About that Into the Badlands finale
My condolences and prayers go out to the families affected by the horrible, senseless tragedy in Manchester, England. As a parent, seeing pictures of those beautiful youngsters and adults whose lives have been cut short brings back my own loss of a child.
Whether the loved one is in Syria or England, or the US, the pain never goes away. May God give strength.
About that Into the Badlands finale
This GIF of Veil and Sunny is by Yemme:
The 2nd season finale of Into the Badlands – Total viewers: 1,369 million
18-49 rating : 0.5
Season 1 finale -Dec 20, 2015 – Total Viewers: 2159 million
18-49 rating: 0.8
Considering the almost two year gap between the first and second season, Into The Badlands had decent ratings for its 10 episode second season. Since the show was must-see TV for my family, just about every television in my household was tuned to the Into The Badlands marathon on Sunday. And after the Cleveland Cavaliers blew a 21 point lead over the Boston Celtics, I was really hoping Into The Badlands would give me a finale I could put on repeat viewings.
Alas, it was not to be. Someone at AMC (the show is owned and bankrolled by AMC) or with the executive production staff of ITB decided to kill off the only person who was able to make the usually morose hero, Sunny, smile. And show some damn emotion. Veil was the woman Sunny loved enough to fight his way back to.
That’s the kind of hard love that romantics live for. That’s the kind of shit that has a woman saying, “You better bring it like Sunny.”
Only . . . Sunny is now a single parent, much like the old westerns of yesteryear, Bonanza (Ben Cartwright had sons Adam, Hoss and Little Joe by three different wives who’d died), The Virginian and The Rifleman. And like several classic Disney movies (The Little Mermaid, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast) the saintly, but dead mama trope card was pulled.
Not only that, but the show walked a tightrope with another trope, where the black character proves how “good” they are with a selfless act. Literature is rife with this trope, as it usually afflicts characters of color (see Gunga Din, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Imitation of Life -book and the films).
It’s also important to note that US shows would use the dearly departed mama trope to garner not only sympathy, but a revolving door of attractive female guest stars to pair with their widowed lead actor.
From fairy tales that added an evil step-mother to the mix, to often told cultural stories highlighting the adventures of a father and child left to navigate the cold cruel world together, killing mama off has a long history in both literature and film.
In the case of ITB, Veil was still nursing her infant son. Which means Sunny will need to find a total stranger (female of course) who is also nursing. Chances are that task will fall upon either Lydia or Jade to find a willing surrogate, but I suspect the show will probably gloss over this or omit it all together since it brings up a host of other “things that make you go hmm.”
In this feudal future, women are either sex slaves (called Dolls) Cogs, Clippers, or Barons. There may be male dolls, however I don’t recall seeing them. Veil was the rare exception. She was a healer/doctor and could read. Her backstory was that Quinn, having found her as an infant, had given her to a couple who were indebted to him to raise.
Veil had her own shop in town where she’d been working on an assortment of artificial limbs and mobility devices for cogs. As a healer, Veil had taken an oath to save lives. However, she wasn’t above giving Tilda, one of the Widow’s clippers, the means to poison the woman. Veil also possibly prolonged her own life by pretending Quinn’s brain tumor was in remission (he murdered Veil’s parents once her father initially diagnosed Quinn’s ailment. In typical Quinn fashion, he couldn’t have anyone know that he was dying, so he got rid of the only two people who could reveal his secret).
Veil’s demise had been foreshadowed ever since she told Sunny she was pregnant (Sunny warned her that the penalty was death, probably because he was a Clipper, and Clippers weren’t free men). Sunny also had a nightmare while he was at death’s door about Veil’s death. In addition, another Clipper (Moon) warned him of his own family’s murder, and that in their line of work, having loved ones was a liability.
Okay, I get that. However what’s puzzling is why the show decided to dumb down the ultimate fighter, Sunny, and turned Quinn into someone harder to kill than the Terminator in order to make Veil’s death happen. Listen, I even have reservations on the show killing Quinn. I’ve been a fan of actor Martin Csokas for a long time. He chewed the scenery with his chilling, over the top delivery, so a new villain will have a hard time besting Martin’s characterization.
Both Sunny and Quinn took so much physical abuse that I wondered if they were robots instead of people. Sunny survived two explosions (one at The Widow’s compound, then when he entered Quinn’s underground lair, fighting off flaming arrows that pierced his shoulder blade and a leg). He’s also stabbed in the lower abdomen by a sai wielding Quinn, after he slices and dices his way deeper into Quinn’s underground hideout with Bajie’s help. To set up Veil’s demise, Sunny’s somehow unable to deliver a death blow throughout the battle with Quinn, even after missing the mark during the season one finale. This mars an otherwise terrific fight to the death sequence, where Martin Csokas (or his stunt double) more than holds his own against the Badland’s best clipper.
I’m happy that Into the Badlands was renewed for a third season, but the heart of the show has just been ripped out and stomped on, imho.
Note to the show writers: Heaping abuse on a character isn’t character development. You had a great opportunity to show how both Veil and Sunny would deal with the trauma they’d gone through after so many months apart. At this point, Veil realized her mistake of nursing Quinn back to health, so the scene where Veil tells Sunny to kill Quinn made me think that after everything she’d gone through (being held against her will, threatened with death, forced to marry the man who killed her parents and then almost bedding him on their “wedding” night) Veil’s somewhat sheltered life view had been altered. I was looking forward to future scenes where she came into her own without having to rely on her man to save the day.
Hell, if you didn’t know how to continue with their love story, then that’s where romance writers like me come in. You coulda asked somebody.
*CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler says she was just as blindsided as fans of “Person of Interest” were when first told a year ago that Taraji P. Henson’s character would be killed off in the third season.
“I almost killed myself,” said Tassler at the TCA Press Tour on Wednesday. “Years ago, you would never ever kill a major character. The rule was, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
“But [creator] Jonah [Nolan], to his credit, came in and said, ‘Look, I love my cast. Taraji is an extraordinary actress, but the role that she plays in terms of the relationship between Reese and Finch has changed.’”
After the mid-season shocker aired during November sweeps, Henson told EW of her character’s relationship with John Reese and Harold Finch, “They really started to click. They were her boys, they were her angels, they protected her. But remember, in the end, she takes the bullet protecting Reese.”
Below, Tassler says Nolan cited this harmonious dynamic between the three characters as the reason why he had to shake things up with Carter’s death, and introduce a “catwoman” into the equation through government assassin Samantha Shaw, played by Sarah Shahi.
And he (Jonah Nolan) said “I need my Catwoman…I need to bring my Catwoman into this mix of this relationship between these two guys”, and he talked about this Shaw character and again this goes back to last year. He talked about the Shaw character, and we all got very excited. And for those of you who watch “Person of Interest”, I mean, this show is so much a part of pop culture and obviously very much in the zeitgeist. We take everything these guys say quite seriously, and they mapped out a plan for the Carter character introducing the Shaw character.
TVLINE | All of that said, when it came time to pull the trigger, were there any second thoughts? Possibly a concern about preserving the diversity of the show’s cast?
NOLAN | There are a million concerns that go into this — from us, the network, everybody else. The primary concern is to tell a compelling and entertaining story. Everything else is secondary.
” The chemistry between the two leads, Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison as Abbie Mills and Ichabod Crane, was remarkable and undeniable. Then season two happened. Everything that attracted fans to the show was dismantled in a series of perplexing creative choices. And now, at the conclusion of season three, Abbie was killed off in one of the most unsatisfactory goodbyes in recent memory, sending fans reeling.”
Here’s what the show stated:
“The [season] finale featuring the tragic death of Abbie Mills was a very dramatic ending and a bold move for the show, but Sleepy Hollow has always been known for its shocking finales,” producers 20th Century Fox Television and showrunner Clifton Campbell said in a joint statement to THR. “We feel we provided a wonderfully poignant conclusion for Abbie and showed some of the best moments between the Witnesses that we’ve seen onscreen. We thank Nicole Beharie for bringing Abbie and Sleepy Hollow to life. We are currently discussing season four, and should the series be picked up for another season, we have some exciting scenarios and new avenues we want to explore.”
That’s the spin the show put on the fiasco. Now here’s what many fans thought:
“If there’s one thing showrunners can expect after killing off the main character of a TV show, it’s that the fans will have something to say about it.
Viewers of the season three finale took to Twitter to express their shock, frustration and sadness – or a mixture of all three – in the hours after the episode aired, writing about everything from their unstoppable tears to their promises to never watch the show again.”
Read the full article and see the twitter screen shots here:
Heroes gave us “Save the cheerleader, save the world” and ultimately, that was a bust. Sylar (played by Zachary Quinto of Star Trek fame) was a compelling villain until his backstory showed he was less than villainous due to mommy issues.
I’m mentioning Heroes, because oddly enough a black female lead character and love interest was also killed off right when the show was hot. Simone Deveaux was involved with her artist boyfriend Issac (Santiago Cabrera) but also being wooed by one of the “Heroes” of the show, Peter Petrelli (played by This is US star Milo Ventimiglia).
Simone was the first recurring character on the show to kick the bucket. Her death occurs toward the end of season one. Apparently there were all sorts of plans for the character, but she was cut because:
“In the end, however, the creative staff could not decide what direction to take Simone. Kring (series creator and writer) informed her (actress Tawny Cypress) of Simone’s fate in December 2006.”
And now that Into the Badlands has effed up, I’m not interested in seeing AMC’s road show version of Three Men and a Baby (Sunny, MK, Bajie and little Henry). Much as I love Daniel Wu and all the badass fighting women on ITB, imho the show runners underestimated how many viewers were invested in Sunny and Veil’s relationship.
In closing, I think this quote from the website Nerds of Color pretty much sums up how I feel:
“So to have Madeleine Mantock removed from the show like this is a real slap in the face to the fans. Especially when the Veil/Sunny romance is one of the biggest draws of the show. And especially because the genre trope of killing off the black female love interest to further the hero’s journey is beneath a show like Into the Badlands. Women (and especially Black women) aren’t plot devices!” – Keith Chow
Daniel Wu talks about the finale:
“when we pitched the first pilot, and we thought that we’d be doing one episode, shooting one episode and letting the network decide if they were going to give us more, and then eventually they gave us six episodes so we changed the plan for that. So originally Quinn dying, Veil dying, all that happened in the pilot episode.”
” . . . we knew that was going to happen and we knew kind of where Veil’s story was going to end.
I was trying to build that emotion up through the season, this question that Sunny’s having desperate to get back to his life and then once he gets to here, moments later she dies. That feeling and all that stuff I was thinking about that all season long.”