Noob Reviews: Into The Badlands (Seasons 01 - 03)
Please be advised that during the review, I have tried to avoid a lot of spoilers. However, there may still be a few included helping explain specific points.
"Well, it seems like we're going to die alone... Together."
Bajie | Season 02 | Episode 10
What is Into The Badlands?
500 years ago, the last great war tore across the world and left it in ruin. Many various forms of transport, technology and day to day luxuries lost to the sands of time. Jump to present day, and the post-apocalyptic land is ruled by a sort of feudal society which relies heavily on guidance from their ruling barons. Call them warlords. Call them tyrants. But you will either fall under the rule of a baron, or you will be an outcast living a nomadic and outlaw type existence with one of the many criminal nomad gangs.
Serving one of these barons is Sunny, a clipper for one of the most powerful and militant barons of them all (Quinn). Whether it be executions, asset recovery or espionage - Sunny is one of the most feared and efficient operators that the Badlands has to offer. And it is Sunny's adventures that we follow throughout the series.
What is this clipper you mentioned?
Clippers are specially trained warriors that fight on behalf of their barons. Prepared by the best and provided with the best of everything they could need. The only thing clippers are asked for in return is their unwavering loyalty and a willingness to give up both marrying and having children. They are the property of their baron, and they must dedicate their all to them and them alone.
Where is Into The Badlands set?
Into The Badlands is set in the post-apocalyptic chaos of America. Specifically spanning from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. However, during the various seasons, other areas of America are also brought into the fold. And explored too for story purposes.
Do you have a trailer to show us?
- Official Season 01 Comic-Con Trailer -
When did it come out?
Season 01 was released in 2015.
Season 02 was released in 2017.
Season 03 was released in late 2018 and ran over into early 2019.
Will there be a season 04?
Unfortunately, just before the end of season 03, it was announced by AMC (one their production companies and distributor) that season 04 had been cancelled. Hopefully though due to it’s growing popularity it will be picked up by another company.
How many episodes are there?
Season 01 consists of six episodes while season 02 has ten and season 03 has a total of sixteen episodes. This brings the overall total to thirty-two. With each episode lasting around forty minutes.
What can you tell us about the different season’s storylines?
Season 01 - As you might expect, season 01 introduces us to the majority of the key players. It provides the lay of the land, explaining not only what barons, clippers and nomads are but how they all come together to form their present-day society.
Unfortunately for Sunny what begins as a routine investigation for some missing cogs (workers that tend the lands and labour on behalf of their respective barons). Brings Sunny face to face with M.K. a strange and unique teen who when cut has an uncontrollable power that forces him to become a ‘dark one’ a very lethal and efficient killing machine.
A lot of the first season revolves around the struggle between Quinn (Sunny’s baron) and The Widow, a rival baroness who is seeking M.K. and wishes to use his dark gifts to her own ends.
Quite a significant driving force behind season two begins in season one when a doctor who Sunny has become romantically involved with (Veil) tells Sunny that she is pregnant. Something that clippers are forbidden to do and may get all three of them killed should Quinn find out. Sunny’s only option, to find a way out of Quinn’s service and escape the Badlands with the woman he loves and their unborn baby.
Season 02 - Season two continues on six months after the finale of season 01 and sees Sunny begrudgingly working alongside Bajie to free themselves from a slave mine that is recovering artefacts and scrap from the old world. Their only problem is they are far from the Badlands, the only one Sunny is forced to trust is Bajie, and there is no news on Veil. Is she dead? Did she have the baby? The only way for Sunny to honestly know is to return to the Badlands and find out for himself.
There are actually quite a few delicious twists to the first few episodes of season 02, but I will not do any significant spoilers. All I can say is that The Widow makes a return to face the other ruling barons, but she is not the only one. One of the key players that were slain in season 01 may not be as dead as everyone believes them to be. And they have nothing but revenge and punishment on their mind for those who wronged them.
A story plot that does become heavily involved at this stage though as opposed to it been touched upon in season 01 is the gift of the dark ones and of a secret monastery high above a remote waterfall that dispatches abbots (effectively warrior monks with the gift). To hunt down and capture dark ones and secure them away, so they are unable to hurt those around them.
Season 03 - The final season (to date) is an insane roller coaster of stories, epic battles and end of the world level events that will test the remaining characters to their very core. Not only their beliefs but their resolve and even their attachments to loved ones.
Season 03 sees the arrival of a new army led by the charismatic Pilgrim, triggered by the events in the season 02 finale. Unbeknown to those in the Badlands, what appears as a saviour at first. Is a man who has only revenge on his mind for the loss of his homeland as a child. His tool to accomplish this, dominance over all others with an army of dark ones.
Do not fear, though, we also have a second new faction that arises. No better nor worse than Pilgrim, the Black Lotus is a secret order of assassins who have trained their entire lives to hunt and slay dark ones. Hidden in plain sight and spread across both the Badlands and beyond. Unfortunately, when Pilgrim's army and the Black Lotus clash, the Badlands are caught in the middle.
Can The Widow and Sunny's assembled group of misfits save the Badlands and free them from both factions? I guess you will have to watch to find out.
Who are some of the actors and actresses in the series we might know?
Aramis Knight (M.K.)
Emily Beecham (The Widow)
Daniel Wu (Sunny)
Marton Csokas (Quinn)
Nick Frost (Bajie)
Orla Brady (Lydia)
How did you like Into The Badlands?
Into The Badlands is an exciting and new take on the post-apocalyptic world. One ruled by barons and baronesses. Wars fought with melee weapons, martial arts and the most basic of ballistic weapons like arrows, bolts and thrown arms. And yet it has something to it that blows most modern action-adventures out of the water.
The stories throughout are so good, with how in-depth, thought-provoking, and engaging they actually are. There are barely any ill thought out stories or plot fillers. Each piece of the puzzle has been meticulously crafted so that every outcome has an impact on either the season finale. Or the fate of the Badlands at the end of season 03.
At first, when seeing Nick Frost as Bajie in season 02, I was hesitant, but his sense of humour, portrayal of Bajie and even fight scenes were beautifully done. Bajie had some hilarious one-liners such as "lend us a coin, and I'll buy you a drink" and "a plan is just an excuse to do something stupid." A man after my own heart. However, I digress, back to the fight scenes. The choreographed fight scenes, chase scenes and different action scenes were fantastic. Each episode was an action film in its own right. Every strike, each kick, all of the movements are well thought out. Planned. And executed seamlessly.
When it comes to negatives, there are very few faults to mention with Into The Badlands. From the scenery to the cinematography, there has been so much care and attention that has gone into it, my only real gripe would be at times specific stories or I should say their themes. However, unique in terms of which characters take part, some stories seem to be reused across the series. Whether it be tales of betrayal, revenge or one on one duels that end in someone losing their head. Although they do not take away from the overall enjoyment, they do regrettably when they pop up, make some storylines predictable.
Overall enjoyable and well crafted. I would definitely give this a recommendation to anyone who is a fan of action-adventure or the martial arts genres.
What overall rating would you give Into The Badlands?
I would give Into The Badlands a solid 4 out of 5 bananas.
As I mentioned above, it is tough to fault Into The Badlands on much. But the predictable stories were a bit of a letdown. Although they were few and far between when they do occur, they are easy to pick up on. I also thought that some of the characters at times dropped the quality of their performances (M.K., Cressida and Ryder).
Overall though this was a fantastic watch and I genuinely do hope that AMC either reverse their decision on ending the show and not doing a season 04 or another company jumps in and picks up the intellectual property so that Into The Badlands may live on.
Thank you very much for checking out the review, and if you are interested in Into The Badlands and would like to check it out for yourself, to form your own opinion, you can check it out here.