REVIEW: ‘The Dead Lands,’ Episode 7 – “Broken Promises”

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REVIEW: The Dead Lands, Episode 7 - Broken Promises

The Dead Lands, Shudder’s joint production with New Zealand’s TVNZ has been at the top of my television shows to watch in 2020 list since it debuted. An action-adventure show steeped in fantasy pulled from Maori mythology, the series has explored family dynamics, honor, guilt, and what it means to be a warrior. It’s also topped itself with each episode. Last episode we got an emotional look at Waka’s (Te Kohe Tuhaka) childhood trauma as he confronted his father, the man who broke the world. But that isn’t it, a wedge between him and Mehe (Darneen Christian) has begun to form as she begins to be called to the magic coming from his shaman father Te Kaipõ. Now, in episode seven, “Broken Promises,” Waka embarks on a new journey, alone, and paying for proving his worth as the only man who could take on the dead and live.

“Broken Promises” features more action sequences than any other episode, it also puts Waka front and center again. While Mehe moves closer to Te Kaipõ as her distrust of Waka grows after discovering he is, technically, one of the dead. The main story this episode is concerned with Waka rebuking his father and proceeding on a quest to help fix the world while also holding resentment towards needing to complete it.

In Greek epic fashion, Waka confronts a number of obstacles including, a member of The Dead who has all her faculties, a giant, and the best warrior from his father’s tribe. In these scenes, the fighting is both interesting and brutal. From heads being ripped off to a woman taking a bite out of Waka, each situation forces Waka to uses different skills and find something deeper in him to continue the journey. Additionally, there is a humorous balance as he is continually trying to be swayed from completing his quest. For a penultimate episode, it sets the stage in terms of where Mehe and Waka are in their journey and gives viewers a peek at potential endings for the next and final episode of the season.

If I were to compare The Dead Lands to an existing series, it would the History Channel’s Vikings. A story of family, history, and steeped in mythology, this series packs the same punches while pushing further into mythology by bringing magic into the world. That said, the budget differences between The Dead Lands and other series is recognizable, specifically where CG effects are concerned. This problem isn’t usually noticeable given the heavy practical effects, but in one particular decapitation, it’s too noticeable that it broke my immersion in the episode.

That said, “Broken Promises” is a solid penultimate episode. It sets the stage for the finale while deepening the mythic storytelling taking place. I can’t wait to see how this all ends.

New episodes of The Dead Lands air every Thursday on Shudder in the U.S. with the first three episodes available on Amazon Prime Video.

The Dead Lands, Episode 7 - Broken Promises
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

That said, “Broken Promises” is a solid penultimate episode. It sets the stage for the finale while deepening the mythic storytelling taking place. I can’t wait to see how this all ends.