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 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 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 4B Trailer

TWD_S4-B_FEB2014Earlier this month, AMC released a teaser trailer for the second half of season four of The Walking Dead. And as you can see, they kept it simple, focusing on action, crisis, and all the other stuff that the show is famous for. And despite the brevity of it, a few things were made clear from this half-minute clip. For instance, we see who survives the prison debacle to fight another day and what they will be up to.

This includes Rick, Carl, Daryl, Michonne, Tyreese, Sasha, Glenn, Maggie, Beth, and Bob, all of whom find themselves in the wilderness and looking for a place to hunker down. I know, no big revelations there, they did all make it out of the prison last time I checked. But they are also traveling separately at this point, with some fighting Walkers while Rick is forced to fight with his injuries and his demons.

This last aspect is something very much on point with the plot of the original comic. You see, in that version, Rick not only lost his baby Judith during the Governor’s assault on the prison, but Lori as well. With his wife and daughter dead, but son still alive, he had to cling to what little sanity he had for both their sakes. And having been seriously injured, Carl was also terrified he would die and come back…

Lot’s of potential there! First episode of the latter half of the season airs on February 9th. Enjoy the clip!

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, Episode Five

WD_season4-5This past week, the fifth episode in The Walking Dead aired, and we got treated to some interesting developments. Not only did the plot advance as far as the epidemic was concerned, a rather important tidbit involving the larger story (which, for the sake of those who haven’t watched this episode yet, I shall save to the end) was finally revealed.

But what I found interesting about this episode was the structure. After four episodes where the story was split between the prison (with one or two things going on there) and the crew that was out looking for supplies, this episode was entirely focused on the prison itself. Here, we had two threads – one involving Hershel and the infected, and the other involving the situation in the yard.

Put together, these two threads were both extremely chaotic and mirrored each other in every respect. In truth, this episode should have been called “Pandemonium” rather than “Internment”. Given all the action and the palatable sense of panic, that name would have made a hell of a lot more sense!

Internment:
WD4_internmentThe prison people continue to die from the flu and Hershel, Glenn and Sasha struggle to deal with it. Outside the quarantine zone, Maggie works alone to deal with the Walkers that are still converging on the fence and is there when Rick returns, alone. He explains that he had to let her go because of what she did to Karen and David, and asks her to keep it a secret for now.

Rick meets with Carl, who asks to help him outside but is again refused. He tells Rick that he cannot shield him from the death and insanity of the world forever, but Rick is determined to try. Hershel meets with Doctor Kaleb Subramanian, who is also sick now and near death. Rick comes to see him and is told that they are losing more, and are trying to dispose of them quietly to safeguard morale.

wd4_internment2Sasha and Glenn get worse, the one collapsing from dehydration while Glenn begins coughing up blood. More people die and go unnoticed, which allows them to turn. Hershel is attacked by one of them and chaos ensues as others emerge and an uninfected woman is shot and killed by accident. Lizzie foolishly tries to talk a Walker down from attacking them. It tries to bite her and Hershel narrowly saves her.

Maggie runs into help while Rick grabs Carl and asks him to assist him in reinforcing the fence. Their supports begin to break, however, and another section completely caves in. Rick and Carl narrowly escape to a nearby guard tower and make to the second line of fences. Desperate, Rick and Carl load up with assault rifles and begin mowing them down!wd4_internment1Back inside, Hershel is forced to arm himself as well almost everyone in the block appears to have turned. Grabbing a shotgun, he begins shooting Walkers as Maggie shoots her way into the quarantine zone. Hershel finds Glenn choking on his own blood and is forced to retrieve a tracheal tube and air pump from the last patient to have it, who is now a Walker.

Maggie comes to his aid and takes out the Walker with a well placed head shot. Hershel removed the device from his throat and comes to Glenn, fixing the bag to a fresh pipe and putting it down his throat. Glenn begins to breathe again and is saved. Outside, Carl and Rick go through the killing field they’ve made and dispatch the last of the Walkers.

wd4_internment3Daryl and the search party return at last and Rick lets them in. Tyreese runs in to find Sasha alive and they begin administering the antibiotics to all those who are still alive. Hershel is told by Maggie to go rest now that the others are back and he’s no longer solely responsible for the sick and dying. He checks on Dr. Subramanian, who he was forced to stab after he turned, and cries as he holds his Bible.

The next day, the entire crew collects the bodies for disposal and puts the fence back up. Rick and Carl check on the gardens and see that the first of their vegetables are starting to come in. Hershel tells Daryl to talk to Rick about Carol, and then goes off on patrol with Michonne. Outside the gate, the Governor is seen watching…

Summary:
Much like last week, I have to say that I was generally impressed with this episode. While it did advance a few things that I suspected were coming and wasn’t really looking forward to, it was still cool to see how they played out. And I could really appreciate the action that was involved and the way the episode was very tightly written.

wd4_internment5As I said already, panic and chaos run through this episode like a coiled snake. For some time now, they have been building up in this show how the prison is threatened from both inside and out. Outside their gates, there is a growing horde of Walkers who are being lured by someone, and the walls are beginning to buckle. Inside, they have an infection which has been spreading like wildfire, and the dead quickly turn into more Walkers.

In this episode, all of that hit the fan as the infection became out of control and a section of wall finally came down. And it was only by the desperate actions of those who were still inside the prison that they came through. Especially Carl and Rick, who chose to say “Screw all this keeping them out crap. Let’s just shoot the bastards!” Tell me that scene wasn’t totally boss! I dare ya!

wd4_internment4However, the episode also played to a few things I was expecting without much enthusiasm. At this point, it looks like everyone who came from Woodbury, save for Lizzie and a handful of others are now dead. What’s more, its now been shown that the mysterious person luring the Walkers to the wall is indeed the Governor. Who saw that one coming? Everyone?

And according to next week’s preview, episode six – titled “Live Bait” – is going to be all about him. While I’m sure some fans are stoked about this, I can’t help but think the same thing I do every time I see him: “He’s supposed to be dead! Why are you dragging this out?” But of course, that goes for a lot of things this season. And clinging to the comic book isn’t really helping things much.

wd4_livebait_govAnd so I’ve decided to put all that aside and start enjoying these episodes on their own merits. After all, they’ve done a good job so far this season, and them writers really know how to structure a good show! I can’t keep faulting them for the fact that they’ve chosen to deviate from the original plot, or trying to inflate the plot a little.

It’s television after all, and studios will do more of the same until audiences stop caring! So I plan to keep tuning in, and am interested to see what they do with the Governor at this point. I wonder if they’ll kill him off quickly, or keep him around to season’s end and make him part of it’s culmination. Only time will tell…