A new twist in the latest episode of Into the Badlands suggests that the Gift is what caused the apocalypse. The ruins of human civilization is what serves as the backdrop for the martial arts series, but the reasons for why the world fell have barely been touched upon.
Into the Badlands takes place in the state of Oklahoma, but the land no longer goes by that name. In the series, it's only known as the Badlands, a region divided up into seven territories. Each territory is ruled by a baron who leads a large army of fighters. The Badlands is a dark, dystopian place where men and women kill for power and control. Ruined buildings and a few working vehicles are all that's left of the old civilization. Guns are outlawed, and swords have returned as the warrior's weapon of choice.
More is revealed about the fall of civilization in Monday's episode, "Black Lotus, White Rose", when Sunny reunites with his long-lost sister, Kannin (Eugenia Yuan), who is now a member of the Black Lotus. During a conversation with their leader, Magnus (Francis Magee), Sunny learns about the origins of the ancient cult and their reasons for wanting to kill everyone with the Gift. According to Magnus, it was the Gift that caused the "Old World" to fall 500 years ago. Magnus says that the founders of the Black Lotus tried to warn the people of the Old World that the Dark Ones would lead to their destruction, but their warnings weren't taken seriously until it was too late.
While Magnus lays the blame for the apocalypse on the Gift, he doesn't actually explain how it happened. It was previously understood that a great war was responsible for the current state of the world. It's possible that both explanations are true, meaning that the chaos caused by the Gift is what started the war. The Gift being the reason for the apocalypse may make it even more difficult to believe that the Gift isn't a weapon.
While this reveal is certainly interesting, this information shouldn't necessarily be accepted as a fact. Magnus, who could turn out to be the real villain of Into the Badlands season 3, may not be a trustworthy source. Magnus could be telling the truth, but his hatred of the Gift could be twisting his view of what really happened. However, if it is true, then it explains why the Black Lotus are so intent on wiping out all the Dark Ones. Also, it means that the series has acknowledged the apocalypse in a way that has a deep and meaningful connection to an important part of the show.