Heartland: Review for Z Nation 508

Heartland:
Review for Z Nation 508
by A. Zombie

Watch out for spoilers hiding in the wheat field!

Last week Operation Bitemark mostly struck out. George and Doc failed to save Dante from vigilantes. The others were more successful, but their efforts are little more than a stopgap measure. With the boom in Talker population, the half dozen boxes of bizkits won’t be enough. If the bakery is to get back in business, the team has to figure out what happened to the flour from Heartland.

Preferably before the undead citizens of the colonies get hungrier.

Heartland seems to be composed of almost entirely Talkers. They’re starving, lurking in the streets to beg any passersby for brains to eat.  While they’re not aggressive yet, they’re on the edge. A little push and they’re gonners. There’s no way these poor people can bring in the harvest in this condition. But they’re also beyond listening to a group of strangers.

Luckily Doc and George roll into town around the time when it’s obvious the field workers can’t understand that the group is there to help. The car won’t be enough to keep hungry Talkers away for long, so Addy suggests they head to a farmhouse on the edge of town. It just so happens to be the farm where the flour is processed and stored. The same one the hungry workers should be running instead of starving to death. But just because most of the workforce is gone, doesn’t mean the farmhouse is abandoned. A brave soul named Charlie still mans the fort. Someone else lurks in the home, eventually flushed out by a determined Addy. Determined to check on her boyfriend, that is. Finn and Addy have been working together in their Talker Underground operation. The details of said operation get a tad confused as the story unfolds and sounds more and more like Addy knows everything the others are just now struggling to discover. Why not take them straight to the flour source? I’m not sure if that’s weird writing showing its hand or ham-fisted intrigue to give Addy’s time away more mystery.

While they get settled in the farmhouse, and learn about Charlie’s sacrifice, there’s mischief afoot outside. Pandora rears her masked head once again to cause trouble for George and her plans for a future. With her trusted helper, Pandora riles up the Talkers, sending them toward the farm with promises of nourishment. Which is convenient because the gang needs to round them up anyway so Charlie can give each just enough of his brain to keep from turning feral. Side note: Charlie’s special effects are not that great later in the episode, but the detailed early shots paired with the mere idea of what he’s doing is enough to make the ick factor high for squeamish viewers.

During the roundup, Pandora and her goon are pinned in with the other Talkers. They use the position to their advantage later when everyone thinks the coast is clear. Finn is injured again in the last attack, this time mortally. Addy opts to stay behind to help him adapt, and to help the farm recover.

In the rush to check on Finn, the group separates, leaving Doc to get injured, and 10k is too ill from his infected wound to make it on his own long or save Doc. Here’s hoping the others catch up in time. They’re probably going to need all hands on deck in order to talk to the indigenous group who control the water, therefore controlling if/when the mill at the farm will run again. This really is the longest side quest for a snack ever. It’d be disappointing if the rest of the season is comprised of little missions like this with the bad guys running laps around Operation Bitemark. These aren’t even good bad guys. Pandora is still the most hastily written character in the history of this show. No depth. At all. Our team deserves a better class of villain.


Evolution: Review for The Walking Dead 908

Evolution:
Review for The Walking Dead 908
by R.C. Murphy

Listen hard, folks. You can hear spoilers on the wind. And in this review.

At long last we’re getting a look at the Whisperers. They’ve tormented Rosita and Eugene for several episodes now, but it’s impossible to know where, exactly, the voices are coming from when they’re surrounded by walkers and any of the undead could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s easy to underestimate the Whisperers based on weird premise alone. But the show wastes no time proving how deadly this new threat can be. What’s the one resource available in seemingly endless quantities in the zombie apocalypse? The undead. Whoever finds a way to tap into that resource and make it work for them, not against them, may just be the ones to survive to see if there is a way to ever truly recover civilization from what seems to be the end.

Given how well the Whisperers control the walker hordes in this episode alone, they’re well on their way to becoming the only ones to see if there’s really a future for any of them.

While Daryl, Aaron, and Jesus work on a way to keep one step ahead of what they think are nothing but erratic walker hordes, Michonne and the new arrivals make it to Hilltop’s gate. It’s a cold greeting from every last citizen. Guess Alexandria isn’t the only community to institute harsher security techniques. Hilltop all but rolls up the driveway when a scout spots the incoming visitors. Inside, things don’t warm up much. Everyone keeps Michonne at arm’s length, and the newcomers are told to sit and wait for Jesus to return. Even Carol is a tad standoffish with her long-time friend. She gives Connie a warmer greeting, going so far as to use her very basic ASL (American Sign Language) skills to introduce herself. Are they all mourning still and unable to face Rick’s widow or has Michonne’s retreat into Alexandria cut her off from the few emotional support outlets she has left?

Matt Lintz as Henry, Jackson Pace as Gage, Kelley Mack as Addy, Joe Ando-Hirsh as Rodney – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 8 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Someone who needs to build himself a support system sooner rather than later is Henry. He’s not finding his rhythm at the blacksmith shop just yet. His dreams of Enid waiting around for him to grow chin hairs are dashed upon learning she’s dating Alden. There’s only a handful of kids his age in Hilltop. And, unfortunately, they’re typical teenagers. Just once, I’d like a production team to show that teens can hang out without giving themselves alcohol poisoning and abusing others, but guess I’ll have to wait. Henry, of course, winds up in trouble for his drunken night out after puking on Tara’s boots. His fate is likewise left in Jesus’ hands.

Too late for the rescue team, Rosita wakes from her exhausted sleep to warn the others that there’s serious danger outside, not just commonplace walkers. The rescuers get the same message a few hours later after sunset when a trembling Eugene fills them in on the horde which has made several passes by the barn to look for him. Jesus and the guys brush it off. There’s no way Eugene saw the same horde two or three times in the same day unless he went looking for it, right? Wrong. Daryl learns this the hard way when he completely fails to draw the horde away with fire crackers and Dog’s barking. He has no time at all to catch up with the guys, who are cornered and trying to find a way around or through a stone and iron fence.

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Tom Payne as Paul ‘Jesus’ Rovia, Danai Gurira as Michonne, Ross Marquand as Aaron – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 8 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The final scenes with the Whisperers remind us that TWD is indeed a horror show. While it’s a tad annoying to lose so much of the action in fog, the suspense going into the fights saves them from being boring. Jesus’ murder does lack something. I’m not quite sure it hit the right emotional note. Instead this just feels like TWD burying more gays after making sure the characters don’t do anything remotely gay for two seasons.

TWD is taking its customary winter break for the rest of 2018. We will catch up with our favorite survivors, and learn how they plan to deal with Alpha, Beta, and the other Whisperers, on February 10th.


Stradivarius: Review for The Walking Dead 907

Stradivarius:
Review for The Walking Dead 907
by R.C. Murphy

Shh. Do you hear that? It’s spoilers whispering from the review below. Be careful!

Danai Gurira as Michonne – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 7 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Seems like everyone’s on their way to Hilltop in one way or another during this episode. Despite Michonne’s new isolationism kick, she’s going to have to reach outside her protective bubble in order to ensure her people will remain safe. Carol is already well on her way to taking care of her people’s future by driving Henry to Hilltop so he can become a blacksmith. On the way they make a pit stop for possible reinforcement first. Other citizens from Alexandria make the trek to the community, as well. Some whose arrival is quite unexpected.

Hilltop isn’t the place it was back when the bridge blew up. There’s been some major changes. They’ve expanded the farm, taking up countless acres outside the main fence in order to have enough to provide food for everyone and grow the herbs they need to treat the sick. There’s a small standing army with new recruits coming in weekly. Tara, of all people, has stepped up to become an assistant the community’s leader. And that leader? Is not Maggie. Yes, folks, the rumors are true. Maggie gets an off-screen goodbye. But it’s not goodbye for good. Showrunner Angela Kang says she plans for Maggie to return in more than just letters in the future. For now Jesus runs the community. Okay, let’s be honest, Tara’s running the show and Jesus has his foot halfway out the door again because he’s too restless to do the job as needed. So restless, he’s secretly training Aaron to fight instead of taking care of business matters.

The change-ups at Hilltop don’t sway Michonne from her plan to take Yumiko and her people to about the halfway point before giving their care over to Siddiq and D.J. for the remainder of the trip. She’s only there to check out the group’s story about leaving their supplies and bolting after their friend died. The story seems to be true, judging from the rampant destruction at their storage container. Not even accidentally killing an irreplaceable musical instrument convinces Michonne to do the right thing and see them to the gates herself. It takes Hilltop messengers with the news about Jesus finding Rosita in bad condition to change her mind about a visit to see some of her old friends.

Another visitor with reservations is Carol’s last-ditch help to protect Henry, Daryl. After putting herself in danger to fetch him from his self-imposed exile, it’s obvious just showing up won’t be enough to pull the guy out of his prolonged, and self-harm-ridden, mourning cycle. Nothing she says truly sinks in. Daryl is afraid to face a world without his friend, so he keeps avoiding it. The guy has a booby trapped camp and a nameless dog, and the unrelenting need to stay by the river just in case he finds Rick’s body. But time has come for him to rejoin the world. Oddly enough, it’s not Carol who gets Daryl moving, but Henry and misadventure with walkers. She’s excited anyway. At least Daryl won’t be alone anymore. He wastes no time once back amongst people and is one of the first to volunteer to find Eugene after being told about Rosita’s message before she passed out.

Will they find Eugene before these whispering walkers do? As much as I don’t like the guy, no one should be left to die alone and scared in the woods. Hopefully they get to him and figure out what’s up with the undead’s odd behavior with minimal bloodshed.


What Comes After: Review for The Walking Dead 905

What Comes After:
Review for The Walking Dead 905
by R.C. Murphy

There’s spoilers in this review. Proceed with caution.

Well. Talk about something completely different. We’ve seen similar storytelling techniques from this production team before, but Rick’s trip back and forth from the Great Beyond or wherever to reality takes the surreal dream stuff to a whole new level. For what they wanted to do for Rick’s final season, it works wonderfully. It even gave them a reason to bring Shane back for a little bit. Jon Bernthal really grew into his acting skills during his time away. His couple minutes back in Shane’s shoes outshined some of his better moments from the first seasons.

All Rick’s visits with the dead are also more than a little heartbreaking.

BTS, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 5 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

As many of you know, the world lost an amazing man, Scott Wilson, not that long ago. He’d opted to keep his illness a secret and worked until he couldn’t anymore. This appearance as Hershel is one of the last projects he worked on, despite the severity of the illness. For as fun as the Shane scene is for Jon’s performance, this final goodbye from Hershel, and Scott, is a hundred times as tragic. Not only is their conversation one of men who’ve suffered great losses, but it’s a secret final farewell no one knew they were witnessing while on set that day.

The majority of Rick’s visions take him back to the hospital where he woke from the coma. Oddly enough, his new wound is in a similar location as the gunshot that took him out before the undead rose. The visions do not, unfortunately, take him to his family as he hopes. I kinda hoped, too. But I think with the visitors we do get, it’s good. A visit from Carl and Glenn would have made it amazing, though. The episode would have felt more like a goodbye with that small tweak to the cameo lineup.

While Rick struggles to stay on his horse in order to draw the walkers to the bridge, Maggie uses her well-earned anger to march straight through Alexandria’s gates, past Michonne, and right into Negan’s cell. Says something about Maggie’s determination when not even Michonne can talk sense to her, doesn’t it? When faced with Maggie’s logic, Michonne can’t look her in the eye and tell her that she is wrong, that continuing with the insane eye-for-an-eye logic only leaves behind a world of suffering. No. Because if she were in Maggie’s shoes, if Negan were the one to put Carl in the ground? Negan would’ve been dead before sunset the following day, no matter what.

So now everything’s going Maggie’s way. She’s in the room with the man who murdered her husband. Does she follow through with her threat by bashing Negan’s skull in with a crowbar? Nah. Her attempts to grandstand and make herself feel good about the impending murder are undermined by Negan’s visceral reaction to the very idea of being freed from his prison. Sure, it’s the hard, painful way, but anyway is up when one has spent so much time in near solitude. At last Rick’s way of doing things makes sense to Maggie. I’m sure he’d be elated to hear she’s moved on from her murderous rage after all this time, but he’s too busy, ya know, bleeding out and occasionally dying while zombies shamble closer and closer.

The others eventually catch wind that something’s not right near the camp. It’s far too late to do any real good, though. Daryl’s plan to collapse the bridge with the undead doesn’t work, leaving Rick the only person between a horde and a free pass to the nearest community. Daryl keeps Rick alive from a distance long enough for Rick to hatch a dangerous plan. Using some mysteriously handy TNT, Rick shoots it and blows the bridge sky high. Flaming walkers pour into the rushing river below. Rick is nowhere to be seen.

Downstream, Anne’s rustbucket RV breaks down, leaving her no choice but to arrange the pickup from the helicopter right there, awfully close to the camp. The bridge explosion startles her. What washes down the river moments later is far scarier. Thankfully most of the walkers are dead or too damaged to go after her. There’s something else in the sea of scorched dead—hope. Switching her plan at the last moment, Anne pleads with the helicopter to take herself and one other, a “B” who is strong, but injured, and she owes him a debt. The last we see of Rick Grimes and Anne, they’re flying off in the well-equipped mystery helicopter.

To add yet another twist, instead of waiting an episode to do a time jump, the production uses Rick’s departure shot to rapidly age the landscape. Now it’s several years later and new survivors are in the field where the helicopter took off from. They’re in trouble. Yet they need not worry. A pint-sized hero lurks in the woods. And she’s got a pretty snazzy hat, too.

I look forward to Judith causing even more chaos than Carl. She’s totally the only sheriff they need in Alexandria.


Pacifica: Review for Z Nation 504

Pacifica:
Review for Z Nation 504
by A. Zombie

Proceed with caution. There’s episode spoilers ahead.

Fear may very well be the one monster Operation Bitemark cannot defeat. So far this season it has pushed them from guaranteed happiness and two separate safe havens, which were perfectly fine up until fear crept into the hearts and minds of the citizens inside the fences. Aside from the crew, and George, everyone alive and undead has fallen hard to fear’s influence. Oh, our heroes are not untouched by it. George in particular falters greatly under the pressure of keeping her people calm and rational while someone out there intentionally sabotages Newmerica before it’s even born. Thankfully Roberta has her back.

Just because the vote didn’t go through doesn’t mean they aren’t still planning for a future of some sort in Altura. As part of their memorial service, each deceased persons’ DNA is stored in the memorial wall. Estes has a plan for the DNA, no doubt. He has a lot of plans that haven’t come to the light just yet, but we do know he’s tripled down on controlling the Talker population. His goons have been given free rein, allowed to bring in the undead however they like. The fear Estes spreads with his speeches does nothing to soothe 10k. If he could, the kid would’ve been gone before they finished treating his wounds. His concern over being rendered useless cranks into high gear, leaving Red and Sun Mei scrambling to find a way to return his trigger finger. They better hurry. Things are deteriorating faster than anticipated and they’ll need one of their best fighters back on his feet in order to help Roberta over in Pacifica.

Like Altura, Pacifica was presented to Roberta like a magical unicorn—for heaven’s sake, the place even has a huge library—but upon arrival, they find that the people are restless, terrified of the new changes in their world. Changes she and her people put into effect. Again. Not only do these people have to wrap their heads about walking, thinking corpses, but there’s also an obvious threat directed at the safety of everyone inside the Newmerican colonies. As our heroes arrive in town, the humans are huddling together in a town meeting, tossing hateful rhetoric around like a beach ball. With George and Roberta in the room, they only calm down a little. Just enough to agree to sleep on any decisions about excluding the Talkers from the community. Beating the humans to the punch, every last Talker in Pacifica flees to meet Dante. They’re off to a guaranteed safe place for them. A safe place marked with an odd symbol. Some might say it’s a sun, but dang if it doesn’t look an awful lot like the top of the Z-whacker.

Unfortunately for the Talkers, their timing leaves them the prime suspects when Pacifica suffers its own bombing attack with a side of zombie horde. Many humans who spoke against the undead are amongst the injured or eaten. Kaya and JZ are amongst the missing. Can humanity recover from so many direct attacks on their desire to revive civilization? Only if they get to the root of these bombings before the population is wiped out.


Train to Busan Set to Get a Sequel

Train to Busan Set to Get a Sequel
by R.C. Murphy

A couple years ago director Yeon Sang-ho made a name for himself within the horror genre with his unexpected hit Train to Busan (2016). It’s a well-earned spot. Busan had the potential to be just another locked “house” style zombie film. Instead it took the genre and gave it a fantastic, brutal twist. This is the kind of film you watch alone first to get the shouting out of your system, then show it to friends while watching their reaction. Despite how odd it feels to call a movie with so much blood refreshing, Busan is so different from the zombie media released in the last few years, it really does put a little pep in my step just knowing there’s still new ways to tell the age-old apocalypse story.

In the beginning of August, several reports appeared stating that Sang-ho has begun early pre-production for a sequel to his zombie masterpiece. When I say early, I mean really early. Contracts are still being drafted. There is a script, and the vague filming date of sometime early in 2019. Oh, and a name: Bando (Peninsula).

Sang-ho has clarified a few things about the upcoming film. Keep in mind, this is a second-hand translation, so some details may be off. “It is an extension of Train to Busan, after the virus has spread throughout Korea, but the characters are not the same. It shares the same world view and is a zombie action film that deals with the aftermath on the peninsula of what happened in Train To Busan.”

Fans of the original knew that the old cast probably wouldn’t make a return, but hope springs eternal for some reporters, it seems. Hopefully whoever they do bring onboard to star in Bando has a similar magnetic energy as Busan‘s Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, and Jung Yu-mi.

We’ll keep you updated if this movie does indeed begin production next year. Want to watch Train to Busan? It is currently available to stream via Netflix.


And He Shall Be a Good Man: Review for iZombie 413

And He Shall Be a Good Man:
Review for iZombie 413
by A. Zombie

Before you march into this battle, make sure to watch your six for episode spoilers.

It’s been a rough year for Seattle, and things are not looking up for the newly crowned zombie haven. Despite Peyton’s best efforts, the federal government halts all support to the city. Fillmore-Graves’ kidnapping scheme is for naught. Liv and Levon’s sacrifice for each other won’t matter if the people they’ve saved starve to death. The city needs a plan. Unfortunately for them, their self-appointed leader is so focused on slaughtering anyone who breaks the rules, he can’t find a way to work together to stay alive.

Starving to death, or being devoured by ravenous zombies, isn’t the first or even third priority for Team Zombie in this episode. Everyone thinks they know what they need to do, then the calls start—Liv and Levon are being executed in the morning. One thing this show did well was make sure Liv’s chosen family were worthy of her never-ending sacrifices. They prove it in this episode when those friends drop literally everything to hatch a rescue plan. Even Major makes it back into Seattle in time to deliver a heartfelt pep talk to Renegade’s crew. Gladwell, driven by Ravi and Major’s concern for their friend, risks her livelihood to be the mole in Fillmore-Graves and feeds the rescue squad intel. You’ve got to admit, that team is scarily efficient. In no time at all they have a solid plan in place, including contingencies for any security FG set up in the park. They also waste all that time for nothing. The documentary Levon produced forces Chase to bump up the execution time and change locations after the crew releases it to garner civilian support for Renegade. The plan goes from expertly planned to basically a pitchfork mob with some extra strength.

We should have known we weren’t going to get a huge fight scene. This show hasn’t pulled one off yet. In this episode they attempt two large-scale fights which fall so flat, they can use them as tarps to cover all the dead zombies left at the end. The execution scene starts off pretty good. Wonderful moments from the actors, and of course the shock-not-shock from yet another dead boyfriend story line conclusion. At this rate, all we can do is shake our head and ignore the writers the next time they say the boyfriend might survive to see another season. Where this scene fails is the actual action sequence. It’s edited with cut-to-black frames. The editing is supposed to make the scene tenser, but in this instance the cuts take out any interesting action, giving us a few seconds with Major jumping instead of an altercation between unarmed resistance fighters and the regime in charge. And while the end of the fight is super satisfying for obvious reasons, the editing left much to be desired as far as a conflict goes. The same can be said for Angus’ final charge into battle. There’s so much time dedicated to showing how much force the zombies are up against at the gate, only for us to see a little bit of running, then close-ups of battlefield executions. The production brought in a tank and didn’t let us see Angus’ head getting knocked clean off by it? Why even bother? I got my hopes up for nothing. Well, not exactly nothing. Angus still pays the price for his evil deeds while alive and undead. This time he’s staying dead. Good riddance.

With the acting leadership, save Peyton, pushing up daisies, someone else has to fill the void before there’s a power vacuum in the tumultuous walled city. We knew Major was tapped to lead, but thought it nothing more than a ploy to test his loyalty. Turns out the best way to test someone is to present them with the truth and see what they’ll do. Major takes the reigns before someone with bad intentions beats him to the punch. His first act is to join with the military to stave off the zombies rushing the gates. The second most important thing to take care of? It’s the pressing problem everyone overlooked in order to rescue Liv. With few resources at hand, Major looks to the only people he knows can get brains into Seattle, Blaine and Don E. Guess Blaine will do okay without his father’s help, after all. The trio strike a deal which will drastically change how everyone sees the resident bad guys in the upcoming fifth, and final, season. From the looks of it, our whole crew will go out on top of their world. That’s probably just wishful thinking after four years watching the writing team emotionally torment the star characters.

The happy note for the season is, we’ve got a functioning relationship within the plot that doesn’t end in death before the wedding. Unfortunately, it takes a little bit of logic jumping to get there. Also, we’re going to have to ignore the fact that Michelle even exists, because that’s a ball of unresolved feels I’m pretty sure got dropped somewhere under the writing team’s table. But, hey, Clive smiles for an entire scene, and that’s the happiest we’ve seen this character, well, ever. The wedding scene is one of those great rom-com moments, capped by a literal miracle. Liv gives up her chance to be normal again, gifting Isobel’s curative brain to Dale as their wedding gift. If my tear ducts weren’t so rotted, I may have cried a little.

This season as a whole got a little messy. The plot was huge, with so many remaining loose threads I’m not sure if they were intentional or a product of realizing there’s no way to address that many issues in one go. We can only wait and see if the same writing problems make it to the final season. It’d be a shame for this show to go out with grousing from the fanbase, though.


You’ve Got to Hide Your Liv Away: Review for iZombie 412

You’ve Got to Hide Your Liv Away:
Review for iZombie 412
by A. Zombie

Oh no, darling! You can’t possibly go on without knowing there’s spoilers in this review.

With just two episodes left in season four, it’s expected that the plot will whip into a whirlwind with hopefully enough momentum to push the ongoing story into the next season. The problem with this season is there’s too many stories. Too many new characters. Even if one watches this episode without commercials, it seems to take an eternity to get through all the important bits. Why? Because every scene, every moment has to count. The number of info dumps in the episode is staggering. Info dump is a term for dialog laying out a substantial portion of a story line with little to no action to accompany it. It’s usually something novel writers are guilty of, but a few shows have taken to this style of storytelling as a shorthand to get to the good stuff. At least this show, unlike GoT, didn’t use the one sex scene to info dump with breasts on screen in order to keep viewers’ attention.

The Brain of the Week case this time around goes to Ravi since Liv’s occupied with Renegade problems. While the victim this time is a woman—yes, what a shocker—she’s insufferably narcissistic. McKenna is, was, the kind of girl to walk up to a bar, ignore the bartender, and place an order via their “squad” of wannabes. The selfie queen, and former zombie, is a New Seattle celebrity. The Scratching Post brings her in as an “influencer” of sorts one evening, but by the time the sun rises, McKenna isn’t part of the undead or living crowds. Finding out who wants her dead isn’t hard. Ravi’s sole vision leads to a Brother Love follower who dishes the dirt about the pseudo priest’s call to rid the world of the woman’s offensive behavior. Angus himself didn’t do the deed, he’s too careful for that. Yet he still shows up to the interrogation wearing his robes, carrying the hammer we’ve seen him use against humans. Don’t get your hopes up. Angus walks free when Tucker, the bigot turned by Gladwell, confesses to the murder. It’s not a lie, either. Tucker doesn’t do any time for the murder, thanks to Lambert’s interference. Because that’s just what we need, a Fillmore-Graves employee drunk on Brother Love’s Flavor Aid. The day this story line ends cannot come soon enough. It’s cluttering the plot and, quite frankly, the religious extremist plot doesn’t hold any appeal since it’s been done a million times before.

Liv still gets a personality shift from a brain, but it’s not because she decides on her own to eat this particular, love-stricken woman. In a rush to save Liv from herself, Major wanders up and casually kidnaps her, like he didn’t leave his Chaos Killer days long behind. His security clearance gets them out of Seattle and into the next state to a safe house. It’d seem like an extreme measure, but everyone who knows Liv is Renegade—including Clive, now—agrees that her first move after Fillmore-Graves publishes a statement threatening Curtis will be to turn herself in to Chase. Matter of fact, that’s what Liv is doing when Major nabs her outside the apartment. Where this story goes wrong is when Major uses old lovers’ brains to lull Liv into a false sense of security. He roofies her. We’re not quibbling over this fact. There’s no legitimate reason for Major and Liv to ingest these brains, save to give Major his happily-ever-after no matter what. The thing that gets me is, the actors are so good together, we’re almost charmed by these scenes. For the entire season, the Liv and Levon connection felt forced, marred by Liv the pickup artist coercing Levon into sexual situations. Their relationship only feels right once in a while. This episode is one of those moments where the relationship works, and then there’s Major screwing it up by drugging his ex for one more chance to play house after his repeated failures as a partner. Not to mention, this story line is a mess. Repeated info dumps. The sub-story with the missing couple is ridiculous. Are we honestly to believe two zombies can be in a house for a day before hearing the others in the basement? Then there’s the return of Roche. Out of the blue. Just shows up, forcing Liv to save Major after he destroys the last of her trust in him. Major’s on the outs with everyone, suddenly. His bro Chase even calls it quits after sending Hobbs to do a little loyalty test. Major’s going to have to do a lot to out-hero Liv now that she’s turned herself in to save Levon . . . who turned himself in to save Curtis. For Chase, it’s a case of, “Double the execution, double the fun.” He’d gladly triple it if he gets word of Major’s part in everything.

Using the chaos from his father’s speeches, Blaine has one hell of a plan on-deck. But first, he has to get God to send a sign so Angus will put the plan into action. That requires a secondary plan and, uhh, brain snow. Gotta hand it to them, brain snow is a brand-spanking-new concept. One I’d like to inspect. Closely. Hey, you can’t eat the yellow snow; no one said not to eat the pink-ish gray snow. Man, if Blaine gets his way, the plot for the next season is going to be super complicated.

Or maybe not. There’s a slim, and I mean slim, chance that Ravi’s long-shot testing with Isobel actually yielded an answer to the zombie problem. Once Ravi cleans his brain of McKenna’s influence, he dives into his grand experiment. The techno babble goes way, way over my head. However, the results are unmistakable. Thanks to whatever glowing chemical Isobel’s brain produces, Ravi cures a rat in virtually no time at all. Is it a definitive cure? Of course not. It’s one test subject in one testing sequence. Science requires far more work before Ravi declares he’s found anything beyond a hard-to-identify chemical in Isobel’s brain, let alone the cure to zombiesm. That being said, he needs to test faster before Blaine and Angus turn half the USA into the undead. Or he runs out of brain to test.

In happier news, Clive and Dale realize they’re grown adults. This entire season, they’ve simply failed to talk to each other in any meaningful way, as grownups who want a life together should. Clive’s fear made him blab to Liv about the kid thing, instead of taking it to his romantic partner. Dale’s fear of Clive’s desires make her lie about a non-existent lover. It takes a reality check from someone on the outside to convince them to talk. And wouldn’t you know it? They actually want the same thing—each other. The ‘ship still sails!


Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Brain: Review for iZombie 407

Don’t Hate the Player, Hate the Brain:
Review for iZombie 407
by A. Zombie

Oh! Watch out, there. This review has episode spoilers.

It’s no secret I detest scripts where Liv delves into the puddle-depth minds of A-class jerks. This episode is no exception, what with the constantly toying with the rape culture theme like it’s a new Axe body spray samples in a frat house. The plot is, as usual, heavy-handed with some of the messaging, on top of the PUA propaganda dropping straight from the lead actress’ mouth. Yes, it’s propaganda. Written by men who see women as things to possess or use, and then they have the gall to call themselves Pick Up Artists instead of what they are, pure trash. Seattle is a large city. It’s diverse. How on earth are we to believe there’s an epidemic of nothing but dumb white men dying in this place over the course of four years? Television gods, please save our hero from a life steeped in mediocrity.

Despite my dislike, it happens, so let’s see how Liv manages to further screw up her life by again living like a clueless white dude.

Said dude is named Max. Max is a PUA for hire, selling his services to dateless men hoping he will act as the ultimate wingman. Folks, he sucks at it, quite frankly. But, even though he’s boorish, insulting, and disregards his client in front of her, Max still finds a woman to take home for a good time. God grant me the success rate of awful men like this. Max kicks the bucket right after finishing his after-work activity. How on earth does a healthy man die without warning? Someone poisons—somewhat miraculously—only the inside of his condom. The suspect list is long, full of women used by Max in his great scheme to make himself look important. There’s no re

 

al suspects in the group, though one or two provide essential clues which prompt a vision for Liv—Max facing down a scared Fillmore-Graves agent named G. Marsh.

Chatting with the autocrat in charge won’t be comfortable, for anyone. Just about the entirety of Team Zombie has various rough encounters with Chase Graves this episode. Only one person will make it through this takeover with any actual power left, and that’s Graves’ new right-hand man, Major. Stationed above the other FG officers, Major gets handed delightful tasks like ending the brain tube smuggling ring via friendly infiltration and terrorizing a small-press newspaper. Even Peyton gets a metaphorical slap on the cheek from Chase when she and the mayor confront him about the armed men who shot up the newspaper office. Graves is so set in his plan, he’s going full T***p, claiming any reports of Fillmore-Graves misdeeds are “fake news.” Chase does manage to help Clive and Liv with their investigation, but relishes making them wait to talk to the recently-frozen Marsh.

New kinds of people in the world means new ways for men to abuse women, and of course this show points the spotlight right at it while forcing Liv to perpetuate the poor behavior. Before the deep freeze, Marsh hired Max and his technique worked. Marsh, being a piece of walking dog poo, didn’t tell the woman he hooked up with that night about being a zombie, then later asked Max to get on the stand during a Fillmore-Graves trial to claim the victim begged to be turned. You know, rhetoric straight from the rape culture handbook, and handled with the sensitivity of a bull in a china shop. Some detective work leads Clive and Liv to find the woman’s ID. Turns out she is in their group of disgruntled women in Max’s wake and cooked up a story to distance herself from her trauma, along with her new name. New things don’t change how much these men violated he

 

r. With Marsh frozen, she unleashed her anger on Max, using her job to create the perfect murder weapon for a womanizer. None of us are sorry she killed the guy, so this is just another chance for the writers to force awful ideas into Liv’s head.

Liv spends the episode simultaneously hitting on Levon and helping him plan for the next batch of newcomers over the New Seattle wall. They desperately need to secure ID cards for the incoming zombies, or a way to feed them, whichever is easier. They start at Brother Love’s church, where he miraculously provides for his flock. The meeting is a mess from the get-go, what with Angus’ new bigot pal oh, so ready to assume everyone’s a threat. Then there’s the whole whacky Ten Commandments for the undead, which somehow doesn’t convince them to run the second they read it. Angus’ reticence to disclose his brain source is alarm number three Levon and Liv overlook in the name of the greater good. It’s capped off by Angus uncomfortably flirting with Liv by praising her as a pure zombie specimen, like any good white supremacist would when trying to bring young women into the club as bait for others. The deal breaker is, oddly, Angus’ relationship with Blaine, and not the unwelcomed flirtation. Liv gladly finds a new way to proceed when Max’s murder case takes her and Clive to the office where all zombie paperwork is processed and held. The end of this scene is great. Clive knows something’s sketchy on Liv’s end, because he’s a good cop and friend. He just about tackles that security guard to help Liv steal the card-maker he doesn’t even know she took, he’s just following his gut, and his guy says his partner needs assistance.

If only Clive had as much insight into his relationship. Instead of talking to Dale, as he should have the second his jealously rose to cause a fit, he goes off of Liv’s word about what she saw and proceeds to go out on the town several times looking for a quick hook-up. Well, he finally just ends up contacting a professional to take care of his needs. Which flings all sorts of red flags in the air for Dale, since she hasn’t done more than make out with a few men after declaring their relationship open. Men, just talk to your ladies. Seriously. Eighty percent of romcom scenarios would never happen with open, honest communication.

Liv’s new criminal enterprise is at risk . . . thanks to a pair of headphones. Guess we’ll find out next time what Peyton thinks of her roommate, the human smuggler.


Wrath: Review for The Walking Dead 816

Wrath:
Review for The Walking Dead 816
by R.C. Murphy

Watch out! This review contains episode spoilers.

Try as they might, all the flashbacks and slo-mo close-ups in the world can’t bring my heart in line with how it should feel after watching this long-anticipated finale. The outcome, while favorable for the survivors we’ve traveled alongside for eight seasons, is dust on one’s palate; it just doesn’t satisfy. In an episode where they end a several-year story line, one would expect a little more substance. Even the flashy parts are lackluster recreations of past season’s greatest hits. How many shoot-outs have we seen with these groups? How many bullhorn monologues? How many times has an underdog person or group come out of the woodwork to save Rick at the last minute? We’ve seen so many variations of someone else saving Rick that when he’s supposed to protect everyone from his war, it’s still everyone else who does the hard work to neutralize the bulk of the threat, but he still claims the victory and dictates the terms.

Rick makes one cut, then calls himself sheriff in a land freed from its tyrant.

It takes a slap-dash army to topple the biggest threat in town, that’s for sure. Hilltop’s remaining fighters follow the trail Negan left for them, even while believing they’d outsmarted the ol’ fox. The usual suspects are in the militia, save the recovering ex-Saviors who are told to stay behind with the kind of empathy extended to dog poo on one’s flip-flop. Why the cold shoulder? Well, it starts with Morgan flipping out while they’re doing walker-centric chores outside the fence, and ends with Maggie still seeing Alden and his compatriots as fingers on Negan’s tyrannical fist. Is it a great idea to leave so many able-bodied and motivated men out of the fight? Nope. It doesn’t matter, though, because someone else arrives to lend helping hands. Though why anyone thought traveling so far from home to pick a fight with two pistols, Molotov cocktails, and hand-to-hand weapons is a good idea is beyond me. Oceanside has nothing to prove or sacrifice for anyone. They’re not even the saviors Aaron claimed they could be here because someone else swoops that spotlight right off of them, if we’re judging on the level of actual help rendered.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but . . . Eugene comes out looking like a diamond by the end of a season in which he actively helps Negan slaughter the people who kept him alive despite every selfish thing he did before defecting. Just when we thought Eugene and Gabriel were throw-away characters after they finished the bullets, the writers rouse them from mid-story mire to inspire yet another of their Oh So Smart Plot Twists. I mean, as far as twists go, it surprises the heck out of me to even consider Eugene lashing out against his new meal ticket, let alone to go back to a community in which there’s not one person who can look him in the eye without remembering a loved one they lost due in part to his actions. And let’s get this out now, I in no way trust Eugene. He succumbs to pressure too easily. It’s a liability. Sabotaging one fight in the name of the perceived good isn’t rehab enough for the broken relationships left in Eugene’s wake. What future does he have in a community where no one trusts him beyond the raw knowledge he has in his head? When he’s not given a hero’s welcome, will Eugene still offer his help to rebuild the communities ravaged by the war?

So what happens to the Saviors with a wounded Negan in custody care of sheriff Grimes for the indefinite future? Nothing. Nothing! Tra, la, la. Rick, finally listening to his son’s final wishes now that even Morgan says he’s lost too much to continue on, makes this speech about how they’re all free now, but those who cling to the war-mongering way of life are warned to kiss the idea goodbye. Which is, ya know, hilarious considering every time Rick encounters a new community, he meets them with barely concealed hostility. True to his word though, Rick sends helpers to Sanctuary to repair damages, and in return they send food for everyone else. Even the remaining Scavenger gets an invitation to join resources with this new collation, though Jadis is scrapping her artistic moniker for her given name, Anne.

All’s well in the neighborho . . . or not. There’s a group within Rick’s party who harbor deep resentment over Negan’s survival. They even tie Michonne to this mess as a conspirator since she obviously is okay with this lifetime imprisonment plan. Maggie is a reasonable person, except when it comes to this one thing. Negan’s demise, to her, is worth upending the fragile peace forged on the final battlefield. The upcoming mutiny isn’t their largest concern, though. Walker numbers are on the rise. A massive herd lurks too close for comfort. Can they use their combined resources and the building plans gifted to Maggie to fortify all the communities against the threat that never really dies?

The episode wraps by leading into Morgan’s transition to Fear the Walking Dead, which I tried to watch. Only, the video feed to constantly died and I took it as a sign to move on, just like Morgan is moving on after giving us so many wonderfully weird and powerful moments in TWD season eight.