So that happened.
We’ve been singing the praises of Into the Badlands all season, but man, that death was disappointing. I’ll keep the spoiler about which character(s) met their ultimate demise until after the jump. Just know that it has made me reevaluate how I feel about this show.
I’ll get the recap portion out of the way, quickly. Sunny makes his way to Quinn’s hideout, but makes a pit stop at the old Armadillo fort to get his Season One motorcycle and Clipper costume. Lydia tries to warn Quinn’s men about the explosives, but they’re well aware and don’t care. Cracks start to form in Waldo’s allegiance to Widow. Bajie is stuck in Widow’s prison cell, studying her Azran journal. Tilda is his cellmate and is also alive. M.K. calls Widow out on her bullshit, and refuses to be her tool.
Odessa breaks Tilda out of prison and Tilda convinces her to get Bajie out as well. They’re about to be stopped by a male butterfly when Waldo intervenes and sets them free.
Meanwhile, Sunny finds Lydia in the woods and saves her from Quinn’s goons. Finally, the moment has arrived. Sunny makes his way inside West Avalon, only to be met by a firing squad armed with flaming arrows.
Sunny survives the initial assault but is knocked out when Quinn explodes one of his bombs and knocks a wall on to him. Sunny is clearly outgunned, outmanned, outnumbered, outplanned. But before he can make an all out stand, he’s gonna need a right hand man.
With Bajie’s help, they are able to take out all of Quinn’s men and much blood is spilled before we get the scene we’ve been waiting ten episodes for. Sunny and Veil are finally reunited and share a passionate, showstopping kiss, punctuated by the swelling score and sweeping camera moves.
Of course, happy endings don’t last forever. As Sunny and Veil escape to retrieve Henry from Quinn’s clutches, Bajie stays behind to take out one last Quinn goon. In the process, Bajie, embarrassingly, gets gutted by a pair of scissors and bleeds out in one of Quinn’s barber chairs. It’s all good though because Bajie somehow survives, steals Sunny’s bike, and drives to a mysterious satellite station where he’s able to use the Azran compass and journal to… I dunno exactly? It’s a very Lost-esque end to the season.
Meanwhile, Sunny has one final showdown with Quinn, and it’s a doozy of a fight. Several killing blows are landed, but Quinn stubbornly stays on his feet.
Sunny finally takes Quinn out once and for all and is reunited with his son (for the first time). Of course, Sunny never made sure Quinn was dead, so he’s able to somehow hop to his feet and hold Veil at
knife sai point. Sunny has to choose between Henry and Veil.
Now, a couple episodes back, when they introduced #TilDessa, I was worried that Badlands would fall into a familiar trope of introducing gay characters only to eventually kill them off. Last week’s swerve with Tilda, and by extension Odessa, seemed to confirm that expectation. So it was a relief that both characters not only survived, but were able to end the season quite literally riding off into the sunset. The problem is that I was so preoccupied with that trope that I didn’t see that the writers were going to employ a trope that was just as awful — though Laura kind of called it on the latest episode of Hard NOC Life.
Rather than make Sunny choose between her or their son, Veil takes Quinn’s hand and impales herself (and Quinn) with his blade. Unlike every other frickin’ cast member on the show, Veil does not survive the stabbing. Even though Bajie, Quinn, and Tilda all seem to be able to hop right back up after similar blows. Perhaps their magical whiteness protects them?
And here’s where I feel sort of betrayed by the show. All season, we’ve been showering it with praise for its progressiveness and commitment to diversity. We’ve noted how the showrunners — Al Gough and Miles Millar — were responsive to criticisms of season one by employing even more characters of color, especially women like The Master and Baron Chau — in Season Two. The show has amassed a lot of goodwill in diverse internet fan communities like ours and others.
So to have Madeleine Mantock removed from the show like this is a real slap in the face to the fans. Especially when the Veil/Sunny romance is one of the biggest draws of the show. And especially because the genre trope of killing off the black female love interest to further the hero’s journey is beneath a show like Into the Badlands. Women (and especially Black women) aren’t plot devices!