Personal agendas came into conflict all across the board in this next to last episode of Into the Badlands‘ second season. While it’s not clear what it all means, there’s no real question what everyone wants.
Sunny wants to reunite his family – MK included – and get out of Dodge.
Bajie, always the wildcard, wants to gather the pieces of the Azra collection – MK included – and make tracks to the mythical city.
Quinn, ever showing the madness behind his method, wants to be a post-apocalyptic Nero so he can feast on ice cream, while literally everything blows up around him.
Finally there’s the Widow, who wants to gut, then reshape the Badlands in her own image, like it’s some kind of fixer-upper opportunity.
This episode was very much about the Widow, and completing the season-long heel turn she’s been undergoing.
It seems so long ago that The Widow and her butterflies were one of the forces aligned against the evil Quinn. Although some of her motives were questionable, she still was a character who was standing up for what she sees is right, and fiercely protecting those under her banner.
This season has seen Widow at odds with the world throughout. Her goal of ending de facto slavery in the Badlands is noble; her means of getting there have been far from it. It’s partially not her fault, since she did make an effort to legitimize her rule when the other barons met. When that fell apart, the Widow went into a “me against the world” mode that has led her down the path of villainy.
By the Widow’s side the whole time has been Tilda, first as her butterfly and later as her regent. Tilda was a true believer, but seeing the choices the Widow has been making, Tilda’s loyalty has quickly eroded.
The alliance with Quinn, the betrayal of Veil, the double-cross with Sunny, whispers from Odessa, then finally, the suicide bomber in the square finally broke Tilda, leading to the duel in the grand parlor.
This was a frenetically staged battle enhanced by the flowing clothing worn by both combatants. It was the most balletic fight of the season, but also one of the most brutal.
This fight evoked shades of Sunny and Quinn. Tilda’s skills aren’t quite at Sunny’s level and the Widow is at the top of her game, so it’s not long before the Widow quite literally gets the drop on Tilda. Bloodied and but not completely defeated, Tilda taunts Widow to finish what she started, which she seems to do with a brutal roundhouse kick.
There’s an 80 percent chance Tilda is dead, but there’s enough of a doubt just because of the Widow’s ability to see the big picture. MK figures into the next stage of her plans, and she has to know that he will never cooperate if Tilda is dead.
Even if Tilda survives, the die has been cast for the Widow. By turning on her most trusted soldier, the Widow has crossed a line she can’t come back from. No matter how noble the ends are, the Widow has been corrupted by power making her willing to feed the needy while casting aside her inner circle like they were husks.