Into the Badlands is as much a show about politics as it is about martial arts. Daniel Wu takes came of much of the Martial Arts. Orla Brady and Martin Csokas are in charge of the politics. On Badlands, Csokas plays Quinn one of the shows seven Barons who keeps order over the post apocalypse and Brady plays Lydia, one of Quinn’s wives. We got a chance to sit down with them at New York Comic Con to talk about the intrigue of the Badlands as well as some of the different influences of the series.
On Quinn and Lydia‘s Relationship
Orla: Well obviously, they’re very interconnected. As Martin said the first time we met “We could both give entirely different points of view of what our relationship is because that is what is written; two people that are not seeing as eye to eye as they used to”. I feel the journey that Lydia’s setting out on if we are talking about people who are at a bit of a crossroads and a bit of a reexamination of their lives, she’s having a classic midlife crisis, if you like. She’s understanding that she’s not seen and held in the same esteem as she was as a young woman and that maybe the entire basis of her life has been quite fragile and that she needs to rethink her life. She needs to understand how to be in a sort of new paradigm, if you like.
On the Badlands history
Marton: It’s quite a Darwinian world. It’s survival of the fittest. There are ways to do things, either imposed or agreed upon and as Orla has said, this is a crossroads. This is a time of transition whereby things are changing. People are becoming more outspoken about what they like and what they dislike in the larger scale and the politic of the world that they inhabit, In the badlands and also interpersonal relationships as well. Husband and wife. Mother and son. Wife and other wife. It’s working well but then the jagged edges are beginning to show and people fall on them and people use them to usurp one another. It’s full of intrigue in a relatively sophisticated fashion.
On playing a villain
Marton: I’m grounded by the characters around Quinn. I don’t see him as a super-villain. I think he has his reason for doing things. That’s possibly the definition of evil: If you’re doing something that people would say is bad and believe is good, then that’s evil. Of course, what’s bad and what’s good. I think in his old school way, he’s trying to maintain order and protect people from the ravages of the badlands as a whole because there are plenty of people who would come, as we see in one of the stories, and ravage and destroy everything that’s set up. it’s a ruthless cruel world. It’s Darwinian. Within the intricacies of how he behaves, people are gonna have some discrepancies over that. I think fundamentally, he thinks he’s doing the right thing and he has his own personal charm attached to that approach, within the intricacies of the behavior. It’s quite a violent way and it’s a brutal way but he would argue that that’s the way that it needs to be. That’s his opinion. Not necessarily mine.
Orla: Her fate is very bound up. It’s a feudal system so the Baron, the head of the feudal system is everything. You get your food and water and sustenance and you’re allowed to be and not be beheaded by the Baron. So even the wife is beholden to that. She’s very dependent on it. And also I think, they’ve been together for a very long age. She sees the boy. She sees the vulnerability that many people don’t see. She knows the secret fears, the things he has to build up to. She does watch him a lot and he doesn’t watch her a lot. She is more in love with him than he is with her and she is more dependant on him. She has to hold onto him in some form in order to exist. It’s a lovely complex thing. That power paradigm is there in many relationships, in a less extreme form.
On Quinn’s Inevitable Showdown with Sunny
Marlon: When needs be, then he fights. He’s more a tactician and a strategist that somebody who wants to get in and go all out and he has a lot of other people to do that. But he’s not afraid to fight and he’ll take on various people specifically. As Orla has already suggested in the panel, there is fighting of the mind. There is psychological strategizing that define one’s ultimate end but everybody’s trying to do that and someone like Sunny has the ability to articulate what’s going on very very well.
From Quinn’s point of view, I think they love each other. Polygamy, by the way, is an accepted thing in this world. People have a problem with it but it’s a accepted institution, a way of living, but it doesn’t mean that it’s a easy thing to do.
Orla: There’s an acceptance that I think that Lydia has of the polygamy that is normal. And he’s a Baron. He can have whoever he likes. What becomes interesting is the fact that the new wife is played by a fantastic actress called Sarah Bolger, who I’m sure you know from lots of things. Sarah is strong and what begins to emerge is that she’s not a little mouse that I’m gonna go “I’m the senior wife.” She has her own plans and that’s what begins to be very unsettling.
On the Eastern Influences of Badlands
Orla: I don’t think it’s gone very far east. It’s almost like that mish mash that’s left in the world. There’s a kind of homogenized world from the bits and pieces of culture that’s left. it’s broadly more western than eastern. There are elements of the eastern. I don’t think our approach needed to be any more stylized. If you talk to Daniel, in terms of the fights, the approached those differently.
Marton: We’re sort of starting from a, and these are my terms, neo-Victorian/Japanese perspective, as opposed to the Chinese. At least in some of the outlook stylization, costume particularly. You have all the martial arts. It seems we’re going into the eastern philosophy more, if it continues.
On the Southern Influences
Orla: You were reading Toni Morrison and just settling down into the South, weren’t you? it somehow has got to have come through you. I think more so you. I just felt that because we were shooting in the South and because I knew you were creating this character as southern, we didn’t want to place it exactly there. People could be from anywhere because it’s vaguely somewhere in America in the future so we didn’t want to settle it right down into plantation houses in the South. That’s not what its about.
Marton: We’re not really in the South but there is this nod to that. It could be anywhere. But the reason that I chose that man of the South, as a generic kind of accent really, was because he said so much. And there’s the tradition of the orator of the South and it just allows me places to go. I wanted to do something much more extreme but the world then changed that. It’s quite a Victorian world too. It is very Anglo, much more that I think most of us thought. In some ways that was a restriction, that became an advantage. Also that allowed me some leeway in which to articulate these ideas. They are big long monologues, some of them, and it was just a way to make them as interesting as possible.
Matthew Nando Kelly is an incredibly cool and handsome staff writer for Pop-Break who was allowed to write his own bio. Besides weekly Flash recaps, he focuses on film, television, music, and video games. Matthew also has a podcast called Mad Bracket Status where he discusses pop culture related brackets with fellow Pop-Break writer DJ Chapman. He has an unshakable love for U2, cats, and the New Orleans Saints. His twitter handle is @NationofNando. Did we mention how handsome he was?