Monday, April 15, 2019

REVIEW: 'Into the Badlands' - Sunny Learns About the Black Lotus and His Connection to Azra in 'Black Lotus, White Rose'

AMC's Into the Badlands - Episode 3.13 "Black Lotus, White Rose"

Sunny discovers an important figure from his past is working with the Black Lotus. The Widow, Gaius and Tilda bring an end to the bloody civil war.

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.

"Black Lotus, White Rose" was written by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar and directed by Miles Millar

So, what was the point of the show making the audience believe that Bajie was dead? Was it entirely so that Sunny felt that he was all alone when faced with the truth about his sister and the Black Lotus? That doesn't make much sense though. Sunny only learns about Bajie being killed after the fact. He was knocked unconscious in that moment. He has to ask Magnus what happened to Ankara and Bajie. He didn't experience their deaths in real time. And so, it's difficult for that to really inform any of his actions here. There is a disconnect because he wasn't allowed to have a reaction. Plus, there is no real reason for concern because Bajie is still alive. This season has especially pointed out that the people trained in the Gift can actually be difficult to kill. That's a completely new distinction introduced this season to only further enhance those with these abilities. It may make Pilgrim an even more powerful and unstoppable threat. So far though, Ankara and the Master are the only two individuals who have honed this power and used it to save lives. Of course, it can't protect them from fatal wounds. It just means it takes much longer for them to actually die even after being stabbed right through the chest. That may offer a little emotional closure for some in the audience. However, it feels like one big distraction in order to offer the sense that the stakes are increasing without actually following through on the actions. Bajie doesn't deal with any consequences from dying and being brought back to life. He is right back to being his same old self. His injuries don't stop him from breaking into the Black Lotus facility and rescuing Sunny. He does so effortlessly. He manages to make it all the way to Magnus' private chambers without anyone noticing him. That's baffling considering the show is now billing the Black Lotus as a secret organization that have always prided themselves on how covert and mysterious they were. Sunny never heard of them until recently. And now, Magnus just allows himself to be vulnerable in this way. Of course, there isn't a whole lot of depth to this actual organization either. They project themselves as the saviors of the world who understand that those with the Gift actually ended the world once and shouldn't be given the opportunity to do so a second time. It should be huge that the show finally explores Azra in this hour after talking about it as a paradise for so long. It has long been seen as the perfect oasis where people in the Badlands can escape to for a better life. Instead, it's simply just the latest refuge for those with the Gift. They lived in a society that idolized these powers and the inevitability of it being used to kill. It plays into Sunny's overall struggle to be something more than a killer. He doesn't want to be desensitized to the violence of this world. He wants to hold onto his humanity even though everyone is saying that he's destined to be a killer. That's what informs his dynamic upon being reunited with his sister. That is confirmed further with the two needing to team with Bajie to escape this place. They succeed in doing so. But things are still left in the air regarding Sunny unlocking the potential power within him that can possibly take Pilgrim down. That has been seen as the only way to emerge victorious in this war. And yet, the audience is also suppose to care about Minerva riding into battle because the Master gives her the sage advice to strike now while Pilgrim is still weakened from awaking his new army. It's a lot going on but the overall plotting is really starting to grow quite annoying.