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://i1.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://i2.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://i1.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, Episode 12

The-Walking-Dead-season-4-wallpapers-7And we’re back with another episode of the Walking Dead with just four more episodes to go before the season finale! And in another lovely act of double-entendreness, the episode was named “Still”, which seems to allude to all the dead bodies laying about, the story of Daryl and Beth’s will to survive, and the moonshiner operation they raid so Beth can finally get drunk.

And of course, the episode focuses exclusively on these two, avoiding any further development where Abraham, Rosita, and Eugene’s introduction is concerned, the different group’s journey towards the mysterious “Terminus”, or their eventual reunification. Yeah, this week was all about Beth and Daryl and was basically a pacing episode.

So let’s get going and wrap this piece of enjoyable filler up so we can get back on track for next week!

Still:
wd4_12_4The episode opens with Beth and Daryl still in the wilderness, desperately looking for food, shelter, and the other survivors. After spending the night hiding inside the trunk of a car and waiting for a horde of Walkers to move on, they set camp and enjoy a meal of firepit cooked snake. Beth then decides she needs a “real drink” and decides to head off and look for alcohol.

It’s not long before she runs into some Walkers and Daryl is forced to come retrieve her. After leading her back to the camp, she is outraged and claims that she is going off alone is she must. Daryle reluctantly accompanied her and they find their way to a country club and begin to look around. Inside, they find numerous people who committed suicide, but since came back.

WD4_12_0While Beth looks for alcohol, Daryl busies himself collecting money, jewelry, and anything they can eat or burn. They come across several Walkers, and Beth loses the only bottle of wine she could find and her change of clothes are stained with gore. Finally, they come to the bar where the only thing left is a bottle of peach schnapps. Beth begins to cry before she can drink, and Daryl smashes the bottle.

Leading her to a cabin he sees he and Michonne found, he opens up the still and procures several bottles of moonshine. They head inside and secure the place, and Beth begins to drink. She invites Daryl to join and they begin to play “I never”, which becomes an excuse for them to open up to each other. Eventually, Daryl tires of it and begins ranting.

WD4_12_1His outburst attracts a Walker, and he pins it to a tree with several arrows. Eventually, Beth stabs it in the head, and the two begin to argue about all they lost and how things will never be the same again. Daryle finally breaks down and admits that he blames himself for the way things ended at the prison. Beth hugs him, and the two spend the rest of the night talking.

During the night, Daryl finally tells her what he was before things turned – apparently, he and Merle were just drifters. Beth admits that she misses everyone and how she hoped her father’s remaining days would have been quiet. She also tells Daryl that she thinks he will be the last man standing, that he must put his past behind him, and suggest they burn the cabin down.

wd4_12_5They douse the place with the remaining moonshine, and using a stack of bills Daryl took from the country club as a torch, set fire to the cabin and leave it behind. They flip the burning mess the bird, and then head off into the night when they see Walkers approaching…

Summary:
Like I said already, this was a pacing episode, which just about always translates to tangents, asides, character development and assorted filler. Nevertheless, it was enjoyable. I thought Daryl and Beth were both well portrayed, their performances believable and appropriate, and the ending was especially poignant and powerful for me.

Though I must admit, at this point in the show I am getting a bit tired of the repetitive messages – the whole “we can’t lose hope or all is lost”, or the “I don’t care anymore. Oh wait – yes I do!” stuff. It is one of the central, overriding themes of the story and it’s a good one, but it’s well established at this point. And it does kind of feel like it’s something they go back to whenever they feel the need for pacing or a bottle episode.

But aside from that, I felt they got the title of the episode wrong. Sure, Still is yet another clever double-entendre, alluding to the pain of remaining alive in the face of so much death and the moonshine-producing apparatus itself. But for me, the real essence of this episode came across in the way that everything they found to help them forget ended up being destroyed.

Think about it. Beth wants to get drunk and forget, and this brings them to the country club. There, she finds some alcohol and a nice change of clothes. But its not long before the clothes are ruined and the bottles are used for self-defense or smashed out of anger. They find the cabin and the moonshine, but then decide to destroy them because they need to blow off steam and forget all the death.

To me, a more fitting title would have been “This is why we can’t have nice things”. We can’t have nice clothes because they might get ruined. We can’t party because it will put our lives in danger. We can’t have shelter because it reminds us of our pasts. This is what it is like living in the zombie post-apocalypse people! Life is grim, unfun, and uncouth!

In any case, that’s twelve down and four to go! Hopefully, next week, we’ll see some more development on the whole “We got to get to DC” verus “We gotta find the others and/or go to this ‘Terminus’ place we keep hearing about”. Until then!

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!