Into the Badlands: White Stork Spreads Wings

Into the Badlands

This week’s episode of Into the Badlands brings us to the halfway point, but if you thought that would mean starting to close down some of the dangling fringe plots instead of introducing more, uh … nope. We’re doubling down on intrigue!

We open on another awesome fight sequence as Quinn and his Clippers and Colts storms the Widow’s house. There’s a long and really cool swordfight between the Widow and Quinn. Instead of the usual loopy swirlings through air and hack-and-thrust, the two display a level of craft I’ve rarely seen in action, with a lot of big and small movements and real precision and skill. This isn’t to say the sword work in other scenes is bad — because it’s awesome — just that it’s cool to see something new amid all the standard kung-fu

Elsewhere in the house, M.K. steals the Azra logo book. Tilda, who is escaping with her sisters, sees him but can’t stop him. I’m excited to find out what the deal is with the Azra logo, since we’ve been teased with it since almost the start of the show. In other news I’m also excited for next week when hopefully this show stops getting interrupted at every commercial by lengthy The Walking/Talking Dead promos.

As the battle rages, back at the baron’s house, Lydia and Jade argue about Quinn and multiwife protocols, but after Lydia invokes her dying son, it shifts to something a little more tender/instructive about what to expect as a baron’s wife. A servant enters to announce that the Clippers are returning. Neither woman looks particularly thrilled by the baron’s survival.

M.K. gives Sunny the book. In broad daylight. In full view of everyone. I know M.K. is just a kid, but everything about his circumstances before the show started — in chains, captured by nomads, obviously open enough about his gift/curse that the Widow heard about him — makes total sense now. If Sunny can teach him anything, I hope it’s how to stop being such a dim bulb.

Lydia upbraids Quinn about attacking the Widow. She’s right to do so: he’s made everything worse with this idiot faux vengeance. He’s also doomed his son in more ways, by killing the only people who might have helped: the doctor and his wife. Quinn reacts about as predictably as you can imagine: he heads into the next room over from his dying son to have sex with his new wife, while his first wife has to listen. Oh, Quinn, I hope you’re not much longer for this world.

(I don’t want to get spoilery about Jessica Jones — hopefully everyone’s watched it though? right?? — but it and Into the Badlands run headlong into the same kind of mistake in their first few episodes: the bad guy is just too bad for anything but his immediate death to be satisfying.)

Outside, M.K. acts like a dick about the training Sunny wants him to do, so Sunny pushes him off a wall. It makes sense in context, I swear. Then Sunny makes the kid come with him to the gate to gaze at the poppy fields while he imparts another Karate Kid-style lesson: suck it up, dummy, because I need you to do things that benefit me more than you. Okay, so maybe it’s more Breaking Bad than Karate Kid.

In the afterglow, Jade gently encourages Quinn to go see his son. I’m distracted by how much dried blood is on his face, neck, clothes, and not on the sheets and Jade. Also I refuse to condone any scenes between the two of them unless they end with Jade plunging a knife into Quinn’s heart. Alas!

Later, Jade goes to see Veil. They grew up together, awww. Jade thinks they can still be friends, to which Veil gives the most hilarious blankface response I’ve ever seen. Undeterred, Jade gives her clueless condolences for the death of Veil’s parents, aughhh, and asks Veil to tend to Ryder. Veil refuses. For obvious reasons! Jade gets up close and personal to beg her to reconsider, and maybe gives away a little too much about how much she cares for her new husband’s son. The commercial break doesn’t incude a dun-dun-DUN but it could. It should.

Sunny takes M.K. to meet his birdfriend, Birdo, er, his friend, Waldo. Waldo is (unsurprisingly!) hanging out with some birds. We learn that Waldo wasn’t just a Clipper; he was the baron’s regent before whatever happened to his mobility. Based on Sunny’s status as regent and his request that Waldo help train M.K. — not to mention Waldo’s subsequent total annihilation of M.K. — I would guess that only the very best Clippers are eligible to be regents. (A note here on Waldo: although Stephen Lang is a fantastic actor well-suited to these elder mentor characters, it’s too bad they didn’t fill the role with an actor who is a wheelchair user rather than one pretending to be.)

Apparently Jade was convincing enough to get Veil to agree to treat Ryder, because she’s now striding into his room with a kit bag. After a brief examination, she lays a hand-drill on the bed next to him. Lydia freaks out, as Lydia absolutely should do when someone lays a hand-drill next to her dying son. Jade asks how long Ryder has if Veil doesn’t puncture his skull. He’ll die that night, Veil tells them. Lydia reluctantly agrees to let her operate, even going so far as to hold her son’s head while Veil drills into it. Somewhere in a pocket universe that coincides with this one, Leonard McCoy is outraged beyond belief about barbarian medicine.

The Widow leads the daughters who escaped Quinn’s attack through the woods to what she calls her butterfly sanctuary. She commands Tilda Belcher to run to the doll house (this universe’s quaint term for the brothel) and bring back the woman who helped them set up Ryder.

At the fort, Quinn sleazes at Veil, who masterfully disguises most of her disgust until he reveals he knows that she and Sunny are a thing (“wicking” is the term the baron uses, this universe’s quaint term for frakking). He thanks Veil for caring for his son and suggests that he’s going to show his gratitude in more carnal ways at some point. I have never been more on board with Sunny’s escape plan! HURRY, SUNNY. Veil withdraws to take a hot bleach shower, hopefully, and Quinn moves in to see his son has awoken. “Who set you up?” he asks. I hope Tilda Belcher is a lightning-fast runner.

Sunny visits the tattoo artist, Ringo, to ask if he’s heard anything about the Widow’s whereabouts. He hasn’t. He also hasn’t heard yet that Sunny’s giving up the scorekeeping tattoos, and laughs when he does. For the second time in as many episodes, one of Sunny’s “friends” reminds him that he’s highly prized by the baron and deviating from the norm won’t work in his favor. As if to underscore the point, a runner from the baron arrives to summon Sunny back to the house.

Where he finds Veil, who’s just leaving. Quinn calls Sunny in to speak with Ryder, who tells everyone that the ambush was set up by Angelica, the sex worker he was cavorting with. Sunny takes M.K. with him to the doll house to find her. He asks M.K. to keep watch while he goes inside, and Tilda — again! — sneaks up on M.K. I guess she isn’t a great runner after all. This time she gets a good punch in before M.K. allays her suspicions about where his loyalties lie.

Inside, Sunny finds Angelica easily, but subduing her comes a little harder. Angelica fights back, revealing that she’s probably had some training as one of the Widow’s daughters. They punch and kick their way out to the balcony, where Sunny tries to get her to give up the Widow’s position. Angelica declines by way of pitching herself backward over the railing to land headfirst on the rim of a steel barrel. YIKES.

Sunny took a blade to the chest and he needs stitches in both his skin and his tight leather vest. He takes M.K. with him to Veil for treatment. A person would have to be dead to miss the chemistry between Veil and Sunny, so even M.K. notices it. Well, and he also sees them tenderly kissing. He interrupts to ask whether Veil can read — he can’t and there’s the book he stole from the Widow. When he leaves, Veil tells Sunny that Quinn knows about them and he assures her the escape plan is still in place.

Lydia shares a tender moment with her son, when she essentially tells him that he’s a moron and marked for death. Oh, and he doesn’t have any of the necessary strength, cunning or tenacity to take over for his father. Ryder takes that about as well as you’d expect.

Quinn’s hanging out in his office with a couple of awesome birds, one of which he cradles to him. I see why he had Waldo as his regent. They have so much in common. After a terrible bird-related pun, he tells Sunny that the other barons want to meet with him — an obvious trap. Instead he wants Sunny to go to one of their regents and ask for an alliance. It doesn’t sound like Sunny is eager to rekindle their relationship.

In the dark of night, M.K. sneaks into a room and pulls the Azra book from under a bed. Still no dun-dun-DUN? Jeez.

Jade is sitting at Ryder’s bedside again. She holds his hand the way a sweetheart would, something she quickly stops doing when the door swings open to admit Quinn. If he doesn’t know what’s going on there, I will eat my shoe.

Sunny meets with Zypher, the other baron’s regent, in the middle of a cicada-infested field. Zypher’s a pretty woman with an awesome muscle car, which makes me wonder again why Quinn’s territory is so dude-heavy. She and Sunny snark at each other, but eventually she agrees to set up the meeting for their bosses.

The Widow asks Tilda if she saw what happened to her fancy Azra book. Tilda looks nervous, like maybe she’s not sure if this is a trap or something. She says she didn’t see anything, and the Widow dismisses her.

Boy, these people are even more active after dark than they are during the day! Quinn’s now studying his x-rays. After a period of quiet contemplation and probably some more brutal murder plans, he locks them in a safe.

M.K. shows up at Veil’s place. She dishes him up some dinner and he asks her to read the Azra book, but she doesn’t know the language. Before she can give it a further look, Quinn walks in. M.K. hides with the book while Veil goes to meet the baron. In a shocking twist, he’s not there to make good on his creepy sleazy promise to show his gratitude from earlier. Instead, he wants Veil to save him. That will probably end well for everyone!

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.