Monday, May 6, 2019

REVIEW: 'Into the Badlands' - Sunny, Bajie and Minerva Launch the Final Attack Against Pilgrim in 'Seven Strike as One'

AMC's Into the Badlands - Episode 3.16 "Seven Strike as One"

Sunny, The Widow and Bajie lead the charge against Pilgrim, as he attempts to gain ultimate control of the Badlands. M.K. seeks revenge on The Widow.

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 series finale of AMC's Into the Badlands.

"Seven Strike as One" was written by Alfred Gough, Miles Millar & Matt Lambert and directed by Paco Cabezas

The season previously teased that Pilgrim may only be defeated if Sunny manages to unlock the Gift that has been dormant within him for years. The armies of the Badlands have gone up against Pilgrim and suffered massive losses. They have attacked him in different ways only to lose so much more than he does. He only continues to accumulate power. He is creating more Dark Ones. More people are loyal to his cause. If they aren't, then he promptly kills them. That's startling to Cressida who can no longer stand by as the darkness warps his mind and he is determined to destroy this land in order to rebuild Azra in his own image. But again, all of this was building to Sunny becoming even more powerful and gaining the skill necessary to defeat Pilgrim. That moment never comes in this finale though. Sure, Sunny's power is eventually unlocked. However, it's just a part of the coda that teases that he will rise again to face the next threat to the way of life in the Badlands. It has nothing to do with Pilgrim despite how all of this connects back to their roots in Azra. That place has long been perceived as Heaven. A goal that everyone sought to obtain in order to escape the bleak future in the Badlands. This has been a war-torn region for so long. It makes Minerva question if it's even responsible to bring a child into this world. She gets clarity from Sunny who sees Henry as the best thing that has ever happened to him. It gives him something worth fighting for. It's a profound gift. But this finale is built almost entirely around the idea that the main characters have to team up in order to defeat Pilgrim and his forces. Even then, this will be a devastating battle with major casualties on both sides. Of course, the audience also goes into this finale knowing that it will be the final episode of the show. By the end, it becomes clear that this wasn't intended to be a series finale. The creative team was hoping to tell more stories set in this world. It's setting up new conflicts and allowing some stories to remain unresolved. Cressida escapes without Moon getting to exact his revenge on her. Tilda clings to life after being stabbed by M.K. Of course, there are some very fitting and rewarding moments here as well. Minerva previously wanted her Gift to be restored. This season has highlighted the dangers and corruption of such power. Seeing her daughter sacrifice herself to save her is the moment that ignites this power once more. That is terrifying especially because of how powerful it makes her. It's suddenly easy to kill M.K. after the long fight they previously had. Minerva emerges as one of the few people still alive who possesses the Gift as well. The rest mostly die in this conflict because they blindly listened to Pilgrim. But there are only more secrets locked away in the Badlands as well. The show wants everyone to walk away with the understanding that the fighting will never stop and these people may never be able to live happy and fulfilling lives. Right now, they just have to do whatever it takes to defeat the greatest threat to their way of life. Sunny and Bajie succeed in doing so. They kill Pilgrim by impaling him with the hooks that were once used to give Cressida visions. Now, they are his downfall. It's a powerful moment for Sunny because it's him fundamentally rejecting his old life for the new world he has created for himself. He just dies in the process as well. But again, the show wants the audience to know that Sunny may be dead for now but won't be for long because death was the other thing that could unlock his secret power. As such, the mysteries of that gift will forever be unknown. That's very disappointing despite how satisfying most of this final episode is.