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.

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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 14: The Grove

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Carol? I haz a sad.

Carol? I haz a sad.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey, Tyreese. Funny story...

Hey, Tyreese. Funny story…

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

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

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

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

If there were zombies in Mordor...

If there were zombies in Mordor…

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

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

#teamcarol #4eva!

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

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

The Walking Dead S4 Ep 13: Alone

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In the movie Grand Hotel, femme fatale Greta Garbo utters the famous line, “I want to be alone.”

Go about 30 seconds in, you’ll see.

Clearly, Grand Hotel is not a safe house in the middle of a zombie apocalypse, because ain’t nobody wants to be alone in this world.

Again, this episode focuses on only two story arcs; that of Bob/Sasha/Maggie, and of Beth/Daryl, as the split group struggles to survive and/or reassemble in their flight post-prison. A few things: 1) I understand the desire viewers have expressed to the show getting back to the show, especially since there are only a few episodes left in this season. And 2) To those of you still bitching about them not deciding upon a pre-arranged meeting spot…they didn’t, OK? They just didn’t. I get mad that they don’t kill every zombie they come across (or every person they know will become a zombie), because it doesn’t make any sense to me, but they just don’t, and I know I have to get over it. So I get over it.

Moving on.

The show opens with a flashback montage of Bob, walking…walking…walking. Trudging, really, since he’s really only walking through the woods with no real sense of purpose, and I love when the show parallels people with zombies. What is he really, in this sequence, other than an overeducated zombie with a developed concept of “I”?  He doesn’t talk, and when he does eventually use his voice it sounds painful to him, like he barely remembers it. He doesn’t have real emotions. He just…shambles, holing himself up in caves, or hiding out on top of trailers, drinking cough medicine and marking time until he dies.

It's like if Eeyore were real, had thumbs, and survived the zombie apocalypse.

It’s like if Eeyore were real, had thumbs, and survived the zombie apocalypse. Thanks for noticing me.

Until he encounters Daryl and Glenn, who give him the zombie apocalypse version of the “What is your name? What is your quest? What is your favorite color?” quiz, then invite him to come back to the prison with them. He happily agrees. Because if he’s with them then he’s no longer alone, and his voice doesn’t sound like a stranger’s.

The Bob/Sasha/Maggie combined story arc begins with the visually terrific battle in the fog, as the three of them group together and fight zombies back to back to back.  It’s effective at showing how survival chances rise when you’ve got a team effort going.  

I got this. No, I got this. No, WE got this.

I got this. No, I got this. No, WE got this.

The impulse to split comes first from Maggie, and then from Sasha, both of whom choose to be alone for different reasons. Maggie wants to find Glenn, becomes convinced she can find him at Terminus, gets a dissenting opinion from Sasha about going there and doesn’t want to ask her friends to do something they don’t want to do. So, she takes off on her own. Which, OK, whatever, and she quickly realizes she doesn’t want to and/or can’t do it alone, so she waits for Bob and Sasha to catch up.  Bob wants to find Maggie; Sasha wants to find a nice spot and start a new homestead. In an attempt to manipulate Sasha, Bob actually says, “I’m gonna try something here” and leans in to give Sasha a “If you stick around, you get some more of this sugar” kiss. Which Sasha returns in exactly the same manner. Neither of them stay with the other.

Look at her face. She's like: What else you got?  Poor Bob.

Look at her post-kiss face. She’s like: What else you got? Poor Bob.

Romance is dead in the zombie apocalypse. OR, Bob’s got absolutely no game.

Sasha starts to set up house in an abandoned building, but–in a beautifully filmed moment, in a stark and cavernous apartment that’s silent but for the sound of the wind–realizes she doesn’t want to be alone, either.

Now what?

Now what?

So she meets up with Maggie, they do some more back-to-back killing to emphasize how much they need one another to survive, and head off down the tracks to find Bob and then Terminus. Yay, happy family!

Makin' up a mess of fun.

Makin’ up a mess of fun.

A note to filmmakers: when Sasha was alone in that room and there was no sound except for the wind…it frigging worked.  Stop bombarding us with extraneous sound! Explore the profound ability of silence to convey setting and emotion. It doesn’t all have to be moody chicks with acoustic guitars playing along in the background.

Now. Beth and Daryl.

Once upon a time, Hansel and Gretel Beth and Daryl were walking through the woods, and they came upon a funeral parlor in the middle of nowhere.

Look! It's just on the other side of that graveyard! Nothing bad happens in a graveyard, right?

Look! It’s just on the other side of that graveyard! Nothing bad happens in a graveyard, right?

The funeral parlor looked nice and clean, and they even remarked that someone had been caring for it.  There was food in the pantry, nicely stacked by someone who clearly has OCD and aligned the labels.  Peanut butter, pig’s knuckles, all things that can stay for weeks/months/years. These items are probably alphabetized by shelf, too.  Everything is clean and sealed, without a crack or dent or a speck of dust.

I can't be the only one who finds this worrisome, can I?

I can’t be the only one who finds this worrisome, can I?

Seriously?  You thought this was OK?  Here are the problems I see with this, in no particular order:

  1. You’ve already acknowledged that someone has taken care of this place; why wouldn’t you think they’d come back?
  2. If they did come back, what makes you think they’d be open to sharing space?
  3. It’s a funeral home! When does anything good ever happen in a funeral home? Did you never watch TV pre-apocalypse?
  4. They went to the house because Beth turned her heel in an animal trap set nearby. Is it realistic to think that with zombies shambling all over the Georgia woods for the past year, no member of the wretched undead would have already triggered that trap?
Careful! It's a trap! (No, really.)

Careful! It’s a trap! (No, really.)

To sum up: Oh, hey, it’s too bad that you’ve been hobbled in an animal trap. Boy, you sure would have been stuck if you’d been out here alone. Look! There’s a nearby house we can stay in! And it’s got food inside! And it’s nice and tidy, except for the lovingly, slightly fetishized embalmed zombie bodies! Let’s. Just. Stay.

Nice...uhhhh...suit. When do we move in?

Nice…uhhhh…suit. When do we move in?

Not.

The only thing that would have been more obvious that this was a bad setup would be if the house were made out of candy.

Since I’m rocking the Hansel and Gretel parallel, my bet is that Daryl and Beth have just encountered The Hunters, a group of cannibals that have been trolling around the comic book and are, apparently, exceptionally evil. The people who took Beth drove off in a pimped out Cadillac with a crucifix on the back window, so maybe they’re some weird religious group instead of cannibals. Or maybe it’s cannibals simply using the car that came with their commandeered funeral home. We have yet to see.

Check out my hoopty, y'all.

Check out my cross-emblazoned hoopty, y’all.

(For the people who have said that Beth drove herself off in the car–no. Analysis fail. She dropped all her stuff, there was no reason for that.)  But I feel like Daryl and Beth were led to the house thanks to the trap (not even metaphorically; I mean really, it was a trap) and then lulled into a false sense of security. I also think the mangy dog that visited the door, and then then subsequent zombies Daryl thought were the dog, were deployed by the same people who took Beth. I’ll explain.

OH MY GOD! THE GUESTS ARE HERE AND THEY WANT PIG'S KNUCKLES!

OH MY GOD! THE GUESTS ARE HERE AND THEY WANT PIG’S KNUCKLES!

The first time the dog showed up, the alarm cans clanked together, so Daryl went to see what it was. Oh, look, it’s a harmless mangy dog!  Later, we heard the cans tinkle together and the dog bark, so Daryl assumed it was mangy dog again.  Only no.  Zombies!  These events happen too close together; coincidence? I think not. Besides, if you’re going to set up a non-candy cannibal meat ensnarement house in the woods, why would you be above using mangy dogs and zombies to your nefarious advantage?

Daryl tries to track Beth in the car for as long as possible but falls down at the crossroads, alone and in despair.

Last one standing, my ass.

Last one standing, my ass.

That’s where he meets “Joe” and Co., the very same folks who invaded Rick’s nice home and took it over. You can see the man who was nearly choked to death for the privilege of sleeping in the bed, right here.

I'd know that bandanna anywhere.

I’d know that bandana anywhere.

Remember: this guy saw Rick hiding under the bed and can ID him (speculation about the brain’s capacity to form memories under traumatic conditions–like nearly being choked to death by your gang leader–aside), and Rick has made enemies of these people since he killed a fellow gang member in the bathroom and let him go all zombie in the house.  I don’t think they’re the same people who took Beth.  I don’t think they have such a swank car. That’s why they’re walking. Daryl–because he is a badass–badasses himself into the gang, because it’s better than being killed by them. With a group like this (i.e., the kind of group who would strangle one another nearly to death for the right to nap in one specific bed, whose leader would say, “Why hurt yourself when you can hurt other people?”), he’s going to have to kill his way out.  It’s not as though they’ll be willing to just let Daryl go. As though they’d say, Oh, OK, 17th-level ranger with a +5 vorpal crossbow of bludgeoning, you want us to let you wander off into the woods where we can’t keep an eye on you?  And possibly alert your own people to us, causing us strife and mayhem that we haven’t planned?  No problem!

Hey, Joe. I heard you shot your woman down. And that other guy. And then there were those five people down the road a piece.

Hey, Joe. I heard you shot your woman down. And that other guy. And then there were those five people down the road a piece. Oh! And those campers.

Not.

Oh, and Glenn has seen signs for Terminus and it looks like he’s heading that way.  Finally.

Of course, I have a head cold so I may be completely out of my mind.  I’m going back to bed.

Next week: Tyreese hands baby Judith back to Lizzie, and we all know how that’s gone before, and creepy yet nostalgic scratchy old-timey music plays on a Victrola while someone (I hate to harp on Lizzie, but she is our resident psycho) plays Keep Away from the Zombie.  Like, someone took the movie Fido a little too seriously.

Here’s a dedication to Daryl and his new-found crew.

The Walking Dead S4 Ep 12: Still

SPOILERS!  YATA YATA, ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE, OR SOMETHING LIKE THAT.

BECAUSE SPOILERS. I MEAN IT.

MOVING ON NOW.

Farewell, dear Whatsherface. We hardly knew ye.

I mean, seriously, we hardly knew ye, which is why I couldn’t remember this character’s name and called her Whatsherface most of the time. So. Farewell, Whatsherface and hello, Beth.

Finally.

And yes, I remember when they were still on the farm and she had her tragic teen moment and threatened to kill herself (and Andrea was all, hey, man, let her go, to Beth’s appropriately freaked and angry family, which really helped solidify Andrea as the character whose behavior you should model the exact opposite of, but I digress).  But for the most part, through this series, Beth was the country mouse who somehow, mysteriously, managed to survive the zombie apocalypse while serving as little more than a human baby sling for much of the past two seasons.

“Still” was the episode in which Beth moves from anonymous, diary-wishing teen to rebellious, moonshine drinking teen ready to give the middle finger to the world around her.  Which was pretty much how I spent most of my teen and young adult years, and I didn’t even have to fight zombies to fuel my inner rage.

Is that a crate full of moonshine in your pocket or are you just happy to...oh, I see. It's a crate full of moonshine.

Is that a crate full of moonshine in your pocket or are you just happy to…oh, right, I see. It’s a crate full of moonshine.

Plus you learn stuff about Daryl.

This episode didn’t move the overall narrative of the show along much, since it focused on Beth and Daryl’s character development. A point to remember: neither character is found in the original comic, so their backstories are being written as the TV series’ writers go.  Daryl quickly became a fan favorite, so it’s not surprising they had him do more stuff, more quickly, than Beth did. I mean, how could he not be a great character to develop? {{{Nerd alert}}} This guy’s like a 17th-level ranger with a +5 crossbow. That’s a fun character to write when there’s mayhem all around.  But Beth? Not so much. Hershel did have other children in the original, but none were Beth and so? She is a wide-open character, who has been more or less shuffled to the backburner, until now.

So Beth and Daryl are on the run, and it seems like these two have been running non-stop since the prison went down. And they’re running, and hiding in the trunk of a car, and running. Then Beth decides she’s done running–at least for the time being–and wants a drink.  They come across a country club (“Golfers like to booze it up, right?”) (Yes, Beth. Yes they do.), which turns out to be the scene of a weird and socioeconomically-fueled slaughter.

A bad day at the 19th hole.

A bad day at the 19th hole.

Wealthy club members (designated by their clothing, jewelry and signs on their bodies like, “Rich Bitch”) were hung and left to turn zombie in their nooses or, simply, slaughtered in their pearls and golf sweaters.  Why were they gathered in a country club in the first place, its windows shrouded with newspapers to try and shield themselves from the zombies’ notice, decked out in nice clothes and with purses stuffed with money?  It seems they were hiding out. It’s as though they’d gathered for some postmodern Masque of the Red Death to try and wait out the apocalypse. But there’s no hiding and in the end, all their money only made for some great kindling.

FIRE! FIRE FIRE FIRE!

FIRE! FIRE FIRE FIRE!

And if you don’t know Masque of the Red Death, consider yourself culturally illiterate until you’ve read it. I’ll make it easy for you: click here. Read. Get back to me. Moving on.

A word about that “Welcome to the Dogtrot” bit of graffiti…a dogtrot is a type of house found primarily through the eastern and southern US, but has been seen as far west as New Mexico.  It’s generally a cabin with a wide open breezeway through the middle (where the dog can trot through, get it?), and the widely ventilated breezeway allows buildings to stay cooler.  Dogtrots in Georgia are mainly found in forested, rural (read: poorer) areas.  While the graffiti gives us no indication, specifically, who commandeered the country club, writing “Welcome to the Dogtrot” guarantees you that it was a bunch of backwoods Have-Nots who finally saw a chance to get the upper hand on the Haves.

Gang name? Social statement? I assume we'll find out more.

Gang name? Social statement? I assume we’ll find out more.

After seeing that, I’d want a drink, too.

While Beth deciding she wants a drink seems like a terrible idea, I also get the impulse. Poor kid. She can’t…go out clubbing and be a woo girl and go parking with boys and go to her prom. She can’t do any of the stupid shit we all do along the way to adulthood. She can only keep running from the ravenously undead while getting increasingly proficient with sticking a hunting knife into their skulls so, dammit, she will do at least one stupid, irresponsible, angry teen thing, and get defiantly drunk.  Daryl, of course, knows where he can get some top-quality hooch.  He takes Beth to the ramshackle, standard-issue redneck shack down the road apiece, the one he says is essentially a replica of the house he grew up in, complete with the stash of moonshine and the hot pink lady’s bust ashtray (filled to the cupline with extinguished cigarettes).

Shmexy. Set dressers, note: These cigarettes have clearly never been smoked. The filters are all cleaned, and they're all evenly stubbed out. Reality: They'd be smoked to their filter ends and then crushed.

Set dressers, take note: These cigarettes have clearly never been smoked. The filters are all clean, and they’re all evenly stubbed out an inch or more from the filter. Reality: They’d be smoked to their filter ends and then crushed.

I’ll spare you the details of the drinking game they played, because of course they played a drinking game, because in a non-apocalyptic world Beth would be a budding college frosh woo girl who does body shots off her roommates.  But we learn this:

We learn that Daryl is a mean drunk, but when he’s mean and lashing out he still manages to be vulnerable. He talks–yells, really–about how he nearly died because of his stupid brother and his stupid brother’s stupid friend, and reflects (angrily) on the pointlessness and casual violence of his former everyday life.  He takes a zombie apart piece by piece while pushing Beth around, “teaching” her to shoot a crossbow.  And he talks about how he feels responsible for Hershel’s head getting cut off, even though that’s silly because it’s not as though anyone could have expected to formulate an anti-tank plan.

Once I stop being an asshole I'll show you my sensitive side. Really.

Once I stop being an asshole I’ll show you my sensitive side. Really.

We learn that before the apocalypse, he was little more than a drifter, tagging along after his brother.  “I was nothing…nobody,” he says, and it was only after the start of the zombie apocalypse that he started to become his own person, choose his own path, and live according to his own set of inner decency, which could only have been trampled on by absolutely total dick brother Merle.

We learn that Beth has a taste for fire.  The episode starts with her building a fire in their makeshift camp in the forest and ends with her helping Daryl burn down the house that symbolized, for him, his empty, pre-apocalyptic life.  Because fire = awesome.  Maybe she’ll team up with Lizzie and start a smoked-meats business.  They can do bunnies, rats, the occasional snake…

FIRE FIRE FIRE!

FIRE FIRE FIRE!

We learn that Daryl really doesn’t want to be alone. When drunk Beth tells him he’ll be the last one standing, he doesn’t seem to find anything flattering about that idea.

And, of course, there’s the finger scene, which was a strangely heartwarming way to end the show. I’m going to imagine episodes of The Brady Bunch ending with the house on fire, the entire family gathered around to give it the finger. Sigh. Doesn’t it just make you feel good?

This is the second Brady Bunch/Walking Dead joke I've made. What's wrong with me?

This is the second Brady Bunch/Walking Dead joke I’ve made. What’s wrong with me?

So. They’re friends and a team and Beth has grown up a little while Daryl has let down his defenses just a smidge around Beth. I’m sure that bets are being made about how quickly the two of them will end up in bed together. I won’t be surprised. The episode I’ll be waiting for after that is when they encounter Carol again, and Carol and her child army purposely hunt down her romantic rival.  Because there’s nothing like hunting human for sport.

Next week:  Foggy zombie thrills in a graveyard!

Let Uncle Dave Macon play you out of this week’s episode, asking you to carve that possum, carve him to the heart.

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.

The Walking Dead, S4 Ep 10: Inmates

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

There you have it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So long, wishes!

So long, wishes!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hey, lady, could you get the door?

Hey, lady, could you get the door?

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

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

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

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

How on Earth is Glenn still at the prison?

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

Zombie Mayhem Suit. Nom Access: Denied!

Zombie Mayhem Suit. Nom Access: Denied!

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

See why he needs you, Tara?

Then we meet this guy. This fucking guy.

20140217_164417

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

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

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

Sad bunnies. Crazy child. Deranged future.

Sad bunnies. Crazy child. Deranged future.

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

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

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