When AMC’s Into the Badlands returns, Sunny (Daniel Wu), the former Clipper and one-time Picker is now a … Babysitter.
Well, it’s not like he has any other choice after the brutal events of the season 2 finale. In the third season premiere of the bloody martial arts drama, Sunny has chosen to go off the grid and finally live a quiet life with his infant son. But being a “samurai single dad,” as executive Al Gough describes him, won’t be easy. After all, he says, ‘”How does the deadliest fighter in the Badlands, who has a lot of enemies, protect his defenseless son?”
The solution: Team up again with Bajie (Nick Frost), whose transmitted message has been received not by a potential savior but by a religious zealot and warlord named Pilgrim (Babou Ceesay). “[His message] has great repercussions for the season because it alerts our newest antagonist, Pilgrim, to come to the Badlands,” Gough says. “He inserts a new flavor to the world. We’ve seen barons and nomads, but we haven’t seen anyone like Pilgrim. The world is very destabilized because of the war. … Pilgrim comes in offering a new, fresh idea for salvation that involves Azra. He ultimately wants to save the Badlands, but his idea of salvation isn’t necessarily peaceful.”
Of course, peace isn’t really the Badlands’ M.O. Case in point: the Widow (Emily Beecham), whose efforts last season to “save” the world only caused war and bloodshed. “The Widow has a very interesting journey,” Gough teases of season 3. “She made so many compromises last season for what she thought was the greater good, but she has to deal with the consequences of that.” One of those consequences is her fractured relationship with her daughter Tilda (Ally Ioannides), whose tension with her mother will play out like “Lady Bird with swords,” he says. “You’ll see the Widow grappling with the choices she made. How does she try to make things right with Tilda, with herself, and still fight for what she believes in, for her cause?”
One thing she’ll do is try to recruit Nathaniel Moon (Sherman Augustus), a.k.a. Silver Moon, to fight for her side as a Clipper. In an exclusive clip from the season premiere, which you can watch above, the pair fight atop a tower overlooking the ocean. “What we tried to do again this season is give more variety to these fights,” Gough says. “You’ll see more comedic fights, more close-quarter, brutal hand-t0-hand martial arts, so we’ve tried to expand the martial arts palette.”
With 16 episodes this season (up from season 2’s 10 installments, and season 1’s six-episode run — though only the first 8 episodes of season 3 will air this spring), Into the Badlands will feature more martial arts showdowns to come, along with new cast members like Lorraine Toussaint (Orange Is the New Black), who joins the season as Cressida, a prophet and adviser to Ceesay’s Pilgrim. Plus, Gough promises the season will explore M.K. (Aramis Knight) and Sunny’s damaged relationship, Bajie’s backstory, Lydia’s (Orla Brady) life as a survivor, and much more of the mythology surrounding Azra. “Not only do we expand the world and see much more of the Badlands and introduce this whole new dynamic with Pilgrim, but we also get to spend a lot more time with the characters,” he says. “There’s a lot there for fans to be excited about.” With so much going on in the Badlands, here’s hoping Sunny finds time between changing diapers to sharpen his sword.
Into the Badlands returns Sunday, April 22, at 10 p.m. ET on AMC.