Into The Badlands finale react: 'Wolf's Breath, Dragon Fire'
For all of the cracked skulls, narrative twists, and mysterious flashbacks to training, the second season of Into The Badlands has always been about one thing and one thing only: the inevitable clash between ruthless killer with a heart of gold Sunny and his former trainer, master, and current baby-stealer Quinn. Once an oppressed and controlled killer as part of Baron Quinn’s stable of Clippers, Sunny has been on his own for a while now. At the end of the season premiere, it was revealed that Veil and her new baby Henry were now with Quinn. Since then, he’s amassed a small army of followers dedicated to his cause, and Sunny has spent the season finding his way back to his true love and the son he’s never met.
“Wolf’s Breath, Dragon Fire” is the punctuation to this feud, as Sunny is finally on his way to confronting Quinn at his stronghold. “The final battle is upon us,” says Quinn while cradling Henry in the creepiest way possible. You know how to tell that this final battle is going to be epic? Sunny brings out the old motorcycle, and when he does that he means business.
That doesn’t mean Quinn isn’t prepared though. He’s more than aware of what Sunny is capable of, and at the top of the episode he warns his men. He tells them that Sunny is the most skilled killer he’s ever produced. Even then, Quinn is convinced that his former Clipper is no match for the men he’s now trained to die for him. And believe me, they’re prepared. Lydia tries to sabotage Quinn’s plan by telling the men that he’s rigged the whole place to explode should Sunny manage to get too close to Veil and Henry, but the soldiers don’t care. They are prepared to go down with Quinn. As for Lydia, her insubordination leads Quinn to order her execution.
Of course, Quinn and Sunny aren’t the only ones preparing for war. The Widow, having nearly killed her daughter in order to advance her cause, is now doing everything she can to bring back M.K.’s powers so that she can use him to assert control over everyone and everything. Not everyone is on board with this plan though. Waldo believes she’s lost her way, that she’s lost sight of her vision for the future. She offers him a baronship once this is all over, but that just reaffirms that she’s strayed from her original ideas about free men and women.
M.K. isn’t the only one the Widow is controlling. She also has Bajie held captive, and she wants him to translate that oh-so-special book that’s supposed to include everything about these people with powers and find a way to bring M.K.’s back. Bajie has been a slippery character all season long. On the one hand, we know he used to train the Widow and maybe has some sort of allegiance to her. On the other hand, does he look out for anyone other than himself, even if he manages to help other people in the process?
I’m not always sure where Bajie stands, but to his credit, he shows up to help Sunny take on Quinn. Sunny saves Lydia first while she’s digging her own grave, then sets out to raid Quinn’s bunker and find his family. Then, Tilda escapes from her mother’s prison and takes Bajie with her as Waldo provides a cover story.
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It’s a good thing Tilda helped Bajie escape too, because he shows up just in time to save Sunny. The former Clipper does one hell of a job dodging fire arrows and taking down some of Quinn’s soldiers, but a bomb blast quickly buries him under a pile of rubble. That’s when Bajie shows up and digs him out, and they set about getting their revenge and saving Veil and Henry.
Then Into The Badlands really kicks into high gear, and the result is a delightfully violent climax that sees Sunny and Bajie absolutely destroy every single one of Quinn’s soldiers. Heads roll, limbs are removed from sockets, and blood sprays in all directions. While Sunny chops down men at the knees — he literally cuts their legs off at the joint — Bajie does his best with a set of nunchucks, plowing through one ill-equipped solider after another.
Eventually though, while Sunny sets out after Quinn, Veil, and Henry, Bajie stays behind to deal with Quinn’s sidekick. “I hate sidekicks,” he says as he slices the man’s throat with a piece of broken glass. It’s the final kill for Bajie, but he hasn’t escaped unscathed. “Scissors, really?” he asks as he sees he’s been stabbed in the side. He laments his bad luck and this ungraceful way of dying as he sits down in a chair and accepts his fate. “And I was just about to save the world,” he says, seemingly his last words, as he looks at the coveted compass that’s meant to lead to Azra.
With every other solider now missing limbs or their head, all that’s left for Sunny to do is kill Quinn and reunite with his family. Before the showdown, Quinn blows the place up, but just enough to create a cool rubble-filled spot for them to fight, obviously. As sunlight and snow come through a blasted hole in the roof, Sunny and Quinn go to war. They trade sword blows and swift kicks, their skills equaling out, nobody able to get the upper hand. Eventually, when Quinn creates some separation and goes after Veil, hoping to kill her before she flees with Henry, Sunny throws a sword right through him.
As Quinn falls to the ground, Sunny is reunited with Veil and meets his son for the first time. Of course, the moment can’t last. As the reunited family goes to leave, Quinn manages to get back up, grabbing Veil and holding her hostage. He offers up Veil in exchange for Henry, but you know it’s not going to happen. There’s palpable dread as the inevitability of Sunny losing someone he loves settles in. Sure enough, Veil sacrifices herself to save Henry, putting a dagger through her chest and through Quinn’s at the same time. It’s a devastating moment, the emotional impact compounded by the length of Sunny’s journey. He came so far, and yet he couldn’t save Veil.
That may be the end of Sunny’s revenge story, but it’s certainly not the end of season 2’s mysteries. As Sunny leaves Quinn’s stronghold with Henry in his arms, a single shot reveals that Bajie is no longer in the chair where he sat down to die. So where is he?
We see him riding Sunny’s motorcycle along a coastline. He pulls up to what seems to be some sort of old satellite station, overlooking a great expanse of water from high up on the cliffs. It’s a stunning sight. Bajie makes his way inside the station, and that’s when things get weird and mysterious. He puts the Azra compass into some sort of slot, and lights begin to flash. The compass leads him through a pattern of buttons to push, and the result seems to be that a signal is sent out. The signal reverberates across the water as Bajie slumps to the ground whispering “Azra” over and over again.
What does this all mean? Did Bajie just “save the world,” like he said? Is he putting out a call to other parts of the world that we haven’t been introduced to yet? What’s outside of the Badlands? Are there other societies, or is it just more post-apocalyptic hellscape? And what’s going on with Tilda and the Widow? We don’t know for now, but with the show already renewed for a 16-episode third season, it looks like Into The Badlands is about to expand its scope. Only time will tell if that leads to some answers, or just a whole lot more questions.