The Walking Dead – Season Four Finale!

The Walking Dead SDCC Season 4We come to it at last, the season four finale of the Walking Dead. And my apologies for arriving late to this party, but this week has been a rather busy one. Lucky for me things have slowed down to the point where I can finally get my two cents in about the highest rated finale in TV history. Yes, apparently, this week’s episode broke the finale record for ratings with 15.7 million viewers, and 7.3 million even stuck around for the aftershow. One would think people were anxious to see what happened or something!

Alas, the finale delivered on several fronts, bringing the whole Terminus storyline to a conclusion, bringing all the main characters back together, and forcing a confrontation between Rick and the marauders led by Joe. And they even managed to merge some of the relevant comic book material into the mix, which was something I was wondering about. Once again, they are kind of off script with things at this point, so its interesting to see how and where they choose to include things.

Anyway, onto the show!

A:
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The episode opens with Rick having a flashback to the old days when they were still living in the prison. He remembers the time after the Governor fled, and how they began making a good life for themselves. Intrinsic to this was his efforts He also recalls how he was very much concerned about giving Carl a normal life again. During his last flashback, he remembers when he, Herschel, Carl, Beth and Judith were all together and happy.

Things then flash back to the present, where Rick, Michonne and Carl are completely occupied with finding food and avoiding Walkers. After setting down for the night in an abandoned car, Joe and his group catch up to them and take them prisoner. Daryl emerges and tries to tell Joe to let them go, and that he will stand in for them. Joe orders his men to beat Daryl for “lying”, and Carl is pulled from the car by one of the men who attempts to rape him.

WD4_16_1Rick and Michonne attack them, and Rick manages to get close enough to bite Joe’s jugular. His men are shocked and this gives Michonne and Daryl the opportunity to turn the tables on the rest of them. Rick finishes it by eviscerating the man who tried to rape Carl. The next day, Daryl talks to Rick about his time with Beth, her disappearance, and how he fell in with Joe’s group. They assure each other that they’ve done only what they had to stay alive, and set out again.

Having reached the outskirts, Rick and the others choose to search around the edge of the town. Carl and Michonne go in one direction, and she fills Carl in on the rest of her story, and how Andrea, Rick and Carl brought her back. Carl confesses that he’s changed and is no longer what his father thinks he is, that he is just another monster. Elsewhere, Rick buries their stash of weapons, but keeps a pistol for himself “just in case”.

WD4_16_2They then sneak around the back way, pass through the fence and then proceed inside. Finding their way into a building, they come to a room where people are preparing maps and putting out radio broadcasts, inviting people to town. Rick gets their attention, and a man named Garreth welcomes them. After a quick weapons check and pat down, another man named Alex comes to escort them to the welcome area. They meet Mary, and she prepares them food.

Rick begins spotting things that make him suspicious, including one man wearing riot gear, a woman wearing a poncho, and that Alex is carrying a pocket watch. He grabs Alex and puts a gun to his head, demanding to know where they got these things. A standoff ensues, turns into a gunfight, and Rick and the others flee. They quickly pass through a strange room filled candles and altars, and realize that the townspeople are not shooting to kill them, but to drive them.

wd4_16_3Once outside, they find themselves surrounded on all sides and are forced to put down their weapons and surrender. They are then told to go to a train car parked nearby, step inside and seal the door. Inside, they find the others – Glenn, Maggie, Bob, Sasha, Tara, Abraham, Rosita and Eugene (but not Tyreese or Carol) – who have also been taken prisoners. Defiant, Rick says they their new enemies are going to feel pretty stupid when they find out. When Abraham asks what, Rick declares “that they’re screwing with the wrong people.”

Thus ends season four of the Walking Dead!

Summary:
As expected, the season ended on a brutal and ugly note, but with the hope of some serious ass-kicking to come. And as predicted, the town of Terminus, which offered people sanctuary and salvation, turned out to be a pretty messed up place. Only passing hints were given as to what is involved in this, but the blogosphere has certainly been alive with plenty of ideas. I forgo those for just a second to say what I liked and what stood out about this episode to me.

For starters, I liked what they did with it. Sure, they concluded the whole “Joe and the marauders are looking for payback” thing rather quickly, but were never a huge plot aspect so it didn’t seem terribly wrong to me. I was also pretty impressed with how Rick and Michonne took out their captors, though I could have done with a little less eviscerating! And they did manage to incorporate some aspects of the comic book material from this part into the mix.

WD4_16_4Speaking of which, and it seems this is the current favorite amongst bloggers, is that Terminus is a community of cannibals. The proof? First, during the chase scene, Rick and the others run through a courtyard where human bones (stripped of all flesh) have been piled. Second, the character of Gareth does bear a resemblance to the character of Chris, who in the comics was the leader of the cannibal community. And third, this was the ugly turn that things took during this part in said comics.

And let’s face it. If you were running a cannibal community, you too would need a constant influx of fresh bodies. I mean, why else go to all that trouble of putting out maps and sending out broadcasts? In a post-apocalyptic landscape, the biggest threats of all comes from bands of ne’er-do-wells, especially if they are well organized and equipped (as the Governor and Joe illustrate). So if you have a secure community, chances are you wouldn’t be advertising it and inviting everyone and their brother to come find it. Not unless you got a trap waiting for them!

And of course, this has effectively left things on a cliffhanger and promises that next season will contain its fare share of ass-kicking and badassery. And I am once again looking forward to see what happens, provided they don’t go terribly off-script again! There is one thing that I can’t seem to figure out though. What was up with the title of this episode? A? Seriously? What the hell does that stand for?

See you next season!

The Walking Dead – Season Four, Episode 14

The-Walking-Dead-season-4-wallpapers-7This week’s episode, as advertised, focused on the story of Tyreese, Carol, and the girls – Lizzy, Mika and Julia – on their way through the wilderness. But once again, I feel they got the name wrong. While “The Grove” did describe the setting pretty well, what it should have been called was “Lizzy is the dumbest/sickest kid EVER!” But what can you do? At the very least, it was entertaining and engaging, even if it did break new records for brutality!

The Grove:
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The episode opens with Tyreese, Carol and the girls carrying on in their journey to Terminus. Along the way, Carol gets to talking about Lizzy about things – how she shot a woman, how Carol’s daughter died, and how they need to be hard in order to survive. They also come across a Walker laying on the tracks that is hobbled, and Lizzy convinces Tyreese not to kill it since it won’t be able to follow them.

After awhile, they come upon an abandoned farm and settle in for the night, noticing a forest fire in the distance. After finding water, food, and getting comfortable, Mika suggests they give up on Terminus and live there, an idea Tyreese approves of. Carol tries to teach Mika to hunt, but finds she’s unwilling since she doesn’t want to kill. At the same time, Lizzy continues to put her life in danger by insisting the Walkers are still alive.

Walker_mashupThis she does by “playing” with one in the yard, and then freaking out when Carol arrives and kills it, and feeding the one they found on the tracks. Lizzy almost lets the latter one bite her, but she and Mika run when other Walkers – still smoulder because of the forest fire – pour out of the woods. They run back to the farm and are joined by Tyreese and Carol, and togther they manage to stop the horde with some well placed shots.

The next day, Tyreese and Carol go out to hunt and gather and he talks about Karen. Carol almost confesses to him of how she killed her and David, but narrowly avoids it. When they return to the farm, they find a bloody Lizzy standing over Mika’s dead body. She tells them, “Don’t worry. She’ll come back.” When Carol goes to take out Mika’s brain, Lizzy points her gun and tells her to wait because she wants to show them the Walkers are still human.

wd4_14_3Carol manages to convince Lizzy to go inside with Tyreese and Judith and finishes Lizzy off. She and Tyreese talk the next day and he tells her that Lizzy was the one feeding the Walkers at the prison. Tyreese wonders if she also killed Karen and David, but Carol tells him it wasn’t, and they discuss what to do with her. Carol takes her out into the woods to talk, and tells her to “look at the flowers” and shoots her. She and Tyreese bury both girls in the yard.

Later that night, Carol finally tells Tyreese how she killed Karen and David, and why. She hands him the gun and tells him to do what he has to do. Instead, Tyreese tell her he forgives her since this is a part of them now; but also that he won’t forget. They agree they can’t stay at the farm, and push on towards Terminus the next day. The episode ends with Carol’s words to Mika replaying, of how they are forced to kill, and how it will change them.

Summary:
Well… this weeks episode certainly set a precedent for ugliness and brutality. In addition to the burning Walkers, who’s heads spontaneously combusted when they were shot, there was also the infanticide angle to contend with. Quite shocking, all of it. But it was in keeping with some of the material from the comics, specifically Volume 11: Fear the Hunters, which is the source material for the show at this point.

Though this episode did change some things around, it did address the issue of whether or not Lizzy and Mika were going to remain as part of the cast, which is something I was wondering about. It also answered the little riddle of who was leaving rats for the walkers and mutilated the rabbit at the prison, a mystery which I thought was dead and buried at this point. Glad they wrapped that bit up too.

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But, I have to say, the whole “Lizzy is a sociopath” angle felt kind of unnatural and just a little shoehorned. In Volume 11 of the comics, it was two boys, Ben and Billy who were the subject of this story. After losing their parents (Allen and Donna, who were never in the show) early on, Dale and Andrea began looking after them as their surrogate parents. After fleeing the prison and knocking around in the woods for some time, they found Ben standing over Billy’s corpse.

His words were identical to Lizzy’s, saying that they shouldn’t worry because he didn’t kill the brain, which meant Ben would come back. In time, Carl decided to do what had to be done and kills Billy, thus ending the thread. In this case, Lizzy seems to have deep-seated denial about the walkers and cannot bring herself to kill one because she thinks they are still alive. At the same time, she flays animals for fun and murders her sister. Kind of seems at odds, you know?

Still, the way they dealt with this rather brutal and shocking material was quite gutsy. After they spared Judith in the show, I had the feeling that they would be watered down about some of the more brutal aspects of the story. Suddenly, that doesn’t seem to be the case! And as always, this filler episode puts the characters on the road to Terminus, where they are all headed now. And with only two episodes to go, we’re finally going to see what awaits them…

The Walking Dead – Season 4 Episode 8

wd4_toofar_titleWe come to the mid-season finale at last! And what began as a bit of question mark has now come full circle and ended in a way that was consistent with the source material. At least in theory. As I’m sure I’ve said a million times by now, season three ended in a way that was not only different from the comics, but WAY different. And because of that, I was really wondering what would happen this season.

At first, it looked like they were going to go with a simple route, kill off all the new people to the prison and have them abandon it. Instead, they exploited a loophole in the original text to make it so the Governor would come back, albeit with a different army and some new hardware, and attempt to take the prison by force once again.

This has brought the show back to where it left off, or rather where it stopped following the original script and began dragging things out. Granted, there were some significant differences yet again, but the theme of things is basically back to where it was by the end of Volume 8: Made to Suffer. As such, I tuned in this week with big anticipation…

Too Far Gone:
wd4_toofar1The episode opens with a quick recap of how the Governor found himself outside of the prison last episode, faced with Michonne and Hershel as they disposed of their dead. After taking them both hostage, things cut back to his camp, where he is busy explaining to his own people that they need to find a safer place to live, how the prison is being held by evil people, and how they can take it without bloodshed.

He then goes off to prepare and talks to his prisoners, Michonne and Hershel. While the former threatens him, the latter tries to talk him down and find a way to live in peace. But of course, the Governor rebuffs this, saying they can’t possibly live together in peace, and will do anything to protect his own. He meets with Lilly and Meghan one last time and says goodbye.

wd4_toofarOver at the prison, Glenn is still recovering from the flu and Rick finally tells Daryl about how he let Carol go. Daryl is upset, but the bigger concern appears to be how Tyreese will deal with the news. They find him below, and he shows them what someone did with the remains of a rat and thinks whoever is responsible is the one luring Walkers to the fence. They are about to tell him about Carol, when they hear a loud crash and the walls shake…

They run outside and the see the Governor’s army, complete with the tank, arrayed at the gates. The Governor asks him to come down and talk. Rick replies that he is not solely in charge any more, and the Governor drags out Hershel and Michonne and puts them on their knees. Rick is then given the ultimatum: leave by sundown and no one gets hurt.

wd4_toofar3Back at the Governor’s camp, Lilly sees a Walker step into the river and begin walking across towards them, but is relieved when is is washed away. Meghan is busy digging in the mud and digs up a sign which reads “Warning Flash Flood”. An arm then reaches out of the mud and grabs her. Lilly shoots the Walker, but not before it manages to bite Meghan’s shoulder.

While Rick and the Governor parlay, Daryl talks to Sasha and Tyreese about getting their people onto a bus and out the back, quietly brings out their weapon’s stash and starts discreetly arming their people. Down at the fence, Walkers begin to converge, and the Governor tells him that the longer they wait, the harder it will be for Rick and his people to get out safely.

wd4_toofar4Daryl and Carl take aim from the fence and wait, while Lizzy and Mika bring Judith out to the bus. They are told to load up, but Lizzy suggests they get guns and try to help out. Rick suggests that they live together in peace, but the Governor once again rejects this – citing what happened at Woodbury and Andrea. Rick finally says they are not leaving, end of story, and if they start shooting, it will only draw Walkers into the prison.

The Governor responds by drawing Michonne’s sword and threatening to cut Hershel’s head off. Rick pleads with the Governor’s people to see reason, saying that no matter what they’ve done to survive, they “aren’t too far gone”. The Governor says “Liar” and slices Hershel’s neck open. Everyone opens fire, Rick draws is pistol and falls back to cover, and both he and the Governor are wounded.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Michonne rolls away and cuts her bonds, killing one man in the process, and the Governor pulls Hershel aside and finishes cutting off his head. When he looks up, he sees Lilly standing before him with Meghan’s dead body. Tara meanwhile throws her gun down and tries to reason with Alisha, telling her this is not what they signed on for. The Governor shoots Meghan’s body, and then orders everyone to drive through the fence and kill everyone.

The tank drives through the fence and begins opening fire on the buildings. The prison crew begin falling back, and Maggie and Beth begin herding people onto a bus to escape. Maggie is told Beth went to look for Judith and is caught outside as the bus leaves. She, Sasha and Bob falls back again. Rick tackles the Governor and the two begin to fight in the yard. Cornered, Daryl uses a Walker that’s been drawn by the noise as cover and takes out several of the Governor’s people with a grenade.

wd4_toofar6In the confusion, Tara runs off and Tyreese is pinned, but Lizzy and Mika intervene and shoot his attackers, which includes Alisha. Walkers begin to converge on the yard from all directions and feed off the dead bodies. In the yard, the Governor gets the upper hand on Rick and seems poised to deliver the death blow, but is impaled from behind by Michonne, who has retrieved her sword.

Daryl converges on the tank and drops a grenade down its cannon. Mitch manages to get out in time, but Daryl takes him out with an arrow to the chest. Beth finds Axel and they head off to find the survivors who didn’t make it onto the bus. Rick stumbles back into the yard and finds Carl shooting Walkers. He asks him where Judith is and the two find her bassinet sitting empty and bloody on the ground.

The Governor, still alive, looks up to see Lilly above him, and she shoots him in the face. The chess piece that Meghan made for him, with one eye blackened out, is then trampled underfoot by a herd of Walkers that are now converging on the prison. Crying and disheveled, Rick and Carl head into the woods. Rick tells Carl “don’t look back”

Summary:
the-walking-dead-governorattacksOverall, I was pretty damn impressed with this midseason finale. Full of action, destruction, and consequence, it was what the Season Three finale should have been but wasn’t. Not only did the Governor finally attack the prison in a way that mirrored the comic, people died – including himself – and things ended on a very sad note. I honestly didn’t think the show’s producers would have the guts to do it up like this, but they did!

Not only that, but a lot of key elements from the original comic were there. The way the governor pulled up with an militarized, mobilized force that included an armored vehicle: check! The way he executed a hostage in order to get Rick to comply: check! The way Judith died as a result of the confused, chaotic mess: check! The Governor being shot by one of his own after they realized what a monster he was: check!

the-walking-dead-lorisdeathHell, they even included some of the original dialogue from the comic, almost word for word, to make this finale more genuine. The way the Governor motivated his people by claiming Rick and his followers were evil, murdering folks who had “mutilated” him was there. Of course, in the original comic, the Governor was less an arm, one eye, and his genitals, so it made more sense coming from that guy, but whatever…

The way the episode ended with Rick telling Carl, “don’t look back” was also straight from the comic. However, there too it was a bit more meaningful since Carl and him had lost both Lori AND Judith. But considering that the show’s producers actually killed off Judith was so ballsy that I didn’t care about that difference at all. Honestly, I can’t foresee how “Little Ass Kicker” could have survived under the circumstances, so I don’t imagine that was a misdirect and we’ll learn she’s just fine when the show starts up again.

the-walking-dead-governor-killthemallBut above all, I am impressed that they closed the chapter on the prison as they did. I thought for sure that season four (or at least this half of it ) would end with them willingly abandoning the prison because of disease and falling gates. Them being forced to flee because the gates were crushed and the place overrun in the wake of the Governor’s attack is in keeping with the script, something I thought they had abandoned.

And I have to admit that I’m kind of impressed with how they managed to do all this. At the end of last season and for all of this one, I’ve been complaining how they abandoned the original comic. But in truth, the show’s writers and producers were exploiting a loophole. You see, in the comic, the Governor’s assault didn’t happen all at once, but in three separate attempts. At first, he pulled up with his attack force and they were forced to withdraw.

the-walking-dead-tyreese-dies1The second time around, he tried to get in using a hostage (Tyreese, in this case), which failed when Rick would not open the gates and he decapitated the poor man for all to see. On the third occasion, he ordered his tank to crush the fence and brought the attack inside the prison grounds, which ended in his and just about everyone else’s death.

In the show, something similar has now occurred. The Governor’s first attempt took place at the midseason finale of Season Three, where him and his men shot up the front yard of the prison and let some Walkers in. The second was the abortive assault that sent his people running and made him snap and shoot them all. This third attempt, which took place months later, mirrored his last push, and ended in much the same way.

the-walking-dead-governorsdeathGranted, there were several scriptural differences, like how Tyreese didn’t die, or how Michonne stabbed him before he was shot, how Lori, Andrea, and Dale were already dead, and the like. But the basic tenor and tone was the same. So let me upgrade my critical stance of what they were doing from “going totally off script” to merely “dragging things out” yet again. Seriously, what should I have expected, given that this is precisely what they did with the two previous seasons?

And there were some badass bits to how they ended things. Daryl taking down that tank with a grenade down its cannon and finishing off Mitch (I hated that dumbass!), how Michonne finally impales the Governor after waiting so long to finish him, and how they actually killed off main characters like Hershel and Judith, and didn’t leave things open ended the way they’ve done so often before.

wd4_toofar6So the Governor is finally dead, and the prison story arc is finally over. And now, much like Volume 9: Here We Remain,  Rick are Carl will now be wandering in the wilderness while Rick tries to get his shit together, before meeting up with the others to resume their little experiment in post-post-apocalyptic living. This time around, more people will be alive since more people got away, but the show is effectively back on the right page!

The rest, in this case at least, is properly summed up with a Walking Dead internet meme:

Rick_Grimes_Carl_Grimes_-_The_Walking_Dead

The Walking Dead: Season Four (Episodes 1-3)

Well, its been three weeks, and season four of one of TV’s top rated shows right now is back in full swing. And while I wanted to get on the episodes soon as they started coming out, circumstances kind of got in the way. First I was away for a week, then I took the time to write about other things, and then the episodes began piling up. That’s when the procrastination started settling in…

However, now that we are three full episodes into the season and I’ve finally managed to watch them, I feel I’ve gotten a pretty good take on what the story arc for season four is so far. And having recently read all issues to date of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, I was able to spot all the big differences, and you can bet I will be pointing them out! So without further delay or ado, I give you season four of AMC’s The Walking Dead!

https://i2.wp.com/i2.cdnds.net/13/14/618x374/ustv-the-walking-dead-s03-e16-3.jpgTo recap a little first, I would reiterate that last season’s finale was a big letdown to me. Myself and many fans lamented the fact that after many episodes of building up to a climactic clash between Woodbury and the prison camp, the final battle was quite the fizzle. Not only were the Governor’s people routed rather easily from the prison, but the Governor himself then went batsh*t crazy, shot everybody, and then ran off into the wilderness.

This, plus the fact that Rick and his people then traveled to Woodbury and brought the remaining townspeople back to the prison to live with them represented a major departure from the original comics. As a result, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from the new season. On the one hand, it held the promise of the unexpected; but on the other, it would certainly be more of a departure from the original material.

30 Days Without An Accident:
https://i0.wp.com/comicbook.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/the-walking-dead-season-4-rick-grimes-walkers.jpgThe season opens with a look at a seriously changed prison, which has been augmented with new buildings in the courtyard to accommodate the new people. The new arrivals appear to have been integrated, teams comb the fence to kill Walkers, and Daryl is getting ready to make another run to town for supplies. He is joined by Glenn, Tyreese, Sasha, a young man named Zack and a former army medic named Bob.

They set out for town to check a major department store called Big Spot, the parking of lot of which had been turned into an army checkpoint. The camp was since overrun by Walkers which they managed to lure away with loud music, and they go in to sweep the store. Unbeknownst to them, the roof is crawling with Walkers and was the site of a chopper crash.

https://i1.wp.com/wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/80450F/screencrush.com/files/2013/10/Untitled.jpgAfter Bob causes some shelves to fall over and pin him down, Walkers hear them inside and begin converging on a weak spot in the roof. They then begin to fall through, and Daryl in the others are forced to fight them off while trying to free Bob from where he was pinned. Zack (Beth’s boyfriend) is bitten, but the rest manage to escape before the wreckage of the chopper falls through the roof and causes the building to collapse.

Meanwhile, Rick heads out to the forest to check their snares for dead animals. He is convinced by Hershel and the Council to take his gun for his own safety, and find a woman on the other side who appears to be uninfected. She tells him she and her husband have been on their own, and asks permission to join Rick’s camp. He tentatively agrees, but only after he meets her husband.

https://i2.wp.com/images.amcnetworks.com/amctv.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/twd-s4-first-look-590.jpgWhen they arrive at her camp, she tries to kill Rick but fails. He realizes her husband is now a Walker and she was simply luring him back so she could feed him something living. She then begs Rick not to kill once she’s turned, and stabs herself in the stomach. She dies saying that “you can’t come back from the things you’ve done”, and Rick leaves her and her Walker husband behind.

Back at camp, Carl is left with the other children, much to his chagrin. Car overhears Carol telling them a story before moving on to how to use a knife. When Carol sees Carl watching, she asks him not to tell Rick, and he leaves. The others return to camp, Glenn and Beth talk about having a baby, and Beth is told of Zack’s death. She goes to a chart she’s made that says “Days without an accident” and resets it to zero.

https://i2.wp.com/scifi.grande-caps.net/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_twd401.pngRick returns and talks to Hershel about the woman he encountered, and how she reminded him of how far he came to losing it as she did. Hershel assures him that “you do get to come back”, and reminds him of how and Carl have. In the prison showers, one of the new arrivals – a boy named Patrick – succumbs to an illness that’s been effecting the livestock and comes back as a Walker.

Infected:
https://i0.wp.com/i2.cdnds.net/13/43/618x411/ustv-the-walking-dead-s04-e02-7.jpgThe episode opens with Karen (a new arrival) and Tyreese having a romantic evening, before she decides to head back to her room. Patrick, now a Walker, follows her from the shower room to D block. He hears a man coughing from another cell, enters his room and kills him in his sleep. The man then turns, and begins stalking the Block with Patrick and attacking others.

Rick and Carl are outside tending to the pigs and crops while Michonne is about to make another sweep for the Governor. Word then reaches them that Walkers are inside the perimeter and they run to D Block to kill those who are have turned while getting the others out. Maggie and Carl fight to get Michonne back inside after she hurts herself dealing with several Walkers.

http://i1.wp.com/nerdbastards.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/the-walking-dead-infected-2.jpg?w=450Afterward, they examine Patrick’s body with the help of Dr. Subramanian and notice that he died of an illness that causes bleeding from the eyes. Having seen this before, with Walkers along the fenceline as well as pigs and birds in and around the camp, they reason that it is a flu strain that it is transmitted from swine and birds, and that it’s loose in the prison.

As they bury the dead, the Council begins to discuss what to do since everyone in D Block has been exposed. Karen is one such person, and she and the others are quarantined in Death Row while Dr. Subramanian tends to them. One of the fathers who died left two daughters behind  – LIzzy and Mika – who Carol has promised to look after, and worries that they have been exposed to.

https://i2.wp.com/geeksmash.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/The-Walking-Dead-Infected-Wall.jpgMeanwhile, the commotion caused by the outbreak draws more Walkers to the wall and a section begins to give.  Sasha noticed that someone has been leaving bait in that section to lure the Walkers to it. The wall nearly collapses, and Rick and Daryl drive out and drop all the pigs in the field to lure the Walkers away. This gives them the time they need to reinforce the wall, and disposes of the pigs which may have brought the flu.

Afterward, Rick sets the pig pen on fire and Carl tells him that Carol has been teaching the kids to use weapons without their parents knowing. He also tells him that he agrees with it, and asks his father to let her continue, which he does. Rick gives Carl back his gun, which he had been keeping away from him since he shot the boy from Woodbury.

While clearing the fence, Inside, Tyreese goes to visit Karen and finds a blood trail that leads outside. He realizes that she already succumbed to the flu and was placed outside with one other person, where they were both doused in gasoline and burned.

Isolation:
https://i2.wp.com/s1.ibtimes.com/sites/www.ibtimes.com/files/styles/v2_article_large/public/2013/10/25/walking-dead.jpgRick, Daryl and Carol join Tyreese in the courtyard where he found the charred remains of Karen and David. He demands the Rick find out who did it and then let him deal with them personally, and he and Rick get into a terrible fight. Afterward, Rick is tended to by Hershel who tells him that they’ve lost 12 people from the flu, plus the two who were burned, and an outbreak may be likely.

Sasha and Dr. Subramanian have also become infected, and the Council begins turning into Cell Block A into an isolation area. The administrative area is set aside for the most vulnerable, which includes the children and the elderly. Hershel tells them they need to go to the local veterinary college for antibiotics, and Daryl agrees to take a search party out to check on it.

https://i1.wp.com/i2.cdnds.net/13/44/618x399/ustv-the-walking-dead-s04-e03-infected-11.jpgRick apologizes to Tyreese after the latter if finished burying Karen and David, and they agree to bury the hatchet. Tyreese once again reiterates that Rick needs to find the guilty party, and decides to look on his own since Rick appears to be dragging his heels on it. Carl joins the other kids in the sequestered area, and Glenn realizes he’s been infected too.

Carol helps the infected move to the quarantine zone and begins to crack after she is forced to admit Lizzy. Hershel goes out into the woods with Carl and collects elderberries to make medicinal tea. Rick and Maggie try to prevent him from going into the quarantine zone, but he insists that he would rather risk his life and help people rather than sit idly by.

https://i1.wp.com/tibs.threeifbyspace.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/TWD403_ZombieCrowdWide.jpgRick begins investigating Karen and David’s deaths and determines they were still alive when they were burnt. Carol discovers that their water lines have become clogged and defies Rick to go out and clear them. In time, her activities draw the attention of Walkers and Rick runs out to help her. She narrowly makes it back and Rick asks her if she killed Karen and David, to which she says yes.

After visiting with Sasha, Tyreese decides to accompany Daryl, Michonne and Bob as they make their run. They take a car and drive to town, during which time they hear a voice broadcasting on the radio. Unfortunately, the distraction causes them to drive into a herd of Walkers and the car becomes surrounded. Tyreese is enveloped and fights it out with his hammer, giving the rest time to flee. They run into the forest, and are followed shortly behind by an exhausted Tyreese.

Summary:
Okay, so three episodes in, and I’m already beginning to notice a bit of a pattern. At the tail end of last season, the prison camp emerged victorious from the fight with the Governor and several dozen extras were added to the cast – which as I’ve said represented a major departure from the original comics. This season, the goal appears to be to find ways to kill the extras off and make the core cast leave the prison behind.

That much was already hinted at from the previews released over the summer. And it makes me wonder just why it was necessary to end season three the way the did. Why give the characters a big happy ending that’s way off script if at the beginning of next season, you’re just going to hit them with a thousand and one calamities and make their lives miserable again?

https://i1.wp.com/i.imm.io/XpTj.pngWhat’s more, there’s the issue of who they’ve chosen to kill off versus keep alive. I can understand the decision to pad the cast with extras so they can be killed off and the core characters kept alive, but that’s not even what’s happening  here. At this point in the comic’s story, Andrea and Dale were still alive, but in season two and three of the show, they were both killed off.

Tyreese, Hershel and Carol were dead at this point too, but the former had been around since very early in the story. Now, we are just getting to know the man, and he really doesn’t seem much like his comic book self. Sure, they decided to keep his dark side which comes through in occasional explosions of violence. But otherwise, he seems like a real soft touch, not wanting to kill Walkers and hoping to stay away from it.

https://i0.wp.com/wac.450f.edgecastcdn.net/80450F/screencrush.com/files/2013/10/0-Main.jpgSome things they did manage to get right about Tyreese though. The way he fought off an entire herd of Walkers using only his hammer is reminiscent of the scene from Volume Four: The Heart’s Desire where he cleared the entire prison gymnasium by himself. And the way he and Rick fought in the same episode echoes what happened later in that same volume.

However, Carol’s character arc is going weird places. After being relatively marginalized last season, she has now taken on a weird dimension, becoming obsessed with protecting the others to the point that she is willing to immolate two living people. While she does possess some of aspects of the woman from the comic, I feel like they are just trying to pad her character now.

https://i0.wp.com/www.hollywoodreporter.com/sites/default/files/imagecache/thumbnail_570x321/2013/09/twds4_key-art.jpgBut all in all, I think its pretty obvious where things are going this season. Soon enough, the entire Woodbury crew, minus a few people – like Bob, who they seem intent on developing – are going to die off, they will find a traitor in their midst (possibly the Governor himself sneaking in at night), the prison is going to start falling apart, and they are going to have to relocate.

And I think that’s kind of a waste. After saving the place and building it up, they are going to simply abandon it? After adding all those new people to their community, they’re going to just die off? Kind of seems contrived to me. But at the same time, its kind of necessary if they are going to bring the plot of the show and the comic into parity again.

They’re into Volume Nine: Here We Remain territory now, where the prison was no longer their home and they had to take their chances in the wild again. And with that, I remain interested to see what they’re going to do with the rest of this season…

The Walking Dead Issue 114!

Walking-Dead-114-CoverAll I can say is… finally! After another month and a half of waiting, and feeling pretty let down by the last issue, the final issue of Volume 19 is out! And it’s a good thing too. It’s pretty rare when the source material begins to seem like the show it was made into, but the last few issues/volumes of The Walking Dead have been dragging out in such a way that I was seriously beginning to think I was watching the show instead.

(**Spoilers ahead!**)

walking-dead-volume-19But that’s to be expected, given that the name of Volume 19 is March to War. Including issues 109 to 114, it covers  – at length – all the preparations Rick and his people are making, alongside the other communities, to prepare for war with their nemesis Negan. And in issue 112, foreseeing an opportunity, Rick jumped the gun and accidentally triggered things a bit prematurely.

Luckily, things worked out and his bacon was saved. This occurred in issue 113 and 114, where Andrea managed to avoid getting herself killed and “Jesus” and his pals showed up in time to scare Negan’s thugs off. However, Negan and what was left of his crew made it away and got back to his own headquarters, announcing to his many thugs that they were going to war.

walking-dead-volume-20Volume 20, titled All Out War (and which will include issues 115-126), will begin on October 9th (great, another month of waiting!). And after all the buildup, and the big ol’ inciting event that took place in the last two issues, we’re finally gonna get to see some war and hopefully watch Negan get his ass kicked! Or maybe he’ll win and all the characters we’ve come to know and love – those that remain – will die horribly!

But if I were a betting man, I would say that a combination of both is likely to occur. After all, it’s The Walking Dead, people! Things never end happily. They just go on and on…

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead – Part IV

walking-dead-7-the-calm-before-billboard-600x300Welcome to the fourth and last installment in my review of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead series. Today, I will be coming volumes 7 and 8, which were adapted to create the second half of season three, for the most part anyway. Basically, everything that happens between the confrontation at Woodbury and the assault of the Governor’s people on the prison falls into these two volumes.

These included Rick and the prison people’s attempts to get ready, their procurement of weapons, and the whereabouts of the Governor after Michonne’s little revenge party with him. And whereas that conclusion was rather abortive in the show, it was both startling and bloody in the comic! But as usual, I like to save the differences between the show and the source material for the end.

Bring on the mighty conclusion!

Volume 7 – The Calm Before:
the-walking-dead-Volume_7-The_Calm_BeforeThe first issue of the volume opens with Lori thinking back on her experiences with Shane. Her baby is almost due, and she decides to tell Rick that it may not even be his. He stops her and let’s her know that he already suspected, and that it doesn’t matter since he’s planning on raising the child as his own. With Hershel officiating, Glenn and Maggie have their wedding in the prison’s cafeteria and everyone attends.

Afterwards, Rick, Tyreese and Dale do an inventory of their weapons and ammo and determine they don’t have enough of either. They decide that a run will have to be made to the National Guard station where Woodbury got its weapons from. A party is formed with Tyreese, Michonne, Andrea, Axel, Glenn and Maggie and they take the RV.

Back at the prison, people continue to integrate with each other, their garden continues to produce, and people talk about all the members of their crew that have been lost. This includes Allen, Otis, Shawn, Lacy, Arnold, Rachel and Susie now. It seems that after so many deaths, people have grown numb to loss.

the-walking-dead-nationalguardpostOn the way out, they chance upon a fallen sign that tells them where to go and find the National Guard station. After grabbing all the fuel and ammo they can and commandeering a troop truck to load it up, they set fire to the place so no one else will be able to visit it later, and proceed to take off. They stop at a local Wal-Mart to stock up on food too, but are found by a bunch of armed men who were drawn by the explosion.

They discover the men are from Woodbury, and they recognize Glenn. After shooting him, Andrea opens fire and kills two of them while Michonne takes out the others with her sword. Glenn, luckily, was protected by his body armor and only suffered some cracked ribs. They load up what they can from the Wal-Mart and leave.

the-walking-dead-lorisbabyLori begins to have contractions and is brought to the infirmary where Rick and Alice begin delivery. However, the generator is about to go out and Billy and Dale rush to put more gas in it to keep the power on. Realizing they are almost out, they run to the lot to siphon more from the vehicles, and Dale is bitten on the leg by a Walker hiding beneath the cars. Andrea and the others arrive and find Billy and Dale, who is still alive.

In the infirmary, Lori gives birth to their daughter, a healthy girl. But their joy is short-lived when Andrea and the others burst in carrying Dale. Holding him down, Rick takes the saw and cuts the lower half of his leg off. He survives, and Rick reflects on how screwed up their world now is. Lori tries to restore some happiness to the moment by telling Rick they should name their daughter Judith.

In the coming days, Rick and Lori tends to their new baby, they unload the supplies, begin training in how to use the weapons they procured, and continue to plant and till their fields. Carol seems to have recovered from Lori turning down her offer for a poly-amorous relationship, and Andrea gives Dale some crutches and he is able to get out of his bed.

Everything seems to be getting back to normal, though Dale now feels useless and worries Andrea and Tyreese are sleeping together. However, his fears prove baseless, as Andrea reveals that they were working together to make him a prosthetic leg. While leading a shooting party outside the fence, Andrea is asked by Alice to procure her a living Walker for study.

the-walking-dead-carolsdeathWhen Rick learns about it, he grabs a gun and prepares to shoot it. However, Alice talks him down by saying that this having one could help them immensely, both in fighting them and perhaps finding a cure. Carol meets with Lori again and asks that she take care of Sophia if anything happens to her. After Lori agrees, she goes off and has sex with Billy. After that, she goes to the chained Walker and lets it kill her.

the-walking-dead-governor-killthemallWhen they find her, Andrea shoots the Walker and then Carol. In the coming days, people try to come to grips with her death. Tyreese is mainly angry at her for killing herself, and finds comfort in the arms of Michonne. Slowly, everyone begins to recover again. And after several months of preparing, they begin to think that the feared confrontation with the Governor isn’t coming.

Suddenly, a large convoy of trucks and an armored vehicle pulls up at the fence line. A one-armed, one-eyed Governor emerges from the armored vehicle and declares “KILL THEM ALL!”

Volume 8 – Made to Suffer:
the-walking-dead-Volume_8-Made_to_SufferThe volume opens with a recount of what happened to the Governor after Rick, Michonne and the others escaped from Woodbury. After finding him mutilated, but still alive, his men brought him to the infirmary. Realizing that doc Stevens and Alice were gone, they pulled Bob – a former medic and alcoholic that they had been keeping in a cell – out and told him to save the Governor’s life.

Though he was not able to save the Governor’s eye, reattach his arm, or his manhood, he was able to stop the bleeding and keep him alive. Of course, much of the work had already been done by Michonne, who cauterized his arm with a blowtorch after severing it. In any case, the Governor woke up even crazier than before.

the-walking-dead-governor-speechAfter his men find Martinez’s remains, he orders the head removed and presents it to his people, claiming Rick’s party murdered Martinez and left it on their doorstep as a message. After whooping them into a frenzy, he went about the task of sending his people out to find the prison.

This proved easy after they found the National Guard post destroyed and followed their tracks. However, having found it, the Governor ordered his people to wait and so as to give Rick and his people a false sense of security. After a few months had passed, he ordered his people to load up and prepare for war.

In addition to guns, two troops trucks, and about half a dozen pickups, they also deployed an Infantry Fighting Vehicle they snagged from the Nati0n Guard base. When they arrive, fifty some odd men come behind the Governor, and he orders them to open fire and kill everyone inside. They oblige him, and the bullets begin to fly.the-walking-dead-governorattacksLuckily for the prison camp, a slew of Walkers are standing outside the gate and are poised between the Governor’s army and them. Rick orders everybody to find cover and tells Andrea to get up in the guard tower and start sniping. Running inside, he alerts Lori and tells her to get Patricia and the, and load up a truck with supplies and go without him.

He returns outside where the Governor orders his people to stop firing and issues an ultimatum – for their weapons, he will let them live. When no answer comes, he orders his men to resume firing, but Andrea starts shooting them. She manages to get a shot on the Governor but since he’s armored, he survives. She takes off her helmet to get a better shot and then takes out several of his men.

the-walking-dead-Andrea-ShootingUnfortunately, a bullet grazes her now unarmored head. The Governor’s men suggest taking down the fence, but the Governor knows the prison will be useless without fences. He orders the armored vehicle to start plowing down the Walkers to clear a path for their shots. They then open fire again and hit Axel. Andrea recovers and starts sniping multiple targets, and the Governor’s forces retreat.

With their attackers pulling back, the prison crew begin to come out of cover and take stock of their wounded. Axel’s arm is hit, but he’s otherwise unharmed. Andrea suffered a graze to the head and falls unconscious. Worse though, is Rick, who was hit in the stomach and collapses. All three are brought to the infirmary, and Rick’s condition doesn’t appear too good. Alice tells them Rick needs blood, and Patricia tells her she’s a universal donor, so she volunteers.

Dale speaks to Andrea and tells her they need to start thinking about getting out of dodge before they die. He asks Lori to come too; she refuses, but Dale insists that they take Sophia, Ben and Billy with them. Maggie and Glenn agree to go with them, and pack in the RV and drive off. Rick wakes up from his coma and takes stock of their situation. Having learned that people have left, he begins to think they won’t be able to deal with another attack.

Meanwhile, Michonne discusses a reprisal attack with Tyreese, hitting the Governor and his crew before they can make it back to Woodbury. He agrees, they put on riot gear and head out. Up the road, they find the Governor’s convoy and take out his sentries. However, things get sticky when more show up and start shooting. Tyreese is eventually captured and brought before the Governor, who’s men tell him that Michonne is dead and they present her sword as evidence.

the-walking-dead-tyreese-dies1Back at the prison, Rick overlooks their defenses and decides to reposition their cars and trucks to offer barriers. They also load up an escape truck with supplies, and bring out all the grenades they have to use in a hurry. He also gives Carl his gun and tells him to keep it on him at all times, and tells the watch to wear their remains riot suits at all times. They hear a gunshot and run to the front yard.

One of the governor’s trucks has come back. The back opens to reveal the Governor standing over Tyreese, and holding Michonne’s sword. He once again demands they open the gates, and threatens to execute Tyreese and Michonne, who he claims he’s got stashed away in the cabin. Rick won’t oblige, and the Governor proceeds to cut Tyreese’s head off. Billy opens fire, but the truck makes it away.

the-walking-dead-governor_michonneBack at his camp, the Governor is angered that his plan didn’t work, but he’s interrupted when Michonne shows up pointing a gun at his head. She is shot at and has to slip away, but manages to wound the Governor and grab her sword. The Governor, extremely pissed, orders his men to turn around and head back to the prison to finish their assault.

The shooting begins again, and Axel is hit in the head and killed. Rick’s people take cover beneath their trucks. Billy is pinned in his tower and begins lobbing grenades. Andrea and Dale show up again, with her sniping from the roof, and one of the Governor’s trucks slams into it, sending her to the ground. Still, the Governor’s people are dying faster than they can stand, and he commandeers the armored vehicle and drives it over the fence.

Rick runs back to find Lori, and sees her on her knees with a gun to her head. However, he’s relieved to see its Alice, and they were staging it since they thought Rick was one of the Governor’s men. They run to the front yard and prepare to load up and leave, but the front yard is now being overrun by the Governor’s people and Walkers. As they run out, they are hit by a hail of bullets and Patricia is killed.

the-walking-dead-lorisdeathBilly is killed and Hershel falls to his knees, crying over his body. Alice tells Rick, Lori and Carl to run and covers them from a doorway. She takes out a few men, but is shot and then finished off by the Governor. Rick, Lori and Carl are near the edge of the fence now, but Lori is hit by a bullet that kills her. She falls over and lands on Judith, killing her too. Rick is traumatized, but tells Carl to keep moving…

The Governor puts a gun to Hershel’s head and kills him. The woman who shot Lori sees her body and that of her baby and loses it. She slams her gun into the Governor’s face and sticks the barrel in his mouth. The group manages to stop her from shooting him, but is then overrun by Walkers. The Governor frees himself and tries to rally them, but the woman who shot Lori pulls her pistol and shoots the Governor in the back of the head.

the-walking-dead-governorsdeathHis body crumples to the ground and is eaten by Walkers. The rest of their group is surrounded by Walkers and they are either consumed or run off into the wilderness. On the nearby hillside, Rick and Carl finally make it to safety. Carl realizes that his mother and little sister didn’t make it and tries to run back. Rick holds him and they both begin to cry.

Differences with AMC’s The Walking Dead:
We find ourselves at last at the ending of season three of the Walking Dead, and with all the cumulative changes they made from the original story. And it was by this time that the biggest change in the show’s history took place, one which has made season four likely to be very different from any of the volumes that follow. But first, I want to cover the small stuff and things they didn’t change.

the-walking-dead-governorgunFirst off, the show did contain some commitment to the spirit of the comics in how the Governor and his men assaulted the prison on two separate occasions. In the first, they shot up the yard, killed Axel, and unleashed some zombies into it. The second was where the decisive battle happened, with the Governor and his people crashing through the gates and attempting to storm the prison in force.

And Axel and Lori did die in this general area of the story, but in different ways. Whereas Axel was killed during the Governor’s raid in the show, he didn’t die until the end when the final battle took place. Also, Lori’s death wasn’t due to an emergency C-section performed in a boiler room that saw her die and her baby live. Both she and the baby died in the final fight, terribly!

wd3_morgan1Also, the intervening period between these two battles took so much longer in the show, which I find annoying in hindsight. Much like with everything else in seasons two and three, the producers were determined to drag the confrontation out, what with Andrea trying to pick a side and brokering peace talks between Rick and the Governor. No such process ever took place in the comics. After Rick, Michonne and the rest escaped Woodbury, the Governor simply took his time in attacking, and then did!

What’s more, the buildup happened differently. Rather than show how the first assault had split the camp and people began to leave, the writers used this time to reintroduce Morgan and explain how his son died. A good episode, but once again, a case of shuffling. Morgan did not get reintroduced until after the prison assault, and he chose to join Rick and the others since Duane was now dead and he had no reason to stay behind. Also, they didn’t get their stocks of weapons from him.

wd3_oneeyeAlso, I should take this opportunity to point out that at no point in the original comics did Rick and his people assault Woodbury. Their initial confrontation didn’t involve an attack to rescue their own people who’d been taken captive (Glenn and Maggie), it involved Rick, Michonne and Glenn being taken captive and tortured. There was no ambiguity about the Governor’s motives or the fact that he was an evil, malicious bastard.

In the show, they presented things in a more ambiguous way. While they certainly kept to the script by showing the Governor to be a psycho who treated all foreign groups as a threat and killed them, the way they had Rick and his crew attacking his town first kind of made it look like he was a sort of victim. Psycho or not, hitting him and his people where they lived was a lot like poking an already angry bear.

At this point in season three, Milton also begins to turn against the Governor and sabotages his plans. This might be a good opportunity for me to point out that in the comics – as Doctor Stevens – he was never a friend of the Governor in the first place. What’s more, he died a long time ago. Having yet another character struggle with their loyalties – a la Andrea and Dale – seemed like they were harping on an overly-familiar theme.

wd3_tyreeseAh, and another weird case of plot shuffling – at this point in season three we are FINALLY introduced to Tyreese, a character that was supposed to be with the show from the beginning. And in addition to his late arrival, his companions were completely different from the comic. Instead of his daughter Judie and Chris her boyfriend, he came with his sister Sasha and father and son duo who didn’t exist in the original.

On top of that, there was no case of him experiencing a crossover with the Governor and Woodbury or a conflicted sense of loyalties. Also, I couldn’t see why it was necessary to have Rick chase them off and then have them learn that the Governor’s camp were the actual bad guys. Wasn’t Andrea, Milton and Merle enough on that front? All of this seemed like a very weird case of late introductions followed by an inexplicable plot mashup.

And, most importantly, he was supposed to die at this point in the story. Not only is he being introduced late, he’s being introduced at a point in the story when his original was killed off. Seems weird. And I should also point out that Carol was also dead at this point, the victim of tragic circumstance after her attempted suicide left her feeling without friends or respect. But as usual, she’s still alive in the show despite not having much to do.

the-walking-dead-season3endBut alas, the biggest and most disappointing change came in the final battle and its outcome. In the comic, it was a devastating event, resulting in the deaths of Hershel, his son Billy, Alison, Patricia, Lori, Judith, and Axel. Rick and a handful of others managed to make it out, but only by the skin of their teeth, and the Governor himself died in the assault. The only other people who could be alive at this point were the ones who’d already left.

It was not the abortive event they made it out to be in the show, with the Governor’s people fleeing at the first sign of trouble, him gunning them all down, and then leaving with his henchmen to be heard from at some later date. That I found pretty lame, and I was hardly alone in that. He shot twenty-some odd of his own people and his henchmen – who were supposed to be dead at this point – had nothing to say about it. Then they simply drove off… weak!

And of course, after the battle Rick and the others traveled to Woodbury, collected all the people there and brought them back to the prison. This was so far off script that I wasn’t sure how to respond. So now, instead of Rick and Carl wandering around in the wilderness looking for other survivors, battling hunger, Walkers, and their own grief, they are back at the prison with more people than before and trying to integrate them. Night and day, man. Night and day!

All in all, season three was a watered-down, convoluted version of the original comics. It took its time and tried real hard to get its audience emotionally involved, but instead turned into a big build-up towards and ending that was a big letdown. Not only did the whole thing fizzle at the end, the way they left it open-ended seemed a bit trite and commercial too. But of course, its television. What can you do?

Summary:
If it wasn’t clear from all of that, reading the comics really had a dire impact of my view on the show. But then again, after the season three closer, I was already kind of disenchanted. Season two was not my favorite by any stretch due to the slow pace and the way the conflicts dragged out. And after what I thought was a good first half to the third season, the second half began to feel like more of the same.

And perhaps I’m being unfair, but being able to see how they changed things has only made that worse. It’s not the fact that they made changes, mind you. To fault for them just for doing that would be a terrible act of geek-inspired snobbery! No, it was how they made these changes and why. Between leaving some people out, pushing others in, and shuffling plot elements around, I really can’t see the logic here.

Why did they choose not to introduce Tyreese until this late juncture? Why did they choose to make the Governor’s assault on the prison so incompetent? Why did they feel the need to humanize this evil man so very much? Why did Andrea have such a hard time accepting he was evil when all the evidence was there? Why did they choose to replace well-developed characters from the comics with some of the “highest paid extras” and then just proceed kill them off?

Who knows? Who cares? At this point in the show, they can do what they like. And from the trailers, it seems like they might be veering back towards the original plot anyway, having Rick and his people abandon the prison and head off in search of a new home. Doesn’t really make sense, when you consider the hell they went through to find the place and hold it.

But whatever, more changes aren’t going to hurt at this point. And frankly, I am curious to see what happens next. And you can bet I’ll be doing comparative reviews, since I’ll be doing them anyway in my mind and will probably want to share my observations. Consider yourself warned people!

Until next time, thanks for reading and remember…

zombie_keepcalm

Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead – Part III

Walking-Dead-Volume-5Back with the third installment of my review on Robert Kirkman’s classic tale of the zombie apocalypse, and the AMC miniseries that bears its name. Last time, I got into volume 3 and 4, which became the basis of the series first half, or at least much of the material they covered. Today, I will be covering volumes 5 and 6, which manages to cover the rest of the material from the first half of season three… sort of.

I know, confusing! But as I’ve said before, the show’s producers and writers took some rather large liberties when it came to season three, most of which seemed to be the result of changes made to season two. With Shane only dying at the end of that season, and Andrea getting lost in the wilderness and separated from the pack, and Merle’s ongoing disappearing act, it was predictable that the parts of the story dealing with the prison and the Governor would also be handled differently.

Volume 5 – The Best Defense:
the-walking-dead-thebestdefenseThe new volume opens with Rick, Dale, and Tyreese performing a final sweep of the prison to make sure the last of the cell blocks is clear. Things are strained between Rick and Tyreese, but time seems to have healed the rift a little. Glenn and Maggie find them and tell them they found the armory, which is stocked full of guns and suits of riot gear.

Outside, they test the riot gear by doing a sweep outside of the walls. It proves effective and they managed to take out several Walkers with ease. Their sweep is interrupted when they hear a noise coming from overhead, but they are enthused when they learn that its coming from a passing helicopter. That changes when they realize that it’s crashing in the distance.

A scouting part is formed with Rick, Glenn and Michonne. They commandeer a car from the parkade and head out to search for the crash site. Back inside, Lori continues to worry about Carol’s odd behavior towards her. The two have taken to distributing books from the library and planning movie nights now that they have electricity and some DVDs.

the-walking-dead-choppercrashRick, Glenn and Michonne follow the smoke plume from the crashed chopper to a nearby forest. After their car gets stuck, they are forced to make the last of the leg on foot. When they finally come to the wreckage, they see several sets of footprints leading from the chopper, which means someone took the crew away. They begin to follow the tracks to a nearby town called Woodbury.

Back at the prison, Andrea and Dale talk to Allen’s two son’s – Ben and Billy – and let them know that they will be taking care of them from now on since both their mother and father have died. Lori’s fears are confirmed when Carol suggests a polyamorous relationship between her, Lori and Rick. She naturally shoots the idea down, and Carol storms away in anger.

the-walking-dead-thegovernorWhen Rick, Glenn and Michonne reach the town’s fence line, guns open fire and take out the Walkers pursuing them. They are pulled inside by a man named Martinez and other armed guards, and showed to a man called the Governor. He naturally wants to know who they are, and they lie and say they have been traveling.

He shows them around the town and explains they have a four block radius that is protected by walls, with intentions to expand of course. The highlight of the tour is a stadium where they have live gladiatorial-style fights, which involving Walkers. When Rick asks how they are keeping them alive – i.e. fed – the Governor tells them “Well stranger, we’re feeding them strangers.”

the-walking-dead-rickshandRick and the others are immediately taken captive, and the Governor tells them that the chopper crew is being cut up to be fed to the Walkers. The purpose of the games is to keep the peace, he says, as people need distractions and release. He demands to know where Rick and his party came from, where they got their armor, and to make his point, he chops off Rick’s right hand.

Michonne tackles him and bites off his ear, and the Governor orders her thrown in a cell so he can deal with her personally. Glenn is tossed in another cell and Rick is hauled to their resident doctor, who is clearly hostile towards him. He then goes to Michonne, who is conversing with her dead boyfriend, looking for strength, and proceeds to beat and rape her.

the-walking-dead-governor-headsRick wakes up in the infirmary, tackles the doctor when he comes in and the nurse if forced to sedate him. Finished with Michonne for the night, the Governor heads home and meets his daughter, a Walker that he is keeping alive. After feeding her parts from the chopper crew, he takes the heads and placing them in a tank where dozens of other Walker heads are suspended in water.

He then goes to Glenn and demands he tell them where they came from. When Glenn won’t reply, he goes back to Michonne’s cell and beats her terribly, making his listen. He then visits Rick next to get his ear patched up, and tells Rick that Glenn told him everything about the prison. He also says he let him go and plans to follow him back.

the-walking-dead-tyreesscoutingAt the prison, everyone continues to worry about Rick and the others. Carol attempts to comfort Lori, is once again brushed off. Tyreese puts on another riot suit and heads out to pick up their trail. When he returns, they are forced to drive out to get him and pull him inside. He tells them all he found their car, but there was no sign of them. Back at Woodbury, the Governor reveals that he was bluffing, and that Glenn is still in his custody.

Volume 6 – This Sorrowful Life:
the-walking-dead-6-This_Sorrowful_LifeWhile in the infirmary, Rick is told by Stevens – the doctor – that he wants to help him, but that they are both under guard. A fight between two gladiators and when stabs the other in the neck. The Governor tells Michonne that if she steps into the ring and gives the crowd a good show, he will give her a few days grace.

Michonne is takes to the field with her sword amidst a huge crowd and proceeds to very quickly decapitate her opponent and all the Walkers chained up around her. The crowd is incensed and the Governor orders taken back to her cell. Rick meanwhile befriends the nurse Alice and learns that she too would like to escape.

the-walking-dead-woodburyescapeThey get their wish when Martinez comes in and tells them he’s defecting, and they need to leave now if they are going to make it out. They find Glenn, whom Rick thought was dead, and learns that the Governor doesn’t yet know where the prison is. They make it to Michonne’s cell and free her too, and Alice and the doc join them.

They head for the wall and wait for Stevens to get some supplies from the infirmary, and Michonne tells them she needs to go visit the Governor and will catch up with them, or not. Once they make it over, doc Stevens is bitten and they are forced to shoot him and the Walker, thus alerting people inside the town. They begin to beat a hasty retreat, knowing they’ll have guards to worry about soon.

the-walking-dead-governor-remainsMichonne breaks into the Governor’s apartment and they begin to fight it out. She overpowers him quickly enough and then chains him up. As soon as he wakes up, she begin to go to work on him with a number of power tools. By the time his henchmen come to the door, Michonne has cut off his arm, removed his eye, sodomized him with a spoon, and removed his manhood. She then flees and catches up with Rick and the others, and refuses to talk about it.

They begin to proceed back to the prison and are attacked by multiple waves of Walkers. Luckily, they find their way back to their old car and drive the rest of the way. When they arrive, they find the front yard overrun by Walkers and fear the worst. The issue ends with a quick look over at Morgan and Duane, who are still in their old hometown and enjoying Christmas together.

the-walking-dead-issue35Glenn drives into the yard and crashes the car into the far wall. The other follow, forcibly cutting a path. Rick finds Otis’ reanimated corpse on the ground, and Alice runs to pull Glenn out of the wreck. Andrea and Dale emerge from the RV and begin to provide cover. The explain that the Walkers got in after Tyreese came back from looking for them, that Otis and Hershel were bit, and that the rest ran inside.

While Andrea and Martinez provide cover, Rick gets the front door open and lets them inside. Hershel is there to meet him and tells him he was wounded by “friendly fire”. Lori and Carl come to greet him and are shocked to see he lost his hand. Telling him to sit this one out, Tyreese leads the others outside to clear the rest of the yard.

the-walking-dead-martinezdiesNext day, they begin burning the Walkers, but Glenn asks them to stop long enough to fetch a wedding ring from one the bodies. Alice looks Lori over and determines that her pregnancy is coming along nicely and she is healthy. Aside from the death of Otis, everything seems fine. Until Rick learns that Martinez is missing, and suspects they’ve been had…

Rick grabs the RV and starts driving off alone to find him. Within minutes, he spots Martinez running across the field and rams the truck into him. While standing over his broken body, Martinez tells Rick he wanted to get his own people into the prison and away from the Governor. Rick tells him he doesn’t know what people are capable of, but Martinez replies that he’s beginning to see, and Rick chokes the last of his life out of him.

the-walking-dead-glennmaggie_marriedBack at the prison, Glenn asks Hershel’s permission to wed Maggie, which he agrees to. Maggie does too, and they decide to hold a wedding and let Hershel officiate. Rick returns and tells Lori how he killed Martinez and that he doesn’t know who he is anymore. He calls a meeting and tells everyone about Woodbury, the Governor, and how they need to prepare for their arrival…

Differences to AMC’s The Walking Dead:
Picking up where I left off last time, it should be clear to anyone at this point what the biggest divergence was at this point in the adaptation. Namely, Lori isn’t dead! Yes, by this point in the show, she was not only nine months but pregnant, but died in the delivery due to complications caused by one of the inmates (Andrew) who escaped and came back to cause trouble. Never happened! Moving on…

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????The introduction to the Governor and Woobdury was also something that happened much quicker in the comic book, and didn’t involve a separate thread where Andrea and Michonne wandered in. What remained true to the spirit of the comic was the involvement of a crashed helicopter, which Andrea and Michonne tracked until they came upon the Governor’s own people. But beyond that, things happened very differently.

Also, the fights that the Governor stages were very different, with the version presented by the show being a rather benign affair where the Walkers had their teeth removed. The fact that Andrea approved of them seemed weird, but then again, so was her relationship with the Governor. Much like the feud between Shane and Rick, the way this tested her loyalties was something that I felt dragged out inexorably in season three.

WD3_dead_merleWhat’s more, when the two camps did come together in the form of the Governor taking some of the prison crew captive, it was Glenn and Maggie he grabbed in the show, not Glenn, Rick and Michonne. Instead of torturing and raping Michonne, the Governor instead threatened to rape Maggie while Glenn listened. But alas, he didn’t, nor did he chop anyone’s hands off. He still came off as cruel, but nowhere near as psychotic as he was in the comics.

In fact, vast efforts were made to humanize the Governor throughout the third season, which I did not understand. Many a time, it felt like the writers were trying to steer the audience back to seeing the good in him, like they couldn’t make up their minds as to whether he was truly crazy, or just hardened and redeemable. After the first few episodes, it seemed established that his outer persona of the benevolent Governor concealed his inner, psychotic self. Best to leave it at that and move on.

WD3_suffer_pennyAlso, Michonne’s disdain and hate for the Governor also seemed somewhat unjustified in the show since he never took her captive or abused her in the first place. This made the showdown scene with him later seem remarkably toned down and less justified. In the comics, she mutilated him horribly in revenge for torturing and raping her. But in the show, she kills his Walker daughter and stabs him in the eye because… she just never liked him. Way less convincing!

Another element which was missing here was Carol’s descent into quasi-madness. As I’ve said before, not having Tyreese or Sophia around left a big, gaping hole in her story. And some abortive romantic tension between her and Daryl really didn’t fill that void. Instead, she seemed to grow stronger and more confident, never really doing much, but still exuding a toughness that wasn’t there in her before.

WD3_dead_carolGlenn and Maggie’s courtship was adapted truly though. In the comics, as with the show, they truly came together once they began living in the prison. And faced with the prospect of death, they decided to make every moment count and got married. And of course, Hershel approved and officiated. In this one case, everything was by the book.

And of course, I could mention that so much of this depended on Merle, who in the show was practically the Governor’s right hand man. He was the one who captured Maggie and Glenn, tortured Glenn, and then tried to feed him to a Walker. At this point in the comics, Otis did die, but Axel was still alive, and of course Tyreese was part of the camp.

Summary:
In short, it seemed like at this point, the show’s writers were determined to keep things true to the spirit of the comic, if not the letter. But the changes were very vast and sweeping, and required them to seriously retool many plot elements. Also, as I mentioned, great pains were taken to create a sense of tension with regards to divided loyalties, with both Andrea and Merle, that never took place in the original.

While it seemed creative to bring Merle back into the fold by putting him in with their enemy, Andrea’s relationship with the Governor and the way she became torn with the whole “can’t we all get along” became very drawn out and tedious. And as more than one friend remarked to me, the way she kept trusting in the Governor and giving him the benefit of the doubt made her seem like a bit of an idiot.

But of course, much of this hadn’t come up yet and the show still seemed fresh in my mind. The biggest change was the fact that Lori had been killed off and Rick was beginning to lose it as a result. This called to mind how he began to lose it in the last volume when Carol nearly killed herself and he and Tyreese had their terrible fight. But again, this was a case of removing one thing and subbing another. Doesn’t seem true to the spirit of the story when you keep doing a cut and paste job like that…

One more installment to go before I’ve caught up to the show! I tell ya, I’m not sure what to expect out of season four, but I can tell you that it’s likely to be so widely divergent from the comics at this point that just about anything could be done. And that’s my problem, since I disapprove on the one hand, but am made more curious as a result.

Man, this is so much easier with Game of Thrones. By comparison, those people really stay on script!