AMC’s new, post-apocalyptic drama, Into the Badlands, premiered last night, and gave anti-gun liberals the world they’ve been clamoring for: one where all firearms have been outlawed. Only, far from the peaceful utopia gun control advocates always promise, the world has instead devolved back into the barbaric, feudal society that dominated much of human history. In the Badlands, you’re either a baron or a slave; there is very little in between.
Although the “no guns” premise is mostly a gimmick to justify intense swordplay and over-the-top, Hollywood martial arts, it also builds some interesting assumptions into the show. Without firearms, the world is controlled by the strong. As Baron Quinn (Marton Csokas) proclaims in the series opener, “power isn’t inherited, it’s taken.” Those who are the most ruthless, with the biggest armies, control the world’s resources. They kill anyone who threatens their interests, without hesitation or penalty.
The pilot episode spent most of its airtime introducing characters, and detailing the social order of this future society. But there was some foreshadowing. Towards the end of the episode, the audience learns two key facts: Baron Quinn’s star Clipper (the show’s term for a Baron’s sworn warriors), “Sunny” (Daniel Wu), has gotten his lover pregnant and she intends to defy the law that Clippers can’t have children and keep the baby. If caught, the penalty is death (for herself and the child). Second, the audience hears about a mysterious, free city outside the Baron’s territory and the audience can see an escape plan beginning to form.
It will be interesting to see how this show develops, especially if the writers choose to expand on the inevitable struggle between liberty and oligarchy. Or, they could take the easy way out and give us fourteen episodes of fight scenes each year until the audience gets bored. We’ll have to wait and see.