Once again, we’re venturing back Into the Badlands as we finally get to see the much anticipated Baron Conclave. Last week, if you recall, we saw Minerva and Waldo arrive at Ryder’s estate to take part in the gathering. Basically, this is when all of the barons in the Badlands come together to sign agreements and hash out differences — without swords. Mostly. This particular conclave has been convened to vote on whether the Widow is allowed to even be a baron. Debates ensue, and all I can think of are the lyrics for both “Cabinet Battle” tracks from Hamilton.
Before we get back to politics though, there’s a little cocktail party for the Barons and their Regents. As always, The Widow makes her grand entrance. As she scans the room, we get our first glance at the rest of the Badlands’ barons. It’s weird seeing The Widow hobnobbing with the people she despises. She may want bold strokes, but Waldo has advised her to convince more folks.
One of those barons she needs to convince is a character I’ve been waiting to meet all season: Eleanor Matsuura’s Baron Chau. And she does not disappoint! Minerva and Chau banter a bit before getting down to brass tacks. If Widow has any hope of getting out of the situation alive, she’s going to need Chau on her side. We also learn that these invited guests aren’t the only attendees. Turns out one of the Cogs serving the establishment is none other than Quinn acolyte Gabriel — the one who actually cut Quinn, after much provoking, last episode. More on that in a minute.
Speaking of Quinn, back at the underground bunker, his men are preparing for battle — no doubt an attack on the conclave — when Veil requests that she and the baby be allowed the keys to the
sun ventilation room while they’re gone. He doesn’t say no, but he doesn’t hand over the keys either. Instead, Edgar is going to stay behind and babysit. Before leaving, Quinn gives Henry an armadillo ring meant for Ryder, solidifying the baby as his true heir, much to Veil’s chagrin.
You know, I feel bad for Edgar. He seems like a really nice guy, making Veil breakfast and everything. They even had a connection last week when she tended to his wounds. But Veil is determined to escape, and who can blame her? Her first attempt finds Veil being let into the vent room to give the baby milk and sunshine. Once inside, and with the door firmly locked, she unVeils a grappling hook! And proceeds to climb toward freedom with the baby strapped to her side.
She gets halfway up the wall when Edgar comes back to check on them. Rather than risk exposure, Veil gives up for now. But she doesn’t give up her quest to escape. Later in the episode, she roofies Edgar and tries to escape through the one tunnel that seemingly leads to the outside world. Of course the exit is chained off and once again she has no way out. To make matters worse, Edgar wakes up and is pissed. After a struggle, Veil kills Edgar and steals his keys. Unfortunately, the key breaks off inside the lock leaving Veil and baby, both drenched in blood, stranded with Edgar’s dead body.
Meanwhile, M.K. is still sneaking around the monastery when he happens across The Master’s magical origami.
He finds the flower that enduces visions and ventures back in to the dream world to locate his mother and confront his dark doppelgänger. After doing both, and getting a swift kick from his evil twin, M.K. is left unconscious in the Enter the Dragon room. And that’s what you missed this week with M.K.!
But nevermind all that. This episode was all about the conclave. Before the fateful vote, Widow and Chau have one last meeting to decide whether they will align or not. The biggest barrier, it seems, is Minerva’s desire to free the Cogs. After being subjected to a civics lesson from a slaver, Widow has to decide if she is willing to compromise her principles to win favor from her peers. We also learn some of her backstory as well — as a child, she was actually one of Chau’s Cogs who has since ascended to barondom.
To win Chau’s vote, The Widow has to promise to stop providing sanctuary for Cogs. At this point the audience — or the Widow for that matter — is unaware of Chau’s honesty, so we take her for her word. Soon Widow and Waldo are brought before the other barons to plead their case, even making a compromise about cogs. The presiding baron even does his best George Washington and presents “the issue on the table.” Ryder does some trash talking and reminds the others that Widow’s title is illegitimate because she’s only a baron because she murdered her husband for the title. He also reminds them of how she plotted with him to take down Quinn last season. Clearly she isn’t to be trusted and should be stripped of her title — and her lands.
After both arguments are presented, the barons proceed to vote by lighting either a butterfly blue or armadillo red candle. Even in the Badlands, they’re divided into blue and red states! Down the line, each baron lights the candle in favor of Ryder. When we get to Chau, we see where her loyalty truly lies as she lights the red candle too. The Widow responds by telling the conclave that they must be out of their goddamn minds if they think she’s going to go down without a fight. Everyone pulls out their weapons when black-clad clippers descend on to the property. Quinn and his minions have returned and are here to take out the barons. How’d they know this plan would work? They had a spy on the inside. That’s right: Hercules Gabriel!
Understandably, the barons are shocked to see Quinn enter the courtyard. He makes a comment about his son — something about knowing nothing of loyalty. How he smells like new money, dresses like fake royalty. Ryder reacts thusly:
A melee ensues as clippers battle regents battle cogs battle barons. The highlight, of course, is Widow and Chau finally coming to stiletto blows. Even Tilda shows up after Odessa basically goads her into disobeying her mother and attending the conclave anyway. It’s a good thing she does because her arrival turns the tide for Waldo and Widow. It makes me wonder why Tilda even brings the thunder.
Unfortunately for Ryder, he can’t run fast enough and is confronted by Quinn in the garden. It turns out Quinn isn’t there to kill Ryder. In fact, he even offers his blade to his son and asks him to take his life and take his rightful place as his heir. If you remember, this is essentially the same challenge Quinn offered Gabriel. Ryder, though, isn’t Gabriel and fails to end his father’s life.
Quinn doesn’t hesitate and drives his broken blade deep into Ryder’s chest. He seems angrier at the fact that Ryder hesitated than at the fact that he just murdered his own son. Though to be fair, Quinn was pretty dead to rights at the end of a blade last season and we saw how that turned out. Maybe Ryder can have similar luck? In either case, things just got way messier in the Badlands.
Also, if you didn’t notice, this whole episode was Sunny-less. What does that mean? I guess nothing exciting happened after he defeated Silver Moon last week?