AMC’s Into The Badlands had it’s Season 1 finale last night and it’s fate is still in limbo. The series has only had six lackluster episodes so far and at times it has had no clear path as to the story it’s trying to tell. Garnering steadily faltering ratings it wouldn’t be shocking if the show had seen it’s last episode.
I for one would be a little disappointing if they do not return. Sure, the show had plot holes galore and tried to replace a lack of clear storyline with over the top action. But that action was amazing, and if someone in the studio wakes up and rights the ship there is some substance underneath. The forth and fifth episode, the two lowest rated episodes, were actually impactful.
If you haven’t seen the show it’s like this: The world that we know is a post-apocalyptic one divided up into seven territories run by Barons. Each Baron’s territory deals in a special trade which they protect with an army of “clippers”, highly skilled warriors who fight without guns. There are no guns. It’s kind of kung-fu/steam punk with some weird powery voodoo stuff tossed in for fun.
From the first episode the show was skating the line. The fighting was beyond exception but the story seemed piecemealed together. I remember thinking it was like someone had taken a poorly written story with a good concept and handed it off to a director who had gone over the top to bring it to life. If a twelve year old wrote an in depth period piece and Christopher Nolan produced and directed it into a visual masterpiece it would likely still suck. You may not know why or notice immediately (like Intersteller).
BUT, it started to pull itself together. By episode four I had given up. I went back and watched it a week later and was blown away. M.K. (I hate his name) was starting to reveal an intriguing backstory. Some of the loose character conflicts were actually coming to light and the web of lies that had seemed stupid in it’s building had reached fruition. The Baron Quin saw that M.K. had some sort of power. He found out Sonny was planning on running away. Ryder was plotting to betray his father!
Then it all went to hell. The final episode, which had been built into brilliant tapestry of story telling by its many character threads just kind of fizzled out. One episode before I had forgotten the flaws and thought I had judged too early. I feel they lost me when they took things too far too fast. There was already several storylines to work with, all it needed to do was work on them and then leave us a glimpse of what could come. They didn’t. They brought in the Monks who had a mastered version of M.K.’s power. Sonny is captured by the River Baron and his girlfriend Viel may have dumped him. Quinn gets stabbed, Sonny is arrested and openly betrays Quinn. Ryder’s coupe is busted up making it completely pointless. I just don’t even know what to hope for.
For all it’s faults I am still intrigued. The power that M.K. has and all the martial arts are really fun and well done for a TV series. The world has potential if the story could be paced out a little better and it was believable that there was a clear layout of what was really going on. The actors are pretty good. The Widow is bad ass. Her army of Butterflies too. They also build on the much needed strong female roles out there.
Speaking of the Widow, her character is a force for feminism when you get down to it. She fights better than most men on the show. She leads her own group and she has guile and cunning and a clear message that she is going to take what has never been offered to her. By force and wits and every weapon in her arsenal. And she has a lot of weapons.
If it’s renewed I will keep watching. If the ratings are any indicator the creators will reshape things some and come back strong. If it is dropped it could make a cool comic.
Feel free to disagree with me @werewolforigin on twitter and at Eric Bookout on instagram