Not many television shows genuinely surprise us these days. With so many TV series out there many viewers have seen or heard it all before. That’s why when we here at The TV Junkies recently discovered AMC’s Into the Badlands we were shocked how fast the unexpected delight rocketed to the top of our must-watch lists. It first premiered with a six episode Season 1 back in November 2015 and is just a couple episodes into its expanded 10 episode second season. So what’s so surprising about a show that follows a warrior named Sunny (Daniel Wu) as he journeys through feudal lands with a boy named M.K. (Aramis Knight)?
The surprising part is that just when you think this is a show all about men fighting each other — be it warriors or feudal Barons — for control of the Badlands, the show unleashes an arsenal of female characters that is almost unparalleled. The sheer volume of badass ladies on Into the Badlands is a straight up thing of beauty. On one hand we’re in complete awe of the multi-faceted, intelligent and fierce women that this show is offering up, but on the other we can’t help but ask how did we not know about this show before now?
The TV Junkies long pride ourselves of championing and drawing attention to shows delivering top notch female characters, so we’ll admit to being legit angry — at ourselves and the world in general (Twitter looking at you!) — for somehow being late to this party. But like any good party, even though we’re late, all that matters is that we’re now here and ready to go all in with the Into the Badlands ladies. We also don’t want to be accused of not paying things forward, so we thought we’d give you a little non-spoilery introduction to the show’s main ladies. Check out descriptions for the central characters below and don’t worry, there’s still a whole mess of great female characters that appear throughout the show but in smaller capacity.
The Widow (Emily Beecham) is the Badlands’ newest Baron and the only one that is a woman. Thanks to the recent death of her baron husband she is now in power and not going to waste it. Watch out because she can cut with her words just as fast as her swords. While her motivations at first appear villainous, it soon becomes clear that we can’t always trust our first impression of someone. She has a very violent way of getting what she wants, but that doesn’t mean that what she wants isn’t somewhat fair and well intentioned. One thing is for certain, we wouldn’t dare want to cross paths with The Widow!
Tilda (Ally Ioannides) is The Widow’s daughter and a member of the Baroness’ elite group of young women called “Butterflies.” These “Butterflies” are young women that The Widow is training to become skilled fighters, and who possess one of a kind weaponry such as butterfly-shaped throwing stars. While she’s certainly capable and skilled enough to slit your throat while you’re busy underestimating her — thanks in large part to Ionnaides’ and her big sensitive eyes that immediately draw you in — it’s hard to not want to do everything in your power to protect Tilda. She quickly takes a liking to M.K. and if she’s not careful that attachment to her new friend may get her in trouble, especially given she’s dedicated her life to serving her mother.
Sunny has long been the top clipper (or assassin) in the Badlands, but he’s ready to leave that life behind for Veil (Madeleine Mantock). While many of the other women on the show are skilled fighters, Veil uses another weapon to fight back, her brain. She’s the local doctor and dreams of escaping the Badlands with Sunny. Raised by her adoptive parents, Veil is courteous and intelligent but it’s clear that she’ll go to great lengths to protect those she holds dear.
On first glance, Lydia (Orla Brady) seems like nothing more than the bitter first wife of Baron Quinn, but it’s soon clear that she’s so much more. While she truly loves her and Quinn’s son Ryder, she does have some doubts about his abilities to be the next Baron, especially given his complicated relationship with Quinn’s new wife Jade (Sarah Bolger). Brady does a fine job of making Lydia seem indifferent to the relationships at play around her, but it’s soon abundantly clear that she believes that she is the only one who can be the Fort’s true Baroness! How far is she willing to go to ensure that happens? Only time will tell…
Jade is a woman playing a very complicated and dangerous game. She is Baron Quinn’s third wife, but has a very close — possibly too close — relationship with his son Ryder. She routinely faces the wrath of Lydia’s anger over her new position as Baroness, but Jade may be much stronger than she lets Quinn, Lydia or anyone else believe. She grew up working the poppy fields that make Quinn rich and it’s those skills and her intelligence that could end up working strongly in Jade’s favor.
One of our favorite things about all the ladies on Into the Badlands is that they participate in the insane martial arts fights on the show. In order to do so, each actress participates in a training camp prior to shooting. For more information on that check out this video:
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.