the end. Is he starting to come around to a place of acceptance regarding his gift?
Yeah. I think everyone in the Badlands is. I think everyone's starting to, maybe. Someone wrote a funny thing that I read: that perhaps people, characters in the Badlands, are starting to understand that maybe it's not best to die. Perhaps there's a way of doing it which is being healed or isn't dying. I think Bajie's made Sunny more of a human being in terms of... he's more rounded as a human, because he's learned somehow how to laugh again. And that's, some of that's Bajie. Which I think is really great.
But also, similarly, Sunny's given Bajie a sense of, what's the word, responsibility. I think he's found that again. I love the way this episode, this season goes. I think in about episode six you see a really lovely part of Bajie's backstory, and you think, "Okay, he was human. He's loved. He's lost." And I really want to people to go, I mean, even though I'm sad, like people [are] like, "Oh, Bajie, you can't trust him." Even though I'm sad, I kinda was happy that people buy that as a character, and buy that from the performance. But similarly, I'm looking forward to later on where they can look at him and see a bit of his past and who he was as a real person. And the fact that he can be hurt, and he's like all of us. He's fragile. I like that view of Bajie.
I think in this episode, and last week too, a lot of people have been talking about how it's time to break the cycle. No more violence. Even Bajie says, "Oh, maybe there's hope." With that, do you think Bajie's gonna maybe start tapping into his power to help others as the season progresses? Or maybe some other kind of purpose?
I know this is an old thing but I know for a fact that Bajie does not, he doesn't have the gift in terms of... his eyes can't turn black. He's not like MK, you know. That said, there obviously a point when, as an Abbot, he could do that. So I wouldn't be surprised if, in another season, at some point if we go again, you might see a very, very cross black-eyed Bajie, which would be an absolutely terrifying thing to see. I think he'd be like Hulk, you know what I mean? But yeah, look, he just uses his Chi very lightly. I think he's regretful for what he did as an Abbot and so he's trying to hide that—but, you know, absolutely he uses it.
This episode in particular, we meet Ankara, who is a former Master of Bajie's. They have a unique, fun rapport in that they seem to just gripe about each other, or at each other a bit. So how is Bajie affected by this reunion with someone from his past?
You learn a lot about Bajie, I think. Once he gets with Ankara, you learn a lot about him. She does something to him. She has the power, and I'm not talking about Chi or magic. She was his master. She was the one that made him believe in Azra, you know? She is very, very important to Bajie. And it's kind of amazing to see their relationship.
What's funny, just personally, the lady who plays Ankara, she looked and acted so much like my mum, that it added something to the performance. Sometimes I was literally looking at my mum. Her hands were like my mum's hands, and... just a fantastic, fantastic actress. But then when you add that in, she really brought something out of me. I loved it. I loved working with her.
Also, he's really mad at her, you know? He loved her, and she let him down, and he's really pissed, he's pissed at her. It's like that, but you can't stay too pissed for that long. And she has that weird ability that she can kind of draw him in. It's clever. It's fun. It's fun to do, it's fun to act.
Into the Badlands airs Sundays at 10/9c on AMC.