“Seven Strike as One” brings AMC’s weird wire-fu epic to a fitting conclusion, but suggests more to come.
This Into the Badlands Season 3 Episode 16 recap for the episode titled “Seven Strike as One” contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
Farewell, Into the Badlands. You were bizarre and inconsistent, but you were also excitedly deranged and frequently really good. Nobody paid enough attention to you, did they? Everyone wanted to talk about zombies and dragons, and all the while AMC had a weird wuxia wonderland right there, waiting to be enjoyed. I enjoyed you, Into the Badlands. You’ll be missed.
The question now, though, is whether Into the Badlands is really gone. A series finale is always a tricky prospect, and “Seven Strike as One” managed to embody pretty much everything that works and doesn’t work about trying to end a story that might (depending on fan support and a host of other factors) find itself continued elsewhere. It brought several long-running character arcs to fitting conclusions and resolved the third season’s overarching plot, but it also provided enough tantalizing uncertainty — not to mention an enigmatic last-minute coda — to not really feel like an ending at all.
The extent to which this will be a problem will depend on the individual, but I can’t imagine too many viewers being truly dissatisfied by “Seven Strike as One”. In a series that has overwhelmingly relied on exposition for most of its narrative particulars, the final hour felt like a just reward for having endured all that, well-written and intriguing as most of it might have been. Characters clashed in violent and exciting and deeply rewarding ways. Most of the heroes survived, with the possible exception of Sunny, whose death has felt inevitable for a long time anyway, and possibly Tilda, whose fate remains uncertain. And most of the villains were vanquished; Pilgrim and M.K. met grisly ends, while Cressida escaped death to find self-imposed exile, with only her enduring faith for company. (This was not a satisfying outcome for Nathaniel Moon, of course, but the audience shouldn’t feel short-changed by it.)
After Pilgrim was properly cemented as a deranged fanatic last week, one would have assumed his arc was already complete. But what I appreciated most about “Seven Strike as One” was how it spared just a little time for him to fall even further, beginning to speak about himself in increasingly grandiose terms — as the Messiah, and as God — just in time for the person closest to him to turn away. It helped to strike a final note of tragedy in his pointless crusade, which he knew, then, would never succeed. But sacrifices still had to be made to thwart his ill-advised rebuilding of Azra, and it was, predictably, Sunny who made the largest.
It would have perhaps been more thematically fitting for Sunny not to reawaken in a spiritual halfway house alongside the Master, but it also would have closed Into the Badlands off from a potential continuation. As things stand, the series bowed out with the suggestion of more to come; an ancient, buried evil breaking free, and a more dangerous fight to come. I don’t know about you, but personally, I hope we get to see it.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.