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Credit: AMC Networks

Into the Badlands concludes with a bittersweet finale

Contributed by
May 6, 2019

Spoiler Warning: If you haven't watched the Season 3 finale of Into the Badlands, “Seven Strike as One,” you might want to turn back now. Besides, as we all know: No one escapes the Badlands.

Well, this is it, friends: The final episode of Into the Badlands as we know it is here, and I'm approaching it with a bevy of mixed emotions. Sadness, of course, because it's not just the season finale but the series finale, meaning there won't be any more with our faves after this moment. But there's happiness too, because for as long as we've had this show, we've gotten to witness some truly amazing storytelling complete with martial arts brilliance on-screen.

On a personal note, I first started covering this show for SYFY WIRE FANGRRLS last season, and throughout my time on the Badlands beat I've gotten the opportunity to talk to so many people involved with the making of this series, both in front of and behind the camera, and it's been a truly rewarding and meaningful experience.

Let's do this one more time, shall we?

PreviouslyEveryone has the chance to catch their breath (and mourn the fallen) after the first battle between the Widow and Pilgrim's armies sort of ended in a draw. Meanwhile, the Widow's feeling less motivated on the whole war front, given that she just found out she's going to be a mother, while Kannin's attempts to get through to Pilgrim end up with her losing her gift. Oh, and apparently the Black Lotus is helping the good guys now? It's like cats and dogs living together or something. Either way, it's time to gear up for the final showdown and see who emerges victorious at the bitter end.

We get one tiny little moment between the Widow and Sunny to kick off the episode — it seems that, after the earlier claim he made to take her down after the war with Pilgrim is over, he’s starting to have second thoughts about it. Could it be that he’s feeling more forgiving of her now that he knows she’s going to have a child of her own? It’s possible that her giving him the gift of Waldo’s old sword didn’t hurt all that much, but really, who needs to be holding on to old grudges like that when there’s a war going on? It’s bad for the indigestion.

Pilgrim rounds up his followers with a new mission — to spread his gospel, essentially, and to bring anyone back who’s interested in receiving the gift for themselves. What happens if someone declines? Well, I’m glad you asked, because Pilgrim’s orders are basically for them to wield death and destruction against anyone who would oppose such a generous offer. But he has to make sure his loyal acolytes know how to wield their gift before leaving. Enter MK, who’s definitely scarred to heck and back, and challenges the fighters to find the darkness within themselves. One by one, each opens their eyes, and one by one, everyone’s eyes have turned black.

Into the Badlands 316, Pilgrim

AMC Networks

 But Pilgrim’s plan isn’t just intended for the newbies. No, he firmly informs Cressida that she’ll be receiving the gift too. Cressida, to her credit, tries to protest, insisting she has her own powers from a unique source — but Pilgrim all but threatens her into it. Meanwhile, she’s trying to find a way through to him, to remind him that building a new world can’t consist of killing everyone different from them, but it seems Pilgrim’s too deep in his own darkness to even consider a vacation on the light side in creating Azra 2.0. I’m starting to think this is going to be the moment where they part ways.

The group that’s assembled splits off into two factions — Gaius, Tilda, and the Widow set off toward the Meridian Chamber to destroy it for good, and when the trio stumbles upon the violence Pilgrim’s followers have left in their wake, Minerva tells Tilda it’s not too late for her to turn back, to find happiness with Odessa if that’s what she wants. For so long, she demanded strength from her daughter because she thought it would make her a good fighter — but she’s realizing that’s not the right move at all. It’s having people to be strong for that matters. But Tilda says, albeit with some sadness, that it’s too late for her and Odessa — and she’s staying by her mother’s side, no matter what happens.

The Black Lotus and their ships lead the charge to Pilgrim’s fortress head-on, accompanied by Sunny, Bajie, Moon, and Kannin. Cressida uses the calm before the storm to inform Pilgrim about the terrible vision she had in last week’s episode, but her confession, paired with the argument that he was not meant to have the gift, after all, earns her a literal blow from Pilgrim’s hand and his reiteration that she will accept the gift whether she wants it or not. When Sunny’s group finally breaches the front gates of the fortress, Cressida steals away amid the chaos of the battle, lying through her teeth to one of Pilgrim’s followers so he’ll escort her to a ship waiting nearby.

Into the Badlands 316, Tilda the Widow and Gaius

AMC Networks

The trio at the Meridian Chamber is about to blow the whole thing to pieces when MK arrives to break up the party — and tries to dissuade the Widow from destroying it all by inviting her to take her gift back. But Minerva’s seen what the gift can do, and she’s not going to embrace something that comes at a cost to the people she loves. So now it’s three against one — and with his gift, MK proves a fearsome opponent for all three fighters, eventually getting the upper hand on both Gaius and Tilda. But when he throws his sword at the Widow’s belly, Tilda steps forward to block its trajectory and takes the blow herself (if you could hear the scream I let out when this moment happened, y’all). In her grief, the Widow taps into her most painful place, and at that moment … her eyes go black. THE GIFT HAS BEEN INSIDE HER ALL ALONG. And not only can she wield it, but she can also do things with it we’ve never seen before, throwing MK across the room with something that looks like a type of energy. And when she finally drives her weapon into his chest, it feels like an empty moment of vengeful satisfaction … until Gaius says that Tilda’s still got a pulse. The Meridian Chamber explodes, MK finally at peace from the darkness, while our three faves make a speedy getaway to take Tilda to a healer.

It may be inevitable, but when the dust settles inside the fortress and bodies are strewn all around, the only ones left standing are Sunny, Bajie, Kannin … and Pilgrim. Another three-against-one scenario, and only one person has a gift in this situation. Sunny’s plan to attack Pilgrim head-on, with Bajie and Kannin flanking him, seems to start off solid, but there’s only so much each of them can accomplish against a skilled fighter in possession of the gift, and eventually both Bajie and Kannin have been knocked down. With them out for the count, it’s up to Sunny now, and he’s literally throwing every technique he has at his once-brother-turned-enemy. But maybe the show was building to a conflict that saw them both defeated all along, because Pilgrim runs Sunny through with a sword, but then Kannin uses the distraction to stab him with the hooks Cressida once used for her vision all those weeks ago, while Bajie hauls him up into the air. Bleeding out, seemingly done for good, Bajie urges his friend to get up and fight — and Sunny literally gathers enough strength within himself to freaking pull the sword out of himself and use it to kill Pilgrim.

But it seems that may have used up the remaining reservoirs of Sunny’s strength, because the next time we see him, he’s being laid to rest by Bajie and Kannin. Bajie makes the promise that he’ll take Henry to raise him as his own, that he’ll let him know his father was a great man and a good friend. Though even as we mourn for Sunny, somehow … he may not be dead after all? He wakes in a snowy garden, soon greeted by none other than the Master, who informs him he’s lingering in the realm between life and death. His gift has been activated, and it’s slowly repairing the connection to his mortal coil. But she warns him the world he will return to is vastly different and more dangerous than when he left. Pilgrim may be gone, but a greater evil is returning, “more insidious than any human” — and what evil is that, you may ask? One of Pilgrim’s acolytes has retrieved something from the wreckage of the Meridian Chamber, and as he dusts it off and brings it into frame, it’s clear the Master may have been right about something after all. What could be more dangerous than Pilgrim? A gun.

Miscellaneous Thoughts:
 — The Widow going around to different people and essentially asking them for parenting advice was one of my favorite backdrop subplots of the episode. The conversation with Sunny was another reminder of how far they’ve come, though it discouraged me to see just how ensconced Moon is in his own bitterness when they spoke about the same issue. I don’t think Minerva would take his advice even if she was at her most desolate, but it was sad to see him so discouraged.
 — Speaking of Minerva: WE FINALLY GOT A LOVE MOMENT FOR HER AND GAIUS. Their kiss and hopeful embrace left me crossing my fingers that the two of them will definitely find their happy ending somewhere with the family they’ve made together, even if we don’t get the chance to watch it unfold. Of course, the group stumbling across a camp of dead bodies shortly afterward sort of depressed the occasion, but that’s life in the Badlands for ya.
 — Moon being denied his revenge on Cressida was a little disappointing, but knowing what we know about her and how badass she is, I was secretly happy to see her get to live another day — even if his fate was ultimately left uncertain.
 — “Your work has just begun” being the final words of the series made it an absolutely bittersweet finale, and I’m still devastated we’re not getting more of this series after all.

Thoughts? Feelings? You're experiencing a lot right now and it's definitely OK to talk about it. Feel free to share your reactions in the comments or tweet us @Syfyfangrrls. It's been fun, friends! Until next time?

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