“Requiem for the Fallen” neatly arranges the players on its bloodsoaked gameboard for next week’s finale.
This Into the Badlands Season 3 Episode 15 recap for the episode titled “Requiem for the Fallen” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Just in the time for the finale, Into the Badlands has cemented its position on Pilgrim. After a season of oohing and aahing about whether he’s a fully-fledged villain or a slightly delusional noble crusader, “Requiem for the Fallen” made things very clear: In the episode’s opening scene, he ripped off Nix’s head.
Last week’s farewell to perennially underappreciated Lydia was more emotional, sure; it was a moment that felt more earned and tragic, in part because the show never used the character to her full potential in the first place. Nix was even less developed, but the impact of her demise was felt a bit more acutely precisely because of how little fanfare surrounded it. There was no real build-up, no attempt to strum the heartstrings — it even occurred pre-credits! But the casual indifference with which Pilgrim just twisted off her head and coldly tossed it away like a piece of rubbish spoke volumes about where — and what — he is now.
A lot of “Requiem for the Fallen” was fallout from this decision to truly solidify Pilgrim’s villainy. It determines his relationships with his few remaining allies, including M.K., now looking like Freddy Krueger and presumably annoyed about it, and Cressida, who is beginning to have second thoughts about the purity of Pilgrim’s crusade. It’s further reinforced by Kannin, who plants the seeds of doubt in Cressida’s mind just in time for a brief scrap with Pilgrim, who uses one of the Meridian Chamber’s monoliths to forcibly extract her gift.
Into the Badlands isn’t the first show to highlight how mad men and women use the idea of divine prophecy as justification for mundane, mortal evil, but it’s one of the most recent to do it quite so well. Pilgrim’s third season arc has really defined the overall shape of the show, with characters who were once at violent odds coming together in opposition to what basically amounts to the consolidation of power. Pilgrim’s goal might be ostensibly righteous, but really his attraction to Azra is an attraction to ruling it; Sunny, Bajie, Gaius, Tilda, and the Widow were all previously part of a similar power structure that allowed the world to destroy itself. They know what’s coming.
“Requiem for the Fallen” didn’t devote too much time to the good guys, in part because their motivations are obvious now. Between them, despite all being talented killers, they’re the lesser of two evils; they know the tattered post-apocalyptic Badlands can’t be tamed by an individual ruler, no matter how much they believe in their cause. Their alliance is still fractious and presumably temporary, but they’re similar enough in their worldviews that we know who to root for without having to fret over pesky issues of morality. And they are the ones with children to worry about; a somewhat cheap and easy dramatic device, but a useful one nonetheless. A generational sequel to this show with the grown-up children of Sunny and the Widow fighting for supremacy would be something I’d watch in a heartbeat.
And my personal wants notwithstanding, that idea of continuance is never far from the show’s surface now: What happens next? Who will rule? Where will it all end? Thankfully we don’t have long to wait until we find out, and after a stellar final season, we can only hope that Into the Badlands manages to stick the landing.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.