Sunday, March 24, 2019

REVIEW: 'Into the Badlands' - Pilgrim Exerts His Power and Demands Loyalty from Sunny in 'Chamber of the Scorpion'

AMC's Into the Badlands - Episode 3.09 "Chamber of the Scorpion"

Sunny and Bajie face off with Pilgrim, who lays out his deadly plan for the Badlands. The Widow finds common ground with the Master.

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.

"Chamber of the Scorpion" was written by Evan Endicott & Josh Stoddard and directed by Wayne Che Yip

In announcing the return of the drama's third season, AMC confirmed that this will be the final run of episodes. That's disappointing because the show has only grown creatively stronger with each passing season. It should also be fascinating to see just how satisfying these episodes will be knowing that they will be the end. There is some perception that the creative team may have known this because the Badlands is currently facing the greatest threat it has ever had in Pilgrim. Not only can he continue the Gift in others, he now possesses it himself. He can even give it to other people now. That breaks the rules of this universe in a way that only increases the danger he poses to the region. He has always been positioned as a religious zealot. Someone who came to this land during a time of war to offer a different path. Of course, this journey is bound to lead to another war. He doesn't understand how anyone could reject the ideas that he is preaching. He sees his way as the only way. He is violent enough to make people conform to him as well. He has M.K. as a loyal supporter now even though Nix is doubting her allegiance to him. Plus, he has unlocked the secrets of power he came to the Badlands to find thanks to Sunny. Sunny just wanted to find a cure for his son, Henry. He was given that peace. Henry no longer possesses the Gift. He will no longer die because of the power that he already has within him. That has been Sunny's mission for this entire season. In doing so, he just happened to strengthen the man who could give him answers about his past while also presenting as a new danger to the Badlands. Sunny sees Bajie as being right in needing to destroy the sanctum. This power is too dangerous for any one person to wield. Pilgrim is proclaiming that he and his most loyal followers have transformed into gods. He is elevating the reverence of those who possess the Gift. To M.K., that is a sign of strength in a time where he sees a very black-and-white version of the world. He needs to be strong in order to survive. That's the message that Pilgrim is preaching. He wants to rule over a land of peace. His tactics to get there though are absolutely horrifying. The Master knows that as well. She understood the disturbance and its long-term questions for the stability of the world. She too is armed with so many answers about the Gift and its history. She knows that it used to be given to people instead of them being born with it. She knew just how corrosive that power could be. She sees it as the reason why there is so much death, destruction and anger in the world. The purpose of the Gift was to heal. After her fight with Minerva, she uses her powers to heal her wounds. That forges an alliance between them. The war that started the season only concludes because the Master chose to insert herself into the conflict. She ended it all in one fell swoop. That's significant and shows her own power. She is taking Pilgrim seriously as a threat. Her resources just may not be enough to defeat him. Sunny has never lost in battle before. He is a skilled warrior in that way. He is only defeated here because Pilgrim taps into his new Gift to overpower him. That too represents a distinction between Pilgrim and The Master. He has to use it to prevail against a skilled warrior. The Master has the wisdom to know it's a tool of last resort. She is more than powerful enough to prove her point to Minerva before then. However, it leaves Sunny in a precarious position of sinking to the bottom of the lake. Sure, it's unlikely that he'll die. But it proves just how serious the stakes will be for this final season and how much there is still left to lose in this world for its people.