Into the Badlands (AMC): Season 2, Episode 1

NOTE: This review contains SPOILERS for the Season 2 premiere of the AMC TV series. New episodes will be airing Sundays (10PM EST).

I’m Only Human, a popular song by Rag’N’Bone Man plays. We find that Sunny (Daniel Wu) is a shackled prisoner in some sort of huge mining camp. The setting is somewhat reminiscent of the recent Mad Max: Fury Road film (note the colors, dust, etc.) Sunny makes an attempt to escape (fight scene ensues), BUT it finally subdued by his captives. The leader of the camp explains that the ONLY way to escape is death! 

At night, he dreams of Veil and their baby, then wakes up to find himself chained to Bajie (British actor Nick Frost), a chatty/burly/bearded prisoner. It turns out that Bajie, now a fellow Picker, was an opium dealer in his free life. He brags that he knows how to get stuff others want in the camp. 

***

M.K. (Aramis Knight) has been training for 6 mos. in a remote mountain location. He and his fellow Novices wear purple robes and sleep in hammocks. After M.K. admits that he’s glad he doesn’t have to hide his powers here, another young man explains how he was “treated like a king” by his clan. M.K. asks this boy if he was “scared to kill.” The boy dismisses him, recounting how he fought and killed many enemies; there are multiple scars on his forearm. 

M.K. sneaks off in search of The Master (someone he has yet to meet); we know how curious and persistent he can be from S1. It turns out that The Master (Chipo Chung) is an youthful-looking woman of color! The actress looked a BIT familiar to me; it turns out she played Chantho in Doctor Who, Season 4 (Utopia). I’m NOT an expert on that show, BUT I love the acting of David Tennant (who played Dr. Who for 2 seasons). His companion at that time was Dr. Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman- also on Law & Order: UK). Chung had the rare opportunity to play the assistant of Sir Derek Jacobi’s character. 

***

The Master challenges M.K.- he loses b/c he can’t control his powers yet. After M.K. goes back to this room in defeat, we see The Master heal a broken bone of her injured forearm (WOW)! Looks like there could be MORE to the powers possessed by M.K. and the young men.

***

The grimy prisoners are cleaning up after work. Sunny removes his shirt; Bajie sees all the tattoos on his back for the first time. He instantly knows that Sunny was a Clipper (oh no)! Sunny looks pissed off, BUT Bajie says “you can trust me.” 

While eating dinner, Sunny asks Bajie what he knows re: the situation in the Badlands. He learns that Quinn is considered missing (w/ a reward for his return). The other Barons are scrambling for power. The Nomads are running wild. 

Chaos leads to new opportunities. And I’m ALL about new opportunities. -Bajie explains to Sunny 

Since the Pickers met their quota last month, there will be a “fight night” in the camp. It’s VERY brutal; Bajie says that “no one ever escapes alive.” Sunny asks him to find a map of this mine.

***

Ryder (Oliver Stark) is reminiscing about his lonely childhood in his old room at The Fort. The room is dusty and items are covered up, including a rocking horse he used to play on. Jade (Sarah Bolger) comes in and sweetly tells him about his accomplishments (so we get to know what happened directly after the finale of S1 until now). They are (finally) together; he calls her “The Baroness.”  They are looking a BIT more grown-up (he w/ a beard/goatee; she with a wavy updo). They and their people have been living at Jacobee’s mansion. BUT Ryder still feels like his father is haunting him. 

***

At the oil refinery (now controlled by Ryder), Tilda (Ally Ioannides) sneaks up behind an experienced Clipper and stabs him silently. Work is NOT being done at an efficient rate, Ryder learns, since a LOT of Cogs keep leaving. A worker (perhaps manager) explains: “The Widow has been giving them sanctuary.” Ryder is surprised by this, since they had NOT heard from her in months. Jade advises to cut back on working hours and giving more rations to those Cogs who stayed loyal. Hmmm… looks like these two are working more like partners, unlike Quinn and Lydia. 

The next moment, Tilda causes an explosion- a Jeep blows up. Jade is thrown back by the force; Ryder shouts at his few Clippers to find her and get her to safety. The Widow (Emily Beecham) walks out w/ a smugly satisfied look on her face. (We’d been waiting for that right?) Tilda and the other Butterflies are behind her, ready to fight the Clippers. 

The Widow breaks off at one point to chase after Jade (she’s unhurt) and the Clipper guarding her. Jade witnesses some of the bloody sword fighting; she is shocked, scared, but keeps her wits about her. The Widow climbs the stairs, cutting through several Clippers posted along the way in her creative/bloody fashion. On the roof, she deflects the arrows of five Clippers, then slices their throats w/ one of her butterfly-shaped blades. She struts up to Jade, BUT doesn’t hurt/kill her! The Widow simply has a message for Ryder- she has reclaimed her oil fields, and anyone who tries to stop her will end up dead. Then she grabs the knife from Jade’s hand and cuts down the red banner (w/ the armadillo on it) from the wall. 

***

Bajie presents Sunny w/ a map; he got it from the oldest Picker in the mine. Sunny is skeptical, wondering if it’s “accurate.” Bajie figures out that Sunny is going to attempt an escape, so wants to go along. Sunny glares at him- that’s a no go! Someone yells that they found something. Bajie (being an opportunist) quickly punches that guy out and grabs the ring. After an expert examines it, he is given a 24-hr. break from mining. That wasn’t the reward Bajie was hoping for, so he tells The Engineer (Stephen Walters; also in Outlander) that he knows of something much better, asking: “Do you know what a Clipper is?” 

***

The Widow is looking wistfully at the photo of her little boy inside a gold locket. Tilda comes in and tells her of the MANY that are joining their cause. The Widow admits that she needs to be more than a fighter now- more of a leader. Tilda suggests she come and meet some of the people who have put their faith in her (and her way of life). 

You don’t belong to me. Everyone here is free and equal. My dream is that, one day, there will be no Cog, Clipper, Doll, or Baron… only free women and men deciding the course of their own future. -The Widow states her philosophy to a group of Dolls and Clippers at a food station

 ***

M.K. is angry w/ Ava, his Abbott, who he’d been training w/ for 6 mos. He told her secrets which she revealed to The Master. Now The Master has decided to take over training M.K. 

***

Tilda and four of the Butterflies take revenge against a group of Clippers. They think it’s b/c they refused to fight, BUT Tilda explains that it was for abusing the Dolls (incl. her friend Odessa). Tilda turns to go (like a boss) while the blood of these men flies in arcs behind her. Yeah, this gal has her OWN mind! 

***

The Engineer comes over to Sunny, w/ Bajie in tow. He knows that Sunny is a great killer (being a Clipper). It turns out that Bajie traded his freedom for Sunny’s (was NOT expecting that)! Sunny is led out of the mine by two guards. 

***

In an unknown location, Veil (Madeline Mantock) has given birth to a healthy baby boy. She is presented him by Quinn (Marton Csokas). Surprise- he’s alive!  

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