Into the Badlands Season 3, Episode 3: “Leopard Snares Rabbit”
After two seasons and two episodes of a third, we finally see why Orla Brady is third-billed in the opening credits. Brady’s Lydia has always been around the edges of Into the Badlands’ main stories, — never a major player — and seemingly, that’s the way she has preferred it.
She spoke of The Widow’s inevitable fall in much the same way the Pilgrim talked about his powered vanguard, last week, of bright stars lasting half as long (ironic given The Widow’s previous life a Flea). It’s the person behind the throne who exercises the real power, which is where Lydia has positioned herself, as Widow’s Viceroy in charge of the opium fields.
Lydia isn’t playing this game alone. She gives Tilda the Badlands’ version of the birds and the bees talk by telling her to stop being a child lashing out at mommy, and look at the big picture. According to Lydia, to really create change in the Badlands, it’s better to be adjacent to power and influence it, than fight it. It’s a lesson Tilda learns quickly.
Tilda and The Widow
The hour opens with a splash fight, mainly between Tilda, Moon, and their respective armies. We see just how deadly a weapon Tilda has become, opening the battle by taking out the Widow’s troops with her shuriken.
What Tilda lacks in power against Moon, she more than makes up for with tenacity and strategy. She holds her own for a while, before getting knocked out, and her troops taking her away. Tilda’s lover, Odessa is captured in the battle.
Before marching to The Widow’s gates, she has an emergency meeting with Lydia, who shows her how the game is really played. It’s an important lesson to have before a negotiation session with her mentor. In exchange for Odessa and MK (who interrupts the talks after getting triggered into his powers by being force-fed with a funnel), Tilda agrees to stop hitting the Widow’s caravans, and to occasionally work for the Widow. Welcome to grown-up life in the Badlands, Tilda. You can get what you want in life, and it only costs you your principles.
Desperate to get through the front lines of the war in order to get baby Henry to a healer, Sunny is forced to play a game of cat and mouse with a sniper who has the Widow’s troops pinned down.
Posing as the new regent, Sunny orders his young charges into position, and uses strategy and science to try and flush out his opponent. The first go is unsuccessful, but once Sunny finds a trusty longbow, he is able to neutralize the threat.
The sniper is a young man from Chau’s army — the lone survivor of a detachment who was merely following his orders to hold that particular patch of ground.
After the captured sniper is dishonorably killed by one of the Widow’s young troops, Sunny, too learns a tough lesson about being a grownup in The Badlands, which is good because Moon is hot on his tail, with Revenge on his mind.
Ever full of surprises, Bajie also is educated in the ways of the Badlands — most specifically: no good deed goes unpunished.
Bajie spends much of the episode tending after a Widow foot soldier named Wren. She started life in the Badlands working for a barron in his textile mills. She was freed by Widow, and sent to the front lines.
Despite his jaded exterior, Bajie takes a shine to Wren right away, and dives in to help her after she was shot by the sniper’s poison arrows. He reveals a mystic power to lessen another’s pain, which proves useful when Wren has to have her leg amputated to save her life.
Bajie isn’t considered a hero by Wren when she comes to. She accepted the fact she was going to die and in the state she’s in, her death sentence has turned into a life sentence. Existence in the Badlands is such that a one-legged person doesn’t have a chance of a productive life, when they don’t have much to offer a powerful person. Wren lays into Bajie for his kindly act, which reveals there’s a true optimist under that gruff exterior.
Thoughts and Impressions
This was a well-balanced episode. We got a considerable serving of Sunny, and were able to appreciate some additional character work for Bajie (a relative newcomer), and Tilda (there from the start, but under-used).
The fights were up to the series’ usual standards. The Tilda-Moon fight was like a ballet. The way Sunny’s battle of wits with the sniper was shot and edited kept viewers on the edge of our seats. There was no sighting of the Pilgrim this week, but the story moved forward enough to be satisfying.