Monday, April 22, 2019

REVIEW: 'Into the Badlands' - The Widow Crafts a Compelling Strategy to Defeat Pilgrim in 'Curse of the Red Rain'

AMC's Into the Badlands - Episode 3.14 "Curse of the Red Rain"

Sunny, Bajie and Kannin journey back into the Badlands. The Widow makes a risky play against Pilgrim, bringing Cressida and Lydia into the crossfire.

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.

"Curse of the Red Rain" was written by Michael Taylor and directed by Miles Millar

The show has gotten more creative and inventive with its action sequences every season. Sure, the majority of the fights are hand-to-hand combat and wire work. That's the signature flourish of this show. It's the way that it stands out. But it's also notable that Minerva and her forces have to think outside-of-the-box because they are unlikely to win in close combat against Pilgrim and his new army. Minerva knows Pilgrim is weak at the moment from awakening the fighters at the Monastery. Now is the time to strike. She returns to the Sanctuary in order to have the advantage of determining the battlefield. She is bringing the fight to her front doors. That could carry a significant risk to it. It's something she never wanted to do during the war with Chau. That nearly destroyed the Badlands. And now, Pilgrim is hoping to continue the fighting to ensure that the civilization that existed before may never completely recover or morph into something else. Minerva is making plans for the future. Sure, she may be unnerved by the news that she's potentially pregnant. But she is eager and willing to appoint Lydia as the rightful ruler because she understands how to lead with power, grace and love. She has kept the innocents together while never losing sight of the importance of the battles being fought. That's what makes it tragic that this whole hour is building to her death. That may prove that the Badlands will never get their perfect leader. Instead, they will have to settle for whomever emerges from all of these wars with the greatest strength. The last person left standing will ultimately decide the fate of the region. Now, it was always inevitable that Minerva's last stand against Pilgrim wouldn't be the end of that particular threat. Pilgrim's story can't end until he and Sunny have one more fight. The show has spent so much time setting up the idea that Sunny also has a gift that needs to be unlocked in order to put an end to this conflict. Kannin is the only person who can reveal these powers and she is unwilling to do so right now. She sees the value in running away to find peace and prosperity elsewhere in the world - not knowing that her brother would never abandon his son. She falsely believes that everyone is already dead because of Pilgrim's strength. If she ascribes to that mentality though, then there should be no place in the world that would be safe for this little family unit. She is just dragging out the inevitable for as long as possible. Meanwhile, Minerva is actually staging a battle in a way that proves just how vulnerable Pilgrim really is. He has recruited people to his cause with the promise of them becoming gods. They could elevate to a new status in life that would empower them more than the previous world. The fighters have rallied around him instead of trying to start up their own lives once more. They are all expendable to him even though he believes he follows a sacred path. This battle sequence is so inventive because it shows how much smarter Minerva and her forces are. They trap Pilgrim's men and launch arrows without needing to get close to them at all. Sure, the show struggles with making it clear just how many soldiers are left standing on Pilgrim's side. At one point, it seems like six men. Then later on, he still has over a dozen warriors willing to storm the castle - except M.K. who presents as the immediate and pivotal casualty who motivates Pilgrim's anger. That's when things get more tense for Minerva. That's when the tables start to turn against her and her allies. Of course, that moment all hinges around the idea that the audience still has no idea who Cressida actually is. She is a witch whose skills haven't been used too much this season. Her influence has been felt. But now, it's clear that she holds her own powers. Those are skills that lead to Lydia's death. Sure, it was foolish of Minerva to send Lydia in to kill Cressida. It basically ensured that she would die instead when Nathaniel was so concerned earlier. And that will be the motivation for his actions during the final events of the series.