Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, the Co-creators and Executive Producers of Into the Badlands, talk about the final showdown against Pilgrim and wrapping up the series.
Q: These final episodes certainly didn’t skimp on the action. What was it like shooting these epic scenes, particularly the extensive 7-day filming for the siege on the Widow‘s wall in Episode 14?
Miles Millar: It was a very complicated and difficult shoot because there were so many elements, so many extras, so many people. There was the arrival, the conversation between the Widow and Pilgrim, the arrows, the fire…it was a lot of pieces. When you have an action sequence that’s this complicated, it’s about gathering the pieces and really careful story-boarding to make sure the story is told. A second unit was involved and the fight unit took over for the fight between Widow and Pilgrim on top of the wall. If you look at the sequence as a whole, you see the weather goes from sunny to rainy to snowy. In the middle of that sequence when we were filming, there was a massive snowstorm that shut down Dublin for three days, so we had that to contend with as well.
Q: M.K.’s growth since Season 1 has been huge. What would you say about his evolution from beginning to end?
Alfred Gough: M.K.’s had a big arc since the first episode where he popped out of that trunk. If you look at his character through the series, he’s always been looking for some sort of parent figure. Every time an authority has taken him under his wing, they’ve essentially abandoned him or lied to him. He tried to fight the good fight and stay in the light, but ultimately succumbed to the darkness. He’s always wanted to belong to a family. Pilgrim, at least initially, made M.K. feel like he was important. That moment where he hesitates [to kill] Tilda, you see there’s still some humanity underneath all of that.
MM: He’s also a cautionary tale about the Badlands. Not everyone has a happy ending. The choices and the alliances you make can have devastating consequences. Innocents die, too. Life isn’t fair. It’s not a fairy tale. It was a very interesting arc, but it was a hard one. People either like him or hate him. I think it’s good to have a character like this who is divisive.
Q: What would you say the Master and Pilgrim’s stances on the Gift really represented in terms of power dynamics in the Badlands and embracing your darkness?
AG: Both of their views on the Gift represent absolute positions. The Master believes you should be taken out of the world so you’re not used or compromised. People who didn’t believe that, she punished. Pilgrim saw the Gift as a way to conquer. You’re either one of us or you’re not, but you’re going to be destroyed if you’re not. Both points of views represented very extreme ideas. Both were destined to fail, frankly, and they did.
Q: How did you enjoy finally revealing the Widow’s powerful Gift? What inspired the decision to not give Sunny his?
MM: It was great. I think we made a hard choice in not giving Sunny his Gift, but I think it was the right choice in terms of Sunny facing Pilgrim as a mortal. If he had his Gift, it wouldn’t have been an epic battle. It really took the team work of him, Kannin and Bajie. The sacrifice of his life was required to save the world. The Widow had become much more zen about not wanting her Gift back and then at that moment of absolute maternal rage, she gets it back. That moment of uncontrolled anger is what kills M.K. In the afterlife with Sunny and the Master, there’s still hope. Maybe he can get his Gift back.
Q: Moon’s “f—k honor” line is quite a different tune than when we opened up this season. What inspired it?
AG: He started the season in search for his honor and he found love with Lydia. Both of these people were going to get a second chance and a happy ending, but as Miles said, that doesn’t always happen in the Badlands. We were told we were allowed one F-bomb. [Laughs]
MM: It was definitely a competition. Nick Frost wanted the F-bomb. Daniel wanted it. We thought it was a great line and we gave it to Sherman.
Q: What does Azra represent when we first hear about it on the show versus in the end?
AG: Azra, at the beginning, is almost like Oz. It’s this perfect paradise that everyone is trying to get to. As you learn more about it, you realize there is no such thing as a utopia. You have to fix the world you’re in as opposed to striving for a world that may not exist. Even Quinn says you don’t get there by running – you get there by fighting. That’s certainly what they were able to do by the end in taking down authoritarian power structures that were oppressing people.
Q: Can you talk more about that final closing scene? What was the significance of that gun being found from the old world?
AG: The one element we always talked about is how this was a world without guns. What happens if guns come back? Would they be a more insidious threat than what we’ve seen before? It would allow anyone to be powerful. That was an idea we wanted to have out there.
Q: What’s been your favorite fight from the whole series?
MM: I have two favorite fights. The rain fight in the pilot is just a stunning cinema-worthy piece that could be in any Hong Kong classic. The other one I really love is the market fight with Sunny and Bajie. The props and the octopus nunchucks and stuff like that were really exciting.
MM: I’ve never seen the fight unit more excited about any fight than the Red Widow versus Black Widow. It was very difficult, but incredibly seamless and remarkable.
Q: As you look back on the world you’ve created, what are you most grateful for?
AG: We’re incredibly grateful to AMC and to our Dublin and New Orleans crews. It’s been a journey and there is nothing like this on television. I’m certainly proud that we achieved what we set out to do, which was to meld an American drama with a Hong Kong martial arts sensibility. The fans have been amazing. You go on Twitter and the fans are amazing. If we’re ever having a bad day, we just go into the feed. The fact that they’re so invested and passionate has been a gift.
MM: I’m incredibly proud. The remarkable fights that we’ve had, the writers weaving the fights into the storytelling, the level of production we got. We set out to have one of the most diverse shows on television and I think we succeeded. I’m very proud of that. It’s been an amazing experience and I’m grateful that we got to make a show as insane as this. It’s been a wild ride!
Read an interview with Babou Ceesay, who plays Pilgrim.
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