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Into the Badlands: “Leopard Stalks in Snow”

Into the Badlands, S2 E6 “Leopard Stalks in Snow”
Written by Matt Lambert
Directed by Paco Cabezas

“This isn’t going to last long, so get up and help me kick this asshole’s asshole.”

After this week, Into the Badlands officially changes its name to The Bajie Show. Well, no, not really, but considering the development of Bajie’s character and the number of times he’s saved Sunny’s ass, a change in title would be appropriate. But more about that later.

The episode opens, not surprisingly here in the bad-ass lands, on a scene of disemboweled and dismembered corpses. Lydia’s attempt to avenge Quinn’s murder of Ryder turns into a massacre, but not of Quinn and his troops. His booby-trapped entrance to the underground hideaway sprays the blood and body parts of Lydia’s platoon all over the ground. Lydia regains consciousness just in time to see Quinn’s clippers slitting the throats of the few survivors. He lets her live, and they stage a sadistic kind of reunion, which is probably the only kind possible when one parent tries to kill the other parent for murdering their child. Just as he did with Ryder, Quinn hands her a knife and dares her to kill him. Unlike her late son, Lydia does try to do just that. Quinn proves strong enough to prevent her attack from doing any real harm, but the small amount of blood she manages to draw seems to turn him on, and they end up in a clinch, each tasting a bit of Quinn’s blood. One wonders if it’s the brain tumor that makes him like this, or if he is really just that depraved.  And, speaking of depraved, Lydia seems to like it.

At the same time, Quinn’s regent Declan searches for Veil in the woods. Just when it looks like baby Henry’s cries will lead the searchers right to her, some strange woman appears and helps Veil and the baby escape. The woman takes Veil and the baby to the Widow’s compound on a refugee truck. The Widow welcomes Veil, but asks for information in return for her hospitality: she wants to know the location of Quinn’s hideout. She also asks Veil to try again to decipher the book on Azra. She thinks that it may be her only hope in the coming war against the other barons. The Widow delivers a message to Quinn’s hideout– via arrow, so as not to get too close – that she would like to meet with Quinn. She directs him to come to her compound alone and unarmed, so of course he puts together a team and loads them up with weapons.

Elsewhere on the Widow’s compound, Tillie’s friend Odessa tells her that the Widow is just like all the other barons, and Odessa wants out. She’s been owned by other people all of her life and she doesn’t believe that a better life is possible in the badlands. Tillie shares why she lays her life on the line for the Widow. Tillie used to be a house cog owned by the Widow’s husband. Every night he would come to her room and molest her. Not only did he force himself upon her, but he compelled her to tell him that she loved him while he did it. Unable to face another night, she brought a knife to bed with her. He never came. Soon after, the Widow asked Tillie’s forgiveness for not killing her husband sooner. Sharing stories of terrible mistreatment often leads to intimacy, and this proves to be no exception. Odessa kisses Tillie, and after a moment of hesitation, Tillie kisses her back. Waldo spies this little development, and warns Tillie not to let some crush ruin her judgment – after all, look what happened to Sunny when he decided to become a human being.

After trading clipper deaths, the Widow and Quinn form an uneasy alliance. Certainly the Widow feels compassion, but she also remembers those who have tried to hurt her. She recalls how Veil tried to turn Tillie and almost poisoned the Widow to death. Accordingly, the Widow agrees to pay Quinn’s price for the alliance: she gives Veil and the baby back to Quinn.

On the run from the monastery, M.K. steals carrots from some nomad. The nomad rewards him for this by punching M.K.’s head through a glass cold-frame. Although his face is cut, M.K. doesn’t devolve into one of his black supernatural rages. When the nomad moves to kill M.K., a hatchet appears in the middle of his forehead. M.K.’s abbot, Eva, has tracked him since he ran away from the monastery. Rather than take him back to the abbots, she saves his life and then she joins him. This causes a spiritual crisis for her; by going forward with M.K., she has turned her back on everything she learned at the monastery. The master at the monastery taught her that nothing ever really ends: life goes on in an everlasting cycle of rebirths. She tells M.K. that the three deadly abbots have a device that can track his gift. He reveals to her that his gift may be gone, since he could not summon it when the nomad attacked him.

Portia directs Bajie and Sunny to take her to a healer she knows, who also runs a kind of opium den where people inhale some cheap drug through gas masks. Bajie calls them “gaspers”. This healer provides medical care to Portia and tells Sunny that she will survive. It looks at first like M.K. and Sunny inadvertently took the same escape route. The abbots have followed their tracking device to the healer’s den. The tracking device looks and sounds like some kind of steampunk Geiger counter, which suggests that M.K.’s gift makes him radioactive? Actually, though, the device has zeroed in on Bajie’s trail. Bajie knows who the abbots are and where they come from. That past connection left such good memories that he flat out refuses to help Sunny find M.K. and Sunny drives off in the Weed Wacker-mobile to locate M.K. without Bajie.

M.K. and Eva find themselves at some old, defunct Christmas-land attraction, followed closely by Sunny. Before they have time to catch up on old times, the abbots arrive. Things do not bode well for our gang when one of the abbots grips the ancient Christmas lights, sends a shock wave of energy through the old wires, and turns on all the archaic electric Christmas decorations. This week’s big fight pits Sunny, M.K., and Eva against the three Abbots of the Apocalypse. Sunny yells for M.K. to bring forth his power or they’re doomed, but M.K. admits that it doesn’t work anymore. Eva’s power still works, though, so she hulks out. The abbots do the same, and then start letting it rip. Sunny loses Moon’s sword and gets knocked out, while M.K. is thrown to the ground. One of the abbots throws Eva across the room, impaling her on some piece of metal.

And it’s Bajie to the rescue again! Bajie drives through the wall of the building with the abbots’ pickup truck, hitting one of the abbots. The female abbot prepares to kill M.K., but something pierces her throat from behind. As the abbot falls, we see that Eva drove her fingers through the woman’s neck. Eva then collapses after her final kill. The older male abbot and Bajie greet each other as “Brother” and then proceed to fight. The abbot trash-talks Bajie for being fat and slow and losing his gift, but Bajie remembers enough to briefly immobilize the abbot. Sunny stabs him, but the abbot punches Sunny in the heart two times, dispensing some sort of energetic blow. Sunny finishes him by slicing half of his head off with the sword.

As Eva lays dying, she asked M.K. what if the Abbott is wrong about rebirth and there is really nothing after death. As she expires, the light of dawn lights up her face. Suddenly, Sunny has some sort of an attack and falls to the ground.

Will Bajie be able to save Sunny from the abbot’s energy pulse? At this point their relationship is so uneven that Sunny is going to have to pay for all the beers and the pizzas for the rest of his life if he does survive. Further, since it’s clear that Bajie possesses some Shaolin training, the fight scenes are going to get a lot more interesting from now on. Bajie never backed down from a fight before; now we know why. The fact that Bajie had to hide in a tank full of unspecified yuck to evade the steampunk Geiger counter hints that maybe Bajie can still work a little of that old black magic. From now on, it ain’t over ‘til the fat dude fights!

Grade: B+

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Amy Anna was raised by wolves. She spends all her time eating and watching movies while lying on the couch . Her animal totem is the velociraptor.

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