We gave it a B+
A lot of shows coming off their first season would spend most of their second season premiere easing back into the story, catching up with each character, seeing how they’re coping with the revelations of last season’s finale, and just generally beginning to build up new conflicts. Into the Badlands isn’t that kind of show, though. Across six episodes last year, it laid out a vision of ruthless violence and efficient, propulsive storytelling. Hardly a moment was wasted; after all, there’s no time to be wasted when there are so many necks to snap and bones to crush.
Thus, the season 2 premiere only waits about 90 seconds until it dives head-and-fists first into a beautiful, brutal fight. It’s six months later, and we see Sunny is imprisoned in a labor camp, recently arrived and given a harsh introduction to the life of meeting daily mining quotas. Of course, Sunny doesn’t just become a prisoner willingly. Despite his head and hands being made immobile by a pillory, Sunny does his best to fight off his captors, maneuvering around the tight space and taking down nearly every single guard. Eventually, two other guards get the upper hand, and Sunny is forced back into chains and into the bunks along with the other “workers.”
There, he has a vision of Veil and their unborn child, all before being rudely awakened by none other than Nick Frost. Okay, his name is Baije, but it’s hard not to see Nick Frost, especially as he plays the affable, jovial sidekick to Sunny’s brooding protagonist. Baije is here to help Sunny get through the day-to-day in the camp. He shows him the ropes, tells him about meeting his quota, and even recognizes that he’s a Clipper. It’s more a forced friendship based on circumstance than anything else, but it seems like Sunny could really use just about any friend in this place.
So, what’s everyone else up to? Well, M.K. is deep into his training with a bunch of other kids who share his powers, and he’s still being a little s— about everything. He’s grumpy that The Master hasn’t seen him yet, he’s angry that he can’t just use his powers when he wants, and he’s eager to leave his training and go find Sunny and Tilda and make his way to Azra.
M.K. makes a break for it one night, only to wander into a room and find the compass with the embossed outline of Azra that once belonged to Sunny. He picks it up but is stopped from taking it by another hand. He turns and comes face to face with… someone. Initially, he seems to dismiss this woman — that is, until she asks him to catch a broom and it sends him flying across the room. “You’re The Master,” he says. Subtlety isn’t exactly a strength of Into the Badlands.
The interaction between M.K. and The Master isn’t all that insightful, but it does give us a sense of what role she’s playing in his life. She knows everything about Sunny, Tilda, and Azra, and it’s proven that she has great strength when she stops a provoked attack from M.K. That doesn’t come without some punishment, though, as she rolls back her sleeve to reveal a broken forearm, the bone popping through the skin. Luckily for The Master, she just waves her hand over it and everything is healed. Still, if M.K. has that kind of power right now, just imagine what he could do if he focused on a single goal.
NEXT: Flesh filet