Into the Badlands – S01E06
Title: Hand of Five Poisons
Episode 6 brings us to the conclusion of season 1, but there are few answers to be had in a finale that is spectacular in terms of action, but less so in terms of narrative.
SPOILERS beyond this point.
Heads, I Win, Tails, You Lose
Sunny leaves the fort with a head in a bag. This turns out to be the colt Bale who was left both partially earless and completely lifeless by the end of the last episode. Sunny turns this over to The River King, which is marginally passable for M.K.’s sketched likeness on the wanted poster. With The River King’s payment met, the deal is done and the plans are set to leave at midnight.
Sunny breaks the news to Veil, but she’s been summoned by Baron Quinn to help with Jade, who is ‘apparently’ not dead after last episode’s poisoning. Veil also confronts Sunny about the death of her parents and is justifiably upset by Sunny’s non-intervention during their demise.
Elsewhere, one of Preacher Penrith’s pajama people has made his way to an Abbey that looks strikingly similar to the designs of the city of Azra. There he encounters three ‘brothers’ (well, two brothers and a sister to be exact) and informs them of another child (or dark one), referring to our young protagonist M.K. We also learn that the Abby is just one day’s drive from The Fort, so The Badlands must not be all that big. The monks load up a big black box and head out.
Ploys Over Flowers
Back at the fort, Baron Quinn confronts his wife and bride to be with evidence of Jade’s poisoning, monkshood flower, which was found in Lydia’s jewelry box. Lydia realizes she’s been played and Quinn has her banished from The Fort. The final parting look to her from Jade tells us all exactly what’s going on. Upon her exit, Ryder comes to confront his mother. He too believes she poised Jade (his love) and so the deception has a double impact her in turning her son against her as well.
Quinn confronts both his son and later Sunny looking to feel out their motivations. It’s clear that he trusts no one now and he promptly has Sunny stripped (officially and later literally) and placed in chains. It’s notable to see Petri up and about, given the fact that he had a compound fracture from that bear trap. I guess he heals quick.
The Widow’s butterflies kidnap Veil and bring her to the estate to provide medical attention to wound she received in the previous battle with Sunny. The Widow attempts to appeal to Veil’s sense so sisterhood, but is seems to be that her sensibilities as a mendicant and what guide her actions more than anything else. She also seems to be the only healer/doctor around now (and not a true doctor at all life her father), so one would think that she’d be a valuable asset to keep around/alive. The Widow, who is suffering from blood poisoning, quips about Sunny’s handiwork, but Veil is having none of it and promptly shuts her up and gets to work.
Baron Quinn accosts the bound (and shirtless) Sunny, prodding for any further secrets he may harbor. He threatens to take Veil’s child and raise it in The Fort just as he raised Sunny. Sunny vows to clip Quinn first when he gets free. Lydia returns to her father’s parish looking to be saved. Penrith makes her swear vows to the ‘faith’ and accepts her back into the fold. Veil sets up a selection of two poisons and a tincture and says she will inform The Widow of which one she will take once she is safely back at her clinic.
Four Score and Seven Barons Ago.
Baron Quinn gives M.K. a lecture on politics and society and uses a model of the Capitol as a prop to help narrate his point, that “We live in a husk of a world left to us by these enlightened men. You don’t fix it by running. You do it by fighting.” Quinn goes on to promise to protect Tilda and spare Sunny if he will work with Quinn. Meanwhile, Ryder and Zypher make plans to assassinate Quinn and Jacoby and take their places as new Barons.
Waldo frees Sunny and urges him to take off. We learn that Waldo was The Widow’s inside man in The Fort. Sunny questions Waldo’s actions, but Waldo confesses that he feels responsible for Sunny’s life after saving him as a child. He also gives Sunny a medallion that was found with him, which is identical to the one the M.K. had. As Tilda returns Veil to her clinic, Veil informs her that she could change things by giving a poison to The Widow rather than the tincture. The decision rests with her.
Quinn enters town to treat M.K. to a night with a ‘doll’. But he is more than aware of the impending ambush. Jacobee along with Ryder, Zypher, and a handful of clippers in tow step out of the shadows for the final showdown. But Quinn, having set things in motion, steps back and unleashes a hulked-out M.K. on the assailants.
As the battle (and M.K.) rages on, Sunny shows up and keeps his vow, clipping Baron Quinn first, stating “You’re gonna be my last tattoo.”
M.K. makes short work of Jacobee and his clippers and Zypher. When Sunny intervenes Ryder manages to escape. Then the two brothers and one sister from the beginning of the episode show up just in time to join in on the fun (The main monk is played by MMA fighter Cung Le).
They quickly subdue M.K., but Sunny’s not having it, and the final fight sequence of the season kicks off. Sunny holds his own against the three, but he’s clearly not faced opponents of this caliber before. Sunny puts his blades together (Darth Maul style) and starts to gain an advantage.
That is until all three (monks?) hulk-out by their own sheer willpower.
They trio pull of a series of finishing moves that knocks Sunny for a loop and puts him down.
Ride Off into the Sunny-set
Sunny’s unconscious body is recovered by The River King, who has discovered Sunny’s decapitation deception and is now looking to (slave) trade Sunny as compensation. We are also given brief glimpses of Tilda and The Widow, Veil, and Lydia, before the final shot (and narration) of the boxed up M.K. being driven off into the Badlands.
Thoughts on the episode.
If Sunny had a medallion of Ezra as well, does that mean he has a similar inner power tah can be somehow unlocked?
Quinn’s death seemed a bit of a letdown. I was expecting more of a fight between him and Sunny. But on further reflection, I began to wonder if Quinn had actually planned it out this way (e.g. Suicide by Sunny) knowing he did not want to die a slow lingering death trying to poison the tumor.
We’ve moved so far away from the source material at this point it’s barely worth mention. That being said I have found the series to be no less entertaining despite the lack of real connection to the classic text.
While I have really enjoyed the series, I am disappointed with the overall ending. Cliffhangers are never a good narrative device when there is no guarantee of renewal. Unfortunately, an initial source (which had cited a Daniel Wu FB post) that claimed there would be a season 2, now seems to be called into question and so we still have no official word.
Of the remaining characters, the fate of some were not entirely clear. Although The Widow’s final fate was not decided, I doubt Tilda will poison her. She was too much of a strong presence throughout the season. Jacobee and Zyhper may or may not be dead, the bodies were not shown in the final shot of carnage that Veil walks through.
Ryder/Jade should now be in charge of The Fort, but are either of them strong or clever enough to keep it?
I love Lance Henriksen and hope he has more to do than stand around in his PJs next season.
With Sunny and M.K. separated, one wonders if season 2 would solely focus on Sunny being sold into slavery (gambling style fighting pits/games is my guess) and how long it mightl take him and M.K. to reunite (hopefully not the entire season).
Since the three monks demonstrated the same power as M.K., and given the fact that they didn’t just kill him immediately, I am speculating that ‘cleansing’ involves some kind of training and the possibility that M.K. could become like one of the monks.