The Walking Dead – Season Five Premiere!

WD_Season5“They’re f@$!#ing with the wrong people!” Those were the words that capped off the season four finale. At least, they were before the show’s writers decided to censor themselves and changed it to “screwing”. In any case, the show ended with Rick and his party arriving at Terminus only to find that the advertised oasis was a lie – a trap designed to lure unsuspected people in for some nefarious purpose.

Naturally, the blogosphere explodedediately after with various people offering their own theories as to what Terminus represented and what they intended for Rick and his crew. The smart money appeared to be on cannibalism, as it seemed most consistent with what happened in the comics, not to mention the odd room with all candles and the words “NEVER AGAIN. NEVER TRUST. WE FIRST, ALWAYS” written on the wall.

In the weeks leading up to the premiere, fans were also warned that this season would be darker and bloodier, and the preview poster – which showed Rick sporting a new beard – had the words “hunt or be hunted” scrolled across it. Between all these hints and warning, the fanbase was pretty much stoked and there was no surprises when the premiere opened at a record-breaking 17.3 million viewers, beating out their previous record of 16.1 million.

And this past Sunday, the big reveal happened in an episode that was appropriately titled…

No Sanctuary:
https://storiesbywilliams.files.wordpress.com/2014/10/913a6-the-walking-dead-5-temporada-trailer-07.jpgThe episode opens with a flashback where two residents of Terminus – Chris and Alex – are being held prisoner. They reflect on how they chose to remain human in the midst of the crisis, and suffered for it. Flashing back to the present, we see Rick and the others preparing to make a break for it as soon as the door to the railcar is opened. However, they are surprised when a flashbang is thrown in through the roof and they are then carried out.

Rick, Glenn, Daryl, and Bob are then taken to a kill room where they see a body being carved up. Four others are positioned alongside them over a metal trough, and two men begin butchering them one by one. Chris comes in to take stock and pauses the killing long enough to ask Rick about the bag he stashed out in the woods. Things are about to start again when shooting from outside and an explosion sends everyone to the ground.

http://i2.wp.com/geektasticpodcast.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/walking-dead-trailer.jpg?resize=620%2C344Outside of town, Tyreese, Carol and Judith continue on their way towards town when they come across a herd. They hide and are saved when gunfire distracts and lures the herd away. They proceed towards the source, and find Alex out on sentry duty and talking over a walkie-talkie about Carl and Michonne. They take him prisoner in a small shed and Carol goes on ahead while Tyreese remains behind to watch him with Judith.

After covering herself with gore and mud, she proceeds to the edge of town and sees Rick, Daryl, Bob and Glenn being taken inside. At the same time, the herd begins to approach the fence line and the guards begin to run away. Using her sniper rifle, Carol shoots a gas tank sitting by the fence and uses a firework to detonate it, killing a dozen Walkers and breaching the fence in the process.

https://i0.wp.com/www.geekchicelite.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/twdno1.jpgChaos ensues as the Walkers move in and begin attacking the town and Carol slips in amongst them. Chris leaves the kill room to assess the situation while Rick uses a piece of sharpened wood to saw through his restraints. He kills the two men and then sets the others free, and the four proceed out into the compound. Fighting against both Walkers and guards, they seize weapons and free the others.

Back at the shed, the noise from the explosions and gunfire begins to draw Walkers. Alex gets free, takes Judith hostage and forces Tyreese to disarm and go outside. He steps out and is grabbed by several Walkers, but all noise stops a moment later. Alex takes Tyreese’s knife and begins inching towards the door, and Tyreese breaks back in, slams him on the grounds and begins beating him to death.

https://i0.wp.com/i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/10/13/1413173366927_wps_50_The_Walking_Dead_Season_P.jpgMeanwhile, Carol begins looking for Rick and the others inside. After finding her way into a building, she comes across a stash of stolen goods and finds Daryl’s crossbow. Eventually, she comes to the strange room where she is confronted by Mary, the town matriarch. They fight, Carol gets the upper hand, and Mary explains how the town became the place that it is:

The signs… they were real. It was a sanctuary. People came and took this place. And they raped, and they killed, and they left… over weeks! But we got out, and we fought, and we got it back! And we heard the message: you’re the butcher, or you’re the cattle…

Carol shoots Mary in the leg, and then lets a group of Walkers in to finish her. In the rail car, the rest try to decide whether they should break out into the chaos or wait. Sasha asks Eugene what the cure is, and he explains that he once worked for the Human Genome Project as part of a team that weaponized viruses to fight other weaponized viruses. He claims that with his knowledge, they can kill all the Walkers if they can get to Washington DC.

https://i2.wp.com/cdn.bloody-disgusting.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/BzysAj2IUAEZ2yV.png-large-620x400.pngRick then shows up and lets them out, and they all fight their way to the fence. They make it out and proceed into the woods, where Rick digs up the pack he buried and tells them they are going back to finish the job. The group tells Rick its pointless since they are as good as dead, Carol emerges from the trees and is embraced by Daryl and Rick. She tells them to follow her up the road, where they rejoin Tyreese and Judith.

Rick is elated to learn his baby girl is still alive and Sascha her brother. They decide to move on up the rails again, and Rick finds a sign pointing towards Terminus and wipes out all but two words: “No Sanctuary”. The episode ends with another flashback where Chris, Alex and Mary are being held together, and Chris says they will take it back, repeating the adage: “You’re either the butcher, or you’re the cattle.”

https://i1.wp.com/i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/10/13/1413173605905_wps_66_The_Walking_Dead_Season_P.jpgAnd in a post-episode peek, we are shown a figure who is following the tracks and comes across the sign. He spots symbols carved into the trees and begins following them. Once he removes his mask, we learn that it’s Rick’s old friend Morgan.

Summary:
I quite enjoyed this episode, and for a few reasons. For one, it delivered on its promise of a darker, bloodier feel, even though this was hardly lacking in the previous seasons. It also handled the whole “good people gone evil” theme very well. Despite everything they do and the evil they commit, the people portraying the Terminites (Terminans?) managed to capture the inherent sense of desperation and anger powering them.

This is the very core Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead, which is how otherwise good and civilized people can do terrible things when push comes to shove. And since it was something that didn’t happen in the comics, but was loosely based on it, it made for just enough of a surprise. And of course, few people could argue with the fact that the action was pretty badass too, and the reunions pretty heartfelt.

The only things I would criticize is the character arc of Carol. By now, people can’t fail to notice that she’s become the female version of Rambo. At the end, Rick asks her “did you do that?” And by that, he means rescuing them by single-handedly blowing up a section of wall, letting a herd overrun a small town, and then taking out the town’s matriarch. Yes, somehow, a “thank you” and a “welcome back” would seem appropriate.

But this really doesn’t seem fitting for Carol. As I’ve said before, she went from being an abused, put-upon housewife to a bereaved mother, then an independent woman, then a character who had little to do, all before becoming some ruthless woman who immolated people to prevent the spread of disease. Now, she’s a one-woman army who kicks ass and takes names.

It’s cool, but it’s not exactly realistic. What’s more, Michonne is supposed to be the ass-kicking heroine of that bunch, not Carol. The way her character kind of got sidelined in this episode really drove that home for me. And Sasha is also a strong female presence, same as Maggie. So I do wonder if her character’s not just a bit superfluous at this point. And considering she was long-dead by now in the comics, I have a hard time taking her seriously.

Also, Tyreese’s character has seemed just a little too gentle for my tastes. I very much liked how he took out several Walkers with his bare hands and then beat that Alex kid to death. This is the Tyreese I know and remember from the comics, a big, strong, troubled man who did what he had to, even though he didn’t enjoy it one bit. The TV show’s Tyreese, while certainly likeable, seems too much like a big teddy bear to me.

Otherwise, I like what they’ve done so far this season and where they are going. At this point, Morgan is poised to rejoin the group, and from the previews, it seems clear that they are now converging back on comic book material (i.e. finding a preacher and taking him in), all the while working their way towards Washington DC.

*As a side note, I should point out that, despite what some fans saw in the ending, the producers have indicated that that was NOT Negan making an appearance near the end of the episode. However, I imagine that’s what the shows producers intended when they cast that look alike, as the intro of Negan could turn out to be season 5 material. Stay tuned!

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:
WD4_16_0
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 4, Episode 15

The Walking Dead SDCC Season 4The penultimate episode of season four has aired! The climax is approaching, and after last week’s exploration of brutality and corrupted innocence, this week’s was rather soft and cushy by comparison. A good thing too, I don’t know if anyone came away from that one unscarred! In addition, this week also began bringing season 4.5’s various plot threads together – and by that I mean the different bands of characters who, up until now, have been separated and looking for each other.

At the same time, it answered a few burning questions, and left some others for next week. For example, we finally get a glimpse of that big ol’ MacGuffin that the latter half of the season has been revolving around – aka. Terminus. But of course, the bigger question of what it represents – salvation, or false hope – remains to be seen. Next week, it all comes together. But in the meantime, here’s what happened this week…

Us:
wd4_15_0The episode opens with Glenn, Tara, Abraham, Rosita and Eugene carrying on down the railroad tracks and getting to know each other. Along the way, they find another road map with Maggie’s writing on it, telling Glenn to go to Terminus. After running some distance, Abraham tells Glenn they need to stop and rest in a water tower. However, a Walkers emerges from it and nearly lands on them, which sends Tara to the ground, hurting her knee.

Tara says she’s okay to walk, and Glenn insists that they keep going. To make it happen, he promises to hand his riot gear over to Eugene to ensure his safety. They come to another message painted on the side of a tunnel, but hear Walkers inside and debate going around. Glenn decides to proceed through with Tara and avoid a day-long detour, but Abraham and his group choose to take the detour route and promise to meet them on the other side.

WD4_15_1When they get deeper into the tunnel, they find a slew of Walkers pinned under a fallen section of the ceiling. Glenn worries that this would have prevented Maggie and the others from getting through, but Tara concludes that it had to have happened today. Glenn proceeds through it and inspects the Walkers to make sure none are Maggie or the others, and they begin killing them. Once they make it over, they find a dozen or more Walkers on the other side, which begin to approach them.

Outside, Abraham, Rosita and Eugene double back to the last intersection and find a vehicle, which they plan to start driving for Washington DC again. However, Eugene insists on navigating and tells Abraham to sleep, then misdirects Rosita so that they end up back on the railroad on the other side of the tunnel, where Glenn and Tara are expected to emerge. Abraham wakes up and they begin to argue, until Eugene warns them of something that’s approaching them from the tunnel.

wd4_15_3Back in the tunnel, Glenn once again is scanning the faces of the Walkers, making sure Maggie isn’t one of them and finding no traces of bodies on the ground. Tara says they don’t have enough ammo to make it through and insists they turn around, but Glenn demands that they push through. Tara’s leg gets caught by a piece of concrete and she tells Glenn to leave her, which draws the Walkers closer. Glenn tries to fight it out, and they are both saved when a group arrives from the opposite end in a vehicle and opens fire on the Walkers.

After shooting them all dead, Maggie runs forward and embraces Glenn. Her group had met up with Abraham, Rosita and Eugene on the road and came in to help them through. They make camp in the cave and introductions are made. Abraham tells them that Eugene knows what caused the walker outbreak and once again says they should head to Washington. But Eugene insists they continue to Terminus first and a consensus is struck. Maggie takes the picture Glenn was keeping of her and burns it, saying he will never need it again.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Elsewhere, we catch up with Daryl’s new found companions, the group of armed men led by Joe. Daryl heads out to hunt and is joined by Harley, and the two begin to fight over a wild rabbit they both have claim to. Joe intervenes and tells Daryl that they live by a strict rules to ensure that things don’t get chaotic. By the rules of their band, everyone is forced to lay “claim” to something and respect it, and he then splits the rabbit between them.

As they continue on, Joe insists that Daryl join them since no one can make it alone anymore, despite Daryl’s insistence that he’s better off by himself. He also fills Daryl in on the rules – you claim; if you steal, you kill; and don’t lie – and the punishment for breaking any of them, which is a beating. They take shelter in a rail station for the night, find a bunch of cars inside, and begin claiming them for the night. Daryl, having made no claim, sleeps on the floor.

wd4_15_4During the night, Harley confronts Daryl and accuses him of stealing his half of the rabbit they killed. Joe inspects Daryl’s bag and finds the missing half, and Daryl accuses him of planting it there. Joe orders that Harley be beaten and tells Daryl that he saw do it. In the morning, Daryl finds Harley’s body outside with an arrow in his head and covers him up. On the road, they see a sign to Terminus, and Joe reveals that this is where they are headed, mainly because they are tracking the guy who murdered one of their own (Rick!).

At the end of the line at last, Maggie, Glenn and the others see a building with the name TERMINUS painted on it in large letters. They enter through a gate and find a series of small gardens and come to a large barbeque being tended by a woman. She identifies herself as Mary (though Trekkies and geeks will probably recognize her as Tasha Yar), and welcomes them to Terminus.

Summary:
Straight off the bat, let me say that I enjoyed this episode. It had just enough twists and turns to be interesting, and revealed enough that it was enjoyable. At this point in the season, that is to be expected since they can no longer afford to drag things out or confound viewers with 11th hour complications. I was glad for that much. I was also pretty pleased with the way they answered some important questions and brought key members of the cast back together finally.

Naturally, the big focus of this episode was the reunion of Maggie and Glenn, something which we’ve been waiting for since season 4.5 started. And I liked how they went about doing this, showing one group retracing the others’ steps and then meeting up in the middle. But another thing I enjoyed just as much was the way they revealed Joe and his group’s story. For some time now, we’ve been seeing them pop up and wondering what their angle in all this is.

Obviously, they are a bunch of marauding survivalists that no one in their right mind would turn their back on. And Daryl’s involvement with them represents a conflict which is sure to be resolved next week (echoes of Merle’s involvement with the Governor here…) But I also wondered if they were related to Terminus at all, if it was their base camp or a trap they were leaving out for unsuspecting wanderers. I also wondered if they played any role in Beth’s disappearance.

Now, it would seem that they are just an armed group of survivalists looking to make their way and take from others. The reason they are heading towards Terminus has everything to do with their last encounter with Rick, and apparently nothing to do with the town itself. And Beth’s disappearance? Well, that wasn’t revealed, but I’d bet dollars to doughnuts this Terminus community is a cooky social experiment and she was kidnapped by them because they are looking for women of child-bearing age. Seriously, anyone want to take that bet?

Ah yes, and at last, we got a glimpse of the place itself and now know that it does in fact exist. We did not find that the place was overrun and the promise of salvation it once offered had expired long ago. Nor was it an obvious trap where men with guns jump out and murder anyone willing to accept the invite. If anything – and this is a key part of that bet I’m making – it’s Woodbury 2.0, a seemingly nice community who’s happy exterior hides a dark and sinister interior.

In any case, that and other things will be answered next week. And as the sneak peak shows, we will be hearing from Rick, Michonne and Carl; who I imagine will have some ‘splaining to do once the marauders catch up with them. And of course, it won’t end well, mainly because things never do on The Walking Dead. Actually, they never really end at all. They just keep going and going, despite themselves. But in a post-post-apocalyptic landscape beset by rotting zombies and evil people, what else can you do?

The Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 13

The-Walking-Dead-season-4-wallpapers-7This week on the Walking Dead… more pacing, more backstory, more filler! After last week’s bottle episode that focused entirely on Daryl Dixon and Beth Greene in the wilderness, we got a more balanced episode that saw more from that unlikely duo, plus some updates on Beth, Bob and Sasha as they continue to look for Glenn and proceed towards Terminus. And as usual, we got to hear a bit more about their pasts and got another earful about the need to “keep hanging on”.

Throw in some more kills and foraging, and you’ve got yourself another pacing episode as we near the season four conclusion. I know, it sounds like I’m being critical. But in honesty, I found it entertaining and enjoyable.

Alone:
wd4_13_1The episode opens with a flashback on Bob Crowley’s life before he reached the prison. This consisted of wandering through the woods, maintaining a thousand-yard-stare, and then getting picked up by Daryl and Glenn as they found him on the road. As is their custom, they asked him the two big questions: “How many Walkers have you killed?” and “How many people have you killed?” He then joins them, indifferent to what kind of people they might be since he’s sick of being alone.

Flash forward to the present where he, Maggie and Sasha are still searching for Glenn. After fending off a group of walkers in the mist, they proceed to the railroad tracks where they too find a sign showing them how to get to Terminus. Maggie insists they go to this town since she’s sure Glenn would have if he saw the sign, but Sasha thinks its a trap. Grudgingly, they stay together and follow the tracks to the destination.

wd4_13_3Meanwhile, Beth and Daryl continue to track through the woods and Beth is injured when she steps in a small trap. They proceed to a funeral home surrounded by a vast graveyard and put in their for the night, noticing that someone else seems to have taken up residence. As they eat and wait, they continue to bond. Beth is insistent that Daryl accept that there are still good people in the world, but realizes he does because of her.

As they wait for Beth’s leg to heal, a dog comes around to the house and tripping their string of cans. One night, it returns, and Daryl opens the door to find a herd of walkers fighting to get in. Daryl lures them to the embalming room in the basement where he uses surgical tools to kill them while Beth escapes out the back. When Daryl makes it to the road, he sees her bag lying on the ground and a car drive off.

wd4_13_4Daryl runs through the night, following the road, and finds his way to the tracks where he finally collapses. He is then found by a group of armed men who appear to want to scavenge his equipment. A standoff ensues as Daryl points his crossbow at their leader, a man named Joe. We recognize him as one of the gunmen who Rick run afoul of earlier, and he encourages Daryl to come with them and “hurt other people”.

During the night, Sasha suggest to Bob they abandon the search, find the nearest building, and hold up. The next morning, they a wake to find that Maggie has gone on without them. They head along the tracks, hoping to catch her, and find that she’s left a trail of carved messages telling Glenn to go to Terminus. They eventually find their way to a series of buildings and Sasha once again suggests they set down there, but Bob insists they continue.

wd4_13-2Bob challenges Sasha to maintain hope that they find Tyreese and the others at Terminus; but sensing she won’t come, kisses her goodbye. He heads off alone again, and Sasha heads into the tall brick building. Looking out the window, she spots Maggie sleeping below. She accidentally knocks a window pane, which wakes up Maggie and causes Walkers to converge on her. Together, they manage to fight them off.

Maggie tells Sasha that she heard all she said, but that she was still waiting for Sasha and Bob to catch up since she needs them. They come together and eventually find Bob, and proceed on their way to Terminus. Somewhere else along the tracks, Glenn stops to read from a map that points the way to the same location…

Summary:
Compared to last week’s episode, this bit of filler proved to be more entertaining, thanks in no small part to the inclusion of Maggie, Bob and Sasha’s thread. It also managed to hint at what’s coming, thanks to the introduction of Joe and his party of  hunters/marauders. We already know from episodes past that they are some bad news, so I imagine Daryl will have his hands full in the near future.

I also enjoyed the shooting locations for this episode and the action sequences. Maggie really redefined the word badass with the way she used a street sign like it was a battleaxe, chopping and hewing her way through a horde of zombie heads. And that last shot, where she decapitated one of the biters? Holy crap, that was good! And of course, Sasha did pretty good too, wielding a sharpened stick like it was a combination spear/bo staff.

Alas, there were things I didn’t like much about this episode. For one, they seem to be running headlong towards a romantic entanglement between Beth and Daryl. I imagine there are some people out there clamoring for it to happen, but c’mon people! She’s still a child and Daryl is not the type to play the creepy old man! Still, the dynamic between them is very effective, and the budding relationship is touching. I just think it would be better if it didn’t get romantic!

And unlike other episodes, the title wasn’t so double-entendre-y this week. It was very much obvious, and harped on yet another theme that is growing tired on this show. Yes, the message of this week’s episode was more than clear: no one can make it out here alone. And of course this plays into the whole “we got to keep holding on” message that is played at least once an episode.

And what’s also a little bothersome is the fact that next week’s episode looks like more of the same. After hearing from Rick, Carl and James, Daryl and Beth, and now Maggie, Bob and Sasha, we’re about to get a bottle episode dedicated to Tyreese, Carol and the girls.

But there’s only three episodes left and they are already dropping hints as to how its going to wrap up. I predict a showdown between Rick and co. and Joe and his band of very bad men. But we’ll see soon enough!

The Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 11

The-Walking-Dead-season-4-wallpapers-7Episode three of season 4.5 is here! And since I don’t want to drag things out with a long intro, let me just recap what happened last week as quickly as possible. Maggie and her group find the bus and all people aboard it are dead, but find no trace of Glenn. Tyreese and the girls are found by Carol, Judith is still alive and with them. They find out about a safe haven named Terminus and go looking for it.

Glenn finds Tara and sets out, and is found by Abraham, Rosita and Eugene, some new blood who got guns and a big honking army truck. And that’s what happened last week. Here’s what happened this week!

Claimed:
WD4_11_0The episode opens with Tara in the back of the army truck, taking notes on where her new “friends” are taking her. They stop to dispatch a group of Walkers, and Tara witnesses Abraham singlehandedly kill three. She notes how he did it all with a grin on his face and a sense of humor, to which he replies that he’s “the luckiest man in the world”.

Glenn wakes up in the back of the truck, demands that Abraham pull over and tries to leave. Abraham stops him, tells him that they are on a mission which may decide the fate of the human race, and introductions follow. They are Sgt. Abraham Ford, Rosita Espinosa and Doctor Eugene Porter; and apparently, Porter knows what caused the mess and needs to get to Washington DC.

WD4_11_2He reveals that Eugene was talking to people in Washington on a satellite phone, but for the past few weeks, no one has been responding. He asks for Glenn and Tara’s help since they know how to deal with Walkers, but Glenn is intransigent. Tara tells him she’s been keeping track of their route since they got picked up, and that she can get them back to the bus.

Abraham tries to convince him by telling him his wife is surely dead, and Glenn responds by slugging him. A fight ensues, which Tara and Rosita try to break up. But they only stop when Walkers are approaching and Eugene starts clumsily shooting at them. The others join in and take out the herd, but the truck is damaged and begins leaking fuel. Glenn and Tara depart yet again, and the others decide to follow.

WD4_11_1At the house, Michonne and Carl are having breakfast; they laugh, until the subject turns to Judith. They go out in search of more food, leaving Rick to rest and watch the house. Rick confides that he’s happy to have Michonne around, since Carl is in need of friends. While out, Michonne and Carl bond by speaking about her past, which includes how she lost her son, Andre Anthony.

While searching one house, Michonne finds her way into a child’s bedroom and discovers the bodies of the entire family laid out on the beds, having all died in a suicide pact. When Carl comes, she closes the door quickly. When he asks if there is a baby in the room, she lies and tells him it’s a dead dog. Carl responds by opening up about Judith’s death, saying he hopes she and Andre are somewhere together.

WD4_11_3Back at the house, Rick begins to hear voices and realizes he is not alone. When a armed man appears, he sneaks under the bed and hides. The man comes in to inspect the room and ends up taking the bed, leaving Rick underneath. Another man comes in soon thereafter and they begin fighting over the bed. One is killed by the other, and looks Rick in the eye before he is strangled to death.

Rick eventually slips out and hides in another room just as the intruders begin to gather back on the ground floor. He hides in a bathroom and comes face to face with one of them, and is forced to kill him. Taking his weapon, he sneaks out the window and finds his way outside the house just as Michonne and Carl are returning. He runs to them and they begin to run off together.

wd4_11_4On the road together, Abraham tries to appeal to Tara’s sense of reason by espousing their importance of their mission. They come to an agreement of sorts that they are all doing what they think is right because they are good people. Elsewhere, along the railroad tracks, Rick, Michonne and Carl come upon a map indicating the location of Terminus and decide to head there too.

Summary:
First off, let me say that I enjoy what they are doing with the show at this point. This is to be expected thanks to the introduction of Abraham, Rosita and Eugene, and the rather appropriate casting choices for them. Michael Cudlitz, Christian Serratos and Josh McDermitt manage to look the part of these characters very well, and so far, the character they are striking seems pretty accurate too.

Also, the way they have introduced these characters and their plot element at this point, though it does diverge from the comic book somewhat, works when paired with the other character’s trying to find their way in the wilderness. And the way they’ve inserted bands of marauders is akin to other elements in the post-prison part of the comic.

For one, it adds some sense of urgency, showing how people are being pulled in different directions. And now, it seems likely that everyone is going to converge on Terminus, and I think I know what they will find there. On the one hand, they might choose to go with something out of Volume 11: Fear the Hunters (which the roving band of armed men in this episode made me think of).

On other hand, they might choose to fast forward and go directly to Volume 12: Life Among Them which deals with the groups discovery of a working safe zone where they hope to build a new life. However, this seems unlikely at this point, as there is plenty of material that this would circumvent – good material that all took place between the prison being overrun and the entire group heading together to Washington.

I shall say no more on that front, as it would risk getting into major spoiler territory. Suffice it to say, at this point the show seems more like an open canvas. In the first half of season four, it seemed like the show was duty bound to deal with all the changes they had made in season three (i.e. the Governor surviving, the attack on the prison failing, etc.)

Now, it seems like they are back on track and free to experiment with a wealth of material, which – for me, at any rate, and I imagine other fans of the comics – has made the show exciting again. So I am interested to see how the second half of season four turns out, and hope that they don’t do something terribly off-script with the whole Terminus thing…

The Walking Dead – Season 4 Episode 10

The-Walking-Dead-season-4-wallpapers-7The second episode of the second half of the fourth season is here! Wow, that sound confusing when it spell it out like that. But as expected, this episode was pretty pivotal to the course of the season. Not only did it pick up where last week’s intro left off, it managed to round up the remaining members of the cast and account for all of their whereabouts. And there were even a few surprises along the way.

For one, Judith is alive. Yes, the baby that was alleged to have died in the midseason finale (though they left plenty of reasonable doubt as to that effect), was apparently rescued by Tyreese, Mika and Lizzie before they fled. Guess those kids weren’t such bad caretakers after all, and managed to also save a life after blowing a few people’s heads off!

And in another not-so-surprising twist, Carol has found her way back to the group and began leading them on. After making her rather abrupt departure in the first half of this season, she claims to have been drawn back by all the carnage caused by the Governor’s assault on the prison. Which puts her in a good position to help out now that the shit has really hit the fan.

Other than that, there were some entertaining tidbits and a few developments. But let’s not drag this out…

Inmates:
WD4_inmatesThe episode begins with Daryl and Beth fleeing from the prison together, trying to survive on their own while also looking for the other members of the group. As they search, we hear entries from Beth’s diary, which were made back when they first found the prison. At the time, she felt safe and worried about indulging in hope. for fear that it would lead to disappointment.

In another part of the forest, we catch up with Tyreese, Lizzie, Mika and Judith (who is alive after all) as they attempt to do the same. On the way, Tyreese has to leave the girls behind in order to help a father and son who are being attacked by Walkers, but cannot save them in time. The girls are almost overtaken too, but are saved by the timely intervention of Carol.

wd4_inmates2The father, who is dying from his bite wound, tells Carol and Tyreese to follow the train tracks because they lead to a safe place. They proceed along the tracks together, and Carol tells them she witnessed the attack on the prison, but lies by saying she was out on a supply run (as opposed to how she was exiled). They find a map nailed to a bridge post that speaks of a safe haven up ahead named Terminus.

Elsewhere, we find Maggie, Sasha and Bob together, dressing Bob’s wound and taking stock of their situation. Maggie decides to head off to find Glenn, against the wishes of the other two. They find the prison bus parked on the road, but everyone inside has turned. Maggie insists they let them off so she can see if Glenn is in there, and after clearing the bus out, they find no trace of him.

wd4_inmates3Cut to Glenn, who wakes up inside the prison after being knocked unconscious. Delirious and surrounded by Walkers, he wandered about in search of Maggie, but only finds that the prison has been overrun. Grabbing a set of protective gear, supplies, and his rifle, he fights his way through the yard, where he finds Tara hiding inside one of the gardens.

She appears to be semi-catatonic and doesn’t want to leave, saying that she “was a part of this”. But Glenn insists on taking her with him since he needs her help. Using Bob’s old liquor bottle, he fashions a Molotov Cocktail and hands her a knife, for when they run out of bullets. Using the cocktail as a distraction, they run out together and make it into the forest.

wd4_inmates5They find their way to the same stretch of road where Maggie and the others were before. Glenn learns for the first time from her that Hershel is dead, and he explains to her that he was Maggie’s father. They are then attacked by Walkers, and Glenn collapses after they killing the first few. Tara kills the last of them and looks up to see an army truck pull in ahead of her. Out step three people led by an armed man.

Summary:To be honest, this episode was surprising for me. Not because of the return of Carol or the revelation that Judith was still alive – those seemed a bit predictable really. It was the introduction of Abraham, Rosita and Eugene at the end which did it for me. These characters, who appearance represents a game-changer in the story, was something I was not expecting til the end of the season.

In the comics, they did not show up until Rick and all the other survivors found each other and were once again feeling like life was getting back to normal. However, it seems that the writers have chosen to introduce them now and make them a part of the whole “lost in the wilderness” part of the story. Once the groups are reunited, we can assume that the next big thing (won’t say what) will happen and the larger story will continue.

In short, I’m surprised they aren’t dragging that out as I expected they would. Other than that, the episode was good, though I was a bit disappointed with the other “surprises”. Reintroducing Carol was to be expected, but it kind of makes the way they wrote her out before seem superfluous. With her back, there’s likely to be some added drama as Tyreese finds out what she did. Not sure how they’ll resolve that one.

And as for Judith being alive – don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that they kept her alive. But again, this represents a major divergence from what happened in the original comic, where both Judith and Lori were killed and Rick needed to take a bit of a break from reality in order to cope. But having already put his character through that in the show, I guess they felt that would be repetitive.

I’m also glad they kept Tara in the picture, at least for the time being. After all the work they did introducing her and her family, and the way they alluded to her surviving last season, I figured she would still be around at this point. Though they did write her sister out with a single line of dialogue, I think it’s good they kept her. In addition to being a developed character at this point, she’s pretty hot!

As for the rest of the prison crew, the survivors of Woodbury that were integrated into the prison, it wasn’t too surprising that they eliminated the last of them. However, it does mean that the whole “who was leaving dead rats” at the fenceline may now be a dead issue. Not sure where they were going with that one, and now it seems like we may never know…

In any case, their seems to be plenty of potential for the remainder of the season, and I’m looking forward to see what they do with it and the how they go about integrating the new arrivals. Tune in next week!

The Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 9

The-Walking-Dead-season-4-wallpapers-7The Walking Dead has returned! After last year’s mid-season cliffhanger, the return of this show was one of the most anticipated events this television season. And in fact, yesterday’s premiere even beat out the Olympics in terms of ratings. Kind of a downer, really. But people love their zombies and were waiting for months for their WD fix. And we see the Winter Games every what, four years?

In any case, the midseason premiere opened much as expected. With the prison overrun and the survivors scattered to the four winds, the focus on the most important group in the diaspora – Rick and Carl. Along with the other members of the group, their struggle to carry on mirrors the groups, and humanity’s itself, in this post-post-apocalyptic world.

After:
WD4_after1
The episode opens with Michonne looking upon a ruined and overrun prison. After killing Hershel’s now resurrected corpse, she lures two Walkers into a trap, removes their arms and jaws, and binds their necks. With them as her protection, she sets off again on the road. Farther on, Rick and Carl are struggling along, looking for food and shelter for the night, with Rick lagging behind because of his wounds.

They find their way to a diner and procure some rations, and Carl seems visibly angry with Rick. Farther on, they find an empty house and set down for the night, and by morning, Carl wakes up and finds Rick comatose on the couch. After trying unsuccessfully to rouse him, he begins to voice all his anger, blaming Rick for their situation, the death of the Judith, and the loss of their friends.

WD4_after2His yelling draws two Walkers to their door which try to break in. Sneaking out back, Carl lures these two away quietly, but is then set upon by a third. He is forced to fire his gun multiple times, but survives. He then tells Rick he doesn’t need him anymore, goes out again in search of food, and once more runs afoul of a Walker, wastes the last of his ammo, and is forced to trap it in a bedroom and escape.

Elsewhere, Michonne sets down for the night and dreams of her life before the Walkers came. She recalls a time when she, her boyfriend, their mutual friend and her son were all together, but the dream quickly turns into a nightmare. We see here that these two men were her Walker escorts before, that she was forced to mutilate their bodies and use them for cover.

WD4_after3Continuing on, she begins to pick up many Walker followers, and begins to notice that one even resembles her. She eventually draws her sword and kills this woman, and then is forced to kill the rest as they close in on her. Eventually, she does, and even takes out her escort. Alone again, she breaks down and cries, but eventually manages to pick up Rick and Carl’s trail…

Back at their house, Carl is awakened by Rick making strange sounds and reaching out at him. He grabs his father’s gun, thinking Rick died in his sleep and has now turned. Carl is unable to pull the trigger and cries, telling Rick that he was wrong. But Rick then calls out his name and tells him to “go outside… stay safe.” Carl holds Rick and tells him he’s scared.

wd4_after4Finding her way to the diner where Rick and Carl passed before, Michonne rests and begins speaking to her departed boyfriend. She says she’s figured out the answer, by which she means why they should carry on amidst everything around them. Back at the house, Rick and Carl talk and resolve things. Carl apologizes for risking his life while Rick admits that things will never be the same again.

At last, Michonne comes to the house and sees Rick and Carl inside, and begins to cry. She knocks at the door, Rick looks through the peephole and begins to laugh. When Carl asks, Rick replies “It’s for you”.

Summary:
Admittedly, this episode was pretty slow by the show’s own standards, placing it firmly in the category of pacing episode. But this is to be expected after the midseason climax, and it managed to still be effective. And it was quite cool to see Michonne do her thing, and accurately. Last season, her role was played down to a large extent that it was good to see out and about, and kicking ass!

This episode also gave them a chance to develop her character and get into some of things that has been glossed over previously. For example, we only hear about how she talks to her boyfriend once, which was something central to her character when she entered the story. Alone for so long, she comforted herself and found strength by imaging him there, talking to her and sharing in her trials.

walking-dead-season-4-whos-still-aliveAlso, the interplay between Rick and Carl in this episode was pretty faithful to the comic book. After being caught in the wilderness together, Carl found himself having to take charge and at one point thought Rick had turned. But there, Rick was struggling with the death of Judith and Lori, and dealt with it by talking to her on a broken phone (which instead was moved up to season three).

At this point, I’d say the rest of the season has a pretty predictable arc. The rest of the crew will find their way through the wilderness, they will eventually meet up with Rick, Michonne and Carl, I anticipate Morgan will join them too, and they will find their way back to (*SPOILERS!) where they will meet (*SPOILERS!) and then head off to find (*BIG SPOILERS!)

But that still leaves plenty of room for surprises between now and then, and I will be watching!