Into the Badlands returns for a third season on April 22nd, 10pm on AMC.
By John Baker
Season 3 of “Into The Badlands” opens with a lot of changes occurring in the Badlands, but with those changes there’s still plenty that’s just the same.
The blood still flows, the martial arts is magical and the chances that someone’s going to make a deal, break it, then make another is better than even money. And joining many of the familiar faces we’ve come to love in the Badlands are some new characters that will have direct impact on all that’s going on.
The Badlands are soaking in blood as war between The Widow and Chau rages Chau is the only baron from season 2 still alive and The Widow can’t turn The Badlands into the rainbow world she envisions until Chau and her clippers are all dead. That’s just the backdrop, though.
Sunny is on the run with his son, Henry, Tilda has left the employ of The Widow and is now doing her best Robin Hood impersonation as a bandit, The Widow has a new regent, someone you’ll recognize, and MK is still seeking his lost power — while being an opium addict. And that’s just the opening episode of a season that delivers plenty of twists, turns and spurting blood.
Yes, Season 3 has a lot going on as the storylines intermingle at odd angles.
One of the most interesting new faces is that of Nathaniel, he of the 999 kills and the severed hand from season 2. The Widow finds and recruits him to be her new regent and help her defeat Chau at last. But once he learns of her connection to Sunny and Bajie, his interest becomes less about helping and more about retribution. He’s an imposing new character, one that impacts every scene he’s in and his pursuit of Sunny and Bajie is intensely personal. For some reason he thinks Sunny took his honor. What he thinks of Bajie isn’t quite as noble. Sherman Augustus plays the role of Nathanial with a nice combination of threat and presence. He’s a tremendous addition and it’s great to have him back — even if he means our heroes ill.
While Nathaniel’s an important new player on the scene, he’s not alone.
The hunt for Azra has been a theme throughout the first two seasons of “Into The Badlands,” and in an interesting twist, Azra appears to come to the Badlands. Well, not completely but a man named “Pilgrim” arrives with his disciples looking to create Azra in the Badlands. He’s got a couple of black-eyed youngsters who kill in bunches, as well as a seer and adviser named Cressida. Between them, they hope to bring the Badlands to heel under their religion-based banner with Pilgrim the self-proclaimed “Messiah.” Naturally, there are those who don’t want that, which leads to — you guessed it, blood spatter.
Baboo Ceesay (Pilgrim) and Lorraine Touissant (Cressida) deliver performances that leave no doubt they believe in the righteousness of their endeavor and their arrival, and what that means, puts a little shake into the rest of the Badlands. Again, they prove to be worthy additions to the Badlands puzzle.
This is a show that is unique to television right now. Its combination of swordplay, martial arts and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” leaping about and scaling walls may not play for some people, but those who have bought in are treated to a visually delightful world each week. “Into The Badlands” delivers the action we enjoy, but the storytelling has been a nice plus throughout. That which would seem to be impossible or improbable in the normal television world is absolutely doable in the Badlands. And that’s what makes the show so entertaining — as well as valuable to the television landscape.
While it’s easy to get caught up in the throats being slit and blades drawing buckets of blood, there’s a wonderful subtlety to the show in the colors, fabrics, footwork, costuming and backdrops we are exposed to. Season 3 demonstrates once again that while the pieces of the Badlands are moving, the world they inhabit, while often violent, is also a place of beauty.
The stories of Sunny, Tilda, The Widow, Lydia, MK, Bajie and the rest of this superb cast truly take us to another world. It’s a fun world, a world of violence, magic and enough mystery to keep us guessing. Season 3 delivers all of that and more as Sunny now must deal with being a single father, determined to change while continually being pulled back into the blood he simply can’t watch off his soul. And he’s not alone. The story of Azra’s rising in the midst of the Badlands bends the story even more as we move forward. And the rest of the cast have plenty to do as the very real possibility of coming together as one may be the only way to stem the tide that Pilgrim is bringing.
If you’ve enjoyed the first two seasons of Into The Badlands, you’re going to like season 3 a bunch. There’s plenty that will be familiar to you, but more than enough that’s different to keep you involved and relishing this unique show.
I give Into the Badlands Season 3 an A-.