Into the Badlands has proven to be yet another popular new series for AMC, transporting viewers to a post-apocalyptic, martial arts fueled world of action and intrigue.
One of the most powerful and mysterious figures in the Badlands is the Widow. Played by Emily Beecham, the Widow has only recently become one of the Badlands’ ruling Barons, and certain others in power are not pleased.
Beecham took the time to talk with ComicBook.com about her characters’ origins, motivations, and methods.
How would you describe the Widow, in your own words?
EB: I think the widow is a maverick, and a bit of an anarchist in the Badlands. She’s putting a spanner in the works, and trying to disrupt this whole system, and she’s quite mysterious, but she’s full of contradictions. She has a lot of different aspects to her character that make her kind of interesting.
Do you think it’s fair to call the Widow a villain, or are things more complicated than that?
EB: No. I think the show looks at all the characters from lots of different points of view, but I think she is an idealist fighting for something that is well intentioned. The intention may be violent, but I think the whole worldof the Badlands and is violent, and it’s a means to survive, and she won’t survive if she doesn’t fight and use tactics in a manipulative way, like she does. Her strengths, I think, lies in her using intelligence. Because she doesn’t have a huge army, like Quinn does, she doesn’t have the force that he has. She operates in an underhand way. No, I don’t think she’s a villain, particularly.
You called the Widow an idealist. What are the ideals she’s fighting for?
EB: She wants the Badlands to become a place where there is equality, and where both men and women, as civilians of the Badlands, have a voice that is heard equally. She doesn’t really agree with the kind of system in the Badlands, and the way that’s its run. She’s made a lot of sacrifices to get into the position that she’s in, and faced a lot of adversity, and she’s not well liked by the other Barons because of how she got to where she is, and because she’s one of the only female Barons in the Badlands.
You mentioned some of the Barons don’t approve of how the Widow came to power. We’ve heard it said that the Widow killed her husband. Is that a point of fact, or is there more to it there more to it than that?
EB: It definitely happened. I think things are explained more about it. It was quite a savage thing that she did. A lot of the young women that she’s taken under her wing, her butterflies, are young women that used to work for her before she was a Baron, when her husband was in power, and they were abused and not treated well, these young women. So she was defending both herself and the young women, her young butterflies. We find more about her character throughout the show. She’s got a lot of layers. She’s strong, but vulnerable too, and hard, but caring.
Can you described her relationship with Tilda?
EB: She is not her real mother. She has a maternal relationship with Tilda, and she is mentoring these young women, her butterflies, and she is teaching them how to be empowered, and to fight to get to the position she’s in, where they can fight and control their own destiny. But that is something that they’re going to have to fight for, and to learn and make sacrifices. It’s not going to be easy. Tilda is her number one, but she’s mentoring these young women. Tilda is growing older and forming opinions of her own, as naturally a woman a Tilda’s age would. Tilda’s starting to take her own initiative, which is new for them. Their relationship is shifting as Tilda meets M.K. forms this bond with him, and she becomes confused about her alliance to the Widow. The Widow trusts Tilda, but that could shift throughout the show as their relationship changes.
The other Barons may not care for the Widow, but there seems to be a special animosity between her and Quinn. Is there a history there, or is this grudge all business?
EB: I think they are naturally different people. Their personalities are naturally different, but he knew her before as the Baron’s wife. Her ex-husband and Quinn did business together and had a productive relationship. So he obviously thinks that she should be killed, and she shouldn’t be in the position that she is, because she murdered her husband. So they have a history in that he knows her as a placid wife. The fact that she has completely changed herself and taken on this new persona and renamed herself the Widow is uncomfortable for him, and probably threatening to him, to see a woman change like this and become an equal, which he probably has a personal problem with. So there’s antagonism there between Quinn and the Widow, mostly.
Can you talk at all about what it is has that has turned the Widow’s attention towards M.K.?
EB: I can’t reveal much about any reasons behind that, how she knows about M.K.’s power, but she knows that there’s a boy who has this power, and all the pieces fit together that it should be M.K. When Tilda deceives her, which the Widow doesn’t realize because she obviously trusts Tilda, she still can see that this doesn’t make sense to her, that this isn’t the boy. She knows the potential that her Clipper force could have with a boy like this. She wants to teach him to yield his power, and to learn how to control it, and she would like to make an alliance with M.K. and use this power. It’s malleable, and she can use it to achieve her goals. She’s smart like that, but she’s the only Baron who knows about this power, for reasons I cannot reveal.
As a writer for ComicBook.com, it’s hard for me to see a read-haired woman in black named the Widow and not be reminded of the Black Widow from the Avengers, even though they’re very different characters…
EB: Yes, that’s true! It’s completely coincidence, actually. I, personally, was looking at photographs of Karen Elson, who I thought had a bit of an ethereal look, a bit of an unconventional look, because I didn’t really want the Widow to look conventionally, you know, I wanted to kind of go against that, because I thought that was kind of a very television kind of choice, a very commercial choice, to make her look kind of obviously pretty. I wanted to go against that, and Karen has a very unique, very pale look, and pale eyebrows with this shock of red hair. She has quite an ethereal sort of look, and I kind of like that. It was coincidence really. I don’t much about Black Widow really. She’s outfitted in black leather, but what else do you fight in? When you want flexibility and protection, leather’s pretty good for that, and black’s a great color.
Into the Badlands airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on AMC.