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

ITB_S2E2_warrior.jpg
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! 

ITB_S2_202_Tilda.jpg
 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. 

ITB_S2_E2_Lydia.jpg
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.

ITB_S2_E2_MK
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. 

ITB_S2_E2_Quinn_men.jpg
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!

ITB_202_D1_big.jpg
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. 

Advertisements

The Zookeeper’s Wife (2017) starring Jessica Chastain & Daniel Bruhl

NOTE: This review contains SPOILERS for the film (now playing widely in U.S. theaters).

Diane Ackerman’s non-fiction book was greatly inspired by the unpublished diary of Antonina Zabinska and Jan Zabinski, the director of the Warsaw Zoo in Poland. The book was published in 2007. While the real life events occurred in Warsaw, the movie was filmed entirely in Prague (w/ real baby lion cubs). This film also has a woman director (Niki Caro) and woman adapter (Angela Workman). 

TheZookeepersWife_bunny

[1] It is still possible to find love and comfort in the darkest of times. Love is all around us. We must be the vessel through which hope and love spreads. Antonina believed this with her whole heart which is why she and Jan did what they did. There are brave people all around us: fighting for our rights, fighting for theirs, their family, their country – bravery comes in so many forms. This film reflects this: there is bravery in combat and ‘silent’ bravery. One is not greater than the other.

[2] One of the key messages seems to come from an early monologue delivered by Antonina where she compares the purity of animals (their eyes tell you everything) with the propensity to deceive and commonplace of ulterior motives in humans.

[3] Caro is able to reflect humanity, sincerity and earnestness in her films, which captivates and entangles the viewer. Caro’s directing prowess brings to mind the ideology of the male gaze vs. the female gaze in films… I feel as though I’m witnessing a life lived, purely, rather than someone’s perspective of that life. 

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

We first see Antonina (Jessica Chastain) as a happy figure riding her bike through a zoo with a young camel trotting beside her. She helps rescue a newborn elephant, interrupting  a dinner party. But soon German bombs begin dropping on her city (Warsaw) and this zoo she runs w/ her zoologist husband, Jan (Belgian actor Johan Heldenbergh). 

TheZookeepersWife_painting

…she is undeniably captivating as the eponymous lead, channeling grit and vulnerability in equal measure as she fleshes out her character’s fears, anxieties and convictions. Among the supporting actors, Bruhl and Haas [the teenaged Israeli actress who plays a pivotal role] are the standouts, the former exercising admirable restraint in what could have been a traditionally villainous act, while the latter surprisingly nuanced in her portrayal…

-Excerpt from IMDB review

The scenes between Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl) and Antonina are tense; as he disarms her with his affinity/experience w/ of animals, BUT later scares her (and us) with his unwanted advances and desire to cross-breed animals in hopes of creating a new type of bison/bull (superior beast). 

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!