Life After Death, Vol. 8

Life After Death Vol. 8
By R.C. Murphy

Unfortunately, the reality during an apocalyptic scenario is that most people will not make it far with their families intact—these solo folks tend to fall to the wayside on the show quite often. Over the course of season two, we said goodbye to several mainstays from the original camp crew. We also got to know, then lost horrifically, a couple newcomers who could have gone far had they not become walker lunch.

Browse photos from the set of the two-hour series premiere of Heroes Reborn.

Browse photos from the set of the two-hour series premiere of Heroes Reborn.

Otis was doomed from the get-go, to be honest. First, he accidentally shot Carl, then he volunteered to go on a supply run with Shane as backup. The latter, despite Otis attempting to make up for the accident, was probably one of the worst ideas throughout season two. He didn’t know Shane like we do. Didn’t realize that man would do literally anything to keep Lori happy. Anything meant hobbling Otis to provide cover for himself so he could escape a walker horde and deliver the supplies.

Pruitt Taylor Vince has one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces, so it’s no surprise that after his short stint on TWD, Pruitt rolled right along with his career. Since hanging up his hat as Otis, Pruitt has filmed nearly a dozen film projects, including Beautiful Creatures, Bending the Rules, 13 Sins, Broken Blood, and Homefront alongside Jason Statham and Winona Rider. As Casper Abraham, Pruitt helped introduce everyone to a new generation of super-powered people on Heroes Reborn. Over the years, he’s had a reoccurring role on The Mentalist as J.J. LaRoche. He took a turn on HBO’s True Blood during the show’s sixth season, playing Dr. Finn, a psychologist who develops a fixation for Pam while she’s held in a vampire concentration camp. Pruitt’s next project is The Life and Death of John Gotti, also starring John Travolta and Kelly Preston.

Jeffrey DeMunn as Chuck Rhoades Sr. in Billions (Season 1, Episode 1). - Photo: JoJo Whilden/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: Billions_101_0466.R

Jeffrey DeMunn as Chuck Rhoades Sr. in Billions (Season 1, Episode 1). – Photo: JoJo Whilden/SHOWTIME – Photo ID: Billions_101_0466.R

No one, and I mean no one was prepared to say farewell to Dale Hovarth after only two seasons. Too much of the group’s stability relied on Dale to be the voice of reason. Not to mention, Jeffrey DeMunn has a calm about him in the role which reaches out to the audience. The fact that it was actions within his own group which caused Dale’s death is no accident of writing. They had to kill their conscience early in order for Rick to spiral to the point they are now. Doesn’t mean I have to like Dale’s death, though.

Freed from playing a nomad in a broken-down RV, DeMunn went on to guest star on The Good Wife, The Affair, The Blacklist, and Divorce. He teamed up with TWD creator Frank Darabont for TNT’s Mob City, co-starring Jon Bernthal and Milo Ventimiglia. DeMunn has a reoccurring role on Showtime’s Billions. He plays Charles Rhoades Sr., father to Paul Giamatti’s character. The senior Rhoades spends his time being obscenely wealthy and meddling in his son’s life. Billions has been renewed for a second season, starting February 2017.

BernthalDaredevilIt was no great secret back when season two aired that I could not tolerate Shane’s overly-aggressive nature, especially when it came to how he treated Lori or he decided to make safety decisions for the group, which always ended in bloodshed. Those very things lead to his death at the hands of his best friend. Oh and then, wonderful man that he was, the kid he considered a son had to kill his reanimated corpse.

But just because I couldn’t stand Shane doesn’t mean I didn’t love Jon Bernthal’s performance on the show. This is one man who left TWD and, zoom, his career skyrocketed—it’s still on a straight shot to the moon, too. Unless you’ve lived under a rock, you know Bernthal was brought into the Marvel universe to play Frank Castle on Netflix’s Daredevil. His jaw-dropping performance in the episode “Penny and Dime” pretty much guaranteed he’d land a spin-off. The Punisher hits Netflix during November 2017, which is not nearly soon enough. Need another Bernthal fix before Mr. Castle gets his own show? He also appeared in numerous films and shows since leaving TWD—Snitch, The Wolf of Wall Street, Fury, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and Mob City, to name a few. His other upcoming projects include Pilgrimage with Richard Armitage, The Accountant alongside Ben Affleck, Sweet Virginia, Baby Driver, and Wind River.

JAMcCuneBlairWitchJimmy wanted desperately to be the hero he felt Beth deserved to protect her gentle soul during the apocalypse. In a way, he fulfilled his dream, but at too-high a cost. We mostly saw Jimmy in the background, helping the Greene family tend to the farm or giving Beth emotional support. He did get his hands dirty gathering walkers to keep in the barn where they couldn’t attack anyone—until Shane let them all out. During the chaos after Shane was killed, walkers swarm the Greene farm. Jimmy was in the thick of it, using Dale’s RV as cover to shoot walkers, then driving it over to help Rick and Carl get off the barn roof. Unfortunately, an RV is not a tank. They broke in and Jimmy became supper.

James Allen McCune is just as generous and kind as Jimmy, but still has a heartbeat. Post-TWD, he went on to appear in Snitch, Congratulations!, and the made for TV movie Anna Nicole. James joined the cast for Showtime’s Shameless during their fourth season as Matty Baker. In some seriously exciting—and surprising—news, James was introduced as the star of a brand new film, The Woods, which is actually Blair Witch, a direct sequel to The Blair Witch Project. James plays brother to Heather, the missing woman from TBWP. The film’s real title and plot was made public during San Diego Comic-Con when the cast and filmmakers were in attendance to screen the film. Blair Witch will have a wide release on September 16th after showing at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11th.

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Down With The Sickness

Review of The Walking Dead 302 “Sick”

Sometimes—not often, but sometimes—the pacing of a show is slow enough to seem as though nothing really happened in the course of an episode. We love The Walking Dead at the ZSC. Namely, we love to yell at the screen while watching and flail in frustration when we see the characters do things we know are wrong. This week there wasn’t quite as much yelling.

Part of the pacing issue stemmed from Rick and our main crew backtracking to recap what has happened over the last ten months for a group of new characters—who’d been locked inside the cafeteria of the prison the entire time. First off, holy cabin fever, Batman! How were those guys not climbing the walls? Even as prisoners, at least they got to go outside on a regular basis. Second, in their shoes, a lot of people would have bolted for the woods beyond the prison’s fences and never looked back. It doesn’t matter that the prison is possibly one of the safest (though ickiest) places to be holed up if another herd of walkers gets the munchies. They were locked up for various legal reasons and now have the chance to leave as free men with no repercussions.

Then again, how many people are truly free when they spend their days running for their lives?

Rick hasn’t been free since he woke in the hospital. Each day, each decision he makes to keep the group safe, adds a link to the chains binding him. I wondered last week how much longer Rick could continue to push and do the necessary evils inherent in their lives. What he did in this episode easily added four links to the guilt chain, if not more. He was cold, calculating…Rick was Shane. It lasted only a moment, but it was there in the swing of his machete and the haunted look in his eyes after all was said and done. To answer my own question, Rick can’t push himself much longer before he breaks. As strong as T-Dog and Daryl are, they won’t be able to put the pieces of their stressed leader or the group back together if Rick’s mental cookie crumbles.

Caution: There may be spoilers below.

The one thing that would have sent Rick over the edge damn near happened in this episode. With each survivor they lose, bury, or are forced to put down, a little bit of Rick goes with them. The sense of relief on his face when Hershel opened his eyes after the impromptu amputation was so intense, I thought he was going to fall over. Despite the love Hershel’s daughters have for him, their relief was nothing in comparison. Rick needs these people to keep a firm grip on his humanity. One more grave to dig will be his undoing and Hershel isn’t out of the woods yet, health wise. Not to mention Lori and the baby are nearing the danger zone.

Speaking of the baby crisis, it is about time Carol came into her own and became something more than a victim of fate. She has stepped up a lot in this season, taking matters into her own hands. Carol shows a sense of foresight the others are blinded to. They live moment to moment, not really considering too far into the future. Carol looks at what is going on and knows exactly what needs to be done in order to not only take care of the short-term, but the long-term as well. Not to mention she got about five hundred macho points for taking down a walker to practice performing a C-section.

Carl did something useful. Yes, you are as shocked as the rest of us. Though, the potential for Carl to be more than a burden has been under the surface for a while now, he hasn’t really done much more than get in the way. His methods for being helpful are somewhat lacking in caution, but in the end of the day his efforts will seriously help Hershel. And once again, Lori is at a loss on how to parent her own child. He’s mentally growing up to be older than her. Carl doesn’t need her any more and Lori doesn’t know how to deal. Any time she makes an attempt to be a parent, things just get worse—like pouring water on a pile of dirt on your kitchen floor and using nothing but an old sock to clean it up. The intention is clear, but the execution leaves a bigger mess for everyone else to walk around.

Lauren Cohan gave an amazing performance in this episode. So amazing, a sense of utter dread settled over the scene and convinced fans Hershel was going to bite the big one, then take a bite out of her. Lauren, as Maggie, has really made an impression during her time on the show. It is nice to see a woman in the mix, getting her hands dirty alongside the men to do what needs to be done. Unlike Andrea, Maggie doesn’t want a round of applause any time she kills a walker. Though, to be fair, Andrea has grown out of that…but where is she?

Next week’s episode will be huge. We’re catching up with Andrea and Michonne. But they’re not alone for long. At long last we’ll meet the Governor. There may also be another highly anticipated appearance next week. Did anyone else see what I did at the end of the preview clip?

What did you think about episode 302 of The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments below.


Salting The Earth

Review of The Walking Dead 301 “Seed”

October is finally here. For some of you, you won’t understand the huge breath of relief some of us took on Sunday night when we curled up on the couch and tuned into AMC at nine o’clock. Okay, relief may not quite be the right word, given the amount of bloodshed in the season premiere of The Walking Dead, but you get the gist. No more counting down days. No more stalking websites for behind-the-scenes interviews and pictures. The time has come to catch up with Rick, Daryl, T-Dog, Andrea, and the other survivors on the show.

Season three picks up a few months after where season two left off. The opening sequence, with its lack of dialog, spoke volumes about what has happened in their lives since Rick put his boot down and declared the beginning of the Ricktatorship. There was also an amazing pullback shot to unveil the first walker of the season. For all of those who complained there weren’t enough zombies in the last season, your wishes have been granted. There was no way to keep a body count in this episode, not even on the re-watch.

One huge difference in the group dynamic, everyone carries their own weight. Even Carl is given the task of standing guard while the others discuss where to go next on their never-ending quest to find enough supplies to keep them fed and safe. Not only does Carl stand guard, he’s handling a gun and hasn’t managed to shoot his foot or someone who is actually alive. Amazing, considering months earlier he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn and the group was nearly torn apart over the fact that he’d been given a gun at all outside of target practice. Yeah, a lot of folks will think, “Sure, put the kid in charge of dangerous things” and laugh. But, hey, at least they’re at a prison. Hopefully the place is big enough; he’ll stay inside like he’s told.

The other huge change in the group, they’re moving and thinking like a paramilitary unit now. Months of constant moving have ground down the rough edges from personalities clashing and created a fluid hive mind, lead by Rick. Daryl stands at Rick’s right hand. Glenn and T-Dog are on the left. And Maggie is seriously holding her own with the men during fight scenes. No one is superfluous…without reason. Quit yelling. We all know there’s one character fans love to hate. We’ll get to her later.

What I’m talking about is the efficiency in how the group moves into the prison. It is almost too easy. Rick got them all worked up, spoon fed them pretty stories to rile them up and get them to keep putting one exhausted foot in front of the other. He turned the prison into an oasis—a goal too good to be true in the eyes of tired and starving travelers. Will they find their oasis in the prison or is the proverbial desert stretching out in front of them with no water in sight?

Since leaving the farm, the group has technically been split. Andrea didn’t make it out in the mad dash to the cars and was left behind to fight her way through the woods. When the end seemed to be coming for her, someone stepped out of the shadows and saved her—Michonne. Michonne is ruthless in the way she kills. She doesn’t waste energy in movement. She does what is needed to ensure she isn’t bit and moves on. There is probably a lot of severed zombie heads left in her wake. Michonne also seriously cares for Andrea. They’ve bonded over the months they’ve been on their own path of survival. Well, Michonne, Andrea, and the pet zombies. There’s a band name for someone to use.

Okay, fine, we’ll discuss the Lori Problem. This is similar to the Shane Problem, but with more hair, an incoming baby, and a lot more crying. Long gone are the days when Lori could bat her eyelashes at Rick and convince him to do her bidding. He’s done buying her snake oil treatments for a better life in the Zombiepocalypse. Rick tried things her way and lost his best friend in the process. But he isn’t dwelling on it. Rick is pushing the group forward. Lori just wants to dig up the pain they left rotting in a field on the farm. Her baby is due any day and it is very apparent that Lori is not mentally prepared for it at all. She is still focused on herself and how others perceive her. Can she change her focus once the baby comes or will she spend all of her time worried over whether or not the kid looks like her husband?

The final scene of the Walking Dead premiere left a lot hanging in the balance, more than I’m comfortable with, actually. Any time this show leaves a cliffhanger, fans end up rather upset or disturbed. Despite the potential for fan-angst, what is to come in the season—the Governor, the prison and everything else—promises to be amazing.

What are you looking forward to during the third season of The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments below.

Far From Angelic

Far From Angelic

The Walking Dead 212 “Better Angels”

reviewer: RC Murphy

Two weeks in a row it’s been impossible to find a place to start with a review.  Days later, I’m still dizzy from the turn of events. Pacing for the second half of season two took a one-eighty degree flip from how we started the season—that painfully long wait to learn what happened to Sophia only to end in heartbreak. We’re still ending on heartbreak, but it seems harsher, more in our faces. If there was any doubt that I correctly labeled TWD’s writers as evil, this week’s episode proved me right. Only twisted minds could create characters like these and make us forget to breathe while they run around a fictional world causing chaos.

This week began with a bittersweet eulogy for Dale, contrasted by the group patrolling the farm for walkers. Something about the combination of scenes left something to be desired for me. They say they’re going to do what Dale would have wanted, make him proud and salvage a broken community. Would he want them to do it that way? They needlessly beat those walkers instead of delivering a humane blow to the head. Taking out pent up anger on the undead is understandable, but doing it in the name of a man that wanted nothing but peace seems wrong.

On a side note, did you all notice that T-Dog used a hammer to dispatch one of the walkers? IronE got to put his weapon of choice to use. Awesome! T-Dog also got to step out of the background more. Hopefully this trend lasts.

There is a glimmer of hope for the survival of the group as a whole in the unlikely form of Daryl. In the weeks prior, we’ve seen him pull further and further from the group. Heck, he set his camp up a good half a mile away from the others to get away from them. But last week he stepped up and did what no one really had the heart to do. After, he told Rick, “You shouldn’t have to do all the heavy lifting.” Daryl sees the stress leadership puts on Rick. He wants to help again. I’m not entirely sure what triggered his change of heart. There are too many variables at work to pinpoint one exact cause.

One variable no one can seem to keep a handle of is Carl. Last week I got a tad nasty and pointed blame where it belongs, on his parents. Shane was right (don’t die of shock) when he told Rick that Carl needed to discuss Dale’s death with his father. That isn’t because a male’s opinion on the matter is any better than a woman’s. Oh no, that is a reflection on how poor Lori’s parenting skills are. I’ve lost count of how many times Carl’s been found far away from the house after she’s been asked to keep him inside. The kid isn’t a magical creature. He has a physical form and can’t dematerialize only to reform in the midst of trouble. How the heck can she consistently fail at keeping him away from danger?

Instead of parenting, Lori is still obsessed with saving her reputation. She confronts Shane yet again about their sort-of relationship. At this point I can’t tell if she is stringing him along on the off chance that Rick dies and she needs a male in her life (and bed) or if she sees the dark path he’s going down and is trying to placate his crazy to keep him in line. No matter her motivation, all she has done is cause trouble between Rick and Shane. It’s hard to tell if this sort of thing would have happened after Rick was shot in the line of duty without the walker uprising putting her in Shane’s protection.

Pro tip for ZSC brigadiers: While it is important to board up possible weak spots in your Safe Haven, spending a day hammering boards in place could have unforeseen problems. The undead in The Walking Dead respond to sound. All of that hammering the group did on the barn and house echoed through the forest, drawing the walkers in closer. The only reason they couldn’t pinpoint the source is because the sounds were too faint to follow after bouncing around the trees. However, something like a gun shot after they are searching for the noises… someone may have well rung the dinner bell.

It wouldn’t be one of my reviews if we didn’t address the Shane Issue. This week I need to put a Spoiler Warning before it. If you have not seen episode 212 of The Walking Dead, turn around and head to safety. After you watch, come back and finish reading.

Shane, Shane, Shane. I’ve spent nearly a year despising you and defending that opinion tooth and nail. You are ruthless, cutthroat, obsessive, and your only redeeming quality is being a good shooter. No one trusts you, not even the people you tried to lure to your side with promises of cookies, or whatever the emotional equivalent is for a psychopath. You could never be a leader of men, not in the way Rick is, and your jealousy over that fact will be your downfall.

Oh wait, it was.

The creepiest scene in this episode possessed no dialog. Heck, there wasn’t even much sound to it at all. Watching Shane sit in the shed contemplating his plans for Randall sent goosebumps up my arms. It takes a great actor and great writing to make me loathe a fictional character so much. Hats off to Jon Bernthal and the TWD writers. This ride watching Shane spiral further and further to madness has been the most entertaining bit of television in years. Shane’s condition created so many discussions about morals in extreme crisis situations. Even when we thought he acted poorly, part of our minds wondered if it actually was the right thing to do. Could we reach that level of practicality he delved into and maintain what it is that makes us human? I’m not entirely sure it is possible.

However, there was nothing right or humane about how he dealt with poor Randall. Was Randall a threat? In my opinion, yes. He acted too much like a weasel to trust him at his word. Rick’s plan to drive him an hour out and drop him off would’ve worked or at least given them time to prepare the farm for possible human attack, which they should have done beforehand. Shane couldn’t leave it be. He had to have his way and in the process illustrated that any dead body, bitten or not, will come back as a walker.

Much respect to Rick for realizing Shane’s plan and confronting him man to man. By that point there were two possible outcomes. Either way, someone would die. Losing Shane is a blow to the group. For all of his insanity, he did a good job protecting them. That is when he wasn’t plotting ways to undermine the authority of the group. If he’d succeeded, the group would have collapsed. None of the others would believe the story he cooked up. Not after the Otis incident came to light.

Will everyone understand why Shane died, though? Can our survivors continue on as they have been? Hell broke loose and is knocking on their front door. The season two finale next week is going to be a doozey.

What do you think about Shane’s demise? Let us hear your opinion in the comments below.

Miles Away from Safety

The Walking Dead 210
reviewer: RC Murphy

Well, no one can complain about the lack of walker action in the newest episode of The Walking Dead. I’ve seen enough leaking skulls to satisfy my bloodlust for another couple of weeks, so long as the writer’s promise to quit trying to make me cry. More on that later. We’re diving straight into the heart of this episode with Rick, Shane, and the showdown we’ve been waiting two seasons to see.

After Lori planted the seeds of doubt in Rick’s mind last week, it was only a matter of time before he took things to the source. Did anyone else get a mental image of Lori as a demon whispering in his ear? Creepy as heck. Anyways… Being Mr. Honorable, Rick took Shane out for a nice long drive and confronted him away from everyone else to give him a fair chance to say his piece. He gets it—understands that Shane loves Lori as a representation of life and love in his world of death. But he also knows his friend, sees that he’s dangling one foot over the edge of the Cliff of No Return. The amount of restraint shown by both men in that scene resolved none of the tension between them. We knew they’d have more to say about it, and boy did they.

One of the problems that’s sprouted up in this post-apocalyptic universe is the notion that your everyday Joe can, with the proper application of force and smarts, become God. Who gets to decide which of the living are fit to survive? Certainly not Shane, who goes into every decision gun first. At least Rick makes an effort to think things through. But is he any more fit to make that choice for someone else? Are any of us? In their shoes, I would have left Randall there. If he was determined enough to walk the eighteen plus miles to invade the camp, then I’d deal with it. Rich and Shane’s differing opinions boiled over, giving them an excuse to vent physically what neither man could cope with emotionally. I wonder what Lori will say when she learns what all her whispering caused. She nearly lost both of them.

Before we move to the really heavy subject that’s unavoidable thanks to this episode, I want to yet again theorize over what Jenner said to Rick before the CDC blew up. When they inspected the deputy walkers, Shane seemed at a loss for how they turned without being bitten. Rick, however knew that a scratch could change them. Has this happened before? I can’t remember. But it seems that the virus that reanimates the dead is adapting. Perhaps Jenner knew this would happen and warned Rick.

At the beginning of season two the writers touched on the issue of suicide. For Andrea, it seemed to be the only way to cope with her losses and escape an inevitable painful demise by walker. Dale took it upon himself to keep her from it. Daryl talked some sense into her, in his own way—with help from an unfortunate walker that’d hung himself before turning. Now they’ve circled back around to that issue with Beth, Hershel’s youngest daughter. Just like Andrea, her decision was taken away. Was Lori right to stop her? Do the same rules about suicide persist after death has thrown the rest of the rules to the wind?

Maggie tries like heck to make Beth see what losing her would do to the rest of the family. But she is so determined to take the easy path that she tries to convince Maggie to do it with her. Desperation makes a person’s mind search for the “easy button”. Suicide isn’t the way, though. Trying to make a pact with your loved ones to do the same is forcing them to follow the wrong path in their life.

Andrea and Lori have very different views about how to survive. Lori wants stability, to bury her head and do what she can to pretend there aren’t walkers outside. Andrea is trying to adapt, but for her survival isn’t worth it unless she is the one calling the shots. She went behind the “alpha” female’s back and gave Beth the opportunity to do as she wished. Actions like that come with a price. One that everyone involved has to pay.

Next week promises to be equally as tense. What will happen to the outsider, Randall? Chime in with your predictions in the comments.

Itchy “Triggerfinger”

The Walking Dead 209
reviewer: RC Murphy

First things first… I must take a moment to applaud the folks at KNB EFX. The first walker we see in episode 209 is incredible. My inner makeup geek sat forward in my seat, watching how the walker’s face changed while it pushed through the glass trying to get… tsk, tsk. Almost spoiled things there. Needless to say, this episode in general is very detailed in the gore department. And I loved every drop of it.

Which becomes the biggest threat in the Zombiepocalypse, walkers or the living? The second half of TWD’s season 2 is focusing on this very question. A lot of complaints about the show include the now tiresome, “Where are all of the zombies?” For me, the real danger isn’t walkers. The living are far more cruel. They eat you up in ways the undead cannot. Humans destroy you from the soul out. Look at the road our survivors have gone down since the first season. Rick, in particular, went from an idealist who thinks everyone—even lost causes like Merle Dixon—can be saved to the brutally practical man we’ve seen the last two episodes. But then he lapses back into honorable cowboy mode… and nearly gets his backside full of buckshot.

Hershel Greene goes through a similar transformation after the barn incident. Actually, that’s not quite true. It took Rick tracking him down and their discussion about being in a hopeless situation that turned Hershel around in the way he approaches the changes in their world. He even goes so far as to give silent approval of the drastic measures Rick went to in order to keep not only his family safe, but Hershel’s as well. Will these changes stick? I think so. His confrontation with Shane towards the end of the episode strengthened the tentative bond formed between Glenn, Rick, and himself back at the bar. It also displayed to his family his shift in thinking about how to deal with the walkers.

Hershel seems to be finally be warming up to Glenn. It’s likely he won’t ever be happy about Glenn being involved with Maggie, but he didn’t let him get gunned down by the rogue survivors—who by the way are a prime example of how not to run a survivors group, folks. What distresses me, though, is Glenn’s insistence that he can’t fulfill his role in camp while being in love with Maggie. He’s finally stepped up to be more of a hero; he could be her hero in every sense of the term and now he is backing away from it. All because of that hesitation and the drive to keep her safe emotionally. I’m with Maggie on this one. His behavior is frustrating. It goes to prove that no matter how intelligent someone is they can be awfully stupid when it comes to matters of the heart.

Allow me a moment to profess my love for Carol. Out of everyone, she is the true survivor. Her personal story line through two seasons of the show is a series of moments where she’s kicked around, both physically and emotionally. This week she stood up for herself. She didn’t let Daryl push her around. Carol spoke her mind, tried to talk some reason into him. Daryl is uncomfortable with positive emotions thanks to his rough upbringing. So when Carol reaches out after denying him the chance to comfort her in her mourning, he lashes back at her. He must think she will be like everyone else in his life, users that don’t take his feelings into account before they act. Daryl doesn’t realize that Carol spent years of oppression comforting herself, that’s just her way. He pulled a jerk move, getting in her face as though he meant to hit her. He’s above that. It got what he wanted, though. She let him be after that. The men in this episode were aggravating, to put it nicely.

Okay, fine. I can’t end this without addressing the Shane Issue. Deep breath… here we go.

The last cog on Shane’s mental mechanism finally snapped. No, it didn’t just snap, it shattered into a million pieces. Humpty Dumpty has a better chance of survival than Shane’s sanity. His mountain of lies is beginning to topple over. The only one still buying them is Andrea and that’s only because she thinks that he’s got the secret to being a true blue zombie slayer—shut off your emotions. It’s impossible for Shane to see reality. He’s regressed into a fantasy world where he has a family that loves him and needs him to play hero. This must be a coping mechanism to make up for the fact that obviously Shane didn’t have much in the way of love before the walkers shambled onto the scene. A string of one-night stands does not make up for the lack of a loving relationship. The fantasy rotted his brain. And the most disgusting part of everything is Shane using his twisted love for Lori to justify the horrendous things he’s done to others.

Shane pushed Lori to the point where she can’t continue to deal with his crazy on her own. That last shot of Rick at the end of the episode says more than anything he could’ve said out loud. Things are going to get tense with those three. Who will be caught in the crossfire?

Have something to say about this episode of The Walking Dead? Add your own comments below.

Abandon All Hope

Abandon All Hope

The Walking Dead 208

reviewer: RC Murphy


After weeks of waiting and gnashing teeth, AMC finally brought us back into a world where the dead refuse to stay dead and the living struggle daily to cling to that precious whatever that makes us human. To be honest, around the ZSC Command Center, we weren’t looking very human ourselves. Call it TWD withdrawals.

A brief recap before diving into the mid-season premiere: We left Rick and the gang in the midst of a pile of walkers with severe cranial leakage. Hershel and his family were aghast, watching how the others dealt with walkers. And the only hope for some of the survivors—in a tiny, innocent form—just met their final rest courtesy of Rick. Got that so far? Good.

The mid-season premiere picks up exactly where the previous episode left off. I know it may be wrong, but I got a bit smug being able to ask Hershel, “Still think they’re just sick after your wife attacked your daughter?” Yes, I talk to the television. Nevertheless, my main beef with Hershel came, not from his insistence in clinging to faith, but in his inability to look in the eyes of a walker and know that they aren’t human any more. Shane’s methods in forcing everyone to deal with this fact are faulty, but necessary.

I know I’m not the only parent that cringed at how matter-of-fact Carl became about what happened at the barn. He had one scene in the episode and it made a heck of an impact. Lori is right to be concerned about the coldness weaving into Carl’s childhood. However, she thinks Rick should be able to fix it by being there to do the hard things for him. In reality, Carl will still see everything his father does to protect the camp and want to be that person. He wants to be the cowboy hero. It could cause serious problems down the road.

On the parenting train of thought, I could not help but cry when Carol conveyed to Daryl and Lori how she planned to cope with her loss. It wasn’t a scene with ugly tears and a huge breakdown. It almost would have been more preferable to the controlled, calm way she spoke. That reining it in is what broke me. Her grim acceptance of fate took her to a different level where no one was sure how or if they could comfort her. Daryl, most of all, seemed hurt by the fact that he’d been denied that chance. In comforting her, he could have comforted himself and she left him out in the cold. Seeing where those two go after this will be interesting. He thinks he failed her and she’s lost her hope.

That anyone can contemplate finding love in the Zombiepocalypse seems ridiculous, right? Yet we have this wonderful love story building in the tangled vines of TWD. Glenn and Maggie are possibly the last bits of hope left on the show. Can their Romeo and Juliet love survive everything that is happening around them at the farm? She thinks so. He’s afraid. Not afraid of love, but what would happen if he lost her. Rick is right; he needs to tell her how he feels, despite the fear.

 Time to address my least favorite subject, Shane. He is going to implode soon. Dale sees it and is well aware of what kind of man Shane really is under the hero façade he’s put on since rescuing Lori and Carl. How do we know it is a lie? Listen to what he says to Carol. Here is a woman that’s just suffered the greatest loss a woman can suffer and he only addresses her feelings once. The rest of that conversation is all “poor Shane”. Why doesn’t he get recognition for getting rid of all those nasty walkers in the barn? Wah, wah, wah… Dale called it. Unless Shane gets what he wants—Lori—he will probably kill again. Unfortunately by confronting him about it, Dale has put himself in Shane’s sights.

This episode was the death of hope for everyone. Hershel can no longer sit and pray that his wife to be cured. Carol won’t be able to console herself with thoughts that Sophia is safely tucked away in the woods, too afraid to find her way back to camp. Lori is stripped of the notion that Carl will not be forced to grow up too quickly. And Rick’s desperation to keep everyone safe takes a bullet to the brainpan. However, it is up to Rick and Hershel to face their families, those that rely on them… and lie through their teeth. They must create hope again. People cannot, will not continue to march down the long road unless there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For numerous survivors, not just our heroes, this hope manifests in Utopia-like areas where there is plenty of food, water, and supplies for them to create new homes. They don’t really exist, but gives people hope that somewhere out there safety is possible.

There were two OMG moments in this episode… which I can’t talk about without giving spoilers. Needless to say, they will make next week’s episode a must-watch.

What are your predictions for the next episode? Leave a comment and let us know.

Team Greene…for the faithful

They are hardy, wholesome folk. Hershel and Maggie Greene can keep a farm running, ride any steed in true cowboy style and wrangle zombies when the need calls for it. Their faith in God sustains them, but their isolation leaves them susceptible to grand—and potentially deadly—illusions about the realities of the world they live in.

Who are Hershel and Maggie Greene? They are characters from The Walking Dead—a series of graphic novels by Robert Kirkman turned into one of the world’s hottest cable television shows by AMC and an insanely talented production crew. They have created cast of characters I have expressed a great deal of love for:

Faith in the Almighty is rule # 1 on the Greene farm. Rule # 2 is that Hershel’s word is law, only below that of God. He runs his family with a firm hand and there’s little doubt that even before the walkers started appearing on their property, he possessed full and total control over every aspect of their lives. Maggie has been content to follow her father’s righteous lead but has a more worldly strength to her than her father possesses. When the main survivor group finds the Greene farm, Hershel and Maggie are easily cast as saviors—but the zombie-infested world in which they live may ultimately rip both the group, and the family, apart.

[***WARNING: Spoilers ahead***]

The Greene family provides a nice little twist to the environments most commonly associated with the zombie genre—large cities run down, blown halfway to hell, and overrun by the walking dead. Hershel and Maggie have managed, despite all odds, to not only survive but to do it in their own home with their own resources (for the most part) and create a sanctuary for others in need.

Hershel is a man of principle, a spiritual rock guided by his faith in God and a firm belief in right vs. wrong. There is little grey in Hershel’s world, something is one or the other, and cannot be both. It is upon this basis that Hershel views the zombiepocalypse. He is a giving man, in his own way, but will draw the line when generosity poses a danger to his beliefs or his family. And the rigidity of the faith he presents poses dangers—both physical and spiritual—for himself and those around him.

Hershel – played by Scott Wilson – believes that worldwide zombification is akin to the evolution of HIV/AIDS. Everyone goes into hysterics. A lot of people die. And then one day a miracle cure comes along, sent by God’s own hand to save the faithful who managed to survive. In Hershel’s mind, this is a cleansing.

But on the few occasions where Hershel does speak of such things it feels more as though he is a man desperate to fit the unthinkable into an existing belief system. He has lost family members. The world has, largely, ended. He knows this, yet Hershel really isn’t prepared to meet the challenge head on. He is clinging to his faith as a way to continue the ‘old way’ of doing things, rationalizing away the realities of the zombie world.

Maggie, despite the ‘grief’ she causes Hershel because of her budding relationship with the “Asian boy,” is a source or pride for Hershel—a younger, more worldly version of himself. Maggie’s belief system is not so rigid, so much a part of her being, that she is unable to consider alternatives without shaking her own core. Maggie – played by Lauren Cohan – quickly finds herself questioning events around her after the main survivor group arrives: Maybe her father is wrong. But if he is, then is she equally wrong for following him? Where does that leave God in the new world order? And most importantly, how do they survive?

At this point it is Maggie, not Hershel, who appears most likely to survive the zombiepocalypse longest of the Greene clan. It’s not unlikely that Maggie may soon find herself in the not-unusual situation of having to manage role reversal—where the child becomes the parent and the aging parent becomes the child—in order to save what is left of her family.

And then there was the barn.

When Glenn stumbled across the barn and its’ unfortunate occupants, I nearly broke my roommates fingers I grabbed his hand so hard (an action I would repeat when Shane ripped open the barn doors shortly thereafter). This was going to be it. The place where faith and realism collide, where right and wrong are so hopelessly intertwined that even the most the righteous man would struggle…where we discover what humanity really means in a zombified world.

Anyone with a heart, felt bad for Hershel. And yet, even though in some rose-colored way we wanted him to be right, viewers knew he was wrong. The tragedy was that it took a rather inhumane approach by a very unstable man, Shane Walsh, to rip off the blinders and force Hershel, and Maggie, to finally confront the reality of the world they now live in.

Weeks after the mid-season finale aired, viewers are still struggling with that last sequence and what it means for a very brave, very soul-weary group of survivors: Can Hershel move beyond the shock and accept the new reality? Can he become the spiritual ground-zero that the main survivor group needs so badly? Or will he retreat, cloak himself in cracked-faith and leave the others to fend for themselves? And what future will Maggie choose? Will she evolve into the zombie-slayin’ farm girl I see within? Or will she be unable to forgive Shane and the others for the ‘damage’ they have wrought on the Greene home?

Whatever choices Hershel and Maggie make are sure to be right—and heartbreaking.


With special thanks to R.C. Murphy

This post originally appeared on

Team Rick…on a mission

Any good story is bound to have that one character who is one horse short of being an honest-to-goodness cowboy. I’m not talking about the “shoot ’em up” guys that do it because they have a gun fetish, but the guys that fight to uphold their morals. Morals they learned with a hand on their momma’s apron hem and had drilled into their heads by hard working fathers. Rick Grimes came into existence long after the Cowboy Era, yet he still fits the part. Heck, when he made his first appearance on television they even gave him an actual horse–well until it was eaten by a horde of hungry zombies.

Who is Rick Grimes? He is a character from The Walking Dead—a series of graphic novels by Robert Kirkman turned into one of the world’s hottest cable television shows by AMC and an insanely talented production crew. They have created cast of characters I have a great deal of love for:

If you aren’t watching the show you should be. From the moment the show begins viewers are taken on the undead ride of a lifetime, watching a cast of beleaguered humans fight not only to survive, but to retain that which makes us most human.
Rick is a man of many morals. With a veritable shopping list of good qualities Rick—payed by Andrew Lincoln—will do almost anything to honor, he is a man to be admired. But his decisions often leave something to be desired. He suffers from tunnel vision that can turn ‘doing the right thing’ into foolhardy or dangerous missions—with the potential for truly disastrous results.

[***WARNING: Spoilers ahead***]

The tie that binds Rick’s principles is the ideal that he must do anything to keep his family safe… or is it? Rick’s dilemma isn’t so much how to keep his family safe, it seems, but more of how will he do it while on a one-man mission to save every stray person they encounter. He spreads himself too thin trying to be there for everyone, often leaving his wife and son to fend for themselves. He even went so far as to leave their sides the day after they learned he hadn’t died in the hospital to save, of all people, Merle Dixon– the man that’d nearly gotten them all eaten alive in Atlanta during a supply run. Was the risk to his family worth it to save one man? A lot of the other characters said no. They felt let down, even if his wife understood that he felt obligated to a man he’d just met and had been threatened by.

Rick’s sense of responsibility—and guilt—can be a very real danger to the main survivor group as we saw in the case of the situation with Sophia. Lori was right when she said no one else in the main survivor group jumped to leave their hiding place and race to her aid like Rick did. It was a great moment for Rick and the preservation of humanity in a world gone mad. But what followed…was disaster. Shane was right when he said Rick was leading the group on a search for her long past a timeframe when finding her alive and well was likely. Rick’s persistence nearly cost Daryl Dixon his life. Would Rick show the same determination for any member of the group? Did he push a continued search for Merle? In both cases, Rick was, at least, partially responsible for the predicament…yet, Merle’s fate remains unknown.

Rick felt obligated to Hershel for the use of his land as a safe haven for his crew of survivors and for the medical help–without which they’d have lost both Carl, T-Dog and Daryl. Hershel is a strict man, runs his house with an iron fist, and expects to be obeyed. Rick’s approach is honorable, it’s the cowboy way…but there has to be a limit somewhere. I’m going to argue a barn full of zombies qualifies. Rick’s response had me nearly in tears—I began to think he was as deluded as Herschel. Did he truly believe, for even a second, that those zombies were anything less than a deadly and immediate threat?

And then Rick pulled the trigger.

I’d bet the farm that the closing scene of season two’s mid-season finale gave us more answers than most viewers were able to see through the shock and horror. When Shane ripped open the barn to force the group to deal with the zombies within (think closet. think skeletons.) Andrea, T-Dog, Glenn and Daryl swallowed bile to step up to the line, …and hold. Rick did not. It was only when a zombified Sophia lurched across the fallen mass of walker remains that Rick raised his weapon.

Many fans have said that this proves Rick can make the hard decisions. I disagree. If Shane had not been there to initiate, Rick would have avoided confrontation and put the group in more danger. Rick, unfortunately, was responsible for Sophia’s demise. Unfortunate because he really was trying to do the right thing. That was his blood to claim. The blood of an innocent child, smeared all over the hands and spirit of a truly righteous man. Rick had to pull the trigger, he had to pay the soul-shattering debt.

That he was willing to step forward and take on that responsibility may simultaneously give him strength—and rip him apart.

With special thanks to R.C. Murphy

This post originally appeared on