“Into the Badlands” is a show with a lot of potential. This is a show that is only 6 episodes long and by the nature of it being so short it isn’t able to explore the world and characters as much as it could have. It still manages to be solidly good. Before I get into the main synopsis and spoilers the best parts of this show were the politics and action and the worst parts were the flat characters. This show was clearly setting out to be deeper than it actually ended up being. It is very Tarantinoesque in that there aren’t any good guy characters, the action feels a lot like “Kill Bill” and there is a level of detachment as if you are watching events rather than apart of them.
The series was created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar.
The story takes place in the future where guns have been outlawed and rival barons compete for land and power. Sunny is a clipper (the enforcers of the barons) for Baron Quinn and finds himself pulled deeper into their intrigue and war as he finds a boy with a special power as the Widow (a rival to Baron Quinn) sparks a power to take control of the Badlands.
The Pros: The World – The world is fascinating. It is a very dystopian future as people still have cars even if no one has guns and the only weapons are swords, knives and similar things. The politics between the barons is fascinating as we see how they define one another and are defined in the war.
The Soundtrack – The soundtrack is fascinating and Dave Shepard gave it a great Tarantinoesque soundtrack. The music jumps out at you like punches, which fits the theme of the show.
The Politics – The politics are fascinating as we have the Widow attempting a feminist revolution to overthrow the patriarchy, Quinn is going crazy from a tumor in his head and Jacobee is playing the different sides against each other. Each is powerful in their own right and has an agenda that we see unfold.
The Action – The action is one of the best parts of the series! We get to see quality martial arts where hand to hand combat is used, swords and other weapons are used and the environment is used to great affect. It was the action and politics that primarily drew me in in the first place.
Waldo – Waldo is a wheel chair bound clipper who is one of the higher ups of Quinn’s men but is betraying them to the Widow because he wants change and revolution. He is a really cool character and I liked his relationship to Sunny as he clearly cared about him.
Baron Jacobee – Jacobee is played by Edi Gathegi (who you might have watched on “The Blacklist”) and he is great! We see that he is trying to take advantage of Quinn’s and the Widow’s war to take control of territory but that he is good at being diplomatic to get their as he stops fighting when the Widow attempts to have him fight Quinn on her terms.
The Widow – The Widow is a revolutionary who has a clipper order almost entirely made up of women. She claims she wants to help M.K. but she is so manipulative (she has to be in this world) that it is hard to trust her. I liked her aims and how she maneuvers herself into power by playing Quinn’s son against him and Jacobee is beautifully executed. She is the only one who really wins at the end of the season.
Sunny – Sunny is bound by duty and it is fascinating to see him deal with that and the fact that he knows Quinn is a terrible human being. Daniel Wu gives a lot of depth to this role as we see him take care of M.K. and even lie about killing M.K. because he cares about him and wants to escape from the Badlands with him and with his secret wife (clippers can’t marry). At one point he Baron finds out about his lover and captures him but it leads to his death and to Sunny’s capture as we are introduced to monks who capture M.K. and sell Sunny into slavery.
Okay: The Ending – M.K., the kid with the powers is captured by monks, The Widow takes control of Quinn’s territory and Sunny is sold into slavery. There are a lot of interesting things that happen but it feels unfinished, which might just be that they only had 6 episodes to tell the story.
The Cons: Too Many Flat Characters – M.K. the boy with the powers is bland, Tilda his love interest is bland, Ryder, Baron Quinn’s son is bland, Baron Quinn is just cruel and isn’t deep in any way and same with his wife. I hope these characters get better as I like the world they inhabit I just never cared about any of them.
This is a show that has potential. I’d consider it solidly good…even with all the flaws it has. The flat characters are a problem that might be tied to how short the season is. Future seasons will tell as there is still so much of this world to be explored. If you like Martial Arts and films along those lines, you will probably enjoy this series. Right now it is on Netflix, which is where I saw it. Here is to hoping that next season fully develops this fascinating world.
Final Score: 8 / 10