The Badlands Report: “Leopard Stalks Rabbit” brings Tilda back to The Widow

This week’s episode was…a little wonky? Maybe it’s just me, but I found this episode to be a little bit of a filler until next week, when Sunny gets trapped and realizes all of his errors are catching up to him in a big way.

To be fair, he started seeing the horrors of his past reflected in the teen soldiers he co-opted for his mission to get across the suicide alley (I can’t remember if that’s what it was called in the episode, but that’s what I’m going with). When he realized he was once like them, young and impressed only with the sport of killing, he looks visibly disgusted and, indeed, horrified by the person he once was. It’s a shame it took a baby and losing his wife to make him realize that, but, as I’ve said in the S3 premiere review, it’s not like Sunny’s transgressions won’t be haunting him the whole season long. He’s going to come out of this season a changed man, for better or worse.

George Sear as Arthur, Daniel Wu as Sunny. They're crouched behind a makeshift barracks. Both are wearing blue velvet overcoats and Arthur is wearing a dark blue or black bowler hat. (Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC)
George Sear as Arthur, Daniel Wu as Sunny – (Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC)

Speaking of changed men, Moon suddenly has feelings for Lydia? I know we’re supposed to realize he’s had feelings for her for years, but when? During the timeline of him having a wife and child to now, when did his fling with Lydia take place? Hopefully before the wife and child. I couldn’t take it if he’s a killer and a cheater; one sin at a time please.

In any case, Moon is attracted to Lydia and I’m not all the way mad about it. I feel like the writers were trying to figure out how to flesh out his character more, and an easy way to go is to give him a romantic angle. It makes sense. But call me tentative on the whole thing. I need to see how this will play out before I give my full verdict.

Sherman Augustus as Moon. wearing a dark blue bowler hat and a blue velvet overcoat with an iron butterfly pin.  (Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC)
Sherman Augustus as Moon (Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC)

The big moments of the night were between Tilda and The Widow. I’m not clear if Tilda’s agreement with The Widow is completely set in stone, since she ran away with both Odessa and a fully-charged M.K. I do agree with Moon, The Widow, and virtually every adult who feels like Tilda is only taking the guise of Iron Rabbit (and getting people killed in the process) because she’s acting out; she wants The Widow to recognize her as an equal and not a kid. But Tilda’s pettiness started from a real place; she became disillusioned after learning The Widow isn’t actually for the freedom of everyone in the Badlands, but is concerned with gathering all the power for herself.

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But, as Lydia tells her, if Tilda is planning on changing the system, she’s got to first learn how to work within the system. Lydia might seem like she’s always looking for a way to get power, but she’s telling the truth. You have to learn your enemy before you can defeat them. So far, Tilda hasn’t learned anything about her real enemy–the power structure of the Badlands–so becoming Regent again could give Tilda the information she needs to finally defeat her mother once and for all. Also, if Tilda is back in The Widow’s clutches, this could lead to an intense stand-off between Moon and Tilda as co-Regents. It could be cool to see.

Ally Ioannides as Tilda, Maddison Jaizani as Odessa. Both are wearing orange woven outfits with red and blue accents. (Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC)
Ally Ioannides as Tilda, Maddison Jaizani as Odessa (Photo Credit: Aidan Monaghan/AMC)

One big moment I feel I was robbed of was seeing Moon find Sunny still in the Butterfly camp. I thought for sure we’d get Moon glimpsing Sunny’s escape or even a quick fight between the two of them before Sunny dodged him and made for Asra with his son and Bajie. But no such thing; all we see is Moon learning of Sunny’s presence in the camp.

Another moment I thought we were going to get was Bajie taking Sunny to task for leading teenagers to their possible deaths. If the kids died, would Sunny care as long as it got him to the other side? That’s a question I would have liked answered within the episode. I’m inclined to think he would care a little bit, since he tried to save Chau’s sniper. But the real answer to that question is one that’s still floating in the wind, as far as I’m concerned.

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It seemed like that concern was on Bajie’s mind as he saw Ren dying thanks to the poison arrow wounds she took to the leg (we should have known she’d be near death for most of the episode when she got such a splashy introduction). With Bajie’s spiritual gifts and the doctor’s hacksaw, they were able to save Ren’s life by amputating her leg. But Ren wakes up angry at Bajie. She hated her former life as a weaver, and she felt she excelled as a soldier; now, without a leg, she’s not good for either job. She wishes Bajie had let her die. It’s a unique moment to comment on consent. We’ve been hearing about consent in sexual terms in the news, but consent–and a woman’s agency over her body–is something that applies to all facets of life.  Even though Bajie acted out of the good of his heart (and many of us might be glad to be saved without our consent if we were put in that position), Bajie never thought to ask Ren what she wanted the quality of her life to be like. He just assumed she’d want to be alive, especially since it was Sunny who put her in harm’s way.

Overall, this was still a good episode, but just not one that has had the same punch as the previous two. I’m ready for the action to pick back up, and for us to get on our way to Asra and meet the Mad Witch.

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