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!

Preparing for the Zombie Apocalypse!

zombies-city-and-the-crowdCurrent events not related to science, tech, and/or pop culture are not exactly my forte. But I came across this article in the new lately and could not resist passing it on. To break it down, police in West Brighton NY conducted a raid on a man’s apartment over the weekend. In the course of searching his place, they found tw0 loaded pistols – a Springfield Armory XD40 .40 cal and an American Firearms Mfg. Co. .25 cal – along with 43 loose .25 caliber rounds.

But the twist came when they asked Nelson Quinones, one of the two residents, why he was in possession of these guns, which he kept stashed in his dresser drawer and under his bed. Apparently, the man told police that he was gearing up for “doomsday” or the “zombie apocalypse”. Quinones also had a gravity knife on his person when police searched him in his apartment building’s rear parking lot, court papers allege.

https://i0.wp.com/www.transportationissuesdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Zombies-ahead.jpgAccording to court papers and the District Attorney, both he and Ms. Meritza Hay (who lives with him) face serious criminal charges as a result of these weapons. Both face third- and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, as well as criminal possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition. But Mr. Quinone’s wife also faces more serious charges due to the fact that she was convicted of misdemeanor drug possession in 2000.

But let’s face it: the real issue here is the zombie apocalypse, isn’t it? This man was in the early stages of stockpiling weapons because he knew what was coming! And while his intentions were good, his methods were terribly flawed! So let me address those now in an open letter to Mr. Quinone. Hopefully, it will give him something to think about while he’s languishing in jail…

gun_violenceMr. Quinone, while I applaud your efforts to be prepared for the inevitable rise/return of the living/walking dead, there’s a few things you need to understand. First of all, if you’re going to go the gun route for the zombie apocalypse, a 9mm is really the only way to go. More capacity for your weapon, big enough to take out a zombie’s brain, and far more common. This is important when it comes time to scavenge.

Second, everybody knows that firearms draw the attention of zombies (aka. Walkers, aka. Biters, aka. Zack, aka. Whiskeys!). If you’re planning on having to defend yourself from them, you should be hoarding melee weapons, such as the trusty katana sword, a machete, a truncheon, or just some good old fashioned baseball bats. You really want to fortify that for a zombie fight, wrap some barbed wire around it or stud it with some nails.

See?
See? Way more effective than a gun!

Some riot armor would help too, or just some improvised protection like some leather patches stitched into a suite of armor. Zombies spread their infectious disease through bites and scratches, so something that will prevent them from your from getting grazed would be a boon. And let’s not even get into how little thought you put into the state of your transportation.

Everybody knows that in the midst of a zombie apocalypse, you’re going to need to get the hell out of dodge, so something that can address the special needs of survival on a budget is a must. Naturally, you might be tempted to get yourself a horse since these and other more traditional modes of transportation are fuel-efficient (which is a big plus in any apocalyptic scenario).

zombie_carBut horses or mules are likely to panic at the site of flesh-eating zombies and buck you. What’s more, the presence of unfetid, uncorrupted flesh tends to draw the zombies in your direction. Far better to soup up your existing vehicle into a zombie-smasher with the addition of some floodlights and a front-end plough. I believe the picture above of Robert Kirkman’s zombie car will help to illustrate.

Last, but certainly not least, is the issue of supplies. When police raided your home, did they find a huge collection of fresh water containers, dehydrated foods, C-rations, vitamin supplements, batteries, solar cookers, camping stoves, propane tanks, or signal flares? No, they didn’t! These should be your FIRST priority, not some hand guns! What were you planning – to waiting for the crisis to hit before running down to the mall and hoarding with the rest of us?

Now that's what a storeroom looks like!
Now that’s what a storeroom looks like!

He who plans for the apocalypse ahead of time is always better prepared and more suited to life once its underway. Just ask all those nuts who live in their hilltop communities – the ones who’ve been stockpiling guns, ammo, food, water, diesel fuel and generators for decades. These guys will tell you that now is the time to stockpile for the coming apocalypse. But don’t mention zombies, they might think you’re crazy and shoot you.

But above all is the rather timid effort you put into stockpiling weapons, sir. I mean really, two handguns? Real survivalists have been spending the past few years amassing as many assault weapons, shotguns, pistols, and submachine guns as they can afford and the law will allow. Such popular weapons include the AR-15, Tech-9, Mossberg 590A1, and the Glock 17. And if the law is a bit inflexible in your state, just zip next door or go to a gun show!

zombiegun3Yes, it pains me to say it, buy you really dropped the ball on this one, sir! Now some might say that this was just your lame-ass attempt to excuse owning two illegal guns. But I know you to be a conscientious individual who cares greatly for your and your significant other’s safety. I also know that as such an individual, you want to be prepared to meet this inevitable catastrophe head on.

So assuming it hasn’t come to pass while you’re still in jail (in which case, you’ll die like a rat in a cage), I urge you to reconsider your efforts! Cover the necessities first, then worry about the incidentals. Thank you, and in the meantime, be sure to watch yourself while standing in the chow line. Also, don’t drop the soap. And if you can, find the biggest, meanest, ugliest man you can, and glom onto him. You don’t want to be just anybody’s bitch!

And if my might be so bold, you could read my Whiskey Delta series that deals with the zombie apocalypse, which I am currently working on the third installment for. It’s chock full of survival tips. They do get Amazon delivery in jail, don’t they? NOOOO? Well then, you’re screwed!

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 Four, Episode 14

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

The Grove:
WD4_14_1
The episode opens with Tyreese, Carol and the girls carrying on in their journey to Terminus. Along the way, Carol gets to talking about Lizzy about things – how she shot a woman, how Carol’s daughter died, and how they need to be hard in order to survive. They also come across a Walker laying on the tracks that is hobbled, and Lizzy convinces Tyreese not to kill it since it won’t be able to follow them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

wd4_14_4

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

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

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

The Walking Dead – Season 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 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!