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

NOTE: This review contains SPOILERS. New episodes will be airing Sundays (10PM EST) on AMC.

Episode 2: Force of Eagle’s Claw

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Daniel Wu as Sunny, Ivan Kostadinov as Mouse – Into the Badlands _ Season 2, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Antony Platt/AMC

Sunny and Bajie (still chained together) have to fight their way out of the pit. That huge/tall warrior they’re forced to fight ends up defeated in a VERY bloody way. Body parts are flying… and this ep is about to get MORE bloody! 

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 Waldo (Stephen Lang) passes on his knowledge to Tilda (Ally Ioannides).

For people like us, there is no place that’s safe. -Waldo explains to Tilda, who is Regent to The Widow

Waldo, now dressed in blue, chides Tilda re: going after those Clippers in E1 (after The Widow let them go). Tilda says that she’s NOT a “mindless killer”- she was doing what she thought was right. Waldo explains that Sunny was the best Regent b/c he “boxed up his feelings.” We can see the respect that Waldo has for his former protege, Sunny, while he’s recounting this story. 

Tilda and The Widow are practice fighting; it looks like Tilda still has more to learn. After Tilda leaves, The Widow admits to Waldo that she’s NOT one for politics; he tells her that “politics is war by other means.” They speak of an upcoming “conclave”- meeting of Barons. The Widow wonders if she can kill them all, since they’ll be assembled in the same place. She and Waldo drink a toast. 

Killing is a privilege left only to the gods. -Lydia’s father tells her (w/ disapproval) after she defends herself and other Totemists from the Nomads

The Totemist community’s simple wedding reception in the woods is interrupted by two violent/murderous Nomads. The groom is speared through the chest; the bride is almost carried off my the Nomads. Nobody fights back (which was quite shocking), except Lydia. This lady knows how to fight- what a surprise! This segment of the ep reminded me of Braveheart and Game of Thrones. 

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Orla Brady as Lydia – Into the Badlands _ Season 2, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Antony Platt/AMC

Half of your Cogs worship the same gods we do. -Lydia drops some truth on Ryder 

Did you see how badly Ryder treated his mother!? I felt VERY bad for Lydia, though we now know she’s a tough cookie. Even though Ryder is now dressed like Quinn, he’s NOT able to fill his father’s shoes (as many viewers have commented). The Nomads attacked b/c they knew that Quinn was out of the picture, so the Totemists were left unprotected. Lydia hoped that Ryder would help out her people, BUT he refused in such a nasty manner. He didn’t forgive her for what she said re: his ineffectiveness at the end of S1.

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MK (Aramis Knight) learns about a new part of his training from The Master (Chipo Chung).

Unless you master your past, you’ll always be a slave. -The Master explains to M.K. after his first vision in the room of mirrors 

The Master continues MK’s training, this time is a room filled w/ mirrors. The young man is pulled back into his past; he sees the bodies of the MANY people he killed on the ship. Suddenly, his alter ego appears (w/ black eyes) and tells him that he doesn’t belong there. MK is upset when The Master pulls him out of it.

I killed people- good people. -M.K. says w/ disgust

We all have. -Abby reveals 

Later on, M.K. has an intense fight w/ his alter ego in another vision. There is some cool choreography. Also, the body double for Aramis Knight looks/moves VERY much like him. It was shocking that the alter ego was winning, nearly choking MK to death! Hmmm… will MK be defeated by “the dark side” or learn to reign-in those destructive urges? I don’t think this will be easy work from the looks of concern on The Master’s face. 

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Quinn (Marton Csokas) training his (would-be) Clippers.

In West Avalon (a secluded/underground training area) Quinn is working w/ a group of Cogs who show promise in fighting. Inside a dusty room, Veil is breastfeeding her newborn son; a Clipper is watching her intently (creepily). The former Baron notices this and let’s him know it. 

Veil tells Quinn that the baby needs sunshine and fresh air. He says he’ll get her sun; after all, she’s the one who found him and patched him up. Quinn gives off some creepy vibes in his interactions w/ Veil, too, BUT I think she can handle him w/ her clever/calm personality. It turns out that there is a little room where one can look up and see the sun!

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Quinn (Marton Csokas) holds a baptism ceremony for Henry, the baby son of Sunny and Veil.

The Clipper who’d been eyeing Veil gets killed by Quinn before he baptizes Veil’s son (named Henry after her dead adopted father). There is a decorative bowl that Quinn drinks deer’s blood out of, then smears a bit of that blood on Henry’s forehead. This ritual reminded some viewers of the naming ceremony in The Lion King. Marton Csokas “just brings this intense gravitas,” as J.B. Zimmerman said on the Afterbuzz TV

Bajie is able to snag some food- a rather large rat. Sunny says he’s NOT going to eat that (LOL). It seems like Sunny is out of his element; he hasn’t had to survive outside the Badlands before. Bajie may turn out to be VERY helpful, since he was a wanderer who traveled to different places looking for “opportunity.” 

At the very end of the ep, they come upon a long, tall wall. (Donald Trump would probably call it “big” and “beautiful.”) This barrier separates them from the Badlands, but Bajie perks up and says there MUST be a way to get to the other side. This scenery is quite different than what we saw in S1; the filming of S2 is in Ireland. 

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016)

NOTE: This review contains MAJOR SPOILERS. 

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Hardened Rebel fighter Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) and newbie Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones)

We know there are a set of Star Wars superfans who simply CANNOT take criticism of their beloved franchise.  However, I’m NOT one of those viewers!  This prequel has a female lead in Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) as we saw in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.  Jones does the best she can w/ the material given.  There is a LOT of racial diversity among Jones’ male co-starts.  However, this film sorely lacks character development!  Sorry, BUT it’s rather tough to care about characters if we don’t get to know their much re: personalities, motivations, histories, etc. 

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The Death Star was built by a team of engineers headed by Galen Erso (Jyn’s father)

I wanted to see a BIT more of Galen Erso (Mads Mikkelson) and his wife; we don’t how/why they got on the wrong track of working for The Empire.  Also, why does Cassian Andor (Diego Luna) have such a big chip on this shoulder?  I wanted to know a LOT more re: his past, aside from the (obvious) fact that he’s been fighting for a long time.  It was cool to see Luna after MANY years!  He still has that youthful face and slim body.  There is a new droid working w/ Andor, K-2SO (Alan Tudyk), who provides some snarky humor.        

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Bodhi Rook (Riz Ahmed)- the pilot who defects from The Empire

Social media (as well as a FEW people I personally know) were esp. excited to see Riz Ahmed, a British-Pakistani/Muslim actor on the big screen.  Sure, he’s part of the rag-tag Rebel band, BUT doesn’t get to do much!  Donnie Yen’s character (the blind/deeply spiritual warrior) was  more effective, thanks in part to his badass martial arts skills.  Guess we STILL have to wait for a desi brother to get a (bigger) break…

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Orson Krennic (Ben Mendolsohn) oversaw the building of The Death Star

The new baddie, Orson Krennic (Ben Mendelsohn), is pretty interesting; I think it’s b/c the Aussie actor takes relish in being a villain (check him out on Season 1 of the Netflix drama Bloodline).  I esp. liked the scene where he got called to meet w/ Darth Vader, then got (painfully) put in his place.

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Darth Vader (still voiced by James Earl Jones) meets with Krennic

I was impressed by the scenery, action sequences, and the “bringing back to life” of several actors from George Lucas’ original Star Wars films (thanks to technology).  Speaking of the original films… This film’s last scene (featuring the young Princess Leia) has taken on a special/poignant significance following the sudden death of actress Carrie Fisher.     

Stranger Things: Season 1 (Netflix)

NOTE: This is a SPOILER-FREE review.

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We looked at 1,000 kids. Most kids, you can turn off their auditions after five seconds, because there’s nothing authentic about it. -Matt Duffer, co-showrunner (w/ his twin brother, Ross)

There’s this idea of this Cold War, this looming threat, and everyone’s going about their business with their families and living their lives.  When we were kids, the reason we responded to this stuff so much is because we could relate to these characters, these families, the kids.  -Ross Duffer, co-showrunner

I wanted to see this show for a LONG time; I finally binge-watched ALL 8 episodes today (w/ my little brother).  I highly recommend it, even if you’re NOT a big fan of sci-fi!  It’s mainly a character drama, BUT w/ doses of suspense and danger.  The actors did a GREAT job, esp. the pre-teen boys (Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, and Caleb McLaughlin) who go out looking for their close friend, Will Byers (Noah Schnapp), after he goes missing in the wood of their small Indiana town. (FYI: The show was shot on location in Jackson, Georgia.) 

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It was cool to see Winona Ryder (who plays distraught single mom, Joyce Byers) after a LONG time; she’s now 45 y.o. BUT still a petite dynamo of an actress.  The actor who played Joyce’s responsible, quiet, older son Jonathan (Charlie Heaton) was a standout among the older (high school) kids. 

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I liked the character development of the town’s police chief, Jim Hopper (David Harbour); before I’d seen him in Law and Order: Criminal Intent and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit playing shady/villainous guys. Veteran actor Matthew Modine has a pivotal role, too.  

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The Showrunners: Twins Ross & Matt Duffer (NYT)

…tribute to classic ’80s fantasy, sci-fi and horror, with nods to “Alien”; “E.T.: The Extraterrestrial”; “A Nightmare on Elm Street”; and Stephen King’s 1986 novel, “It.”  -New York Times

If there is one word to describe this show, it’s be “authentic”- note the hairstyles (yikes), clothes (pastels, cords, etc.), bikes, and houses.  The kids/teens are dealing w/ real-life issues (bullies, confidence, dating, parties, parental/school rules), yet also deeply concerned re: the disappearance of one of their peers in such a peaceful, tight-knit community.  Try and check it out SOON, b/c there are spoilers everywhere out there re: this show!  I heard MANY positive things this Summer/Fall (on Twitter and several podcasts), BUT I wasn’t spoiled much.