Sunday was a big night for AMC. Immediately following the latest installment of "The Walking Dead," fans were treated to the highly anticipated premiere of "Into the Badlands," the cable network's new martial arts series.
"Into the Badlands" takes place in a world where feudal barons rule over a warrior class of poor commoners in a gun-free, dystopian version of America. There are seven barons in total, all of whom lord over their allotted section of the Badlands with the help of an army of former impoverished children known as Clippers. Series star Daniel Wu plays Sunny, the most feared Clipper of them all. Quinn (Marton Csokas), the most powerful baron, keeps Sunny and the other Clippers under his thumb by convincing them they are better off under his rule than outside the Badlands where they would struggle to survive. However, when a young boy named M.K. (Aramis Knight), who possesses a dark secret and a supernatural power, shows up in the Badlands, Sunny starts to reevaluate his world.
Aramis Knight, who plays M.K., spoke with International Business Times about the biggest moments in the Season 1 premiere, "The Fort," including why a rival baron, the Widow (Emily Beechum), is so interested in the boy and why Sunny saves M.K. at the end of the first episode.
Read the full interview below:
International Business Times: This show is really unlike anything else on television and that triggered some serious anticipation from fans. Were you feeling any premiere pressure this weekend?
Aramis Knight: Pressure? Not so much. I try not to expect too much. These things are completely out of my control. I already did my job. We created a pretty kick-a-- show -- both the martial arts and the drama are very kick-a-- so we have pretty much done our job.
IBTimes: A lot of the success of this show will depend on if fans buy into this world. Unlike "Game of Thrones" or "The Walking Dead," this show does not have any source material for its world, so this is new for everybody. Do you think it will be easy for fans watching to get their bearings?
Knight: I definitely think it will be easy. You know, [creators Al Gough and Miles Millar] created something totally new, but it's not something we can't all relate too. Even though the show is set 300 years in the future, it's really just a reflection of society today. I think people are going to be able to adapt to the world and really get into the character arcs.
IBTimes: Let's get into the premiere -- Why does Sunny save M.K.?
Knight: I think Sunny sees a lot of himself in M.K. Sunny, at one point, was trying to find his place in the world and he did find it [as a Clipper] whether it was right or not. I think he sees that in M.K. and as he says, "I never had had a chance and now I'm giving you one." So, he's trying to give M.K. a chance to thrive in this world that not many people are really made for.
IBTimes: So, what's M.K.'s plan with this second chance?
Knight: I always like to say that, for M.K., every scene is driven by his one main goal and that is to find his mother and his home in Azra. He's definitely going to use that second chance to find his mother and his home and, really, himself too. He is really still in the process of becoming a man. But you will have to keep watching to see if I succeed or not.
IBTimes: What does M.K. know about his mother and Azra right now? What does he have to go on?
Knight: Al and Miles and I talked about this a lot. I wanted to make a very complex story in my mind, because the scripts for the six episodes are only about 300 to 400 pages. So, you have to create everything from the 16 years before M.K. was introduced on the show and, also, what you think what will happen in the future; what his aspirations are. You have to have those things in your head as an actor. So, I definitely thought in great detail about what my Mom looks like and found things to substitute from my life with my mom. It really is about the insecurity of having nobody to look after him. He's just a young boy. I take a lot of the endeavors I've been through in this business and try to put it into the show -- feeling alone sometimes or rejected at times.
IBTimes: The Badlands is a violent world filled with violent people. Even Sunny, while he is starting to have this change of heart, has killed hundreds of people. M.K., on the other hand, does not seem overly concerned with violence. He does not seem too impressed with Quinn's speech and he seems to want to want to avoid fighting. Why is that?
Knight: I think M.K. is very ignorant to this world and has not been exposed to the killing that everyone is so used to. I think that shows in how surprised he is to hear Quinn say that this guy he just met has killed 400 people before. So, I think it is a learning experience for M.K. and, while his dark secret has brought him to a place he does not want to be at any time, he himself, as M.K., has never made the choice to kill.
Watch M.K. listen to Quinn's speech in the "Into the Badlands" premiere below:
IBTimes: It is kind of ironic, because it is implied he might be the most powerful character, even though he is not interested in using it. What can you tease about M.K.'s special power and why the Widow is so interested in him?
Knight: M.K. is actually quoted in the show as "strong as an army." He is as powerful as any army and could be the thing to really push the Baron over the top. I think that is why the Widow has such an interest because of this power she has heard about it. She realized this could be the missing piece she needs to take over the Badlands that Quinn has ruled for so long.
"Into the Badlands" airs Sundays at 10 p.m. EST on AMC.