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

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.

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, S 5, Ep. 8: Coda

SPOILERS.

I MEAN IT.

If you haven’t watched this episode of The Walking Dead yet and don’t want to know what happens, then avert your eyes, because I will be all up and down this episode.

CONSIDER YOURSELF ALERTED.

That is all.

First, let me just say…I didn’t see that coming. I mean, at one point early in the episode I thought I got a hint of what was going to happen, but still. I didn’t see it coming.

The it, to which I am referring, is the death of old what’s her face. I mean Beth. Beth! Oh my God, they killed Beth! You bastards!

Before I go into the story of Beth…can someone please do something (anything) about Father Gabriel? I mean, he’s…a human, so I suppose that’s something in his favor. But ohhh myyyy gawwwwwd I am so over his zombie squeamishness. I know he locked himself in a church and “La la la I can’t hear you screaming”-ed himself through the first 18 months or so of the new world order, but…dude. Get it together.  I kind of lost all patience for him in the previous episode when he couldn’t kill a zombie because she was wearing a crucifix. Father, she is undead, and would eat you for lunch, crucifix or no. It’s time to adjust.

And can someone explain to me…OK, so, Michonne is a killing machine, no? She sliced her way through a good handful of zombies invading Father Gabriel’s church, and barely worked up a sweat.

Michonne, Master of Badass

Michonne, Master of Badass

Then she, Carl (with baby Judith, of course), and Father Gabriel retreated to the rectory to scoot out the hole in the floor. When they were trying to close the rectory door and put something solid between them and the relentless undead, zombie fingers prevented them from fully shutting the door. Michonne is the woman who cut the jaws and arms off two zombies and wore them as postapocalyptic personal protective gear. Why didn’t she think to slice off those grabby, undead fingers so she could properly shut and lock the door?

Seriously. Just. Cut. The fingers.

Seriously. Just. Cut. The fingers.

Then Abe Ford conveniently showed up in his fire engine, collected everyone, and drove off to Atlanta to rendezvous with the rest of Rick Nation. Hail, hail! The gang will soon be gathered again.

 All right, so, back to Beth. I know, I was extremely hard on her in previous posts, largely because the writers gave her nothing to do besides sing and take care of baby Judith (other than that brief, “I think I want to kill myself” story arc in season 2), but you know, she’s been doing her thing since the prison went down and they all separated. She’d become tough, and honest, and remarkably clear-sighted about their lives and the state of the world around them. During her time in Grady Memorial Hospital with the Dawnians, Beth had become increasingly vocal about the injustices she saw enacted upon the other hospital residents. She’d also managed to put an end to two of commanding officer Dawn‘s incredibly corrupt and abusive officers, so her capacity for ridding the world of dangerous jerks was pretty high. That’s too bad, because there sure seem to be a lot of dangerous jerks out there.

So long, dangerous jerk!

Take that, dangerous jerk!

Through somewhat drawn out negotiations, the Dawnians and Rick Nation agree to a hostage exchange; Beth and Carol for the two officers (still living) that Rick and the rescue team had captured. Herein lie my problems with the misunderstandings regarding Dawn’s nature. She? Is clearly a dictator. She may be making it up as she goes along, and she may have herself convinced she’s doing something “for the greater good”, but she is absolutely the embodiment of a totalitarian dictator. She has people beaten for mistakes. She sees people as bargaining tools. She lets her officers rape the wards, ostensibly to “keep them happy”. The wards are forbidden to leave her stronghold, and must work to pay off a debt to the Dawnians which said wards did not necessarily have any autonomy in incurring (i.e., Beth was brought in unconscious after [probably] being hit by one of the officer’s cars, and was told she was indebted to them for saving her life, which they jeopardized in the first place). She doesn’t want love, just respect. Dawn created a shrine to fallen officers (at least one of which she killed, and another one of which she knew was raping the wards) to propagandize her hierarchical structure. And Dawn manipulated people into doing her dirty work for her, like getting Beth to kill the officer she was fighting with. Because turning one person against an enemy creates a common, dirty, secret bond.

PROPAGANDA!

PROPAGANDA!

To those of us who haven’t lived (or studied) the mechanics of a dictatorial regime, Dawn’s actions may seem inconceivable. I’ve read commentary that has said she was barely in any kind of control, citing things like her looking the other way regarding the sexual abuse of the wards. Their commentary evolves from the assumption that she can’t stop them. What the commenters don’t assume is that she won’t, or simply doesn’t care. It doesn’t take into the account that permissiveness among the chosen elite and brutal strongarm tactics are the trademark of many, many dictators. Stalin killed his perceived enemies and surrounded himself with yes men, who he let…kidnap and rape and beat and enslave, and it was because the yes men knew he would kill them if they tried to overthrow him and failed, that he remained in power. And life wasn’t so bad for people in the inner circle, so why rock the boat. Hey…does this sound familiar?

At the end of the hostage exchange, Carol and Beth are both back with Rick Nation and the two officers Rick Nation had captured were back safely to their own. Dawn–afraid to appear weak in front of her officers–changes the rules and says she wants Noah back or the deal is off. The conversation goes like this:

Dawn: He’s one of mine. You have no claim on him.

Rick: The boy wants to go home. So you have no claim on him.

Dawn: Well then we don’t have a deal.

But what if they think I'm wimpy?

But what if they think I’m wimpy?

The social commentary behind them bargaining about the claiming and servitude of a black man is an entire blog in and of itself. I’ll just spin this out into the webisphere for now. However, if you’re in the middle of philosophizing over media images of social issues, please don’t fail to recognize this, readers.

Foreshadowing alert: this claiming of people hearkens back to the episode “Claimed”, where the group Daryl fell in with post-Beth-capture could call dibs on rabbit halves and beds and such. Initially, it seemed kind of weirdly playground-ish (but with more serious implications). It ended poorly for the original claimers, and there’s no reason to think things will go differently for Dawn. It would have been way more satisfying–and perhaps more appropriate–if one of Dawn’s own officers shot her when she changed the rules of the game, especially because they understand that the ire of Rick Nation was focused on Dawn, not them. When Dawn’s officers didn’t take this opportunity to wrest power from her, Beth knew that Dawn’s demands for power would only grow. She knew Noah would be horribly mistreated, and she knew Dawn had to be stopped somehow. That’s what she “got”, at the end. I can only hope she was trying to stab Dawn in the neck with her mini-scissors, and had the worst aim in the history of being stabby.

Rut-ro.

Rut-ro.

I’m pretty sure Beth knew that a shoulder wound wouldn’t be fatal.

Unless she was still trying–albeit in an incredibly roundabout way–to kill herself.

Alas, poor Beth, we hardly knew ye.

So Beth stabbed Dawn, and Dawn shot Beth, and Daryl shot Dawn (who looked like she had the ridiculous, ludicrous nerve to try and plead for her life), and a bloodbath was averted when Dawn’s officers called to hold fire. “It was always just about her,” the officer says. Rightly so. And I’m pretty sure Khrushchev danced on Stalin’s grave, too.

Ummm...funny story. So I didn't mean to shoot your friend in the head...

Ummm…funny story. So I didn’t mean to shoot your friend in the head…

Interestingly enough, none of the residents of the hospital left with Rick Nation, when Rick offered to take them in. The devil you know, it seems, is better than the devil you don’t.

And then all of Rick Nation got in Abe’s big red truck and drove away.

We did get one last teaser. Morgan showed up again, and he found his way into Father Gabriel’s abandoned church. He gently, mercifully–almost lovingly, really–did away with a zombie trapped under a piece of debris, hissing and biting at him. And then he found a map Abe had left for Rick, and realized he was on the trail of good buddy Rick Grimes and the Rick Nation.

Shhhhhh...

Shhhhhh…

GIVE US MORE MORGAN! WE WANT MORGAN!

The end, until February 8.

Since I’ve been thinking Russian history during this blog, here’s an Epic Rap Battle: Rasputin vs. Stalin, to play you out.

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

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

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.

The Walking Dead, S 5 Ep 1: No Sanctuary

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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”.

The Walking Dead S4 Ep 16: A

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Before I go one step further into any discussion about last night’s episode of The Walking Dead, I just want to address the elephant in the room. YES, OK? I haaaated the final line of the episode as much as everyone else. I thought it was a hackneyed, weak way to end a really complicated episode that pushed the viewer in a bunch of different ways. I’ve had a night to sleep on it so I don’t feel quite as much vitriol today for that line as I felt last night, and I’ll ‘splain why. Later. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself, so now? We move on.

A narrative regarding self-identity runs through this episode and even through the entire season, as it’s become increasingly apparent that the zombies are horrifying and lethal, but people are the real monsters in this world. And they keep blurring the lines between “human” and “zombie” behavior. Sometimes the line is blurred subtly, like in this very episode, as Michonne said in a quiet moment sitting around the fire, “All we ever talk about is food.” Funny. If zombies could talk, I’m sure that would be their primary topic of conversation, too. “Brains! Brains? Mmmm, brains!” Nothing like having a similar agenda as the ravenous undead.

Pardon me; you don't happen to have any food hanging around, do you?

Pardon me; you don’t happen to have any non-brain-type food hanging around, do you?

The human/zombie/what-makes-a-monster narrative started in earnest once the group separated after the prison was destroyed. Lizzie identified with zombies more strongly than with living people. Beth was spirited away by unknown persons (though I’m pretty sure I was wrong in thinking she was taken by The Hunters…more on this in a bit). Joe and his marauders were willing to kick one of their own to death for lying. Michonne had her “I am literally among the ranks of the walking dead” moment as she created new zombie pets, wandering among a herd of walkers until she saw herself mirrored in a zombie and chose to live again. In the same episode, as Rick heals from the insane beatdown The Governor gave him, he let out a strangled gurgle in the dark that sounded weirdly like zombie hissing. I mean, it wasn’t, he lived, y’all can relax. But these episodes illustrate that the apocalyptic dark side isn’t that far away from our protagonists, ever.

With that in mind…season 4, episode 16 opened with an unknown character being taken down by a zombie herd. Too bad for him, but a great way to remind the audience that teeth are a viable weapon because….

Oh, yeahhhh, that's what these things are for...

Oh, yeahhhh, that’s what these things are for…

As Michonne and Rick sit around the fire talking about food, they are set upon by Joe and the marauders, thrilled that they’ve managed to track and catch their prey and take revenge for their fellow gang member, who Rick killed in the bathroom. Michonne and Rick are outmanned and outgunned and Carl, asleep in the car, is out-everything. Sized, gunned, muscled. During this time Daryl–who almost left the group, but instead hung around to see what would happen–realized his friends were the quarry in question, and because he is one noble SOB, makes a plea for his friends’ lives. They’re good people, he says.

The staging for this scene is brilliant.

The staging for this scene is brilliant.

Which, of course, isn’t possible in Joe’s interpretation of good people vs. bad people vs. monsters, because he has judged Rick for the killing of his friend and found him guilty. Anyone saying they’re “good” despite what they’ve done is lying, and you don’t lie to Joe. Done. Game over. Let the brutal beatdown begin.

For the record, Rick Grimes can take one hell of a beating.

And it is a brutal scene. Since Daryl stood up for his friends he’s getting beaten to death by Joe’s gang, who tells Rick that Michonne is next, and then Carl, and he’d have to watch it all. Meanwhile, one of Joe’s inbred, drooling-on-himself-while-evilly-laughing gang members throws Carl to the ground for a bit of a rape, and that? Is when Rick checks out. They have a perfunctory, “let the boy go” back-and-forth, but Joe & Co. refuse. Big mistake. Fight fight fight, scuffle missed gunshot punch, and then Joe’s got Rick, arms and all, wrapped in a bear hug. “What are you going to do now, Sport?”, Joe sneers.

Next question?

Betcha didn’t see that coming. Ha! Next question?

Rick, taking a page straight from the zombie playbook, rips out Joe’s throat with his teeth. Because teeth are viable weapons.

It further blurs the line between man and monster. Joe clearly never thought, with his “Ha ha, Sporto!” comment, that having his throat bitten out was an option. This helps explain Rick’s answer to Daryl the next day, when Daryl says that anyone would have done what Rick did.  “No, not anyone,” Rick replies. Because Joe was a terrible, merciless asshole and not even Joe would go there.  The only other person who has gone bitey on TWD, for the record, was The Governor, who bit Merle’s fingers off just before he shot him and left him to die.

Now what?

Oh, right, lest we forget. Just after biting Joe’s throat out, he makes his way to Evil Dan the drooling would-be rapist and guts him from navel to sternum, staring into his face the entire time.

"This one's mine," he says.

“This one’s mine,” Rick says, staring into his enemy’s eyes as he guts him and stabs him like fifty times. Because that’s not crazy.

So they make their way to Terminus and finally–finally!–someone in this former prison group (and by someone I mean Rick) thinks, hey, maybe our dreams of a peaceful sanctuary are too good to be true. We don’t know who these people are. Let me cache some weapons outside their fencing…just in case.

Earlier in the episode–this is important, pay attention–Rick teaches Carl how to build a slipknot trap to catch an animal. Build a trail the prey will follow, he says, and camouflage the rope. Then the animal will catch itself in the slipknot; it’s practically like the trap does the work for you!

...and then you catch 'em and snap their little necks and eat 'em, son. That's how it's done.

…and then you catch ’em and snap their little necks and eat ’em, son. That’s how it’s done.

So. Back to Terminus. Rick, Michonne, Carl, and Daryl creep over the fence all sneaky-like and skulk through the hallways until they find themselves at a big open room filled with scarf-wearing hipsters painting signs and broadcasting on a ham radio. And for some unknown reason, they walk in and introduce themselves. Do they check out the entire compound? No. Do they have even a modest poke at the premises? No. Instead they walk in and practically fall over themselves saying hi to Gareth, the de facto leader of Terminus.

Oh, look! He's got a bowl cut and an underbite. How can you not trust this guy?

Oh, look! He’s got a bowl cut and an underbite. How can you not trust this guy?

Gareth, of course, tells them everything they want to hear. You’re all very smart. We don’t have problems here, only solutions. Come on, let’s take you to the main entrance, get you situated.

It's kind of like a big trail they're leading you down, you know?

It’s kind of like a big trail for you to follow, you know?

Then Rick recognizes his friends’ stuff; he sees Maggie‘s poncho, Glenn‘s riot gear, Hershel‘s pocket watch (which he’d passed on to Glenn in a moment of fatherly acceptance).  Much shooting ensues, though it’s probably best to let the pictures tell the bulk of this part of the story.

They're not shooting at them. They're shooting around them.

They’re not shooting at them. They’re shooting around them.

The good people of Terminus, it seems, are not very good people at all, as they herd Rick, Michonne, Carl, and Daryl to a very specific area.

The only door open leads to "A".

The only door open leads to “A”.

These are clearly not the first people they’ve herded in this manner.

Look at how pitted the walls are. It ain't there first rodeo.

Look at how pitted the walls are. It ain’t their first rodeo.

And then they run them past a bone yard. I like that they’re looking in. See what’s in store for you here? Rut-ro!

The picture's not that clear. But yes, they look suspiciously like human skeletons.

The picture’s not that clear. But yes, they look suspiciously like human skeletons.

Through a fetishized memorial to…prior dinners?

At least that's what I assume this is.

At least that’s what I assume this is.

The good news is, I don’t see Beth’s name on that floor, which is why I don’t think she was taken by this group. The bad news is, we still don’t know what happened to Beth.

The one door that opens out of this room leads them into a back train yard, which dead-ends. This is where Gareth pulls the slipknot tight.

End of the line. For real.

End of the line. For real.

Gareth sends them into a railway car to await their fate, which adds a nice Holocaust-Nazi touch, as does the BS propaganda they’ve posted along the tracks. In retrospect, Terminus’s “Those who arrive, survive” slogan sounds uncomfortably like “Arbeit Macht Frei“, or “Work makes you free”, the phrase wrought into the iron gates of Auschwitz. It appears that Terminus is incredibly well organized and staffed by ruthless folks. Cannibals. Monsters? Of a sort, it seems, and absolutely monster-ish if the Nazi analogy holds. We’ll see how that goes.

Interestingly enough, Gareth apparently doesn’t actually realize he’s reuniting a group, or doesn’t care, or doesn’t have two different “A” group holding cells, because he puts the Rick crew in the A car, where surely he must know he’s also got the guy with the riot gear and the lady with the poncho. Because ahhh, reunion.

So, yeah. Hi.

So, yeah. Hi.

It kills me that Sasha looks so sheepish.

There they are. And here’s where Rick speaks the line that kills me. Once they briefly assess their situation, Rick says, “They’re gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out…(find out what?)…They’re screwing with the wrong people.” ~~~end scene~~~

OK. I know this is taken almost verbatim from an issue of the original comic. But here’s the thing: it SOUNDS like it’s taken from an issue of a comic book. All Rick needs is a cape and he’ll fly his people out of there, amirite? I hate it less a day later; I get that he needed to put forth a call to arms among his team. But I wanted a line that was more real-life sounding and less glib. They just herded him and his friends like rabbits into a death hutch. What’s he got to be so cocky about?

We still have no idea what happened to Beth. And we also don’t know the whereabouts of Tyreese, Carol, and baby Judith, though they were on the Terminus highway. This could be good, it could be bad. There’s a bag of weapons buried in the dirt. And it will be interesting to see if Eugene has the smarts he claims to have and can help them outwit the assuredly clever, manipulative, smooth, lying-to-your-face-like-it’s-his-job Gareth. Or is Eugene just dead weight? He can’t fight; he’s got to do something.

I guess we’ll see in October!

So, to play us out, I’m linking to Mark Knopfler‘s ridiculously appropriate song, “Cannibals”. Click here for the lyrics for those playing at home.

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.

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