The Walking Dead, S 5 Ep 1: No Sanctuary

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

Alert.

Soooo. The Walking Dead‘s season 5 premiere was on Sunday night (computer problems caused the delay in my posting, many apologies), and it was… Something. Full. Jam packed! With blood and gore and zombie mayhem.

But that was only part of it. Did I mention there was blood and gore?

OK, so. To sum up: the vast majority of our hearty and intrepid group had, one way or another, made their way to Terminus. The members of Rick Nation that were assembled at Terminus were:

Rick, Carl, Michonne, Daryl, Maggie, Glenn, Bob, Sasha, Abe, Rosita, Eugene, and Tara

…where they were herded by the Termains into one railroad car (big mistake, Termians! Divide and conquer, not consolidate so the conquerees can plan their escape, duh). They were supposed to wait for their untimely deaths and eventual repurposing as Termian dinner. Yes, the Termians were hipsters, so they repurpose, they don’t simply kill and eat. In the pursuit of nose-to-tail no-waste perfection, they probably had a plan to use their victims’ bones as the boarding around an ice hockey rink (refrigeration capabilities to follow). Yes, the people at Terminus were cannibals. Yes, we suspected it all along, and now we know it.

Poor hippie Sean. (Remember him from the episode where Rick exiled Carol? Yup. Same guy.)

Poor hippie Sean. (Remember him from the episode where Rick exiled Carol? Yup. Same guy.)

You’re either the butcher or you’re the cattle, they said, blah blah blah. And they’re all, we’ll kill our captives and bleed them out over a trough, and if one of our own should die, then he or she will become dinner too because nothing is personal and we can’t help it if everyone is made out of delicious meat, we are clinical, institutional evil, et cetera, et cetera. Right. Got it, Termians. Who else did we have to worry about?

Carol and Tyreese were still on the railroad tracks, with baby Judith (world’s most unlikely zombie apocalypse survivor), making their way to (but not quite at) Terminus. Carol is increasingly suspicious of Terminus because of reasons. Plus, she is so full of badassery, it’s almost ridiculous. #TeamCarol

Old What’sHerFace…I mean, Beth…is running the risk of being Old What’sHerFace all over again, since she was missing for the last two episodes of season 4 and was the only major cast member to not be featured in the season 5 premiere. George reassures me that she’ll have her day, and it seems like we’ll be clued into her circumstances in next week’s episode but nonetheless, this week? Beth WHO? Moving on.

There are a few themes that the writers seem to be addressing fairly regularly throughout the series. One recurring theme discusses the concept of what makes a monster. Sure, the zombies are terrible, but they’re just eating, and it sucks that they’re compelled to eat live human. But if they were compelled to eat only….grass, or squirrels, or pomegranates or something, an entire cottage industry would develop around the care and maintenance of pet zombies and their peculiarities.

You all know it’s true.

But the people…the people are the ones who do some truly terrible things, like institute cold, detached evil. Or, as we saw in the time jump at the end of this episode, be the group that’s so evil/rapey/kill-y it turns decent people clinically evil. Or be the sort of people who would kidnap What’sHerFace. And how could we forget The Governor, and his trophy room full of zombie heads in fish tanks? (Though even he didn’t descend into cannibalism, except for that one time he bit Merle’s fingers off. I mean, the town he founded was essentially Mayberry, in comparison to Terminus. And I digress.)  Even amongst our intrepid heroes, Rick has bitten someone’s throat out AND, in this very episode, has promised a relentless pursuit unto the death for all Termians, almost as though he were…compelled…to hunt and kill. Everyone else in Rick Nation is like, Dude, they’re scattered, they’re either going to run or die, so relax, MMMkay? While Captain Rick quiets down, I don’t think his lust for Termian killing has subsided one teensy bit.

Turning the idea of monster-dom even further on its head, Carol draped herself in a poncho (looking a whole lot like Clint Eastwood in A Fistful of Dollars), smeared herself in zombie gore to mask her human scent, and infiltrated Terminus in a herd of zombies (walkers, whatever, get over it) to rescue the blood-gutter-bound inhabitants of Rick Nation, and we’re with her all the way. Go, Zombie Carol! Take your undead horde and go get those bad guys!

IMG_0347

She’s got a fistful of somethin’, alright.

What? So now we’re siding with the zombies? They’re not the bad guys any longer? Unexpected. But OK. I’m listening.

Furthermore, the moral center of the group? Always dies. First, Dale “The world we know is gone. But keeping our humanity? That’s a choice,” died (though I still maintain he was killed largely because he was super-annoying). Hershel “Life is always a test” died. And now we have a new moral center, in Glenn, who almost–not once, but twice–took a baseball bat to the back of the head in this episode. Later, when Glenn realized  there was at least one captive locked in a Termian railroad car, he said, “We have to let those people out…that’s still who we are.”

Sigh.

IMG_0346

Foreshadowing?

It is official. Glenn is the new moral center. Let us get ready to kiss Glenn’s ass goodbye. And if, in the time jump at the very end of the episode that showed us the beginnings of cannibal Terminus, the cruel leader we saw was the character Negan from the comic book (which I suspect), then Glenn is definitely toast. Comic readers, you know what I’m saying.

IMG_0352

Could smiley evil dude on the right…

negan the walking dead

Be smiley sociopath from the comics? Image from businessinsider.com

 

Now, for the other quandary from episode 1: WTF was Eugene talking about? Sasha finally pinned Eugene down (figuratively, of course) and said (paraphrasing, perhaps), “Hey, just level with us. What is it that you’ve got? Why are we going to defend your mulleted head?” He said:

Even if I provided step-by-step instructions complete with illustrations and a well-composed FAQ and I went red-rain, the cure would still die with me…I was part of a 10-person team with the Human Genome Project to fight weaponized diseases with weaponized diseases, pathogenic microorganisms with pathogenic microorganisms, fire with fire. Inter-departmental drinks were had, relationships made, information shared. I am keenly aware of all the details behind fail-safe delivery systems to kill every living person on this planet. I believe with a little tweaking on the terminals in DC we can flip the script, take out every last dead one of ‘em. Fire with fire.

IMG_0349

Dude, I have no idea what you’re saying. But you’re pretty pleased with yourself for saying it.

Right. So. I can’t figure out if he’s full of shit or…what. On the one hand, he’s got a fair share of “anti-government conspiracy whack job” sprinkled in his speech. He’s using big words that sort of go together, but don’t necessarily say anything. This speech sort of reminds me of the nonsense speech the clock gives in Beauty and the Beast, when he takes Belle on a tour of the Beast’s castle.

On the other hand…Eugene does say, “The cure would die with me.” And he talks about fighting diseases with diseases.

Is Eugene immune?

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to understand the nature of Eugene’s relationship with Abe and Rosita, and it hasn’t made a lick of sense. He’s a burden. He can’t fight, he’s actually a detriment if he’s got a weapon in his hand. I can’t believe that he would come across as that smart that he’s got them bamboozled. Unless he’s physically worth protecting. Unless they know this for sure. Unless, maybe, they’ve seen him recover from a bite that would have killed anyone else. And there’s some kind of “we’ll have to talk to them (meaning, Rick Nation) later” private conversation that Rosita and Abe were having, but who knows what that’s about? Some folks think they don’t like having the baby around, because really, Judith is kind of a detriment too, though at this point that baby isn’t going ANYWHERE. Nothing they can do about her, really, except leave. I suspect their side chat had more to do with Abe and Rosita’s agenda with Eugene than with anything else. They’d gotten everyone in Rick Nation back together. I think they just think it’s time to head to DC.

Despite the bloody zombie mayhem, we had some happy reunions. Rick and Carl got to reunite with Judith, Daryl ran to Carol. *sniffle*

IMG_0351

Awww. Totally dysfunctional family joy.

IMG_0350

And women across the land were once again seethingly jealous of Carol.

Poor What’sHerFace has to wait until next week to hope for reunion. And in all this, one thing I noticed was the silence. There were no joyful squeals and hoorays at the sight of newly reacquainted loved ones; all the greetings of long-lost, feared-dead friends were given in relative quiet, with hugs and pats.

Because you never know what is near enough to track you to your sound.

That’s how it goes in the zombie apocalypse.

And then! Part of next weeks preview showed us that Morgan has returned and is tracking Rick Nation. Wild card! He’s a killing machine with an anti-zombie agenda, almost as relentless as the zombies themselves. If he’s in the game, then there’s no telling what will happen with the Rickites.

IMG_0353

Morgan: What “don’t mess with me” looks like.

So, to repeat: Glenn will die, this season. We’ll meet Negan. Carol will continue to be badass. So will Morgan. Eugene is immune. Beth will have something interesting to do, or she will ask to leave the cast. And Rick will continue to hunt Termians, because revenge is where his heart is.

See you next week!

In the meantime, here’s a little Bad Lip Reading and “Carl Poppa”.

Advertisements

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!

The Walking Dead, S 4 Ep 2: WTF?

I would caution that there are spoiler alerts but to be honest, I don’t know if spoilers count when you are completely frigging clueless as to what’s going on.  Read at your own risk.

First and foremost, let me add my voice to the legions of The Walking Dead fans who want to bid a tearful farewell to Rick‘s shirt.  The beige beast clad him through three seasons of zombie mayhem, but was done in by some pig’s blood at the start of season 4.

Godspeed, Rick’s shirt. We hardly knew ye.
Photo from slate.com

As to why it was covered in pig’s blood–Carrie remakes aside–all I can say is…uh…

*shrug*  Seriously, your guess is as good as mine, but I’m going to try and make some sense of it all.

OK, so.  What have we got here?  (And people, I assume you know something about the show, so if you don’t…what are you waiting for?  Start watching!)

~~Someone is feeding the zombies , in what looks like an attempt to get them to destroy the perimeter and take down the fencing that surrounds the prison in which our heroic band of survivors has taken refuge.

~~There’s some kind of mysterious superflu that’s sprung up from…somewhere…which causes pulmonary hemorrhaging-slash-death.  And we don’t know who’s infected (is it everyone?), where it came from (the piggies?), if it’s airborne or ingested, and what the mortality rate is once symptoms have started to express.  Though there were copious lingering shots of sick pigs (before Rick embarked on the piglet apocalypse) and worms.  More on this later.

~~Someone burned two people who had been symptomatic of the superflu, though we don’t know if this was a preventative burning or if the people burned had died and turned zombie.  We also don’t know if the person who burned the flu zombie people is the same person who’s been feeding the perimeter zombies (though I suspect not).

~~Carol looks like a sweet motherly type but has become hardcore, secretly teaching children how to fight, use knives, be little killing machines.  She tells kids they’re weak if  they can’t kill a soon-to-turn body, even if that body happens to be that of a child’s father.  I suspect it’s compensation for the loss of her own daughter, Sophia, in Season 2.  But.  She’s gone kind of practical-ice-water-in-the-veins crazy.  Which I understand.

~~Clearly, Michonne lost a baby, probably in the zombie apocalypse.  Sad.

And then from the first episode…

~~Rick met that creepy lady Clara, who seemed at first like some flaky, deranged survivor.  Then we realized she was keeping her zombified husband’s head in a burlap sack.

Like you do.
Photo from http://www.ibtimes.com

Which “deranged” can’t even touch, downspiraling Clara’s initial appearance as a pitiful survivor into some sort of madness that’s expressed as a so-low-you-got-to-look-up-to-see-bottom apologist zombie collaborator.

Anyway.  There’s so much more: is Glenn finally starting to become depressed and paranoid?  He’s more skittish than he’s ever been, and protective, and actively talking about being scared.  What’s up with the new character Bob Stookey, and how is his struggle with alcohol going to play into the fate of the group?  What else is there to do with Daryl Dixon, short of introducing a major schism into the group or–looming fan riots be damned–kill him, as Bob Kirkland has threatened.  (And fans, NO, I don’t want to see it either so stop taunting the writers, OKAY???)

We need to take into consideration the literary device known as “Chekhov’s gun“, which states that as a writer you shouldn’t introduce an element in the beginning of a story (or at the start of a TV season) without intending to use it.  Considering Chekhov’s gun, here’s what I think is happening:

I think the little kids in the prison are sneaking out at night and feeding the zombies.  In the first episode they named their favorite zombies and jokingly said they considered them “pets”.  While I don’t know if I, deep in my heart, truly “buy” that they don’t fully understand the potential repercussions of a breach in the external wall…innocence of youth and all that.

Worms.  The camera lingered on those worms in episode 2 like Food Network cameras linger on Giada DeLaurentiis’s cleavage.

They’ve got to have some relevance. Rick was feeding slop + worms to pigs, one of the pigs inexplicably took sick and died.  We already know everyone is infected with the zombie virus, and then they’re buried in the ground and become worm food.  Are zombie-infected worms turbo-boosting the zombie virus and/or some other latent pig-to-human viral vector?

I think Carol burned the superflu people.  Because she’s all about taking care of business, and she looks so nice and trustworthy so she could fairly easily get people to let their guards down, give ’em a quick ha-cha! with a knife and drag them out back to dispose of their flu-riddled bodies.  Because you have to protect the group at the expense of the few, after all.

I’m still not sure how Clara and her husband’s head will figure into future The Walking Dead mayhem.  But you don’t introduce a mouth-breathing sack of zombie without–perhaps literally–having it come back to bite you in the ass.  Rick, in his episode 1- kinder gentler communing with the Earth-version of himself, didn’t give Clara and hubs a merciful final dispatch which makes NO sense, because all he did was leave a threat.  It’s not like zombie Clara will remember past kindnesses and give Rick a pass.  I say they’re going to be the end of Carl, making it the biggest mistake Rick could possibly have made in the entirety of the postapocalyptic zombie world.

And Michonne will end up having to walk through fire to protect baby Judith (or, baby Little Ass Kicker, as she’s also known).

Herein lies my take on season 4, episode 2.  There will be more to come as the season unfolds!  I’m happy for other perspectives; let me know what you think is happening.

And just because I haven’t posted nearly enough music by The Zombies, please enjoy “Time of the Season”.

Five-Second Wrap-Up: This Week’s The Walking Dead

So I read some of the feedback about this week’s The Walking Dead (S3, Ep 12) and, you know, I’m pretty much down with most of what I’ve read.  Yes, it was a powerful, strangely beautiful episode.  Yes, I was glad to see the beleaguered, now-batshit crazy Morgan resurface from Season One, and Lennie James turned in an amazing performance as Morgan and created a memorable return.  Yes, it was nice to see Carl as a caring, sentimental brother and not just a child soldier in the zombie wars.  And yes, it was nice to hear Michonne finally say something other than to growl out, “The Governor’s a scumbag, I can’t believe Andrea didn’t see it, he’s going to try and kill us, be ready.”

But here’s the thing: you remember the scene in the cafe, where Carl goes to get the picture of him and his parents so he can give it to baby sister Judith?

Awww, bonding time + looted tchotchkes.

Awww, bonding time + looted tchotchkes.
Photo from facebook.com/thewalkingdead

And then they get chased out the door by zombies and Carl (or maybe it was Michonne) drops the photograph and he wants to go back in and get it?  And then Michonne leaves Carl at the door, telling him that she’ll go back in and get it for him?  And he stands on the front step (which is perhaps the first time in all of The Walking Dead history that Carl goes where he’s told) while the zombies swarm around the door?  Then Michonne gets all superhero stealthy and rearranges her molecules or something so she can slip in the side door unobserved and grab the picture (and, apparently, a papier-mache cat), so now Carl’s little sister can eventually see what her parents were like in happier days?  Everyone’s like, sigh, that Michonne, she showed her softer side.

OK, maybe.  I’ll grant you, she didn’t have to go get the picture, she could have been all “every man for himself” and let Carl fight his way in (and he was getting that goddamned picture so there was no way around someone going in), though he’s pretty noisy and only knows how to fight with a gun.  The gun going off could have drawn more trouble towards them and who knows how crazy Morgan is and if that would have set him off and if nothing else, it would have been a waste of ammo.  Which they just looted from Morgan because she and everyone else KNOWS there’s going to be a major gunfight going down soon.  Michonne and her kitana were a much more practical choice for photographic retrieval.  Still, on the surface her going in seems protective and maternal and kind and family-oriented.  But.  I just want you to bear this in mind.  When she went in the cafe?  She needed to find the way to make the most productive use of what are clearly expert-level sneaky skills.  She left Carl positioned right in front of the glass.  The zombies were drawn to him because they are zombies and wanted to eat him.

So I call bullshit on any ideas that she was getting all maternal and gentle.  She went in because she has a quieter and less wasteful weapon, and in order to have a successful run she used that little boy as fucking bait.  I love her for it and I hope you do too, but don’t ever forget she’s a calculating and resourceful fighter at heart.

That is all.

Re-Branding “The Biggest Loser”

Recently, I went to the gym and saw that two of my favorite classes were being held back to back.  I didn’t have anything pressing on my agenda and decided, why not?  I had a massive two-hour, almost non-stop (didn’t even have to move to a different room), ass-kicking, Body Pump -> Zumba workout.

Holy pockets.  I was drained.

When I got home I realized…hey…those people on The Biggest Loser, they do these massive two hour workouts.  Three times a day.  Six days a week.  And they’re doing it on ground turkey breast and salad.  While I do love that show, I confess I also had a few realizations:

1) No wonder they get so cranky and start sniping at each other.  That’s got to be unbelievably draining.  I know how I felt after just one, two-hour workout.  Exhaustion!  and…

2) Pretty sure that’s a house full of hungry people.

So in honor of this, I think we should re-brand The Biggest Loser, and call that show what it really is.  So here is the dramatic unveiling of the new logo (drumroll, please)…

TADA!

Oh,you know it's true.

Oh,you know it’s true.

Hey, folks.  I just calls ’em as I sees ’em.

No more posts.