We gave it a B+
While the story lines of Sunny and M.K. are perfectly fine — even through the first season, they were often the dullest characters with the least interesting arcs — the season 2 premiere really hits its stride when it focuses on everything still happening in the Badlands. The disappearance/death of Quinn has left a vacuum of power in the Badlands. Sure, Ryder is now controlling the territory, but there are rumors of chaos everywhere.
That chaos is just getting started. After checking in with Ryder and Jade and seeing that they’ve moved on from the family’s plantation to Jacoby’s place, we learn that the economy in the Badlands, what little there actually is, is suffering. Namely, Ryder’s clan depends on trading oil, but the political and social upheaval has impacted the business; cogs (i.e. workers and slaves) are fleeing the harsh working conditions and, rumor has it, being given sanctuary by The Widow.
Ryder’s confused. The Widow hasn’t been heard from in months, he says. That’s the cue for Into the Badlands to have The Widow show up at the oil refinery, all in slow motion, and kick some ass. Along with Tilda, the Widow storms the refinery, seeking to not only show that the workers can be free but also reclaim the oil as her own. She wants her land back from Ryder, and she’s going to do whatever it takes to make sure that happens.
Tilda and The Widow lay waste to the refinery. Tilda is certainly a force, but it’s The Widow who absolutely lets loose. During a thrilling chase up a flight of stairs, she cuts through one attacker after another, the episode indulging in one final confrontation as she slices her last attacker over and over again. It’s brutal, in that “hell yeah!” fist-pump kind of way. That brings The Widow to Jade. She doesn’t want to kill her, though; she wants a message delivered to Ryder. That message: These oil fields are once again hers, and if Ryder tries to take them back, more blood will spill. “And most of it will be his,” she adds as punctuation.
While the violence is certainly the show’s draw, season 2 seems to be digging into the idea of class a bit more: quite the timely thematic addition, too. When The Widow visits the people who have all been freed and are now working toward a revolution of sorts, there are Clippers who refuse to be part of it. “System’s treated me well enough,” they say, and it’s no accident that they’re all men. So, they’re allowed to leave freely because that’s The Widow’s philosophy. That makes their comeuppance later, at the hands of Tilda and her army of badass women, all the more satisfying.
“Tiger Pushes Mountain” is pretty much exactly what you’d expect from the season 2 premiere of Into The Badlands. There’s plenty of action, a betrayal in the form of Sunny’s new best friend, and a new rising power in The Widow. Those stories set up threads to follow for the remainder of the season, and that’s even before the big reveal at the end of the episode. As a closeup shows Veil having her baby — a boy — the camera turns and reveals the man who helped with the delivery: Quinn, alive and well. If that doesn’t get you to tune in next week, I don’t know what will.
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