Into The Badlands
Episode 1.2 “Fist Like a Bullet”
Directed by David Dobkin
Written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
Starring Gabe Begneaud, Nazeema Bartek, Daniel Wu, Ruby Lou Smith, Aramis Knight, Ally Ioannides, Stephen Lang, Emily Beecham, Morgan Benoit, Marton Csokas, Sarah Bolger, Madeleine Mantock, Oliver Stark
Air date: Sunday, November 22, 2015, 10pm
In our first introduction to AMC’s new show Into the Badlands, we meet Sunny (Daniel Wu) as he stumbles upon some nomads in the woods. After one of the most intense, bone-crunching fights you’ll ever watch, Sunny lays waste to all 10, including 9 at once. Sunny is a Clipper, a warrior trained like the knights/samurai of old to protect the land and resources of the Baron (Martin Csokas). It’s all very 10th grade global history, with a ultra cool modern twist. After the initial crazy fight, Sunny brings back a young boy, M.K. (Aramis Knight) to the Fort. M.K. has a pendant that is similar one Sunny possesses, one that echoes back to a land and time before the Barons, and beyond the Badlands. Baron Quinn trusts Sunny like a son, but that relationship may become complicated as Sunny is considering leaving with his pregnant girlfriend Veil (Madeleine Mantock).
For the second time in as many shows, we open with a badass fight, this time it’s The Widow (Emily Beecham) who tried unsuccessfully to woo Sunny into her charge last week, having to defend herself against a healthy mix of would be assassins. She can certainly defend herself, and a garter belt full of daggers along with long sharp high heels help. This show knows how to start with a bang, let me tell you. After the credits, M.K. is running, having escaped The Fort (thanks to Sunny). He encounters Tilda (Ally Ioannides) and you know from the first second they see each other, something will come of this. She leads him to her home, which Sunny and Quinn’s son Ryder (Oliver Stark) cannot enter for risk of causing of war… you see, Tilda is the Widow’s daughter.
As Widow looks to build alliances against Quinn, Sunny’s secure world inside the Fort is falling apart. Quinn is one to him. They go for a ride to see the doctor and his wife. Quinn is dying of a brain tumor, Quinn’s reaction is to command Sunny to kill them both. They raised Veil are as much in-laws to Sunny. He refuses, so Quinn does the deed himself, exiting the house covered in more blood than Ash in the Evil Dead. “I’ve never given anyone a second chance… as far as anyone is concerned, you killed them.” Csokas is SO GOOD here. He gave off a hint of humanity, the hopelessness of the inevitable… and then in the blink of an eye went full psychopath.
Sunny is such an interesting character also. He is devoutly loyal to Quinn, and has killed hundreds for him. But his devotion to Veil and the stirring of his past and future have thrown him into present chaos. He has a philosophical meeting with an old friend Waldo (Avatar’s Stephen Lang) discussing the possibilities of escaping the Badlands and gaining freedom. Waldo laughs at the idea of freedom, joking about his birds flying free, but returning to the security of their cages at night.
The Widow knows of a boy with powers, but M.K. manages to avoid detection with Tilda’s help. He is taken by Widow’s newest accomplice Hud (Owen Harn), who at the same time is setting a trap for Sunny and Ryder. This all culminates in just a phenomenal action sequence at a not-so-abandoned factory. Ryder is taken out of the equation before the fight even begins leaving Sunny once again against an insane amount of assassins… think The Bride vs. The Crazy 88 in Kill Bill Vol. 1. These sequences are so brutal and well choreographed. There is nothing like this anywhere else on TV.
There are alliances forming, war is brewing, and I cannot wait until next week. For many, Sunday nights means The Walking Dead; for me, Sundays are now about waiting for TWD to be over so I can watch Daniel Wu and company slice and dice each other for a good hour. The history teacher in me is loving the modern day feudalism aspect of the story, and the characters are well developed, each with multiple facets to them. Their is a shade of gray to everyone. So far through two episodes the structure is similar. Open with bang, close with bang, story and character development in the middle… it is a formula that is working great.
Into the Badlands returns next Sunday night with new episode, at 10pm ET on AMC. I can think of no better way to end my Thanksgiving holiday weekend.