Monday, March 25, 2019

REVIEW: 'Into the Badlands' - The Widow Becomes Her Own Worst Enemy in 'Raven's Feather, Phoenix Blood'

AMC's Into the Badlands - Episode 3.10 "Raven's Feather, Phoenix Blood"

Pilgrim leads the hunt for near-fatally wounded Sunny. The Widow confronts her inner demons.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of AMC's Into the Badlands.

"Raven's Feather, Phoenix Blood" was written by Michael Taylor and directed by Wayne Che Yip

The fight between The Widow and Raven has to be one of the more technically complicated action sequences the show has ever produce. When Minerva is knocked out by the Master in order to restore her Gift, this is the reality she is sent to. She is confronted with all of her fears that she is becoming just like the tyrannical barons she dethroned in the first place. The war she has fought this season has already led to uprisings against her. People saw her as a part of the system. They no longer believed in her mission of freedom to all people. Instead, they tried to find that salvation themselves. Some of it is tied up in this idea of power. Minerva sees herself as even more powerful with the Gift. However, this episode also articulates the fear that she has that her using these powers will only amplify everything that she hates about this world. The Master is more than willing to work with her in order to deal with the threat from Pilgrim. She can restore the Gift in Minerva. However, it has to be a personal journey for Minerva as well. She has to reckon with her past actions as well as her fear of pushing everyone away and never being able to accept love in her life. She has been abandoned one too many times by too many individuals. She has put on armor in order to exert her own independence and strength in this world. She has believed in her message of liberating the people of the Badlands. And yet, it is still wrapped up in these complicated feelings about her own identity. She feels like she is so close to becoming the baron that recreates the cog system. She will prop up this system that destroyed lives until it leads to yet another rebellion against her. The show may lay it on a little thick with her being her own worst enemy. However, it's still significant that she loses in this fight against Raven. They are equally matched. Neither one of them has a mystical edge over the other. Minerva may use that as her crutch. She believes she can't be defeated with it. She is a skilled warrior but this takes her to the next level. But again, she is fighting out of anger and the need to hold onto power. She is no longer fighting for something. That's why she loses. It's the lesson she needs to learn from all of this as well. Her story is the most effective of the hour too. The show has frequently run into trouble of just bidding its time until the characters can hit the major plot points of the season. Here, Bajie just catches everyone up as to the threat from Pilgrim while delivering Henry to Lydia for protection. He too understands that the Master could be the only salvation in this looming war. So, that will only force even more complicated interactions moving forward. Meanwhile, Sunny is revealed to still be alive. That's not all that surprising considering he is the lead of the show and the previous episode left it ambiguous. He is still able to defeat the threats against him despite being significantly injured. Of course, he is also assisted in that endeavor by Nix, who has decided to help him escape because she sees Pilgrim as a man consumed with his private quest for power. The addition of the Gift has only increased Pilgrim's erratic and violent outbursts. He feels the need to kill anyone who isn't able to give him what he wants. He is still stunned by the notion that people could be losing faith in him and want to abandon the mission. He sees it all as a test. He remains focused thanks to Cressida who is so much more aware than he is. But that private moment in the bath between them is somewhat awkward and shows just how uncomfortable all of this should make the audience feel. Cressida will do absolutely anything to alleviate the tension Pilgrim is feeling.