As Sunny (Daniel Wu) and Bajie (Nick Frost) continue their journey through the outlying territories, Sunday’s (April 2) “Into the Badlands” put an intense new character, Nathaniel Moon (Sherman Augustus), directly in their path.
On a bridge in the middle of nowhere, and outnumbered by bounty hunters, Moon offers the duo some worthy battle assistance. The fight was brutal and chaotic, but also put Moon’s skills on display — outshining Daniel Wu’s own abilities, in the process. It turns out Moon is a former clipper, with 999 kills to his name. His tragic backstory offers some unnerving parallels to Sunny’s current struggles.
Instead of hanging up his hat, Moon has held onto the rage that made him such a successful clipper. His wife and child’s brutal murder continue to feed the only thing that gives his life meaning: Murder. Aside from the obvious Sun/Moon dynamic at play here, the older clipper’s tale is an eye-opener for Sunny.
Our hero’s mission is still the same: Get back to the Badlands, rescue his wife and child, find M.K. (Aramis Knight) and then get the heck out of Dodge. But what if that plan fails? Can Sunny ever really put his assassin days behind him?
Sunny’s former Baron boss (Marton Csokas) has been taking care of Veil (Madeleine Mantock) and her newborn child, Henry. We’re unsure what her ultimate end-game is here, but it’s obvious Sunny will be facing a huge conflict once he does return to his wife and son. That self-doubt is ever-present in Sunny, and Moon’s opposing nature offers a very bleak outlook on Sunny’s possible future.
The contrast of dark and light ramps up drastically in the episode’s climactic end, which pits Moon against Sunny. After providing the men refuge, the lone clipper’s true motives become apparent: To earn one final kill tag, bringing his total to 1,000. Their swordfight shows just how matched Moon is to Sunny — pushing this fight segment away from the Jackie Chan-style we’ve seen so far this season, into a more weapons-heavy format of the genre.
In the end, Sunny defeats him — Bajie severs Moon’s hand for good measure — but we were left wanting more. Throughout the “Into the Badlands” story, Sunny has faced many enemies, but this is the first time we’ve seen our hero tasked with a challenge like Moon’s sheer power, steadily fed by the vengeful rage he carries inside. Sunny’s tactical maneuvers brilliantly showcased his thoughtful style, staying one step ahead of his attacker’s every move.
The duo left Moon alive, but they took his sword — which definitely gives the clipper enough reason to hunt Sunny and Bajie down… Which is exactly what we’re hoping happens. In a world of captivating, over-the-top characters, Nathaniel Moon’s a breath of fresh air. We anticipate he just may return when Sunny least expects it.
“Into the Badlands” Season 2 airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on AMC.