Sunday saw the series premiere of AMC’s Into the Badlands and what a premiere it was! The series stars Daniel Wu as protagonist Regent Sunny, the top clipper (assassin) of the badland’s most powerful Baron known as Quinn.
It’s still too early to have the full story—especially out of an episode that was mostly action—we did get some incredible fight scenes that showcased the combat ability of Sunny and the work of the fight choreographers.
While the writers’ job of crafting this kind of martial arts western—a world without firearms—a standing applause should also go to the writing and casting of a diverse main cast in the first episode.
The season preview showed more of the same as well. Sure we still got the stoic Asian martial arts master with a ridiculous kill radius against his foes most of the show, but we also have glimpses of a character actually involved in a relationship outside of fighting.
Adding to the diverse writing is that Sunny is involved with a woman of color who not only reaches him to read, but they’re expecting a child and from the season preview it looks to be motivation for a change in Sunny’s sense of duty to his Baron. In short our protagonist isn’t simply a “this is my duty, I must do my duty and nothing else” Asian action protagonist as usually written in western film and TV—something expected from AMC after how well Glenn from The Walking Dead has been portrayed.
Outside of Sunny, we have a somewhat uninteresting look at Baron Quinn as he addresses his army of assassins in training. He’s the most powerful in the land, runs a plantation, and gets high on his own supply. It seems he becomes more interesting from as conflict arises in the season preview, but in this first episode it was mostly Baron Quinn flexing his power.
What was more interesting in relation to the Baron was his relation to his son Ryder and first wife Lydia. The Baron takes a second younger wife and his son—another clipper—keeps his loyalty to his mother. What usually happens in this kind of scenario in different forms of media is the younger wife becomes pregnant with child, the big boss or master throws himself into his new wife and child, and the first wife and eldest son conspire against the husband to make sure the son gets his inheritance.
Finally there’s M.K who initially comes off as uninteresting and annoying—your eventual travel companion in these kinds of series will always ask too many questions. In the second half of the show it turns out he has a gift or power that makes him a powerful fighter.
There’s five more episodes left in the season, so it’ll be interesting to see how everything develops for the main characters and where the story goes. It started off with a flurry of action and beautifully filmed. The first three episodes will determine if it’s worth actually continuing to watch the whole season, whether you could just ditch the show, or if you’re just going to finish the season because you started it.