Recommending Into the Badlands

With Season 3 on its way, I decided to re-watch the second season of Into the Badlands on Netflix. An underrated gem, this one of AMC’s lesser recognized shows that is a lot of fun as long as you can stomach the violence and at times predictable narrative.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world in which humanity has reverted to a feudal society, Into the Badlands follows the power struggle amongst the Barons who rule the Badlands, as well as the journey of an elite warrior known as Sunny and a young man with mysterious powers known as M.K. The narrative can be rather predictable as the numerous betrayals and double crossings can be seen coming from a mile away, but the characters, brutal martial-arts action, and setting makes the show worth watching.

The first season consists of 6 episodes. Which is just enough time to establish the primary characters in the narrative and display the phenomenal action that takes place in every episode. Various POV’s are featured in Into the Badlands, with Sunny and M.K. being the most prominent. Sunny is an elite warrior with considerable talents who is looking for a way out of the Badlands as his lover Veil is pregnant. As Sunny is a Clipper, he is not allowed to marry or have children. Sunny believes he finds a way out when he runs across M.K., a young boy with a mysterious past who supposedly comes from a mythical place outside of the Badlands. Their intertwined destinies set the events of the narrative in motion. Saying anymore would spoil a lot concerning the plot as the short seasons don’t allow much room for discussion.

If anything sets Into the Badlands apart from every show on TV currently, it’s the action, you will get lost in just how awesome the choreography is and believe me when I say this, Into the Badlands is uncompromisingly violent; bones get broken, heads get smashed in, and people get eviscerated in some pretty unique ways. If you’re heavily into Wuxia films, which are Chinese martial arts films featuring spectacular combat and a lot of wire-work, then this is the show for you. Every single fight scene is dripping with style as characters will move across the screen with grace and force. There is hardly a moment where a character is dispatched gently, as this show is very brutal. This is especially true in the Second season which has so many characters getting their head stomped in, you’d think it was a competition. I generally found myself in shock with how such a beautiful fight scene can end so violently, it can be pretty shocking.

Violence aside, Into the Badlands is a beautiful show. It takes inspiration from Wuxia films like Hero and post-apocalyptic films like Mad Max. The user of color helps identify each of the Baron’s and their respective territories, while also acting as tells in regards to their personalities. Territories outside of the Baron’s territories are dilapidated and rundown, serving as a reminder to the viewers that those who aren’t living in the employ of the Barons are scrapping to survive. There are points during the second season where I felt I was watching a spin-off of Mad Max, as some of the locations and characters have the same look.

The Widow handing out lessons

While I enjoyed the first season of the show, it felt far too short and compact. There wasn’t enough time to get invested in the plot or the characters. Six episodes is not enough time for any show to really grab you and keep you entertained. Thankfully, the second season was granted 10 episodes and it really helped flesh out the narrative. One of the more interesting side characters from the first seasons, The Widow, is given far more screen time and the show is better off for it. She is an utter badass and while her motivations seem noble, her actions speak otherwise. Character motivations in Season 2 are far more interesting and the extra length allows the viewer to become invested in the overarching narrative.

Into the Badlands returns on April 22nd on AMC. If you want to catch up on the first or second seasons, watch it now on Netflix.

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