As dense as the mythology surrounding the show might be, Into the Badlands oftentimes uses it merely as a backdrop to the beautiful violence on display.
There have been consequences to this: Season 1 of Badlands, if you ignored its fight scenes, was at times a more fun show in concept than it was in execution. But it also suffered from a need to cram in an entire universes worth of execution into six episodes. Season 2 doesnt have this dilemma, and while some of its plot decisions verge on the wacky, theres a perceivable increase in both the actual plotting of the show and the on-screen action, including some stand-out fight sequences that are more inventively bloody fun than ever.
Not only do the early episodes of the season play up some deliciously Mad Max-esque weirdness, but visually, the locations this season also get a major upgrade thanks to the productions relocation from New Orleans to Ireland, bringing some rich greenery to the shows palette that makes its already striking use of color stand out even more.
The worst thing about the shows return is the fact that, rather than put effort into re-establishing the status quo for audiences, the first episode of Season 2 takes it on faith that you remember where all the members of this ensemble landed at the end of Season 1, and leaps forward into the action.
[in comparison to Iron Fist] Meanwhile, Badlands is a wilder, richer adventure in every respect, while also engaging with big themes about what it means to be a good person in a terrible world. And it does it with a beautiful and blood-soaked style all its own.
I passed last year after hearing some negative things but watched it on Netflix a week or two ago and enjoyed it. All on the action, but it had no shortage of it so not a problem.
Not expecting the dialog and core plot to suddenly become great, but I'd hope they do more world building this time. There wasn't much detail given out about how the place functions after the first episode or really anything about the different factions to make me care about who wins.
More important than the changes to the plot though are the changes to the tone and quality. This new season is substantially better than its predecessor. Better dialogue, stronger storylines, bigger budgets and prettier landscapes.
Of course, the new season isnt perfect. Some of the dialogue still feels like it was written as a placeholder and then the writers forgot to go back and revise it. But most of it works better than anything from the shows first year. Some lines even get a genuine laugh, due both to strong writing and excellent delivery by Frost, who seems to have joined Into the Badlands just to provide some much-needed levity.
Aside from the improved budget, the characters are richer and more compelling this time around. The vast majority of them are in far worse positions than they were in the first season, and it makes for better stories and stronger character development. Even the acting seems improved, although the crowded plot does give us too little of some of the best actors.
If you didnt watch the first season of Into the Badlands, jumping right into the second would be a jarring experience, but might still be worth it. If you watched and enjoyed the first season, however, the second will not disappoint. It has all the positive qualities of the first, but with a clearer focus, bigger budget and more compelling narratives. Its the rare second season where the creators assessed the strengths and weaknesses of the first and gave us a stronger product. If only more shows on television aged with this much grace.
Half-way done with season 1. This show is seriously awesome. I actually like it for more than just action too. I can't help but laugh at Sunny's colt though. I swear this kid exists solely to ignore everything everyone says and be a pain in the ass.