Spoiler Warning: If you haven't watched the Season 2 episode of Into the Badlands titled "Black Heart, White Mountain," you might want to turn back now. Besides, as we all know: No one escapes the Badlands.
Welcome back to another episode of Into the Badlands! If you haven’t already heard, it was confirmed last week that AMC has renewed the series for a third season -- and not only that, we’ll be getting an expanded order of 16 episodes. That’s six more episodes than Season 2 and ten up from Season 1! So, at least for the foreseeable future, it looks like y’all are stuck with me and these recaps for potentially another season (Good news … maybe?). If you need to refresh your memory on what our favorite Badlands characters have been up to, you can check out past recaps here.
Previously: There were a lot of reunions on last week’s episode -- some happy (like Sunny and M.K.) and some not-so-happy … or maybe just confusing (ahem, Quinn and Lydia). Much to fans’ delight, Tilda got to partake in some sweet smooching with new butterfly Odessa, but hopefully that happiness won’t be short-lived. Poor Veil finds herself an unwitting pawn in the chess match between the Widow and Quinn, who have agreed to forge an alliance against the other Barons. And while Sunny defeated a bunch of formidable Abbots to come to M.K.’s rescue, he hasn’t emerged unscathed -- which is where we pick up this week.
Although Sunny and co. managed to take down the Abbots sent to retrieve M.K., things aren’t looking so good for our repentant Clipper. That five-fingered blow Cyan delivered to Sunny’s chest shortly before he got his head split in half by Silver Moon’s sword has Sunny lying prone on the ground, unable to move. He can dimly hear what’s going on around him, but he appears to be trapped inside his own mind -- and, in that place, he wakes up inside a small cabin. Veil walks in to greet him, saying he’s been suffering from a fever for the last couple of days. She’s not the only one who was worried, though; to Sunny’s surprise, a little boy runs in to join them, calling him Dad …
It’s Henry, all right, and he’s definitely looking older than he was the last time we saw him. Given that this is all taking place in Sunny’s mind, however, could this mean that there’s some prescience involved? Remember that Sunny’s never actually met his son in person; he was kidnapped from the Badlands before Henry was born. Understandably, Sunny’s pretty bewildered by the sight of his kid, but seeing as how it’s everything he ever wanted, he’s willing to push past his confusion -- until he sees a creepy girl standing in the woods outside. I’m sensing some major Ju-on vibes here …
After the opening credits, Bajie and M.K. are still at a loss for what to do about Sunny. There’s been no change, but M.K.’s noticed something -- a set of strange markings on Sunny’s chest. One look at them and Bajie has a literal “oh sh-t” moment. They’re not markings; they’re bruises from what Cyan tagged him with -- the Hand of the Five Poisons. It’s one of the Abbots’ deadliest techniques -- attacking the brain, heart, kidney, lungs and liver -- and, according to Bajie, there’s nothing that can be done. At this point, it’ll be a miracle if Sunny even survives the night -- but M.K. just watched one of his friends die right in front of him. He’s not about to let Sunny die, too, and urges him to wake up.
Sunny, however, is trapped inside his Dream Farm, but definitely looks unsettled by a voice calling on the wind. Henry pulls him out of his reverie by confessing that he doesn’t want to be a farmer like his dad; he wants to be a fighter. Sunny’s not thrilled about the idea of his son following in his footsteps, but Henry has his own motive: he wants to impress a girl. Her name is Artemis, and Henry met her in the woods (A girl in the woods, eh? Why is it always the kids who aren’t bothered by creepy ghosts?). That’s not the only unsettling thing; father and son also come across the farm’s pen of pigs - all of which have been brutally slaughtered, their bodies lined up in a row in a way that somewhat resembles Clipper tattoo marks. Hmm. Sunny tries to convince Henry that it was probably a wolf that got in, but he doesn’t seem to buy his own reasoning.
Meanwhile, Sunny’s external condition is worsening, and M.K. isn’t about to sit around and do nothing. The Abbots were the ones who hurt him, and they’ll know how to heal him. The only way they’re going to save Sunny is to go back to the monastery -- but that’s the last place Bajie wants to go. He’s got history there, and not all of it’s good -- not to mention the fact that neither he nor M.K. have their gifts anymore. M.K. remains undeterred, and eventually Bajie gives in. They load up Sunny in the back of their Fury Road car and head out.
Sunny’s chopping wood on his Dream Farm and guess what: creepy Ju-on ghost girl is still hanging around at the fringes of the forest. When Veil calls out to him, though, she disappears. Understandably, Sunny’s half-distracted when Veil tells him they should leave the farm after what happened to the pigs, but Sunny tries to calm her fears: “We’re safe here. I’ll protect you, I promise.” The two of them start to prepare for dinner, but Henry is nowhere to be found. Sunny finds him in his room attempting to hide his hands from sight, and when he finally gets a good look his son has a clean cut across his palm. Initially, Henry lies about how it happened, and when Sunny presses for the truth reaches beneath his bed to take out a familiar weapon: Nathaniel Moon’s sword, which he claims Artemis gave to him. “I don’t want you to play with that girl in the woods anymore,” Sunny says, which is actually good parenting behavior -- or maybe just good life behavior.
On the drive back to the monastery, M.K. and Bajie wind up with the opportunity to have a little heart-to-heart. (Aww, new friends in unexpected places!) We finally learn along with M.K. why Bajie left the monastery in the first place; it was all because of a girl, but not the typical story you’re imagining. She was Bajie’s novice, a twelve-year-old who was so small he nicknamed her Flea. In Bajie’s words, she was a “mouthy little punk” and a true force to be reckoned with, up until and including the day she tried to stand up to a bunch of slavers in defense of the poor cogs they had in their possession. When they laughed in her face, she deliberately cut herself to activate her dark abilities - but in the bloodbath that ensued no one made it out alive, not even the people she was trying to help. “I think you can guess what happened when we got back to the monastery,” Bajie says, and I’m guessing it involved a lot of needles - and not in a fun acupuncture-y kind of way.
Back in the Badlands, Jade is taking advantage of her new status as Baroness to enjoy a bath - but when the water starts to get cold and she calls out for one of her maids, there’s no response. Further investigation out the window reveals that her cogs are running from her fields and her maids are actually ransacking her room, taking fistfuls of jewelry. When Jade orders them to stop one of them strides up and smacks her across the face. “I’m done taking orders from you, Baroness,” she declares, delivering a sharp kick to Jade’s midsection. Jade’s Regent finds her shortly thereafter; the Widow’s forces have breached their territory and those Clippers who aren’t dead have already switched sides. Jade knows now she has to get out - and fast - because now things have gone from bath to worse. She doesn’t even make it one floor before the Widow and Tilda stop her at swordpoint, and while Jade makes a valiant effort to defend herself she’s no match for the Widow’s skill with a blade. “I thought you didn’t kill women,” Jade retorts from underneath the Widow’s heel - and she’s right, Minerva doesn’t, but there’s someone who might. Enter creepy Quinn, stage left.
Spoiler alert: he doesn’t kill Jade. Whether it’s because he still has some semblance of affection for his second wife or the tumor in his brain is making him less inclined to be all stabby, he tells the Widow to bring Jade to the border of the Badlands so she can live out the rest of her days in exile. Personally, I choose to believe that Jade’s power of persuasion is what saved her from death, but that’s because she’s stayed alive this long already (I believe in you, girl!).
Sunny wakes up from a dream within his dream just before a white hand slips up from under the bedsheets and wraps around his throat. Spooky! He might have escaped unscathed but Henry isn’t as lucky; Sunny discovers a set of fresh marks carved into his son’s back, marks that look very similar to the ones on those dead pigs from before. Henry reveals Artemis inflicted them, angry that Sunny had taken the sword. While going to fetch bandages for Henry’s wound, Sunny gets attacked by Artemis after a creepy little game of cat-and-mouse. “Don’t you remember me?” she says, her hand tightening around his throat. In the backseat of the car, Sunny’s wounds are spreading; M.K. finds a Gasper’s mask in the glove compartment and puts it on Sunny to help him breathe. It’s bought them more time, but not much.
When they get to the monastery, though, Bajie balks again - but now it’s M.K.’s turn to be honest about his own reason for leaving. After learning he was the one responsible for killing his own mother, he realizes now that Sunny’s the only family he’s got left. He can’t let his friend die, but he also can’t save him without Bajie’s help. Within that reveal is the admission that Sunny was going to help M.K. find the legendary city of Azra - with the aid of a compass (which is in the Master’s possession) and a book (which is in the Widow’s). That last part appears to pique Bajie’s interest in a very interesting way, and he leads the way inside.
The Abbots and novices are all sitting around the table having a very punctual dinner, which enables Bajie and M.K. to slip inside the Master’s chamber unnoticed. Bajie tells M.K. to look for a small leather satchel and then busies himself with the scrolls on the Master’s shelves - which is where he spots the compass, sitting out in plain sight. M.K.’s distracted by the satchel and what it contains - a set of long, pokey needles similar to what the Abbots wielded against poor Tate to cleanse him of his dark powers. Bajie’s got the scroll they need to hopefully cure Sunny, and as they prepare to hightail it out of there the compass is now mysteriously missing from the shelf.
Unfortunately, Bajie and M.K. aren’t going to be able to leave as quietly as they entered. The Master, herself, stops them from walking out, punching the two of them hard enough to send them flying into the dining room and across the long table where everyone’s eating. So much for an easy in and out. The Master warns M.K. against trusting Bajie, but Bajie’s response is to call her a hypocrite. She pretends to care, but all she wants to do is control those with the gift. At first glance, our heroes might be outnumbered but Bajie whispers an ingenious plan to M.K.: cut the novices and they’ll turn on their own and attack the Abbots, which will cause a distraction long enough for them to get away. It pays off, and the two of them escape while the activated novices encircle the Master.
Sunny’s Dream Farm isn’t getting any more idyllic; between what happened to the pigs and now Henry, Veil is packing to leave - but before she can Sunny finds her limp and bloodied body. A set of equally bloody footprints trails away from her, and when Sunny follows the creepy bread trail he discovers Henry in the pigpen, covered in blood. “She wanted us to leave. I couldn’t let that happen,” Henry says. Artemis’ laugh draws Sunny’s gaze to the woods, and when he turns back Nathaniel Moon’s sword is sticking up out of the ground in Henry’s place. He picks it up and charges into the woods, demanding that Artemis show herself. “Do you know why you can’t have the life that you want, this dream?” she asks, from her perch in a nearby tree. “All this time, you’ve been so worried the threat will come from outside, but it’s inside you all along.”
This dream, all of it, is Sunny’s greatest fear come to life: that his son will become all the worst parts of him, and lead to death and destruction from within. And Artemis? She’s actually one of the people Sunny Clipped way back when, now represented by one of the black lines on his back. Out of the woods, all the other people he cut down begin to emerge - and in reality, the poison begins to shut down Sunny’s body. The tattoos on his back start to bleed. M.K. and Bajie know they have to work fast now, and thanks to the scroll in their possession they have to jam a needle into every one of the five bruises on Sunny’s chest. With every needle that goes in, another piece of Sunny’s dream flickers past - and just before he succumbs to the poison entirely the last needle wakes him up. “I saved your life!” Bajie triumphantly exclaims, though quickly corrects himself after a look from M.K. “Well, I mean, we saved your life. He helped.”
The good news is that Sunny is on the mend; now the only thing that remains is for Bajie to find them a way under the Wall. But as they prepare to hit the road again, Bajie takes advantage of some alone time to reach into his pocket for something. It’s the compass, alright; now what could he possibly want with that?
Note to self: give Daniel Wu all the acting awards for his performance in that episode. Now that the alliance between the Widow and Quinn appears to be in full swing, Sunny’s return to the Badlands couldn’t be coming at a better time. Hopefully Veil and Henry will fare better than their dreamworld counterparts. What do you think Bajie’s reasons are for snatching that golden compass? Share your theories in the comments or tweet us @Syfyfangrrls.