Into the Badlands: “Fist like a Bullet” Review

Posted November 24, 2015 by Henry Wong in Nerdy Bits

During the series premiere, we caught a glimpse of and heard a few stories about the Widow. But we didn’t know what she was capable of until this episode. She was wicked for not only killing several men with her daggers in a ridiculously awesome fashion but also for ending the fight sequence with her stabbing her stiletto heel into the final man. And that is exactly how I feel the plot of the series has progressed so far. Cloudy at first, but fine tuned as it progresses.

This week’s episode continues to reinforce the show’s ability to entertain us with its high flying action sequences. The exhilaration and cringe-y moments during and after the fights push this TV series into its own bloody level and the way the camera presents to us the action makes me think I’m watching a graphic novel being played out. Again, the fights are wonderfully choreographed and complete with lots of stunts, especially seen in this episode when Sunny faces off with an entire gang of Nomads inside the “old turbine station.” From start to finish, the fight was extremely fluid. And vertical. Really vertical. Sunny and the Nomads start from the ground floor of the station, and while fighting, move to inside a vent (which helped create a wonderfully artistic shot of silhouettes fighting each other, not unlike a shadow puppet show), and then up several flights of stairs to ultimately ending up on a bunch of girders. The quality and movement of these action scenes, combined with the brilliant cinematography really contributes to me wanting to re-watch the fight sequences and then go back for more.

The drama also seems to be picking up this episode. There were several tense moments between Sunny and Quinn, especially when Quinn (Marton Csokas) confronted Sunny over killing Veil’s parents. Marton does a really good job conveying his characters infuriation over his regent’s unwillingness to obey him and overall, continues to make Quinn one of the more interesting characters of the show. We also finally see more emotions out of Sunny (Daniel Wu) when he finally accepts his fatherhood and sees the need to get a pregnant Veil out of the badlands. His conversation with Stephen Lang’s Waldo, which fed into the theme of safety versus freedom, pushed some interesting questions about the Badlands and what it truly stands for. It remains to be seen if there will be any conflict between Sunny and his former regent/master.

However, the episode still seemed to be missing something from its dialogue. As from the series premiere, the dialogue seems forced and does not necessarily mesh as well as we’ve seen from other AMC shows. An example being the Widow’s bathtub interrogation of MK. Though I can understand it was meant to be intimidating, I felt more of an awkward embarrassment between the two. In addition to the dialogue, some plot points also seemed forced. Particularly the interactions we saw between MK and Tilda. Was there some reason why Tilda, a clipper who works for the Widow, would suddenly want to help a random young boy she met in the forest? And the way Sunny put forth his proposition to MK seemed a little blocky as well. It felt like their relationship was being forced upon us rather than something that happens naturally.

There are still four more episodes before the show concludes and it remains to be seen if there will be more of the show in the future. Based off of this episode, the show continues to prove it has potential to improve in all regards. If anything, it has definitely carved out its own spot in a very crowded TV space and re-introduced to the world, violent martial arts dramas.

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Henry Wong