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. 7: Dead Weight, Indeed

SPOILERS!

Well, that didn’t take long.

Last week’s episode of The Walking Dead saw the return of The Governor, though he was a changed man.  A broken man.  Alone, and it seems the world is a better place when he’s on his own.  But of course, he’s not on his own.  What fun would that be?

Nor is he sane.  At least, not in the technical sense of the term, though I’m sure he adheres fairly well with his own internal logic.

Most of the time.

Look…I’m not saying The Governor has a split personality (OK, fine, a “dissociative identity disorder“), I’m just saying that Gollum had his shit more together than The Gov, and Gollum was driven mad by a magically prolonged life–extraordinarily prolonged–in the company of an object cursed by the greatest evil his world had ever known.

Anyway.

This week, The Governor returns in fine style, though with a little bit of a twist.  He’s got an internal war going on.  He kills Martinez, the head of the camp they come to who agrees–begrudgingly–to take The Gov and his ersatz family in, after Martinez drunkenly admits that he can’t guarantee to the thousandth percent that he can keep his camp safe (because–logic talking here!–nobody can admit that.  Even The Governor lost Woodbury).  While he’s hitting Martinez in the head with a golf club, or dragging him across the ground, or lowering him head-first into the zombie pit, The Governor keeps saying, “I don’t want to, I don’t want to.”

That'll learn Martinez to speak the truth.

That’ll learn Martinez to speak the truth.

Though it sure seems like he wants to.  At least he has the decency to have a psychotic crying jag about the murder, afterwards.  Do note that Martinez almost looks like he’s being crucified.  That’s because this week’s episode was pretty heavily dosed with metaphor and foreshadowing.  In the very first scene, The Governor is doing some laundry while playing chess with (and perhaps inadvertently teaching strategy to) his newly-acquired “daughter” Meghan (whose last name, now, is apparently “Chambler”, though I would swear last week the same source said “Chalmers”, but whatever).  Then the camera pans back and just before the scene cuts out to the opening credits, we see this:

Nothing warms the cockles of my heart like the sight of a madman and his tank.

Nothing warms the cockles of my heart quite like the sight of a madman and his tank.

I’ve already talked about the concept of “Chekhov’s gun” once before, theorizing that you don’t introduce the idea that little kids are weirdly identifying with zombies without having that plot device matter.  If I’ve applied it to the introduction of some kids’ behavior, I will certainly apply it to the introduction of a tank to a survivor’s camp.  So, foreshadowing: the tank?  Will be used.  In all likelihood against Rick’s group at the prison.

While out on a supply run, The Governor and Martinez and Martinez’s two main henchmen, Pete and Mitch, come across a house with zombies and disturbing, chompy, unattached heads (and make no mistake, the insistently bitey detached heads are pure nightmare fuel).  They clear the house and then do a little bit of a raid, and sit on the couch with some scavenged beers for a few moments of manly relaxation.  Pete–who declares himself the de facto leader of the group after Martinez is murdered–happens to have a book in his hands at this time.

Nothing like a little light reading after a zombie raid, eh, Pete?

Well, helloooo, Duke of Clarence.

Pete’s reading Richard III.  And The Governor is the only physically deformed power junkie in the room.  The set designers could have had Pete read any other book in all the world but they chose a play about a murderous, power-hungry tyrant.  Don’t think they didn’t know what sort of subtle message they were sending.  This?  Is NOT going to end well for The Governor.  And certainly not for Pete, since the Duke of Clarence is Richard III’s one obstacle between himself and the throne.  And, as Clarence is dispatched to make way for Richard’s ascension to power, so is Pete.

Now, Pete, is the winter of your discontent.

Now, Pete, is the winter of your discontent.

Though, it’s a safe bet that the Duke of Clarence’s zombie body was never chained by the ankle and thrown into a lake for post-mortem observation.

Thanks to a gristly zombie kill at the end of the show, we see how easy it can be to shred through zombie flesh.  And Pete is only attached by his ankle, which can be a weak link as soft, water-swollen flesh chafes off.  Will we see a return of zombie Pete?

Back to The Governor’s schizoid internal war…once he kills Martinez (repeating all the while, “I don’t want to”), he realizes he’s sliding back down into darkness, and there’s still that tiny part of him that doesn’t want to be evil, that wants to be Brian Heriot, the man whose name he stole and to whom people unreservedly declared their love.  He tells Lily that there’s trouble coming, headed straight for the camp, and he and Lily have to pack up the entire Chambler clan and go.

Of course, he neglects to mention that the danger comes from him.

So they get in a car, they go.  I’m not surprised; why shouldn’t they trust him?  And they drive, and drive, into the night.  Until…

Ooh, don't you just hate when that happens?

Ooh, don’t you just hate when that happens?

They encounter a horde of zombies who are literally stuck.  Mired, if you will, in some random mudpit in the side of the road.  Metaphor!  The zombies are mired in their own dismal, hopeless drama, as The Governor is mired in his.  No fresh starts.  No exit.  Forever.

(Ha! Pete should have been reading No Exit instead!  Though that would have given away too much, I fear.)

I don’t really have predictions about what’s going to happen next week, other than the shit shall hit the fan.  I mean, of course he’s going after the prison; we knew that would happen as soon as he stepped back into the scene.  I still don’t entirely trust the Chambler family.  Clearly they weren’t bait set by Martinez, but I don’t believe them and their naivete.  We’ll see.  And if Richard III–I mean, The Governor–starts yelling about how he’d trade his kingdom for a horse, for the love of all that is good and holy, do not give him one.

The Walking Dead, S 4 Ep 2: WTF?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then from the first episode…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Awww, bonding time + looted tchotchkes.

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

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

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

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

That is all.

No more posts.