It’s a Small Badlands After All: Into the Badlands, ‘Moon Rises, Raven Seeks’

Into the Badlands, Season 3, Episode 2: “Moon Rises, Raven Seeks”

After a sweeping season premiere, Into the Badlands looked inward for its second episode, to establish the emotional beats that will drive the characters through the rest of the season. We learn that they’re connected in ways we never knew. Lydia and Moon have a past that predates her marriage to Quinn. Tilda has made a clean break from the Widow. MK unearths a buried truth about his past, and it involves Sunny.

The fight sequences weren’t to the scale of the first episode, but the couple we got were intense and intimate, which served this more subdued episode well.

The Widow and MK

It’s becoming more difficult to root for The Widow. She is fighting a war, and war takes resources, both material and human. When they meet, Lydia remarks to Widow that the refugee camp is swelling, partially because word has gotten out that those who seek sanctuary with the Widow end up either in the poppy fields, or on the front lines. Widow is no fool, however, and she makes Lydia an offer that can’t be refused. She offers the refugees the safety of Quinn’s fort, in exchange for help keeping the flow of opium going.

Speaking of opium, MK has had his taken away and he’s none too pleased. He walks into what becomes a training session, and a chance for Moon to try out his fancy new clockwork hand. MK gives the Widow’s new regent all he wants before Moon finally gets the upper … hand.

MK gets knocked out and sent to his room. Widow is trying to unlock MK’s gift, though nothing seems to work. MK just wants to numb himself from the world, from himself, from everything. After a butterfly sneaks some smack to him, MK promptly overdoses. However in the vision caused by the drug, MK confronts his powered self, who pretty much tells him to stop being a whiny bitch, and really remember what happened to his mother. He flashes to that fateful day to learn that it was his revered mentor, Sunny who butchered his mother. That awakens the power within MK, now all he had to do is survive the overdose.

Sunny and Bajie

There’s always been more to Bajie than meets the eye, but he’s being set up as a character with all the connections. He knew how to contact Azra last season, and now the one shot baby Henry has, lies in the hands of Bajie’s mentor, Ankara the Mad Witch. Of course, Sunny immediately decides to brave whatever peril lies in front of him, which is good, because Ankara’s lair is beyond the front lines of the war.

First, they have to get out of the refugee camp, and that’s made more difficult by the fact that Moon has come around, looking for Tilda’s Iron Rabbits. Lydia tries to stall while Sunny and Co. slip away. Tilda joins that crew, since she’s the one being hunted, and she has the truck and the uniforms that will help get them through the front lines.

Pilgrim and his Promised

His magic compass leads him to an island with a castle on top, the First Temple of Azra. This is where the Pilgrim will lay down roots. The castle is actually an old natural history museum, with many of his relics still intact. T-Rex bones aside, it’s still an imposing place.

The Pilgrim’s flock is starting to lose faith, so lessons must be taught. Four doubters are commanded to try to strike down the blindfolded Pilgrim, who says his faith will protect him. The Pilgrim makes quick work of three, and a new believer out of the fourth. In the process, the rest of the faithful stay that way.

The Pilgrim’s two powered bodyguards are having a rough go of it. They try to keep it a secret from him, but the Pilgrim already knows and judging by his statement about the powered ones not lasting very long, doesn’t seem bothered by it. The episode closes with a scene not-for-the-squeamish (even by this show’s standards). The Pilgrim buries hooks into the flesh of his female companion’s back, and uses chains to hoist her in the air. It’s all an effort to trigger the woman into having a vision, and she says she sees everything.

Thoughts and Impressions

After such a splashy start, the series needed to take a step back. Azra was largely ignored last season, so its importance was reasserted. The characters’ motivations and actions also needed adjusting, so they could be grouped properly, and sent down the path to adventure.

Despite pausing a minute to take inventory, this was still an hour that kept a good pace, made consistent revelations, and found ways to include some nifty action sequences into a story that didn’t exactly scream for action. Although this episode was more subdued, I’d rather see the series go quiet for an episode to point everyone in the right direction, than take four episodes to get to the same place.

Craig Wack

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