Apologies for the delay in getting this weeks Badlands recap out1. I know how much you anticipate my weekly Hamilton references! It was probably a good thing that I didn’t watch this episode live though. Not sure I would’ve been able to sleep had I seen Artemis haunt my television right before going to bed!
The episode, titled “Black Heart, White Mountain,” picks up moments after last week’s climatic battle between Sunny and Cung Le (who I learned is named Cyan). If you recall, Sunny prevailed by slicing Cyan’s face in half, but not before suffering a seemingly fatal blow from the mystical abbot that renders him motionless on the ground.
We open with Sunny still knocked out and his sidekicks at a loss. Before we find out what happens, we’re sent inside Sunny’s head and see…. his life flash before his eyes? A vision of the future? An alternate reality? Either way, we are decidedly not in the Badlands but thrust Into the Woods (another Broadway reference!). But instead of a witch or a cow as white as snow, Sunny wakes up to see Veil and a small boy named Henry greet him. Wait he knows about Henry? What did Cyan do to him?
And speaking of the woods, there’s a creepy ass girl staring at them outside the window. Man, I didn’t sign up to recap a Japanese ghost movie.
Turns out the abbot hit Sunny with a special technique called the “Hand of the Five Poisons” — which is, no doubt, a not so subtle nod to the classic Shaw Bros. flick Five Deadly Venoms, natch.
Bajie tells M.K. that Sunny’s situation is helpless. There’s no cure for the Hand of the Five Poisons, and even if there were, it would be back at the monastery and there is no way Bajie is returning back there. Sunny, meanwhile, is on the set of Asian American Gothic. Farmer Sunny and Henry are having some quality father/son bonding time when creepy ass ghost girl shows up again. Even worse, Veil warns Sunny that something has happened to their pigs. And wouldn’t you know, it’s also creepy as hell too. (Fortunately, no actual pigs were harmed in the making of this episode.)
Sunny tells his son that a wolf must have gotten into the sty (nevermind the fact that the Exorcist pigs have bloody crosses cut into their sides). Before dinner, Sunny finds Henry in his room with mysterious cuts in his hand and Silver Moon’s sword under his bed. It looks like Farmer Sunny is going to need a reckoning to be reckoned with his Clipper self before he can wake up from this
Back in the real world, M.K. has somehow convinced Bajie to go back to the monastery to find the cure for the Hand of the Five Poisons — something to do with Sunny being M.K.’s only “family.” Fittingly, they’re driving in the Thunder Machine when he reveals his Fast & Furious reason for wanting to help Sunny. We also get a little Bajie backstory when we learn of his reason for leaving the Master.
When he was still an Abbot, he was on a mission to save some people from Nomads when his protege, a 12-year old girl named Flea, was laughed at and humiliated. So she deliberately cut herself and went Saiyan on everyone and everybody, including the folks they were charged with saving. The Master wasn’t pleased and, I think, banished Flea and Bajie after cleansing them of their gifts. My money is on Widow being Flea, but it feels a little too obvious. She also has something to do with Azra, because Bajie noticeably perks up when M.K. mentions the mysterious city. More on that later.
The episode isn’t a Sunny-M.K.-Bajie only one. In the Badlands, Jade is taking a bath when she hears a commotion outside. All of her Cogs and Clippers are abandoning ship because the Widow has arrived.
Jade reminds Minerva that she doesn’t kill women. Widow concedes, and in walks Quinn. Blegh. I’m ready for this “alliance” to be over.
Bajie and M.K. make it to the monastery and somehow sneak into the Master’s chambers. Bajie finds the cure — and the compass, though he doesn’t share that news with M.K. Curious. They almost get away with it too before the Master shows up and knocks them into next week, or the dinner table. Whichever comes first. It doesn’t look good for our heroes until Bajie comes up with a game changer: cut the novices and all hell will break loose, providing the cover for their escape.
Back on the dream farm, Sunny’s nightmare continues. He finds Veil’s bloodied body and his son with her blood on his hands. “She made me do it,” says Henry and Sunny is confronted by the ghost girl, Artemis. Have I mentioned I really hate ghost stories? Zombies, I can take, but ghosts — especially of the Japanese movie variety — creep the shit out of me. Turns out Artemis represents Sunny’s legacy — which is why the line from Lin’s “The World Was Wide Enough” soliloquy made the most sense for the title.
Sunny is confronted by the souls of all 404 live he has taken, his repentance parallels with Bajie’s attempts to resurrect his companion. As the poison slowly takes over his body in the real world, dream world Sunny is being suffocated by his own fears. Fortunately, Bajie’s magic acupuncture works and brings Sunny back Pulp Fiction-style right before the end.
For the first time, Sunny and his sidekicks are the happy family he has in the real world. M.K. and Bajie bond by the river over their shared experience as Robin to Sunny’s Batman. Clearly, Bajie is more of Jason Todd because he has secrets. Remember when he snatched the Azra compass? Well, he still has it and he isn’t telling anyone about it. What could it mean? Guess we’ll have to tune in next week…. when Sunny allies with Baron Chau!
- One of the reasons I was delayed is that I’ve been spending a lot of time on a project that involves collaborating with one of the Into the Badlands writers. I hope to be announcing soon. Just you wait! ↩