Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Into the Badlands, Season One, Episode Two: Fist Like a Bullet

The Widow enters a bar that screams western steampunk to speak to Teague, her former regent.  It seems that Teague doesn't believe that the Widow will find the support she needs among the other Barons and doubts that they will allow the widow destabilize the oil supply  The Widow makes it clear that she has been accepted by everyone but Quinn and suggests that this is the reason that together, they need to take Quinn out.  Because Quinn has marshaled the most Clipppers, Teague does not believe that this is possible. Their conversation is cut short when an assassin attempts to kill the Widow but instead misses his mark and launches his axe directly into Teague's forehead.  Say bye bye Teague.  The Widow then proves that she is more than a pretty face and some serious ass kicking ensures. And when I say serious, what I mean is EPIC. The Widow stalks a wounded assassin and questions who hired him.  The assassin is quick to drop a dime on Ryder and his honesty is followed by some snark about Ryder's imagination and a quick death via CFM boots.

M.K. has spent the night putting as much distance between him and the fortress as possible.  He stops at some marker posts to grab a drink of water out of a puddle.  When MK looks up, he sees Matilda stalking a squirrel.  Matilda throws the knife, killing the squirrel and then sneaks up on M.K., putting a knife to his throat.  This kid better gets some skills beyond turning all super ninja and rage when he bleeds if he is going to survive.  Matilda is quick to notice that M.K. doesn't have a brand and he explains that his parents are free range farmers and that he escaped from the Fortress the night before.  Matilda offers M.K. some bread which he chokes down as quickly as possible.

M'K. introduces himself and compliments Matilda on her skill.  Matilda simply replies that she practices because her mother says that, "natural ability is no substitute for hard work."  Hmmm who exactly is the mommy dearest who is raising this little bad ass?  When they hear Quinn's tracking dogs in the distance, Matilda instructs M.K. to come with her.

Sonny and Ryder arrive at the Widow's border and Ryder wants to press on in his search for M.K. Sonny is adamant that they cannot go into the  Widow's border with a Clipper force because it would be considered an act of war.  Sonny orders the Clippers back to the Fort and tells Ryder that if he doesn't like it, he should take it up with Quinn.

Matilda leads M.k. to the Widow's fortress.  This does not bode well, as last week, the Widow tried to get Sonny to bring M.K. to her.  M.K. learns that Matilda just happens to be the the Widow's daughter.  Matilda enters the fortress and interrupts her mother's training to inform her of their new arrival.

Back at Quinn's fortress, Sonny explains that M.K. crossed into the Widow's territory. Quinn questions what M.K. risked his life to steal and Ryder hands over M.K.'s amulet. Sonny reveals that M.K. said that his pendant came from his mother but is quick to lie about recognizing the symbol. Quinn declares that they have a traitor in their midst and Ryder is quick to promise to try and root that person out.  Quinn tells Ryder that while he appreciates his pledge, there's also the issue that last night, The Widow and her regent were attacked.  Quinn stops just short of accusing his son but a look says it all.  Quinn didn't get to the position of Baron by being a fool.

Matilda pours a bath for M.K. because he stinks but stays to watch as he disrobes and gets in the tub because the Widow said that Matilda is not allowed to let M.K. out of her sight.  M.K.  starts to relax in the tub, only to find that Matilda has left the room and he is now in the company of the Widow. The Widow starts to wash M.K.'s back as she questions him.  Is anyone else finding this at all creepy? The Widow is quick to call M.K. out on his lie about being a farmer because his hands are lily white and unmarred. The Widow is quick to assure M.K. that she is not like Quinn and has been searching for a boy his age. When the Widow shows M.K. an image of his pendant ,M.K. lies and says that he has never seen the image before and that there's nothing special about him.  Mercifully for M.K., and us, the bath is cut short when the Widow hears the sound of a horn and leaves to investigate the car that is approaching her fort.

Quinn approaches Sonny on horseback and asks him to ride with him because they are going outside of the Fort.  Sonny and Quinn leave the fortress on horseback, with Sonny questioning  if Quinn still has a headache.  Rather than answering, Quinn reveals that his father was a Cog in the very same poppy fields that they are riding past and that he was beaten to death for taking an extra cob of corn. Apparently, Quinn's father didn't even try to defend himself and this is what inspired Quinn to request to be a Clipper.

The Widow is meeting with the Nomads, asking them to side with her in the battle against Quinn. The Nomads are not impressed because the Widow's force is apparently made up of women.  The Widow strikes a bargain saying that if her daughter can strike one of the Nomad's down, then they accept the terms of her deal and if she cannot, the Nomads can have possession of her.  Cue fight scene number two, in which Matilda makes short work of her opponent while M.K. watches from the shadows. The Widow and the remaining Nomads drink to new alliances.

Quinn and Sonny stop at Hannah and the Doc's place. It seems that Veil was given to Hannah and Sonny as a gift for saving Lydia's life when she had Ryder. Hannah reveals that she knows about the baby and Sonny immediately leaves the room and heads outside. Sonny warns Hannah that Veil needs to be convinced that they are in a dangerous situation because the code clearly states that he cannot have a family. It seems that Hannah already tried but Veil doesn't want a life without Sonny and the baby.

Doc informs Quinn that his brain tumor is growing but that he should see the winter solstice. Quinn learns that he is going to start getting weaker.  Quinn calls the doctor a good man and hands back the x-ray.  Quinn has his game face back on when he leaves the house.  Quinn then asks Sonny to go inside and kill both Hannah and Doc.  Sonny is shocked because they only clip their enemies, so Quinn asks how they define their enemies.  Quinn asks what if Sonny was informed that Doc and Hannah had a weapon which could lower him to his knees.  Sonny tries to argue that Doc and Hannah have always been loyal and even helped deliver Ryder but Quinn screams that an enemy is anyone he names.  When ordered once again to go and kill Hannah and Doc, Sonny says that he cannot.  Quinn draws Sonny's sword and holds it to his neck briefly, before heading back into the house and killing Hannah and Doc himself. Well I suppose it's nice to know that Sonny has his limits. A blood covered Quinn exits the house and tells Sonny that he has never given anyone a second chance and so as far, as he is concerned, Sonny killed Hannah and Doc.  Quinn orders Sonny to torch the house to the ground before riding off on his own.

Later, alone in his barracks, Sonny cleans the blood off of his sword. Sonny then heads to see Waldo, to question if Waldo has ever thought of leaving. Waldo however thinks that freedom is an illusion and that people don't really want to be free.  Waldo is certain that a sack full of stories are what exists beyond their borders.  Waldo adds that Quinn will never let Sonny go and should Sonny run, Quinn will track him to the ends of the earth and then kill him. Waldo warns Sonny that he cannot outrun who he is.

The Widow is certain that M.K. is lying and that M.K. is the one she is looking for.  When Matilda questions this assertion, The Widow reveals that M.K.'s powers only awake when he has strong emotions running through him and his skin is cut. The Widow asks Matilda to provoke M.K. and draw his blood.  When Matilda hesitates, The Widow warns that one of Matilda's sisters would happily volunteer.  Matilda agrees and is warned that when M.K. is cut, he will become dangerous.

Later, the Widow informs M.K. that everyone in her family has to learn how to fight and that Matilda will begin his training.  M.K. refuses and is told that this is not a request.  In the next room, Matilda starts to push M.K., demanding to know what he was really doing in the woods. Matilda moves to cut M.K. and he begs her to stop, saying that he was in the woods  because he was trying to find his mother so that they could return home.  Instead of cutting M.K., Matilda cuts herself and orders M.K. to scream.  Matilda then wipes her blood on M.K.'s cheek and all the Widow sees is the blood on M.K.'s face and no powerful action.

Sonny goes to see a mourning Veil, who questions why her parents are dead.  Sonny reveals that Quinn did it and that he believes Quin is scared of anyone finding out that he is dying. Sonny embraces Veil, and tells her that he is her family now and that he will protect her and the baby though he doesn't know how yet.  Sonny declares that they are getting out of the Badlands.

Ryder visits a prostitute and is shocked to discover that she has a brick of Quinn's opium.  Ryder is quick to attack and the woman explains that the Nomads have a factory full.  Later, we see the woman hang a red cloth of her balcony, clearly signaling to someone. Yep, it seems that the not to bright Ryder has been set up.

M.K. wakes Matilda, saying that it is not safe for him there and that she has to help him escape. The two walk through the house looking for a secret passageway. Matilda explains that the Widow wanted to cut M.K. because she is looking for a boy with dark power, so that she can train him and use him to overthrow the other Barons.  When they hear the Widow approaching, Matilda kisses M.K., making it look like their bid for escape was simply about wanting time alone.  The Widow tells M.K. that he is no longer welcome here and the Nomad says that he will take M.K. cause they are always looking for new recruits.  Another of the Widow's daughters rushes in and informs her that Ryder took the bait.

Outside ,the Nomads show M.K. a flier with a picture of him, indicating that there's a hefty bounty for his capture. M.K. is quick to deny that he is the kid that is being sought after and is knocked out for his trouble.

The next day, Sonny is told by Quinn that Ryder has uncovered a conspiracy. Ryder puts a chunk of opium on the table and announces that Nomads are skimming from their shipments and selling them out of an old turbine station.  Sonny is suspicious but Ryder is adamant that they need to send a message.  Quinn asks for Sonny's opinion and he suggests scouting it out with Ryder.

Sonny and Ryder arrive at the turbine station but what they don't know is that M.K. is there and working furiously to untie his knots. It's not long before they discover that they have walked into an ambush courtesy of the Widow.  Sonny quickly finds himself outnumbered and forced to fight for his life but this is Sonny we are talking about so the ass kicking is epic. Sonny then finds himself overpowered and M.K. sneaks up on Sonny's attacker and hits him over the back of the head.  The two share a moment and M.K. admits to Sonny that he knows his way home.

Back at the fortress, in order to save M.K., Sonny decides to take M.K. on as his own colt.  Quinn is quick to point out that Sonny has never taken a colt before and wonders openly about what is so special about M.K.

Obviously, this first season is going to be all about Sonny's redemption and their escape from the Badlands.  Here's the problem: Sonny is a mass murderer.  I know that he is bad ass, engaging, charming at times and well let's face facts, super sexy but none of that erases the fact that he has killed repeatedly at the behest of the baron.  I know that Sonny refused to kill Veil's parents and even let M.K. escape and this was all a set up so that we would see him as different than Quinn.  The constant reminder of where Sonny came from is to suggest to the audience that he had no choice but to become a killer but I for one am not buying it.  A serial killer is a serial killer regardless of his motives. In this case, it's particularly telling because Sonny does know better and refusing to kill two people because of their connection to Veil does not make him a good man.

This week we got to see the Widow in action and hot damn.  I gotta say, I know the ass kicking woman is a trope but to see it on television was completely awesome.  I want more of the Widow kicking ass please.  I also find it interesting that the Widow is clearly running a matriarchy in her region.  It seems however that she is absolutely no different than Quinn. The coldness with which she was willing to risk Matilda makes that clear. Yes, she was confidant of Matilda's skills but in a fight, anything can happen.  What I really want to know is the Widow's motivation for taking on Quinn and how she became a Widow.  I don't want her to remain a weapon who simply kills because she can.  She needs characterisation, like many of the characters in this world.

At this point, Into the Badlands still feels very generic.  We know a little bit about the world but I don't care anything at all for the characters because I feel like I don't know them and what I do know is so generic that it feels boring at times. Take for example Ryder's quest to follow in his father's footsteps, how card board cut out is that?  At this point I just want Sonny to put him out of his misery.

I am pretty sure that we are going to see some sort of uprising with Sonny leaving the Baron behind - hence the title Into the Badlands but before they get there, they really need to make this show about more than kicking ass.