Geeking Out About : Into the Badlands

Yes, I ve been ignoring all my other reviews and recaps in favor of watching Hannibal reruns and Martial Arts movies. Those of you who are not fans of either, I have two statements:

A.) What’s wrong witchew?

And B.) I apologize, but I’m going to be ranting on these two topics for some time, while I completely ignore your interest in The Walking Dead. (Once I have calmed down, I will continue with my regularly scheduled programming on this blog. Maybe.)

The moment I saw the first trailer for this show I got really excited. I’m a long time a martial arts movie  fan. I grew up watching just about any tv show or movie with people fake kicking  each other. So, yeah, I’m  very excited about tonight’s show. I’ve already started picking out characters I like  from the trailers (The Widow and M.K.) and I sincerely hope AMC doesn’t screw this up or I will be disappoint!

This is one of those post-apoc, dystopian futures, with people in power offering protection from danger. They banished guns and trained up some sword fighters called Clippers. The top clipper, Sunny,  works for one of the barons named Quinn. Sonny is tracking a  lost transport owned by his boss.

There’s a reason why I hate dystopian fiction, but this system is not unlike feudal Japan, with Lords of various territories and the people who work under them. The Clippers are not unlike Samurai,  with everyone else working for the barons without wages. Just safety, from the unaffiliated Nomads, who live in the badlands, I guess. Kind of a cross between 16th century Japan and the antebellum south.

Sunny spots an open air abattoir of what? Slaves? Peasants? He tracks the attackers to ther campsite and they challenge him to  a fight. And we see why Nomads shouldn’t fight Clippers, as bones are broken, necks are snapped, and attackers are flipped. Clippers are actually trained.

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In a  stolen cargo trunk is a young man named MK. Sunny knocks him out, and takes him back to the transport site, where they bury the bodies. MK says The Widow paid the Nomads to capture him.

Sunny takes MK back to the Quinn’s fort. The Baron gives speeches about the badlands and talks up his protection and love. Whatever. I’ve heard these cult of personality speeches before and since I’m not a fourteen year old boy, desperate not to be someone’s slave, I’m tired of it already. He shows them Sunny’s tattooed body, with the hashes of the hundred or so men he’s killed. Who will be the next Sonny?

MK gets sent to the pit to see what he’s made of. The Baron tells his favored son Ryder, that he’s  not to move on the Widow, who hired Nomads to attack his caravan. MK is immediately attacked by a young man named Ajax, who steals his necklace, in an effort to show out for the Clippers, but Sunny interrupts the fight and takes the necklace for himself. Afterwards, a young boy named Bale, offers to watch MKs back.

The baron also has a tenuous relationship with one of his top wives, possibly the mother of his favored son. There’s intrigues as the mother and son discuss the barons weaknesses. I’m a lot less interested in intrigue. It’s the reason I pay only peripheral attention to Game of Thrones.

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Sunny goes to see a woman named Veil.  I’m not sure exactly where this is. Is it inside or outside the walls? I don’t know.  Sunny has an arrangement with Veil, who informs him that she’s pregnant. He tells her she can’t keep it and we learn the punishment is death. For who is unclear. For Sunny? For Veil? For the child? Sunny is not allowed to have a family, although nobody seems to care who he boinks. Since he’s a valuable asset and Veil isn’t, I’m guessing that Veil will be the one killed.

Veil suggests they go into the  badlands and you can see Sunny giving it some thought. I suspect, at some point, he may not get a choice about it. We also learn that the baron hunts down people who try to leave. That’s the way such cults work. Take away any hope of escape, talk up how great you are for them, kill them if they try to leave. After all those poppy fields aren’t going to pick themselves.

It will be interesting to find out what’s beyond the badlands. There’s no long range communications systems, and it will be nice to know what all this poppy picking and oil making, on the various plantations, has to do with the “shining city on the hill”, that’s pictured on MK’s necklace.

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Later, Ajax attacks MK, who totally “Rivers” out with  DarksideWillow eyes, and all. It’s creepy as hell because just like that, MK is gone. In his place is something very alien. I guess Ajax will never get to be a Clipper, as he certainly can’t do the job with one freaking eye. I had wondered what that scene was about and who the boy was in the trailer. It does make me wonder if MK’s superpowers have anything to do with  Quinn’s headaches.

Sunny questions MK about the fight. He says what Sunny saw only happens when he bleeds. He blacks out and can’t remember who he hurts. Creepy. He tells Sunny about Azra, a town out in the badlands. Later, when Sunny goes to see Veil, he’s attacked by the Widow’s henchmen. But she’s  just testing him out and proposing a job. She wants him to bring MK to her. That’s a lot of death, just to offer Sunny some work to do.

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Yes, it’s a great fight scene, even in the rain. I don’t know why I  love rainy fight scenes. It’s more balletic than realistic, with a clean, easy to follow style. It doesn’t go on any longer than it has to, by having the fighters do stupid things to prolong it. Yeah, you’re certain Sunny will win,  but then it turns out not to be a real stakes type of fight, anyway.

Yeah, I like the Widow, a redhead who still dresses in black, after allegedly killing her husband. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see her kick some ass, like we did in the trailers.  I’m intrigued by MK, for the same reason I liked River Tam, from Firefly. The first time we saw her, she was on a box, too.

MK decides to be stupid, though, and breaks into the main house to get his necklace back, and is promptly captured by Ryder and his mother. They find the necklace on him and the mother looks like she knows something about it. Ryder says he will execute MK in the morning and locks him in prison, where Sunny comes to visit and breaks him out. The baron’s wife witnesses the escape. Did she send Sunny to him or did he decide this on his own?

Quinn calls for Sunny, who thinks he’s been caught out but Quinn only tells him to move closer to the house.  I think he fears Sunny will leave because he tells him there’s nothing in the badlands and that he’s Sunny’s only choice. It’s interesting seeing the relationship between the two. The baron is rather needy and mostly clueless about what goes on in anybody’s mind but his own, but then that’s one of the problems that comes with power and paranoia.

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This episode was mostly character and plot intros. The fight scenes were fun and there’s a couple of interesting mysteries like: what is MK, Quinn’s headaches, how/what does The Widow know about MK, and is there anywhere else besides the badlands. The show is called Into the Badlands, so at some point, we’re gonna get out there right? Because I find the political intrigue,  on the plantation, less compelling than the writers do.

We’ll see what next week’s episode brings to the table.

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