Into The Badlands is one of the most underrated television shows currently airing on AMC. Fans of the adrenaline-fueled martial arts drama had a chance to view the series’ 25th episode, titled “Chamber of the Scorpion,” at this year’s Emerald City Comic Con. This episode also marks the beginning of the final eight episodes of the series.
Picking up after the bloody midseason finale, the episode finds Sonny (Daniel Wu) and Bajie (Nick Frost) dealing with the fallout of their attempt to destroy the chamber that Pilgrim (Babou Cressidy) has been using to channel the dark powers of the Gift, as well as M.K.’s (Aramis Knight) vendetta against Sonny. Meanwhile, the Widow (Emily Beachum) has been spirited away by the Master (Chipo Chung) and her Abbotts, while Nathaniel Moon (Sherman Augustus) races to save Lydia (Orla Brady).
As usual, the fight choreography is out of this world. From a duel between the Widow and the Master, to Sonny having a charged confrontation at episode’s end. You feel every punch, kick, and weapon slicing through the air. However, Alfred Gough (who co-created the series with his Smallville partner Miles Miller) said that he always wanted to make sure the action was tied in emotion.
“When you have these sort of large fantasy worlds and everybody’s, you know, kung-fu fighting, it has to be grounded in emotional stories and relatable stories,” Gough said in an interview with IndieWire. “What we always tried to do, even with this crazy world that we’ve created, is make sure that the characters feel like they’re grounded in emotion that you can understand and relate to.”
Nowhere is this truer than with Sonny, the titular character. Throughout the series, he has tried to renounce his violent ways, for his son and his late wife Veil. But circumstances have forced him time and again to engage in bloodshed, and cost him friendships and family. Even though he loves Pilgrim like a brother, he soon realizes that his friend’s vision for the world has tipped into the realm of zealotry. This brings him into conflict with both Pilgrim and M.K., and the result had the audience gasping.
Similarly, the Widow is at an emotional crossroads as her quest to become the sole remaining Baron pales in the face of Pilgrim’s plans, and after a confrontation with the Master, she agrees to help but in typical Widow fashion. She strikes a deal that tips the scales in her favor. We also see a tender moment between Lydia and Moon. If there is one weak link in the episode, it is Knight’s performance as M.K. However, I will admit I never particularly cared for the character and even though he has good reason to despise Sunny here he reaches a new level of insufferable. Hopefully this changes in future episodes.
Though the end is in sight for Into The Badlands, the series proves that it will end the same way it began: fighting.
Into The Badlands returns with new episodes on March 24th.
Rating: 10/10 Clippers.
Collier “CJ” Jennings is a freelance reporter and film critic living in Seattle. He uses his love of comics and film/TV to craft reviews and essays on genre projects. He is also a host on Into the Spider-Cast.