TV Review: Into The Badlands 1.3 “White Stork Spreads Wings”
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Into The Badlands
Episode 1.3 “White Stork Spreads Wings”
Directed by David Dobkin
Written by Justine Juel Gillmer, Alfred Gough, Miles Millar
Starring Gabe Begneaud, Nazeema Bartek, Daniel Wu, Ruby Lou Smith, Aramis Knight, Ally Ioannides, Stephen Lang, Emily Beecham, Morgan Benoit, Marton Csokas, Sarah Bolger, Madeleine Mantock, Oliver Stark
Air date: Sunday, November 29, 2015, 10pm

On Into The Badlands, Sunny (Daniel Wu) is a man in conflict. He is a clipper, a modern-day samurai/knight for the Baron, Quinn (Marton Csokas). Sunny has an unknown past: a medallion links him to Asra, a land beyond the Badlands. After years of violent service to Quinn, Sunny now has to protect his pregnant girlfriend Veil (Madeleine Mantock) and look after his new protege, the mysterious M.K. (Aramis Knight), who gets a little crazy (and possessed) when attacked. Quinn meanwhile has his own issues to deal with as the most powerful Baron. He is slowly dying of brain tumors, and he was happy to kill to protect that secret. He is also dealing with a possible alliance of the other Barons led by The Widow (Emily Beecham).

So far in the first two episodes of this new AMC series, the formula has been epic fight… character fueled plot… epic fight scene. Let’s see if we continue the trend in week 3 with Episode 1.3 “White Stork Spreads Wings.”

Looks like the formula continues as the war between Quinn and The Widow left his son Ryder (Oliver Stark) nearly dead last week. Sunny and Quinn lead a force in The Widow’s fort for an all-out war. Seriously if these opening fight scenes don’t pump you up, you may already be dead. The highlight of the opening was the crazy sword on sword battle between Quinn and Widow, complete with slow-motion camera on sword action, showing the sparks flying as well as the sound of steel on steel. This show is a visceral assault on the senses, and I mean that in a positive way. Quinn has her dead to rights, but a tumor headache saves her.

Csokas is just stealing the show. He is such a perfect interpretation of every power crazed warlord in history. He celebrates his return by mounting his young new wife to be Jade (Sarah Bolger) in the room next door to where Ryder lies barely breathing with his mother/Quinn’s wife Lydia (Orla Brady) sits watch… all with his door wide open!

Sunny takes M.K. to learn to fight… against his wheelchair-bound mentor Waldo (Stephen Lang). “I won’t even use my legs.” HA! As you can probably imagine, things don’t go so well for M.K. He does get a valuable lesson: never underestimate an opponent. Back at the fort, Jade goes to Veil for help with Ryder’s condition. See, Veil is the daughter of the doctors brutally murdered by Quinn. So Quinn’s future bride asks her old friend to help cure Ryder; who she’s secretly having an affair with, while knowing full well that her future husband, the boy’s father killed her parents… you get all that. That is some kind of wacky family!

Sunny is coming to terms with his decisions. He has a great back and forth with his tattoo artist they track Clipper kills with tattoos – Sunny has over 400.

Ringo (Yohance Myles) – “Haven’t seen you in awhile.”

Sunny – “I think I’m done sitting in that chair.”

Ringo – “You quit clipping?”

Sunny – “I quit keeping score.”

Ringo – “You know what’s funny? Every clipper and colt through that door, they all want to be you. But you don’t want to be you.”

Ryder, awake, reveals who betrayed him, and Sunny goes to collect. Things go awry when Tilda (Ally Ioannides) distracts M.K. and the Widow’s agent does a header off a balcony rather than reveal The Widow’s location. Sunny’s life is troubled more by the revelation that Quinn met Veil, and knows about his relationship with her. Sunny is now vulnerable to the craziest guy he knows, someone with nothing left to lose. Of course, the Baron needs Sunny. His attack on the Widow violated the laws and he must make an alliance. He sends Sunny to meet the head clipper of another Baron and again we find out subtleties of his past… and that he’s quite the lady’s man.

Three weeks in and Into the Badlands shows no signs of slowing down. The war is brewing and all signs point to hell breaking loose in the coming episodes. Marton Csokas is quickly rising up the ranks for me, and Baron Quinn is one of the best and most sadistic villains on television right now. Previews for next week hint at seeing more of M.K.’s strange abilities and full scale war waging in the Badlands. With The Walking Dead and Talking Dead bookending this show, AMC is definitely giving it a shot to strive and survive. I hope it does because it is interesting, action packed, and has a unique tone and feel to it.

Into the Badlands returns next Sunday at 10pm ET on AMC.

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