AMC's Into The Badlands

REBerg

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3.01 Enter the Phoenix
Great opening fight in the season premiere.
Maybe I'm just inobservant, but I noticed for the first time that the always amazing Widow was making all her moves against Nathaniel in high heels. Imagine how spectacular she would be in sneakers. :D
I was a relief to learn that the source of baby Henry's fever is The Gift. I'm assuming this condition will require no additional medical help, but it's going to bring him of a lot of unwanted attention.
The arrival of Pilgrim and his followers in the Badlands really showcased what The Gift can do for a pair of young trained warriors. Pilgrim has a compass like Bajie's, which makes me think that this group came from Azra response to Bajie's radioed message.
Conditions in Azra must not be as utopian as fabled if the Azrians believe they can improve their lot by migrating to the Badlands.
 
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Anthoney

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I noticed it as well. They featured the heels more prominently than usual in that fight. Made me think of Nikita.
 

sinister42

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Hell yeah I'm glad this show is back. Love the sh*t out of it. ****ing Nick Frost. Damn.

What I love about this show is how it seamlessly blends antebellum southern American feudalism with Chinese martial arts to create a totally unique future dystopia that also has magic in it maybe?

Anyway, here's hoping Sonny and his kid make it. Not sure who this new guy is who has the two magical kung fu black-eyed kids with him, but I'm sure we'll find out his deal. And what the heck are these compasses pointing towards?

I'm just glad creepy southern Baron dude is finally dead - his voice grated on my ears.
 

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3.02 Moon Rises, Raven Seeks
Hard-to-watch ending scene
An extremely pain-intensive Pilgrim path to Visionville.
Love Moon's new steampunk hand.
 

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Well, the first two of the final eight episodes have been presented. Any reactions out there?
 

REBerg

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Whaaaaat? Letting the real world get in the way of your entertainment?
I had to wait for a full day off to watch them. I think I'll need to re-watch the previous episode or two in order to patch the storylines back together.
Too much time has passed for my failing memory. :unsure:
 

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OK, having re-watched 3.08 (Leopard Catches Cloud), I now recall how the Widow ended up in that strong box on her way to the Land of the Waterfalls. She got that Master’s magic tap to her forehead, which instantly put her down and out.

The way the Widow (aka Minerva) rocketed out of the box when the chains were smashed made me wonder if I had also somehow forgotten that she had regained the gift. She had not, which made her no match for the Master. The fight which ensued was, for lack of a better word, epic.

Emily Beecham has dominated so many episodes of this series that I wonder why she still gets second billing behind Daniel Wu in the opening credits.
handwave.jpg

The Master’s cure of Minerva’s wounded arm with a passage of her hand verified a surprise
revelation. Throughout the series, the gift had served as nothing but a force for mass destruction.

“The gift was never meant to dominate or control. It was meant to heal us, to set us free," she told Minerva.”

Tell that to Sunny, as M.K. uses the gift to pound him into a pulp.

It must be painful when those with the gift “go dark.” Their eyes make a dramatic crunching sound as their irises disappear. Maybe a little Visine would help.

Cressida revealed herself to be something other than completely evil as she observed the weaponry which has been developed over the centuries to "shed blood and to summon pain and suffering." She appears to be serving as a brake on Pilgrim’s darker side, helping him to control his emotions.

Bajie again showed some amazing martial arts agility (no doubt greatly aided by wires and CGI) in his fight with one of Pilgrim’s harbingers. He also revealed his ability to turn off the gift in the harbinger, using what looked like a double version of the Vulcan nerve pinch.
 

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There’s that magic tap to the forehead again, only this time the Widow was put into dreamland in the Master’s vision quest chamber of mirrors. The intent was apparently to give the Widow a taste of what things would be like if she regains the gift.

As the episode progressed, the color intensity increase would probably have been enough to cue the dream sequences, but starting each of those scenes showing the Widow still unconscious in mirror world didn’t hurt. Just to ensure that perceptively challenged people like me could follow the action, they marked dream Minerva with a slight cut on her left cheek, courtesy of a throwing star in her opening fight with the ninja squad.

Sunny did such a thorough job of smashing the Meridian Chamber controls that it looks like Pilgrim’s designated repairman may not be able to put the pieces back together. The evermore emotionally explosive Pilgrim failed to realize that picking the guy up by the throat because he found his lack of faith disturbing was not the solution. Good thing Cressida got Pilgrim to release him.

Pilgrim made a huge miscalculation four episodes back, when he put the dying Castor out of his misery, setting up Nix to be an indispensable ally for Sunny. Plus, Nix now can turn on her gift without cutting herself – just by picturing Pilgrim killing Castor. Does that also mean that Pilgrim no longer has the power to deactivate Nix’s gift?

Nix got Pilgrim right in her argument with M.K. Pilgrim's belief that he is a god betrays his vision of everlasting peace through war.
“We’re not fighting for a cause," Nix said. "We’re fighting for a man. And when we stop being useful weapons, he’ll get rid us. Just like Castor.”

Sunny’s temporary base of operations in what looked like the remains of an ancient Walmart, was spooky. I half-expected one of the manikins to suddenly go all Westworld host and attack him. His talking to the manikins, even addressing one of them as his old mentor, Waldo, made it seem like he was losing his grip on reality.

Considering Bajie’s general lack of credibility, how did he talk Nathaniel into loaning him his car? Bajie’s promise that he might bring it back in one piece was not reassuring.

Gift-enabled Minerva couldn’t stop herself from killing Tilda. She further revealed her evil nature when she knifed her paramour, Gaius, on mere suspicion of being a traitor.

I was momentarily mystified when those Widow-trademarked, stiletto-heeled boots started down the stairway, but the voice was unmistakable. Why, of course, it was Minerva’s dreamworld nemesis and “good” twin, the Raven.

spikeheeleddancenumber.jpg

The sword fight that ensued was again, for lack of a better word, epic. The closeups of red vs. black stilettos were
over-the-top highlights of the incredibly choreographed battle.


flyingflats.jpg

I noticed, however, in the longer shots, that neither combatant was actually wearing heels.
Apparently, special effects are not without limits -- even in a fantasy.

“You are the darkness, and I am the light within you.” Black-clad Raven told the sword-skewered, red-dressed and getting redder Minerva.

When she awakened among the candle smoke and mirors, did the real-world Minerva still want her gift back?
 

Dave

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Just to ensure that perceptively challenged people like me could follow the action, they marked dream Minerva with a slight cut on her left cheek...i
Not just you, I had no idea what was going on. I eventually understood that it was a dream sequence, but not what it meant. And did she or didn't she, as you say? It wasn't answered.

I loved this series, but for me it seems to have gone off the boil. There are so many unanswered questions for me and none seem to be getting answered. There isn't long to go either.

My biggest problem is probably going to be the explanation of the gift itself. For all the technology, it is going to be some kind of magic like the Star Wars 'Force' but without the midichlorians.

And then there are the fight sequences - women fighting in high heels!!! Nick Frost doing backward somersaults!!!!
 

REBerg

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My biggest problem is probably going to be the explanation of the gift itself. For all the technology, it is going to be some kind of magic like the Star Wars 'Force' but without the midichlorians.
I think that "the gift" is a benevolent technology gone terribly wrong, developed by the ancients (that would be us, I guess). Unless they were using the label ironically, it seems unlikely that the gift was created to turn human beings into weapons.
My theory, based on what the Master did to heal Minerva, is that the gift was aimed at immortality (automatic gene repair?), but was used for evil instead. Extended violent overuse results in the death of the user, as was the case with Castor. Even Pilgrim and dream-state Minerva were showing signs of wear and tear through gift abuse.
The gift may be the curse that destroyed the ancients.
 

Dave

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The gift may be the curse that destroyed the ancients.
I agree that the gift is what brought down our civilisation and that it could have a genetic explanation.

From the "benevolent" use that the Abbess spoke of, maybe it was developed as a medical 'healing' procedure rather than that 'super-soldier' trope. However, the existence of the 'temple' tends towards the latter explanation. Also, the 'temple' doesn't look very 'medical' to me. On the other hand, it also seems a little steampunk too, and not very far into the future - it is very mecho-electrical rather than electronic - and wouldn't gene-splicing be done with something akin to bone marrow injections, rather than holding hands with a phallic stone carving?
 

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From the "benevolent" use that the Abbess spoke of, maybe it was developed as a medical 'healing' procedure rather than that 'super-soldier' trope. However, the existence of the 'temple' tends towards the latter explanation. Also, the 'temple' doesn't look very 'medical' to me. On the other hand, it also seems a little steampunk too, and not very far into the future - it is very mecho-electrical rather than electronic - and wouldn't gene-splicing be done with something akin to bone marrow injections, rather than holding hands with a phallic stone carving?
Yeah, the gift distribution from Pilgrim to his most faithful subjects was quite ritualistic, not to mention spectacular. Injecting them with immortality juice would have been a little blah.
The series has been scant on details of the descent into a feudal society. Considering how little time remains, I'm not expecting much more backstory there.
I'm confused about the golden city of Azra. Pilgrim's reverence for the place hints of something from the distant past, yet didn't he and Sunny "Sanzo" grow up there together as privileged sparring partners?
 

REBerg

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Just revisited the opening scene of episode 1.01, which is the only time I can recall getting any Badlands background.
To loosely paraphrase: The wars happened so long ago nobody remembered them. Out of the dark aftertimes, the barons emerged and restored order.
Very vague.
Emily Beecham was listed fifth in the opening credits of the first episode, so it would seem that her contributions to the series have been recognized.
 

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Pilgrim’s megalomania is starting to take over.
“Faith is for mortals. A god only has himself to believe in."
Unfortunately, Cressida'a days of retraining her man appear to be simultaneously coming to an end.
“Give me two harbingers, and I will make certain that no one defies you. "It’s time to put the fear of the gods into the badlands.”
She didn’t waste any time in making a courtesy call on Lydia, harbinger henchmen in tow, to inform her that the Widow’s land is now the Pilgrim’s.

Tilda was a bit overly enthusiastic in her execution of Mama Chau. Anger issues fueled by social status insults? Never call Tilda a “filthy cog” or an “ugly little pet.”

I can’t complain about a lack of action in this one: M.K. vs. Nix. The Widow vs. Bajie. Sunny vs. the Widow.
Even the department store manikins briefly got into the mix during the fight between M.K. and Nix. I thought that Sunny should have taken M.K.’s advice and finished him while he was rebar-impaired.

flyingbajie.jpg

Beyond Bajie's amazing jumping ability, the ending of his “chopsticks challenge” against "Flea" was also amusing.
Oops! There goes Nathaniel’s ride, although I don’t know how a couple of stick punctures can cause a car to immediately
burst into flames and explode. Magic? There’s nothing like the burning wreck of a borrowed car to bring a pair of estranged
companions back together.

The Widow’s clash with Sunny was seriously hampered by her efforts to avoid killing him while he was doing his best to kill her and avenge the death of Veil. When Sunny asked Bajie why he was now allied with the Widow, Bajie summed up the situation nicely.
“Well, it’s the end of the world, isn’t it? That makes for strange bedfellows.”

The bedfellows coming together in this episode are strange indeed. They now include The Master, The Widow/Minerva/Flea, Bajie, Sunny, Nix, Mad Witch (and former Master) Ankara, Sunny and, possibly, the gift-hating Black Lotus.

Is the Black Lotus cult something new? I don’t remember it in previous episodes. Their members can’t be too tough, if the Mad Witch could dispatch the pair of assassins who found her.

Pilgrim is showing signs of weakness on the trek to the monastery -- tiring, breathing heavily, hallucinating Castor’s ghost. An attack of conscience?
In Pilgrim’s apparently depleted state, will he be any match for the Master – even with the backing of M.K. and the Harbingers (hmm…sounds like a good band name)
 

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