TV Review: Into The Badlands 1.4 “Two Tigers Subdue Dragons”
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Into The Badlands
Episode 1.4 “Two Tigers Subdue Dragons”
Directed by David Dobkin
Written by Michael Jones-Morales, 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, December 6, 2015, 10pm

War is brewing between the barons of Into the Badlands. Quinn (Martin Csokas) is looking for allies against The Widow (Emmy Beecham). Sunny (Daniel Wu) is stuck in the middle. He is the loyal head clipper for Quinn; but he yearns for freedom, and wants to escape with his pregnant girlfriend Veil (Madeleine Mantock). His interest has been piqued by a strange newcomer, M.K. (Aramis Knight) who shares a similar past as him, leading back to Asra (the land beyond the Badlands). So far through three episodes, Into the Badlands has been an assault on the senses in all the best ways. The show is colorful, sharp, and beautiful to behold… even when you’re watching bloody kung-fu action and violence.

Spoilers below.

We open with Tilda (Ally Ioannides) running through the woods covered in blood. She gets a car to stop, only for ninja stars to instantly kill the drivers. It was a trap (cue Admiral Ackbar). Widow and her girls are there to frame Quinn, and kill another of his clippers. Back at their new base, you get a glimpse of how far into the future we are as simple things like a record player and snowglobe dazzle The Widow’s girls.

Quinn knows war is coming. “I need you Sunny, now more than ever.” His inflexions and his accent are so evil. He is like aninja version of the Governor on The Walking Dead. He’s got more trouble brewing at home. As Baron, he is entitled to take as many wives as he likes. This poses an issue for his wife Lydia (Orla Brady), who is prepping his soon-to-be wife Jade (Sarah Bolger) for their wedding. Lydia knows she’s sleeping with both her husband and son. Quinn, meanwhile, has recruited Veil as his new doctor… since his last ones met an unfortunate end by his blade. They were also Veil’s parents, which makes her treating his brain tumors a bit of an issue for her.

Sunny continues training M.K., which includes a trip out where no one can witness M.K. use his powers. Sunny’s logic is “know thy enemy,” but M.K.is nervous. One knick with Sunny’s sword, and M.K’s eyes roll over black and it takes one hit to put Sunny down. Sunny wants to channel this force – even it out with its pure counter balance.

Baron Quinn is so evil, it’s delicious. The way he mocks his son Ryder (Oliver Stark) about sleeping with Jade (“her taste”)… I don’t know why I always root for the villain, but Quinn is quickly becoming one of my all timers. Sunny continues to be stuck in limbo. Quinn is crazy and bringing on war. He must be stopped. But killing him will bring the other Barons riding toward the Fort. It’s a no-win scenario. Quinn has Ryder go to set up a parlay with a would-be ally Baron, but Ryder seems to be asserting himself. Sunny meanwhile, goes to visit his old teacher Waldo (Stephen Lang). He is told of a River King who may be the only one who can get Sunny through the Badlands, if and when he escapes.

Sunny and a squad lead the Baron out to a graveyard for the parlay with Baron Jacobee (Edi Gathegi). Before anything can be discussed, another attempt is made on Quinn by The Widow, leading to an epic battle between Quinn’s and Jacobee’s camps. When the proof of Widow’s involvement finally comes out, Jacobee lets Quinn know that she must be dealt with for any peace talks to go further. When they arrive back at the Fort, the Clippers on guard are dead and all the “cogs” (poppy farmers/poor peasants) were bought off with gold stolen at the beginning.

“I’m holding you accountable Sunny. Find The Widow and when you do, spill her guts and hang her from the walls for all the Badlands to see.” – Quinn

Turns out, Widow is working with Zypher (Ellen Hollman) who is Jackobee’s head clipper. There are alliances and betrayals afoot everywhere in the Badlands. The ladies offer Ryder in on their deal against Quinn (their mutual enemy), as long as Ryder procures M.K. for The Widow. That boy is much more than meets the demonic black eyes. Sunny visits the River King (Lance E. Nichols). You’ll never guess what he wants in exchange for passage out of the Badlands… actually it’s a who… the same who everyone seems to want.

This was a perfect blend of plot and action. They drove they storyline with crossing alliances and partnerships, and advanced Sunny’s pursuit of a way out. The problem at all turns is M.K. The Widow and her friends want him for reasons unknown. The River King wants his head. The highlight of the series for me is Martin Csokas and his turn as Quinn. He steals every scene he is in, and when he leaves the screen I’m left wanting more. He is a despicable human being in every possible way, but his charisma and charm make him as sympathetic as he is psychotic. I hope his character makes it through his next couple assassination attempts, because I don’t know how interested I’d be without him around. The one cool fight scene we got didn’t get a chance to hit high gear, and that’s probably because they are saving for the future.

Into the Badlands returns next Sunday night at 10:00 ET on AMC.

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