After more than a year off the air, AMC’s dystopian martial arts epic Into the Badlands has finally returned! And with it, so have these NOC Recaps. Speaking of which, I’m going to try to title each recap with a line from Hamilton because 1.) seriously, have you met me?; and 2.) the Badlands writers have basically challenged me as much. So, appropriately enough, the Season Two premiere is named after a lyric from “Yorktown.”
Like the Sons of Liberty in Hamilton, all of our Badlands protagonists (and antagonists) start the second season in a much different place than before. Sunny, having finally escaped the Badlands last season now finds himself in a post-apocalyptic gem mine; M.K. is exiled to the mountains of K’un Lun to train as the next Iron Fist; and Jade and Ryder have ascended to Barondom. The only ones who are basically the same? Widow, Tilda, and the Butterflies are still murking dudes left and right until the Badlands are free.
We also meet a couple of new characters who look to be significant additions to the series. First, we meet Bajie, played by Shaun of the Dead alum Nick Frost. And if you’ve forgotten that Into the Badlands is inspired by Journey to the West, the character is a reference to another one of the immortals: Zhu Bajie.
Anyway, the beginning of the show sets him up to be Sam Tarly to Sunny’s Jon Snow, but by episode’s end, he’s definitely more Olly betraying our hero.
Before that, though, we’re treated to a glorious opening fight sequence not five minutes into the episode. And suddenly, we remember what it feels like to watch a martial arts action show that actually features people who know how to do martial arts!
The other amazing new character we meet this episode is referred to as, simply, The Master. After being abducted (rescued?) by the Dark Monks in last season’s finale, we learn M.K. has been honing his abilities with others who are special like him. Like another whiny Jedi-in-training, M.K. is upset that he hasn’t met the Master and is basically a brat the entire time. (The more things change…)
Later, he comes face to face with a female monk… who knocks him across the room. With a broom. Yes, this is the Master! And she’s played by Doctor Who’s Chipo Chung, a Blasian Woman!
Also Marvel? THIS IS HOW YOU DO THE ANCIENT ONE WITHOUT WHITEWASHING!!!
To prove her badass bona fides, The Master is able to withstand M.K.’s blows when he Super Saiyans, but not without cost. After imparting some wisdom on him, M.K. leaves humbled (hopefully), but she isn’t invulnerable. Blocking M.K.’s punch has broken her arm. We know because WE SEE THE BROKEN BONE!
Back in the Badlands, we find Jade and Ryder are settling in at Jacobee’s oil refinery. Ryder isn’t as comfortable in his new role as Baron-in-Chief, especially with an economy in freefall, but Jade tries to reassure him. We learn that The Widow has been missing for months. So guess who shows up to spray Clipper blood everywhere?
If you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned Veil, we don’t actually see her until the show’s final moments. (Sunny’s fever dream earlier in the episode doesn’t count). It’s been six months since the finale, so Veil is in the middle of delivering her baby when we find her. And you’ll never believe who the midwife is!
But you’re supposed to be dead!
All in all, the return of Into the Badlands could not have come at a better time. The same weekend we were reminded that Hollywood hates Asian American actors and POC audiences, here comes Daniel Wu to save the day. We even kicked off the festivities on Friday night with a live binge tweet of Season One, which saw the show’s cast and crew join in and get #NOCBadlands trending.
Oh, and Hollywood: