Monday, April 8, 2019

REVIEW: 'Into the Badlands' - Sunny and Bajie are Backed Into a Corner Protecting Ankara in 'Cobra Fang, Panther Claw'

AMC's Into the Badlands - Episode 3.12 "Cobra Fang, Panther Claw"

The Widow and Baron Chau finally face off. M.K. and Pilgrim grow their forces at the Monastery. Sunny and Bajie discover a new foe, the Black Lotus.

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.

"Cobra Fang, Panther Claw" was written by Evan Endicott & Josh Stoddard and directed by Tricia Brock

Does the show earn the moment in which Bajie tragically dies in order to protect Sunny and Ankara? This is the final season. So, the audience should absolutely be expecting some huge and shocking deaths. Now is the time for the show to kill off some of its beloved characters in order to fuel the final story. However, Bajie's death is a little rushed at the conclusion of this hour while the Black Lotus are severely underdeveloped as new antagonists. This is the first episode in which Ankara explains that the Black Lotus are the organization that destroyed Azra in the first place. That's why she was banished. She helped Magnus and was betrayed by him. He is a heartless individual who is glad to eliminate those with the Gift. That's his purpose in the world. He is still doing so after all of these years. He has finally killed Ankara. Bajie dies because he is associated with her and Sunny. Sunny is the only person to survive this encounter. And yet, it still feels like a little bit of a distraction from the overarching story with Pilgrim. The Master made the argument that everyone needs to rally against Pilgrim because he is the greatest threat to the Badlands at the moment. And yes, things are inherently tragic considering Sunny and company are bringing Ankara to the Master at the monastery at the precise moment that Pilgrim is attacking. It's a meaningful fight as well. The Master presents as the one person who understands every facet of the Gift. Pilgrim has long proclaimed himself to be the foremost expert on this ability. He is foolishly in the dark though. He is aware enough to know that the Master has the potential to heal her wounds. He doesn't give her that opportunity. However, he also rampages and destroys in order to get what he wants. This power is quickly consuming him. It doesn't matter what anyone else does. He sees himself as the savior of so many people. They should all be indebted to him because of what he has done. And yet, he may be destined to die because of his ambitions and his inability to control the darkness brewing inside of him. M.K. can sense that things aren't well with Pilgrim. And yet, he is still convincing people that they should follow him. Eli wants to find his family after being woken up. He can outline the torture of the Master's practices. But M.K. tosses those concerns to the side with the understanding that Eli's family is probably dead even though he doesn't know that for sure. He is singularly focused on the message that Pilgrim is preaching. He brought Pilgrim to the monastery. Pilgrim has defeated the Master and amassed a new army for himself. He isn't heeding her warning about the danger of the Gift. That all seems destined to come back to haunt him at some point. Right now though, it means that no one should feel safe. Sunny, Bajie and The Widow had a plan of regrouping with the Master to figure out their next plan of attack. Instead, The Widow goes off to save Gaius and Tilda while putting her conflict with Chau to an end. Meanwhile, Ankara does tease that only Sunny's sister can unlock his own secret power that could save the Badlands. And yet, the episode concludes with Ankara and Bajie being killed and Sunny being taken prisoner. That may lead him to salvation and more answers about his past. He may find a way to defeat Pilgrim. But Bajie's death mostly seems to prop up the understanding that the Black Lotus should be taken seriously as new antagonists. They shouldn't be trusted. It just feels like a slight disservice to Bajie. The hour may end on a shot of him still breathing. But it's incredibly unlikely that he survives. If he does, then it would be a really manipulating thing for the show to do.