Spoiler Warning: If you haven't watched the Season 3 episode of Into the Badlands, “The Boar and the Butterfly,” you might want to turn back now. Besides, as we all know: No one escapes the Badlands.
After that epic two-night premiere last week, Into the Badlands has hit the ground running at full speed, propelling all of our favorite characters towards what promises to be a truly climactic, albeit bittersweet, series finale. Tonight's episode hinted at much of the same ahead, but now the balance of power is shifting somewhat, as some of our faves agree to finally bury the hatchet (or the sword?) and others definitively pick a new side in the war to come.
Previously: The Widow got a glimpse into what her life might have been like if she'd had her gift all along, but in the battle between her two halves, her lightness ultimately snuffed out the dark. Meanwhile, Nix is finally sticking up for herself against Pilgrim — and secretly helping Sunny in the process. But how long will it take for the truth about that to be uncovered?
Answer: not long at all. Turns out Nix can only stealth her way through the woods in that fabulous purple hooded cloak so many times before someone catches on. In this case, it’s M.K., who’s followed her to Sunny’s hiding spot and quietly observes from a distance as Sunny reveals his plan to travel north and find Ankara; if anyone knows how to stop Pilgrim, it’s her. But that’s the moment when M.K. reveals himself — and reveals he has no intention of letting Sunny go or Nix’s betrayal go unanswered. It’s technically not Nix’s fight to take on, but Sunny’s still injured from Pilgrim’s beatdown and she’s the only one who has the strength to rival M.K.’s, given her gift.
So, albeit with some reluctance, Nix shoves Sunny out of harm’s way and takes on her now-former friend. It’s an evenly-matched fight at first, but M.K.’s emotions are running hot and Nix’s unwillingness to truly hurt him leaves her vulnerable — until Sunny comes to her rescue, stabbing M.K. in the shoulder with a piece of rebar and incapacitating him long enough for the two to take their leave. Welp, looks like Nix won’t be going back to Pilgrim’s camp ever again.
Now recovered from her vision in the Master’s mirror chamber, the Widow continues to wrestle with what it all means — and the Master confirms the truth of it, the darkness that would take over if she ever had her gift. But will the Widow ever be able to regain her powers? The Master gently (and rightfully) points out that Minerva should have more than one selfish reason for wanting to fight Pilgrim — for the greater good, not just her own. And, what better way to remind her of that than to pair her up with her old teacher Bajie? Neither are happy about this little arrangement, but the sparring scene that ensues is purely delightful — even if it ends with the car Bajie borrowed from Nathaniel Moon literally exploding. Note to self: Never lend Bajie anything.
By the time Sunny and Nix reach Ankara’s home in the wastelands, the old woman is bleeding and bruised, even though she’s made quick work of two Black Lotus agents whose task had clearly been to either capture or kill her first. More are coming, Ankara warns, members of this ruthless organization whose sole mission is to wipe out those in possession of the gift since they consider it a perversion of the natural order. But if Sunny can take her to the port city of Blackwind, she’ll give him the info he needs to help in the fight against Pilgrim. Sunny’s not thrilled about it, but Ankara is actively bleeding out and everything, so the clock is already ticking. Also on their way to Blackwind? The Widow and Bajie, who the Master has sent out to track down Ankara and seek her help. Everyone converging at the same place? I smell a confrontation a-brewing.
But, before that happens, it seems as if one old friendship might be on the way to mending itself. On the road to Blackwind, the Widow and Bajie stop to make camp, and over a meal of rabbit stew, the two start reminiscing about the old days, when Minerva was his novice. Sharing fond memories immediately causes the Widow’s hackles to go up, as she questions why Bajie would even want to be kind to her — and why he abandoned her in the first place. Bajie confesses that his reasons for leaving had everything to do with his own selfishness, his own weakness, and not her, and offers an apology that the Widow appears to accept. Could this be the start of a new beginning for former teacher and pupil? I hope so because these two are a delight to watch together again.
Unfortunately, the Widow’s absence from her own territory — and the front lines of the war — is starting to create unforeseen ripple effects, and that culminates in Cressida and two of Pilgrim’s Harbingers showing up on Lydia’s doorstep to matter-of-factly inform her and Moon that Pilgrim will be making good on their tentative truce starting now, requesting food and supplies as a show of loyalty. Lydia, quick-thinking as ever, manages to stop Moon from clashing with the Harbingers by promising Cressida that she’ll get a message to the Widow so that they can meet Pilgrim’s demands, but my guess is said message is just going to tell the Widow that she needs to get her butt back to the Sanctuary ASAP.
In the clash of blades that follows, it’s clear Sunny is the one fighting from a place of emotion now, while the Widow reluctantly defends herself, right up until the moment she apologizes to Sunny for her actions. With Bajie and Nix running up to join the party, it’s now a matter of finding Ankara, and luckily she hasn’t managed to get far yet. Since they can’t convince her to help them nicely, they’ll just have to knock her out and take her back to the Master instead. But someone else is going to beat them there first: Pilgrim, M.K. and his Harbingers, who begin their rocky climb to the monastery as we cut to black.
— “It was so easy letting someone else choose my life for me.” “I remember. At least now we get to choose how to set things right.” One of the best, most quiet moments of tonight’s episode happens between Sunny and Nix, two people who realize they have more in common than they knew. Sunny once killed without questioning for his barons; Nix did the same for Pilgrim. Now that they have a chance to redeem themselves, what will they do with it?
— Another relationship I’ve been pleasantly surprised by is the one between Gaius and Tilda, two people thrust into fighting on the same side — and Tilda gets a glimpse into just how awful Gaius’ childhood was when they confront his mother to find out where his sister is hiding. A friend who will kill your horrible and abusive mother when you can’t is a friend indeed.
— More romance for Lydia and Moon this week! The two of them might have missed out on a first chance at love, but they’re definitely making the most of the time they have left.
— I’ll never say no to the trope of two people having to set aside their differences to work together, and we get so many versions of it this week. The Widow and Bajie! The Widow and Sunny! Sunny and Nix! It’s a testament to how far each of these characters has come since the show’s beginning.
It's hard to believe we could be gearing up for a big conflict already, but nothing good can come from Pilgrim and crew rolling up on the monastery. How will Nix's defection change her relationships? What will the new truce between the Widow and Sunny spell for the future of the Badlands? Feel free to share your reactions in the comments or tweet us @Syfyfangrrls. And don’t forget to check out our interview with Ella-Rae Smith about tonight’s episode!