Into the Badlands: “Two Tigers Subdue Dragons” Review

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Posted December 8, 2015 by Henry Wong in Nerdy Bits

You can’t control everything. Everything has a balance. As I paraphrase Sunny, I think about what that means for this show. Was this week’s episode striking a balance between the first half of the season and the second half? (This season only has six episodes and it remains to be seen if AMC will renew it for another season) Or was it alluding to the fact that this is the first episode of Into the Badlands that hasn’t been carried by AMC’s flagship show, The Walking Dead? Either way, this episode finally feels like the show is settling into a groove.

This week, we were treated to a more dialogue heavy episode with only one fight sequence. But it was worth it. In addition to seeing some more Baron on Baron violence, we finally got to see two regents fight each other and both were similarly skilled. It was a nice change of pace from seeing Sunny utterly ruin his opponents to suddenly fighting to a stalemate with his adversary. I only hope we get to see more of these regents fight each other before the season ends. Also, this was the first time we got to see the “normal” guys do some fighting (i.e. the extras and the supporting characters), which I have always enjoyed in my movies and TV shows.

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The drama and the plot progression was also much more elaborate this week. We finally got to see some backstabbing and plotting, as to be expected in a show about scheming plantation owners who divided up a post apocalyptic America. This time, all of the characters participated equally in the dialogue and it was significantly better written/delivered than in previous episodes. I look forward to seeing the tension between Lydia and Jade resolved, hopefully in a manner that would make Game of Thrones proud. I would also like to give some points to Ryder for a stronger performance while he delivered his symbolic knife in Quinn’s back. And Sunny. There have been a few times I might have felt something for the character this season but this episode was the first time I actually did feel something for him. Empathy. As I mentioned above, this show is finally settling on a groove and finally, it delivered some semblance of a moral dilemma for one of our main characters. And as such, I actually can’t wait to find out what Sunny will choose to do.

We were also formally introduced to several new characters this week. We got to see the River King in his glory as well as Jacobee, the all powerful (?) other baron. It remains to be seen how powerful they truly are. I am also glad they are starting to incorporate more subtle ways of introducing more of how their fictional world works rather than how rigid the context delivery has been. Such as how we found out that the River King “controls” the water passages between the Badlands and everywhere else, possibly meaning there is some kind of trade system in the works between the Badlands and somewhere else.

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All in all, this episode was markedly different from the others. It seems like the show is finally finding itself and is still offering what we liked so much about it in the first three episodes. Now, we can only hope that there will be some semblance of closure in the final two episodes to make this show, rather than break it. Let’s hope that they go for broke and convince AMC to make it a good two seasons rather than just one lonely six episode season.


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Henry Wong