From Miles Millar and Alfred Gough, the minds that brought us television’s Smallville and would have brought us an Aquaman spin-off I’m not sure anyone asked for and thankfully died at the pilot stage, comes the second season of a show I’m not sure anyone watches called Into the Badlands. Let me tell you, Nieces and Nephews, that’s a mistake everyone should rectify post haste. Uncle Manhammer is warning you though, there will be spoilers for Season One (which is available to stream on Netflix).
Season One left us with a series of punches in the gut. Sunny has been sold into servitude after lying to the River King and while he succeeded in exiting the Badlands, was forced to do so without Veil and his unborn child. Tilda and the Widow have been forced into seclusion as they rebuild to try and make another attempt at seizing power and toppling the Baronies of the Badlands, and that weird love triangle between Quinn, Ryder, and Jade? Well, it’s been the Ryder and Jade show since Sunny stabbed Quinn. Ryder has taken over his father’s post as Baron and Lydia have been hanging out with her father ever since being cast out by Quinn for not poisoning Jade (seriously, it’s a slippery slope). Last but not least M.K. has been abducted by the abbots and taken to a monastery along with others who share his ‘gift.’
Now, I’ll admit, that all sounds pretty drama heavy and maybe even a little generic taken out of context. But Into the Badlands is one of the greatest shows I’ve ever seen on television and that’s because it’s an insane genre mash-up that works beautifully. It’s a post-apocalyptic, martial arts fairy tale that doesn’t skimp on the blood or the fights and when you look at it on paper you’ll wonder why no one had ever thought to do it before. The first season was a great starting point, setting expectations at a certain level and then the second season increases everything tenfold. The world becomes bigger than the Baronies, it also starts coming in a sharper, albeit not quite clear, focus.
The meat of the story centers around Sunny invoking the title of the series and trying to get back Into the Badlands to rescue his family. Season Two also sees the character of Bajie added to the fold, played with great comedic timing by Nick Frost and like all the characters in the series, is more than he appears. Running along at a breakneck pace with Sunny’s quest, The Widow is re-establishing herself as a force to be reckoned with under the banner of freedom for all who are forced into servitude…when it suits her. Of course, both plots collide into each other towards the end of the season, and there are a few surprises along the way, but I promise it’s worth the time to see this ten-episode season through to its bittersweet end.
Visuals/Picture Quality (5/5)
The fight scenes… I can go on for days about how good the fight choreography is. It’s the good kind, where they don’t cut away after every hit because the actors can’t actually do any of the moves they’re purported to be doing. Daniel Wu (Sunny) is a machine and appears both deadly and magnificent when he’s fighting. The Widow? Total eye candy when she fights. Hell, EVERYONE, including Nick Frost, is incredible and offer a feast for the eyes with the variety and ability on display.
This isn’t to cut short the obvious budget increase that’s been granted since season one, either, and we get to glimpse things like the monastery and the wall separating the Badlands from the rest of the world. The show is very cinematic, and while not effects heavy, really manage to build the fantastic world with beautiful vistas.
Score/Audio Quality (4/5)
The score is an interesting mix of contemporary music with a blend of wood instruments, occasionally bleeding over into heavy tempo fare when fights begin. The dialogue is crisp and audible, and I have to give credit to the show for knowing when silences are important and not ruining them with a heavy hand. My soundbar appreciated the rich bass tones and lack of attempts to bust the tweeters with unnecessary loud effects.
Special Features (2/5)
I would have loved some audio commentaries, or behind the scenes stuff, but the only special features found on this release are a single deleted scene from each episode. None of which add anything, and it was obvious all were cut for time. Disappointing, but the problem can always be remedied with an exhaustive complete series release long after the show has ended.
- A standard hinged triple disc case with a slipcover. My slip was a little dog-eared when I received it, but it’s there in the pictures for the sake of posterity. Also comes with a digital copy.
- Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
- English Dolby TrueHD 5.1
- English SDH
Into the Badlands Season 2 Overall (4/5)
I didn’t expect to fall in love with this show. I’d heard of it and honestly had written it off as a “maybe when I get some time” kind of endeavor. Now, my DVR is set for the April 22 season 3 return and I’ll more than likely watch live. Admittedly, it’s a quirky mishmash of genres, but Into the Badlands offers a lot of enjoyment if you’re willing to invest in it. Highly recommended. The Blu-rays are available from Amazon or other TV retailers.