The Walking Dead, S 5, Ep. 9: What Happened and What’s Going On

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Alert.

I have been wondering for the last two days, just what in the hell I was going to say about this episode. It’s complex. It’s arty. It’s visceral. It’s the episode that will end up getting discussed in a film class. Welcome to the biggest acid trip The Walking Dead has given us thus far. And, GODDAMN IT. You had to go and kill Tyreese, didn’t you? He was a good guy, maybe too good. I think even Chad Coleman, the actor who played Tyreese, described his character as the moral center of the group, which he should know is always the death knell for anyone on the show but GODDAMN IT. I generally liked Tyreese.

A note, if anyone is reading this blog for the first time. This particular blog assumes you regularly follow The Walking Dead and are familiar with past characters and plot lines. If this is your first time reading…stop, read everything else I’ve ever written about The Walking Dead, and come back here when you’re ready.

This episode is largely cerebral…in more ways than one, ha ha. Much of the last half of this episode involved the goings-on in Tyreese’s hallucinatory, fevered brain as he makes the journey to the Great Beyond, but on the grander scheme, his internal hallucinations reflect the more general question of what it takes to be considered a citizen of the world.

Visited by the recent dead–on the positive, welcoming side by Lizzy, Mika, Beth and Bob, and on the negative, shit-to-work-out-before-I-die side by The Governor and Martin, a Terminian who Tyreese almost killed once, but didn’t (and who died when Sasha savaged him in the neck with a knife)–Tyreese tries to come to an understanding of the worlds he once lived in, and lives in now. And they’re curiously similar. Reminding us–over and over again–that humans are perfectly capable of being monsters, Tyreese re-audio-hallucinates a BBC radio broadcast reporting on a war-torn nation that has suffered vast brutality; to me, it sounded like reports from the genocide in Rwanda. The radio reporter (voiced by Andrew Lincoln, speaking in his normal, British, non-Rick-Grimes-accent) talked about people being done in with machetes, or set on fire, all of which are things Tyreese has witnessed in the post-apocalyptic world. And the point is, if it wasn’t an actual BBC report…it could have been.

It's better now, they keep on promising.  Image from dailymail.co.uk

It’s better now, they keep on promising.
Image from dailymail.co.uk

What does it mean to belong to the world? Tyreese has a dying-dream conversation with Martin, who was ready to kill Baby Judith, and from whom Tyreese rescued her. Maybe if Tyreese has killed him at that point then he couldn’t have told Gareth where Rick Nation was, and maybe Bob would be alive, maybe it would all be different. Instead, Tyreese holds the image of that baby up as the pinnacle of good that he’d accomplished in the world. Judith is alive, and it is, entirely, all because of Tyreese. When The Governor showed up he started yelling about how Tyreese couldn’t “pay the bill”. He couldn’t be cold, couldn’t be ruthless. Couldn’t be the killer The Governor wanted him to be. Couldn’t kill Carol, who killed the woman Tyreese loved, a woman who was sick with a superflu and was about to infect and/or kill almost everyone around her. But the person who operates from the Governor’s perspective as their personal base is someone who belongs only to himself, only to the notion that the self is paramount and that the idea of a collective “Greater Good” is whatever a single individual decides is right and good, even if it’s morally reprehensible.

The gang's all here. Does the afterlife really have to involved folk singing? Image from yellmagazine.com

The gang’s all here. Does the afterlife really have to involve folk singing?
Image from yellmagazine.com

The Governor, if you remember Merle‘s and Andrea‘s deaths, proved that he was perfectly willing to let someone slowly die so they would turn into the undead. He bit Merle’s fingers off, he murdered Hershel in cold blood, to make a point. Rick is right on par with The Governor, having ripped Claimed Joe’s throat out with his teeth. Rick is the guy who strategically left another member of the “Claimed” group dead and ready to turn, so said dead guy would attack and distract his own gang members, and in this, most current episode, admitted to Glenn that he knew Dawn didn’t mean to kill Beth but didn’t care, he just wanted to shoot her anyway. Without Beth and now without Tyreese, Rick Nation has become an army of assassins, with little to keep them anchored to a humanity that is anything other than carnal.

Michonne, I think, is getting close to being the new voice of humanity, as she is about three steps away from losing her mind. They’ve been out on the road too long, she says, and they need a place to stay. To root. To come back together as a community with a common goal (other than, simply, survival). To build something, and grow plants, and hopefully figure out how to have a sheltered rest.

Tyreese is a great example of Rick’s warning to Carl earlier in the season to never let one’s guard down. For just a few moments, Tyreese was pulled out of the present, lost in a picture of Noah‘s younger twin brothers and what the previously “normal” world was like. Going for pizza. Sitting at a ball game. Hanging out at the playground. Contemplating the loss and promise of the lives of these two young boys, one of whom was dead in the bed next to him, with large chunks taken out of him. Then the other brother came in quietly from behind and took a bite out of Tyreese’s arm. Game over for our favorite moral compass.

Yup, that's about right.  Image from blog.indiewire.com

Yup, that’s about right.
Image from blogs.indiewire.com

And speaking of “carnal”, let’s talk about what happened at Shirewilt, the gated community where Noah used to live. Somebody came at this community, hard. They busted in through a cement wall like they were an army of evil Kool-Aid mascots. They burned and looted and bashed in heads, and it was probably just for the joy of killing. Rick took some time to point out the strategic flaws of Shirewilt as a homestand; I mean, it looked secured, with a big old wall and locking gates. But it wasn’t. If Rick understands the flaws in it as a stronghold you can assume that anyone else with a reasonably sound sense of defensive strategy would see the same flaws. So, the people who busted in to Shirewilt weren’t there to take it over, they just hearkened to the call of bloodlust. And then…they cut walkers in half, chopped off their arms, carved “W”s into their heads and loaded them into the back of a pickup? For…?

And you know they did the head carving while the person was still alive. Just for added evil. Image from moviepilot.com

And you know they did the head carving while the person was still alive. Just for added evil.
Image from moviepilot.com

I would imagine that would make one hell of a decoration around a fortress. Kind of like putting your enemies’ heads on spikes after you chop them off. Is this a way for some group to mark their turf? Since we got a nice, close look at the walker with the W in its head, you can rest assured we’ll see them again some time soon. And–seriously–it seems like any time you have someone willing to manipulate the bodies of the undead, it’s shorthand for “we are dealing with a crazy person”. Think of The Governor and his wall of heads. Michonne was close to crazy–was certainly dangerous–when we first met her with her undead entourage chained to her side, but then again, she’s come to realize that when she does that she’s in a dark, dark place.

Wolves not far, the graffiti said.

So...THAT's ominous.

So…THAT’s ominous. Image from moviepilot.com

Never let  your guard down, not even for a second. Duly noted.

Image credits:

Dead End

Lizzie and Mika

The Gang’s All Here

Head carving

Wolves Not Far

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The Walking Dead, S5, Ep. 3: Four Walls and a Roof

SPOILERS GALORE! BE FOREWARNED! ABANDON HOPE OF NON-SPOILAGE, ALL YE WHO ENTER HERE!

Have I made my point? Turn away, if you don’t want to know stuff.

First, let me make this abundantly clear: when Beth finally frigging returns to the series on which she is ostensibly a regular, and she isn’t dressed in leathers and feathers and dragging Channing Tatum behind her on a chain, then an enormous opportunity has been lost and she seriously needs to contact her agent to renegotiate her contract. (Video clip = NSFW/kids)

Yeah, just like that.

Second: I realize I am probably opening my inner psyche up to be plumbed by armchair psychologists out there, but here goes. This episode had a scene that was incredibly brutal, where Rick Nation slaughters…and by slaughters I mean, HOLY HELL, kills the shit out of…the remaining Terminians, turning them into so much hamburger (pun fully intended). And you know…I was OK with it. I don’t know. Does this mean I’m desensitized to violence? Or does my mindset mean that if I survive a zombie apocalypse and end up in a confrontation with a professed group of cannibals who’ve eaten the leg off a member of my family, set said crippled, half-eaten family member outside my safe house as bait to lure me out, and engineered a home invasion with the intention of killing and eating the rest of my family, I’d not mind killing them with extreme violence, myself?

Son, you done made one mighty big mistake.

Son, you done made one mighty big mistake.

Because woah, the demise of the Terminians was extreme. But sorry not sorry; I thought Gareth & Co had it coming. Every bit of it. Join or Die” might have worked for Ben Franklin in the dawning of the United States, and to some degree the principle makes sense in a world where survival hangs so tenuously from a thread. There’s something to be said for the safety of numbers. But the deal from Gareth wasn’t a post-apocalyptic, “In unity there is strength, let us be brothers!” No. It was more “There is no nobility in the world, and I am sociopathically detached from my human side. The only difference between myself and the walkers out there is my ability to calculate environmental threats. But I still want to eat human flesh, and if you don’t join me and my group, then you’re next on the menu.”

It's like playing Where's Waldo, but with zombies. Walkers. Whatever.

It’s like playing Where’s Waldo, but with zombies. Walkers. Whatever.

Can I just point out: that is a gorgeous bit of cinematography.

I found it ironic that Gareth thought to plead for his life, promising that if Rick would let them go they would never, ever see him again. What was it he said when Bob tried to bargain with him, tried to tell him that they have a person who believes he can resolve the zombie crisis, while poised over a trough waiting to be bled out? “You can’t go back, Bob,” he said. Still, it seemed he half-expected Rick to let him go, so long as he promised to never, never ever, try to eat the members of Rick Nation again.

As an aside, wasn’t there an episode involving The Governor called “Too Far Gone”? Yes, yes there was. I am sensing a theme. Apparently, even in the barking mad world of the post-zombie-apocalypse, there is an edge and you can go over it, and if you do…yeah, it’s not good for you.

Really, Gareth. I told you this was a bad idea.

Really, Gareth. I told you this was a bad idea.

My boyfriend found the level of violence enacted by Rick Nation upon the Terminians shocking, and I know the extreme violence of the scene was brutal and controversial. I get it. They could have been more merciful, more expedient, more humane, less invested in a blood orgy. They weren’t. And Rick did get a look on his face akin to that of a velociraptor in Jurassic Parkbefore delivering Gareth unto his final reward with–as promised in episode one–a red-handled machete.

Yep. Pretty much the same.

Yep. Pretty much the same.

But it is an icky, icky world they live in. Last season, Rick tore someone’s throat out with his teeth, and when he did that he seemingly had no choice. This season, he dispatched the somehow-even-worse-than-zombies clan of cannibals, and it seemed that in the interest of humanity, he had no choice. They would move on to the next victim, and the next, and the next. You can’t let that live. Though OK, OK, fine, they could have been less crazy-eyed and stabby about it. But they weren’t. Moving on.

So, Bob. Poor, poor Bob. Poor, I always wanted to hear more about his backstory, about how he managed to survive not one, but two, overrun encampments, wherein he was the only survivor. The viewer got to see just how detached from any semblance of civilization the Terminians were, talking to Bob while eating his leg in front of him. I mean, seriously. Gareth was right, for him (at least) there was no going back.

Bob Stookey presents: Worst Day Ever, a play in one act.

Bob Stookey presents: Worst Day Ever, a play in one act.

And yes, Bob was bitten, Bob was dead anyway, long before being dragged into the woods and made into a snack. Gareth & Co’s eating of him–infected as it was (and thank you, friends, for blowing up my Facebook feed with posts that screamed, “TAINTED MEEEEEEEEAT!”, but I digress)–opened the door for us to ask, what WOULD have happened to the Terminians if they weren’t killed by Rick Nation? Would Bobmeat have, ironically, killed them? We’ll never know. But we can wonder, and wonder what this is foreshadowing. Because I can’t imagine introducing the idea of tainted meat and not ever using it again.

As an observation…OK, so Bob received a noble death, or at least as noble a death as one can get in this show. He was surrounded by loved ones who sat vigil with him until he died, and he got to have some prophetic last words. He told Rick, “Nightmares end. They shouldn’t end who you are.”

You. You have a gift, you.

You. You have a gift, you.

Nice, right?

Um.

Is it me, or are Bob’s last words, basically, “Stay gold, Ponyboy”? (And if you don’t get the “stay gold” reference, read and/or watch SE Hinton’s The Outsiders immediately and welcome to an immutable icon of American culture. Nice to have you with us.)

So at the end of the show, the group is split again, as Abe heads to DC with Rosita, Eugene, Glenn, Maggie, and Tara, and so much for safety in numbers, amirite? Seriously, what is UP with Abe? And with Eugene? They act as though a giant clock that only they can see is ticking. Maybe he’s sick of it all and just wants the apocalypse to come to an end (the horror..!), but who doesn’t?

Rick stays at the church with the remainder, waiting for Daryl, who returns at the end of the episode with a mysterious someone in the woods behind him. Who’s he got? I have no idea. Is it Carol? Probably not, considering he got this look on his face when asked where she is:

That's not a good face.

That’s not a good face.

Side note: if she’s dead, I will be really, really pissed. #TeamCarol

Fingers crossed that it’s Morgan, because, you know. Morgan. I mean, he showed up for like five seconds at the end of one episode, once. So what’s his story? Where does he fit into all of this? Of course I think it would be nice if Daryl is just being cagey about Carol and yes, she’s with him and was just back in the bushes having a pee and he was kind of embarrassed about it because lady-business and all. But this show is never nice, and particularly not in the first three episodes of this season, which has been all about how nothing is ever safe. Sure, Rick makes that speech to Carl, but there’s also the name of the episodes…”No Sanctuary”….”Four Walls and a Roof” (which is what their church/safehouse gets called). There’s no “Hooray, we’re home!” in any of it.

In next week’s trailer, Daryl says he’s seen Beth, and she’s different. Here’s hoping for leathers and feathers, y’all!

*Photo of velociraptor from http://es.jurassicpark.wikia.com/wiki/Velociraptor

The Walking Dead, S 5, Ep. 2: Strangers

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Are you alerted? Good.

I’ve been thinking and thinking about what to say regarding this past week’s episode of The Walking Dead. And really, I don’t have a whole lot of theoretical insight into the episode. I mean, it was mostly an expository episode, dig? Like, it was setting us all up so we can move forward into the rest of the mayhem-filled season. There were, of course, a few interesting developments. Here we go.

–They met this preacher man, Gabriel, who apparently just cannot frigging deal with walkers.  They make him cry like a baby and throw up. He doesn’t carry weapons. He says he hasn’t killed any walkers (nor has he killed any people…at least not directly). Gabriel has a vicious penitential streak, as he wistfully looks into the distance, cryptically speaking about his multitude of sins. If he wrote posts like this on Facebook I would accuse him of Vaguebooking.  But he’s so caught up in his zombie fear and sin complex that he seems ready to martyr himself as said object of his (at least one) sin walks toward him with dinner on her mind.

Somebody has DEFINITELY got issues.

Somebody has DEFINITELY got issues.

Gabriel is weirdly glib, joking about things like stealing the squirrels Daryl had trapped for food (side note: is there no game in the Georgia woods? No ducks or deer or geese or…anything? Sorry, I digress). If you couldn’t figure out how to fight off the zombies around you, why do you think you would stand a chance against the clearly experienced woodsman armed with a crossbow?

Nothing gets between Daryl and his squirrels. Nothing.

Nothing gets between Daryl and his squirrels. Nothing.

I don’t believe for a minute that he could survive on his own. I don’t think he could do it even if he had a secret underground tunnel that led him to a zombie-proof bunker stocked with fifty years worth of food and a magically replenishing supply of ammunition, so there’s a part of me that is sure he’s got bigger, meaner friends somewhere.  And someone’s got some kind of rage against him, carving the sentence “You’ll burn for this” into the wood on the side of his church.

Rut-ro!

Rut-ro!

–The members of Rick Nation are fiercely loyal unto Rick, essentially telling Abe and Rosita that without Rick’s say-so (side note: he eventually says so), nobody from Rick Nation is leaving their group to accompany Abe’s peeps to DC, regardless of whether or not Eugene has “the cure”, whatever that means. Which is as it should be in the post-zombie-apocalypse world. When your world has turned completely inside out, why not build your home underneath the strongest tree? And he has shown that he is both willing and capable to do what must be done in order to keep his tribe alive (except for when he thought it best that they all walk derp-first into Terminus, and then had to have his and everyone else’s bacon–literally–saved). I guess we all make mistakes. Thankfully, Carol showed up, ready and willing to blow things up and rescue them all. #TeamCarol

Glenn spent a few minutes mooning over the Bible passage, “And let us not grow weary of doing good. For in due season we will reap if we do not give up.” Which sounds an awful lot like something Hershel would have said. The question isn’t so much whether or not Glenn, as the new moral compass in Rick Nation, will die but rather, it’s a question of whether or not he’ll make it to the end of the season.

What's the over/under on Glenn's survival time?

What’s the over/under on Glenn’s survival time?

–Carol doesn’t want to talk about it, about her time in exile. Any of it, and “it” generally means, that day, you know the one. Where Lizzie was told to just look at the flowers.

Yeah, that day. Understandable if she doesn’t want to rehash that old chestnut, even if it means leaving Daryl in the dark about what happened while she was away (“Well, I had to shoot a kid in the head, and…”).

–And Daryl just wants to know if they can “start over”, whatever that means. Go back to that simpler time, living in the prison, when he was “Pookie” and Carol hadn’t killed two people and burned their bodies in the side yard? Ahhh, l’amour. Instead, they end up getting into a car they found, that somehow is operable, to chase the car that Daryl had seen speeding off the night…WhatsHerFace?…was abducted.

And the chase is on!

And the chase is on!

For the record, WhatsHerFace? Still not present in this episode. The car she was taken away in has gotten more screen time than her.

–Rick is Mr. Incongruity. On the one hand, he’s quite sensibly all about safety, and how the security of their group is, hands-down, their number-one priority. Before taking off for a supply run he sits Carl down and says:

I need you to hear what I’m about to say. You. Are not safe. No matter how many people are around, or how clear the area looks, no matter what anyone says, no matter what you think. You are not safe. It only takes one second, one second, and it’s over. Never let your guard down. Never.

Got it? Great. Which is why it makes no sense that later that very night, in a building manned by a stranger Rick has already said he doesn’t trust, he’s all, “Hey, I know Daryl told me just last night that he knew someone was watching us but fuck it, let’s not post any guards anywhere, make it easy for our own people to slip off into the chaos-filled woods unnoticed, and have a mini-feast and a few glasses of wine, what do you say?”

I need everyone to be alert, so drink up!

I need everyone to be alert, so drink up!

Huh?

And so it makes it easier for Bob…oh, Bob…to slip off into the woods, for reasons as of yet undisclosed by the TV show. Earlier in the episode Bob had been part of the supply run (that involved Gabriel standing like a martyr about to be eaten) when he’s grabbed by a zombie and pulled below the water they’re all standing in. They kill said zombie…walker, whatever…and Bob says he’s OK, but not without a soulful look at his own chest, 

Nope, fine, fine. Except for this bite wound...

Nope, fine, fine. Except for this bite wound…

Later that night–because there are no guards and everyone’s busy getting drunk–Bob goes out into the woods to have a cry. He seems despondent. Was he bitten? Was he wandering off into the woods so he can kill himself rather than subject Rick Nation to his inevitable fevered death and turning? We don’t know, and it probably won’t matter, because he’s been clunked on the head and taken captive by Gareth, who is clearly mad and, after removing Bob’s leg at the knee and roasting it (and eating it right in front of him…), he’s also clearly hungry. And tyrannically cruel.  And calculating. He doesn’t want to kill Bob, see, because they don’t have the facilities for curing and storing meat like they did at Terminus, so if they keep him alive and just eat him in parts then his own body will make sure his Bob-meat doesn’t go bad. Did I mention he’s mad? And now he’s eating what is in all likelihood zombie-infected meat, which can’t be good. Like, we thought mad cow disease was bad, but this..?

Oh, Gareth, you are SUCH a crazy dickwad.

Oh, Gareth, the lesson you should take from this is: always check your prey for bites.

Oy. I suppose the joke is on him.

Fans of the graphic novel know this fate originally befalls that version of Dale, but TV Dale has been dead since season 2. Largely because he was annoying.

Never let your guard down, indeed. If only Rick had taken his own advice. Onward to episode 3!

Here’s a dedication, going out to Bob and all the horrifically cannibalized zombie apocalypse survivors out there.

Then I Was An Extra In A Friend’s Movie

Hi Blogosphere! I’ve missed you! Sorry I’ve been such a slacker of late. I had a situation or two arise that I had to put to rest before I could take the time to write. It’s not you. It’s me. No, really, it’s me. I mean, I’ve got like a thousand emails in one inbox I have to weed through. Really. But! That doesn’t mean I couldn’t take a little time to make my cinematic debut, does it?

George and I are friends with Jessica and Steve, a couple of local independent filmmakers. Jess produces, Steve writes and directs, and BONUS! They’re a lovely couple. A few years ago they put out a horror movie called The Feed, which got a pretty significant amount of recognition at various film festivals. Now they’re making another movie, called Old Baby, which seems to be less straight horror and more creeptastic brain twister.  When they sent out the alert that they needed extras on X weekend, I was completely psyched to do it. Help friends? Be in a movie? Hell yeah!

Until I realized that was the weekend we would be out of town, at an Ohio State football game, with family. No going back on that. Que sera sera, right? *cue the sad trombone*

Happily, one fortuitous evening I bumped into Jess at one of our watering holes. I truly am sorry, I said, that we couldn’t be part of your all-extras-weekend extravaganza. It sounded like a lot of fun. “Well,” she said to me, “you’ve got one more chance.” Seems they were looking for people to do an overnight shoot. They were having a hard time finding extras, since they weren’t anticipating being done until at least 2AM and the filming was taking place about an hour west of home. But you know, George and I have incredibly flexible schedules, so we thought…hell yeah!

We were told to show up in kind of grungy clothes and/or pajamas since the scene we were filming was all about a late night at a no-tell motel. As an extra, I certainly wasn’t given a script but from what I understand, this film is about people living on the outskirts of society, and focuses on one person with a dark secret. I don’t want to slip and give spoilers, so that’s all I’m saying. When I got there Jess said, “Remember, no one here gets to be pretty.”  Fine. Heavy black eyeliner and blue eye shadow it is!

Baby, I'm a star.

Baby, I’m a star.

We all realize that “blue eye shadow” is code for “she’s a steaming hot mess”, right?

Oh! And here’s George, looking as scruffy as he can get…I did instruct him not to shave, so there’s that…but you know, his hair refused to stay mussed.

Mr. Good-Natured genetically rejects being too sloppy.

Mr. Good-Natured genetically rejects being too sloppy.

Seriously. SO. MUCH. FUN.

The extras were wrangled into the green room–a very nice green room, I might add, which was part of the caretaker’s apartment built on to said motel–where we got ready…and waited. We waited in green face masks and leopard-print robes, in work boots, in shirts pulled up and knotted under the breast.

Extras-wrangler Emily looks on as we wait.

Extras-wrangler Emily looks on as we wait. Some day, I’ll fill you all in on her masterful doughnut.

If you’ve never heard anything about the process of movie-making, bear in mind that it’s not all about the glamour. The common wisdom (which I had been aware of before showing up, and was thoughtfully reminded of by Jess) is that in film, you hurry up and wait. Bring a book. Grab your laptop. The woman in curlers brought knitting. And you’d think that sitting around…waiting…would be kind of meh. But here’s the thing: I was in a room full of really nice people. Everybody was nice. All the extras. The crew. The actors. Nobody was there to have a bad time. And when there were breaks in the filming, we got to wander around this motel, which was kind of retro-dated and so long, so very very long, it seemed like the hallway stretched on forever. With the spare lighting it was totally right for a creepy bit of intriguing, cinematic mindfuckery that this movie seems to be.

OH MY GOD THERE WAS NO ONE IN MY CAMERA...oh, wait. That's George.

OH MY GOD THERE WAS NO ONE IN MY CAMERA’S LENS…oh, wait. That’s George.

Check out the retro paneling!

I think my parents had this in the TV room in 1975.

I think my parents had this exact paneling in the TV room. Then my mother went a little nuts with some dark stain. Suddenly our entire house smelled of stain for a month and was dark walnut brown. That was interesting. And I digress.

Here’s the main motel room set, serendipitously set in Room 13. (Yay for fate! That’s the actual room number, in the room that worked best for shooting purposes.)

What? Like we don't all have high-tech movie swag on our cozy chairs?

What? Like we don’t all have a high-tech movie rig on our cozy chairs?

And here’s the front walkway, where the humble beginnings of my future meteoric ascension to the cinematic firmament takes place.

20140917_220355

Fact: I kind of love that little wooden bench.

Can’t you just smell my impending stardom? No? Sniff harder.

Anyway. We had a BLAST. Would we do it again? You bet, in a heartbeat. I can’t wait to see it. And I can’t wait for the next one. Jess and Steve, sign me up!

In case you missed it: 

Old Baby Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OldBabyMovie

Old Baby Go Fund Me page: http://www.gofundme.com/oldbabymovie

And the motel is for sale! If you want to own an honest-to-God movie set: http://www.loopnet.com/Listing/15824148/1530-Woodward-Ave-Lock-Haven-PA/ It’s in a beautiful location snuggled into one of the valleys of the Appalachians

Good for hunters and you outsidesy types.

Good for hunters and you outsidesy mountain hikey types.

What can I say? This is how we do in central PA.

See you at the movies, y’all! XOXO

The Walking Dead S4 Ep 14: The Grove

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Sorry this is a day late. I was out of town, couldn’t do it.  Anyway.

So. This episode. What can I say? There can be some recap, I suppose, but in the end… Lizzie did it. Lizzie did it, Lizzie killed it, Lizzie fed it.  And then…

OK, a quick summary. Carol, Tyreese and the girls (Lizzie, Mika, and baby Judith) were walking through the woods when they came to a cleared grove and a house/situation that seemed almost too good to be true. A secured property, lots of workable farmland, plenty of fresh meat–like venison–that walks itself onto the property, and a shit-ton of fertile and productive pecan trees. What could be better? Why NOT take a load off, set a spell, and actually really really have your own postmodern, post-apocalypse version of The Brady Bunch?

I figured I've made this joke so often I owed it to myself. Enjoy.

I figured I’ve made this joke so often the past few weeks I owed this to myself, and now I can’t really crack said joke any longer. Enjoy.

But of course, in the “too good to be true” vein…it doesn’t last. This episode ties up a lot of loose ends before we go into the final two episodes of the season, and Lizzie seems to be dangling most of the ends. It boils down to this: she is organically broken and at her core doesn’t seem to understand that zombies do not = an altered but nonetheless viable form of life (though she comprehends that they’re dangerous and does things to protect people from them…usually, sort of…when appropriate).

Hi, I'm Lizzie. When trouble comes, I lay on the ground and scream. My kid sister can handle this.

Hi, I’m Lizzie. When trouble comes, I lay on the ground and scream. My kid sister can handle this.

So Lizzie’s “they’re our friends” trope is somewhat selective, and I maintain that in a non-zombie world she would be a budding serial killer. This episode confirms, first by action then by conversation, that she was indeed the one feeding the zombies at the prison (called it!); we even get to see her feed a trapped zombie in this episode, ew.

Yeah, they're all cute when they're trapped but I don't see her helping him up any time soon.

Yeah, they’re all cute when they’re trapped but I don’t see her helping him up any time soon.

And she was the one doing rat dissections in the basement of the prison, though that’s no surprise considering her assault on a bunch of bunnies while chilling out around a campfire one evening.

She does, indeed, play keep-away from a zombie, and then flips out when Carol comes running out to kill it (called it!).

Oh, Lizzie. It's not love. You're just food.

Oh, Lizzie. It’s not love. You’re just food.

Then Carol and Tyreese took off into the woods to gather firewood and check their perimeter and make sure they have a safe, fairly secure place to live, for the time being.  Tyreese took the opportunity to mope and get all, “I’m haunted by dreams of my one true love.” I love the look on Carol’s face as she’s like, OK fine, Heathcliff, but can we gather some firewood?

Carol? I haz a sad.

Carol? I haz a sad.

During this downtime from their subsistence-living, hunter-gathering, hiding in shadows and waiting for threats to pass, Lizzie–who was crazy, operating under her own agenda, alone with two kids smaller than her, and armed with a really sharp hunting knife–takes the opportunity to murder her sister, so she can prove that when zombies return they really just want to be our BFFs.

I love my baby sister! But I love murder more! {{{heart}}}

I love my baby sister! But I love murder more! {{{heart}}}
—Lizzie

Carol realized at this moment that Lizzie couldn’t ever…ever…be trusted with people. With anyone, really, and while it’s obvious that baby Judith would be Target Numero Uno now that Mika was gone, it would just be a matter of time before she moved up to bigger game. Like Tyreese. Or her. Or anyone she wanted to “prove” something to. Rut-ro! So, in the interests of not harboring an adolescent sociopath who was only going to get bigger and more insane because they live in a crazy world, Carol gets Lizzie to go outside with her and then–because there really is no other choice–executes her.

That's the end of that. Sorry, Lizzie. But. You crossed the wrong woman.

That’s the end of that. Sorry, Lizzie. But. You crossed the wrong woman.

Don’t. Mess. With Carol. Hershel always said, “Everybody has a job to do.”  Apparently, Carol’s job is cutting out threats to her group like they were tumors. In all fairness, someone has to do it.

Whether the writers intend for this to be a side effect or not, one of the bits of underlying social commentary that comes up is: being angsty is a self-indulgent luxury, available to those who have some time on their hands. Now, I’m not saying that applies to Lizzie, because she was barking mad, poorly wired, her tether to reality snapped a long time before. But Tyreese…

While they were still at the prison, Tyreese was absolutely vengeance-minded and eaten up by rage (Michonne even had a “I want to kill The Governor, who made me put down my zombified best friend, but that’s not where my heart lives and dude, you’ve got to let it go” talk with him) since Karen died. And her loss–let’s face it, writers, this was a bit of a biff on your part–wasn’t that keenly felt by anyone except Tyreese, since the viewers barely knew her. When the prison went down and he had to re-focus his priorities, he seemed much less alternatively angry and/or glum. Now that he’s got some time on his hands again and is in a place in which he feels relatively safe, he’s back to mooning about Karen, and seems overly depressive and Edwardian-romantic-hero-self-indulgent. There’s things to do. This is the zombie apocalypse. Take off your neck ruffle and get off your fainting couch and snap out of it.

So the other loose end was Carol’s confession to Tyreese that she was the one who killed Karen. He suspected Lizzie, who never admitted to killing Karen even though she ‘fessed up about everything else that she did. But here he is, relaxed and in a safe little house and right away he’s all, “Karen is still dead. And now I think Lizzie did it, because clearly she’s been our under-the-radar resident psycho, and I need to blame someone.” Carol could have let him carry that belief, but in the interests of a) moving forward and b) being fair to Lizzie’s memory (because despite her willingness to be incredibly cold-blooded, Carol is fair), she spills to Tyreese about how she killed Karen, sliding a gun toward him so he can dish up justice how he sees fit.

Hey, Tyreese. Funny story...

Hey, Tyreese. Funny story…

Now, this is after she’s demonstrated her willingness to kill someone she loves in the interests of the Greater Good (an expression I hate, BTW, and I’m not really sure why), so he can’t say that she’s mean or crazed or thoughtless or spiteful. And, Tyreese was on board with Carol dropping the 11-year-old Lizzie, so if he can be OK with this then he can start to wrap his head around Carol’s actions with Karen. And he forgives her, because what else is he supposed to do? He just OK’d an execution. Who’s to say that Karen’s death was any different, really?

And so. There we are. They move on, two kids down and baby Judith strapped to a papoose on Tyreese’s back.

I’ll say this: Carol’s track record for child care is less than stellar. But she tries, she tries.

Questions: There was a fire burning somewhere close by that was a significant plot point, creating completely horrifying crispy-fried zombies.

If there were zombies in Mordor...

If there were zombies in Mordor…

There’s speculation about what was burning. My guess: the town that Rick, Michonne and Carl fled from after the creepster gang invaded the house. Because the gang (that Daryl is now a part of, remember) is trying to flush out the people or person (Rick!) that killed their friend in the upstairs bathroom and got out of the house unnoticed. I’m sure they’re thinking this person can’t be far. That’s gotta leave a scar if you pride yourself on being a gang of violent and implacable dicks, like these guys do

The other question I’ve seen asked around the interwebs: Why, exactly, did Rick banish Carol in the first place?  The short answer: Because he is afraid of her. Because she’s willing to do the wet-work, and he knows that if she decides he is a poor leader or a danger to her group in any way, she’ll take him down. He can’t control her, and he knows it.

#teamcarol #4eva!

Next week: Daryl walks through the woods with the other bow-hunting guy from the murderous creepy gang. And everyone closes in on Terminus. Finally.

And finally. Let the Brady Bunch sing you out with “It’s a Sunshine Day“.  Ev’rybody’s smilin’!

The Walking Dead, S4 Ep 10: Inmates

~~~SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS~~~

There you have it.

So. We’re still putting together the chess board that is Walking Dead World in the aftermath of the Governor’s rampage on the prison, as Rick & Co. are still making their way through the woods, kind of freaking out to find themselves in groups of two or three, after a horrific expulsion from what had served them well as a fairly safe zone. Some wise person asked of the internets, “But why didn’t they have a contingency plan? Why didn’t they have a predetermined rendezvous point, like you do with your kids if there’s a house fire?”

Because that wouldn’t have made for nearly as interesting TV. Why have them logically organized, when an unstructured dash for survival is so much more thrilling for the viewer?

Maximizing my total geek cred, I couldn’t help myself when a Lord of the Rings moment ran through my head:

There is no strength left in the world of Men. They’re scattered, divided, leaderless.

(The quote in question is all the way at the end of this clip; forward to 3:10 if you also can’t help yourself. Or, congratulate yourself on escaping the Nerdery and living a life less dominated by film/tv/book quotes. True nerds: I expect to see LOTR/TWD comparative essays tout de suite.)

First: YAY! Daryl‘s alive! Ladies, let’s all take a moment to enjoy a collective swoon before moving on.

Finally…FINALLY they did something with that annoying Whatsherface…OK, I mean “Beth“, whatever…Hershel‘s other daughter, the not-Maggie. She’s escaped into the woods with the totally emotionally wooden Daryl, because Daryl and Michonne (as we saw her in the previous episode) seem to share a similar, “Shutting down is better, hoping hurts too much” mindset.  They kill zombies, they argue about having hope, they discover they work well as a team, Beth has a full-on crying meltdown when they come across zombies feeding alongside the railroad tracks. I get it; in her world, threats and horror lurk around every corner. The episode opens with a voiceover of Beth reading a passage from an old diary she kept, reminding the viewer that she’s really only 16 or 17 and the kind of girl and writes in her diary so her wishes can come true. *sniffle*

Which makes it that much more interesting when she burns the pages of her diary for kindling. If wishes were horses then beggars would ride…away from the hordes of flesh-eating undead.

So long, wishes!

So long, wishes!

Next: Yay! Tyreese has Baby Judith, and a big congratulations to these folks, who nailed it at the mid-season finale!

Tyreese also has the girls Mika and the increasingly psychotic Lizzie, and they’re trundling through the woods like a psychotic postmodern Brady Bunch.

Here's the story...of a man named Tyreese...

Here’s the story…of a man named Tyreese…

Lizzie is developing apace as a bona fide serial killer. She is a little young for autoeroticism and alcohol can’t really be a factor for her development,  but traumatic childhood? Check. Animal torture? Check. (Those poor bunnies. More on that later.) If she starts wetting the bed or lighting fires, then we’re in trouble deep. Baby Judith was just a few lungsful away from becoming the first official Crawling Dead, since fortunate timing is the only thing that prevented la Liz from smothering her.  And Judith was only saved because…

Considering my postmodern Brady Bunch joke, it's fitting her name is Carol.

Considering my postmodern Brady Bunch joke, it’s fitting her name is Carol.

Yay! Carol is back! She saw the prison go down and followed Tyreese & Co. into the woods. Tyreese clearly has no idea that Carol is the woman who stabbed his lady love, Karen, in the head and then lit her body on fire.  Which, at the moment, is probably better for all involved. We’ll see how all that plays out, though I suspect there’s going to be a, “Yes, that was me” moment of truth with Carol that will make Tyreese lose his mind. Then he’ll try to kill Carol and attract a zombie horde, which will force him to have to trust Carol to get him out of it. Or, he’ll bring about his own death because of his rage. As a side note, my boyfriend and I were talking about how, despite the crazy circumstances of the post-prison dash, Tyreese seems so much less vengeance-minded-ly insane. It’s like he went, “Oh, crisis, right! Time to focus on saving my bacon and not lash out at my cruel and indifferent world.” Which then got us talking about mental illnesses, and if there is a leisure-time component to them. So. That’s a fun discussion to have with your sweetie as Valentine’s Day weekend comes to a close.  And I digress.

Countless hordes of sleepless, ravenous undead. Me, and one 4-inch blade. I can take 'em.

Countless hordes of sleepless, ravenous undead. Me, and one 4-inch blade. I can take ’em.

Yay! Maggie is still alive, with Sasha, also yay! Oh, and Bob Stookey is there. This is the third camp that’s been destroyed out from under him.  Maggie is still reeling from the gruesome loss of her father and possible loss of her husband in one day, and sets off “with or without” the other two, who kindly don’t let her go toddling off into the woods armed with nothing more than a…what was that, a 4-inch hunting knife?  She finds the bus that Glenn was supposed to be on (but was not), which has of course become a bus filled with Rolling Death.

Hey, lady, could you get the door?

Hey, lady, could you get the door?

Maggie unleashes her rage and grief-fueled frustration on zombie after zombie after zombie. While the burning of the prison has shut Michonne and Daryl down and given Tyreese clarity, Maggie has become reckless in a desperate search to restore some of her family. Interestingly, she doesn’t say a word about finding Beth. I can’t say I blame her.

Oh my, I just had the worst dream...my home had blown up and then...

Oh my, I just had the worst dream…my home had blown up and then…AAAAAGGGGGHHHHH!!!!

Yay! Glenn is still alive! Once he and his still-pleuritic lungs lurched off the bus in an enfeebled attempt to help Maggie (ironically, saving his life), he ended up getting knocked out in one of two spots in the prison that’s inaccessible to zombies.  Good for him! Though it did generate this text from my nephew:

How on Earth is Glenn still at the prison?

The next thing you know we’ll start Skyping to watch it long-distance together. Ahhh, family times. Yes, they did cover Glenn’s bizarre bit of impractical bravery in the story arc of the prison’s destruction, but Michael, if it makes you feel any better, George didn’t remember that either. Anyway. Glenn–one of the smartest characters–scavenges the prison, gathers a big bag of goodies and a riot control suit, which simultaneously turns Glenn into a live-action action figure while providing the TV viewer with a Glenn’s eye view of zombie mayhem.

Zombie Mayhem Suit. Nom Access: Denied!

Zombie Mayhem Suit. Nom Access: Denied!

As he’s running through the grabbing, bitey chaos he sees Tara, still alive, and still completely flaked out after being party to The Governor’s deranged last tango with Rick. (If you remember, Tara had one of the greatest “Fuck this, I’m out” faces I’ve ever seen.) With the cunning use of psychology, Glenn convinces Tara to get on her feet and out of the prison with him, saving her life even though he knows she was one of The Governor’s people.  But.  Stranger alliances have been made in the zombie apocalypse.  They have a talk, find common ground, Glenn admits he doesn’t want her company so much as needs it, then they beat the crap out of some zombies which finally exhausts Glenn, and he drops to the ground.

See why he needs you, Tara?

Then we meet this guy. This fucking guy.

20140217_164417

I have no idea as of yet what to make of Abe Ford and his crew.  They’re just…present.  And show up in a militarized vehicle, which has never once boded well for our intrepid band of survivors.

Also introduced in this episode: a sanctuary called “Terminus“, which literally means “the end of the line“. That can’t be good.

As for what happened with Lizzie’s bunnies, take a look at what was in a log as Daryl and Beth made their way through the woods.

Sad bunnies. Crazy child. Deranged future.

Sad bunnies. Crazy child. Deranged future.

Remember, the timelines in these stories are linear unto themselves, but not contiguous. They’re all starting at different times, so we’re trying to piece together the timelines.  And it’s sad and poignant–they’re just missing one another.

So now we know, sort of, where everyone is. Next week: Craziness ensues!

The Walking Dead, S4 Ep 9: After

WILL THERE BE SPOILERS? OF COURSE THERE WILL BE SPOILERS! I’M TALKING ABOUT A TV SHOW. CONSIDER YOURSELF ALERTED.

Welcome back, The Walking DeadOh, how I have missed you.  It’s hard to get through the week without a fix of issues-laden zombie mayhem. Om nom nom. Oh, the (lack of) humanity.

Season 4, Episode 9 of The Walking Dead picks up about five minutes after where the mid-season finale left off. Or maybe more like an hour later.  Or whatever, it was soon enough for the zombies to still be shambling anew into the smoking hull that was the prison refuge, and long enough for all the principal characters to have scattered but good.

This is a focus episode that examines the relationship between Rick and Carl, and explains Michonne‘s back story, which flows into her present timeline.

So. First up: Rick & Carl.

And don’t mind the quality of the pictures. It’s…a long story. Anyway.

Carl? Buddy? Son? Hey pal. Buddy? Hey. Carl? Carl?

Carl? Buddy? Son? Hey pal. Buddy? Hey. Carl? Carl?

OK, Carl. I know you’re a child warrior/surly teen who has come of age in the nightmarish hellscape of a zombie apocalypse. But fo’ real, kid. Your dad has a chest full of broken ribs and was strangled to within seconds of his life…could you at least wait up for him? He’s not quite the walking dead (though he’s got that dreadful wheeze down), but he’s certainly the walking barely-alive. So, blah blah, they find a house and hole up in it, blah blah, Carl is cranky and doesn’t want to do what his dad tells him to do, blah blah he has a laundry list of resentments because shit has once again magnificently fallen apart and Rick is always to blame. (I will grant him new rage for the possible-death of baby Judith, about whose fate we are none the wiser. Sadly, Michonne doesn’t have her, so boo! I was wrong about that.) He seems to keep forgetting that the Governor showed up with a tank, took hostages and unleashed a killing spree unto their makeshift family and really, Carrrr-rul (dialect coach: get on that, will you?), it’s hard to point the finger at anyone else except the tankmaster.

But no, go ahead. Blame your dad. It’s nice to know parent issues don’t go out of style.

I kind of get where he’s coming from. Carl finds a teen boy’s room that’s got a stack of video games still in it, and it’s totally the kind of kid he could have been in a world less mad. That becomes metaphoric to his conduct. He doesn’t scavenge successfully, he “wins”. He doesn’t recklessly dispatch zombies; he “wins”. It sounds a little like he’s had some of Charlie Sheen’s tiger blood and a little like he doesn’t get that if he dies in this game, there’s no reset button BUT, more to the point, is he’s totally being an angry teen in the middle of this crazy-ass world.

#winning

#winning
If you can’t tell, it reads: Walker inside. Got my shoe, didn’t get me.

Which is oddly charming. I just wish he wasn’t acting out against Rick when he’s so clearly incapacitated. It makes Carl seem petulant and a little power-grabby (sure, fight your dad when he can’t fight back). At first. Then Carl thinks Rick is dead and reanimating, and suddenly Carl is a little boy again.  A little boy who’s already iced his mom so she didn’t turn zombie. What’s to stop him from taking out the grasping, zombie-sound-emitting Rick, with whom he’s already angry, against whose defenseless, sleeping (possibly dying) form he’s unleashed a barrage of snarling teener rage?

Am I the only one who's getting a little Michelangelo "The Creation of Adam" here?

Am I the only one who’s getting a little Michelangelo “The Creation of Adam” here?

But he can’t do it alone, doesn’t want to do it alone, isn’t ready to be the Alpha dog.  Finally, Carl faces that he’s afraid of being all by himself. It’s a legitimate fear, I don’t know if I could do it either. Afterwards?  They sit down and eat cereal together, because when Carl and Rick bond, they eat things. Which is also metaphoric, I suppose, but at least the things they eat aren’t people.

Now. Michonne.

Since her introduction, Michonne has been a katana-twirling killing machine. Kind of a loner because really, who wants to hang out in the woods with a woman with two armless, mouthless zombies chained to her?

It will create a smell buffer, they said.

It will create a smell buffer, they said.
Image from sciencefiction.com

Alone again and in the woods, Michonne makes a new set of zombie “pets” (that’s what they call them and I hate it, but still) and starts…what…?

On that road to nowhere.

On that road to nowhere.

Aimlessly wandering. Inside a hissing, gurgling pack of zombies. Her placid sort of resignation to a lifeless fate marked by empty wandering kind of reminded me a little bit of the meat grinder scene from Pink Floyd’s ThWall.  

Forward to about 4:10 of the video if you just want to see what I’m talking about.

Michonne was walking, and not dead, but certainly not engaging in anything meaningful or humanity-building. While she was walking with the zombies I kept wondering when and how she would stop. How do you stop to…pee? or eat?…without giving yourself away? And you know she wasn’t always the whirling-blade-of-doom survivalist we’ve come to know and love. In this episode, we find out that her katana-wielding ways came about only as a result of the zombie apocalypse. We already suspected she’d had a past that wasn’t quite as intensely martial-arty.  What we didn’t know was that she had a past that was…well…straight-on arty-arty.

Hey Grumpy Gus! Cheer up; it’s brie!

In a flashback dream-fugue sequence we see Michonne hanging out at home with her boyfriend, his friend, and her baby for an afternoon of fruit and cheese and discussions about what makes art, art. Which then segues into the boyfriend and friend debating whether or not to leave their camp, not understanding their new roles in their unfamiliar world while she discovered her facility with a sword. Which then segues into them, armless, ready to be made into the first set of zombie pets we had seen her chained to, and the baby? Sigh. Out of the picture.

And so she is walking. And walking. And maybe not thinking. And walking. Because what else has she got to live for? Until she sees her twinsie zombie.

20140210_121451

-Well, I am just beside myself…uh…
-Hello, self.

This triggers in Michonne a “George Bailey goes a-killin’, I want to live again” moment, wherein she becomes a dervish of woe, destroys the zombie pack she was losing herself into (because let’s face it, it would only be a matter of time until she let her guard down and then? Om nom nom and see you on the undead side) and hits the road in search of her companions, who can’t be that far since almost everyone is on foot.

May God have mercy on my enemies, for I shall not.

May God have mercy on my enemies, for I shall not.

Bonus: She finds Rick & Carl eating cereal. YAY! We take our happy endings where we can find them, in the postapocalyptic zombie world.

Double-bonus: Next week we see what’s happening with Daryl. He’s in the woods with Whatsherface, the blonde and uninteresting chick who’s Hershel’s other daughter.  Beth?  Yeah. That’s it.

And this song’s a dedication going out to the lovers out there…Michonne and Rick, so glad to see you back together again.

Peaches and Herb, “Reunited”. Take notes if this is new to you. There will be a quiz.

See you all next week!

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