This Into The Badlands review contains spoilers.
Into The Badlands Season 2 Episode 9
It’s not a bad kind of upset, mind you. It’s a very good sort of upset, the kind you get when you’re floored by a twist you never saw coming in a piece of fictional media.
But still: I’m upset. Shocked, even. Maybe a little bit heartbroken on top of that.
Thanks for kicking me in the balls, Into the Badlands.
If you haven’t seen this episode yet and you’re just scrolling through this review to see what I thought before you stream it or watch it on your DVR when you have more time this week, STOP NOW.
If you have in fact seen this particular episode of Into the Badlands in its entirety, then please, by all means, continue on. You have my permission. (Except you over there. Yeah, you. With the wimple. I think you meant to click on this week’s Handmaid’s Tale review instead. Security!)
But for those of you who are reading this in the future, when Badlands is entering its much anticipated fifth season and Martin Csokas has gotten a Golden Globe for Best Fake Accent – forget those soon to be dated paragraphs up there.
Now we’re here, at the penultimate episode of Into the Badlands’ sophomore year, watching the fireworks start to explode. Narrative fireworks, not literal ones.
“Nightingale Sings No More” is full of twists, each one involving The Widow in some way. We’ve suspected for weeks now that she’s been taking over the show lately, and I for one am not complaining. You can’t deny the show comes alive when this Lucille Ballbuster and her butterfly collection start swarming the screen. But here we learn something major about her past that I find, um, hard to swallow.
Nick Frost trained her when she was a little girl.
By Nick Frost, I mean Bajie. And by “little girl,” I mean Minerva the Flea. The teaser for this episode features a training sequence between the two – although you don’t know what you’re watching at first – in which he locks her in a small box that she escapes in no time. So this is what made her such a badass. Does this explain why Bajie’s been saving Sunny at the last minute in every damn episode since we’ve met him? Were they telegraphing that he was actually a something-fu master? Whatever. Go Nick Frost, I guess.
The Widow and Sunny’s alliance is short lived when Quinn’s cog Gabriel (‘member him?) reveals that handed over Veil in their negotiation a couple episodes ago – right before he suicide bombs her property. I wish they would’ve kept working together, but this isn’t that type of show and it wouldn’t be true to either of their characters, would it? Speaking of Quinn, he spends most of the hour – surprise! – antagonizing Veil and obsessing over a baby that isn’t his while Lydia plots his downfall. They’re stuck in the waiting room right now until the finale, so they gotta generate that tension somehow. It will be interesting to see if Quinn survives the big showdown with Sunny, mostly because I really do want Martin Csokas to with that Golden Globe for Best Fake Accent (but I’d settle for a Teen Choice Award for Coolest Beard too).
“Nightingale Sings No More” emulates another notorious hour of genre television that stunned millions: Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Seeing Red”, an episode from the tail end of its tumultuous sixth year. In it, after the season’s primary story arcs advance in startling ways, a fan-favorite character is abruptly killed off in its final shocking moments. That’s precisely the template that “Nightingale” uses here and to great effect, since our expectations of Into the Badlands are still quite low despite a greatly improved yet heavy-handed second season. But they’re not nearly as low as they were after the first year aired. (Good lord, am I ever glad AMC gave this show another chance. It deserved to be given more room and budget to crank out well choreographed wire-fu sword battles and bearded, scene chewing melodrama on a regular basis.)
The major character that dies here is Tilda, at The Widow’s hands, following a very heated fight sequence between the two.
Obviously death is not the end for most characters on this show, and I don’t know if Tilda’s actually going to stay dead. She could be back at the end of the finale in yet another twist for all I know. If it’s possible to bring Quinn back in this show’s universe, it’s within the realm of possibility for Tilda to be revived as well. But I think that the show is going to feel that loss for a great while, since Tilda was one of the best characters Into the Badlands featured. There’s a great deal of unfinished business with Odessa and M.K. left, not to mention the rapidly approaching Quest for Azra.
But it wouldn’t be a “nasty surprise” episode without a nasty surprise. And they saved the nastiest for last…
(Is it bad that I hate The Widow more than Quinn now?)
I will reserve all judgements until the finale next week. Until then, I’m going to spend my time making a YouTube fan video tribute for Tilda set to “Bring Me To Life” by Evanescence. What? I think its appropriate…