Into the Badlands: “Hand of Five Poisons” Review

Posted December 22, 2015 by Henry Wong in Nerdy Bits

*Spoiler Alert*

And that’s that. Into the Badlands has finished its first season. And just like how we still don’t know if there will be a season two, the show’s characters still have a lot they don’t know about each other and themselves. Instead of clearing up some of the major questions that we might have had brought with us throughout the season, the finale seemed to ignore our questions and offer more questions. Will we ever know the answers to these questions?

There were a lot of major plot developments in the finale, such as Lydia being exiled from the fort to Quinn being stabbed by Sunny. I applaud the writers for continuing down the more darker recesses of fantasy dramas, ie. subterfuge and deceit. I especially like how big of a contrast the final three episodes were to the first three. Where the first three seemed to be more action oriented, the final three used the action to leverage the sub and major plots. The scenes in which Quinn “knowingly” brought M.K. to an ambush to study his powers or Sunny attempting to stop the Abbots from taking M.K. prove this. And as with every episode before this one, the fight scenes were as amazing as they were creative. The fight director and his team definitely pulled all of the strings they had at their disposal in the final few fights (the Abbots anyone?). into-the-badlands-episode-106-935

Furthermore, the writers continue to introduce new elements of the world through subtle yet relative scenes. For example, Lydia’s “rebirth” seemed to be taken from Christian baptism rituals, which can allude to that totem crushing religion of her father’s as perhaps a much later form of Christianity? The acting is much more solid as well. The characters are much more fluid and natural than before and their interactions with each other are not “blocky”, as some of it once was. I also found the cinematography of this episode very appealing. Some of the shots were very breathtaking (the Abbots driving across the flats) and other shots fed into the atmosphere whenever it was necessary. As the combat helped move along the plot, the camera work helped emphasize the major plot points. However, it was all too little, too late (this time, I can say that with confidence).

Indeed, just as the show finishes, we are left off with far more questions than we should have. Unlike various other AMC shows, Into the Badlands brings back some of the doubt it cast upon itself at the beginning. This doubt can be in the form of the question, “how much do we commit to the season?” It seemed like the answer to that was, not too much. In a way, by bringing up all of these new plot developments and new back stories about the characters in the finale, the show puts us off. Instead of concluding some character development arcs as well as some of the more minor subplots, like Tilda and Minerva (The Widow), it introduces another arc. It loses its focus on what was important and instead tries to forcibly hook us into the next season (if there is going to be one).


I really appreciate Into the Badlands. In the current age of television, there is not enough martial arts dramas of this calibre, let alone a strong and diverse cast like this show. This show puts forth strong female leads, leads who aren’t stuck with just performing backroom dealings but are as capable as the men in partaking in the action. There are also leads of various ethnic backgrounds with major speaking roles, something of a rarity in Hollywood and television. It really is a disappointment that this show did not blast off from the start. But as first seasons go, Into the Badlands has set itself apart from other shows and hopefully, AMC sees the potential in it.

About the Author

Henry Wong