The roots, alliances and blood feuds of The Badlands run deep. In last week’s episode ‘Carry Tiger to Mountain,’ we see just how deep with a flashback to Minerva, Gaius and Julia Chau’s childhood. Finding Gaius hidden in her trunk upon her return from Pilgrim’s fortress, Minerva’s memories of growing up as an indentured cog in Gaius’s father’s household flood her senses. A birthday party celebrating Gaius turned into humiliation for a teenage Minerva: spilling and breaking multiple glasses, young Gaius is tasked with beating his friend. Refusing his father, his bloodthirsty sister Julia takes up the cane and beats a cowed Minerva. It’s a stark reminder as to why these two powerful Barons are at war. It isn’t just business for Minerva, it’s personal.
The cult interlopers in The Badlands are nothing if not bold. Pilgrim and priestess Cressida make a journey to Baron Chau, wherein they give the Baron her workers back…in the form of their heads only. It’s harsh and violent and a language Baron Chau speaks. She is somewhat shocked to not see her brother Gaius among the decapitated and downright dumbfounded when Pilgrim demands a workforce of 1,000 to help with a “special project.” It’s difficult to shock Baron Chau but it seems like Pilgrim and Cressida’s assault did just that.
The cult leaders plans include consolidating the power of the ones holding the Dark Force. Nix rescued MK from bandits and promptly brought him to Cressida and Pilgrim. Determined to get to Sunny to exact revenge, MK is thrown for a loop when Pilgrim is able to pull him out of his Dark Gift trance with only his eyes and a strong “Peace unto you.” He is further persuaded to stay by Pilgrim explaining to him that there are no prisoners in their group and they can find Azra together.
In the wild, Sunny and Bajie trek toward Ankara with baby Henry in tow. It’s a long and dangerous journey into the mountains but they are able to locate the mystic. She is astounded by Henry and also Sunny. Using Sunny as a conduit, she finds that the Clipper holds the Dark Gift as well. Someone more powerful than herself has locked it so far within Sunny, that it never even manifested. Bajie is beyond skeptical because of his past experiences with Ankara. He let’s her know that nobody ever answered his signal, that nobody is out there. Ignoring his statement, Ankara pulls out an old, shortwave radio that sounds off Morse code…PILGRIM’S code. He has answered their call.
While Nix shows MK some of the “treasures” (a Viewfinder, natch), Castor flips his lid and goes off. Yelling at MK for taking his place, he insults Nix and begs Cressida to prolong his life. Cressida minced no words with the dying boy: she can’t provide any tincture to extend his life force. She instead implored him to use his Dark Gift to bring blood and chaos upon The Badlands, in order for a new world to be born (according to Ankara).
At The Widow’s stronghold, an imprisoned Gaius makes Minerva recall their bond as youngsters. Although she was a cog, and he a spoiled son of a baron, the differences weren’t that great between them. They believe in the same philosophy, the same ideology. It’s an impassioned plea, one that Minerva seems to be actually moved by. It must work. As word of Baron Chau’s forces attacking the refugee camp reach Minerva, she orders Regent Nathaniel to release Gaius and give him a sword.
This attack-spearheaded by Pilgrim’s need for workers-pits Tilda versus Castor, Minerva versus Castor and Gaius versus multiple Clippers from his sister’s arsenal.*
*Shout out to the best stunt coordinators and a dedicated cast that respects martial artistry. “Into the Badlands” knows EXACTLY what they’re doing.*
With the knowledge that Ankara gave them about Pilgrim ushering in a new world through blood and chaos, Sunny still journeys to him to have Henry healed. Cressida sees this through her blood magic and notes that Sunny is the catalyst. MK is determined to kill him but Pilgrim forbids it. The showdown for control has begun.
You can catch Into the Badlands Sundays at 7PM on AMC