This Into The Badlands review contains spoilers.
Into the Badlands Season 3 Episode 14
If last week’s episode tied up Badlands‘ major story arc in a neat little bloodstained bow, then “Curse of the Red Rain” provides closure for its ongoing romantic subplots, all of which have magically appeared over the course of this season. And, as its name suggests, one of them doesn’t end too romantically.
More importantly though, this episode is a vehicle to showcase amazing performances from its female cast members, who have become the best part of this show this year. Lorraine Touissant especially, is fantastic as the venomous yet empathetic Cressida. She plays the role with a sense of conviction that matches that of Babou Ceesay’s Pilgrim. They encourage each other to take things to the next level when they’re on screen together, making us fall in a weird sort of love with their evil yet understandable ways. Villains you hate to love are the best, aren’t they?
The Widow may be the bright ceremonial jian of Into the Badlands, but Lydia has always been the secret dagger concealed up its sleeve. The ultimate twist of “Curse of the Red Rain” is that this is her swan song, which makes sense from a dramatic point of view — but it also throws all her hard-earned character development out the window.
Lydia’s come a long way since being one of the wives of Baron Neckbe- er, Quinn during seasons 1-2, which seems like a totally different show at this point. Much like the totems her character once worshipped, Lydia became a powerful relic from the show’s past, one that the writers were still figuring out how to handle. Her demise here at the hands of Cressida after an impressive cagefight (yes, it’s a cagefight, because it was technically in a cage) is heartbreaking to say the least, especially when Nathaniel Moon walks in to find her slowly dying on the floor.
Lydia’s death scene is the most touching, beautiful sequence Into the Badlands has ever aired, one that cuts as deep as the knife that was used to incite it. Her final words to Nathaniel Moon were her final words to us. She told him to throw his sword in the ocean and leave the Badlands to live a life of peace before confessing her deep love for him with her dying breath. Ah, shit. The way I’m making it sound right now is too melodramatic and does the scene no justice, so let me put it this way: Lydias death is easily in one of my top ten favorite moments from the series ever. It made me tear up, which is a first for this show.
Meanwhile, Sunny and Bajie follow Kannin to Dragon’s Tooth, the location where she claims Sunny can unlock his power. Bajie reacts to Kannin much like I did when she was hastily introduced last week as Badlands’ biggest story mule. She performed the task well, but let’s just say I’m still mentally unpacking everything that she revealed during her colossal info dump.
But Bajie doesn’t trust Kannin because she’s too convenient and too convoluted. She spills to be transparent when she is actually opaque. This causes a short but sweet exchange between Bajie dissects the motivations of Sunny’s character.
BAJIE: “You thought you could trust Quinn? Pilgrim? Even M.K.?”
SUNNY: “Alright, I get it.”
BAJIE: “No, you don’t get it. You blunder blindly from one drama to the next, trying to find answers, when in fact you have no idea what the question is.”
SUNNY: “I am doing this for Henry.”
And that’s true. That’s his only story fuel left for him at this point in the game. If Henry wasn’t around as a plot device, Sunny wouldn’t have much to do in the landscape of this strange and wonderful new world that the Badlands has evovled into. It’s almost like he doesn’t have a place in it anymore, which is tragic in and of itself, although it’s not played that way. By pointing this out, however, Bajie solidifies himself as the real heart of the series, replacing Veil in some ways. (Not like that…unless you want to picture it. If so, enjoy.)
“Curse of the Red Rain” features a grand battle sequence towards the end that makes you wonder, “If this is the battle in the third to last episode, what will the grand finale be like?” After Pilgrim and his Dark Ones storm The Widow’s fortress, M.K. is badly injured, which seems to motivate Pilgrim to do something really bad to get his revenge. How bad? Tune in next week and find out. It’s a doozy.