Into the Badlands: Two Tigers Subdue Dragons

Into the Badlands

Remember last week’s episode of Into the Badlands, when the show doubled down on the plotting and scheming? Well, now you can forget it, because this week’s it’s quadrupling. Alliances? What alliances??

“Two Tigers Subdue Dragons” begins with a dark-haired girl running through the woods in a frilly white frock. Dress? Nightgown? Underthings? There’s no telling! It’s clearly meant to signal vulnerability and fragility, though, even more than the blood dotting it and the girl’s face, which we see when she pauses for breath and to check her surroundings. It’s Tilda Belcher! Hi, Tilda! Either she’s up to something, or she’s taken the final step into living out one of her zombie self-insert friend fictions.

Oh, no, false alarm: she’s up to something. She bursts out of the woods and into the path of a truck, yelling for help and collapsing in a oh-help-I’m-so-fragile heap. The two guys in the truck helpfully jump right out to look suspicious in her general direction, but not for long. Two of the butterfly-shaped throwing stars whoosh out of the woods and through the guys’ necks. (A related note: the cartoonish blood spray works much better in an outdoor setting!) When the guys are dead, Tilda calls the Widow and her sisters out of hiding and helps them unload the gold shipment at the back of the truck.

Some of the sisters bring one of Quinn’s Clippers to the truck. His hands are tied behind him and his face is bloody, his nose broken. The Widow grabs a giant pickaxe in response to the Clipper’s taunt that Quinn will have her head for this. (Sadly, he does not snarl this in true villainous fashion.) Her head? Her head? Oh, Clipper, you’re hilarious. The Widow swings the pickaxe, which thankfully lodges itself in the Clipper somewhere offscreen.

After the credits, M.K. is working out with Sunny atop the gate, where no one can find them or spy on what they’re doing. Oh, except for Quinn, who climbs up behind them before they notice. Sunny sends M.K. off to practice his forms, and Quinn tries to charm Sunny back into complete and utter loyalty since the rest of his empire is kind of crumbling around him. Quinn also looks terrible, but that’s not plot-related. Or IS IT?? It is. Of course.

At the abandoned house the Widow is using as her summer home, her girls are milling around in a dusty room looking at tchotchkes, like the bitchin’ surfer snowglobe Tilda’s checking out. Another girl calls her attention to a Victrola-style record player and the boy band vinyl inexplicably playing on it. Tilda and the girl hold hands and start the dance party, but the Widow shows up to tell them to “turn down that damn music, you rotten kids!” Not a pop fan, our Widow. Also, she sent them in to do their chores hours ago, not bust out the Footloose. Tilda talks back, and the Widow takes her barely out of earshot to ask what her problem is. Tilda’s problem is that she doesn’t get why the Widow’s plan seems to be to frame Quinn for the gold heist. The Widow reminds Tilda that her current situation — murder, frame-ups, not being sexually assaulted by the late baron — is due entirely to the Widow, so maybe she should show some gratitude. Tilda does not throw the Widow through the nearest window, unfortunately. Will someone please give Tilda a hug and a copy of *NSYNC’s Greatest Hits?

At the baron’s, Sunny finds M.K. still practicing his forms after dark. He watches from the shadows as the boy almost cuts his own hand to unleash his power, but chickens out after what feels like a good ten minutes of hesitating. It’s hard to tell whether Sunny is relieved or disappointed.

In the house, Jade and Lydia bond over rare citrus, and Jade tries to maintain her bond with one of the servants and reject the customs of the barons. Both Lydia and the servant, Mari, give Jade the pitying looks the action deserves. She might not be a junior baroness yet, but she’s definitely not the little girl who grew up on the plantation and palled around with servants anymore. Lydia dismisses Mari, and Jade tries to explain that she wants to be on good terms with Lydia instead of rivals. Lydia takes the proffered olive branch and shoves it straight down Jade’s throat, with a warning that maybe she ought not sleep with both her fiance and his son at the same time.

Elsewhere, Quinn is being examined by Veil, who explains that she doesn’t know as much about tumors as her father did. Quinn farts some weak promises that he’ll find the persons responsible, and for the second time in less than ten minutes, I’m surprised that no one winds up defenestrated. Instead, Veil explains that her rudimentary chemotherapy could help slow Quinn’s condition but isn’t likely to cure him. He does not look pleased, or very much convinced.

Hey, Sunny’s got his bike back! He tears out of the gate with M.K. riding pillion (that’s also known as cupcaking, if you’re into ladymoto). They stop in a very nice deserted ruin, where Sunny cuts M.K.’s hand so they can tangle beast mode-style. This is not one of Sunny’s better ideas, as M.K. gives him one tiny tap to the chest (which sends Sunny flying a good fifteen feet) then passes out.

After the commercials, Sunny wakes up and prods M.K. awake as well. They argue about whether M.K. can control the beast mode and Sunny dispenses some wise advice: instead of concentrating on hurt or anger, Sunny should concentrate on something good or pure. As my dad said when we were kids, think of Smurfs! Unfortunately the badlands don’t have Smurfs, and neither Sunny or M.K. can actually name something pure. I’m sure they’ll think of something.

It won’t be Quinn or his son, Ryder, I can about guarantee that. They’re arguing in Quinn’s study over a decapitated head with a message from Jacobee, the baron Quinn wants to parley with. (Jacobee is also the owner of the hijacked gold shipment. Dun dun dunnnn.) Quinn tells Ryder to go out to meet and negotiate with Jacobee’s people. Ryder brats that it’s a job for a Clipper (like it was last week, when Sunny did exactly this and met with Zypher, Jacobee’s regent), and Quinn switches gears. Is Ryder’s reluctance to work for daddy because he’s in love with daddy’s new bride? Of course not, Ryder says. Literally no one in the entire history of humankind buys it for a second. Quinn rubs the salt in a little more by questioning Ryder’s manly manhood, which I am sure will not backfire on him in any way!

After practice, M.K. goes to Veil’s to ask if she’s made any headway in the book. She hasn’t! Sunny finds them together and gets angry that M.K. not only stole the book from him but has also been lying about knowing how to get out of the badlands. He’s mad that everyone is lying! And that the baron is leading them into war, which Veil blames on the brain tumor. She tells Sunny that there isn’t any treatment, but she could maybe speed things up a bit. Sounds like a great plan to me! Sunny warns her that Quinn’s death will bring the barons down on their territory even faster. Booooo.

Ryder practices some fancy dagger juggling in a clearing (not a euphemism!) while he waits for Zypher, who thunks a pickaxe in a tree to announce her arrival. Whatever works, I guess. Zypher tries to get under his skin about not being the apple of Daddy’s eye, but Ryder seems like he couldn’t possibly be needled by that anymore than Daddy already did. They make plans to meet the next day, making this meeting kind of totally pointless? Thanks, everybody! Oh, no, don’t go yet! Ryder has a bombshell: he’s not there to work for Daddy; he’s got some ideas of his own.

At Waldo’s birdland oasis, Sunny brings up escaping the baron’s service and the badlands again, which is probably a really good idea that will in no way backfire on him. (I can see why he and Quinn got along so well for so long.) Waldo reminds him that it’s a terrible idea, but since there aren’t any birds involved in the plan, it isn’t like he’d be all that interested anyway. He’s also less than impressed by Sunny’s dumb human baby or dumb human girlfriend. He does give Sunny a token that he can take to someone called the River King: a plastic toy soldier. The show’s gotten slightly less heavy-handed on the worldbuilding in recent episodes, but I continue to adore the things that survive whatever catastrophe mostly destroyed civilization: birdcages, fancy cars, bondage gear, plastic doodads.

Jade stares at her reflection, still shaken up by Lydia knowing what she’s been up to. Ryder comes in and kisses her, after she tells him that she’s on her way to Quinn’s room. He wants to know why Jade hasn’t come to his room in weeks, and Jade tries to let him down gently. He wants no part of that! A man takes what he wants! I discreetly barf into the nearest vase. Ryder, instead of taking what he wants, brats about Quinn’s dead second wife who everyone said died of “natural causes.” Jade looks like this is all brand-new information, even though she grew up with Ryder.

The next morning, Jade wanders into the servant cabins — we’re all totally aware that these are old slave cabins repurposed for the show, right? — and asks Mari about Quinn’s second wife. Mari checks to make sure no one is listening, then tells her that she saw Lydia a week before Beatrice died … in a patch of monkshood. You know, aconite. Poison!

The Colts mill around all shirtless and mostly pale in the training arena, making me wonder who’s in charge of sunscreen in the badlands because they are doing a bang-up job. The bully whose name no one remembers badgers M.K. to use his beast mode. Before he can refuse, and probably accidentally use the beast mode in his adolescent rage, Sunny and another Clipper come out to tell them that they’re going on a raid the next day. Sunny picks a handful of Colts to go with them, but not M.K. Not M.K.!!

Sunny collects the baron, and they head to the graveyard where they’re meant to meet Jacobee and his crew. Sunny is suspicious and pulls a blade, but all he finds is M.K. lurking behind a mausoleum. Uh, that isn’t what Sunny meant when he said don’t broadcast all your fighting moves, kid.

Sunny finally finds Zypher, who should be getting paid by the eyebrow gesture. Jacobee emerges from behind his own mausoleum. Quinn doesn’t look thrilled. I guess they aren’t such great allies after all! They big-man bluff each other for a while, getting nowhere until M.K. spots Tilda sneaking up on the group with yet another giant pickaxe, which she hurls at Quinn’s head. (Un?)Fortunately, Sunny grabs it in the nick of time! He chases after Tilda — M.K. does, too — but Zypher gets in the way. They fight while M.K. cuts off Tilda’s escape route. She tosses a throwing star at him, slicing open his cheek and unleashing the black oil, uh, I mean the beast mode. M.K. grabs Tilda by the throat and throws her around for a bit. He’s about to punch straight through her head but she calls his name and he finds his pure place. Instead of hitting her, he passes out instead. Sunny sees the whole thing, but Tilda runs off before he can stop her.

Back at the main fight, Quinn’s cornered by Zypher and Jacobee. Hurrah! But Sunny turns up and reveals that the Widow was the one who tried to kill Quinn first. For some reason, this breaks up the fight. Boo! No one seems to suspect that Jacobee or Zypher was in cahoots with the Widow or her assassin, which I’m sure will not backfire on anyone! No consequences to anything in this universe, you know.

The remains of Quinn’s parley party heads back home, but they find chaos in the poppy fields outside the gate. All of the cogs are gone and the Clippers are dead, some with signs of the Widow’s work still lodged in their skulls. In a cabin, they find Mari hiding with a small child. She tells them that the Widow came with her girls and killed all the baron’s men. To the cogs she offered freedom and gold, which is a pretty good bargain even without murder on the table. Quinn’s not going to let that indignity go. He sets Sunny on the Widow’s trail, saying he won’t be satisfied until her head’s hanging from the wall.

At the Widow’s summer home, Zypher rips a hood off Ryder, who’s tied to a chair. He spits at her that he’s supposed to be meeting Jacobee, but the Widow is all he gets. She tells him that she’s going to destroy Quinn with or without his help. But, if she brings the amulet boy to the Widow, she’ll make Ryder baron in his father’s place. It’s hard to turn down a deal that good.

Sunny zooms away from the fort and holds the plastic soldier up to some bad dudes, who don’t appear impressed. Neither does the River King, who at least knows it means Waldo sent him. Sunny asks for passage out of the badlands for himself and someone else. The River King thinks that’s hilarious, but he owes Waldo so big that he’s willing to deal with Sunny. In return, he wants Sunny to find the person who murdered a whole ship full of cogs. It’s M.K.! Everybody wants this kid! But will they get him, or will Tilda Belcher carry him off so they can touch butts first?

Photo Courtesy of AMC

About Lisa Shininger

Lisa Shininger spends way too much time thinking about fictional characters but, somehow, it's never enough. She co-hosts Bossy Britches, and yells about pop culture at lisashininger.com and on Twitter @ohseafarer.