Into the Badlands: “White Stork Spreads Wings”

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Posted December 1, 2015 by Henry Wong in Nerdy Bits
http://www.amc.com/shows/into-the-badlands/video-extras/season-01/episode-03/talked-about-scene-episode-103-into-the-badlands-white-stork-spreads-wings

We were left with high expectations and anticipation last week when Quinn announced to Sunny, “Saddle up, its War!”. This week’s episode picks up directly from that declaration and the consequences of concluding it. Yes, in less than five minutes of viewing time, the Baron’s war with The Widow is over. I must say, I am not very impressed with war in the Badlands if that was what war entails. But I’m probably biased in that I wanted more of the awesome fighting scenes we’ve seen so far.  Instead, the direction the show seemed to want to take us through to how Quinn will deal with the fallout and consequences of his actions.  As such, it gives the viewers a chance to learn more of the Badlands rather than just feeding the viewers more of the awesome fight scenes. Of course, there were still fight scenes but the dialogue was king in this episode.

To start, the action though limited in length in comparison to previous fight scenes, was still packed with cringe worthy violence and beautiful choreography. We got to see just how deadly The Widow’s butterflies were and they were definitely lethal in precision and silence. We also got to see Quinn do some fighting, to which I must add, the fight choreography between Quinn and The Widow was extremely well done. In a match between equal opponents, everything just flew together, making the fight more of a dance than anything. Of course, on the precipice of defeat, The Widow was saved by none other than Quinn’s brain tumour, to which we learned last week, will kill him. Of course, Quinn in turn was saved by his regent when The Widow sought to capitalize on Quinn’s fall. It all seemed too coincidental of a way to save both characters from dying but hey, if they are going to fight to the death again, why not?.

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As highly placed as I put the duel between Quinn and The Widow, the little bout between a wheelchair bound Waldo and MK takes the top. Just as well done as the duel was, this test between former regent and new colt was done so well, it felt natural. Which is surprising because I thought like MK and expected the fight to feel awkward at least. But it wasn’t. Stephen Lang, or his stunt double, or whoever was in the wheelchair while the scene was filmed, moved so fluidly and skilfully that the awkward one was MK when he was flipped over Waldo. Scenes like this continue to prove why Into the Badlands has definitely reinvigorated martial arts in TV shows and is definitely enough to keep people coming back for more.

On the other side of what made the episode, the dialogue between most of the characters seemed to finally be picking up. Just as the fighters were fighting, the talkers were fighting. Through their talking. The multiple scenes featuring Lydia were well done. Orla Brady is very convincing as a matriarch figure with multiple years of backroom dealing and political experience however, her character’s direction still remains to be seen. At first, I had thought she was using Ryder to gain some kind of political advancement but after this episode, I’m not sure what her intentions are anymore. Sarah Bolger’s character is finally developing as well though just as with Lydia, her characters intentions are still a mystery. Once again, Marton Csokas’ Quinn was the stand out character. In addition to all the menace with which he speaks, which is palpable when he interacts with Veil and Sunny, we finally see that this strong character has a weakness. And it is the bane of all tyrannical rulers in human history. Death. Csokas’  acting genuinely made me feel that Quinn is absolutely terrified that his brain tumour will be his end. Not the fact that all the barons are beginning to hold him in contempt, but that he is going to die from something he can’t control.

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Which leads me to all of the things that this episode could have done better. MK, as a character, is believably unbelievable. As an episode meant to initiate the training of MK as a colt, he seems resilient to that exact idea. Throughout the episode. Even after his bout with the wheelchair bound master of the greatest clipper alive. I do not know how much time they will need to start developing his character to one that we believe will and can escort Veil out of the Badlands but it does not seem to be happening any time soon. Ryder also continues to be stuck in a place in between being a secondary and a tertiary character. He does not provide much to the show except for his unnecessary occasional possibly misogynistic outbursts. As the son of the great baron Quinn, I expect more from his character and hopefully, we will get that in the future.

Overall, this episode was well done. The plot and major sub plots are progressing naturally enough while the action sequences continue to be creative and excellently choreographed. The dialogue between the characters also seem to be improving as well. Also, we finally get to meet another Regent (one that seems important), and she’s got a history with Sunny. Let’s hope there’s going to be an exciting Regent vs. Regent fight scene. Anyone else thinking Lazarus?


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Henry Wong