‘Into the Badlands’ Season Finale: Did [Spoiler] Really Die? And What’s Next for Sunny and M.K.?
Spoiler alert! Do not read further if you haven’t watched the season finale of Into the Badlands.
After a too-few six episodes, Into the Badlands aired its season finale Sunday night, and boy, did things not go as our leads had hoped. Sunny? Screwed. M.K.? Screwed. Quinn? Very screwed. So we phoned up series creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar to break down what happened and what it all means for our characters’ future.
That was quite the ending! What were you looking to accomplish with your season finale?
Gough: Well, our goal was to give a satisfying end to this six-episode season, but also to blow the doors open to Season 2 and beyond. You were immersed in this world with these six episodes, but you actually saw just a really small portion of the world. And you got glimpses in the finale of what’s to come and what more is out there in the Badlands.
It seemed like you were leading up to M.K. and Sunny actually leaving together. Why not allow that?
Gough: Well, because ultimately there are no easy ways out of the Badlands. For Sunny trying to hoodwink the River King at the end, he was trying to take the easy way out. You know, Waldo said, “You can’t escape who you are.” So I think Sunny’s journey of getting out of the Badlands is going to take a lot of time.
Millar: It’s two-fold. We wanted it to be a physical leaving, but it’s also the journey of redemption. Both of those things are not easy.
Obviously I hate Quinn, but I’m a little devastated that he’s dead. Was it a difficult decision to off him?
Gough: Well, we’ll see…
Millar: It’s open, who survives and who doesn’t.
Gough: Sunny turning on Quinn at that point, that’s really his arc for these episodes. Quinn’s been corrupting Sunny since he was a boy.
Millar: In episode two of the series, he couldn’t react when Quinn went in and killed Veil’s parents. Now he finally can confront this monster in Quinn. [When] he drives his sword through him, that’s really him as a man, cutting the bonds of all servitude. I think that’s the critical moment in terms of the six episodes. You really see Sunny’s journey. He really was trapped in this life and had been brainwashed from a boy, looking at Quinn as a father. [Now] he’s severing the ties.
So between Quinn, Jackobee and Zypher, should we not assume any of them are dead?
Gough: I would not make any assumptions about their fates. Don’t make any assumptions, but feel free to speculate! [Laughs]
So this ballet monk trio, are they necessarily the bad guys?
Gough: I think like everyone else in the Badlands, it depends on whose side you’re looking at it from. Certainly, they’ve come for M.K. and you see them take M.K. and take down Sunny. So they’re definitely a force to be reckoned with. It’s another aspect. You’ve seen in episodes five and six, with the introduction of Penrith and these abbots, [a] spiritual side of things starting to come out as well. What does this mean for M.K.? Because obviously they’ve put him back in a box and they’re taking him away to God knows where.
Millar: Like everything about it, nothing’s black or white. Everything’s grey. It’s about moral ambiguity and difficult choices. Our hero is someone who has killed over 400 people. So everything has a price of blood in this world, and I think the abbots, their intentions are going to be just as grey as everybody else’s.
Maybe this is a stupid question, but why is the show called Into the Badlands instead of “Out of the Badlands”?
Millar: Well, what you’ll discover in Season 2 is that when Sunny has been taken out of the Badlands, all he wants to do is get back in. As story writers and creators, we always look at a five-year plan for the series. It’s really this journey of redemption for Sunny and M.K, both of whom have blood on their hands. So it’s the physical journey into the Badlands, and then the spiritual journey of redemption for both of them
It’s no secret that before the premiere, critics were mixed on the show. But the viewers turned up. Did that give you some vindication?
Gough: Yes, it always does. And, by the way, the mixed reviews were not a surprise. Certain people who saw the first two episodes that were sent to the critics got it. They were in. And then there were others who were like, “What the f—k am I looking at?” In a way, that’s what you want. You’d love everybody to love it, don’t get me wrong. Nobody likes to read bad reviews. It sucks. But what we didn’t get were reviews that were like, “Eh. Who cares?” It was, “I really liked it!” or “What the f—k am I looking at?” What that says is, you didn’t make something boring. You didn’t make something in the middle of the road.
Millar: And I think there’s a very down-the-middle point-of-view for critics. This is a show that you’ve got to wake up for and watch. I think if you’re not fans of martial arts movies or you aren’t familiar with the genre, then you just won’t get it. If you’re a critic who doesn’t get it, I suggest you go and watch some samurai movies and understand what a whole sector of the world digs and loves. If you understand it and review it for what it is, which is this sort of epic martial arts mashup, then great. But if you’re going to review it like it’s meant to be the next Breaking Bad, then I don’t think you’re a good critic.
Gough: All people ever say is, “We want something fresh and we want something new and interesting.” But then when you attempt to do that, people are like, “This isn’t what I know! What is this? It doesn’t make any sense!”
Millar: There’s nothing safe about this show, and I think some critics, they like safe TV. They like watching CBS or NBC. We don’t.
Any word yet from AMC on a Season 2?
Gough: We have not heard anything official yet from AMC. We know that they love the show, they’ve been very supportive and the ratings have been good. We remain optimistic, but we haven’t heard anything yet.
What are you looking forward to exploring, if you get the chance to do more?
Gough: I think people who have been stripped of everything and how they sort of rediscover and reinvent themselves in this world, when they don’t have the things that they had before.
Millar: Getting a chance to see more of the world and really visualize and conceptualize that is going to be a great challenge and be really rewarding. We’ve just seen a glimpse of this world. So I think that’s really intriguing as writers and creators—to see the future and how we can really begin to take people through this changed world.