Sunday’s (April 9) episode of “Into the Badlands” not only delivers the season’s most epic fight scene yet, the elusive Baron Quinn (Marton Csokas) makes a play to win back the Badlands — and it is glorious.
We know Quinn’s a bad guy — that’s been evident since the first moment he walked on screen in Season 1: Sadistic, charismatic, bloodthirsty, power-hungry. And ever since his near-death in Season 1, we’ve been patiently waiting for him to step back into the spotlight.
That moment finally comes in “Palm of the Iron Fox,” which finds the remaining Barons meeting to discuss the state of the Badlands — and more importantly, pass judgment on the Widow’s (Emily Beecham) bloody reclamation of the oil fields. The conclave doesn’t end up seeing things her way — and a battle quickly ensues.
This hypersaturated, ultra-violent martial arts story operates best during the most extreme throwdowns — and no one raises the stakes better than Quinn. Our favorite scenery-chewing bad guy takes everyone off guard, and ends up murdering all who cross his men’s path.
While it’s evident they’re on opposite sides, Quinn and the Widow have the same goal: To take control of the Badlands and its resources. But while The Widow has heroic intentions, Quinn’s proven time and again he’s only out to build his influence and legacy. It all brings him so much joy that it’s hard to not feel a little giddy when he wreaks havoc on the political meet-up.
Nick Frost’s addition as Sunny’s (Daniel Wu) sidekick definitely helps to add levity to “Into the Badlands,” but Quinn’s return to the land of the living brings some delicious evil back to the story — which only makes Sunny’s mission to free his wife and child more exciting.
Quinn comes face-to-face with his own son, Ryder (Oliver Stark), who took over in Season 1, after falsely spreading the rumor he killed his father. Chasing Ryder through the property’s hedge maze adds a familiar intensity to the tale, with a nod to Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” as Quinn, like Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) before him, brings a reckoning to his boy.
Of course, Torrance doesn’t kill Danny (Danny Lloyd) at the end of that tale — but the same can’t be said for Quinn and Ryder. In the end, the son proves he just doesn’t have the bloodlust to maintain Quinn’s legacy in the Badlands, and that’s the end for him. It’s a necessary moment in the series, and not only sets up an epic face-off between the Widow and Quinn, it adds more fuel to Sunny’s fire.
Unbeknownst to our hero, his wife (Madeleine Mantock) and son are coveted by Quinn… And now that Ryder’s dead, it’s safe to say infant Henry will be molded in the man’s image — at least, if Sunny doesn’t make it back in time.
For the sinister ruler to fall, he first needs to regain the power he lost in Season 1 — and his return to the Badlands is a necessary motivator for all who oppose him. It’s obvious his empire will fall, and once Sunny teams up with the Widow — that has to happen, right? — one bloody, cathartic and satisfying end is sure to follow.
“Into the Badlands” airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.