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TV Review: Into The Badlands 2.5 “Monkey Leaps Through Mist”
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Into The Badlands S02E05 Review

Into The Badlands
Episode 2.5 “Monkey Leaps Through Mist”
Directed by Latoya Morgan
Written by Paco Cabezas
Starring Daniel Wu, Orla Brady, Sarah Bolger, Aramis Knight, Emily Beecham, Oliver Stark, Madeleine Mantock, Ally Ioannides, Nick Frost, Marton Csokas, Chipo Chung
AMC
Air date: Sunday, April 16th, 2017, 10pm

Last week on AMC’s Into the Badlands, Quinn (Marton Csokas) made his dramatic return during the conclave, unintentionally saving The Widow (Emily Beecham) who was just targeted for death. After a fairly epic battle between all the past and current Barons, Quinn chased down his son and usurper Ryder (Oliver Stark) and stabbed him to death in a heartbreaking scene… no pun intended. While Quinn made his play, Veil (Madeleine Mantock) made hers, attempting to escape after killing one of Quinn’s men. Alas, she was locked in and is still a prisoner. Sunny and Bajie were not even featured last week, this week on Episode 2.5, they move closer to the Badlands…

Warning: Spoilers for Into the Badlands below:

Opening on a somber sight of Ryder’s body decked in red, Jade (Sarah Bolger) orders that she take control of The Fort. Soon she brings Lydia (Orla Brady) back and in a show of respect and sympathy allows her to say goodbye to her son, offering an alliance in order to kill Quinn. Jade is a little too forward comparing her love of Ryder to his mother’s. NOTHING is as strong as a mother’s love, and I feel once Lydia is done with Quinn, her and Jade will renew their rivalry.

After a week away, Sunny (Daniel Wu) and Bajie (Nick Frost) return to our screens marching towards a tunnel system used for smuggling that leads into the Badlands. These tunnels are controlled by Bajie’s old buddy Nos (Marc Rissmann), a real crowd-pleaser, who is a smuggler of metals, and a trader of women and girls, his “dolls.” Sunny carries Moon’s sword, incredibly valuable to a smuggler like Nos and that is their way through. But of course, it’s not the simple. Why do people keep tempting their fate by testing Sunny’s desire NOT to kill?!?!

The highlight of this episode for me was Ryder’s ghost stalking Quinn a la Griffin Dunne’s Jack in An American Werewolf in London (1981) or Brad Greenquist’s Victor Pascow in Pet Sematary (1989). This allowed Oliver Stark to shed Ryder’s usual puniness and match Marton Csokas for pure eye-popping craziness. Ghost Ryder (haha, didn’t even notice that), tries to get his murderous dad to see Veil for what she really is and ruthlessly mocks his father’s weakness with women in his life. This culminates in a nail biter of a scene where Veil has to rescue baby Henry from a knife wielding Quinn who is simultaneously screaming at an invisible Ryder. I like Ghost Ryder, and as long as Quinn is ravaged by brain cancer, he should hopefully stay around.

A truly interesting conflict this week is what the Widow will do. Before Ryder’s death, she was on the chopping block and her advisor Waldo (Stephen Lang) suggests an alliance with the Barons against Quinn. Waldo thinks killing Quinn makes Widow more valuable. “Align or die, those are the options.” Well, the Widow is not a woman to be given limited options and her final decision was a surprise to say the least.

We then return to the mines where Sunny is put in another uncomfortable position with one of Nos’s dolls, Portia (Farzana Dua Elahe). She wants him to kill Nos, and sooner than later he finds out and forces Sunny’s hand. The fight that ensues is just awe inspiring. Brilliant fight choreography, and dynamic stunt work in scenes like this are why I struggle to finish Marvel’s Iron Fist. I feel bad making the obvious comparisons but Daniel Wu just seamlessly flows through these scenes, blending the martial arts skill with scream-inducing violence. Oh, and The Walking Dead fans may notice a certain “character” show up in the fight…

Just as it seems like Quinn is at his most vulnerable and Lydia is moving in, an explosive finale sends us to next week. Whew… this episode managed to pack in so much with so many characters. I didn’t even mention M.K. (Aramis Knight) escaping the monastery, but that story will be expanded next week, so I’ll hold off. I love that this show focuses so much on strong empowered women. Jade stepped up to a leadership role, shredding her Lady Macbeth-like grasp on Ryder. Lydia and the Widow are dynamic leading ladies and even the damsels in distress fight back with gusto. There are so many strong women that if the show wasn’t so bloody I’d let my 6-year-old daughter watch. The Widow, Lydia, Jade, Veil, the Master; the men feel almost like the supporting characters. Sunny’s path to the Badlands, M.K.’s struggles at the monastery, and Quinn’s rebuilding come mainly off in the distance and far from the female dominated action of the Badlands.

This is a show I started watching because of the martial arts action and creative plot setup. The character development and writing are top notch. There are so many interesting characters that every time they switch scenes you stay fully enveloped in the story. The show keeps you guessing about allegiances and alliances and does politics in much subtler way than say House of Cards, but the whole Baron conclave and The Widow’s dilemma is pure political drama and intrigue. As usual, I cannot wait till next week.

Into the Badlands returns next Sunday night at 10:00 ET on AMC.

Image Gallery

Video

Into the Badlands: ‘Our Best Way in is Through’


Sunny realizes the people Bajie is asking for help are the same people who sold him to the mines.

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