Into the Badlands: Hand of Five Poisons is the annoying closer that fans both love and hate – one where questions are answered, but several more are brought up before ending on a cliffhanger. The season finale attempted to bring a majority of the cast’s storylines to a climatic conclusion, while still leaving the door open for many unanswered questions to be explored in the following season. Picking up right where Snake Creeps Down left off, the series’ antagonist made the tough decision to do the right thing in a world that corrupts a character so easily. However, his decision was not an easy one to make and was not without its consequences.
What separated Into the Badlands: Hand of Five Poisons from other episodes this season was the clear motivations introduced for multiple characters, starting with Jade’s cunning betrayal of Lydia. After their bonding during the previous episode, it was a little hard to believe that Lydia poisoned her. The only one that believed the attempted murder was Quinn. Given the speculation that Lydia may have been the cause of Quinn’s other wife’s death, it was enough for him to consider her guilty. Once banished, Lydia returned to the only place that she felt safe – her father’s outside sanctum/religious cult.
After kicking her to the curb, Quinn seemed to want to tie up any other loose ends. Unfortunately, Sunny was next on his list. His betrayal of Sunny was orchestrated more through Ryder. Eliminating Quinn’s best clipper would make it easier to take out the weakened baron. What came as no surprise was Quinn’s quickness to believe Ryder’s lie and lock up Sunny. It could be that Quinn’s illness is hindering his better judgement or that Quinn is Into the Badlands quintessential villain that viewers love to hate, but Quinn was not without a backup plan for protection.
After discovering M.K.’s secret in the previous episode of Into the Badlands, Quinn was now intrigued to use these abilities to remain ahead of his rivals. Instead of confronting the young clipper-in-training, the baron attempted to bond with him and even offered to buy him his first hooker (doll). Real bonding moments, indeed.
Of course, Quinn’s kind gestures were not selfless. With Sunny out of the way, Quinn was out of protection and needed a new bodyguard. Enter M.K. The young clipper was not aware of Quinn’s ulterior motives to use him for protection. As the two made their way into the two, their father/son-esque bonding experience over drinks and hookers was quickly interrupted by an ambush from Jacob’s forces and Ryder. The showdown was on and Quinn used M.K.’s abilities to protect himself.
The last few moments of Into the Badlands: Hand of Five Poisons was easily the best fight scene of the entire first season. After being cut by Quinn, M.K. lost full control and took out Jacob’s forces with ease. Sunny ended up escaping, thanks to help from his mentor Waldo, and sought revenge against the baron that betrayed. Quinn’s death was quick and very anticlimactic, but it seems that the writers for Into the Badlands wanted to save more episode time for the showdown with Sunny and the mysterious Abbots.
One of the longer and more well choreographed fight scenes of the series, the showdown between the monk-like Abbots and Sunny revealed the control and full extent of the ‘dark’ power that both Quinn and the widow coveted in M.K.. The fight scene was a classic martial arts movie showdown and demonstrated exactly what Sunny was capable of. With the legendary Cung Le involved, viewers should not have expected anything less than an entertaining match-up. Though the fight leaned more towards the fantastic and less on raw, hand-to-hand combat, it was well executed nonetheless.
As a whole, Into the Badlands started off strong and ended just as strongly. Though there were moments that the subplots of Quinn’s family began to drag, the series managed to hold viewers attention throughout the six episodes. Considering that Into the Badlands raked in over eight million viewers during its premiere (making it the third highest-rated in cable history) and averaged over five million viewers, there is no question that AMC will be continuing the series into 2016. With the multiple character cliffhangers Into the Badlands: Hand of Five Poisons introduced, the one thing the season finale managed to accomplish was leaving viewers questioning what was going to happen next and wishing for more to be revealed in the coming Season 2 premiere.
Opinion by Tyler Cole
IGN: INTO THE BADLANDS: “HAND OF FIVE POISONS” REVIEW