Never let it be said that the zombie apocalypse is going out of vogue, as it now seems that The Walking Dead has some competition. It’s called Z Nation – a show that premiered on Sept 12th on the SyFy channel – and which takes a similar, but altogether different approach for dealing with the zombie pandemic. Whereas the former is dark in tone and the characters seem to lurch from one tragedy to the next, this new series is all about zombie smashing!
As creator Karl Schaefer said of his creation, comparing it to its immediate rival:
If you’re going to go through the apocalypse, would you rather be with the people onThe Walking Dead, who are always kind of miserable and not having any fun, or our guys that are out to go kick some zombie ass?
I know my answer, and I have to say I’m a little peeved as well as impressed. Kicking zombie ass was what my series Whiskey Delta was supposed to be about! In fact, reviewers of that series have said how much they like a story where, for once, the military isn’t totally incompetent and knows how to deal with the infected and the undead hordes. Man, I haven’t felt this ripped-off since J J Abrams’ Revolution first aired!
But enough about my half-assed grievances. As with The Walking Dead, World War Z, and a slew of other zombie franchises, the storyline revolves around a motley group of survivors who have come together in the aftermath of the collapse of civil order. In addition, the zombie concept is based on a virus that takes people over and reanimates their bodies once they die. But alas, there’s a big twist, which you will see in the trailer below.
Z Nation debuted to 1.6 million views for its premiere on Friday, September 12th, which is fairly modest for a Syfy drama series. But the network pointed out that this is a record for an acquired show produced by an outside party (Sharkado production company The Asylum made ZNation), and that noted more viewers watched Z Nation than the most recent telecasts of The Leftovers on HBO, Teen Wolf on MTV and Doctor Who on BBCA.
And interestingly enough, those ratings were comparable to the premier of The Walking Dead‘s fourth season fall premier, provided you add a decimal point in there. Yes, in a strange case of convergence, the WD episode “30 Days Without an Accident” garnered a total of some 16 million viewers, beating out the 2014 Winter Olympics AND the Beatles TV movie entitled The Beatles: The Night That Changed America.
So yes, it’s got some catchup work to do if it wants to be a contender for the top spot, but it’s really just getting started. Suffice it to say, I will be watching this show from now on! Check out the trailer and see if you agree:
It’s finally back! As promised, the Walking Dead has returned from its mid-season hiatus to bring us new episodes and some closure to what has already been a tumultuous and climactic season. I was a bit late in catching up with the episode this week, what with work and all. But today, I finally made some time to watch the episode, get caught up, and getting down to giving it its rightful review.
Picking up where the last season left off, we are presented with the continuance of the story’s two main threads. In one, the town of Woodbury is up in arms in the wake of the attack by Rick, Michonne and his people as they attempted to rescue Glenn and Maggie. At the same time, they lost Daryl in the heat of battle, who was captured and brought face to face with his brother Merle. Not the best of circumstances for a reunion, but what can you do?
Meanwhile, over at the prison, everyone is a little on edge due to the arrival of a new group of people led by a man named Tyreese and a woman named Sasha. Having been put through the grinder themselves, they are able to understand that they must be patient and respect the prison camps rules. However, trust does not come easily in this world anymore, and as we’ve seen in the past, new arrivals always come the chance for renewed infighting.
So here’s what happened this week!
The Suicide King: The episode opens in Woodbury, with a close up of the Governor’s face as he stares angrily at Daryl and Merle with his one good eye. He orders them to fight to the death, over Andrea’s desperate pleas that he let them go. But the town has spoken, and Merle attacks his brother, stating he will do what he has to to prove his loyalty. The fight is on, but the Governor quickly orders that some Walkers be tossed in as well, and not the toothless kind from the gladiator fights!
However, it seems Merle has a plan. Standing back to back, they start fighting with the Walkers hand to hand. And within seconds, gunfire erupts as Maggie and Rick show up to save them. While Maggie starts sniping from the gallery. Rick tosses in a smoke grenade to cover their escape. Making their way through the town wall, they fight off some more Walkers and head for the forest. As they escape, a Walker notices the hole in the fence and starts peering inside…
After meeting up with the rest of their group, tempers flare as Michonne and Glenn noticed that Merle is with them. Naturally, Merle can’t seem to keep his mouth shut and Rick is forced to knock him out so they can discuss what to do about him in private. After coming to no agreement, Daryle decides to take his chances with his brother rather than turn his back on him.
Rick let him go and tells Michonne she is to leave too once they get back and she gets herself checked out. None of this sits well with Glenn, who takes his frustrations out by stomping in the head of a Walker they come across while searching for another vehicle. He then lets loose on Rick for letting Daryl go, and for letting Maggie go back with him to save him when it should have been him. Maggie interrupts, not wanting what happened to her to be aired just yet, and tells them to head home.
Back at the prison, Tyreese and his crew begin to bond with the others. Hershel tends to Allen’s injuries while they share stories about their trials. Naturally, they are surprised to see a baby, and explain how they originally came from Jacksonville and found each other along the way. Arrangements are also made to bury one of their dead, but of course Hershel tells them not to get too comfortable since Rick and the others will be returning soon.
Naturally, this leads Ben and Allen, the other members of the group, to suggest that they take matters into their own hands. They way they see it, they could easily take out the current prison population before Rick and the others return, a move which Tyreese and Sasha are vehemently opposed to. For the time being, at least, he is determined to earn the trust of the prison camp, whom he believes are good people.
At Woodbury, pandemonium ensues as people try to escape town and the Governor retreats into isolation. A group of Walkers appear in the middle of town and begin attacking a man. Andrea and Jose gun them down but are unable to do anything for the bitten man. The Governor then appears to put a bullet through the head of a wounded man and then ducks back inside.
Andrea tries talk to him afterwards, but can’t seem to reach the Governor anymore. As far as he is concerned, they are at war, and he is unconcerned about the people’s bellyaching. Faced with a possible shootout, she chooses to step in and try and calm people’s tempers. She calls to the people to “dig deep” and persevere, and they seem to respond. The Governor hears her too and seems to take solace in it.
Once back at camp, Rick meets with Hershel and discusses their new problems. On the one hand, there’s the Governor, a brutal man who is clearly the product of their new world. On the other their are the new arrivals, who they need to come to a decision on. Given that the its only a matter of time before reprisal comes from Woodbury, and that they are outnumbered and outgunned, they think it would be good to get some fresh blood.
Unfortunately, Rick seems to be losing his marbles once again and experiences flashbacks and visions of Lori. In the midst of talking with Tyreese’s group, he begins to have a vision of Lori and begins babbling and screaming. He then draws his gun and orders Tyreese and his people to go, forcing them to run and leaving everyone else seriously spooked.
Summary: Personally, I was very pleased with this episode. As the mid-season opener, it had its work cut out for it, especially with the way they left things off. After such a big build-up and the promises of plenty of action and a few deaths, I went in expecting some consequences, but was happy to see that it didn’t all end in a huge bloodbath either. Got to save something for the season finale 😉
To start, there was the title itself: The Suicide King. For those who don’t know, this is a reference to the King of Hearts card since the suit shows the king holding a sword to his head. In a poker game, this card is often declared wild, and so the theme of this episode becomes clear from the get-go. For one, it focuses heavily on both Rick and the Governor, the kings of both camps in their own rights, who are both beginning to show signs of breaking.
In addition to that thematic nuance, there were plenty of symbolic tidbits which I enjoyed. For example, the opening scene, where we are put face to face with the Governor as he stares menacingly at Daryl and Merle while his other eye bleeds through the bandage. Could there be a more perfect image to express what’s coming? It was like the preview poster said, “an eye for an eye”. The Governor is going to war and is out for blood! All bets are henceforth off!
And there was also the issues of loyalty, trust and choosing a side which came up a few times in this episode. In previous episodes, the overriding theme of the Walking Dead – that it is our fellow humans that we need to be most worried about – has been made abundantly clear through the struggle between Rick and Shane and how they had to fight off the other group of men who found out about the farm.
But the way it’s now being escalated as a fight between two well-established camps, the prison and the town, has really deepened it. Andrea, someone who has a foot in both, was the perfect case for illustrating how loyalties can be strained. On the one hand, she wants to help the people of Woodbury, but on the other, she feels compelled to stand up for her old comrades and try and prevent a war. Which side will she be forced to choose?
Merle and Daryl also served as examples of this too, men who are torn between loyalty to their camps and loyalty to their kin. In their case, a third option presented itself as, as they chose to go their own way together. Andrea had a similar option earlier when Michonne could no longer abide living under the Governor, but Andrea chose to stay. The parallels are clear, and it will be interesting to see how things shape up for all of them.
And of course, the way Rick is once again losing his mind was beautifully rendered. After so much grief and loss and the constant pressures of being leader, he was once again having a psychotic break in this episode. And of course, we are reminded that the last time they had outsiders coming in, the attack that took Lori’s life was a direct result.
How else for him to react then, except to see his dead wife before him and feel it all come rushing back. And all that yelling: “What do you want from me? Get out! Get out!” Just who was he talking to? The image of Lori? Tyreese and his crew? Everyone who’s been making demands on him? Hard to say. Most likely all of the above, since he’s got to feeling that the world is crumbling around him. Because for him, it is!
Whoo! Heavy stuff! Looking forward to next week and the rest of the season. Also looking forward to the grand climax between the Governor’s people and Ricks. At this point, they are pretty far off scrip vis a vis the original comic book, so it will be interesting to see how it all turns out.
Welcome back Walking Dead fans! Last time, it seems I made a bit of a mistake and would like to rectify it first. According to updates from IMDB, season 3 will be running for a full 16 episodes instead of ten. However, this was the last episode before the mid-season break, so it did have its share of climaxes and more cliffhangers. When they come back in February, we can look forward to another 8 episodes!
Okay, moving on to what happened this week. A lot of thrills, kills, and chills as the two camps collide, new players are introduced, and some serious shit hits the fan!
Made To Suffer: The episode opens with a new party fighting their way through the forest. After fighting their way through a slew of Walkers, one of their party is bit and they come upon the prison. Finding a collapsed wall, they make their way inside one of the uncleared cell blocks. Over in Woodbury, the Governor continues to try and reach his daughter Penny, relying on the techniques Milton was using to try and trigger memories. After his attempts fail, he becomes angry and throws her back into her cell.
At the prison, we see tension growing as Axel appears to be taking an interest in Beth and Carol tells him to back off. He explains that it’s just that she is the only available woman since Maggie is taken and Carol is a lesbian, or so he thought. She corrects him on this, and laughs when he begins making some clumsy advances towards her.
Shortly thereafter, Hershel, Carl and Maggie hear screams coming from down below cell block and realize they have company. Carl goes down to investigate alone, and finds the new arrivals in the midst of a fight with many Walkers. He tells them to follow him and covers their escape while they head up top, bringing their bit friend with them. When they reach a cell, Carl locks then in and tells them to take care of their friend. They reluctantly agree and kill her with a hammer before she can turn.
Over at Woodbury, Rick, Daryl, and Oscar make their way into town with Michonne’s help. Once they reach the heart of town, they realize that she has no idea where Glenn and Maggie are being kept and things begin to stall. However, they are alerted to their location as an escape attempt by Maggie and Glenn goes south and gunfire erupts. Merle and his henchmen take them prisoner again and prep them for execution, but Rick and his party manage to show up just in time.
Using smoke grenades, they steal Glenn and Maggie away and head for the wall. Daryl narrowly misses seeing his brother in the confusion and the party falls back to a nearby house. Michonne then wanders off to sneak into Governor’s apartment, as she clearly has some unfinished business with him. The Governor meanwhile begins deploying his men once words get around that they have intruders. Naturally, Andrea wants to help but he forbids it, since he knows that any contact with her old companions will go sideways on him. At the same time, Daryl learns that his brother is out there and wants to find him, but Rick refuses him.
However, both fail as a gunfight ensues in the streets and everything hits the fan. Using more smoke grenades to cover their escape, Maggie, Rick and Glenn make it over the wall, but Oscar is killed. Rick also has a flashback as he shoots an approaching man who reminds him of Shane, and Daryl stays behind to provide covering fire but gets cut off from the rest. Andrea is also caught in the fight and begins laying down fire with her pistol, and pursues the Governor to his apartment where they both run into Michonne.
Before they arrive, Michonne finds the Governor’s private room and sees his collection of Walker heads and his daughter Penny. When she realizes what Penny is, she draws her sword and prepares to kill her. However, the Governor shows up then and pleads with her not to hurt his daughter, but Michonne kills her and the two get into it.
After much struggling, during which the aquariums holding the Walker heads are smashed, Michonne grabs a shard of glass and stabs the governor in the eye. She is about to kill him too when Andrea shows up and stops her. Michonne runs out, leaving Andrea with the mess of heads and the Governor as he clutches the body of his dead daughter and sobs.
Afterward, she and the Governor talk while he recovers in bed, but he doesn’t have much in the way of answers. Outside of town, Rick pulls his gun on Michonne and demands answers. The Governor calls a town meeting and tells them they were attacked by “terrorists” and that Merle was working with them. He’s taken prisoner and reunited with his brother, and the townspeople begin to call for blood!
Summary: The mid-season finale was quite the climax/cliffhanger. On the one hand, we got to see the first of many confrontations between the Governor and the prison-folk, which was been building up since season 3 began. And now that he’s missing one eye and been deprived of his daughter, the stage is now set for the one-eyed Governor of the comic fame to lead an assault on the prison itself. All the teasers for the rest of season three point towards this, and I for one look forward to it!
Also, there were two key reunions in this episode which deserve note, and which were well-timed to coincide with one another. On the one hand, we get to see Merle and Daryl reunite after two and a half seasons apart. On the other, Andrea and Michonne meet up again and nearly come to blows in the Governor’s private room. In both instances, we have a cases of friends and family finding themselves on opposite sides in the course of a civil war. And Maggie even goes so far to characterize it for us: “All this time running from Walkers… you forget about what people do.”
This is a central theme to the story of The Walking Dead, which is how human beings inevitably turn on each other when the going gets tough. Already, we’ve seen cases of this with Merle and Shane, how one proved too unruly and dangerous to have around and the other went insane with jealousy and had to be killed. Now, it will reach fruition as the Governor’s camp and the Prison camp go to war, both in the name of protecting their own.
Once again, it was really nice to see Michonne kicking some ass! For a long time now, a fight has been brewing between her and the Governor and it finally happened. I was surprised the Governor held his own for as long as he did, but white hot rage probably had something to do with that. In the end though, Michonne got the upper hand on him and would have removed his head, had Andrea not shown up to save his ass. Damn you Andrea! Michonne tried to warn you, but you just wouldn’t listen! And you’re STILL getting in the way! But of course, that’s what keep the plot going so I can’t criticize too much…
At the same time, we got a little plot development on the quieter side of things, that being back at the prison facility. First up, Axel is beginning to show signs that he might have been a sex offender in his previous life. Though he claims he’s just a desperate man looking for love and is limited in his options, one can’t help but feel that he could become dangerous before long and will have to be “dealt with”. Again, I’ve got some insider knowledge on this, having read some of the comics, but I’m anxious to see how that pans out.
And of course, the prison group has received an infusion of new blood with the arrival of four new people. After being rescued by Carl, there was the usual standoff moment as he was forced to lock them in a room after they finished off their friend. Not much in the way of explanations were needed, as its clear than any newcomers in this world have to earn the trust of others before being welcomed in to their community. Luckily, Tyreese, the de facto leader of the group, seems to understand and is willing to play ball, if only because they have no other options.
But of course, the cliffhangers… First off, we’ve got Daryl and Merle who find themselves reunited under the worst of circumstances. The Governor has labelled them “terrorists” and clearly means to kill them. Meanwhile, Rick and his party are torn of what to do, whether they should beat it back to their own camp or try and mount a rescue. Me, I’m guessing they’ll head back to the prison while the Governor tries to get what info he can from Daryl. And in the end, Merle will defect and try to free his brother, just in time to stop the Governor’s armies for attacking the prison.
And of course, as soon as Rick and his bunch return, they will have to decide the fate of the newcomers. Once more, we can expect the usual process of back and forth where everyone wants to trust each other, but no one is willing to lower their guard until they’re sure. And I imagine, Rick, Tyreese, and everyone in between will find they have no options once conflict with the Governor’s people becomes inevitable.
But of course, all that’s speculation. Mainly, I’m just looking forward to see what they do with it and am pretty pleased with the direction it’s all been taking so far. Here’s to the second half of Season 3, coming in February of 2013!
Back in August, as part of a promotional campaign for Season 3 of The Walking Dead, the folks at AMC decided to do a little experiment. With the help of an advertising firm named Thinkmodo, they dressed up a group of actors as zombies and set them loose on the streets of New York. The reactions were caught on film, and were pretty predictable…