Into the Badlands Season 3, Episode 8: “Leopard Catches Cloud”
For all of the groundwork establishing the way of the world, Into the Badlands hasn’t bothered to explain how it all got that way until now. It appears humanity has been plunged into a dark age for five hundred years (man, those cars have held up well), and we have no one to blame but ourselves.
The Badlands’ ancestors used the chamber the Pilgrim’s men found to first tap into the power of the Dark Ones. Of course, humanity didn’t know how to keep that particular genie in the bottle, so a power we couldn’t control ended it all.
Now, thanks to Sunny’s desperate desire to cure his son, that power has appeared to have been unleashed again.
The Widow had her own story to tie down. She decides it’s time to take out Chau once and for all, but after the cog revolt last week, she knows she can’t just throw bodies at Chau’s stronghold until it falls.
Luckily, the Widow’s new/old boy-toy Gaius knows some secret tunnels that will get them into Chau’s living room. A plan is set in motion: Moon and Lydia use a cadre of clippers and cogs to push the Chau lines long enough to draw away Chau’s forces, leaving the Baroness undefended, so the Widow, Gaius and Tilda can infiltrate and exterminate with as little loss of life as possible.
Before the grand battle, Lydia and Moon revive their old flame, as Widow and Gaius do the same. The battle doesn’t go well at first, though when Moon hits the field the tide turns a little, but there are too many Chau forces for Moon to take care of single-handedly. Luckily, Lydia mounts a cavalry charge, followed by a defensive stand, that turns the battle to their favor. Sure, it was no Battle of the Bastards, but still impressive, considering Into the Badlands staged their epic battle with a production budget of around seventy-eight cents. In the end, Lydia is secretly mortally wounded, proving that no one can be happy in the Badlands.
The Widow’s gambit doesn’t go as well, as Chau leads the Widow into a trap, and nearly kebobs the Widow in a hail of crossbow fire. Thankfully, a previously unseen monk character (we can only assume she’s Sunny’s long lost sister) stops the arrow, and redirects them back to Chau and her forces. This monk tells the Widow that the time for her silly squabble is over, because there’s a bigger evil to fight, then proceeds to give Widow the Bajie magic fingers to the forehead, which knocks her cold.
Poor Sunny. Once he reaches the Pilgrim’s fortress, he gets pulled in a thousand different directions, and all he wants to do is find a cure for his son.
MK wants to destroy Sunny for killing his mother. He almost gets the job done, before the Pilgrim intervenes. Later, Sunny admits it’s entirely possible he killed MK’s mother, because he was a remorseless killing machine who followed his baron’s orders without question or hesitation.
Bajie wants to find another way to cure Henry, because he knows enough about Azra to suspect that no good can come from the Pilgrim having control over the chamber.
But, Sunny’s desire to cure Henry is too strong, and the consequences are dire, as the Pilgrim does remove the dark energy from Henry, then absorbs it himself, for what nefarious ends we will discover in the second half of the season.
Thoughts and Impressions
This martial arts show has dabbled in science fiction and steampunk aesthetics from its very beginnings, but it’s still a little unbalancing when the science fiction core of this martial arts saga makes its presence known. Whenever the series wants to shake things up, it takes a dive into that pool, and this hour was no exception. The episode itself accomplished everything you’d ask a midseason finale to do. The fate of a few characters are uncertain. Some storylines were resolved, while others were expanded upon. The only jarring move was the introduction of the Mystery Monk. She will no doubt play a large role going forward, but it would have been nice to see her chilling in Chau’s attic, before the finale.
Into the Badlands built a tough hill for itself to climb after killing off Veil in the Season 2 finale. After seeing the direction the series has gone, it feels like it would have been tough to find room for Veil to have a meaningful part to play, so it takes some of the sting from her exiting the show.
This is such a different series than in Season 1, but not in a bad way. The creators keep expanding the world and improving its signature martial arts set pieces. Some of these moves have fallen short, but most have paid off in a big way, which makes fans eager for the next step in the season.