Monday, April 24, 2017

Into The Badlands, Season Two, Episode Six: Stalks in Snow

With the characters seperated, much of the plot thus far has simply plodded along working its way to the point where everyone reunites.  By the end of the episode, Lydia had reunited with Quinn and MK had finally reunited with Sonny. This is a really good thing, especially in the case of MK whose story line has been the most seperated from the others, often making it feel like he wasn't even on the same show. Stalks in Snow even gave us our first same sex kiss. That's quite a bit for one episode.

Stalks in Snow begins in the wake of Lydia and her fighters setting off Quinn's trap. Lydia struggles to her feet as Quinn approaches, killing what's left of her men on his way.  The horror on Lydia's face as she realises that she's about to become the captive of the man who killed her son is palpable. Lydia and Quinn share a lot of history, not only were they both Ryder's parents but Quinn's success as a Baron was largely due to Lydia's influence.  Lydia is angry about the death of Ryder and angry about being cast off for a younger woman.  When Quinn looks at Lydia, what he finally realises is that in her he has his true match. This is not to say that there's real love on Quinn's part but possibly a deep respect. Lydia explains that she's there to kill Quinn because he murdered Ryder. Quinn makes Lydia the same offer that he did Ryder and offers up his heart and a dagger.  Lydia places the dagger over Quinn's heart, slightly piercing his chest but goes not further. Quinn responds by kissing Lydia causing her to respond with passion.  

At this point, what I'm hoping is that Lydia is just playing her cards until she gets a chance to kill Quinn and flea to safety. If Lydia were to kill Quinn in that moment, his men would obviously kill her in return. That's what I'm hoping anyway.  I don't want to see these two reform their relationship because at every step of the way, Quinn has betrayed Lydia and even killed their child.  It would make no sense for Lydia to easily forgive anything that Quinn has done and would in fact reduce her as a strong character as far as I am concerned.

Even as Quinn is making the moves on Lydia, he's got his men running through the forest trying to track down Veil.  For her part, Veil is desperate to get some kind of shelter for herself and for her child and so she turns to the only source she thinks can achieve that - the Widow. The Widow welcomes Veil into the fold and asks if she can translate a book - yes, the same book MK tried to steal.  We now know that the book has something to do with the Abbots and the gift though neither Veil or The Widow know that.  Unfortunately, Veil is still unable to translate the book and claims it's like no other language that she's ever seen. The Widow's next request is that Veil reveal Quinn's hiding place so that she can arrange an alliance in order to defeat the other Barons. The Widow assures Veil that she only wants to make an alliance.

Not everyone is on side with the alliance with Quinn. One of the butterflies has decided that if the Widow is getting into bed with Quinn, that it's time for her to leave. She believes that it's a sign that the Widow is all talk and is not going to live up to her many promises.  This is when Tilda explains why calling the Widow mother is apt for her. It seems that The Widow's husband used to rape Tilda quite regularly and demanded that she claim to love him. The one time that Tilda forgot to express love for her rapist, he beat her so badly, she never forgot again.  When the Widow eventually killed her husband, she apologised to Tilda for waiting so long to kill her rapist.  This act earned Tilda's unerring loyalty. The Butterfly agrees to stay but not for the Widow but for Tilda and the two kiss. Squeeee. This makes Tilda at the very least  canonically bisexual.  Unfortunately, Waldo sees the kiss and warns Tilda not to fall into the same trap as Sonny and care about someone because it will make her vulnerable and lead to her downfall. 

Quinn arrives for his meeting with the Widow and agrees to an alliance, even thought it will end when all the Barons are dead.  It's basically a case of the enemy of enemy is my friend. Quinn however does have one proviso, he wants Veil returned to him. The Widow tries to claim that she doesn't know where Veil is but Quinn doesn't buy it for one moment. This puts the Widow into a difficult position because her strength has come from being different than the other Barons and providing a safe harbour for the oppressed. By handing Veil over to Quinn, she's making Veil a sacrificial lamb and returning her to a state where she cannot help but be abused. This contrary to everything The Widow claims to believe in. 

The Widow calls Veil to her side and once again questions if Veil can translate the text but Veil still cannot break it down, thus ending her usefulness. The Widow reminds Veil that she once offered her shelter, only to be betrayed and so she's decided to act in the best interest of her people and turn Veil over to Quinn. Clearly, The Widow is trying to justify her decision to herself because she knows that handing Veil over to Quinn is wrong.  What did Veil's child do to be subjected to Quinn?  

Outside of the Badlands, MK and Ava have hit the road and are tying to get as far away from the Master at all costs.  They end up stopping in some sort Christmas display and wonder about the world that came before this one. They don't really have time to rest for long because Ava reveals that The Master has a tool which can track MK's gift.  This doesn't disturb MK too much because he no longer has his gift. I'm certain that I missed something there because I don't remember how he lost said gift. 

Baijie and Sonny have stopped to get help for Portia, who was stabbed in their escape from Nos.  In speaking with Portia's friend, Sonny is reluctant to take credit for saving Portia's life and in fact, Sonny blames himself for Portia's cut up face.  What Sonny doesn't make clear is that he didn't cut Portia himself and that her face is a result of his inaction.  This does not garner the response that Sonny was expecting and he's told that as bad as he thinks he is, there are men who are far worse and a lot more evil than however Sonny views himself.  This is a lowkey way of informing the viewer that while talented, there are still people out there capable of taking Sonny out.

The conversation is cut short when Baijie rushes in to say that they have to leave right now. It seems that the Abbots have arrived and they are looking for none other than MK.  Baijie actually hides in a tub full of liquid and this is enough to throw Cyan off the scent for now.  I'm going to pause right now to say that it doesn't make sense that neither of the Abbots put a hand in the liquid at all, or even ponder why their signal suddenly stopped in front of the tub.  

Sonny decides that he has to go because now he knows that the Abbots are looking for MK he's determined to reunite with him. Sonny even refers to MK as his friend. When did this happen? I know that they had made an alliance to flee the Badlands together but I don't remember the relationship being anymore than practical.  Sonny asks Baiji to accompany him because he's going to need help but this is one jaunt that Baijie refuses to participate in and he's reluctant to explain to Sonny why. It's clear that Baijie feels conflicted about helping his friend or heading to safety.

Sonny manages to catch up to MK and Ava before the Abbots do but before they can take off, the Abbots catch up.  The fight is on and Sonny tells MK that the only way out of this mess is for MK to use his powers but MK no longer has his gift.  Ava still has hers; however, the Abbots also activate their gifts, still leaving Ava, MK, and Sonny out matched. Sonny puts up a good fight but he's knocked unconscious by Cyan.  Fortunately, this is when Baijie arrives. Cyan recognises Baijie as a former Abbott, even though Baijie no longer has his gift. That's right, Baijie was once an Abbott, though now he's clearly out of shape.  Baijie battles with Cyan and manages to freeze him, giving Sonny the opportunity to kill Cyan. Just before Sonny can strike the killing blow however, Cyan puts his hand on Sonny's chest and some sort of strange light appears.  

MK makes his way over to Ava, who was wounded in the fight.  Ava is terrified of dying and MK tries to comfort her, even as he begs her to stay alive.  Unfortunately, Ava succumbs to her wounds.  With the Abbotts dead, it's time to get the hell out of dodge but before they can leave, Sonny starts to move as though he's in pain and he crumples and collapses on the ground. 

As I said at the start of this, quite a bit happened in this episode. At this point, I'm fairly certain that Cyan passed his gift onto Sonny somehow.  Why would the writers have made such a big point about Sonny not being the baddest man around?  It would be natural to assume that everyone would one day meet their match and so this didn't need to underscored, unless the plan was to make Sonny even more powerful than he already is.  This will probably spell even more trouble for The Widow when Sonny finally makes his way back to the Badlands.

The fight scene this week was pretty good but it's clear that Baijie is not a fighter. It did however add some nuance to Bajie's character.  While Baijie no longer has his gift and certainly is no longer a talented fighter, he might shed light on it for MK.  

The journey back to the Badlands has clearly changed both Baijie and Sonny. When Sonny first arrived, he certainly was only interested in getting back to Veil, and if possible  avoiding adding to his kill count.  It's clear now that he sees violence as a means to an end and is willing to position himself as someone who helps the victimised.  In fact, Sonny feels guilt for not acting sooner as in the case of Portia.  Between Sonny's new feelings and the fact that The Widow handed Veil over to Quinn, it's clear that a showdown is coming between these two.  The Widow compromised her values when she made an alliance with Quinn and her butterflies are already nervous.  I'm certain that it wouldn't be difficult for them to switch to Sonny's side. 

As I mentioned, we had our first same sex kiss this week.  I like that Waldo's concern was based in homophobia but in how caring for someone makes you vulnerable.  To be honest, I didn't see this coming for the simple reason that for much of the first season, Tilda and MK were clearly a thing and Tilda has spent much of this season to date, worried about what has happened to MK.  I hope that this not another blink and you miss it event and that Into The Badlands will continue to build on this story line.