The Walking Dead, S5, Ep. 10: Them

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Alert.

And a note: I am out of town right now, so my post about this week’s episode is going to be very short. Which seems right, somehow. 

The one word that kept going through my head during this episode of The Walking Dead?

Sparse.

Bleak, maybe. There were, absolutely, moments of bleak. But they were mostly sparse. The staging was simple and uncomplicated. The script…well, there was a lot of dead space, wasn’t there? Didn’t clog the script up with too many lines, did they? And the characters are worn down to their nubs, with no emotional cushion to speak of, just open nerve.

This episode served to let the viewers know where all the members of Rick Nation are, mentally, before heading into the final six of the season. They’re hungry and in want of water. They look grubby and smelly (more on that in a minute). And they’re exhausted. This episode showed the group overall but focused on a few key players who are, in no particular order…

Maggie. Oh, Maggie. She is angry and grieving. Grieving for the loss of her family, the loss of her world. With Beth gone the only family she has left is Glenn, and it seems like she’s keeping him kind of at a distance. Perhaps she’s thinking, if she puts up a wall between them, then his inevitable death won’t hurt as much? (Hey, even without the zombie apocalypse, death is inevitable.)

Sasha: Is angry and grieving; first Bob died, and now Tyreese is gone. It’s tragedy stacked on top of tragedy. She only wants to poke holes in things and make them die. And it’s making her careless.

Daryl: Sat down and had some feels over Beth. Even started to cry. That sound you heard was the sound of a million vaginas swinging wide open, ready to mate with Sensitive Redneck Man.

Rick: Philosophized. I’m still not sure how I felt about it.

Eugene: Tried to drink a bottle of mystery water that showed up mid-camp (bearing the note, “from a friend”…sure, I trust that). This was two-fold. He was crazy with thirst, yes, but I also thought he did this because he was trying to take one for the team. If the water is poisoned and he dies, well…he sort of owed Rick Nation a big solid, since he lied to them. Abe Ford, subsequently, slapped the water out of his hand, which was also two-fold. On the one hand, Eugene can suffer with thirst like the rest of them. On the other hand, he didn’t want to watch Eugene poison himself and die. It was a way for Abe to tell Eugene he was getting past Eugene’s lie. Nice. Harsh, but nice.

And then, as I was contemplating how dirty and smelly they must be, an impossibly clean guy showed up asking for Rick. I felt like he wandered in from a different set and was, clearly, lost. It was cognitively disconcerting.

Kind of like this.

Kind of like this.

And there you have it.

Tune in next week!

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

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Alert.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wolves not far, the graffiti said.

So...THAT's ominous.

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

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

Image credits:

Dead End

Lizzie and Mika

The Gang’s All Here

Head carving

Wolves Not Far

The Walking Dead, S 5 Ep. 7: Crossed

SPOILERS, yada yada, but probably not really, but you know, I feel compelled to say this. Spoiler alert.

There you have it.

The Walking Dead, Season 5, Episode 7. I’m using other people’s images instead of my fancy “pause and take a picture of the TV” method. Because I feel like it today. And I found one truly fantastic series of images regarding this episode which I need to share. But I’m getting ahead of myself, so…on to the bloggery.

First: I am preparing for Carol‘s death. I’m not happy about it. I don’t like the thought even a little. But she has, kind of, become The Terminator and I suppose her story line is running a little dry. She’s in hospital right now with the Beth captor people (do they have a name? The Dawnians? I mean, “The Grady Memorial Hospital Totalitarians” is such a mouthful….) and Rick Nation is trying to bust her out. I think they’ll get her so far out of there, there will be no coming back.

Waah.

If I were asked to summarize this episode in one sentence, I would say this was the episode wherein people do inexplicable things.

Rick Nation goes to Atlanta on a rescue mission to retrieve Beth and #TeamCarol, which is fine and totally makes sense. But. One would think, in the immediate days after Terminus, this group (who BARELY escaped with their lives) would be inclined to shoot first and ask questions never. I mean, the guy who lived there and is providing inside information is inclined to think an assault will work better. But instead… Fine, Tyreese. I get that he’s all “no, we can be all Zen and groovy, we don’t have to shed blood, we can just create a hostage crisis and make trades.”

Which, you know. OK, FIIIIIIIIINE, Tyreese. But then the Dawnians showed that they were determined to fight. What’s a backwoods country boy like Daryl Dixon to do when his opponent starts shooting/swinging/trying to stuff your head into a melty, napalmed zombie’s mouth?

Meet Daryl Dixon, the new advocate for non-violent resolution.  Image from tv.com

Meet Daryl Dixon, the new advocate for non-violent resolution.
Image from tv.com

Well, of course Daryl–DARYL, the man who had to be held back from running out into the street to stomp the faces off the men who hit Carol with their car, yes, that guy–started reasoning with Rick to not kill the man who just tried to kill him.

WHAT.

I can understand wanting to be a monk in the zombie apocalypse. I can understand there must be an amazing sort of emotional exhaustion that comes with constantly poking holes in living and/or formerly living things. I just don’t think the characters have expressed a solid understanding that now is not the time for emotional latitude. Or lenience.

A genius–GENIUS, I TELL YOU–apparently saw the same WTFery I did with this decision-making process and…well, I don’t know if he created this, but he posted it. Behold, a summary of this The Walking Dead plot point:

*dying* Image from tv.com

*dying*
Image from tv.com

So they took hostages. And trusted the one seemingly reasonable person they encountered and…wait a second. Wasn’t it Rick who said, in a previous episode (and I quote):

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.

Unless, of course, it’s this cop guy from the enemy camp, the place you know is holding your friends, who maintains a position of abusive power. No, go ahead, hang on his every word, because he’s certainly going to give you the straight dope.

Hey, Diogenes, I'm the honest man of your dreams. Trust me. Image from dailymail.co.uk

Hey, Diogenes, I’m the honest man of your dreams. Trust me.
Image from dailymail.co.uk

Duh.

I can almost forgive Sasha for letting her guard down around the cop (conveniently, named Bob) because she’s an emotional wreck right now, but then again…THIS IS THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE. You don’t have the luxury to succumb to emotional feelies. Get over yourself.

And…Father Gabriel…WHAT. In the hell. He can’t handle being around the merciless undead, he doesn’t know the first thing about fighting back against them. He throws up when he’s face to face with a walker, or squinches his eyes and waits for a zombie to tear into him. He kind of sounds like this in the presence of anything even the least bit unsavory.

And yet, he thought it would be a good idea to…dig himself out of the church through the floorboards and dash out into the Georgia wilderness? WHAT.

It kind of served him right to find the remains of Bob‘s half-eaten leg, still on the grate over the fire. Take THAT, Mr. Poorly-Formed Escape Plan!

Though in all seriousness, I think the good…bad…inexplicable Father is screwed since stepping on that nail.

Ooh, that's gotta smart.  Image from dailymail.co.uk

Padre, that stigmata’s really gonna leave a mark.
Image from dailymail.co.uk

As for Abe Ford & Co., they were the only ones whose actions made even the slightest sense. Abe is kind of losing his mind since Eugene told him he wasn’t the Savior of the World. Abe is a mess, and Eugene is a drooling mess, and the rest of the group are defensive messes, but you know, at least they’re understandable.

Next week: mid-season finale! I will prepare myself to bid Carol adieu, no matter how much it hurts.

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 14: The Grove

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

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

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

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. 8: Too Far Gone

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

Here’s what I’m surprised about from last night’s The Walking Dead mid-season finale.

  • I’m kind of surprised Daryl wasn’t angrier about Carol‘s banishment.
  • I’m sorry Hershel died.
  • Rick lost another shirt.
  • I didn’t expect who actually pulled the trigger and put a bullet in The Governor‘s brain.

Ummmm…

  • Oh, and I hope they’re just messing with us and somehow, someone got baby Judith to safety before a zombie (or whoever) had the bad form to bleed all over her car seat.
It's too tidily placed on the ground for her to have been ripped out of here by zombie hordes.  Li'l Ass Kicker is just fine.

Boo.  But!  It’s too tidily placed on the ground for Judith to have been ripped out of here by zombie hordes. Li’l Ass Kicker is just fine.

Here’s what I’m not surprised about:

  • Everything else.  Mostly.

The prison was getting claustrophobic and that story arc was playing itself well out, so I’m not terribly sorry or shocked to see it go.  In the episode where Rick banishes Carol, I was relieved to be in a town and see a setting that wasn’t just gridded catwalks and cement. Besides, as a storyline…what do you do with the prison now?  The superflu has passed and they’re not all spewing blood on one another in quarantined cell blocks.  As much as it pains me to say this, good TV is not made by domestic tranquility.  Not even with relentless hordes of zombies roaming the outsides.  Oh, look, the walls held them back.  Oh, look.  The walls held them back again.  Here, son, have a bean.  And?

So what have we got, now that the mid-season finale has come and gone and the prison has been blown to smithereens by The Governor?

Daryl, in one of the greatest examples of how to manipulate the available resources in the postapocalyptic world–sticks a zombie on his crossbow bolt for use as a “human” shield, fights through to the goddamn tank, and disables it with a grenade.  BOOM.  He’s out in the world with Beth, Hershel’s insipidly boring daughter.  I mean, I don’t want to see Beth die simply because people are an increasingly rare commodity in the zombie world, but damn, I have yet to figure out her point.

I'm already bored talking about Beth. Let's watch Daryl take a zombie for a crossbow bolt cruise.

I’m already bored talking about Beth. Let’s watch Daryl take a zombie for a cruise down crossbow bolt highway.

Maggie‘s stuck with Sasha, recovering from the flu and Bob Stookey, who we’ve learned from past episodes has the uncomfortable habit of being the lone survivor of the bands he’s traveled with.  Here’s hoping Maggie shanks him before his bad luck rubs off on her.

Glenn, still weak with flu, is on a school bus full of children and other sickly types, driving who knows where.  I say we put the PA from an old ice cream truck on the bus, let the music rip to draw the zombies to it and call it a day, because that thing is rolling walker bait.

There’s a pack of child soldiers that Carol created, headed by the incomparable Miss Lizzie, running around in the woods.  They pretty effectively saved Tyreese‘s bacon after he ended up diving into a spot from which he couldn’t retreat during the invasion.  And by “saved” I mean, they shot two people point-blank in their heads so he could get away.

I call you "Killer" 'cause you *slay* me.

I call you “Killer” ’cause you *slay* me.

I like that you can see my Christmas lights twinkling in the upper left hand corner of the screen.

p.s. In the five seconds of this episode that didn’t deal with The Governor’s invasion of the prison, there was a nod to the “who’s messing with the rats” story arc, which I assume will show up again in the second half of the season.  I still say it’s Lizzie.  Remember when she played toesies in Glenn’s blood and sputum?  Ew.  Girlfriend’s got issues.  Hence when Tyreese found the board with a disemboweled rat nailed to it, it begs the question: can it possibly be the work of anyone other than toesie girl?

As for Tyreese, who knows where he is?

So sorry, Hershel.  I knew he was history when they handed The Governor Michonne‘s sword, and Hershel was closest by.  Because you don’t hand a lunatic a katana and not expect him to swing for the bleachers.

Ow.

Ow.

RIP poor little Meghan Chambler/Chalmers/Whatever, who was toast as soon as The Governor, that one-eyed Master of Disaster, The Captain of Crazytown, El Jefe de Horror, the Cyclops of Chaos, promised he would take care of her.  Because everything he touched turned to shit, that’s why.  There’s no reason she should be any different.

Just wait out the raid here, he said. You'll be safe here, he said.

Just wait out the raid here, he said. You’ll be safe here, he said.

Meghan’s mom, Lilly, is off on her own (more on her in a minute), as is her aunt Tara, who drops the mic on The Governor’s militia with perhaps one of the greatest “Fuck this, I’m out” faces in the history of TV.

Yeah, that's a whole lot of nope.

Yeah, that’s a whole lot of nope.

Which was smart of her, since pretty much everyone else who was fighting on the behalf of The Cyclops of Chaos ended up as zombie food.

And so. To The Governor.

Brian Heriot didn’t last long.  The kinder-gentler, yearning for personal reform Governor from…was it only two episodes ago?… Done.  Finito.  I think it’s safe to say the title of this episode pertains directly to The Gov.  His pathos and paranoia and love of power ran too deep for him to stop before hitting absolute bottom.  Kind of like Richard III, with zombies.

Richard III The Governor arrives at Bosworth Field the gates of the prison and draws forth a final battle, where he nearly strangles Rick to death but instead, is stabbed through the chest by “ooh, he so had this coming” Michonne, who’s anti-Gov laundry list looks something like this (and is in no way complete):

  • Remember when you confiscated my sword and wouldn’t let me and Andrea leave?
  • Remember when you kept your zombie daughter in a secret closet?
  • Remember the creepy-ass walker head aquariums you kept in your office, next to your zombie daughter?
  • Remember when you assigned Merle to kill me?
  • Remember when you almost killed Glenn and Maggie?
  • Remember when you tried to make Merle and Daryl duke it out gladiator style?
  • Sorry ’bout the eye.
  • Andrea, Andrea, Andrea.

Suffice to say…

That's gonna leave a mark.

That’s gonna leave a mark.

Michonne left him to suffer in the field, though.  She didn’t finish the job, and left that to the hordes of walkers closing in on him.  Which, in its own way, has got to sting.  Michonne has taken off for parts unknown, and it’s my hope that she’s the one who got her hands on baby Judith and is off in the woods with her somewhere.  Baby tucked in a rudimentary sling strapped to her chest, katana on her back.  Dig it.  You CAN have it all–a career and a baby.

So at the end of the day, Meghan’s mother Lilly dealt The Governor his death blow.  Covered in bits of Meghan–and in rage and betrayal–she did what nobody else was able to do before and bring an end to Richard III the Captain of Crazytown.

If you're looking for Richard, you'll find him crushed under the bootheel of the ravenous masses.

Symbolism much?  If you’re looking for Richard The Governor, you’ll find him crushed under the boot heel of the ravenous masses.

And a word about Rick: of course he didn’t die in this fight with El Jefe de Horror.  Rick’s is the story arc upon which this entire series hinges.  He opened the show in the hospital, vulnerable and alone in his tacky hospital gown.  It’s his journey we’re watching, though other characters come and go along the way and divert us.  But expecting that Rick might die is like expecting Harry Potter to die.  Preposterous.  You don’t kill The Boy Who Lived.  (Note to writers: I am not issuing a challenge!)

So now Rick’s prison people are scattered to the four winds.  Rick is alive, but hurt, but has son Carl the sharpshooter with him.  At least he won’t have to worry about running into The Governor any more.  And he’ll need yet another shirt.

RIP, Rick's second shirt. We hardly knew ye.

RIP, Rick’s second shirt. We hardly knew ye.

As for what’s going to happen…I have no clue.  Since the writers have gone all metaphorically insane-regal, I’m half hoping they’ll run into mad Queen Carol, who’s become a post-apocalyptic Elizabeth Bathory and bathes in the blood of her enemies.  And Lizzie will, of course, have found her, and will be her handmaiden from hell.  Other than that…who knows?  We’ll see in February.  Just keep ’em coming, AMC.  Thanks.

Here’s a dedication to The Governor, from me.  Presenting The Wonder Stuff singing “Unbearable“.

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