Mercy: Review for The Walking Dead 801 By R.C. Murphy
It’s a grandiose plan, that’s for sure. Armed to the teeth and prepared with steel-plated vehicles, a large militia formed from Hilltop, Alexandria, and Kingdom fighters begins the episode by running through the last gut checks and minutiae required to successfully survive the day ahead. The plan itself is pretty simple: Rick will convince the Savior sergeants to step aside and give them the head of the snake, or they’ll pin everyone in the building with gunfire and another teams will draw walkers to it to finish everyone off. Rick has an unreasonable moment when he once again fixates on personally murdering Negan himself instead of compromising on any method to contain this threat. Because that plan has worked so well any other time he’s tried it. The only difference is now Rick’s dragged two other communities into his vendetta in order to secure weapons since he got all his taken away.
Maggie and Ezekiel don’t seem all that put out with Rick and his whole scheme, which is weird because if I ran a community the last thing I’d do is let some guy drag me into a fight he keeps provoking. Yes, the Saviors are giant turds, but Rick is the one who set everything in motion by insisting he and he alone should lead the most ruthless group in a fifty mile radius. Honestly, this has gone on so long, I firmly believe they never should’ve stayed in Alexandria once the threats became too much. But this is someone else’s sand box and they want Rick to pull everyone into all-out war, so off they go after a hearty round of pep speeches from each leader. Before anyone points out that Maggie is not the official leader, she’s the only one other than Jesus looking out for those people at the moment and he doesn’t want the job, therefore Maggie is in charge. No one has a problem with it, either.
On that thought, it’s strange that Maggie’s pregnancy doesn’t progress in the least, but the show’s children all aged greatly during the hiatus. They’re insisting she participate in the war, or at least the first part of the plan at Sanctuary. That being said, the optics of sending an obviously pregnant woman into a fight is pretty sketchy and I can understand why they’d hold off a little longer on the great bumpining. As a Glenn fan, though, I just want proof he’s living on in some little way. The longer they put off actually acknowledging that their most successful woman is also a mother, the more frustrated I get. Maggie can be both at the same time, just let her be her whole self instead of treating her like Mrs. Potatohead, cherry-picking different traits to use each season/episode.
Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
For once, the battle plan goes more or less as intended. There’s no great triple-cross putting people in the middle of a trap. Rick amazingly keeps his calm until the end of the firefight when the bloodlust finally gets to him and he again fixates on being the soul responsible for wiping Negan off the map. The dialog is kinda laughable at points. It’s painfully obvious Rick is buying time so the secondary team can get the walkers in position and he fails to make a compelling argument against violence which just leads to a firefight. A firefight in which some of his best fighters are elsewhere. Remember, the real plan is to kill them with walkers and save the cavalry for cleaning up the rats who jumped ship before they closed in. The only snag in the plan comes at the end when they’re forced to flee or get trapped in the walker horde. Just about everyone makes it into a car. Then Gabriel goes back to grab Gregory—who threw in his hat with Negan, and then ran like a startled chicken when the fighting began, only to get pinned by gunfire in the walkers’ path. One of them makes it out of Sanctuary in an armored car. It isn’t the one we want to get away.
The stage is set to watch the fallout from this fight stretch across at least the first half of the season. They’ve got more Saviors to contend with, not to mention that snake still has its head and until Negan is out of the picture, Rick won’t rest.
Rated: Not Rated (contains intense gore, adult language, and violence)
Starring: Benjamin Engell, Troels Lyby, Mille Dinesen, Ella Solgaard, and Marie Hammer Boda
Dino and Pernille Johansson live with their small family in an idyllic town, Sorgenfri, where it’s so peaceful, the teens are bored to death by the end of summer vacation. That doesn’t last long. Shortly after the new girl, Sonja, moves in across the street, things start to get weird in Denmark. The news features public service announcements on proper hygiene in hopes of staving off a virus sweeping the countryside. It doesn’t work. Sorgenfri is quarantined. The Johansson family are trapped inside, stealing glimpses through the black tarps covering their home as the military takes over once-quiet streets. One by one, the townsfolk are removed from their homes and carted off in semi-trucks. Others are forcibly stopped by the military. Gustav, the Johansson’s son, gets curious and breaks out of the house to snoop on the armed men, and perhaps check in with Sonja as well. Of course, he makes matters worse.
Let’s be frank, this film isn’t anything we haven’t seen on-screen before. I’ve seen versions of similar trapped-house horror plots for decades. What We Become takes the zombie genre back to its simplistic roots in an era where we’ve been given blockbuster after blockbuster, and even the TV shows are approached like they’re feature films cut into chunks to air each week. What you see is what you get with this film. There’s one main location. A tiny cast. Most of the action is through stolen glimpses outside, the news, or during one of the few seriously ill-thought outings to confront what’s really going on in Sorgenfri. It’s NotLD in Danish. And that’s not a bad thing. It’s simply a predictable thing, which will be what keeps genre fans from calling this film one of their top-whatever. Simple films can be well done, though. This is a perfect example.
Because most of the tension is based on how the family interacts and reacts to an unknown threat, the zombies are saved for the final act in the film. We’re given a quick look at the undead chaos at one point, but the full-frontal shambling dead came in the last fifteen minutes or so. From that point on, it’s all snarls and gnashing teeth. The makeup takes a soft approach to the newly turned zombies. Some hero zombies are pretty gruesome; one of the first we see clearly is pretty torn up. To go from the restrained first acts in the film where the zombie action was off-screen to the undead taking over the town in minutes is jarring, tampered by the makeup on the newly turned, especially those who turn inside the house. They almost look like vampires up until the feeding begins.
The final zombie action is undercut perfectly with one last bout of family drama. What happens when one of their own is ready to turn? It’s a wonderful final moment for the actors. This cast is pretty solid and did what they could with the script. Unfortunately, that script leads most characters down a path which ends with several attempts to fix their circumstances by attempting to leave the quarantine area or interact with the military on their turf. It goes about as well as you’re thinking.
What We Become is a pretty solid toe-dip into zombie storytelling. Yes, it has predictable parts. However, the cast saves the film from being tiresome. Come for the high-tension acting, stay for the comfortable feeling of watching just another zombie movie. Sometimes we all need to unwind and watch cannibalistic monsters terrorize a family, along with a few select neighbors. I’m giving this film three and a half severed arms out of five.
Rated: Not Rated (Contains extreme violence, strong adult language) Language: English
Starring: Lori Cardille, Terry Alexander, Joseph Pilato, Richard Liberty, Jarlath Conroy, and Sherman Howard
In tribute to the man who brought us all to this weird zombie life, I snagged Day of the Dead for a re-watch . . . and realized I’d never covered the film for this website. Well, that’s just wrong. We’re going to remedy the problem right now.
Sarah and her band of scientists are perhaps the last to continue research work during the zombie apocalypse. They’re aided by thuggish army personnel who’ve just about had their limit of hunkering down in an abandoned missile silo while the man they call Frankenstein carries out gruesome experiments. The team’s goal is to find any way to lessen the zombie impact in an earth overrun by the undead. Sarah wants a cure. Her blood-coated coworker, Dr. Logan, thinks he can tame zombies using positive reinforcement and their own latent human traits. It works. Somewhat. There’s one zombie who’s not like the others: Bub. But their progress with Bub isn’t enough for Rhodes, the military man in charge. He snaps and all their hard work hits the fan.
Now, admittedly, Day of the Dead isn’t many people’s favorite Dead film. The language is beyond foul. The racism makes any sane person’s blood boil. The way the men treat the only woman is abhorrent, and while there’s no sexual violence, it sure is threatened a lot. We’re meant to be disgusted by these men. The best shortcut was to make them outrageously racist, misogynistic, and flat out a-holes of the highest caliber. They’ve existed in an echo chamber of hatred while stuck underground. Basically, this is Romero saying that if you put a bunch of awful white men in a jar, they’ll become even more hateful before turning on each other just to have someone to fight other than their own thoughts. Unfortunately, they weren’t alone and those caught in the crossfire are people who don’t deserve to be treated so badly. Almost everyone pays with their lives because Rhodes is, deep down, a frightened little boy who requires a death grip on everything he can possibly control since the world above is absolutely insane.
The ethical questions raised by Dr. Logan’s experiments lead to some of the best conversations Romero’s ever brought to the table, on-screen and off. At what point do the undead stop being human? For Logan, it is never, ever clear. He has no qualms about using the military men as fresh zombies to operate on while he searches for what makes them tick. On the other hand, he treats Bub as an adoptive son, is painfully patient with him, and goes to great lengths to ensure the zombie’s well-being. This is night and day compared to the way Logan talks to the scientific team and the military men. With humans he speaks from a place of deep entitlement, never bothering to hide that he believes himself to be far superior to them because he’s so dang smart. He gets away with it, for the most part. However when Sarah snaps and puts Rhodes or his men in their place, she’s nearly shot. Logan made himself important, far more important than his peer, and forced Rhodes to see her as disposable. Frankenstein was never in the silo to help humanity. He was there to help himself by gathering knowledge about the one thing no one else had access to, and did it in a way he knew Sarah wouldn’t replicate so she could never be on the pedestal he built for himself.
There’s so much going on with the dead in this film. This is where Romero drove home the notion that they’re not much different from us, only they have something primal driving them instead of the complex rules humans live by every day. They’ve got more freedom than the humans. Even Bub and the others imprisoned in the silo for experimentation are at liberty to do what they want because there’s no social rules for the undead. Their only restriction is placed on them by another species. They just are whoever they are and nothing can change that. Bub already possessed the reasoning capabilities Logan exploits in the film. How do we know that? Land of the Dead. In that film, the dead communicate, have returned to a human-less life where they repeat the tasks ingrained in their minds from their living days, and eventually band together to seek something which is missing from their lives. If Bub were taught how to reason, future generations of zombies wouldn’t have been able to accomplish their great trek to Fiddler’s Green. We owe a lot to Bub.
The makeup FX are some of the best . . . for 1985. Except for a few background actors in full masks who accidentally shuffled too close to camera, the zombies are a collection of what everyone considers a stereotypical zombie. Go look at your local zombie pub crawl. Most of what’s there can also be found in the final act of Day of the Dead. There’s even a clown, for heaven’s sake. Romero did it all back in a decade when zombies weren’t the cool thing to produce. That influence echoes throughout anything dealing with the undead to this day.
Day of the Dead signaled a change in the way the undead would be presented for decades. For that reason, and so many more, I’m giving it four oozing eyeballs out of five.
Rated: TV-MA (extreme violence, strong language) Language: Korean
Starring: Gong Yoo, Yu-mi Jung, Dong-seok Ma, Soo-an Kim, Woo-shik Choi, So-hee Ahn, and Eui-sung Kim
Occasionally Netflix doesn’t fail the genre completely. Recently they added Train to Busan to their streaming service, which is probably the best thing they’ve done in the last year. It’s hard to believe this film didn’t catch my attention before now, seeing as it was a huge hit across the Pacific. Let’s be honest, the American film media is horrible about giving props to genre flicks not set on their home turf. Pair that with the fact that it’s best watched in the original Korean and film media push it aside for yet another poorly produced American movie which is just a clone of fifty similar films and television shows. This film is a breath of fresh air. It’ll also keep you so far on the edge of your seat, you may fall off by the time the final scene plays out.
Seok-woo is a work-obsessed absentee father dealing with the fallout from a tense divorce. On the eve of his daughter Soo-an’s birthday, he screws up royally. To make it up to her, he relents to her demands to see her mother in Busan. Leaving town isn’t ideal. There’s something going on with one of the funds he manages and his coworker Kim is increasingly concerned about the reports he’s receiving. But a promise is a promise, so off they go. Seconds before the train departs for Busan, an injured woman jumps aboard. She’s infected with something none of them have seen before. When a train worker comes to her aid, the infected woman attacks and chaos erupts. By the time the initial attack is done, there’s only one train car worth of people left. The rest turn zombie and are locked in the middle train cars. News coming in via overhead televisions isn’t any better. Entire cities are overrun with the undead. Several are quarantined. When the train stops at last, it’s only to discover that the military couldn’t hold the quarantine and the dead have taken over. They opt to move on, pushed by an unhinged COO, Yon-suk. Throughout the last half of the movie it’s hard to tell who the real enemy is, the zombies or the paranoid humans trapped on the train.
This isn’t just another action movie with zombies. There’s a message or forty in the way the living interact with each other. We have an intense father/daughter plot which will drive anyone with a heart to tears by the third act. The film’s writer leaned heavily on the notion of ingrained human selfishness and the heinous damage it does to the masses during a crisis. Many of those who perish in the final act only die due to selfishness and their willingness to turn a blind eye to hatred if it means they’ll live to see another day. Panic becomes a new cast member at the end, unseen yet pushing one survivor group against the other with no sound reason. We’ve seen tension like that before, TWD uses it near-weekly, but here it’s so in-your-face wrong that I couldn’t help but yell at the television. That’s the kind of writing I miss, the scripts which make one forget they’re not one of the characters for a couple hours. It’s hard to watch the human cruelty, but even harder to look away.
Those zombies, guys. I haven’t seen character movement like that in ages unless it was in one of countless demonic possession films. These zombies are twitchy, bendy, snappish, and flat out cool. They’re scary solo, and pants-pissing terrifying in a mob. Kudos to the extras who worked on this film. They left everything on the set every day of production. The pay-off created probably some of my favorite mass zombie scenes to date—the train station attack on the stairs and the sequence where Seok-woo, Sang-hwa, and Yong-guk fight from car nine to car thirteen to rescue a group separated from the other survivors. Because there are so many undead, the makeup for them is simplistic. And you know what? I don’t care. They could have slapped white grease paint on them and let them loose and it wouldn’t have done a thing to lessen the performances from the extras and hero zombies.
Train to Busan is the action-packed zombie film we’ve been waiting for since World War Z tried and just didn’t quite hit the mark. There’s some issues, yes, but the writing and action are so solid, the issues get a free pass. I wouldn’t hesitate to watch it again, something I never do with zombie films outside Romero’s contributions to the genre. Train to Busan gets five severed heads out of five. Now what are you waiting for? Go watch it!
Well, this one is a bit different. I went in expecting an established zombie apocalypse scenario. Instead we get a rather unique approach to the zombie origin story. While, yes, this is foremost Maya’s story about getting away from her horrifically dysfunctional household in order to strike out on her own with someone she feels she can trust, the film is at its roots a graphic cautionary tale about drugs and chemical lab safety procedures.
Always, always dispose of illicit drug lab waste properly, lest you bring on Armageddon.
The script isn’t earth-shattering beyond the unique creation story—one which I’d certainly never considered before, and applaud the writer on thinking outside the box in a genre which has been bogged down by Romero and TWD fanfics for too long. That being said, the dialog is often clumsy, or leans heavily on stereotype jargon—like Gault’s dom-heavy dialog, especially in the scene where he randomly corners and belittles Maya about garbage etiquette in their dilapidated, condemned eyesore. Surprisingly, there are personal stories for each building tenant, except for one poor guy who spends the entire film too ill to leave his apartment, let alone participate in the aggressive, murderous side-effects of exposure to the chemical fumes. But like the dialog, there’s quite a bit borrowed from the Lazy Writer’s Guide to Messed Up Characters.
Special effects crews worked overtime on the late-stage infection looks and sight gags. It’s safe to say, most of the production’s focus landed on the last half an hour of pure blood-drenched action. They really dug in, going for the most disgusting things they could think of, within only a slim semblance of reason—again, my mind wanders to that poor guy who never left his apartment and I can’t help but shudder. There’s no formula for the zombie look, since the method of exposure is so unique. But for the most part, they just start rotting, their mind as well. The mixture of real violence and hallucinated violence pushed the final act right over the cliff.
Better yet, that final act actually kept me on the edge of my seat—something which hasn’t happened at all during the last few films I’m reviewed. The tension is beautifully stretched by characters like Roxy, who easily stole the scene anytime she showed up. Roxy’s story is one of few which get some serious on-screen time. Unfortunately, her role is constantly victimized to the point of ridiculous, and all to perpetuate an ugly stereotype. The script failed Roxy. The actor salvaged what they could to deliver a stellar performance. Combine the few standout actors with the locked building thriller vibe and the last act just works. But, boy, you have to sit through some weird dialog and character choices, first. No one in the building is sane before the chemical fumes, after they are a million times worse. Watching Gault and Murphy’s slow decline is probably the most uncomfortable because it feels like an S&M tourist tried, and failed, to write a comprehensive depiction of the live-in BDSM lifestyle.
This film wraps with open-ended possibilities for the universe, my favorite. It alludes to government officials stepping in to cope, which as genre fans know is a signal that things will only get worse from then on out—governments always try to weaponize something they shouldn’t. Maya’s final scene is intense, intentionally misleading, and perfectly caps the bloody final act.
Condemned could have a higher rating, but for heavy-handed use of several unfortunate stereotypes, I’m only giving it 3 bursting eyeballs out of 5.
Looking for Mr. Goodbrain Part 2: Review for iZombie 313 by A. Zombie
Liv heaps blame on herself for being dosed with Kupps’ brain. We do find out Chase Graves wasn’t the one to ultimately put Kupps in Liv’s path. However, this whole side trip into Liv Is Unfaithful Land is just another excuse to paint her as the bad guy for having sex. Like we’re honestly surprised she A) accidentally fell into bed with a man, and B) the guy she’s currently dating did so thinking they are exclusive to each other. News flash, Liv isn’t written as one woman. She’s always, always been herself and the brain for the episode—mostly the brain. While Liv may want a relationship, whatever brain she’s on will never allow it to happen. Yet again, Liv’s love life is sacrificed for the greater good—it probably will end up fodder for more jokes during the hiatus at whatever comic conventions the creators attend, too. There’s only so many emotional walls you can slam your main character into before it’s just painful to watch. Ask Buffy fans what happens after years of killing or maiming the main love interest. Hint, they stop caring. If fans can’t bother to care about who your main character wants to settle down with, you’re writing it wrong.
The real bad guy for the season isn’t the Truthers bumbling through outing the undead. It’s not Blaine, or his water-logged father, or even his flighty second hand man and their brain-selling empire posing the greatest risk to Seattle and its zombies. Chase Graves is almost innocent, as well, though once he catches on to the plan, he has no choice but to reroute the orders given from within his company to morph them into something productive, not an all-out attack on humans. In a twist I saw coming once the helicopter incident happened, Carey Gold is the one responsible for the zombie assassinations, along with the plot to put Baracus in the mayor’s seat no matter what. She also put Plan B into motion, a plan which undermines the Zombie Island protocol Fillmore-Graves worked toward up until Vivian Stoll’s demise. In the power vacuum, Gold worked her magic, convincing zombies they must strike first before humans have a chance to assemble their pitchfork-wielding mobs. She never took into account the fact that Chase Graves is sincere in his belief that humans and zombies can live together, given enough help dealing with the whole brain-needing problem. Now she’s got all the time in the world to ponder where she went wrong in her attempt to snag control of the deadliest force to gather inside the USA since it formed. Well, that’s if there’s an afterlife for zombies. Gold, her daughter, and anyone in good faith with her were grabbed by Fillmore-Graves by the time the episode wrapped.
Getting the truth about zombies under wraps again won’t be so easy. Nor is it Graves’ plan now that Gold’s scheme to create more zombies—and therefore the public couldn’t ignore the need for brains—actually worked. After Liv drops the bombshell on the public via newly zombified Johnny Frost, Graves swoops in with a prepared video detailing how the company plans to handle the new rush of undead citizens. It also states that Fillmore-Graves fully expects the USA to be on board with supplying brains for the company now single-handedly holding back an epidemic with teeth. That’s going to go over like a lead balloon. But their services are necessary. The zombie population doubled, if not tripled before Liv put a stop to the tainted flu vaccines. Bozzio is one of the unfortunates who were dosed before word spread—the scene where Clive helps color her hair is so easy to miss, but screams volumes about where their relationship could go. I mean, I’m not saying Clive should go undead, but he obviously cares deeply for this woman on a level most people are incapable of. Bozzio is oddly adaptive to the zombie idea. Which is good since she is one now. But I’m not sure she’d want Clive to join her for the sake of their relationship. There is always a chance Ravi will cook up something—he’s currently testing an honest-to-god zombie vaccine.
On the flip side, Major cashed in his humanity chips and signed back up for zombie soldier duty after Natalie and his fellow mercs died in Johns’ suicide bombing. Major is pretty focused on the job. Jumps right into the trenches in the hours after Discovery Day launches to pass out brain mash. He even plays savior, visiting hospitals to scratch and save the poor souls dying from the flu Gold spread during her evil plot. The gang feels he may have turned his back on humanity. They may be right. As much as I enjoy puppy-like Major, it’s time for him to get serious about his future and stop whining about the aftermath of the Chaos Killer. If that means he turns into soldierbro for a while, so be it. Just as long as he’s not building sex forts or writing sonnets about his couch and all the TV he watched from it. That was getting old, fast.
The zombies are out of the morgue and in the public eye. Seattle is lead by an undead man, and the city’s largest new company is also run by a zombie. Yet there’s still tension. Humans won’t take this new reality with a simple grain of salt. They’re going to fear the change, fear what happens if the zombies are weaponized either through biological warfare or straight up attacks. As bigoted as this last season was in certain aspects, expect that to worsen a thousand-fold while the writers bumble through bringing two kinds of people together. I know they can’t leave well enough alone. They proved it when that racist as whoa little old lady laid into Ravi for no reason. While I’m excited to see the show expand its view, it’s going to be painful watching the writers try to get it right without being horrifically offensive to minorities, LGBT, and women.
Looking for Mr. Goodbrain (Part 1): Review for iZombie 312 by A. Zombie
Where to begin? Let’s just go for the jugular, shall we? Did anyone else get the impression Chase Graves intentionally dosed Liv with Katty Kupps’ brain? It’s no secret within the company about what, exactly, Liv does for the police department in order to solve murder cases. Chase obviously knew Kupps, and with no effort at all he could figure out why she was in town. He also must have figured out that the woman possessed absolutely no impulse control when it came to romantic encounters with strangers—were at the same hotel since her arrival and even the staff knew Kupps liked to entertain a new date every night. Long story short, Chase roofied Liv. Possibly on purpose. Liv talks herself out of sleeping with every other man Kupps’ brain drew her toward except Chase, and that’s because he manipulates her in the bar by playing flirtation games to keep her on her toes. Everything about the encounter screams date rape, down to Liv’s reaction once her adrenaline levels out after. But it’s okay, because Chase is a dog guy. Dog guys don’t dose zombie girls with brains with high sex drives.
I’m going to punch a wall because this episode is so frustrating.
Ravi finally, finally gets to act like the senior morgue staff member and is invited to sit in on interviews with the folks involved in Kupps’ current CDC investigation. He gets maybe thirty seconds to act like a professional, then Liv has a vision from Ravi and Kupps’ ill-timed tryst. Of course she did. Off the bat, Ravi is undermined by his sexual impulsiveness, and then keeps bragging about it for the entire episode. Then they just roll into Racist Old White Woman Land out of the blue. Yeah. No. Knock that crap off. It’s completely unnecessary. We know these people exist, but giving them screen time just to point out that your lead actor has brown skin is bull. You gave hate enough attention with the Truthers. Often writers fall into the trap of, “I’ll just show them how bad they look!” It’s not that easy to erase deep-rooted racism, folks. All you’re doing is advertising hate speech at this point. And for what? A laugh at the expense of the kindly father she railed against? Give me a break, already. Racist Granny #3 wasn’t necessary for the episode at all.
Baracus is in deep with Fillmore-Graves, but may not be the one ordering the executions, as Liv theorized last week. Either that or he’s one hell of an actor. While they all ponder how involved Baracus is in the D-Day preparations, and the murders to keep it all under wraps, Peyton has something else on her mind—a shiny new job as Baracus’ chief of staff. The gang tells her to take the offer, at the very least it’ll give them an inside man.
Natalie makes a comeback to give Major something to do other than mope on the couch after Chase Graves outs him as human and fires him on the spot. Like before, their scenes are a calm in the storm. The two just click in a way Major and Liv never did, and this new relationship is purely platonic until almost the end of this episode. Which makes the episode’s surprise ending just so much harder to watch. Major is outside with Justin when his farewell party is bombed. With Natalie inside.
Harley Johns has had quite a cruddy few days. Catches a zombie. Proves to some in the world there might be undead amongst them. Then zombies attack, and give him his dooming injury. The same zombies find his secret hideout, only to drug him and lock him in a freezer. The topper is when two other Truthers, including ex-guard Billy, break into the bunker. They defrost they guy, thinking he’s dead, and steal his beer. Probably the best part of Johns’ day is when he realizes delivery arrived just in time for breakfast. His hatred for zombies leads him to strap on a bunch of explosives. Johns is the one who blows up the party. Because we really needed a white terrorist act to round out this . . . morally questionable first half to the season finale.
Let’s just get next week over with. Maybe time away from the table will give the writers something other than racism and misogyny to lean on for plot points. But I’ll tell you right now, my patience with this stuff is wearing really thin.
We can’t forget about the bloodiest show currently on television. That’s not an overstatement. I’ve done the math. Last season, Ash vs Evil Dead easily used hundreds of gallons of various fake bloods, including flooding a room with the red stuff with Kelly trapped inside. Judging from the few on-set selfies and videos the show’s star, Bruce Campbell, dropped on his social media pages earlier in June, they’re on-track to make season three of the Starz show just as gruesome.
Filming for AvED began in New Zealand in early March. The super-tight leash the production team is keeping on the plot means we have nothing to go on beyond a few snapshots and quick Instagram videos from the cast. This could be a response to swapping show-runners before the new season began production. After season two, Craig DiGregorio parted ways with AvED, citing severe creative differences with producer Robert Tapert. It boiled down to Tapert’s vision for Ash stifling the more comedy-driven direction DiGregorio preferred for the universe. Mark Verheiden (Daredevil) stepped in to fill the void for season three. It’s safe to say, the laughs may be more subdued from here on out, but I highly doubt they’re going to take a franchise which thrives on its splatstick moniker and turn it into something as serious as The Walking Dead. Campbell says the secrecy is so they’re free to make season three more outlandish than the last. How they’ll accomplish that, I have no clue. Last season was a head-scratcher, what with the Ashy Slashy puppet and all.
The gang will be in New Zealand for a few more months. On May 6th, cast and crew celebrated the halfway point with a party, as one rightly should. That puts them firmly on schedule for the season. However, Starz has yet to announce a release date for the new episodes. Don’t ask Campbell for a release date, either. He’ll direct the question to the Almighty Starz Overlords with some form of biting sarcasm. If they stick to the usual schedule, expect to see the season premiere sometime around Halloween.
There may not be a date for season three, but they just announced that AvED season two will arrive on Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD on August 22nd. The boxset includes audio commentaries, an inside look at S2’s production, and featurette’s like “Women who kick Ash” and “How to kill a Deadite.”
Thankfully, Syfy has continuously saved Z Nation from the dust bin, no matter how wacky the show’s season finale. I mean, they did nuke a large portion of the USA at the end of season one yet still managed to make a coherent second season happen around a nuclear wasteland. The third season saw Operation Bitemark disband as Murphy sought to regain agency over his future, and his bid to control what happens to mankind in a zombie world. One would argue that splitting the crew was a good/bad choice, since it took away the key to making the outlandish personalities on the show work—Murphy needs Roberta’s practicality to stay out of the deep end. Without her as his conscious, he does things like enslave his friends. And that’s just not cool.
Luckily for us, during an interview this March David Michael Latt, one of the show’s producers, told Cartermatt.com that the gang would indeed come together again. The last two seasons were huge, monstrous things with plot lines racing in every direction, and the characters wound up chasing them in smaller and smaller groups in order to make the overall story work. Latt says that won’t happen in season four. “The good news, or it could be good news depending on how you read this, is that we’re going back to the season 1 definitive objective, the group being together, and the dynamics that make the series so good. The bad news is that it’s really out-there crazy.” As for getting any in-depth plot clues, or even a premiere date, his lips are sealed. The production seems to be on schedule. Barring any huge problems, it’s safe to expect the show to return in early September. But in the end, that’s Syfy’s call to make.
Z Nation fans living around Spokane, WA will have the ability to get a peek at the show’s production this summer. The show is turning the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture into a behind-the-scenes exhibit and functional film studio. The summertime exhibition, Z Nation: Behind the Camera, will include programs focused on local talent brought in by The Asylum who not only work on-screen as zombies and human extras, but also behind the camera. They’re opening up the filming to public viewing, as well, to give everyone a working idea about how much effort it takes to create the mayhem we see every week on-screen. Karl Schaefer, another producer for the show, says this is their way to give back to the Spokane community, a thanks for the support since season one. “The exhibit is kind of aimed at the 15-year-old kid who wants to know how to get into the movie business but thinks, ‘Oh, there’s no way I can do that in Spokane,’ ” Schaefer said. “But we just want to show people they can.” Keep an eye on the museum’s social media pages for the up-to-date program schedule. The exhibit opened with a zombie-filled party on June 10th.
Locals had the chance to audition for remaining background roles this last weekend. Sets have gone up in the museum, with a green screen stage built in the parking garage for effects shots. ZN stars have arrived, ready to tackle whatever weirdness the writers came up with during the hiatus. Keith Allan took a minute to post a zelfie when he rolled into town, saying he was, “About to step back into the apocalypse.” Russell Hodgkinson made a similar tweet on June 9th. We can’t wait to see where the cast takes their characters during the upcoming season.
Conspiracy Weary: Review for iZombie 311 by A. Zombie
Major will never live down being the Chaos Killer. He accepted that. Shawna seems to have a different endgame in mind, though. She’s not content with the sex fort. Oh no. This woman has to share her personal life online, and claims it’s all to boost Major’s public image. Because a half-naked man eating pizza and singing a lame camp song will totally make everyone forget he kidnapped a boatload of people. Whether or not she’s telling the truth, Major is not about to give his time to yet another woman who just wants something from him. Remember Rita, or whatever her real name was? Yeah, they might not say her name at all anymore, but when Major finds out he was double-crossed by Shawna, it is totally there in his eyes, that resigned, “Not again.” I suspect Major will spend a lot of time burying himself in work. Which is going to cause some serious conflict of interest issues the minute Liv finishes putting all the pieces together from the various deaths, which all really have one source. The Truthers never pulled the trigger, yet Fillmore-Graves finds the exact weapons from all their open cases. How’s Major going to feel about being party to murder-for-the-greater-good?
The showdown at the gun range is intense, echoing some of the tension from last season’s finale with all the close-quarters teeth against guns fights. Blaine and Liv do get to show off their zombie skills for once. Which, of course, makes Rachel panic and flee almost immediately. But Team Zombie doesn’t get the win on their own. Fillmore-Graves arrive unannounced, and blow away all but one Truth Hunter. Harley Johns escapes virtually unscathed. Bo Johns winds up as a snack for the zombies involved in the fight. On that note, Liv, Blaine, and Don. E. should never be allowed to feast on conspiracy theorist brain again. The stuff the writers dug up from the loonier side of the ‘net is just absurd, and takes over pretty much every conversation. So much so, Liv is repeatedly told not to confuse conspiracy theories with the facts they need to solve Wally’s murder, plus figure out the real reason why Ms. Greer was strangled by Weckler. No one is up for Liv’s wacky antics anymore. Soon, they may even suggest she rely on brain mash just for some sanity.
Peyton makes better progress than everyone on the cases. She gets the memory card after slightly manipulating Weckler’s daughter—who blows her zombie cover and has a vision in Peyton’s office. The memory card confirms Liv’s vision from Weckler’s brain. It also shows that the man called whoever forced his hand to tell them about the accidental murder. Liv manages to use her current paranoia to spitball a reasonable answer to all their problems, but they’re focused on Baracus, not whoever put the man in the perfect position for a zombie to lead from should humans learn about their kind.
Well, they’re so gonna figure it out thanks to Ravi’s big mouth and weakness for damsels in distress.
This has to be the most ineffective sidekick in the history of sidekicks. Ravi yet again puts zombies in danger. Not through his untested serums and such, but through falling for the oldest game in the book—a woman who simply flirts a little and listens to the man brag in order to get information to sell. Rachel works for a local free newspaper. One of those rags which love to lean on controversy. For instance, one writer is tasked with trashing Major for selling tacky merch, which he isn’t. But the real story is what Rachel gets from Ravi without any real pressure. The guy nearly kisses her and suddenly that’s enough to trust her with other people’s secrets. Sure, Ravi will have it rough being friends with a zombie and all, but that’s nothing compared to what Liv will endure now that her face is the one associated with the newly discovered undead race.
The fallout from the memory card revelations and Ravi’s big mouth will be epic. Will he finally have to answer for his shoddy decision-making skills? Can Liv forgive Ravi? What about forgiving Major once she realizes he’s working for the real enemy?