This Into The Badlands articlecontains spoilers.
The penultimate episode of Into the Badlands is memorable for a lot of reasons, but the one that sticks out the most is the opening teaser sequence where we see Pilgrim (played by the masterful Babou Ceesay) kill and decapitate Nix with his bare hands in a Dark Eyed fit of dogmatic rage.
When he’s done, he tosses the severed head of his once surrogate daughter down the stairs of The Widow’s inner sanctum with no sign of remorse showing on his face. Talk about cold! Meanwhile, the camera wants to make sure that we know she’s absolutely, positively dead too, so it not only lingers on a shot of her severed head — it zooms in closer.
“Yeah, that is like…wow,” Alfred Gough, co-creator of Into the Badlands, said. “Even watching it later, you’re like…wow.”
Although the series is certainly no stranger to shocking, repulsive displays of violence, Nix’s death scene from Season 3, Episode 15 “Requiem for the Fallen” is incredibly disturbing, to say the least — not to mention disgusting.
But believe it or not, this act of trigger-warning, nightmare-fuel gore exists for an elegant storytelling reason — one that the show’s creators, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, were quick to explain.
“We wanted to definitely show the audience that Pilgrim had gone over the edge and there was no coming back,” Alfred Gough said. “And you see the journey of when he was so close to Nix at the beginning [of Season 3] and how much he cared for Castor. Then his betrayal…and he slowly descended into this darkness. To us it was like okay: there’s no coming back from this now. That’s one of the reasons we wanted to show that.”
In other words, as the show nears its end, the stakes had to be raised, and we needed to know, without a doubt, that Pilgrim is a bad guy. Now, we totally do.
“It’s harsh,” co-creator Miles Millar added. “Very harsh.”
“It’s harsh as hell,” Gough agreed.
The series finale of Into the Badlands airs Monday, May 6 at 10PM EST. Try not to lose your head over it.