The Badlands Report: “Moon Rises, Raven Seeks” gets spiritual

Last night’s Into the Badlands episode, “Moon Rises, Raven Seeks,” was a great into episode into what makes Pilgrim, Cressida, and the followers tick. It was also oddly funny in the sense that the show gave viewers a warning for violence, when in fact, the entire series is full of horrifying violence. So that warning, as serious as we should take it, gave me a little chuckle.

On the scale of neck breaking to throat slitting, having hooks in your back, seeing Cressida get hung from hooks was a cakewalk as far as my viewing is concerned. In fact, I found it the most interesting part of the episode, since some people do, in fact, hang themselves from hooks for its supposed euphoric qualities, even spiritual ones. I wonder what she meant by “I see everything.” What is everything? And since she’s been right so far (the location of the First Temple of Asra, for instance), does this mean her visions are legitimate? And exactly what is Cressida’s relationship with Pilgrim? It seems like she’s simultaneously his mother figure, his priestess, and his…lover? In all honesty, I hate the word “lover.” It sounds gross to me. But, I think the word is apt here, since if she’s also his mother figure, it’s bleeding into an emotional incest area that is, indeed, gross. I’m sure this dynamic is setting us up for Pilgrim to eventually go against her at some point, or the followers realize she‘s actually the leader, and Pilgrim’s just the face. Despite the old world dying out, somehow the remnants of sexist politics are still rampant.

Question though: I thought Pilgrim’s bodyguards Nix and Castor offed Chau’s men at the border. I assume that’s going to come back into play, but I’m just bringing it up since I remembered it and I now want to know what Chau thinks about it. Maybe next episode.

Lorraine Toussaint as Cressida, Babou Ceesay as Pilgrim (Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC)

Speaking of visions, M.K. has gotten himself stuck in his own mind thanks to a suicidal dosage of opium and his shadow self literally beating his suppressed memories into his consciousness. It’s in this scary mental space that M.K. sees the true killer of his beloved mother; it’s Sunny! 

On the one hand, I was like, “Are you serious? Sunny’s the murderer?!” But then as quickly as I thought that, I felt like, “Of course, it all makes sense.” I don’t know (or I can’t remember) why Quinn’s men were dispatched to the camp M.K. and his mother were hiding in. But for a show as poetic as Into the Badlands, it’s only right that M.K.’s biggest adversary would be his mentor, friend, and father figure. Right now, it looks like M.K.’s going to go balls to the wall on Sunny once he gets free from the Widow. But who knows how he’ll end the season. What if, after everything, M.K. decides to forgive Sunny for killing his mom? I’m not saying that will happen. In fact, I don’t believe it will. But we’ve seen how friends turn into enemies and turn back into friends, or at the very least, cool acquaintances. But I think it’s Sunny’s fate to face down his former pupil. Why? Because of the words Sunny told to Tilda.

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Aramis Knight as M.K. (Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC)

Sunny is forever P.O.ed at Tilda for standing by when Veil was sold back to Quinn. Even when she offered him a way out of Lydia’s camp, Sunny made sure to say that while her help is cool, she will never be able to redeem herself in his eyes. I think M.K.’s going to say something similar to Sunny once he gets face to face with him. Even worse, I think M.K.’s going to unleash the beast on Sunny, utilizing his power so he can be purposefully out of control.

I should also mention that Tilda, as a voice for the writers, said Veil deserved better. I really felt the writing team telling fans, “We heard your concerns about Veil, and we get it. It wasn’t the best thing ever.” That’s highly intriguing, as is the development of this entire season to focus exclusively on Sunny coming to terms with both an uncertain future in a role he never thought he’d see himself in–a father–and a past that he’s only just realizing was more horrific than he actually thought, especially since he doesn’t even know whose family members he’s killed.

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Ally Ioannides as Tilda, Daniel Wu as Sunny
Ally Ioannides as Tilda, Daniel Wu as Sunny – Into the Badlands (Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC)

Again, to go back to what I said last week, this season doesn’t seem to be about building Sunny up as a “good guy” or a spouse out for revenge on behalf of their fridged lady. Instead, this seems to be about a man who has lost the only moral compass he had in the world, and now realizes he has to get his own moral compass working since he’s now providing a roadmap for his son. Sunny has more responsibility than he’s ever had in his adult life, and he’s now being asked to reckon with his mistakes and bad choices, the ultimate of which is choosing not to think for himself until life forced him to. At some point, all of his chickens will come home to roost, and it will make him break. All of this is necessary before he can be built back up into, if not a hero, a good dad.

In fact, it seems like this season is the season for everyone‘s chickens to come home to roost. Tilda, who is on the run from her mother, the Widow (who has a bounty for her head), will have to face her at some point. Bajie will have to face whoever or whatever it is he’s constantly running from. M.K. is currently facing his shadow self and will have to continue facing him until they become integrated. The Widow will have to face Sunny for sending Veil to her death, and she’ll also have to face the uprising of people under her leadership who are sick of dying at war. And Sunny will have to face M.K., Moon, and potentially others who come against him for killing their loved ones. It’s a season of reckoning, a season of being drawn up on proverbial tenterhooks and left to bleed. It’s a highly spiritual time.

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