Last week, we caught up with the long-lost Beth. This week, we’re on the road with Abraham and the gang determined to see Eugene safely to D.C. so he can work on the virus that may very well eliminate every walker across the globe. To say their trip is a tad rocky in this episode is a gross understatement.
A part of me feels like there were some character tweaks to make this episode in particular hit a certain vibe—not a pleasant one, either. Abraham’s anger has never been hidden, but the extent of his emotional baggage hasn’t been on the screen in this way before. It’s difficult to balance what we know of the man with what we’re shown in this episode. We get glimpses of his past throughout, relating to the early days after the outbreak and his attempts to keep Ellen, his wife, and two children safe. The ease with which he kills stems not from a long military service, but from understanding that sometimes people must die. Others may judge him—his wife was so terrified she took the kids and ran to their deaths—but at least he knows he’s done his part to keep his people safe. There’s a fine line Abraham walks. More than once we saw Rosita, who’s been with him for almost the entire trip from Texas to Georgia, take a step back from his anger. She’s romantically involved with Abraham and looks to him as their leader, but at one point she has to put her foot down before Abraham marches them into a herd of walkers so thick, one can’t see the road through all the decaying flesh.
That’s after they managed to kill every vehicle they rode in for longer than a mile. What is with people after the apocalypse having horrible luck with transportation which doesn’t require manpower? Yes, Eugene sabotaged the bus, but there’s been a string of bad timing with cars running out of gas or crashing throughout the show. Remember Lori and the walker pushing his face through the safety glass? Yuck! It’s like once the dead rose, everyone forgot how to operate cars. Convenient for the writers—it keeps their locations isolated to a specific area and gives them a chance to add in more fight scenes with walkers. Awful for the characters who end up with concussions and who knows what else from all these crashes.
Tara is finding her footing within the group. Unfortunately her footing puts her in the path of Eugene’s weirdness. For most of the episode, I yelled at her to get away from him. She’s naïve and kind. Lately, Eugene has been written like a sociopath. He understands emotions, but they don’t connect with him on more than a surface level. He’s got one concern: his safety. Tara, meanwhile, wants to make sure everyone is okay and happy. That’s a tall order considering the mess they get into after the bus flips in the middle of the freeway.
Speaking of, what sort of sense does it make to walk forward into uncharted territory, given that your ride and supplies catch fire on the road, instead of backtracking to a known safe location? Fifteen miles out from the church, the glass Eugene dumped in the gas tank causes the bus to flip and the engine to catch fire. Despite losing everything except the bag of weapons, Abraham orders everyone to continue on their set path. He’s running from something, which isn’t clear until the end of the episode. What I want to know is, how the heck did they happen to find a walker-free place to sleep in by sunset given there was nothing but forest stretching down the road they traveled? The same sort of plot gap happens toward the end when we though the gang were good to go with the fire engine and suddenly they’re walking toward at least two thousand walkers. Uh, what?
I’d like to take a moment to gloat. All this time, I’ve said Eugene wasn’t what he seemed and guess who was right? Yup, this reviewer. Eugene made the best of a bad situation. He knew he couldn’t hope to make it longer than a day without clinging onto someone and convincing them to help him. He’d done the math, Washington D.C. should be the safest place within the undead-infested United States. But he was in Texas, and that’s a long way to travel alone when one cannot defend themselves. Luckily enough, he stumbled across Abraham at exactly the right moment. A minute or two later, Eugene would’ve stumbled across a woman and two children who’d been eaten by walkers, and a man beside them with the top of his head blown off. Abraham feels he owes Eugene for saving him from suicide. The need to balance the debt pushed him for so long, when Eugene finally told the truth—that he’s not a scientist capable of destroying the walkers with a virus—Abraham snapped. The last we saw of Eugene, he was T.K.O.ed with everyone hovering over him. Honestly? That’s what he gets for getting everyone’s hopes up. Numerous people died to get him to D.C. and it was all a lie.
This episode was still a tad slow, save the last few minutes when the truth hit the fan. If this trend sticks, the show may have a hard time ramping up for what is always an epic mid-season finale. For now, we play the wait-and-see game.
A little forewarning for the second episode of season five—don’t eat anything when you watch. Or rewatch. At no point in your life will it be okay to consume much beyond water while watching . . . and even that’s questionable depending on the strength of your stomach.
Spoiler Alert! The following review contains episode spoilers.
For the first time in too long—possibly since before Hershel’s murder—we witness a survivor group who are somewhat happy. It may be mostly relief. Giddiness from finding each other once again and surviving escape from Terminus with no casualties on their part. Rick smiles and takes time with his children, something he hasn’t been able to do since the prison attack. Even then, he was plagued by Lori’s ghost and could not fully bond with Judith. Everyone has banded together to take care of the baby.
Judith, along with Bob and Glenn, became the heart and soul of the group. Anyone needing a mental time-out takes a turn watching the baby. Tyreese in particular has done a lot of mental healing since his time taking care of Judith. His world simplified to one focus—protect her and provide for her, no matter what dangers lurk around the corner. Because of that focus, he’s ready to forget that Carol killed his girlfriend and move on. He can kill again, without feeling a strangling sense of moral wrongness. Bob and Glenn, in their roles as heart and conscious, focus on Rick and keeping him grounded despite his overwhelming need for revenge. Even though Rick is smiling and reunited with his family, there’s a darkness in his eyes that won’t go away. The pain he’s gone through has forever changed him. Even if Eugene’s scheme to infect the walkers with a super virus that’ll kill them off works, Rick will never be the same. He will need people like Glenn and Bob to thump him over the head and remind him he has two children relying on him to stay grounded and in control of his anger.
Unfortunately, Bob may not stick around long enough to help. We’ll get to that later.
This episode introduced Gabriel Stokes—a priest with a strange sense of humor (and awful comedic timing) and a secret which may or may not come back to bite the entire group in the backside. Gabriel doesn’t kill, not even the walkers who threaten his life. He’s been isolated in his church since the undead outbreak reached his neck of the woods. Luckily for Rick and company, the church is far enough out of the way to have little walker foot traffic. They hole up in Gabriel’s safe haven to take a breather and have a nice wind-down session reminiscent of the party down in the CDC’s basement back in season one. Let’s hope the church isn’t rigged to blow up.
The safety the church offers is an illusion. Rick, Carl, Daryl, and Michonne all sense something isn’t quite right. For days they’ve thought someone may be tracking their movements. Carl found evidence of an attempted break-in at the church, but couldn’t tell if the knife marks on the windows or the threat, You’ll burn for this, were fresh. We know that Morgan isn’t far behind the group, and he was a tad loony-pants the last time Rick saw him, but is he the threat?
Nope. It is far, far worse.
Poor Bob. He’s finally found a groove after the apocalypse—a solid relationship with Sasha, good standing within the survivor group, sobriety, a solid plan to help Abraham and Eugene reach the epidemic center in D.C., and a sense of relief so great he can’t help but weep. The latter proves his undoing. When Bob takes a time-out from the party, someone sneaks up and clubs him over the head. Next thing we know, it’s Bob-aque time. Hold the sauce. He’s still alive, but for how long? Gareth seems like a patient man, despite his disgusting diet choices. The group who survived the Terminus attack is small. How much can they consume before Rick realizes they’re a man down? Do cannibals diet? Guess we’ll find out next week. Cross your fingers and hope Bob makes it out only missing one limb.
Never Again. Never Trust. Review of The Walking Dead 501 By RC Murphy
It must be October. Everyone as far as the eye can see is trapped in Walker Fever—not to be confused with the fever the infected suffer before turning into the undead. We here at the ZSC Command Center are not immune and fell head-first into the fifth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead with snacks at our side . . . which we quickly ignored, given how bloody the first episode of the season turned out to be. With that in mind, let’s see what our favorite band of survivors are up to after being captured last season.
Spoiler Warning! Below are show spoilers. Turn back now if you haven’t watched this episode.
This episode had one flaw—the Terminus flashbacks. There were only two, at the beginning and end, but the information delivered was something clearly conveyed through dialog and set decoration in the middle of the episode. All the flashbacks provided was a little confusion as far as the timeline went. For half the episode, it appeared as though there was a time gap between when Rick and company were captured and the moment Carol and Tyreese were within hearing range of Terminus and all the gunfire. It wasn’t until Carol saw her once-friends bound and gagged that things started to make sense. Sometimes in story-telling, less is more. This was one of those cases.
Rick is still embracing the Ricktatorship, pushing everyone to arm themselves with whatever they can find in the train car. Miraculously, in the short time they were apparently imprisoned, they managed to build a good number of gnarly weapons using rusty nails, leather belts, hunks of wood, and who knows what else. All their work was for naught. Glenn, Rick, Ben, and Daryl were still taken by surprise and dragged into Terminus’ slaughterhouse. Which is the exact moment everyone set aside their popcorn and clutched the couch cushions so tight, their knuckles turned white.
Despite internet rumors, this was not the moment we said goodbye to any main cast members. Glenn is still alive and has taken on Hershel’s role, becoming Rick’s conscious when his desire for revenge threatens the entire group’s survival. It’s a position Glenn has filled before, but his youth and inexperience usually costs him solid ground to stand on in the face of Rick’s anger. This time Glenn seems better prepared to stand up for what he feels is right. He’s got far more at stake with Maggie at his side and committed to staying there no matter what. Not even his good friend will force him to risk her safety.
Carol is far, far removed from the character we met in season one. Now she can walk up and kill a walker without blinking, even while Tyreese stands behind her saying he’s not prepared to kill again. In the face of his perceived weakness and possible judgment, Carol doesn’t balk, doesn’t care. She will live, that’s that. She will make sure Tyreese and Judith live, no matter the cost to her. But she has no plans to stick with them. Being ousted from the group changed her more than the death of her husband and daughter. Solitude fits the new Carol. She’s truly free to do what she wants when she wants after years of being the steel backbone for her family. Will her resolve to remain a lone wolf stay firm after reconnecting with the rest of the group? Hard to tell, but the reunion hug she shared with Daryl was perhaps one of the happiest moments on the show in years.
This episode was all about escalation. One group wrongs another, the afflicted group seeks revenge. That’s how Terminus became a cannibal’s Fantasy Land—their once sanctuary was overrun, the women abused, countless murdered, but they took it back and became something ruthless and without morals. That’s how Carol and Rick ensured Terminus could not recover from their attack and escape. Even Tyreese did not escape without having to step up his game to not only kill walkers, but also a human who posed a serious threat to Judith. By the end of the episode, even viewers felt panicky, waiting to see how far the escalation would go. What would be the ultimate cost of this revenge pushing Rick forward? So far, no one in his group has paid. That luck can only go so far.
We were visited by a long-lost character at the end of the episode. What role do you think he’ll play in the grand scheme of things? Last time we saw this guy, he was twelve crayons short of a full set and sure to die at any time. That’s the wonderful thing about this show, the people we think will die, don’t. Those we wish would live, keel over without warning. It’s impossible to predict what’s around the corner. But that is half the fun of watching. It is also why The Walking Dead was picked up for a sixth season days before the fifth season premiere.
Review of “The Walking Dead” 316 – “Welcome to the Tombs”
Weeks and weeks of well-written, tension-building episodes brought us to this week’s explosive conclusion. The problem? The only explosion came from a round of unnecessary shooting and grenade launching. Emotionally the episode was a bit of a letdown. There were far too many plot lines left dangling, with no tension to carry them over into the new season. The only thing we were left to look forward to was a potential emotional downslide for Carl, of all characters. Let’s see what went down in the season three finale of “The Walking Dead.”
***Caution, there are spoilers below. If you have not watched the season finale, turn back now!***
Three weeks ago it was reported by Andrew Lincoln in an interview with Rolling Stone that the show would be killing off twenty-seven characters in the season finale. What he couldn’t say was one of the deaths would be beloved underdog and sole geek in the Zombiepocalypse, Milton. We can’t say his death came as a huge surprise. Milton did his best to do the right things in the latter half of season three, putting him at direct odds with his old friend, the sociopath Governor of Woodbury. Unfortunately, Milton’s efforts were a handful of branches trying to stop the flood of Phillip’s determination to be the biggest, scariest leader in a ten-mile radius. It takes a lot of bravery to stand up to a man like Phillip. Milton knew one miscalculation would cost him his life. In the end, he realized the only way to make an impact was to draw Phillip’s wrath and sacrifice himself in order to save the masses. By torching the walkers intended for use against the group in the prison, Milton saved a lot of lives. His death was not in vain, though his loss will be felt if/when we ever see the Governor again, this time without his glasses-wearing conscious at his side.
The person Milton wanted to save most of all wasn’t himself, or even Phillip. Somewhere along the way, Milton saw potential in Andrea to be the savior Woodbury needed in order to escape the Governor’s insanity. But their plans were constantly plagued by ill-timing and Phillip’s ability to be three steps ahead of everyone. In the end, no matter what Milton did, Andrea still paid the ultimate price. There’s a sad irony in those two being the eventual cause of each other’s deaths just when they thought they’d found the one other person left alive who understood what drove their particular brand of hero complex.
Andrea’s constant efforts to do the good and right thing only ended up costing others their lives, including Merle. Her scheming nearly landed Michonne in a torture cell. When faced with a threat like Phillip and his army of true believers, doing the right thing is suicidal. Andrea knew that in the end, but still couldn’t make herself take a human life. Her conscious (not Milton-shaped) got the best of her time and time again. How much heartache would have been spared if she did as Carol told her and stabbed Phillip after one last goodnight kiss? Possibly the hardest part of Andrea’s death wasn’t that she’d been gnawed on by a man who could have been much more to her if not for Phillip’s involvement in their lives. No, the part that truly sucked was seeing her determination to not burden anyone else with dispatching her before she turned. It brought fans back to the end of season one when a distraught Andrea wanted to stay in the CDC when it blew up and Dale emotionally blackmailed her until she gave in and made a run for it. Only now, she wasn’t taking the easy way out. Andrea faced the reality of her situation and wanted to be in control until her last breath. If given more time, she could have been a capable leader for Woodbury. Andrea just wasn’t strong enough to overthrow the Governor.
Speaking of Captain Crazypants, what the heck was up with him unloading a clip into his own people? Some people take failure poorly, but jeeze. The Governor only allowed two of his men to live, and they looked about two seconds from running into the woods to get away from him. There was nothing human left in his eyes . . . eye . . . when he gunned down the people he’d taken on the failed mission to take over the prison. How would he feel if he knew the truth? Five people total inside the prison overwhelmed and dispersed his army. Where did Phillip go to lick his wounded pride? We have no clue. It is unlikely that we’ve seen the last of him, especially if Rick and his newly expanded crew decide to stay inside the prison.
Carl is on a slippery slope to psychoville via the Shane path of surviving the Zombiepocalypse. We’ve known for a while that some vital part of Carl was broken the day he was forced to put a bullet in his mother’s head to spare her from returning as a walker. However, after he seemed to bounce back from it, he’s flipped off his emotion switch again. What happened? Was he shocked by what happened in King County when they ran into a clearly insane Morgan? Did he feel coddled when Rick told him to wait in the woods during the lack-luster battle with the Governor and his forces? It is really hard to tell what triggered this lasted spiral for Carl. What we do know is the kid is really creepy after pulling the trigger. Instantly, he rationalized a story to tell his father so he wouldn’t get in trouble. The worst part was seeing how little shock and remorse was on his face when the kid he shot crumpled to the ground. Someone needs to step in and save Carl before he becomes the next Governor. Or is this a case of too-little-too-late? Only time will tell.
Do you think we’ve seen the last of the Governor? What is in store for Rick and his crew at the prison next season? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
Review of “The Walking Dead” 309–“The Suicide King”
At last we are free of the special hell AMC dumped us in at the beginning of December when they announced “The Walking Dead” would go on their mid-season hiatus. Rick and his crew were greeted by 12.26 million viewers on Sunday night, breaking their record of 10.87 million viewers during the season 3 premiere. What can we say? We really wanted to see what happened to Team Prison and Team Woodbury.
Let’s get down to business. Warning: There may be spoilers below.
During one of the (very) few calm moments during the episode, Carol and Carl patrol the fence line, waiting to catch sight of the folks who went to Woodbury to rescue Glenn and Maggie. Aside from their voices and the wildlife around the prison, it is dead quiet. The noises millions of people create leave a void when they’re cut off by the apocalypse. It is one of the many things we take for granted in our everyday lives. The sound of a jet flying over, the hum of cars driving down the street, even the shrieks of children playing instead of crying out in fear. We also take for granted the chance to open up and love freely, without the fear the person who has your heart will end up dead minutes after you kiss them, or they decide to go off on their own without saying goodbye because they feel it is right. Loyalty, much like love, has no real place in the zombiepocalypse. Trust is the last thing to be thrown to the wayside once you’re forced to fight to stay alive every minute of every day. How many times have we seen the living attack Team Prison in three seasons of the show? Far too many. It is sad when you can’t trust the people you should be able to band together with and thrive.
Carol made another great point later in the episode while talking to Beth about Daryl and how she understood where his head was at. Is she right, once you’ve been made a victim, will you always be a victim? So many of Team Prison fit into this mold—Maggie after the Governor finished interrogating her, Rick post-Shane and Lori, Beth was victimized with her desire to take her own life. Then of course there’s Carol herself. She knows full well if her deceased husband walked in the door alive and well, she would fall into old habits and allow him to take control. It was how she lived for so long and it was easier to submit to the will of someone stronger than fight with him all the time. Daryl fell right into step with his brother, just the way Carol hoped she wouldn’t in her own situation. Some things are so deeply ingrained in us, we can’t break free. Can the others fight the victim role or will the strong people around them force them down, even if unconsciously?
Then we have Andrea who tries so hard to make herself seem the victim at all times in order to garner pity, attention, and power. Sorry, was that a tad harsh? Andrea accidentally shot Daryl in her attempt to prove she could be important to Rick’s group, even after being told not to. She fought with Michonne—the woman who kept her safe and alive after she couldn’t move fast enough to catch up with the group before they were forced to abandon the farm—and allowed her to leave Woodbury. Why? Michonne had a hinky feeling about the Governor and didn’t want her or Andrea trapped in his claws. But it was too late, Phillip had already worked his mojo on Andrea. Then when he was injured, angry, and pulled back from the town to lick his wounds and plot revenge, Andrea played the betrayed party and ensured the town sees her as the important one, the person to lean on for strength when they’ve been apparently abandoned by their leader. How far up can someone climb on the backs of others before they fall? She’s got a long trip down if her power play in Woodbury doesn’t pan out.
One of the most anticipated moments in episode 309 was the Dixon reunion. The first thing I noticed was how cowed Daryl looked when confronted with his brother. He wasn’t the alpha survivor we’d seen rise in the ranks of Team Prison. Daryl let Merle take the lead, dictate what would happen—not only when they were trapped in the fight pit in Woodbury. And when push came to shove, when faced with the decision of family vs. safety, he chose family. Merle on the other hand, is well aware the zombie bowels have hit the fan. He plays brave for his brother, but there are hints he’s just as scared. Merle hides behind lewd language to make himself feel bigger, bolder. Unfortunately all his bravado accomplished is sending the Dixons out on the road on their own with one backpack full of supplies and weapons. How far can two lone men go with only their wits and guts to get them through the walkers?
Did Rick try hard enough to keep Daryl by his side? Team Prison started a war with Team Woodbury and he’s allowing his strongest asset to walk out the door without so much as a real fight. He chased off Tyrese’s group, four able-bodied people who were more than willing to assist them no matter what in exchange for a roof over their head. And to make things worse, Rick snapped at Glenn, the one guy who has been on his side since day one when Glenn talked him through the crowded streets of Atlanta to safety inside the department store. Glenn is fed up with everything. He knows Rick isn’t playing with a full deck anymore and hasn’t since Lori died. So many fans tried to say Rick was better after he held the baby and gave her a proper name. I knew better. It takes more than one bittersweet walk with your newborn to get over the losses and betrayals Rick has been through. Unfortunately for Rick, he has no clue how to cope. The path he’s on is a dangerous one, not only for him, but those who trust him to keep them alive.
And who out there recognized this guy?
Rick has bats in his belfry. Who should take over leadership of Team Prison? Let us know in the comments below.
She has seen the worst of human nature. She has survived heartache, chronic abuse and the spiritual cost of living a life dominated by fear—and that was before the zombipocalypse hit. After all the horror Carol Peletier remains capable not only of love, but of taking emotional risks to express that affection. Carol is a survivor in so many ways that have nothing to do with putting a dent into a zombie’s skull.
Who is Carol Peletier? She 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 expressed 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.
Carol—played with stunningly intricate nuances by Melissa McBride—is the main survivor group’s mother figure. She, more than any of the other females, is able to consistently put aside her own hurts and doubts, to reach out and nurture those around her. In this regard Carol represents the best in human nature, a truly pure spirit we should all be so lucky to have in our lives.
[***WARNING: Spoilers ahead***]
From the get-go viewers could look at Carol and say, “This is a woman who has seen hell.” The way that Melissa McBride handles such a delicate character is brilliant—the little subtleties during her interactions around any man that told more about the extent of the abuse the character suffered than the one instance of on-screen abuse at the hands of her husband Ed in season one were chilling.
But it was also apparent right away she was a survivor. Whether for herself or the child she loves, Carol would find a way to persevere. And Carol’s true beauty was that her strength of spirit was there all along. We just couldn’t quite see it clearly behind the thick veil of abuse.
Carol is the epitome if motherhood on the show. She’s always there for the children. Teaches them in makeshift class rooms. Heck, she’ll even do a stranger’s laundry. She shows appreciation by taking care of others. No one forces Carol to do laundry. Unlike Andrea, who very much wants to throw off the restrictions she feels her gender ties her down with.
Carol sees suffering and reaches out, even at the risk of getting slapped for it. No other character on the show could have told Daryl what he so desperately needed to hear out loud—that while he may not have the education, experience or training of men like Rick and Shane, he is every bit as good as they are. While others like Dale may have seen or felt instinctually that Daryl needed this to help further the evolution he is experiencing, it was Carol that had the right combination of courage and empathy to deliver.
And then…there was Sophia.
Sophia was the light in Carol’s darkness. A child that, no matter what, brought joy and love into her life when an abusive husband sought to rob her of her dignity. In the aftermath of Sophia’s disappearance we saw both Carol’s finest and weakest moments.
Anyone who knows the pain of losing a child was physically shaking during Carol’s interaction with Daryl in the horse stable. What kind of strength does it take to tell someone that the search is over? To admit that you have to let go of your only child? Good grief, just writing that gives me goosebumps. Nothing, absolutely nothing, in this world compares to losing a child…the pain is physical, a paralyzing terror. And yet, somehow Carol has the strength of spirit to embrace a mother’s worst nightmare in an attempt to save the life of another.
My one big issue with the Sophia situation was that Carol took a back seat in the search for her child. Intellectually I understand this might have been the result of years of abuse and being pushed to the background until you yourself believe you have no contribution to make, and again McBride’s portrayal was brilliant. But everything in my core bucked against it, and I found myself itching to drive down to Georgia and start searching for a fictional character myself. That could have been difficult to explain later on….
But the real question now is—can Carol continue to survive?
We saw the battle Andrea fought after losing her sister Amy. Andrea and Carol have different kinds of strength, and Andrea appears to have found a way to pull through. Carol has now lost her source of joy, her anchor. Will that be it….the event that finally breaks her beautiful spirit?