Oh, AMC. Can you do no wrong?
From the network that gave us The Walking Dead, Hell on Wheels, Mad Men, Breaking Bad … (need I go on?) comes its latest gem, Into the Badlands.
Giving this entertaining new AMC offering the praise it deserves has been on my “to do” list for three episodes. On the eve of episode four, I thought it was time to get on the stick — before the season was suddenly over.
Figuratively, I haven’t seen anything thing this colorful on television since Killjoys. Literally, I haven’t seen any television show this totally saturated in color since Pushing Daisies.
When I saw the first trailers for Into the Badlands several months ago, I thought “Max Max meets Bruce Lee.” My first impression wasn’t far off the mark.
The world presented is a post-apocalyptic feudal society, possibly future America. The settings have a wild west flavor, nicely seasoned with steampunk. One scene in the first episode shows a Victor-Victrola perched on a boom box.
A group of barons is at the top of the social pecking order. Each baron has a specialty — opium, oil. Labor is provided by “cogs,” who are essentially slaves. One difference is that every cog, theoretically, has the opportunity to rise to baron, if he or she has the brains and leadership skills to take the position by force. It’s a lot like today’s corporate environment.
The martial arts aspect enters the picture with highly trained Clippers, who serve as baronial enforcers. Each baron has a small army of Clippers. I’ve never been a kung fu flick fan, but the fight scenes and swordplay in this series are re-watchably amazing.
Central to the cast of characters is Sunny (Daniel Wu), top Clipper and regent for Baron Quinn (Marton Csokas). Sunny is your standard, indestructible anti-hero, a good guy stuck in a bad job. He serves as Quinn’s regent, which makes him the baron’s security head and hatchet man.
Sunny acquires an apprentice, M.K. (Aramis Knight) an undersized youth with an unusual response to the sight of his own blood, and I don’t mean fainting. M.K. is being hunted by The Widow (Emily Beecham), a kick-ass baroness who somehow knows what M.K. can do.
A war is brewing between the Widow and Quinn, who is about as evil as evil can get. Armed and relationship conflicts abound. For different reasons, both Sunny and M.K. want out of the Badlands and into the fabled greener pastures beyond.
Into the Badlands is scheduled for only a six-part run. Unless gets a renewal, that means it’s already half over.
Catch it while you can.