The Walking Dead, S4 Ep 15: Us

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And a note to readers: WordPress has changed the way we can format pictures and such, so no images open in a new window. If you want that to happen, you need to do so manually. Or, you can just use your browser’s back button. Moving on.

Let’s get the easy stuff out of the way.

Maggie & Glenn: reunited!  They have found one another. Glenn saw Maggie’s signs to get to Terminus and threw all sense of caution to the wind, running pell-mell along the railroad tracks, refusing to stop for rest or safety, and climbing through a collapsed train tunnel (from which they could clearly hear zombie hisses).

--Do you hear hissing?   --No, I don't hear hissing. Let's go in! #soundslegit

–Do you hear zombie hissing?
–No, I don’t hear hissing. Let’s go in! #soundslegit

His emotionally fueled personal quest jeopardized the life of injured Tara, who steadfastly refused to leave Glenn’s side as she busily atoned for her “sin” of being deceived by The Governor. Things would have been so much worse for Glenn and Tara if the cavalry–in the shape of the joined forces of Eugene, Abe Ford, Rosita, Maggie, Bob, and Sasha–hadn’t shown up in backlit silhouette at exactly the right moment.

Taroo taroo toot toot taroo!

Taroo taroo toot toot taroo!

So, yay, lovebirds, glad you’ve found one another and can stop risking your friends’ lives in unthought-out and selfish pursuits. Once they were back together, Glenn burned the picture he had of Maggie because she promised him she’d never be apart from him again. Sweet. Ominous. Because who can keep that kind of promise in their crazy world?

No, I love YOU more. No, I love you. No, you. *tongue gargle*

No, I love YOU more. No, I love you. No, you. *tongue gargle*

I’m betting the answer is: not her. But we’ll see.

Eugene: OMG, really? This guy is the embodiment of the worst of the worst of gamers, and this episode opens with him talking to Tara about dinosaurs and what RPGs or video games or whatever, he liked to play the most. And that a zombie dinosaur game would be an awesome pre-order. Like, he’s still thinking about these things like they’re present for him. Like, in his head he’s running through gaming scenarios.  Abe and Rosita, why do you believe he’s got the answers to everything? (Actually, I suspect Rosita kind of thinks he’s full of shit, but she won’t leave Abe and so? She follows.) I’m kind of surprised Eugene is able to tie his shoes without knotting them together and tripping himself, nerd-style. The problem with Eugene is, he’s the dangerous sort of comic relief whose stuffed-shirt brainiac blustering will end up getting someone killed, in much the same way that Glenn’s reckless run into the train tunnel nearly got Tara (and himself) killed.

Fly, you fool!

Fly, you fool!

Rick, Carl & Michonne: walking the tracks! Heading for Terminus! They’re physically not in this episode much, other than to show that Carl and Michonne are pretty securely bonded and Rick is all glowy over the good-timey feelings he gets from both of them. Awwww, so sweet it gives me a toothache. It won’t last.

Oh, you goofballs.

Oh, you goofballs.

The grim, dark little crew Daryl has fallen in with (grimness evidenced by their willingness to kill Len, one of their own, over the fact that Len was a stupid douchebag) is trailing Rick for revenge over the killing and zombification of their friend in the bathroom (called it!).  Joe, the leader of the gang, apparently man-crushes on Daryl, as he’s awfully protective of him AND is psychologically working him really, really hard with a relentless stream of “guys like us” statements. As in, “Guys like us, we practice a reverse judgement of Solomon; we cut the bunny in half and wait for the participants to reveal their true natures.”

And then guys like us, we shoot the folks with a less desirable nature in the eye with an arrow. Because reasons.

Joe wasn't kidding when he said you shouldn't lie.

Joe wasn’t kidding when he said you shouldn’t lie to him.

One of the curious traits of this season’s TWD has been its willingness to be self-referential and go back and forth along its own timeline. The characters’ stories are linear unto themselves, but jump back and forth in reference to other characters’ storylines. They do this again with Daryl’s gang, as they “claim” what they want is theirs, be it a bunny, a place to sleep, or a house.  Remember, the episode where Rick first encounters the Joe gang is called “Claimed“. Unbeknownst to Rick, he broke the rules by being in a claimed house, though I suspect Joe won’t be as lenient toward Rick’s rule-breaking as he was toward Daryl’s. What with Daryl being his man-crush bowman, and all. I mean, who wouldn’t love that vest with the wings on the back?

You should have a little drink there, Daryl, and relax. That's right...

You should have a little drink there, Daryl, and relax. That’s right…

Look, Daryl Dixon maniacs, I’m not saying Daryl reciprocates the feelings. I’m just saying Daryl has a fan, and that his fan also loves murder. That’s all.

Bear this in mind for later in this blog: In the “Claimed” episode, Michonne and Carl go scavenging through the houses in the neighborhood, searching for food (not pudding) and medical supplies and…whatever. In one of the houses they come upon a hallway gallery filled with crappy, mom-has-free-time-so-she’s-painting-flowers-and-we-have-to-hang-them style paintings. In the same house, Michonne and Carl also find the pinkest room in the history of all pinkness, filled with the bodies of a family that all died together rather than try and survive the zombie apocalypse.

The pink? Gaah, you don't know the half of it. Plus desiccated corpses.

The pink? Gaah, you don’t know the half of it. Plus desiccated corpses.

Or so we think. Back to that in a minute.

So, Terminus.

Maggie, Glenn, Sasha, Bob, Tara, Abe Ford, Rosita, and the relentlessly annoying Eugene arrive, and it is positively Paradise-y. It’s quiet. (Too quiet?) It’s open. There are sunflowers blooming along the entranceway, and that gives way to tidy little raised garden beds filled with cabbages and cucumbers and whatever else kind of produce they’ve got going.

Now we know were all the flowers have gone.

Now we know where all the flowers have gone.

Farmer Rick should fit right in here, once he toddles his way down the tracks.  Ahhhh, serene, right? They turn the corner and…finally, someone! Standing in the middle of a grill pit.

A grill pit?

So...what'cha cooking?

Hi. That smells great! So…what’cha cooking?

A grill pit. And she’s all braided and serene and smiley, and introduces herself as “Mary”. My response was much like that scene in The Highlander, when The Kurgan (only one of the greatest movie villains ever, and I will love you for all time for this, Clancy Brown) is in the seedy hotel and the hooker shows up. “I’m Candy,” she says, and his reply?

“Of course you are.”

Because I trust her (and Terminus in general) as much as I would trust Kurgan not to cheat at Scrabble. Though I do get to enjoy the benefit of watching the story unfold from the luxury of my couch, and not from the desperate, “I want four walls and food and a hot shower and I want to not have to fear that zombies are going to break in on my life and force me to have to flee into the woods…again….” center of a zombie apocalypse. Perspective is everything.

So. Mary. Mother of God allusions aside (is that possible?)…what’s she grilling? Because I didn’t see any livestock.

I'd like a side of Beth, please.

Would you like a side of Beth? BEEF! Beef! I mean beef.

AND! Remember those paintings in the house, that I mentioned previously?  Some eagle-eyed writer-fan who’s got me wildly outnerded pointed out that those paintings all mirror things that have happened in the various storylines.  There’s a couple of bunnies, and we all remember what happened when Lizzie met up with a bunch of baby bunnies.  There’s a golden dog, that looks suspiciously like the mangy mutt that lured Daryl to the door and caused the split from him and Beth. There’s sunflowers, much like the ones that greeted them at Terminus. And there’s one painting that had been profoundly defaced.  Eyes and mouth X-ed out, splattered with…blood? Red paint?  Hard to tell. And the thing is…

terminus-painting-e1395646576969

Oh, Mary, please. Picture from comicbook.com

Yep. Looks like her. Looks a whole, irrefutable lot like her.

I can’t tell you how many times I thought, “I should save these episodes on the DVR, so I can refer back to them if I need to.”  And then I didn’t and now I’m furious with myself (next season: done and done) because…if memory serves correctly…this painting was covered with some kind of cloth and propped in front of the door that led to the pink room where Michonne found the bodies. So. Did someone else place the painting there? Force this family to kill themselves? Was it related to Mary? Or did they just hate kitschy folk art this much? Michonne got a good eyeful of this painting; will she recognize Mary if and/or when they get to Terminus? What really happened in that house?

That, I think, is the question that will carry us forward into next season.

But next week, for the final episode: Bloody mayhem is assured. Stay tuned!

We’ll let Guns ‘n’ Roses play us out of this week’s episode with some “Paradise City“. Because it feels right.

The Walking Dead, S4 Ep 11: Claimed

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Oh, where to begin.

This episode covered two groups’ story arcs: Rick/Michonne/Carl in their attempt to play house in Zombie Mayberry suburban Georgia, and Glenn/Tara, who recently met Abraham Ford and crew. We’ll start with Rick & Co. Just, you know. Because.

So Rick, Carl, and Michonne have found one another and are, for all intents and purposes, nesting. They need a new safe zone since the destruction of the prison.  Rick needs a place to physically heal as it’s only been a few days since The Governor nearly strangled him into his forever home, and he’s nursing at least one broken rib though it’s probably more like a dozen. Michonne and Carl, after breakfast together, go on a bonding-heavy supply run.

Let's talk about third grade, lad. Now finish your dry cereal and let's raid the neighbors.

Let’s talk about third grade, son, which was possibly the last grade you were in, in school. Now finish your dry cereal and let’s raid the neighbors.

Michonne opens up to Carl about having had a son, Carl reminisces about being allowed to name baby Judith and gets shaken out of his angry-teen-legitimately-upset-mourning-the-loss-of-his-sister (remember, he doesn’t know a thing about Tyreese having Judith, yet) depressive funk. They scavenge, eat squeeze cheese, and find the bodies of a family who had all the trappings of upper-middle-class “normalcy”–a tastefully decorated home, lots of living space, someone spent a lot of time painting mediocre still-lifes and hanging them on the walls–who all killed themselves together rather than live through the zombie apocalypse. Michonne won’t let Carl in the room once she finds the bodies. Why? This is the kid who iced his own mother to prevent her from going walker; what’s a few strangers in the most aggressively pink room in the history of paint?

The pink? Gaah, you don't know the half of it. Plus desiccated corpses.

The pink? Gaah, you don’t know the half of it. Plus desiccated corpses.

My guess: she didn’t want Carl to see that there could be another way out besides seeing this thing through to its probably nasty, dirty, unholy hell of a conclusion. The family in the room together haven’t seen the horrors of the post-apocalyptic world, they didn’t turn and eat their own families. They just…died.  Sometimes it’s hard to keep putting one foot in front of the other when you know there’s an option to just lay down and not have to get back up. Because when you get up you might have to face…

WHAT. Dude, I just wanted a little naptime.

WHAT. Dude, I just wanted a little naptime.

…Meanwhile, Rick, resting and napping, wakes to the sound of a gang breaking into their refuge. They’re totally bad-ass; Rick wakes because they’re having some kind of argument/fistfight downstairs. He slides under the bed to hide; Gang Guy 1 comes up with a big, bad gun and, of course, wants to sleep on that very same bed Rick is under. Gang Guy 2 (whose faces we don’t really see and names we don’t yet know, but one of the members was played by character actor and Vedic yogi Jeff Kober (yes way), so my guess is they’ll show up again in later episodes, unless Kober was just dying for a walk-on role) also wants to sleep in the same bed, so he chokes GG1 into submission.

That must be some crazy-nice bed. That's all I'm sayin'.

That must be some crazy-nice bed. That’s all I’m sayin’.

Because friends choke friends in a sleeper hold in the post-zombie apocalypse world. GG1 falls to the ground and passes out, but not before getting a good long eyeful of Rick. So. That will be fun in future episodes, since he can identify the currently enfeebled Rick. And why does that matter? Because as Rick is figuring out how to escape from the house, he hides in the bathroom, which is unfortunately occupied by a doody-making Gang Guy 3. Bad timing! Rick dispatches GG3 but leaves him to become zombified, creating chaos in the house, making instant enemies for future conflict and opening up an opportunity to get away, just in the nick of time, with Michonne and Carl.

While we're at it, say hello to Rick's new shirt.

While we’re at it, say hello to Rick’s new shirt.

I admit it, the entire time Rick was trapped in that house with the gang, I wanted to throw up. It was really well done. And foreboding. The folks wandering around in the world keep being murderously crazy. The Governor, this gang. Now Rick, Carl and Michonne are heading to the previously-mentioned “Terminus” place and in this world you just know that anything that calls itself a sanctuary? In all likelihood, is not.

When we catch up with Glenn and Tara, we see them in the back of Abraham Ford’s massive military truck, traveling north. Glenn, of course, needs to go back to where they came from to search for Maggie, so he freaks out, breaks the window on the back of the truck, and forces Abe Ford to stop. When Abe “insists” that Glenn go with him to deliver the genius Eugene to DC (because kidnapping someone is also OK in the post-zombie apocalypse?), Glenn suckerpunches Abe to get away from him. 

Betcha didn't see that coming, didja? Didja, huh?

Betcha didn’t see that coming, didja? Didja, huh?

Go, Glenn! Abe’s like three times his size so it maybe wasn’t the smartest decision he’s ever made, but he certainly wins the Captain Cojones award.

The interesting character in Glenn’s story arc is Eugene. Tara’s busy being annoying but steadfast Tara. Abe’s biggest “flaw” (if you can call it such) so far is that he’s a bullheaded ex-military guy who seems to enjoy killing zombies, but I’m willing to allow for that. Rosita, as a character, has barely been developed; I feel like I know more about Jeff Kober’s Gang Guy 2 than I do about her, though she’s really good at looking either bored or annoyed.

I haven't taken a picture of Rosita because she hasn't done anything yet. But for those playing along, here's that Jeff Kober guy.

I haven’t taken a picture of Rosita because she hasn’t done anything yet. But for those playing along, here’s that Jeff Kober guy. (Cue a chorus of: Oh, right, that guy!)

And then there’s Eugene, the pudgy guy with the mullet, who Abe says is the genius who’s figured out what happened and knows how to cure the zombie plague. Abe is bringing Eugene to DC to meet with officials. Abe, I think, is earnest in his support of Eugene’s claims, and knows that he can’t bludgeon their crazy world back into shape. But he can do this one thing, deliver this one guy he believes can do something, to the powers that be. Unfortunately for Abe, Eugene is lying about something. Do I know this for sure? No. But. When zombies came out of the corn field and Eugene had to be the first to react (due to the aforementioned suckerpunch and ensuing fist fight), he took a gun and shot the truck instead of the zombies. The truck’s to the left, the zombies are to the right, and guns are little more than point-and-click technology. How did he manage to “accidentally” point in the wrong direction? He’s stalling for time. Then he takes off after Glenn, when Glenn heads back to where they came so he can pick up his search for Maggie. Eugene’s actions? Are not the ones of a man on a mission to save the world.

No, Eugene. To your OTHER right!

No, Eugene. To your OTHER right!

All bets welcome on how quickly they end up going to Terminus, too, since that does seem to be the place to go.

Go ahead and smirk, Eugene. You'll get figured out.

Go ahead and smirk, Eugene. You’ll get figured out.

Next week: Daryl and Whatsherface end up hiding in the trunk of a car. And, somewhere, Lizzie is killing something small and helpless.

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