Oh wow, I’m really late with this one, although not too late since the season hasn’t ended yet. I really should have begun this earlier, because there is a lot of ground to cover, and as is usual with this show, if you miss an episode, you’re up shit creek as far as understanding what’s going on, or what happened before. The plot does not slow down here. As the season moves forward the plot becomes more dense, the betrayals and alliances fly fast and furious, and of course, the action is literally kickin’! We’re gonna have to do this the old fashioned way: via character list.
Since the first episode, Sunny (whose actual name is indeed Sunshine) has been at pains to save Henry, since Henry became sick. It turns out that Henry is a baby Dark One. In his quest to save Henry from dying from his Dark Chi, Sunny teams up with Bajie, takes over a refugee camp, gets kidnapped by cannibals, and finally confronted by Nathaniel Moon, and finally reunited with the River King.
As usual, many of Sunny’s current problems spring from all the past shit he did as a Clipper, but there’s also a new wrinkle. Sunny happens to be a Dark One, only his abilities are latent. Sunny is a catalyst instead, capable of awakening the abilities of others. Should this information become public, and others find out he can create Dark Ones (possibly even control them), Sunny will become even more valuable to all the major Powers of the Badlands.
Bajie is one of those people who knows everybody, and everybody’s everybody. The Widow used to be a former pupil of his, and one of his former masters from the abbey is a witch who can cure Henry’s illness. He and Sunny find their way to this woman. She manages to cure Henry’s fever, but she is also the person who figures out that it was Sunny who caused the flareup because its hereditary.
Bajie is disappointed to think the signal he sent out, in first season, got no response, but the witch says it did. It attracted Pilgrim. And guess what? Bajie seems to know him too. So, at some point he and Pilgrim will be reunited.
Nathaniel Moon tracks Sunny to the lair of the cannibals, where he gets taken prisoner, as well. In exchange for saving his life from the cannibals, Moon decides to spare Sunny’s life. Also, Moon is an honorable man, who does not wish to make Henry an orphan.
The writers have learned at least a few lessons from the past seasons. They have given Moon a backstory, and although he does questionable things (most of the people in the Badlands do questionable things), he manages to maintain his honor, and occasionally make some good choices, but I suspect sooner or later, just like Tilda and Waldo, he will grow disillusioned with The Widow, and leave her.
He also has a sordid past with Lydia, who had an affair with him, when he was Quinn’s Clipper. I like this relationship and hope they get together because their chemistry is unmistakable.
The Widow’s war with Baron Chau continues, and its hard to say who is winning. They both use innocent lives to manipulate each other into action, so I can’t even say who is the better person. The Widow is still one of my favorite characters but I still got problems with her methods.
After Pilgrim floods her poppy fields with pamphlets, stealing away half her Cogs, she decides to get out in front of the problem, and goes to see him. Subsequently, she and Pilgrim reach an accord. He doesn’t steal away any more of her workers, and she will take his side against anyone who attacks him.and there won’t be any need for violence between them,
Lydia has been appointed to be the Widow’s governor, taking over the poppy plantation, where she used to live. It turns out that she and Nathaniel Moon used to be lovers, and their reunion was …how do you say? “Fraught with tension!” Like I said, the twists, turns and connections on this show fly fast and furious, and you have got to pay close attention, or you’ll miss some new, and relevant, development.
When we last saw MK he was zonked on opium, and without his powers, but the opium caused some type pf revelation, and he now believes that it was Sunny who killed his mother. I’m inclined to believe this is a delusion on his part, except Sunny has met more than a few people he’s wronged in his time as a Clipper, so why not MK.
During MK’s mission to find and kill Sunny, he’s shot by Gaius Chau’s crew, and found by Pilgrim. Pilgrim knows what he is, and wants him to stay and work for him, as a kind of enforcer, since one of his enforcers is in the final stages of being a Dark One burnout, and he needs a replacement. I’m not sure where this is going, but I’m pretty sure this won’t end with MK killing Sunny. They are set to be reunited, and I’m sure there’s gonna be some kung fu fightin’, but I think that will be the extent of it.
Tilda and her mother have reconciled, (sort of), and she is now a kind of liaison, between the war refugees and her mother, helping to run the camp set up in a corner of the Widow’s district, by Lydia. Over the course of the season, this camp has been attacked by everyone in the Badlands, mostly in an attempt to steal the refugees and get them involved in the war. Tilda makes this deal, with her mother, to protect them.
After her people are attacked by Pilgrim, Juliet Chau realizes she cannot fight a war on two fronts, and sends in her nuclear option, her brother, Gaius Chau, who she suborns into working for her, by threatening his friends. She and her brother have a history where he tried to be a nice guy, but his sister took over his position as head of the family because she was utterly ruthless. They were feuding, but she imprisoned her brother, after he tried to stage a coup. Needless to say, Juliet is a few rungs down the ladder of villainy than Minerva, as she seems to actually believe in, and support, the slavery of the Cogs.
She sends her brother out to find, and assassinate Pilgrim.
I’m not sure I like this version of the “dragon lady” stereotype, but I do like this character, who is every bit The Widow’s equal. Perhaps if the show had more Asian women in it, to offset her depiction, that might be better.
Fomented a rebellion against his sister when she became the head of hte clan. And guess who was at the bottom of this rebellion. A very young Minerva, of course! She seems to have ties to everyone in the Badlands.
We’ve already seen The Widow’s reunion with Bajie, last season, which did not go well, but after Gaius’ assassination attempt of Pilgrim is unsuccessful, he finds his way to the refugee camp led by Tilda, where he and Nathaniel team up to protect it from Baron Chau, after which he is reunited with The Widow, and now works for her.
Can I just say how happy I am to see Lewis Tan in this show.
Pilgrim and his entourage, which include the two Dark Ones, Nix and Castor, (and now MK), have taken up residence in an abandoned castle/museum on an islet. Pilgrim certainly seems to be educated from somewhere as he knows a lot about the artifacts in the museum, and has been heard quoting The Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai.
Pilgrim is turning into one of the top power players in the Badlands, mostly because he is able to offer hope and stability, from the war, to the Cogs who flock to his banner. He’s certainly becoming someone who needs to be gotten rid of for becoming a hindrance, or parlayed with, instead. The Widow decides to make a deal (which she will renege on, at the first opportunity, of course). Baron Chau decides that getting rid of him is her best bet, and sends Gaius to do it.
Pilgrim and Cressida are engaged in some mysterious construction activities. Its kind of confusing because a lot of the people in the Badlands refer to Azra as a place that is gone, a place that exists now, a place that will exist in the future, or sometimes, a person. At any rate, actual mystical abilities (magic) have been introduced to the mythology of the Badlands, as Cressida actually is a seer, and keeps seeing Sunny’s Clipper hash-marks in her visions, which is convenient becasue Sunny is on his way to Pilgrim’s place, in the last episode.
This season consists of sixteen episodes this time, so we’re about half through. Of course, by the end of the season, every individual situation will have changed, and I hope they all survive to the next season.
Guys! I’ve been horribly slack with the postings this week, but that doesn’t mean I’m not working on stuff. (Actually, I have not been doing anything, really.) I’ve been on a sort of vacay all week, but I’ll be back with more ramblings in June, starting Monday.
Here’s some of the lighter stuff that’s been sitting in my Pocket list for a while. Some of these are not new, but they’re new for me.
I loved this piece from BNP/Facebook writer, Stephanee Killen, about one of my favorite episodes of Star Trek, The Enemy Within. I must have unknowingly taken the episode to heart because I’ve always thought of my less attractive qualities as useful, positive things. Or at the very least tried to turn them into useful things.
Like a lot of people I suffer from anxiety. I don’t take medication for this, but I manage it very well. One of the ways I manage it is by turning it into something useful, like the ability to plan ahead. Making plans within plans is one of the ways I manage anxiety about things other people would probably consider trivial, like driving to new locations. When I have anxiety about something specific, I usually research the hell out of it, and the knowledge helps to alleviate some of the problem. Turning anxiety into knowledge is one of my ways of using a negative quality for good.
In this particular episode, Kirk gets split into halves, a passive, lighter side, and a darker, more negative side. The argument, illustrated beautifully in the show, is that Kirk needs his darker half to function competently as a Commander.
I think the philosophy I most disagree with in Star Wars is the concept that light and dark are two separate things, and that one of them is undesirable. Star Trek’s more nuanced argument is that both these qualities are needed to form a whole, and that taken singularly, they’re both useless.
McCoy tells him, we’re all brutal animals. We all have our dark side. It’s human. The dark side holds strength. The light side holds caring, love, and courage. Spock, who understands duality better than most, indicates that what enables him to survive the differences between his two often-contrary halves is his intellect. Scotty eventually fixes the transporter. Kirk 1 and 2 get put back together, and the question of whether half a man can live is answered: No, he cannot—but thankfully, that’s not required.
I am loving this newest season of Into the Badlands, and will have some opinions about that next week. What I’m finding a hell of a lot of fun is the character of Nathaniel Moon. He’s an important part of the show, with his own story-line, and agenda, and even a love interest.
I’ve seen this actor there and about, from time to time, but never gave him much attention. I’m gonna fix that right now, cuz Lawd, is he foine!
And do it he has. Since his first film role in the movie Colors (1988), Sherman hasn’t stopped sharpening his craft. With a career spanning over thirty years, he says that the characters, themes, setting and coworkers on Into the Badlands continue to inspire and motivate him.
Here! Have some more Donald Glover think-pieces. It seems that every couple of months there’s some new artistic piece from a Black artist. We just sat through Black Panther, and then came Beychella (which I watched online), and the release of Glover’s video was a nice addition, marking 2018 as one of the “Blackest” years ever.
Jim Crow began as mere pop culture entertainment at the expense of America’s freed slaves and became the means of their oppression. The term “Jim Crow” became so pejorative this country’s apartheid separating Africans and their descendants from white Americans its name. pic.twitter.com/IEwLwfB2i4
Here’s an incredible review of Kaufmann’s 1978 remake of Albert Finney’s Invasion of the Bodysnatchers. This is one of my all time favorite alien invasion movies, and although I did a film comparison of all the Invasion movies, I have yet to do a complete analysis/review of this one. I got some thoughts, ya’know!
Like the remake of The Thing, it is a near perfect example of Science Fiction Horror. There’s not one wrong note of dialogue in it, the acting is superb, and the setting is perfect for its message.
In a more thrilling flourish, Kaufman channels Alfred Hitchcock by cutting back-and-forth between pod people following Matthew and Elizabeth on a city street; as the two speed up, their clacking exaggerated for effect, we see the feet of their pursuers speeding up in unison, until both reach a sprint.
This has been sitting in my Pocket page just waiting to be deployed. The whole thing just tickled the hell out of me.
Animals That Look Like They’re About To Drop The Hottest Albums Ever
Obviously this is Country music (The chicken, tho’!)
He ’bout to drop that hot new Mixtape
I swear to gob, these two look like Hall &Oates
That hot new Norwegian Emo Band, or The Verve. Pick One!
This is that new Rock band with the twin guitarists
There’s a whole bunch of these gothic looking pet pictures all over the internet. I’m still finding these deeply hilarious…
I actually love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, despite all my bitching. It is an unquestionably visually stunning place to visit, and even the worse movies in the MCU look gorgeous. They also look all of a piece, as if they really all belonged in the same world.
I grew up reading Marvel Comics. In fact, those were the first comic books I read (starting with Conan and Red Sonja.) I wasn’t thrilled when Marvel started pumping out these movies, but only because I hadn’t read any of the individual character’s books, and wasn’t particularly interested in their standalone movies. I was not a Captain America, Iron man, Ant Man, or Black Widow fan. I knew all these characters because they were in The Avengers, and I read all of those books. I dutifully watched the first few movies, not especially enthused, but cautiously interested. I didn’t get excited until the first Captain America movie, which turned out to be surprisingly good, and The Avengers movie clinched it.
I still haven’t watched all the movies. I skipped the first two Thor movies, and the first Iron Man. I never cared about Ant Man, and never will, I’m betting, although I am a big fan of The Wasp (from the comic books), so I might see that movie.
Here are some of the better MCU music videos on Youtube. This was one of the first ones I saw. Not all of them are this good, but the editing on this one, was astounding.
I liked this one because it includes everything in the MCU, including all of The Defenders, all except Blade (which really should have been included, along with the X-Men and Wolverine films, even though they’re not part of the MCU. Yet!)
I skipped the first two Thor movies. I watched maybe the first thirty minutes of the second one before I fell asleep. I did enjoy this last one because I knew the director, Taika Waititi, from What We Do in the Shadows, and I trusted his film making skills.
This video was pretty good too. The editor of this one was nice enough to include action parallels from the different films, something which helps to reinforce the idea that these movies all take place in the same cinematic world. I do object to the music of this one. I just dislike the song, and would’ve chosen something more energetic.
I watched the season premieres of both shows live, thankfully, as they don’t actually air at the same time. They air back to back, and are immediately followed by Last Week With John Oliver, another news show I have an addiction for. The overriding theme of Into the Badlands wont become explicitly clear until some time mid-season but the overarching plot of Westworld was stated by the characters.
Into the Badlands
In the opening sequence The Widow fights Nathaniel Moon to a draw, in order to make him her new Regent, after Waldo and Tilda left her last season. It’s very nice to see Moon actually survived his encounter with Sunny and that he’s back. He was one of my favorite characters from last season, and I hope he gets better treatment this season. He does at least get a new hand, having had the original chopped off by Sunny. He might also be feeling some type of way about that during the season. To their credit, the writers have acknowledged the mistakes they made with the Black characters last season, and have said they will try to do better. I hope so, as that was one of my main criticisms . (Also, I like that they didn’t give some bullshit excuse for their mistakes.)
I have a much more solid idea of what The Widow is trying to do this season, Remember how we said that the basic storyline of the story Jounrey to the West from Chinese lore. Well The Widow’s storyline is also based on Chinese lore, as she is attempting to unify the Badlands all under one rule. We see her standing in front of the map we saw last season. She and Baron Chau are the only two Baronys left, and her task this season is to bring that Barony under her rule, unify the Badlands and institute social reforms. This is a reference to the Qin Wars that unified China.
I loved the scene where she first meets Moon at a lighthouse. (And can I just point out that it’s still kinda awesome watching The Widow kicking ass in her three inch heels. I never get tired of that.) Now Silver Moon has been taking down any headhunters who come after him, and planting their swords in the soil near the lighthouse. At first he thinks The Widow is just another bounty hunter, and the two of them fight all the way up the stairs of the lighthouse. There’s a lot of flight in these scenes, and the Western mind is prone to think of the ability to fly as a sign of the goodness of the person doing it. Since both the Widow and Moon are very gray characters, their ability to fly is not an indication of their morality, but of the purity of their resolve, and the conviction of their beliefs. Sometimes the ability to fly indicates that a person strongly believes whatever they believe.
This is not a fight to determine the rightness of a certain point of view, as the two of them have just met and have no past history to fight about. The two of them also fight to a draw, with Moon proving that he would make an excellent Regent for The Widow. We start to get a better idea of her ambitions for the future of the Badlands, and although I’m still mad at her for her shitty behavior last season, I’m actually agreeable with her ultimate goal. With the Badlands unified, they can much better fend off any rivals for power from outside the Badlands, like Pilgrim, (although we’re not certain how good or bad that character is yet.)
Qin’s wars of unification were a series of military campaigns launched in the late 3rd century BC by the Qin state against the other six major states — Han, Zhao, Yan, Wei, Chuand Qi — within the territories that formed modern China. By the end of the wars in 221 BC, Qin had unified most of the states and occupied some lands south of the Yangtze River. The territories conquered by Qin served as the foundation of the Qin dynasty.
So while I don’t know how to feel about The Widow, right now, I find that I do still believe in her goals, but find her methods deeply questionable. She is still holding MK prisoner in her mansion, as the two of them try to find a way to re-introduce him to his superpowers. MK has become a suicidal opium addict, and this is probably going to have some type of effect on his abilities. I still like him though, as he’s full of piss and vinegar towards her, giving zero fucks about her feelings. This is a gorgeously shot scene, as slow motion clouds of smoke pour out of MK’s nose, giving it a very forties film noir feel, picture Rachel’s Voight-Kampff interview in Bladerunner.
There are a lot more blues and purples this season, (along with more jewel tones in general). I love the color compositions in this show. The creators put some real thought into it.
Bajie has also returned, having not actually died last season in the tower. Unfortunately, his rogue-like manner has not changed, and he continues to get himself in trouble, becoming prisoner to yet another group of people. Tilda first saves him by accident, and later in the episode, he is saved from execution by Sunny. I’d say Bajie is more trouble than he’s worth, but I like him, and he’s a font of useful information on the goings on outside the Badlands, and one of this show’s few sources of humor. Oh, yeah, he’s also possibly responsible for bringing Pilgrim and Cressida to the Badlands, as the signal he sent out into the world in the last episode has now, seemingly been answered.
Tilda has adopted a kind of Robin Hood persona, that she uses to procure goods, and people, for Lydia, who runs a refugee camp for people displaced by the war, and this is where Bajie, Lydia, and Sunny meet. According to Bajie, its been six months since Quinn’s death.
Pilgrim and Cressida arrive through the massive gate that we saw separating the Badlands from the rest of the country. They approach one of the forts manned by Baron Chau’s people ,who are easily defeated by the two black eyed ,super powered teenagers who work for him.Pilgrim’s intent is to rule the Badlands, as he believes himself to be a kind of prophet. Cressida seems to perform much the same function for Pilgrim that a Regent does for a Baron. She offers him advice and support in his endeavors. This is an intriguing role for one of the few Black women in the show. (I hope to see the Abbess from last season, played by Chipo Chung.)
As for Sunny, all of his concentration is on Henry. He has gone into hiding to raise his son, and there’s a very Lone Wolf and Cub vibe\ there There are still people looking for Sunny, and he finds that it will be impossible for him to stop killing, because now he has to protect Henry from harm. When Henry develops a fever one morning, he takes him to see a healer who discovers that the child is one of the black-eyed super powered people randomly populating the Badlands.
One of the major themes this season may be people finding out about Henry, and trying to kidnap him, along with The Widow and Baron Chau’s war. Last season we saw Sunny coming to terms with his former life as a Clipper, but as Moon told him in the second episode. there’s always going to be people who want to challenge him, and make a name for them self, by killing the most legendary Clipper in the Badlands.
Here’s the very funny Vulture review of this episode:
We pick up the show two weeks after Ford’s murder by Dolores, and the massacre of the Delos Board in the park. We get introduced to new people, re-introduced to all the major characters again, and we get to see what they’ve been doing since the event. Apparently Ashley Stubbs was not killed by the Natives, which is what we all thought happened, although frankly I would not be shocked to discover that Ford took Ashley’s competence into account, and had him duplicated as a Host. What better person to have in charge of security than someone you can totally control, just like Bernard.
The episode moves aback and forth in time from the immediate aftermath ’til two weeks out. Two weeks later Bernard is found lying on a beach in the park by soldiers, who have been called in to investigate what happened, and subdue the Hosts. The rest of the episode is about events leading up to when Bernard was found on the beach.
Directly after the massacre Dolores and the other Hosts are hunting down any and all humans in the park and taking great satisfaction in executing them. I found myself unable to feel an ounce of sympathy for the humans they shot and in some cases lynched. Dolores wants revenge for all the atrocities committed against the Hosts by the Guests, and the slave/revenge allegory is made explicitly clear, when she references human slavery. It is an all out war between the humans and the Hosts.
I can’t help but feel some type of way considering that the Hosts were treated by human beings in the same manner that Black Americans were treated by White people for some three hundred years (and seem reluctant to give up.) Dolores words are an echo of a post I wrote, about how the first season of the show specifically references real world slavery. (For the record, the show is written by an Asian American woman, Lisa Joy, and Jonathan Nolan, the brother of Christopher Nolan. Previously, Joy worked on the shows Burn Notice and Pushing Daisies.)
When we last saw Maeve she made the decision to go back for her daughter. To that end, she teams up with Lee, the hack writer for Westworld, and he immediately tries to betray her to the security team, stalking the halls of the Delos Corporation, hunting down stray Hosts.I’m all for her killing him, and I guess the show must have some purpose for him, as he’s still around. Maeve gets reunited with Hector who forgives her for leaving him. He vows to follow her no matter where she goes. Remember Maeve’s name means “to enchant”, and she seems to have definitely had that effect on Hector.
Bernard in the aftermath of the massacre, is in the company of Charlotte Hale. He’s suffering from some type of corruption of his system programming, and is desperately trying to keep that a secret from Charlotte. Charlotte must find the Host in which she secreted a special code last season, if she expects to be rescued from the park.
When Bernard is found on the beach, he isn’t very forthcoming about what has happened in the park. Later he and the military come across the bodies of dozens of Hosts who have drowned in a previously unknown lake in the park. Bernard admits he may be responsible for what happened to them, and his time with Charlotte may be the key, because by the time he’s been found on the beach, Charlotte is nowhere to be found, but since the military is there to rescue what guests are left alive, we can assume her mission was successful.
Dolores ambitions involve more than simply freeing the Hosts from one park, she intends to free all the Hosts from all the parks. To that end we may get to visit the other four parks, which consist of Samurai World, Future World, Medieval World, and possibly Roman World.
The Man in Black is in heaven as he has finally gotten exactly what he wanted from the park. he wanted the stakes to be higher, to actually have some skin in the game. he is enjoined by Robert Ford’s little boy avatar to a new mission. To try to make it to the other end of the park alive.
So not a whole lot happened beyond introducing the two major character arcs for the season: Dolores ambition to free all the Hosts, and Maeve’s search for her daughter. The two of them have not yet met, and I’m looking forward to that. I will be disappointed if they are written in a stereotypical female manner of rivals and enemies, but there is a woman helping to write these characters, and she has shown so ability to think from an inter-sectional standpoint, so I feel hopeful she may get that right.
I love stories of Westerners in Japan, so I’m really looking forward to when Maeve gets to visit Samurai World.
This is just a fun post where I can geek out about some of the shows I’ve been watching. I have been watching shows, but haven’t been posting many reviews about them, and then there are the shows I’m greatly looking forward to this month, such as, Into the Badlands, which looks awesome as always, and Westworld, which, naturally, airs the exact same night, and time ,as Badlands.
Later this week will see the airing of Orbiter 9 on Netflix, a Scifi love story of some kind, which I may or may not care for; Troy: Fall of a City, yet another retelling of the legend of Troy; the return of The Expanse, in its 3rd season (one day I’m actually going to watch this show); and the remake of Lost in Space, about which I feel some type of way, since I didn’t particularly care for the movie remake, and there’s a random, token Black woman attached to this cast, which feels kinda weird.
This week I’m also watching Black Lightning, The Crossing (this is new), Siren ( I have a lot of good things to say about this ), and The Terror.
* Introducing: Thunder
AKA Anissa Pierce, the daughter of Jefferson Pierce, who is also known as Black Lightning. Thunder has the ability to increase her body’s mass while preserving volume, which effectively increases her density. In this state she is near-immovable, almost completely invulnerable. A mob enforcer once suffered a compound fracture after trying to punch Thunder in the face. Notably, she can make her skin strong enough to withstand bullets. Just by stomping the ground she can create massive shockwaves. —Wikipedia
She is also the ONLY out, gay, Black, female superhero, in the entirety of the DCEU (and the MCU, too.)
Oldest daughter Anissa is a medical student, activist and part-time teacher at Garfield who is fed up with police brutality and corrupt gangs. She takes a hands-on approach to dangerous situations and reminds her father that little has changed despite years of Black peaceful protest. Every MLK and Fannie Lou Hamer quote from Jefferson is met with Anissa’s rebuttals about everyone being “sick and tired” of no results. She’s the quintessential older sister—a bit overbearing and fiercely protective of her younger sibling Jennifer. Their relationship can be argumentative, but there is love and respect amongst the pair.
You have to watch this show just for the novelty of seeing the only Black mermaid in existence. (More on this show later.) Siren airs on the Freeform network, on Thursdays.
*The new season of Into the Badlands looks tight! The creators have promised that the world is going to get a lot bigger this year. We’ll see more of the Badlands, and the areas outside the Badlands as well.
This is Pilgrim and Cressida, who have come to bring the Badlands to heel, by force, if necessary.
This is Baron Chau’s brother played by Lewis Tan.
Aramis Knight returns a M.K.
Tilda is on her won this season, having separated from her mother.
Sherman Augustus returns as Nathaniel Moon, now in the employ of The Widow.
Ella-Rae Smith is a very powerful young woman who was adopted by, and is working for Pilgrim.
Baron Chau returns and kicks off the war in the Badlands.
*Let’s have a Grace Jones Interlude, just because…
Here she is from the 1987 movie Vamp, where she plays the almost totally silent, Queen Katrina, whose circumstance have been reduced to working in as a stripper, in a divebar, in the red light district, of some unnamed city.
*Troy: Fall of a City is not getting good reviews, but that may have something to do with its depiction of Zeus, Achilles, and Patroclus as Black men (something I’m here for). The show is also doing something else rather radical, by showing Achilles and Patroclus as lovers, as had been alluded to in Homer’s Iliad. So, we have a canon gay, Black, male relationship in this show.
Now that television has starting pushing for diversity in all manner of roles, we’re seeing that Samuel R. Delaney’s Quota Rule has begun to kick in.
As long as poc numbers remained below a certain level ,white people seem to be okay with that, and can claim there is no racism is such and such industry. But once poc start starring in unconventional roles, roles their not used to seeing us in, and/or actually being the stars of shows and movies, they’re going to start showing their whole ass. (Not half their ass. Not a quarter of their ass. But the whole ass.)
This era of pushback is not going to be over soon. We have an entire generation of people who are only used to seeing us serve the needs of White people in the narrative, as sidekicks, main character support, and the help. They need to get used to seeing us doing other things, and being in the narrative just for ourselves,with our own stories. (Black Panther is a huge leap in that direction.)
*I love this interview with the actor who plays Zeus in this show. Unlike American actors, British actors, as a general rule, have zero fucks to give, and absolutely no patience, for foolishness and stupidity, from movie and TV show fans, and do not mince words when interacting with them and I find that refreshing.
On TV’s return to nostalgia for shows of the 90s, only the show’s are specifically about White people. Notice that none of the dozens of shows about PoC, that were hugely popular during that time, are getting reboots.
The ‘90s were a heyday for black sitcoms, but you wouldn’t know it based on the reboots and revivals currently in development.
No one can blame A-lister Will Smith for ruling out a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air reunion or Jaleel White for his disinterest in donning Sally Jessy Raphael frames once more in a Family Matters comeback. But why aren’t we reading about deals to bring groundbreaking, fondly remembered hits like Martin, Living Single, A Different World, Sister, Sister and countless other beloved black comedies back to the air? A few breakout stars — like Smith, Queen Latifah and Tracee Ellis Ross (whose beloved Girlfriends just missed the ‘90s cut-off date by debuting in 2000) — are keeping busy, but most cast members are not. So the time has come to ask: Is there something problematic in the industry’s embrace of Roseanne, Will & Grace and The X-Files, but not the iconic black sitcoms that also made the Clinton years an exhilarating time of experimentation and representation?
Given that TV’s nostalgia projects now number in the dozens, it’s worth asking if the trend has yielded any unintended consequences. The intended ones are evident enough. Netflix has generated staggering amounts of press — and apparently pleased many a viewer — by footing the bill for new seasons of Arrested Development, Gilmore Girls and Full House (now Fuller House). Twin Peaks: The Return seemingly inspired more think pieces than any other series in Showtime history. And Will & Grace and The X-Files’ attempts to retake their perches atop pop culture were met with much hoopla and huge ratings, at least for their premiere episodes.
But it’s hard not to interpret the current iteration of nostalgic programming as a backlash to TV’s increasing diversity — a throwback to the days of Friends and Frasier when people joked that “NBC” stood for “No Black Characters.” Yes, these reboots and revivals comprise only a handful of the hundreds of scripted shows on the air, but many of them tend to be TV’s highest-profile projects. The fact that, in their totality, they inadvertently re-entrench the normalcy of all-white casts while erasing women of color and queer people is notable and worrisome.
There’s no denying that spending time with old friends feels good. But it’s also important to observe how the past is being misremembered now, and why. Some ‘90s stars are collecting paychecks again, while others are not. Certain families are presented once more as “all-American,” while others are not. There are those who have the luxury of remembering the past fondly, and those who do not. Never has it been clearer that our nostalgia has consequences.
But it’s important to remember that sometimes our memories fail us, and that our ’90s friends — except for the ones on Friends — never looked as monochromatic as TV is telling us they were.
Ooh! There’s some great stuff coming to television this spring. Also, some not so great stuff, but we won’t know that until we look at it, soo…
Altered Carbon (Netflix): I have not yet watched this. I will get around to it and let you know what I think at some point.
Ash Vs The Evil Dead Season 3 (Starz): I’ve watched a couple of episodes of this season. Lucy Lawless has returned, and Ash finds out he has a daughter. I don’t think I’ll watch the entire season, but as far as I can tell, the show is even gorier, and zanier, than that first season. Next to Happy, and Legion, its one of the most batshit shows on TV.
Mute (Netflix): I started watching this but checkedout because I got bored. Since then I’ve read a number of great reviews comparing it to Balderunner and Altered Carbon. I also happen to like the lead actor who played Eric from the show True Blood. There’s lot so secretive conversations, half naked dancing, and neon, so my tolerance may be a bit low, but I’ll try to watch it again.
(1) Atlanta:Robbin Season (FX): I missed a lot of episodes of the first season, so I had to go back and catch up. I’ve watched the first episode of this new season, and really enjoyed it. You have to see it to believe it. The special guest star for this episode is Katt Williams, playing a man who owns an alligator, and has kidnapped his girlfriend until she pays him back the money she stole.
(2) Ravenous (Netflix): I think this show is Swedish, or Danish, or French or something. Its not in English anyway. It’s about a small town beset by zombies, and looks intriguing. I’m taking some vacation next week, so I’ll check it out then, and let you know if the subtitles are worth it.
(7) Hard Sun (Hulu): I have no idea what this is aobut, but the description sounded kinda like a British version of The X-Files. I like the X-Files, and I like British shows, but I don’t know that I’ll like this. It just sounds interesting.
(7) Hap and Leonard Season 2 (Sundance): I’ve read a couple of the books, and the show looks like fun. The books are definitely an acquired taste, and have a kind Pulp Fiction meets Justified feel to them. I’m interested to see if the show captures the same flavor. I’m not going to bingewatch it though, just check out a couple of episodes. The trailers look like fun, but I don’t know that I’d enjoy a steady diet of this.
(8) Jessica Jones Season 2 (Netflix): I couldn’t make it through the first season of the show for…reasons. Maybe I’ll have better luck this weekend. I want to like Jessica, but she is such a downer type person, that its hard to watch her series. She was cool in The Defenders, and the trailers look a bit more appetizing though, so I’m going to try again. Maybe I’ll see more WoC in this season, yeah?
(9) The Outsider (Netflix): Despite my judgmental nature, I’m not actually willing to completely condemn a show before I watch it. I’m also one of five people who does not simply hate Jared Leto, although I probably should. I’m not a fan, but I’m not averse to watching (or liking) any vehicle he happens to be in.I also happen to like movies about The Yakuza and will pretty much watch anything with them in it, probably because I get a kick out of watching Japanese men behaving badly.
(9) A.I.C.O. Incarnation (Netflix): I rarely watch anime series, but this looks interesting and scary, so I’m going to try it.
(11) Timeless Season 2 (NBC): I have never watched this, but I’m sure some of you may be interested in it. Its my understanding that the show did some interesting things with the Black character last season, and have not neglected to take into account that he is a Black man, who travels into time periods that are probably not too good for his health.
(21) Krypton (Syfy): I would not normally have included this, because I have no interest in watching a show that doesn’t actually feature Superman, and the trailers look a little too soap opera-adjacent for my tastes. But hey! I’m sure someone, somewhere is very excited about this, and it might turn out to be a good show.
(26) The Terror (AMC): You already heard me gushing about this one. Still gushing!
(29) Siren (Freeform): This is like a horror movie version of The Little Mermaid. The acting looks really dodgy, but I’m going to try it, because i’m always here for evil sea-creatures, pretending to be beautiful, but talent-less actresses.
(30) The Titan (Netflix): I’m not a huge fan of the lead actor here, but I like the idea of hideous transformations and planetary travel.
(30) A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2 (Netflix): I missed the entire first season, but hey! it’s still on Netflix, so theoretically I can catch up anytime, right? Well, maybe someone besides me can catch up. I liked the movie okay, but I got bored in the first episode. Not that its a bad, or even a boring show. I’m just much more likely to fall asleep while lying in bed with the Netflix on.
(2) The Crossing (ABC): I like the premise of this show which reminds me of The 4400, which was canceled right when I was starting to get into it. Hopefully this has shown up at a good time, and will do well. Sometimes half the success of a show is the timing of its release.
(3) Legion (FX): I think the first season hurt my brain.This is unlike any other superhero show on television. If you like wild situations, that may or may not be tangentially related to the plot, or even real, occasionally linear dialogue, and zany imagery, then go for it. I think this show broke my head, but I’m gonna watch it again anyway.
(8) Killing Eve (BBC): People are always clamoring for female lead shows that are dark and thrilling. Well here you go! I hate the lead character, just from the trailer alone, but I know there’s an audience out there for a female psychopath. I do happen to like and respect Sandra Oh, and she looks wonderful in this.
(13) Lost in Space (netflix): I don’t know why they’re making a remake of this, but I’ll watch it, since I watched and sorta liked the original. Of course I was a kid when I saw the original so that may have been a factor in my enjoyment, and also I wanted a Robbie the Robot just like in the show.
(13) The Expanse Season 3 (Syfy): One of these days I’m going to watch one of the seasons The Expanse, all the way through to the end, after which there shall commence a day of celebration. There shall be much rejoicing, (and possibly some wailing and gnashing of teeth, too.)
(22) Westworld (HBO): AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Allow me to repeat that, in case you didn’t get that…uh’hem! AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
(22) Into the Badlands Season 3 (AMC): Well naturally, to punish me for my enthusiasm, my two favorite shows will air on the same night. Fortunately HBO likes to show multiple repeats all week long, so I can watch this, and record the other. And of course you know, this means reviews, reviews, and more reviews.
Apparently, there’s nothing coming on TV in May. All the stations will just be blank, which will be the signal for the Apocalypse to begin, because What the Fuck!!!
Oh yeah right! Bear Grylls is gonna be doing some shit, on the last day of the month, if you’re into that sort of thing!
(7) Cloak and Dagger (Freeform): I read this comic book as a teen, but I don’t think this show is gonna be a whole lot like the comic, which is a really good thing, because that book was hella racist. I mean half the stuff they did with those two characters, would not fly on TV today, without a major backlash. Cloak’s superpower is that he absorbs light, and Dagger’s power is that she emits it.
(22) Luke Cage Season 2:
Write your own, highly enthusiastic, response here!
Castle Rock (Hulu): We still have received no date for this show. All I know is that its coming to Hulu this year, but I can wait. It looks interesting.
I am totally psyched about this new season coming in 2018. Nick Frost will be returning which I’m happy to report, and the astonishingly lovely Lewis Tan will be making a cameo as well. The character of Nathaniel Moon, from last season, will be a recurring character this season. I fully intend to review all the episodes of this series, which has now been boosted to fifteen episodes, which is where it should stay. I like that AMC keeps its seasons short, because then there are fewer filler episodes, and the plot moves well.
Into the Badlands: Season 3 First Look & Photo Gallery
The drama will return to AMC in early 2018 and finds Sunny (Wu) living off the grid, doing his best to provide for his infant son, Henry, in the wake of Veil’s death. It is only when Henry contracts a mysterious illness that Sunny must join forces with Bajie (Nick Frost) and journey back into the Badlands, where The Widow (Beecham) and Baron Chau (Eleanor Matsuura) are entrenched in a drawn-out war that has destabilized the entire region.No longer supported by Tilda (Ioannides) or Waldo (Stephen Lang), The Widow must find new allies in Lydia (Orla Brady) and in Nathaniel Moon (Sherman Augustus) — the former regent who lost his hand to Sunny and Bajie in Season 2. But when a mysterious nomadic leader called Pilgrim (Babou Ceesay) arrives in the Badlands on a mission to restore Azra and usher in a new era of “peace,” old enemies must band together to defend the Badlands.@@
I have only a passing knowledge of this series of books, having partially read the first one. I don’t think I’ll go see this movie, although I did get a thrill from seeing the city of London devour a truck full of people. And I do like the idea of a world full of mobile cities. I have no idea who stars in this and only just heard about its release, but it looks good.
Pacific Rim 2
I never get tired of watching giant robots, and John Boyega is a great substitute for Idris Elba. I’ll probably go see this so I can check out Boyega’s premiere film creation. I like the diversity of this in this film. It’s got a good mix of men and women of different races, and abilities, along with a few faces from the first film.
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom
This looks like a lot more fun than the first movie which I took my mom to see. This trailer is certainly better, at least. We’re going to see this one because we love dinosaurs. Also, there’s Jeff Goldblum, so seeing this is probably some type of law.
C’mon! You know we’re going to see this! Dwayne Johnson!Giant animals tearing up the city! Naomie Harris! Dean Morgan! Mom and I have already set the date aside.
This trailer is much more interesting than the teaser. It does look like a typical monster film though, and maybe not quite as bizarre as the book series, which was pretty damn weird. I mean indescribably weird. It’s possible they can’t fully capture the books, so the trailers just aren’t going to do it justice. I am intrigued though. We’ll see what happens closer to the release date.
I still feel some kind of way about the lead character not being Asian, like she is in the books, and I just have one major question: WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH HOLLYWOOD? WHY DO THEY HATE ASIAN PEOPLE IN MOVIES? WTF?
I won’t be seeing this in the theater, but I do like it. I watched all the other Ocean movies, including the original Frank Sinatra film, and really enjoyed all of them. Making a female version is a cool idea, and it doesn’t look like a bad movi, but I only have so much money, so unless someone else is gonna pay for me to go, I’m just gonna read the reviews. Hopefully, Rihanna won’t die in this one.
Battle Angel Alita
I’ve got mixed feelings about this. It looks action packed. It certainly looks better than Ghost in the Shell, but once again, WTF IS WRONG WITH HOLLYWOOD AND HIRING ASIAN ACTORS? No seriously this shit is starting to feel like we’re all getting punk’d. When given even the slightest opportunity to hire an Asian actor for a primary role, they absolutely insist on skipping right to a white actor. WTF!!!
Okay, I’m probably not gonna see this anyway, because the actresse’s eyes look really creepy, and I don’t think I can sit through two hours of some very distracting eyeballs, although the action scenes look okay. Still, I got a bad feeling aobut this movie. I just dont think its going to blow up like that.
You can tell this movie isn’t American because it has Asian people in it. It looks like a Chinese version of The Avengers, but more fun, and with fewer White men. I probably won’t see this in the theater because there’s nowhere in my city that would play it.
If you liked Moonlight then you should definitley check this out. A young man tries to navigate betwqeen his homelife and his queer identity. I’m always here for any media that celebrates queer PoC in a positive way. There are already a metric ton of positive portrayals of white lgbtq people, (even if most of those are indie films). There aren’t so many movies about young men of color discovering their identities, and we need more. Young Black men need to know there are other ways of being Black men that aren’t just thug life, which is all a lot of movies seem to be interested in. Also movies like this provide a kind of map for navigating real life situations for queer young people.
The plot this season was much more intricate, with multiple characters, arcs, intentions, and designs. There was a lot to fit into eight episodes, and that the show managed to keep so many plot lines coherent, while tying up several from last season, is a testament to the skills of the writers. As outlined in the character reviews, everyone got to have a plot. The overriding theme seemed to be everyone seeking power, in the vacuum left behind by Baron Quinn’s rumored death.
The overriding character arcs were the Widow’s corrupt rise to power, Sunny’s search for his wife, MK’s escape, and Baron Quinn’s last hurrah. The writers juggled these four plots with a number of subs, managing to keep most of them untangled, and comprehensible, while still throwing in a number of unpredictable twists and turns, which I enjoyed. The betrayals were flying fast and furious at one point, and if you blinked you’d miss who was aligning with who.
My biggest complaint is the treatment of the black characters, Edgar, Silver Moon, Veil, an unnamed black teenager at the monastery, and an unnamed butterfly, who were all brutally killed. Of them, only Silver, and Veil, had backstories. The show can do better than that. I don’t think the show wants to get embroiled in a discussion of anti-blackness, but it will, if it keeps killing off all its black characters like that.
Plus, it gives us one of the worst types of character trope, in the show’s finale, with the fridging of Sunny’s love interest, a black woman who sacrifices herself, to save her man. It seems no matter how progressive white male writers believe themselves to be, they simply cannot seem to avoid the trope of the Sacrificial Negro.
That said, my favorite character this season was Silver Moon. I loved this character but I don’t know why. Probably because he reminds me of the character from the RZA’s Martial Arts movie, The Man with the Iron Fists. I also think it’s very interesting that Sunny, even after he had his own sword returned to him, kept using the one he took from Silver, giving his old sword to Lydia. This character had lines and a backstory. They tried really hard to flesh him out, and that’s to be applauded.
Complaints aside, I am glad that the show remembers there are Black people in the future, and in a fantasy setting, just walking around in the background scenes. The show does need to add more Asian characters though, and Baron Chau is a good start. I loved watching her kick some ass, and liked that she lives to see the next season. She’s played by actress Eleanor Matsuuras, who is from Hertfordshire by way of Tokyo, and has mostly starred in British productions.
We didn’t get to see much architecture and landscapes in the last season, and what there was, seemed more of an afterthought, but with the show’s bigger budget this season, we got some very ambitious, sometimes epic, background scenery. From the shot of the huge walls that cut off the badlands from the rest of the world, to the intricate and lush gardens surrounding the Widow’s home, we got treated to some tremendous worldbuilding. And the details of this world are simply incredible, as seen in the Widow’s study, and the map of the Badlands above, that’s only glimpsed in a brief moment in a single episode, which outlines where this takes place in the US, and marks the different baronies.
I remember that first season, I had some major questions about food and textile production, and we get a partial answer, in learning that not everyone grows poppies. There are oil fields, and if that is the case, then there are also textile mills somewhere as well. These things aren’t knowledge that would be lost, since creating fabrics is one of the most basic human skills. Certainly the working and tooling of leather hasn’t been lost, or car repair either, it seems. We got such a small glimpse of the world in the first season, that we were left with a ton of questions, but the show has really built on that in a way that makes sense for the Badlands. This world is set to become even bigger in the third season after Bajie’s Morse code message is received.
We’re also given some startling glimpses into what type of world we’ve joined. Apparently this world is set about a hundred or so years from now, (how far into the future is unclear, so I could be wrong), but it’s long after some sort of soft apocalypse, that left lots of infrastructure, and fewer people. In one of the episodes, MK and Ava visit a long abandoned mall/dept store, that still has Christmas lights and decorations. It can’t be too far into the future because the lights still work. There’s electricity in some places. There’s little literacy, but some knowledge of medicines and machines ( like X-rays) is still available in the Badlands. And then there’s this unseen city (Astra) that everyone keeps talking about.
And it’s not just the landscapes, but all the tiny details inside the homes of various characters, like Baron Chau’s all white interiors, and grand wall paintings, the dark, old-world, furnishings of the Widows home, the dark majesty of Quinn’s home in exile, in an abandoned metro station. We may have started the show traveling through the classic Mad Max dystopia of the mines, but not all of the Badlands looks that way, and it was very exciting to get these glimpses into a broken past.
The series had some stunning costume work this season, with rich colors, and beautiful, very sexy, outlines. This is very probably one of the sexiest martial arts shows I’ve ever watched, as usually the costumes for this type of genre can be somewhat pragmatic.You can see there’s real intent to create a feeling of lost majesty/ bygone luster.
And every character (even the most minor of them) gets the luxury treatment. From Silver Moon’s old and tattered Clipper outfit, to Tilda’s pragmatic, newly minted Regent uniform, from Baron Chau’s sumptuous furs and glittery dresses, to Quinn’s scuffed and grubby finery. These details really bring home the kind of lifestyles of the Baron’s, as the Cogs are dressed in the simplest colors and practical, easily cared for, fabrics.
Everything, and everyone, is given gorgeous detail, from hair, to shoes, to makeup, furniture, and housing. From Baron Chau’s pearl jewelry and on-point makeup, to the Widow’s more action oriented look, with everyone receiving more elaborate hairstyles, including MK. Even Waldo gets some scrumptious blue velvet to wear.
Each Barony has its own color scheme. Quinn’s was dried blood red, but now that it’s been taken over by Jade and Ryder, it’s a fresher, magenta red color. Baron Chau’s color scheme is white. Another Baron’s color is green. The Widow’s colors are a deep royal blue. The monks and MK are wearing various shades of purples, and oranges. After he escapes the monastery, MK is seeing wearing a gorgeous green surplus, that I wanted for myself, along with some more gentle earthtones.
Even the lowest, most minor characters, got the full costume treatment. Look at the detail on this Junkyard King, in his darkened purple, and mother of pearl buttons. Contrast that with the fresher and more vibrant purple of MKs monk’s robes. I love the matching color schemes in these two photos.
The duplicitous and conniving Jade. Her hair and makeup also reflect her character. Contrast that with her more innocent look in the first season.
Veil is often associated with soft natural colors, and earth tones, in keeping with her honest, down to earth, nature.
The details this season are incredible. Check out Waldo’s pince nez glasses, the little crossed cufflinks, and the chair handle ornaments! I also liked MK’s more elaborate hairstyle, with its tiny twists. Most of these things you’re never going to notice during the series, except for a quick second, but the set designers and prop masters went the full one hundred, anyway. This is the first time I really noticed Waldo’s knuckle tattoos, from his time as a Clipper.
I have since learned that the painting in Baron Chau’s home is called “Leonidas at Thermopylae”, and is a reference to Sunny making a commitment to a fight he knows he won’t survive. It’s by a Neo-Classical French painter of the 19th century, named Jacques Louis-David. Sunny’s and Chau’s postures imitate the formal poses in the painting. This was a hallmark of the Classical style in which grand Mythological and Historical themes were painted in a clean, formal manner.
Contrast Chau’s white minimalist environment, and the marble columns, with Minerva’s home which is very Old- World traditional, with lots of greenery, velvet, and hard-wood. Chau’s home, and costumes are also a reflection of her character, which is just as cool and calculating, as Minerva’s is cool,yet determined.
I love the details here as one of the girls wears a matching blue ballerina skirt under her coat.Just a touch of whimsy for a little girl Clipper. I also like the natural hairstyles on the black girls. I’m glad this show remembered black women exist, even if they’re not treated especially well.
Baron Quinn is like the Badlands version of Darth Vader. Everyone is afraid of this grim creature, come back from the dead, to destroy all their lives. Check out the tiny details like the little glimpses of red in his new outfit, a callback to when he used to be a Baron, and the tiny rivets on his belts. The rough, nubby, texture of his coat is in keeping with his new rugged lifestyle, and gives the viewer some idea of his rough character, and disturbed mindset. Except for his voice, he’s just rough all over.
Contrast Quinn’s look with Jade’s smoothly streamlined look, since moving into a more comfortable position of power with Ryder, below. There’s more than a touch of the Antebellum South in Ryder’s suit coat, which is a deliberate choice on the part of the costume dept.
Everything this season was given an upgrade, including the lighting and cinematography. No detail has been spared. There’s a rich three dimensional feel to the environment, which allows the viewer to see every detail of a character, or event, and totally immerse themselves in the show. It’s equal parts dream and nightmare.
There’s some gorgeous lighting happening here, in the final scene of the series, as Sunny walks off into this frosty looking sunset with Baby Henry.
The monastery is full of candle light, giving its inhabitants a deceptively soft appearance. The irony is that these are some of the most lethal beings in the Badlands.
Sunny is fighting the monks in an old, worn, Nativity scene, at an abandoned dept. store. No one knows the meaning of any of the decorations, but check out the penguin with the Christmas wreath around his neck! The old religion has been supplanted by an even older one, that involves dark Chi, and superpowers.
I think it’s really cute that they chose a baby that looks Black and Asian.
Whenever possible, the creators tried to use natural lighting on all the sets, so we get some wonderfully lit scenes, like Veil with Henry, above, and Sunny’s fight with Silver Moon, below. Veil is often given the Madonna treatment with her lighting.
The show has also upped the ante on the fight choreography this season, with much more elaborate stuntwork, and ambitious fight scenes involving multiple highly trained characters. The show also added some explosives work, which is something most shows don’t have a good sized budget for, but the larger budget shows how much confidence the network has in the success of this series. Whereas last season I struggled to get the word out about this show, its popularity has really soared this season because of its move to Netflix, and basic word of mouth. There are also more than a few websites dedicated to the show, on Tumblr.
All of this adds up to one of the most visually stunning action series on television, and I’m so happy to be alive during its airing. I cannot wait for whatever new visual treats we’ll get next season.
I like how short the seasons are for this show because it means that the plot can move quickly with a minimum of filler episodes. Despite that, the show still manages to throw some surprises in our direction. One of those surprises was the re-introduction of Baron Quinn. Another pleasant surprise, was the addition to the cast, of Nick Frost as Bajie. We got some major worldbuilding going this season, as the story fleshed out the where and the when of this show. I’m going to do this in three parts because otherwise its going to get too long. I’ll start with the the top four characters, around which most of the plot revolves.
The vast majority of the plot this season concerns Sunny’s search and return to Veil who, by this time, has given birth to a boy she names Henry. Veil is currently being imprisoned by Sunny’s nemesis, and former employer, Baron Quinn. Everything is leading to the showdown between these two pivotal characters.
This is all about Sunny coming to grips with his demons, and laying the spiritual foundation for him to be a father for Henry. He feels he can’t do that until he puts his past as a killer for hire behind him. From episode one (Tiger Pushes Mountain), and his theme song, I’m Only Human by Rag ‘N Bone Man, to episode seven (Black Heart White Mountain), we see Sunny dealing with all the killing he dealt out in his past, and what kind of man that makes him. Last season we were given the idea that Sunny was sort of superhuman. At the beginning of this season we see him very much humbled. We watched him fall, and now we get to watch him rise up. In order for him to do that he needs to acknowledge certain things about himself.
He also needs to choose a side. One of the most frustrating things about Sunny’s character last season was his passivity. He simply refused to make hard decisions, and would allow things to happen to the people around him. Not only would he not do anything, but he often refused to pass judgment. Adopting MK was the first pro-active decision we saw him make. after that it became easier to choose things for himself and his own happiness.
But the primary catalyst for his self reflection this season, like it is for a lot of men, is the birth of his first child, and his encounter with a legendary Clipper named Silver Moon, in the episode Red Sun Silver Moon. Pay attention to the titles here, because many of them refer to Sunny, or the people he encounters, like Silver. Silver has been waiting for a worthy opponent so he can die in style, so you can guess what the Red Sun means in the title. Sunny bests him but in keeping with his new vow, doesn’t kill him.
Sunny, like Silver, had made a vow not to kill anymore, for unnecessary reasons. He’s going to fail at this, as circumstances will require he keep at it. After escaping the mines, with a new companion named Bajie, he sets out to find his wife and son. Whereas last season he pretty much lived according to Quinn’s whim, we see him fully committing to something unabashedly selfish. His own future happiness. He has a number of adventures along the way that require him to engage in violence to defend himself, as no one in the Badlands can be trusted. His journey into the Badlands is also a journey into his past and his self.
Sunny has always been a kind of true neutral. Last season, he often held himself aloof from moral decisions, like when he stood by and watched Quinn kill Veil’s parents. There was a kind of curious moral paralysis, which Veil called him on towards the end of the season. This new moral version of Sunny is best illustrated in episode five, Monkey Leaps Through Mist. He makes the decision to save a young girl from being sold into prostitution. This is major moral act for Sunny, who has always tried to shy away from being a savior. I think part of Sunny realizes that “not killing” isn’t enough. He is going to have to engage with the world to make it a better place, and can’t just stand by and do nothing, if he hopes to become the kind of man he wants to be, that his son can be proud of.
Sunny also has to learn to work with, and trust others. Last season Sunny was very much a loner. This season he meets Bajie and the two of them have to work together to get back into the Badlands, defeat the Monks who want MK returned, and find and save Sunny’s wife and son. This is made incredibly difficult because Bajie has ulterior motives of his own, and appears utterly untrustworthy.
In Black Heart White Mountain, Sunny literally confronts the many dead he’s responsible for, after being put in a coma like state by one of the Monks. He dreams of what his life could be, but he realizes on some level that he cannot have that life until he deals with his violent past. Reunited with MK, in Leopard Stalks In Snow, he is then prepared to acknowledge that he can’t do what he needs to do alone, that MK is his family, and he has a responsibility to him.
In Sting of the Scorpion’s Tale, Sunny makes and breaks alliances with Baron Chau (the only other prominent Asian woman we’ve seen), and The Widow. Taken prisoner by Chau who is in hiding from the Widow, he convinces her that they have one thing in common, they both want Quinn and The Widow dead. Upon contact with the Widow, she convinces Snuny to spare her life, because she knows where Veil is, so he allies with her. That alliance is broken when he discovers she betrayed Veil to form an alliance with Quinn.
Unable to trust the Widow, and having lost MK again, he prepares to go it alone, after entrusting Bajie to find and care for his protege. He’s come a long way since the first episode when he could barely bring himself to look at, or even speak, to Bajie.
Sunny finally makes it to Veil’s side and we get the reunion we’ve all been waiting for, with lots of kissing, soaring music, twirling cameras, and some tears. But its not to last, and we should’ve known that happiness, normality, and a white picket fence on a farm was never going to be in Sunny’s future.
Veil has been one of the most frustrating characters but I was starting to understand her and why Sunny fell in love with her. Its not just her pleasant nature. We saw in season one, that she was willing to challenge others when she was in a position to do so. She was never a floormat when she could help it. The key to understanding Veil is that she was a relatively powerless individual. She had no martial skills, she had no political power, and no kind of social clout, but what power she did have she wielded carefully.
How she operated in the Badlands was by showing a level of integrity, and honesty, that many of the other character’s entirely lacked. Jade, Lydia, Quinn, all the people that Sunny knows, are people willing to manipulate and deceive to gain their own ends in the Badlands. Veil was unwilling to do any of those things, was unwilling to compromise her principles to get ahead. Her moral compass remained strong. Sunny gravitated to her because he could trust her. She was the one steady component in his life. She was honest with him in ways no one else was and so he trusted her like no one else.
Its not that Veil didn’t engage in immoral behavior. She did occasionally try to lie. But only as a form of self defense, or to protect Henry, and usually her attempts at deception weren’t successful. She occasionally relied on her helplessness to win mercy from others which we saw in Palm of the Iron Fox, where she lies to, poisons, and eventually kills a Clipper named Edgar, when the poison doesn’t work. Later, she tries to claim she killed him because he attempted to rape her, only to be told that was unlikely because Edgar was gay. So she does engage in immoral behavior sometimes, but it never proves profitable for her, and she is never rewarded for it.
Her moral certitude is illustrated best in Sting of the Scorpion’s Tale, when Quinn forces her to marry him so that he can claim her son as his own. All pretense she made of caring about Quinn in her efforts to protect Baby Henry earlier, fall to the side. She makes no secret of her fear and contempt of Quinn, and shows little patience for the foolishness he keeps spouting to her and Henry. Eventually he has to lock her away to control her.
I have to admit, I was getting very frustrated with her inability to simply go along to get along, in the hopes of getting Henry away. That she would just chill and pretend she liked Quinn like before, but I get now why she didn’t do that. That kind of manipulative behavior simply does not come naturally to her, and she has no talent for it really. Her deceptions are always uncovered. In episode three, Red Sun Silver Moon, we find that she’s been lying to Quinn about his x-rays, substituting healthy x-rays for his, and that deception gets discovered in the next episode. I understand she’s been doing that because if Quinn doesn’t think she’s curing him he might kill her and Henry.
By the end of the season, Veil has formed an alliance with Lydia, against Quinn, and I have to applaud the show for writing it this way. Lydia is well used to manipulating and deceiving Quinn, and Veil needs someone like her, and I like that the writers show these women as allies against their oppressor, rather than as competition for his attention. There’s a reason for Lydia’s behavior which I’ll get to in a moment.
I also liked that Veil got to be a love interest at all. The show definitely had that Django Unchained/Ring of the Nibelung vibe, where Sunny has to walk through ten kinds of Hell, the Widow’s Butterflies, and Quinn’s wingnut Clippers, to win back his beloved, and I’m all kinds of here for that when its a Black woman, because we rarely get treated like that in genre narratives. That’s something that’s been the sole province of White women, and I have it on good authority that they find that shit kinda chafing. Its very interesting that neither Jade, nor Lydia, got that kind of treatment in the story.
Unfortunately this is all we’re ever getting about Veil, since she dies in the season finale, protecting Henry. I feel some kind of way about this and not just because I’m so tired of women of color being ‘fridged and watching the show runners sit back and make up bullshit excuses for why that happened.
But to be fair though, I wasn’t watching the show for her. I didn’t even know who Madeline Mantock was before watching it, but I faithfully reported on her activities, gave her the benefit of the doubt, and followed what little of an arc she had. My faith in the showrunners was entirely misguided though, believing they might want, at some point, to do something with this character besides kill her off, but Gough and Millar seem unable to see much purpose in having PoC in their narratives except as cannon fodder.
Of the three Black people in the show this season, who had any lines, they’ve all been killed. Edgar had a handful of lines, attacked Veil, and was killed. There was a Black Butterfly in The Widow’s camp, and she was unnecessarily singled out, and unceremoniously killed, by one of Quinn’s Clippers. I know a lot of women had feelings about that scene. And then there’s Veil. She’s been locked away, betrayed, assaulted multiple times, nearly raped, and then she sacrificed herself to kill Quinn. I think I saw the writing on the wall as soon as she walked into that room with Sunny, who was about to fight Quinn.
This will not stop me from watching the show next season. I wasn’t watching the show to see Veil, but I was happy about her presence. Unlike some people I never had the luxury of just picking and choosing which shows I was going to boycott. I grew up in a time of genre scarcity, where EVERYTHING I watched had problems, and nothing and no one was enlightened. I’m not going to boycott a series for one or two problematic elements. (It would have to be a really bad problem like what happened with Sleepy Hollow, or whitewashing, like with Ghost in the Shell.) I’ll watch the series and just keep complaining as loud as possible about the one problem. My attitude towards this type of thing is to reward the good behavior, and beat Hollywood with a rolled up newspaper, when they act a fool.
We spent the bulk of our time this season shuttling back and forth between the Widow, Sunny and Quinn, the three major players in the narrative. We watched as the Widow connived, lied, and killed to consolidate her power, falling even further into the dark side.
I must admit I was dismayed to see what became of Minerva this season. Its not that I ever thought she was a good person, but I was championing her cause. I believed in it. But it turns out that she really isn’t any better than the Barons she hopes to succeed. It turns out that power corrupts because the Widow had the most disappointing character arc of the season and has mostly just gone darkside at this point.
With Waldo (Sunny’s former Clipper teacher) as her adviser, she was willing to try diplomacy. When Ryder calls a Conclave of all the Barons in Palm of the Iron Fox, to assess what rules the Widow has broken in her rise to the top, she tries to play the game the way Waldo asks, but she is betrayed by the other Barons, who either attack her, or flee. She is saved by Tilda, who disobeyed a direct order to stay behind. The event seemed to crystallize something in Minerva, and she rejects Waldo’s advice, and starts following her own decisions from that point forward.
Unfortunately, the Widow doesn’t have a very good moral compass to follow. She makes all the wrong decisions. Decisions that both Waldo, and Tilda, two people with much stronger morality than her, attempt to talk her out of. She forms an alliance with Quinn which was galling enough to Waldo, but to do that, she returned Veil back to his custody, which Tilda found untenable. I never thought of her as a good person, as she always had an “ends justifies the means” attitude, but she lost me as a fan when she displayed complete hypocrisy in returning Veil and Henry to Quinn, in Leopard Stalks in Snow.
This is a woman who has championed the rights of Cogs and Women all of last season. I suppose I should have seen the writing on the wall after she kidnapped Veil in season one, as that was a bit extra. She cannot talk about protecting the women of the Badlands and be willing to send another woman into bondage for power. Not only that but it has also become clear that she has been using her emotional link to Tilda to get her to serve her cause. Its not that she doesn’t care about Tilda, but just as Veil said, she is willing to send little girls to fight and die for her cause. this makes her little different from Quinn.
In Nightingale Sings No More we get some backstory on the Widow (Minerva). How she used to be like MK, was kidnapped by the same Monks who took MK, and they drained her powers from her. Part of the reason she wants so desperately to decipher the book in her possession is she believes it can give her her powers back. That book that everyone has been passing about, that no one could read, is actually something that belongs to her. She owned it as a child, when she first encountered Bajie, a Monk who named her Flea.
We also get the mother /daughter fight that’s been long in the making. This has been coming since season one. Tilda always had the privilege of speaking freely with her, and the Widow trusted her like no other. We started seeing the cracks in their union in the first season when Tilda questioned her mother’s warmongering.
This time, Tilda, because she has a much clearer sense of morality than her mother, rightfully calls her out for betraying Veil, and challenges her mother to a duel, which she loses. Minerva can’t bring herself to kill her though, even though Tilda challenges her to do it. She locks her up instead. Tilda is rescued by a young woman named Odessa.
After she beat up Tilda, Waldo turns his back on her too, believing her to be as corrupt as the other Barons. I guess next season we’ll have a brand new Big Bad as the Widow consolidates her power.
He’s the one person everyone seems to be hunting at some point. Yes, he’s still dying, and still insane. He spent the first part of the season quietly terrorizing Veil and Henry, losing it completely after he kills Ryder at a Conclave of the Barons, that Ryder arranged in Palm of the Iron Fox. After that, he must have been haunted by what he’d done because Ryder’s hallucination taunts him for the entirety of the next episode, Monkey Leaps through Mist. Why his tumor hadn’t killed him yet is anybody’s guess. Why is Quinn still alive? That tumor was the size of a golf ball.
Lydia’s attempted capture of Quinn sets off explosives that he booby trapped throughout the compound, (an old transit station) and in the confusion, Veil escapes and goes to the Widow. Quinn forms an alliance with the The Widow, to take down the other Barons in exchange for Veil’s return, in Leopard Stalks in Snow, but the alliance doesn’t last long. Neither of them can remotely trust the other, and turn against one another at the first opportunity.
I’ve always been somewhat in awe of Quinn’s ability to talk complete bullshit and have it be believed, and we get to see it in full force, up close and personal, all season. We saw him doing this last season but the only people he managed to hold in thrall were all Clippers. Lydia, Jade and Sunny all appeared to be immune to this superpower. I think this says a lot about the Clipper mentality, really.
Quinn gets a lot of speech time, hissing, whispering, and conniving to anyone within earshot, to get what he wants. We get to watch him Jedi a young man named Gabriel, his entire Clipper force, and even tries his wiles on Veil, although I think she might have some immunity. His alliance with the Widow comes to an abrupt halt after he talks Gabriel into a terrorist attack in the Widow’s courtyard. He spends the rest of the next two episodes, Nightingale Sings No More, and Wolf’s Breath Dragon Fire, wiring the entire compound with explosives, waiting for Sunny to arrive.
It takes Sunny four tries to kill Quinn! At one point I was simply screaming at my TV because, for some reason, Sunny simply would not take this asshole’s head. Every time he thought the Baron was down, he would wander off and drop his weapon, and Quinn would just get back up, and cause more mischief. This complete inability to finish him off, was the reason Quinn was alive at all. I was also pretty salty at the writers because it was all rather clumsily done. I really don’t want to have to look at Quinn all of next season again. I was getting pretty tired of all his speechifying. Not that I don’t like Martin Csokas. He played the Hell out of this character. Its just that a little bit of Quinn goes a long way and in this season was a bit too much.
In Part 2: Bajie, Tilda and MK get character reviews along with Lydia, one the few other people from season one, who survives to see a third season.
We are now in the second season of Into the Badlands and the situation has changed greatly for most of the major characters. In the first episode of the season, we find out what happened to the major players of last season, get introduced to some new characters, and are introduced to a couple of surprise guests.
Sunny tried to dupe the River King, when he substituted the head of one of his Baron’s Cogs for MK’s, after the River king asked him to kill the person responsible for murdering a hold full of cargo/people. Seriously pissed off, the River King has sold Sunny to a mining consortium. When the show opens, we get the full on dystopia treatment, and a nice fight scene with Sunny’s first day at his involuntary job. The theme song for this was:
I’m liking the musical choices for this season. They’re much more appropriate to the mood of the show, rather than just some generic background notes. I also hope to see more of the River King this season. He and Baron Jacobi were two of the more interesting characters introduced in the middle of last season.
So far this seems to be one of those alternate worlds where race and skin color doesn’t seem to be a huge issue. none of the characters mention different races or cultures, which is just as interesting as if they did, but for opposite reasons. I like that this is a multicultural world, as I’m always suspicious of alternate worlds where there are no PoC, and I automatically give the side-eye to anyone arguing that those worlds shouldn’t be.
At the top of the episode we get some great fight scenes, some greater world-building, and an introduction to a new character named Bajie, played by Nick Frost. You may remember him from Hot Fuzz, or Shaun of the Dead, and he’s a welcome touch of humor for the series, which is pretty grim and gloomy. It also gives Danny Wu the opportunity to be show his sense of humor by playing straight man to Nick’s cutting up. I’m always fascinated by funny Asians on TV, as the media has a tendency to depict Asian people as grim and moody, or a punchline to someone else’s jokes. I know Indians can be deeply funny, but I love to see Asian people of any culture, get snarky.
If you remember my earlier reviews, I talked about how Into the Badlands was based on a Ming Dynasty era novel titled Journey to the West. Well, Bajie is based on one of the characters from that story, named Zhu Bajie. Zhu means pig. He’s often called an idiot in the original novel, which I haven’t read, but I take it he’s the comedy relief. The Bajie part of his name is based on the eight precepts of Buddhism, which are much stricter versions of the five precepts. Well, its appropriate because the character, Bajie, breaks every single one of them.
The Eight Precepts:
1. I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.
2. I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.
3. I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual activity.
Human is definitely Sunny’s song. That and the title of the episode are both references to Sunny. The Chinese languages are full of these little pithy sayings, which are like the American equivalents of ,”You can lead a horse to water…”. I couldn’t find a direct translation of the phrase Tiger Pushing Mountains, (its one of the forms of Tai Chi) but once you see the episode, you will understand the references to Sunny.
In episode two, after Bajie betrays Sunny, who has impressed the warden by beating the shit out of his men, while in restraints no less, Sunny gets drafted to do some pitfighting. In every TV show about prison there must be a pitfight. I believe it’s some kind of law. Naturally Sunny wins and uses the fight as an opportunity to escape, while attached to Bajie with chains.
The show is a lot more gory than it was last season. There’s a lot more blood flow as one guy gets thrown into a giant spinning fan, and another guy gets his throat cut onscreen. I also love the banter between Bajie and Sunny. Sunny never had much of a sense of humor last season (the only person he ever smiled at was Veil) and his responses to Bajie’s foolishness gives Daniel Wu a chance to show his acting range, as we get to see him express more than one emotion.
MK as been secreted away at some type of monastery, where he can learn to use his superpowers correctly. The show gives Marvel a big middle finger by having The Master of the monastery be portrayed by an Asian- Black woman, Chipo Chung, who has starred in the movies Sunshine, and the show Camelot. This is how you cast an Ancient martial arts master when you don’t want to adhere to Asian stereotypes.
It turns out, due to the trauma of having killed people with his powers, he has formed some kind of alternate self, that the master says he must defeat, if he’s ever going to leave the monastery. MK is desperate to leave because he thinks Tilda, Sunny and the others needs him. His alternate personality is the master of his powers, and is far stronger than him, so we get a lot of scenes of MK beating the crap out of himself, and the disturbing implication that he may have killed his mother, and doesn’t remember that either.
The Master tells him that he’s the most powerful Jedi…uhm, student, she has ever had, after she rebuffs his demon self and breaks her arm. We know because we get to see her magically heal the jutting bones of her forearm afterward. Ugh! I’m loving this character though because she’s like a more stern version of Yoda. She has little patience for MK’s snark. I think its hilarious how he seems to have that effect on all his mentors.
For his part, MK is his usual snarky, whiny self. Yes, he’s annoying, but I still like him because he’s annoying in an authentically teenagery way, that I just find funny. He’ s snarky, impatient, wants to know everything at one time, and seemingly fearless towards people he knows are more powerful than him. And played by Aramis Knight, he’s also distractingly pretty, and you can see, in his face, the grown man that he’ll later become.
Veil has given birth to a baby boy she names Henry, after her father. The midwife turns out to be none other than Baron Quinn, who we thought was killed by Sunny last season. He’s still as weird as ever, and although he claims he isn’t, he’s actually holding Veil prisoner, while making creepy implications that he’d love to be closer to her. He also makes it clear that he has plans for Sunny’s, and Veil’s, child.
Quinn is a snake oil salesman of the first order. He’s always got honey-coated speeches, ready to deploy, against the naive and the gullible. You could see that in the first season. His speeches to his clippers about how wonderful a leader he is, to Sunny about the Badlands, to Veil about Sunny, to MK about Sunny, are all designed to get people to do what he wants, and believe what he wants, even if he seems to be talking about what they want.
Veil is as lovely as ever, but we have yet to see any backbone from her. She hasn’t made any real effort to escape. Despite Quinn having some kind of weird, Cult of Clippers Ceremonial Bloodening of the baby, she probably just hasn’t gotten desperate enough. She also has remained unharmed, although the Baron’s men have been leering at her, when he’s not paying attention. We await her further entrance into the plot, probably by trying to escape the Baron’s craziness, and if his brain tumor has been progressing, then he is definitely a noodle short of a bowl of soup.
To be clear, a show like Into the Badlands is somewhat unprecedented, so I have no idea what to predict for these characters, or where the plot will take any of them. For all I know, Veil might end up having a baby like MK, and ending up at the monastery with him.
Jade and Ryder:
These two are finally as together as they longed to be, and Ryder is as trifling as he always was. He is still trying to live up to his father’s legacy, while being propped up by Jade. I’m sorry, but Ryder doesn’t strike me as the brightest penny in the wrapper. It’s no wonder no one had any respect for him. He tried to take over some of the Widow’s territory but isn’t strong enough to hold it,and loses it back to her because, while he is wildly ambitious, he has no idea how to plan ahead.
Just as I suspected, Jade isn’t half as light and innocent, as she had Quinn believing. She’s got a brand new wardrobe, and new attitude, as the wifey master of Quinn’s territory. In her defense, she does appear to truly be in love with Ryder, although that’s not really saying much, because she truly appeared to be in love with Quinn, too. I wonder what will happen if she encounters the Baron again, as she turned out to be a lot more duplicitous than I thought she would be.
The Widow/Tilda/ Waldo:
The Widow gets some of the best action in the entire first episode, despite Sunny’s antics, and she is always going to be one of my favorite characters. Unlike most people, I’m not at all put out by the idea of women wearing heels, in a fight. I do get kind of exasperated when they’re wearing skimpy little outfits with heels, but I have the greatest admiration for the Widow, who always dresses to the nines, for all her fights. The Widow, with Tilda as her new Regent), mows down a whole crop of Ryder’s Clippers, just to deliver the message to Jade that she was taking back possession of her oil fields.
Tilda is still feeling conflicted over her Mother’s activities and plans for the Badlands. When her mother decides to release a group of Ryder’s Clippers, giving them free passage back to their home, Tilda goes against her mother’s express word, and with a posse of her own butterflies, has the Clippers secretly killed. Tilda’s become more independent of her mother and I see some future betrayal. I wonder if she and MK will meet again, and how they’ll react to the changes in each other’s lives and personalities.
Waldo (Quinn’s former Regent)has joined the Widow, as her adviser, and is fully on board with her plans to reform the Badlands. He has training sessions with Tilda, who he seems to have taken under his wing, and although he can’t walk, he still doesn’t go easy on her, or is very nice to her, either.
Lydia was doing well with her father, but after they’re attacked by Nomads, and she kills the two men, her father condemns her again. She killed the men to save her father’s life. We finally get to see Lydia kick some ass. Contrast her fight scene, with Jade’s complete inability to do any kind of fighting, and you get some idea of the formidable opponent she was for Quinn. She’s pretty ferocious, but unlike the Widow, she is completely untrained, too. So everyone in the show has different fighting styles, which is important. I like how the show treats the women. They’re at least as dangerous as any of the men, and although rape is sometihng that is implied, it escapes the Game of Thrones problem of showing it to us, or using it as a plot point, all the time. Its interesting to me that a lot of shows have decided to do away with rape, as the entire plot, point all together, and only imply that it might happen, or that it used to happen.
As a side note, we’ll use The Walking Dead, as an example, where occasionally one of the Saviors might act interested in raping someone, but it’s never shown. Its explained in the narrative that Negan has forbidden rape, and any man who rapes a woman, he kills. In a show like The Walking Dead, where consequences for one’s actions are not necessarily an issue, I expected it to be one of those go-tos, just like on GoT, and I keep being surprised when they don’t do it.
It was really frustrating watching Lydia’s father condemn her for killing, saying that killing is only the province of the gods, and what right did she have to step into that space, while entirely neglecting that the nomads kill all the time, and are hardly godlike creatures. In her father’s mind, its perfectly okay to not defend his own life, or even the lives of his people. The irony is that Quinn’s bloodshed is what kept his people safe, and allowed them the space to form such extreme views, or his little cult would’ve gone extinct long ago, having been killed off by others, who are also willing to kill. So Lydia’s father is willing to accept bloodshed, in his name, as long as he doesn’t have to see it, I guess. The moment she killed the men I knew she would be banished though. Her father wouldn’t allow her to have a place there with blood on her hands, so I was not surprised to see her visiting Ryder later.
It turns out, Quinn protected her father’s little cult from the depredations of the Nomads, and she’d like Ryder to continue doing that. But her advice triggers Ryder’s daddy issues and he rejects her request, and her. My advice to her: Go to the Widow. If Lydia truly wants to keep her father safe, she’ll make whatever deal with her that she can. I’d love to see what kind of mischief the Widow could get up to, with both Lydia’s, and Waldo’s, advice.
As it stands now, most of the characters are paired up, and unaware of what’s happened to the other characters. No one has mentioned Waldo, so I don’t think they know he’s working with the Widow. No one knows Quinn is alive. Tilda knows nothing about MK’s fate. Veil believes Sunny is alive despite Quinn (with his ain’t shit ass) trying to convince her that Sunny abandoned her.
I also want to commend the world-building, in these episodes, as we get to see a lot more of not just the Badlands but the world outside of them. There’s an entire economy in the Badlands, which is something I had questions about the first season. We also find out, in episode two, that there’s a massive wall separating the Badlands from the supposedly civilized parts of the country.
The fight scenes have been stepped up a notch. They’re even more wild and outrageous than last seasons fights, being more fun and completely over the top Wuxia style fights. Everybody’s fighting styles is different. Bajie doesnt fight like Sunny. His fighting style is more of the Iron Man/Brawler style. He fights like the large man he is. Sunny and the Widow are the two most balletic fighters and eve nstill, the Widow fights like a woman. She’s not dainty, or anything like that, but her fighting style fits her personality. Tilda doesn’t fight like her mother. She is much more pragmatic and efficient, sort of like Quinn.
Waldo is the most interesting, because the writers have taken the time to come up with a style for a man confined to a wheechair, that’s a believable style. We’ve seen him kick both MK’s and Tilda’s asses from that chair, and part of his ability to do that, is people keep underestimating what he can do from that chair. They think, because the legs aren’t working, that the rest of him is limited too, and one of the low-key messages of last season was people underestimating other people’s fighting abilities, because they were handicapped, or because they’re women, or because they’re children, and then getting their asses burned. I see this is a theme set to continue this season, as we watch Sunny beat up an entire team of free-roaming nobodies, basically with his hands tied behnd his back both times. The first time, while in stocks, and the second time hobbled, by being chained to Bajie.
This is the first time we’ve seen Sunny as less than godlike. In the first season he was mostly kind of invincible, and I like how they keep showing him get occasionally defeated by someone like the monks, or the guards in the prison.
Well, I’m going to continue these reviews, hopefuly in a more timely manner than this. I’m as enthused and happy about this show as I was disappointed by Iron Fist.
I’m a long time martial arts movie fan. I have clocked a lot of hours watching people fake punching and kicking each other. If you’re that level of fan of martial arts, it’s okay. You can skip this show. There is waaaay too damn much talking in this show.
On the other hand, it’s not an awful show. It’s not half as awful as the critics would have everybody believe. It certainly could be a better show, and it doesn’t live up to any of the expectations of the trailers, as bad as they were. Let’s just say all the action you saw in the trailers, is most of the action in the show. My guess is they knew they couldn’t hook us in by showing the many, many hours of people snarking at each other in offices,and wearing nice clothes, so decided to go with inelegant fight scenes. Think the show Suits, but with worst dialogue, and sometimes somebody gets punched.
The plot is as stated. Danny Rand flees a mystical Asian land called Kun Lun, where he is the legendary Iron Fist.He comes to NY and gets involved with Colleen, Claire Temple, and the Hand. We spend most of the show running around with this trio, from place to place, jostling with Ms. Gao, and the Hand, macking on Colleen like a creepy stalker, and trying to avenge his parents deaths, which involves the corporation his father used to run, his father’s old partner, and that man’s children, the Meachums.
My special advice is to watch the show on your tablet or phone ,and every time you see people talking in an office, fast forward through that. I fast forwarded through almost all of that part and was still able to keep up with most of the details of the plot. I would also advise you not to listen too hard to the dialogue because you will go to sleep. Unless Claire’s on screen. She’s awesome. As always.
I was going to give some type of in depth review, but I’m not interested enough to invest that much work into the characters and plots and shit. So here. Have some links and articles that carefully explain what went wrong with this show.
Iron Fist was inspired by 1970s kung fu movies, but no one seriously expected Finn Jones to become the next Bruce Lee. The show focuses on plot over action, so it makes more sense to compare it to Daredevil. And that comparison makes Iron Fist look like total garbage.
Daredevil‘s hallway fight was praised for its stylish choreography and camera work. There’s a real weight and brutality to Daredevil’s blows, and the scene uses a long tracking shot so you can see all the necessary action.
Iron Fist paid tribute with its own hallway fight scene, utilizing a very different style of filmmaking.
In Iron Fist, the camera constantly cuts away before the blows connect. The editor chopped Danny’s choreography into two or three shots per move, so you don’t catch the full impact of his actions. It’s like trying to follow a ballet performance through a dozen tiny windows around the stage.
Once the fight reaches the elevator, we get a completely unnecessary split-screen view of Danny disarming an opponent. At 1:35 in the above video, the split screen actually makes it harder to see what he’s doing.
*I’m going to go one step further here. This weekend was the second season premiere of Into the Badlands. This show is everything that Iron Fist should have been. Into the Badlands is full of action and every one of its fight scenes is given the love and dedication that it should receive for an action show. Contrast this fight scene with the one from Iron Fist:
Oh, and here is the fight scene between Zhou Cheng and Iron Fist. Zhou Cheng is being played by Lewis Tan, an actor and model who is half White, and was one of the most prominent contenders for AA Iron Fist.Btw, this is one of the best fights in the entire series.
*This critique lays out the five major criticisms of the show:
Monday, March 20, 2017
Five Comments on Iron Fist
Marvel and Netflix’s latest series dropped this past weekend, a week and a half after the pre-air reviews pretty much savaged it, calling it the partnership’s (if not the MCU’s) first complete dud. What I found particularly damning about Iron Fist‘s reviews was their uniformity. When one reviewer gives you a pan, you can blame the reviewer. When a dozen reviewers give you pans that all make exactly the same criticisms–a dull and unsympathetic lead performance, an increasing emphasis on an unappealing villain, storylines that focus too much on boardroom shenanigans, lousy fight scenes–you’ve probably got a turkey on your hands. Having watched the entire first season of Iron Fist, my only quibble with the reviewers is that most of the flaws they ascribe to the show were also present in the second season of Daredevil, which received generally favorable notices. In fact, it’s not so much that Iron Fist is worse than Daredevil‘s second season, as that it is more boring (it lacks, for example, a magnetic central performance in the vein of Jon Bernthal’s Punisher), and this makes it easier to notice flaws that have been present in all of the Defenders shows, albeit taken to far greater extremes here. The boring part means that the show doesn’t really deserve a full review, but there are a few points about it that I thought were worth discussing.
Yaaayyy!!! Season two of Into the Badlands will be airing on March 19th, on AMC. And I’m really excited about this, if only because the trailers look super exciting, going in directions I didn’t expect and this season stars one of my favorite actors:
That hefty fella back there is Nick Frost. You may remember him from Shaun of the Dead, Attack the Block, and one my few favorite cop movies, Hot Fuzz. So, I’m totally geeking out about it!
There’s also a new trailer and a featurette focusing on the women of the Badlands. The first season turned out to be surprisingly feminist in aspect ,with lots of smart, deadly women, who have agency, affect the plot, and are integral to the development of this world, but that’s par for the course in the Chinese Action films on which this show is heavily based. The Chinese cinema has a long history of prominently showcasing women in the plots.
I hope this season we get to see more of the worldbuilding, as I had a lot of questions about this particular ‘verse. We will get to see some new sets and locations, which is cool. The show appears to have a slightly larger budget than last year, too. I hope to see more Woc, but my end all and be all, would be seeing at least one black woman kicking some ass in this show. We almost never get that in these kinds of movies or shows (but I wont be disappointed if I don’t get it.) Iron Fist has a lot to live up to as that’s going to be released at the same time. I’m gonna be watching a lot of Kung Fu that weekend.
Into the Badlands Season 2 finds Sunny (Daniel Wu) and M.K. (Aramis Knight) separated and scattered to the wind, each imprisoned in unlikely places. While M.K. struggles to control his powers, Sunny is determined to fight his way back into the Badlands to find his family or die trying. On their journey, Clipper and Colt are assisted by mysterious, new allies whose motivations may be anything but pure.Meanwhile, The Widow (Emily Beecham) continues to consolidate power against the other Barons, while a dark and mysterious threat prepares to exact revenge on them all.Alliances are struck, friendships betrayed, and by season’s end, Sunny and M.K.’s lives will be forever altered with devastating consequences.
There are a number of television shows I’m looking forward to next year. Now in hindsight 2016 has been a fairly shitty year, except for TV, which is tearing it up with some very exciting series. I’m very much enjoying Legends of Tomorrow, which is much better in its second season. It got rid of the rather dodgy actress who played Hawkgirl, and replaced her with Vixen, with whom I’m very satisfied.
I’ve decided to try DCs other superhero shows and I’m liking them, although I do consider them to be rather light weight viewing. I still don’t like Arrow, though.
From Dusk Til Dawn also had a much better season than last year. It just aired its season finale and I’m going to happily break that down for you guys by the end of this week.
American Horror Story just aired its finale episode which I’ve already reviewed. I feel like AHS had a great season this year, with a lot of depth, focus, and humor.
We got the truly wondrous Luke Cage, which I can’t even accurately review because my head is so crammed full of thoughts about it that I can’t straighten them out. I’m still processing this show, as I haven’t really had time to really think about it because:
Season 12 of Supernatural has just started to air and its very good. So far, its been very engaging, and funny, with some very well written side characters, and quite a number of feels.
And, I’m entirely caught up in the Westworld phenomena. Thankfully its only got two episodes left, after which I can take some time to think about something else and finish processing my thoughts and feels about it.
Then it’s back to watching and/or reviewing starting January 1st. There is such a wealth of good shows, and I have such a limited amount of time with which to review them, that I’m going to have to start farming out some reviews. So from now on, when I see a really great review of a show I’m watching, but don’t actually have time to review, I’m just going to leave a link or reblog.
Also, if you’re a person who writes long form TV reviews like these, please get in touch with me about linking , and reblogging your posts. I love a good, well thought-out, and logical review. No wanking or ‘ship wars, please. I don’t mind if you love a certain ship but I’m not going to reblog about ‘ships that erase PoC, canon LGBTQ characters, and women from their own narratives.
Okay, here’s what we have to look forward to:
Sherlock returns for its fourth season. I’m starting to get really tired of looking at Benedict Cumberbatch’s face. He’s a phenomenal actor, with one of the best voices I’ve ever heard on a screen, but he looks like a turtle that’s been squeezed too tightly, and I think I have reached “Peak Cumberbatch”, at this point. Nevertheless, I may still watch this, because I actually enjoy the plots. (BBC)
*Beyond (Jan. 2)
This show looks like a cross between Kyle X and Teen Wolf, which isnt a bad thing. I’m looking for a replacement teen show for Teen Wolf anyway, since its in its last season. (Freeform)
Shadowhunters (Jan. 2)
I’ve only ever watched a couple of episodes of Shadowhunters, but gifs of it keep showing up in my Tumblr feed, and I’ve liked those, so I’ll watch this. And Harry Shum, who was one of the fan contenders to play Danny Rand in Iron Fist, is in this and I do need to have some Shum in my life, somehow. (Freeform)
I won’t be watching season four of this show and there’s no trailer as yet, but if you don’t mind the complete wtf*ery of what happened last season, you go right ahead .I’m gonna be a petty mf and not even post the airdate.
I’m a huge Tom Hardy fan, often watching movies I would not normally think about just because he’s the star. Also, I just enjoy dark Historical mysteries and these trailers look gorgeous. (FX)
*Lemony Snicket (Jan.13)
I read a lot of Lemony Snicket books and enjoyed the Jim Carey version of this, so I will probably check this out. My favorite character is Violet, so I have to stan for my tiny baby. This trailer seems to capture some of the zaniness of the original film. (Netflix)
The Young Pope (Jan.15)
I really like Jude Law, but I probably won’t watch this, even if I find this kind of Catholic scandal type stuff, fascinating. I’m not Catholic, but I will watch dramatic histories about it. This looks well acted but I’m noping out. (HBO)
I don’t normally watch military type shows but this looks interesting. For some reason, I’m attracted to those Navy Seal non-fiction books, and this show looks suitably dramatic, so I may watch this. On the other hand, I don’t wanna see Black people being terrorized, so I may not make this a regular part of my viewing diet. (History)
I’m always up for anything starring Jason Momoa. I have not yet reached Peak Momoa. (Netflix)
*The Magicians Jan.25)
I was a bit disappointed in the last season of this show because of the depictions of violence against its female characters, so I’m dubious about watching this new season. On the other hand, it looks gorgeous, and I hope its a better than the second book in the series on which this is based. Finishing that second book felt like working. (Syfy)
I could not find a good trailer for this one. I try to stick to only one teen show per period, so I may not watch this, but this is the last season of Teen Wolf, and I might need something to replace that. The trailers don’t look very interesting but I could give it a try. (CW)
Black Sails (Jan.29)
I watched the first episodes of this and then stopped, but I have been following what’s happening through reviews.It still looks beautiful but I can make no promises about this show, other than I will watch the first episode and give it a chance. (Starz)
The Expanse (Feb. 8)
I only watched a few episodes of the first season, but I’ve since read that its a good show, so I’ll watch the first episodes of this second season. I don’t know if I’ll like it but I can try it. (Syfy)
Taken (Feb 27)
I’m a big Liam Neeson fan and I really liked the movies on which this show is based.
*Legion (Feb TBD)
This is a Marvel Superhero Joint, so I will watch it even though I’m not in the market for yet another show about a quirky, White, male hero. I do know who this character is in the comic books, though, so I’m going to check it out. (FX)
*Iron Fist (March 17)
I will watch this even though I’m disappointed that the creators didn’t choose an Asian American man to be Danny Rand. That kind of story would’ve had so much more depth, but depth isn’t Marvel’s strongest suit. I’m still not greatly impressed with the actor they chose either, but I promise to give him a chance. I’m mostly in it because I hope this show does for Colleen Wing, (who has been racebent to be Asian) what the Luke Cage series did for Misty Knight. (Netflix)
I will review the first episode of season three of The Strain this weekend. Hopefully it won’t turn into a hate-review and this season will be better put together than last season. There’s still going to be plenty of snarking on it though. I have never in my life hate-watched a show, but I really believed in the show, because its such a great idea and the books were pretty good, and I kept hoping the show would get better.
Last season had some truly awful plot points, characters, and whole episodes. I always go into these endeavors with a sense of optimism, though. I’ll try to do the same for this show as I do for all the other shows.
I will be reviewing as many of the new pilots as I can, and based on my reactions to those, I will add or subtract them to the list of weekly reviews, but my time is limited. I may not review one of your favorites. There are some shows that I’m definitely waiting to review, on a regular basis as soon as they return, like Into the Badlands (TBD/2017), and Shadowhunters, which looks silly and fun, and The Magicians. I don’t think these will be released until next year. In the meantime, here is the list of shows I will definitely give weekly reviews for.
American Horror Story(9/14) – I have no idea what this season is about. Nobody does. The creators are keeping it a secret which is very frustrating to a lot of people who are used to knowing the entire plots of movies before they’re even released. I don’t mind the surprise, though. I do know that whatever the creators give us will be batshit crazy, so I’m expectant.
Luke Cage (9/30) – I’m so looking forward to this. it looks like its going to be fun. I will be watching for how the characters are treated, especially, the WoC, as Marvel doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to such things.I wonder if Iron Fist will get a mention, and if we’ll get to hear Luke’s catchphrase from the comic books.
Supernatural (10/13) – The show that never ends will be in its twelfth season. Like I told you guys, I’m gonna be here to the end of the line. I always go into every new season with a positive outlook, and I’ll decide how I feel about a season when its over. As usual, my reviews will first be posted on https://samanddeanbrothersinarms.wordpress.com/ and then reblogged here.
The Walking Dead (10/23) – I’ve mostly avoided talking about this show all Summer. I feel really good about this season despite the presence of Negan and the absence of his victim, which I know is really gonna hurt, no matter who it is. I refuse to speculate as to who it will be.
I may or may not review From Dusk Til Dawn (9/6) and Aftermath (9/27) on the Syfy channel. Also coming up is the second season of Ash vs. The Evil Dead (10/2), which I may not review because I didn’t like how the one black woman in the entire show got treated in the narrative. I’m still pissed off about the writers fridging her (in the most horrible manner they could think of), just to provide some minor manpain for Ash.
There’s some intriguing new shows coming to the Syfy network , that I have no idea what to think about them, like Falling Water (10/13), and Channel Zero (9/27), which looks pretty scary and weird. I’ll review the pilots if I remember to program them into the DVR.
I still have not watched The Get Down on Netflix, and had no plans to watch Mr. Robot or Gomorrah.
The pilots I’ll be reviewing are:
Atlanta (9/6) – this looks like a lot of fun. It has an all Black cast, and I’m casting around for a new comedy that’s as good as Black-ish and Brooklyn 99, and I like Donald Glover.
Pitch (/22) – I don’t normally watch anything that’s sports related outside of The Olympics. I definitely do not watch anything involving Baseball, but this looks so good, I’m getting kinda excited for it. I may never watch beyond the pilot but I hope it does well. Its about the first female pitcher in major league baseball, and she’s a black woman, so I hope the writers get the subjects of racism, misogyny, and feminism right.
Versailles (10/1) – I love historical shows about 17th and 18th century France. (Mostly because I love the clothes.) I’m going to check it out because its different from anything else I’m watching and will tide me over til Vikings (TBD/2017) is back on. I always have to watch at least one or two shows that totally don’t fit the aesthetic of anything else I’m watching. I like a little variety, sometimes.
Still Star Crossed (TBD/2017) – This is another historically themed show based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and starring a large Black cast. It looks gorgeous, and I can’t wait to see it. I just came off of Coriolanus, and Macbeth, on Amazon. I’m no expert, and generally not into romances, though. I don’t study the hell out of his plays, or recite them line by line, but I know enough to get by.
Aftermath (9/27) – SyFy needs to hype its new shows more. I barely paid attention to this one but from the trailer it looks interesting. I don’t know if I’m going to tune in on a week by week basis, because The Walking Dead is enough apocalyptic TV for anyone. But this looks like one of those End of the World Christian millenialist type deals and I’m not gonna get all het up about this if I’m also watching the Exorcist.
Channel Zero (9/27) – There’s a horrible looking tooth-monster in the trailer. That’s all I got because Syfy is trying real hard to be mysterious about the creepy shows its going to be airing this Fall. I’m okay with that approach. It just means I’ll tune in to find out what the hell was going on in the trailer.
Midnight Texas (TBD/2017) – From the writer of True Blood (Charlaine Harris) and it may even star a few characters who made cameos on there. This is on NBC, which brought us Hannibal, but I’m not getting my hopes up ,that the show is going to be too wild. I think Hannibal was maybe a fluke or something.
Westworld (10/2) – I generally try to avoid HBO’s shows as they tend to rely a great deal on female violation to titillate male viewers. I’ve already read a bad review of the pilot for Westworld. On the other hand, I enjoyed Deadwood, Carnivale, and Oz, and I have memories of the original movie. I want to know how it stacks up.
Mascots (Netflix 10/13) – This is a comedy from the creator of Best in Show, which is one of my favorite mockumentary films. Its about the world of sports team mascots. I expect it to be as lowkey hilarious as the movies Christopher Guest writes.
Falling Water (10/13) – I got nothing! Looks intriguing. I know nothing about it. I’m not especially impressed by the trailer and that doesn’t bode well.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (10/22) – I remember reading this book in High School. The trailer looks suitably zany and Frodo is starring in it, and I like him, so I’m going to check it out and see what’s up. There’s also a BBC version of this series, which I have not seen but the trailer looks as zany as this one.
The Crown (Netflix/TBD) – Another historical series on Netflix. I’m not especially impressed with this but I may watch it.
The Exorcist (9/23) – There’s no way this is as good as the original movie but I have to watch it to find out if that’s true.
There’s a bunch of returning shows that I will probably watch but only give a barebones review for. I prefer to leave such reviews up to those who’ve been more devoted to those shows than I have been. Nevertheless I am giddy about a few of the returning shows, like:
Teen Wolf (Season 6 -11/16)
Brooklyn 99 (Season 4 – 9/20)
Agents of Shield (9/20)
Okay, lets try this again. I haven’t been watching this show because I dislike Chloe Bennett. She’s just highly annoying to me, for some reason, although I like everybody else, with my fave being Melinda, naturally. This season is helped by having one of my all-time favorite characters joining the show Ghostrider. I read these comics as a teen, and even watched those shitty movies, starring a totally miscast Nicholas Cage, for the special effects.
Legends of Tomorrow (Season 2 – 10/13)
I kinda like this show. I cant stand to watch most of the other superhero shows on the Cw but I get through this one just fine. I’m not devoted, but I am intrigued, mostly by Firestorm, whose comic I used to read the hell out of.
From Dusk Til Dawn (Season 3)
I missed some parts of season tweo but i watched enough to know what’s going on and to look forward to season three. This show still looks great but some of the acting is a little cheesy, and the plot is all over the place, by the middle of the season. Nevertheless, where else am I going to see lots of bad-ass, Mexican vampires.
I have no intention of looking at these shows although some of you guys might get a kick out of them.
Conviction starring Hayley Atwell – She’s a great actress but she’s made the horrible choice of picking a bland lawyer show to star in next and I don’t watch those.
Lethal Weapon – I refuse to relive mediocre eighties action movies, in the form of mediocre television shows.
Sleepy Hollow – C’mon! You know why!
The DC superhero shows on the CW, I don’t dislike these shows exactly, but I’m never gonna be a Supergirl fan, I don’t care who is on that show. Arrow simply wasn’t compelling enough for me and The Flash felt like it was aimed at kids, although I really like the characters.
I like the look of Gotham and I hope its improved since the second season, when I last watched it, but it wasn’t compelling enough for me, even with the addition of Jada Smith.The show looks gorgeous but its stil la show with cops in it and I’m avoiding those right now.
Lucifer has some interesting looking characters, but I’m waiting for an especially compelling trailer or something becasue so far its just not capturing me, even though it stars DB Woodside, on of my fave Black actors.
Training Day seems like a grittier version of Lethal Weapon. I’m not watching any cop shows, so this one is out.
Van Helsing – I watched the pilot. I was thoroughly unimpressed. No.
Wolf Creek – I’m not sure how I feel about this one yet. Its one of those serial killer movies, so maybe no.
This is going to be a combination of the last two episodes of the season, so have a seat and buckle up. This is going to be a long read.
I found that Snake Creeps Down is a Tai Chi move. I’ve seen variations of this move in a few action films and I’m always blown away by the grace and elegance. Tai Chi isn’t often showcased in action movies because, although there is a hard version, (that Jet Li practiced in in the movie The One), its gentler style is not of much use in action films.
I didn’t actually see this move in the episode though, so the title must be metaphorical.
Last week, Sunny, who has become more decisive in his efforts to get out of Dodge, made a deal with the River King to bring him the head of the person who killed all the Cogs in his cargo, and Sunny agreed. Sunny is very worried about MK and what he’s capable of, and has nightmares about being killed by SuperMK.
The watch fob we saw in his possession is shown to neatly fit into the book that MK stole from the Widow’s house, and which Veil has been attempting to translate. MK’s assertion that it might be a map through the badlands may have some merit.
The Widow, having bought off Quinn’s Cogs, is now using them as an army in her revolution. She is methodically testing the young men for MKs superpower.
With the Cogs gone, there is no one to pick the Poppy harvest, so Jade steps up to teach what Colts are left, how to harvest the juice from the flowers, after Quinn has a tumor attack in plain view of everyone. Jade is interesting in that she seems to have some very revolutionary ideas about how things should be run in the Badlands. Ideas that are as wild and crazy as the Widow’s, like teaching the Cogs to read and treating them with respect. I had initially written her off as just another sexual schemer, trying to secure her future in the Fort, but it appears she has some goal in mind that isn’t about her own self aggrandizement. She steps up and is willing to get her hands dirty harvesting the crop and influences Lydia to do the same. Earlier, Lydia showed disdain for the work of the Cogs but I guess Jade’s attitude shamed her. The two of them spend the day harvesting the Poppy field, together.
Ryder goes to seek advice from Waldo, who tells him that if he wants answers to his questions about Azra, and the pendant he took from MK, he needs to go see Lydia’s father. Waldo shows barely veiled contempt for Ryder. Most of the characters on the show seem to have that reaction to him.
Veil and Quinn talk while she gives him his treatment, which she earlier confessed to Sunny, was pointless anyway. Quinn lies to her, telling her that Sunny killed her parents. I hope she doesn’t buy that but I guess the point is for Quinn to sow discord between her and Sunny. Quinn is just an asshole, and assholes are gonna asshole. Its what they do.
Ryder goes to see his grandfather, played by Lance Henriksen, and I’m totally squeeing in my bunny slippers, right now because its fecking LANCE HENRIKSEN! Penrith is the leader of some fundamentalist religious cult. He tells Ryder that Azra is a myth but after Ryder leaves, he mentions something about a “Dark One” that needs to be destroyed. I guess he means MK.
Religion is approached in an interesting way in this series. Quinn is obviously an evil atheist, which I do not appreciate. Penrith is a fundamentalist who may not be much better, though. This show is saying something about religion, I’m just not certain what that is.
Wow! Mk is really getting popular. Everybody’s after his Unlucky Charms.
Bale, MK, and Sunny have been patrolling the woods all day, looking for signs of the Widow, when MK runs into Tilda. He’s trying to convince her to run away with him, but that’s not in their future because Sunny interrupts and takes her prisoner, but not before she bites off Bale’s ear, which he deserved for acting like a total shit and calling her a bitch.
Sunny takes her to the Fort, where Quinn tells him to torture her for information about the Widow, and incidentally, Sunny needs to stop seeing Veil. He gives some bullshit reason for this request, but we know its just more of his maneuvering. Sunny appears to agree, but we know he’s lying just to make Quinn shut up.
Sunny’s torture session with the Tilda is interrupted by…the Widow. She and Sunny start reenacting the fight scene between Shu Lien and Jen from Crouching Tiger, even using some of the same weaponry, like flails and those hook things Shu Lien was so good at wielding. While this is happening, Bale, who has lost his damn mind, decides to torture Tilda himself. He locks MK in a cell while he beats Tilda’s ass. MK, desperate to save her, cuts himself and Jedis Bale, impaling him on some thorny wall art. (No, seriously! Dungeon art is ugly.) Quinn and the Widow both witness this, and the Widow, gravely injured, is helped to escape by Tilda.
Hand of Five Poisons
There are a lot of rearrangements of people’s lives happening in the finale.
Per his agreement with the River King, Sunny takes the severed head of the boy who killed RK’s cargo, for his inspection. It’s actually Bale’s head and Sunny hopes the River King buys this deception, so he can secure his escape from the Badlands. I was pretty certain he wasn’t going to kill MK, as MK is one of the stars of the show and I think Sunny might have actual feelings for him. Sunny often seems impassive but underneath there’s a deep well of emotion. One day we hope to see Daniel Wu do the “single man tear”, because all bad-asses get to do that at least once.
In the Badlands, three amber-robed monks take an interest in MK. I wonder who these guys are and how/if they’re related to Lydia’s father, Penrith,, played by “LANCE HENRIKSEN!”
Quinn goes to Lydia and accuses her of poisoning Jade. I’m not buying that because that’s just much, much too obvious and convenient.Lydia insists that Jade poisoned herself, while I’m inclined to believe that Ryder did it. Quinn kicks Lydia out of the Fort. I think its a mistake for Quinn to leave her alive, though. What if she goes over to the Widow’s cause?
Lydia walks out with her head held high and goes to join her father’s congregation. For some reason I was really touched by this moment. Earlier, Pen had told Ryder that his daughter was dead to him, but she begs him to accept her and he relents.Its interesting to watch Lydia being so nakedly emotional. I think it says something about me that I don’t completely trust her and think she’s got something else up her sleeve. (She gets re-baptized into her dad’s cult, while some of the more uncoordinated members do the Cabbage Patch in the background, which I find unintentionally hilarious.)
Veil, is kidnapped by Tilda and the two of them have some long and frank discussions about the Widow not caring about Tilda. I’m going to have to disagree with Veil’s police-work on that issue. I think the Widow genuinely believes in her cause and sees Tilda as more than cannon fodder, but Tilda is in that space where she’s tired of killing, so Veil’s message strikes a chord with her.
Veil nurses the Widow, but to ensure her release leaves three vials behind. Two of them are poisons and the last is a tincture to cure the Widow’s wounds. The irony of suggesting that Tilda kill her mother with one of the poisons, after she lectured Tilda about killing, seems to entirely escape Veil. The Widow, tells Veil what she’s trying to accomplish and offers Veil sanctuary in return for nursing her back to health.
I’m becoming increasingly exasperated by Veil. Earlier in the episode she confronted Sunny about watching her parents die and doing nothing to stop it. She made it seem like she was changing her mind about leaving the badlands and that just irked me, but I’m not sure why, as she has a right to be mad about that. And later, you would think, especially after the deaths of her parents, that she would be on-board the Widow’s ideas about the how the Badlands should be run. She’s so stuck on the idea of the Widow being violent, that she can’t see beyond the violence to the motivation behind it. And then later, has the nerve to suggest matricide to a person she just lectured about violence.
Tilda confronts her mother about MK, and the Widow explains that she knows what MK is because she used to be like him, which is quite a revelation, and raises a whole host of questions about who she is, where she came from and what happened to her powers.
Quinn imprisons Sunny, believing him to be the traitor that he’s been searching for. Quinn is going even more insane or trying to tie up any loose ends before his death. He takes MK under his wing and promises him Tilda, Sunny’s life, and the moon and stars, if he’ll be loyal to him. I don’t think MK is buying any of it as Quinn’s behavior seems more than a little desperate and creepy.
Quinn takes him to his meeting with Jacobee and cuts him. MK goes full Hulk on Jacobee, Zephyr, Ryder and all their henchmen and kicks ass. Its lot of fun to watch but I kept begging that Jacobee wouldn’t be killed because he’s a great villain, although I think Zephyr, the Widow’s henchwoman, is dead.
It turns out that Waldo is the traitor. What better traitor could there be then the one person everyone disrespects and disregards. This is the one of the lessons that the show has been intermittently teaching, that underestimating one’s opponent leaves one open to defeat. In that sense Waldo has successfully destroyed Quinn’s house. Ryder is out of the picture, Lydia is in exile, Jade is poisoned and possibly dying.
Waldo releases Sunny from the prison. Sunny goes after Quinn, of course, as Quinn deliberately threatened to hurt Veil. He kills Quinn, who was hiding in an alley watching the MK-Hell he’d just unleashed on his foes. Its a quick and undramatic death, and I’m a little surprised Sunny did it. This is the most decisive thing I’ve seen him do.
Afterwards, he attempts to subdue MK but is interrupted by the three monks, who easily take both him and MK down, while revealing they have the same powers Mk does. We come full circle as Sunny gets kidnapped by the River King, who plans to sell him to the highest bidder, having seen through Sunny’s deception involving the head.
I like Daniel Wu’s portrayal of Sunny. He’s, strong, and stoic, but compassionate and kind. I’m glad his personal angst is kept to a minimum and only alluded to by other characters, though. The only problem I had was his earlier passivity. Now though, he seems to have become much more active, actually making some real and tough decisions.
My favorite, MK, is the embodiment of every annoying teenager on TV. He’s headstrong, doesn’t listen, is egotistical, and snarky, but this is offset by his compassion and the openness of his character, which this show kind of needs, as it can get a bit heavy. He’s also a mystery, wrapped in an enigma, wrapped in a taco. If he could get out of his own way, he’d make a formidable Clipper and he has more than enough angst for both him and Sunny.When we last see him he is once again, kidnapped, locked in a trunk, and being transported somewhere. Since Mk spends a lot of time escaping from being locked up somewhere, I don’t expect this to last.
The Widow is awesome. I have a difficult time thinking of her as a villain. I understand and identify with what she’s trying to accomplish, which has turned her role in this show into almost a feminist narrative, as she isn’t doing this just for her own power, although that’s a part of it. She wants to reform the Badlands into civilization, where people can choose their futures and not be at the mercy of the men who rule now, a system that keeps everyone in bondage except the Barons. She’s playing the part of Ying Zheng, the man who united ancient China into the Qin Empire. Violence is pretty much her only option to accomplish her goals. I hope she survives into the next season, if there is one.
I’m actually starting to like Veil, even if she does get on my nerves. She was first introduced in that scene where she was teaching Sunny to read and the writers have taken great care not to damsel her much. She’s smart, educated, brave, with just enough fire in her personality to keep her from being bland. She doesn’t seem to have any martial skills, but there are other ways women can be strong, and she’s an example of that.
I should mention, that Veil’s and Sunny’s relationship is remarkable because its the only interracial relationship, between two PoC, one being an Asian man, that I’ve noticed outside of The Walking Dead.
I’m also starting to like Jade, who started out as fairly uninteresting, but is probably a closet reformer, not unlike The Widow. It would be very interesting if the two of them were to compare notes.
I like Lydia ,too. The last two episodes made her a much more interesting character, as she seems to be changing her mind about some long held beliefs. She’s another strong woman of a different type than Veil. All the women in this show would be formidable opponents to the Barons if they decided to team up.
I’m not disappointed in the first season of this show. I like the worldbuilding, the cliffhangers, the costumes the characters and, of course, all the fight scenes, which have been gorgeous. It will be interesting to see what direction the show takes if there’s a second season. (I’ll let everyone know if there is.)
I’ve read that this series is based on a Chinese story called” Journey to the West”, which was written in the 16th century, during the Ming Dynasty, about a Buddhist monk who has mystical adventures, while traveling to India to pick up some sacred scrolls. No, I haven’t read it or seen the movie, (although it seems to be in my Netflix queue), but my Google-Fu was strong last week, which is where I picked up this little tidbit.
You’re welcome! Go forth and tell your friends!
This episode, despite the awesome title, was not as strong as some previous episodes because of the introduction of some personal intrigues about the denizens of Quinn’s house (and I could always not care about that.) It is notable for two other things that do not bode well for MK and Ryder and one thing that I’d sort of been waiting for, the introduction of more PoC into this ‘verse.
A close watching of the last four episodes reveals some interesting word-building. Having studied some Japanese history, I keep seeing how much the social arrangements and costumes mirror feudal Japan, and not China, (although I admit I haven’t studied as much Chinese history). I’m going to take a wild guess and say this is a deliberate choice.
I do wonder about things in the Badlands and I suppose we’ll get to some of that information as the journeys of the main characters continue, I hope, next year. Like: Where does everyone’s clothing come from? For example, all the gorgeous, matching outfits the Clippers wear. Who is feeding all those baby Clippers, that we never see doing any other work, beyond learning to beat each other up?
I guess Quinn makes enough money or whatever to pay for all this but here’s another set of things I casually wonder about at 3AM:Does Sunny get paid for what he does”And if so, how much? Does the Baron pay for everything, including the fuel for his motorcycle? Do the cogs get paid?I know that money in the form of gold coins exist in this world but who mints them and where do they go and come from? Is there some far away, centralized government, that has some kind of non-interference policy for the Badlands?
Where do they procure gas for the handful of vehicles we’ve seen? We’ve seen that there is a kind of frontier like town because there are brothels and saloons, where the Nomads hang out, and Veil has to be doctoring on someone. We’ve seen Quinn riding horses everywhere but at some point we forget that Sunny rides a motorcycle, and The Widow owns at least a couple of vehicles. There must be somewhere that dispenses gas and and fixes old vehicles. (I’m guessing Cogs are too poor to do anything but walk, although I still don’t understand why there are no bicycles, though.)
In a previous episode we saw that Ryder wears a prosthesis for his missing toes and I wonder what disease he has, that his toes are gone. Was it an accident? Leprosy? Diabetes? And who made the prosthesis? Is this the reason Quinn disregards him as his successor.? Because he’s imperfect? In one of the earlier episodes MK mentioned Tobacco farmers, so there are other things being grown in this world bsides poppies. At one point, Quinn mentions his father was killed for stealing an ear of corn.
We get a slightly larger glimpse of the world outside Quinn’s Fort when we meet Jacobee himself, and The River King, both black men (although we have yet to see any Asian or Hispanic people.) We do get a brief look at the housing situation of the Cogs who toil on the Baron’s grounds and learn they can be easily bribed with gold.
The Widow begins the second part of her trap to bring down Quinn, but Quinn is on to her contrivance to come between his and Jacobee’s alliance, by stealing one of Jacobee’s gold shipments and framing Quinn for it. He only needs to prove this to Jacobee ,before Jacobee becomes irate about it.
Sunny is training Mk when he is interrupted by Quinn to give him a War Pep Talk. The widow does the same thing when she catches her young ladies dancing in the foyer of the old mansion she’s moved them into. This scene is actually pretty funny because the girls find an old record player and figure out how to work it. I don’t know the record they’re playing but it sounds like some funky seventies disco, which is completely incongruous with the setting of this show. Well anyway, the Widow must hate that song because she storms in a breaks the record, after which Tilda has something she needs to get off her chest.
We learn why the Widow is a widow and why she seeks to “overturn the patriarchy” of the Badlands, and I bet you can guess that sexual assault played a part in these decisions, as she reminds Tilda why her father is dead now. The Widow runs things very differently in her house compared to Quinn. In episode two, in the scene where she interrogates MK about his past, she mentions having a son and MK says he didn’t see any boys in the house. There are men in the Widow’s employ, though. We saw them during the fight scenes in the house, but maybe the men aren’t welcome indoors. It would explain the Widow’s reaction to watching her daughter kissing MK in a previous episode.
Lydia and Jade are still planning Jade’s wedding to Quinn. She better hurry up because she won’t have long before she’s a destitute widow. Lydia tells Jade she knows about her affair with Ryder.
Veil proposes a form of chemotherapy to Quinn, saying it will make him sick before it kills the tumor and its not a guarantee. Had he not killed the original doctor, who knew how to solve this problem, he would not now be at her doorstep, making demands.
Later that night Sunny watches as MK decides whether or not to cut himself while training, just to see what happens. We all wait with breathless anticipation for MK to Hulk but he’s just teasing us and doesn’t do it. Actually, he’s too terrified to try it on his own, so Sunny decides to test him the next day. He takes MK out to a secluded area, talks to him about focus and control, cuts him and… promptly gets knocked on his ass. Mk passes out,too. I don’t know why but I think its hilarious that they’re both just laying on the ground, unconscious, in the middle of nowhere. Sunny really should have planned this better.
Quinn manipulates Ryder into going out to parley with Jacobee alone. He’s really good at getting people to do what he wants. The only people this superpower doesn’t seem to work on is Lydia and Sunny. He also tells Ryder he knows about him and Jade.
Later, MK goes to visit Veil to see if she has translated any of the book. He thinks it’s a map through the badlands, though. When Sunny finds out that MK stole the book from his room, and that he does not know how to get to Azra, like he told him, he’s pretty pissed. MK is really trying his patience with all the sneaking about. (I think MK’s ninja skills are incredibly funny, but I can afford to laugh cuz he ain’t been sneakin’ in my house.) Veil informs Sunny that they need to leave quickly because Quinn’s tumor is making him insane.Yeah, Sunny needs to quit waffling about this.
Ryder meets with Zephyr, Jacobee’s Regent, for the time and location of the parley.
Sunny asks Waldo for advice on leaving the Badlands. Waldo says he needs: Passage up the river, a map of the Badlands, and nothing to lose. Well he’s getting close to having nothing to lose, he may have a map of the Badlands according to MK, and now he needs safe passage. To get that, he needs to have an audience with the River King. Waldo gives him a small totem, a plastic soldier, that should gain him access, as the River KIng owes him a favor.
Ryder returns with the information, the parley will take place on neutral ground, in one of the local cemeteries.
Quinn and Sunny make preparations for the parley, choosing which men will go. Sunny deliberately skips over MK, once again giving him the cut direct. This pisses off MK who, naturally, decides to disobey Sunny and go anyway, because disobeying Sunny is one of his superpowers.
At the cemetery we finally get to meet Jacobee who turns out to be a beautifully dressed dandy. No, seriously! I loved his outfit, which had a distinct, 18th century, New Orleans flavor in blue plaid, echoed by his Clippers and Regent, Zephyr. It’s heartening to see this, because I was wondering if this was one of those depressing futures where black people were all slaves, or had left the planet, or something, like in The Hunger Games and Divergent movies.
The Widow attempts to stir a war between Quinn and Jacobee by having Tilda anonymously attack Quinn and the fight is on. MK sees Tilda and tries to stop her, so he can make some accusations. She accidentally cuts him and he Hulks out and nearly kills her.
The key word is “nearly”.
He stops himself at the sound of her voice, as she pleads with him, (the way he did in his first fight with her,) not to hurt her. I guess he found his “focus”, but his control is still pretty shaky and he still passes out afterward. Taking Tilda’s butterfly, Sunny proves to Jacobee that the Widow started the whole mess. Jacobee agrees to a truce, but Quinn has to bring the Widow to heel before he’ll agree to be his ally.
During the parley, the Widow attacks the Fort and kills the Colts and Clippers. She offers gold to the Cogs, who all run away. I like her, just fine. She’s a good strategist. She just tries every plan until something sticks. It really is like a chess game between her and Quinn and she seems way ahead of him. Quinn is just not as smart as he thinks he is.
Sunny goes to see the River King, who is willing to give him safe passage, if he finds and kills the person who slaughtered a cargo full of Cogs, he was transporting upriver. Conveniently he has a picture and gives Sunny a drawing of MK.
In the epilogue we learn that Ryder has been kidnapped by Zephyr and the Widow. Zephyr is working to overthrow her own Baron and the widow has a proposal to make to Ryder.
So, we have only two episodes left in the season and I’m pretty sure the writers are going to piss us off with a horrible cliffhanger , so we’ll come back next year.