Despite my better judgement, I went with a Hamilton pun this week rather than straight up lyrics from the show. Couldn’t help it. The fight scene between the Abbots and Sunny’s old and new sidekicks — juxtaposed against a Christmas-y backdrop, no less — was a highlight! Before settling on “A Winter’s Ball” wordplay, the other obvious number to reference was Jasmine Cephas-Jones’ showstopper “Say No to This,” thanks to twitter user @Bespectacled_Cy!
We’ll get back to #TilDessa in a minute, but the lyrics of “Say No to This” do resonate with several moments of this episode. Let’s start at the top.
After last week’s explosive conclusion in which Lydia’s Clipper Army gets blown up by Quinn’s booby traps, we open on the aftermath. Lydia survived the blast but most of her men did not. The ones that made it promptly get their throats slashed by Quinn.
Instead of murdering his ex, though, he decides to abduct her and keep her hostage inside his bunker, essentially trading Veil for Lydia.
Speaking of Veil, our favorite doctor–mom seems to have gotten away scott free. Sure, Quinn’s minions (Quinions?) are sniffing around, but Veil is able to sneak behind a tree like a hobbit hiding from a Ringwraith before she’s rescued by runaway cogs.
Sunny and Bajie, meanwhile, drive their Drednok Thunder Machine to the home of a mysterious healer named Doc Cloud, hoping that he can save Portia’s life. If you recall, she was stabbed by Nos as they escaped the scrapyard last week. When Cloud sees Portia, he immediately helps — after initial reluctance — and ends up saving her life. Sunny is racked with guilt, but Cloud doesn’t take the bait. There are no good guys in the Badlands, after all.
(I may have missed some details because I spent most of this scene tweeting about my favorite G.I. Joe toys).
Back at the bunker, Quinn is just as creepy with Lydia as he was with Veil, if not more so. Former husband and wife (was the divorce official?) trade barbs before literally trading barbs when Quinn offers Lydia the same opportunity to stab him that he gave Ryder.
Unlike their son, Lydia ain’t no punk and tries to plunge the knife into Quinn’s chest. He was ready for it, though, and stops her before doing any real damage. He bleeds. They make it out. It was gross.
The creepiest makeout scene of the season is soon followed by one of the sweetest and most surprising.
At the Butterfly sanctuary, Tilda is alone with ex-Doll Odessa. Even though The Widow saved her, Odessa is having a hard time morphing into a full fledged Butterfly, especially because of Minerva’s plans to align with Quinn. Because Odessa has sense, she tells Tilda that it’s a bad idea and questions her loyalty to her “mother.” This is where we finally learn Tilda’s backstory: she was a cog who was repeatedly raped and assaulted by Minerva’s baron husband. The Widow does what she does now to atone for not coming to Tilda’s aid sooner.
For a show that is doing so much to shatter stereotypes and promote representation, it was such a relief to finally see queer representation on screen! Here’s hoping the show keeps up the good work and avoids one of the tropiest tropes to ever trope and ensures Odessa is around for a long time. Or, at least makes it to next season. Oh, and by the way, there’s totally going to be a next season!
Waldo interrupts this new love connection and seems displeased. In mentoring Tilda, he’s been telling her that one cannot have attachments if they are to survive in the Badlands. Sunny didn’t heed Waldo’s advice either and now no one knows where he is. And as if on cue, a truck carrying Veil and Henry arrive at the Sanctuary.
For a hot second, I was relieved that Veil’s presence at the Butterfly Sanctuary would mean Widow would abandon her ill-conceived idea to form an alliance with Quinn. I got my hopes up even higher when Veil finally had her audience with Widow and Waldo. They assured her that she had finally found a safe place, far away from Quinn. That said, the Widow will only see to Veil’s safety at a cost. To prove that the writers have not forgotten about Azra, Widow reveals the mysterious book from season one. As long as Veil can translate its mysterious contents, she’ll be safe with the Butterflies.
Speaking of Azra, M.K. is still wandering the woods after escaping from the monastery last week. After stealing from someone’s garden, M.K. accidentally cuts himself and is about to Hulk out on a would-be attacker when… he doesn’t? Fortunately, Ava is there to save the day, but now we know M.K. can no longer go Super Saiyan when he bleeds. Weird.
Later, the kids happen upon an abandoned Christmas store? A ski lodge? A Winter Wonderland? Wherever they are, we are reminded that Badlands really does take place in a post-apocalyptic future version of our own world. He even finds an ancient copy of Wired featuring the city of Azra on the cover. Curiouser and curiouser.
By the way, I actually loved the juxtaposition of the show’s fantastical elements being surrounded by the recognizable holiday decorations. Also, Christmas lights in the background is Gough/Millar’s signature move.
As you can see from the image above, Ava wasn’t the only one tracking M.K.’s whereabouts. The Abbots have a device that can locate anyone with “the gift,” and they’ve been on M.K.’s scent ever since he escaped. Except when they weren’t. Before arriving at the Christmas place, Cung Le and the Abbots were hot on the heels of… Baije? Wha?
Apparently, Baije has been holding out on us all this time. Though come to think of it, he has shown an uncanny knack to be there for Sunny at the right time every time. The Abbots proximity to Baije and Sunny means that they aren’t too far away from the kids either. You know what that means! Batman gets his Robin back!
And Baije finally shows off his abilities too before we’re all treated to the Daniel Wu/Cung Le rematch we’ve been waiting for since last season.
And while Sunny gets the upper hand — and half of Cung Le’s face — his victory came at a cost. Somehow before his death, the Abbot landed a magical blow to Sunny that leaves him in bad shape at episode’s end.
But let’s not forget the Butterflies and why I’m not happy with the Widow. After her deal with Veil, the Widow gets a message to Quinn to meet her. Alone and unarmed.
Of course, because he’s Quinn, he neither comes alone nor unarmed. But instead of eliminating him once and for all, Widow moves forward with her plan to be his ally.
Even worse? She turns Veil over and gives her back to Quinn. WTF?! So much for Widow believing they will never be free until those in bondage have the same rights as you and me. Hopefully, this is all one big swerve and Veil will be safe next week.