When it comes to complex, intelligent, fierce characters they don’t make them any better than the Widow (Emily Beecham) on Into the Badlands. After murdering her Baron husband to protect a young Tilda (Ally Ioannides), the Widow stepped into his place and has made it her personal mission to right the wrongs she sees happening. To do that, she’s assembled and trained her army of young female warriors, called the Butterflies, and recently entered into an unholy alliance with evil former baron Quinn (Marton Csokas).
While not ideal by any means, the Widow is no stranger to making ruthless decisions and thought this move to be in her best interest, especially since the other barons voted against her earlier this season at the Baron conclave. As is the case with most things that happen on the AMC drama, it’s an alliance that came with a cost. The Widow had to return Veil (Madeleine Mantock) and Henry back to Quinn, something she justified by recalling the time Veil tried to get Tilda to poison her. Speaking of the Widow’s young Regent, thanks to her burgeoning relationship with Odessa (Maddison Jaizani), Tilda has been increasingly calling into question the Widow’s actions.
Will that questioning lead to a divide in the Widow’s relationship with Tilda? How will this new alliance with Quinn work out for her? In order to get answers to our questions The TV Junkies went right to the dangerous but stylish source herself and spoke to British actress Beecham. She provided us with insight into the Widow’s decision making process, as well as gave us an idea of what it’s like shooting some of those fight scenes that Into the Badlands is notorious for pulling off so beautifully.
The TV Junkies: Before discussing anything else, I’m still amazed at that fight between the Widow and Baron Chau (Eleanor Matsuura) while wearing stilettos in the sand. How does that work? Did you have any training or background prior to the show or was it all learned during boot camp?
Emily Beecham: That fight we had just learned on set. It wasn’t choreographed prior and was very difficult doing the fighting in the sand with the stilettos, but also because every time you kicked the sand would fly in the air. So if someone kicked at you the sand, stones and grit would fly in your face and I found that pretty difficult because I kept getting told off for squinting or blinking. The balance was also really tricky because you had a lot of stones in your shoes so it wasn’t ideal, but it looks nice in the sand.
Our fight training for this season was about three weeks and it was more of a fitness training. We didn’t really learn any choreography prior to when we did it on set. We’d get a couple of runs at it and then shoot it. I didn’t have any fight training prior to doing this show. I did a little medieval broadsword at my drama school, but that’s different and very slow. I’ve done a lot of yoga and ballet which helps with core strength and balance, so the kicking was not too hard. I found the fighting more of a challenge because you need a lot of upper body strength. I’m fighting men most of the time and they are double my size so that can be a real challenge.
TTVJ: Despite the fact that the Widow usually protects women, she gave Veil back to Quinn. Why was she willing to do that and was it really only because Veil tried to turn Tilda against her?
EB: I think the Widow used that as a reason to justify why she had done that to herself to ease the guilt about it. Really though, the Widow was in a corner and didn’t have many choices to make. It was either that and make the alliance with Quinn that would really strengthen her force, where if she didn’t she’d have to fight against him and that’d make things nearly impossible. It was something she had to compromise and she reminds herself of the betrayal when Veil attempted to poison her to justify her actions, but it’s not really the reason. Even if Veil hadn’t done that, I think she would’ve turned her over anyways for the sake of the cause and the alliance with Quinn.
TTVJ: Now that the Widow is in this unholy alliance with Quinn can you give any indication on how that’s going to work out for her?
EB: Quinn is not the type of person who compromises and he’s not exactly a team player. He does whatever he wants, is unpredictable and very violent. It’s not going to be an easy one, but instead a constant challenge and constant game of give and take. She has to manipulate him in a way where he believes he’s getting what he wants a lot of the time. She can’t ever really trust him, but I think it’s obvious that he’s not going to change. It’ll always be a challenge for her with Quinn, but together they make quite the foreboding force against their enemies. I wouldn’t want to be fighting against the Widow and Quinn.
TTVJ: A dynamic that was introduced this season that I really loved was the one between the Widow and Baron Chau. Chau did backstab the Widow so will we see the Widow get any chance for revenge?
EB: The Widow and Quinn are both out to topple over the other barons so she’s probably not going to make an exception for Chau, seeing as Chau definitely will not support her. So Chau will definitely be quite vulnerable against the Quinn/Widow alliance. She’s also now going to do what she wants to do and not play by Waldo’s (Stephen Lang) advice. She’s going to do it her own way and her own way is through the back door and very cunning, violent and to the point. She just wants the other barons dead and all gone so that’s what she’s going to try to do. But I can’t tell you whether or not she achieves that.
TTVJ: Tilda has really grown up this season since she’s become the Widow’s Regent, but she’s also got Odessa in her ear causing her to question the Widow. How will Tilda and the Widow’s relationship be affected by that as we head towards the end of Season 2?
EB: Tilda increasingly starts standing up to the Widow, which she has been doing since the end of Season 1, and having Odessa talk to her — who really fears the Widow — starts to reinforce Tilda’s concerns. Tilda is becoming a woman and starting to form stronger opinions of her own and see that there can be alternative ways that aren’t as violent. Also with Odessa, she’s never really experienced physical love like that before so she really gets under Tilda’s skin. The Widow recognizes that she’s young and that this is natural, but to be an effective regent Tilda can’t behave like a normal teenager. So the Widow tries to reign her in more, but because of her experiences Tilda is a very strong young woman.
Tilda is very conflicted between what the Widow has brought to her, given to her — she saved her as she would’ve otherwise been a doll or cog — and even though Tilda has to kill people she lives in luxury. I also think the Widow feels betrayed so there’s a lot of emotions involved between the two of them and it’s a very emotional conflict. The Widow starts to become very hurt by Tilda increasingly not wanting to side with her anymore.
TTVJ: There’s so many great qualities to the Widow, and as far as great female characters go I can’t imagine a cooler one than her. I’m curious what you love most about her?
EB: I love her independence and spirit. I love the fact that she has sacrificed what could’ve been a normal life, had a family and living with certain privileges and destroyed that. She now lives an almost selfless existence and is an interesting character because she refuses to give herself an easy time. She doesn’t want to conform and I quite like that about her, that she’s become an outcast because of that. It makes her more lonely and a more interesting character. She has to ignore her emotions in order to focus on the bigger cause which are really interesting qualities in a character.
I like that she uses the metaphor of the butterfly and thinks about those things quite a lot in terms of things that can inspire and empower herself and the younger women. I love her relationships with the younger women because she’s maternal and badass at the same time. She’s very direct and honest when trying to guide these young women on how to survive in the cruel badlands. I think that’s probably the thing I like the best about her is those relationships with the butterflies.
Do you love the Widow as much as we do? What do you think will happen next? Sound off in the comments!
Into the Badlands Season 2 airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on AMC. Season 1 is available on Netflix.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.