Review: An Ode


Review of “The Walking Dead” 315 – “The Sorrowful Life”

This week’s episode was . . . wow, intense. So much so, we’re going to do things a tad differently this week. We’ll do a quick run-through of a couple things, but of course there is one major event we need to discuss. At length. Possibly with stick figure diagrams. Okay, kidding about the last part, but it is something we can’t gloss over at all.

***Warning, this review is full of spoilers. Do not read past this part if you haven’t watched episode 315 of “The Walking Dead” yet.***

TWD 315 4Where to start? Things at the prison are far from okay. Rick’s marbles are still scattered across the floor. Daryl is torn between being Rick’s right hand man and living up to the expectations of his brother. Carol is dealing some hard-hitting truths about Mere’s place in their sanctuary-slash-death trap. Hershel is having a serious conflict of faith and doing what needs to be done in order to ensure the safety of his two daughters. Oh, and Glenn is getting all romantical with Maggie (which proves to be the only moment in the episode where fans can take a breath and feel a split second of normalcy during the hour of emotional torture).

On with the “holy hell” portion of the show–Merle.

images (1)Merle was a character who, by some weird mixture of piss, vinegar, and the incredible talent of the man portraying him–Michael Rooker–managed to win the hearts of Walking Dead fans from the get-go. The redneck from hell spit every racial slur he could think of (and say on basic cable). Kicked the tar out of a lot of the characters we were supposed to find sympathetic. Admitted to heavy drug use. Cut. Off. His. Own. Hand. And everyone wanted him back for more. When we did get him back for one episode during season two of the show, fans were in an uproar because Merle was just a figment of his brother Daryl’s imagination. What a figment he was. We got to see the real backbone of the relationship between the brothers, how Merle loved to antagonize Daryl when he’d already been kicked down about as low as a person can go in just one day.

TWD-Merle DixonProducers for The Walking Dead took full advantage of the massive amount of fan love and brought the real Merle back for season three. He quickly became the perfect antagonistic balance between the Governor and Rick, going to the extremes neither men could handle emotionally. This isn’t because Merle was devoid of emotion, oh no. Merle had simply learned to navigate around what he was feeling. In the past, he relied heavily on drugs to keep himself blanketed and numb from the nagging feelings tearing him apart. We caught a glimpse at the lengths he’d go to lean on the drugs like a crutch again in this episode when he rips apart nearly every single mattress in one of the abandoned cell blocks inside the prison. Merle’s secondary method to block out the emotions he can’t cope with is to chase the jobs in Woodbury none of the others could handle emotionally. After the Governor cleaned him up, got him sober, he relied on violence to get his high. The deaths he caused left a darkness in his eyes, a shadow hanging over everything he did. And when the adrenaline crash came after, he’d get antsy and start looking for ways to get his next fix. Merle racked up sixteen (well, closer to twenty now) human deaths in the roughly year-long span since Rick handcuffed him to the roof of the department store in Atlanta.
Did being buddy-buddy with Death change Merle? You bet your Aunt Fanny it did.

TWD 315 5However, it did not change him in the way it would most men. Merle was always painfully aware of what he was doing. He just couldn’t stop himself. In this episode he told Rick he didn’t know why he does the nasty, cruel things he does. Truth is, he lied. Merle suffers his personal issues without needing anyone to coddle him and tell him it is okay to hurt, to be afraid, to need someone to keep his feet on the ground when he wants to soar above it all in a meth haze. He doesn’t want to be a burden anymore. Even after the vocal distrust coming from everyone in the prison, Merle still took up arms to protect its occupants on more than one occasion. He wanted to pull his weight, or what little the others would allow him to do while keeping him under close scrutiny. Instead of getting pissed off, he played into it. It didn’t matter if they hated him, so long as he felt he was doing what needed to be done, when it needed to be done. Which is why when the time came, Merle took it upon himself to take Michonne and make the deal with the Governor.

Or did he?

TWD 315 3One has to stop and think if Merle meant to go through with the plan to turn Michonne over, or if he’d determined in advance to go it alone and make the ultimate sacrifice. With as complicated as the man was, we’ll never know for sure. One thing can be said, though; both Woodbury and the prison are missing one vital helping hand in the fight to survive. The Walking Dead will never be the same. Not with the lingering impact from Michael Rooker’s stellar performance.

TWD 315 1

If Merle had survived, would he have eventually fit into the group at the prison? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Review: On the Prowl


Review of “The Walking Dead” 314 – “Prey”

Last week “The Walking Dead” took a deep look into what makes Rick tick and how his crew at the prison are preparing for the looming conflict with the Governor and his Woodbury army. So this week, we got a look at what is making the Governor tick and where Andrea’s loyalties will put her during the war. We spent the entire episode with Andrea. Yes, the angst of many fans were heard. However, it was necessary to take the time to truly see where Phillip’s head is at before he launches another attack on our favorite survivors.

***Warning, this review contains spoilers***

TWD  314 MiltonAn unsung hero in the tension between Woodbury and Rick’s crew is Milton. He lurks in the background, whispers advice in Phillip’s ear, and helps Andrea when she has the driving urge to do something right (which inevitably goes wrong). Milton has been able to keep Phillip’s antisocial behavior under wraps for the most part. He offered himself up as a touchstone for the Governor to lean on in order to see how far from the façade of normalcy he’s put on in order to lead the town successfully. He tries to be Phillip’s Jiminy Cricket, but how can he be a conscious for a man who forfeited his soul to get revenge and power? Unfortunately, Milton isn’t a fighter. Over and over again, he’s run to Andrea for help, sensing her desire to be where Phillip is in the power structure. All so he doesn’t have to grow a pair. He doesn’t think like a warrior and is easily cowed by people in power. Or at least he was before this episode. At least we’re seeing Milton put his foot down and stand up, albeit indirectly, to the powerbase driving the war to yet another senseless battle. He’s working from inside Woodbury to even the playing field. It’d be better if he finished finding his courage and kill Phillip. There’s a history between the two of them. Does Milton recognize his friend in the monster the apocalypse unleashed?

TWD314_AndreaRoomOver the course of this season, we’ve seen the humanity bleed out of the Governor. Sometimes literally, thanks to Michonne. There is a sense of joy in the way he goes about prepping and stocking his little “fun” room, the torture chamber he’s set up in preparation for Michonne’s arrival. There is no doubt in his mind. He will win. Michonne will come back to Woodbury with him. Over the course of weeks, he will be free to torture her. One of the most telling objects in the room wasn’t the bone saws, scalpels, and needles. It was the spool of thread and hooked needle. Several possibilities came to mind, but the one that stuck out the most was, he doesn’t want his victim to have the opportunity to bleed out and die ahead of his schedule. He must have complete control of every aspect of his life. Death is a tool he means to bend to his will. Phillip’s arrogance stems from the complete lack of people questioning his actions. Since day one of Woodbury’s foundation, he’s been the one taking charge. The only people to stand up to him are outsiders, not part of his little herd. He can’t control the new people, so he must eliminate them. And if he just so happens to enjoy himself on an almost sensual level while chasing his prey, well, even sociopaths need a little fun.

gotit-600x331Tension is brewing between Tyreese and Phillip. Tyreese is a trusting soul, despite what he’s seen of human nature while battling the undead. Unfortunately, it made him a prime victim for the Governor’s scheming. Thankfully, Tyreese didn’t drink the Flavor-Aid like Andrea did when she first arrived in Woodbury. His instincts may very well keep him and his sister alive. Can’t say as much for their two traveling companions. Allen and his son overcompensate for their lack of power in the apocalypse by being the manliest men Woodbury has ever seen. Allen in particular continuously butts heads with Tyreese, trying to prove he can be an alpha male in order to not appear weak in front of his son. But Tyreese won’t give him the satisfaction of “winning” their arguments. He has a good set of morals that have kept him and his sister relatively safe. If he continues down the path he’s on, questions people who seem . . . off, he may just prove to be the savior Andrea wishes she could be.

Oh, Andrea . . . Sometimes I think we are too hard on her. Then she goes and does something so utterly ridiculous, it is impossible to see the good things she has done. Fans all over loathe Andrea. In part, this may stem from fans wanting to see one of the women step up and take control, without bungling it so badly a man is forced to step in and save her hide. Maggie’s appearance was a breath of fresh air after dealing with Andrea’s attempts to be “one of the boys” as far as work in camp goes. However, whereas Maggie does what is needed to survive, Andrea does what is needed to garner attention and praise. She is a puppy learning new tricks and expects a reward every time she doesn’t piddle on the carpet. Somewhere along the way, Andrea began to equate her happiness with that of the people she’s determined to be hers to save. This way of living left her vulnerable and pliable to the will of someone stronger than her. Phillip took full advantage of her hero complex. All it got her was a very uncomfortable seat. If she’d stuck to running under cover instead of through a huge, open field, maybe she’d be safe with the people in the prison. As it is, well, Andrea won’t be finding any rewards in her new “home.”


Pet peeve time! This is a bonus ranty bit for readers. I will start off by saying, I do not fault the actors at all for this. The final call came from the director and writers, all of whom should know better than to dig up outplayed horror movie tropes. A character can be creepy, downright nightmare-inducing while chasing a victim without: A) Dragging a weapon behind them, raking it across a fence, etc., and B) Whistling a cheery tune. Just . . . stop. The entire chase at the end of the episode lost its power because of these two jarring actions from the Governor. Such a shame, I was looking forward to seeing David Morrissey let loose with his incredible acting skills.


Does the group in the prison have any chance at all of surviving the war with Woodbury? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Parlay and Promises: A Review of The Walking Dead 313

The-Walking-Dead-Season-3-1Review of “The Walking Dead” 313 – “Arrow on the Doorpost”

Occasionally, the non-stop action of a show has to take a backseat in order to allow characters a chance to build toward something spectacular, like the epic clash on the horizon between Rick’s group and the people of Woodbury. Unfortunately, these “talking head” episodes are full of inaction, intrigue, and contests of wit and strength as characters measure each other for what will surely come in the next episode or two. With only three episodes left in the season, was it wise to allow an entire episode to be spent talking? We’ll see.

**Warning, there be spoilers ahead!**

walking_dead_313It’s taken thirteen episodes for Rick and the Governor to share more than bullets flying past each other and angry words spread through third parties. Sadly, the encounter was predictable. Rick stood on his high moral ground and Phillip dug it out from under him. The Governor twisted Rick’s words around, trying to make him the bad guy, taking advantage of Rick’s fragile mental state in order to plant seeds of doubt in his opponent’s mind. Phillip used several tactics to get under Rick’s skin. He tried to play humble, saying he hadn’t appointed himself as governor, but the people chose him to lead them. In the next breath, he went from humble to sadistic. Before we could recover from his evil streak, Phillip flew into a story about how his late wife died before the zombie outbreak happened. But how much of the story is true? How much of his emotions were true? Phillip is a textbook sociopath. He mimics emotions he sees in others, but they never last long. He can charm the pants off everyone. He has absolutely no remorse for the death and destruction he’s caused. It was difficult to keep up with Phillip’s rapid-fire subject changes in his parlay with Rick—which was the point. He was feeling Rick out, getting a bead on his foe to see if he’s mentally capable of out-maneuvering him. Phillip’s power is smoke and mirrors, with a dash of pure intimidation thrown in the mix. Without his intelligence and taste for blood, he’d be just another guy trying to survive.

TWD_GP_313_1009_0123-600x399Rick, for all his mental shortcomings since Lori’s death, managed to keep up with Phillip’s ever-changing conversation. But whereas the Governor talked, bragged, and played his mental games, Rick brooded in silence. He did what so many people fail to do, he listened to the person he is at war with. And through listening, Rick realized one important thing—no matter what deal they strike, Phillip will never allow the people in the prison to live. When Rick did speak, he played right into Phillip’s hands. Only on one occasion did he gain the upper hand, when he told Phillip killing Michonne was beneath him—it wasn’t worth his time to kill one woman. Rick is way out of his depth. The wars he’s fought within his group and the emotional trauma he suffered from the death surrounding them every day, they’ve left him with little resources to deal with the current threat. It wasn’t until Rick returned to the prison that we caught a glimpse of how he planned to play out the war. Rick lied to his group about the Governor’s intentions. And despite what he said to Hershel later, I think he did it to keep a leash on the wildcards in the prison. How quickly would Merle turn around and try to give Michonne to the Governor in order to save his baby brother from the battle ahead? Sure, Rick wanted his people scared, honed for the war, but he also wanted to make sure he was the one holding all the aces so no one could surprise him later on.

671564-twd_gp_313_1009_0234Andrea’s part in the war is changing. What it is changing to, I have no clue. She had her chance to kill Phillip and she didn’t take it. Hershel invited her to come back to the prison, she got back in the car with the Woodbury folks. How long can she play monkey-in-the-middle before someone (Phillip) gets tired of her indecision and disposes of her for good? Playing both sides of the fence is dangerous. Mostly, it is stupid. Andrea’s little bubble of reality has burst. The man she’s been protecting wants the blood of the people who kept her alive. The only ally she has left is Milton. He knows most of what goes on in Woodbury, but Phillip has been keeping him ill-informed just to throw Andrea off. Yet despite everything, Andrea thinks she alone can prevent the clash between the two survivor groups. I’m not quite sure if she’s been hit on the head one too many times or has allowed the little bit of power Phillip gave her to go to her head. She does not want to be caught in the middle of this conflict. If Andrea were smart, she’d move on and get far away from Woodbury and the prison.

In better news, Glenn and Maggie kissed and made up. Every episode since they were rescued from Woodbury, they fought their own personal war. A war bred from the intensity of the emotions dredged up during their torture and interrogation. Sometimes, no matter how painful it is, a person needs to talk through what is plaguing them. Maggie did her talking, but Glenn was so wrapped up in his inability to protect her and the guilt it raised, he couldn’t let go of the control he’d blanketed himself in to cope. It is refreshing to see them together again. Love is rare in the world they live in. More often than not, it turns into betrayal that is more likely to kill a person than the undead at their doors. Just ask Shane. He thought he loved Lori and his betrayal to Rick morphed into the actions which caused his death.

Is one life worth more than many? Will Rick play the ace up his sleeve and give Michonne over to the Governor in order to save his people? Tell us what you think in the comments below.


Messiah Complex – Walking Dead Review

Review of “The Walking Dead” 311 “I Ain’t a Judas”

Reviewer: R.C. Murphy

TWD-311Season three of “The Walking Dead” so far has caused ample amounts of yelling, throwing things at the TV, and sobbing. Even though episode 311 wasn’t as explosive as the previous episode, there was plenty to yell about as the dynamics between Team Prison and Team Woodbury shifted. It is becoming increasingly difficult to figure out where loyalties lie within the groups and the characters who crossover from one to the other. Only one thing is clear, war isn’t coming—it is already here.

Warning: Spoilers below!

How much of Merle’s attitude adjustment can Rick’s group trust? Sure, he’s still outspoken and laying bits and pieces of doubt for the others to trip over, but he’s also taken up arms to help defend those calling the prison home—twice. He’s offered up insight into how the Governor thinks and runs his city, all of which we know is true. Merle has a depth of soul previously unseen on screen. We met him when he was doped up, talking crazy, and hating the world. When we reconnected with Merle, he was firmly in the Governor’s camp, driven by a sense of loyalty for the man who gave him a safe place to live and enough weaponry to scratch his itch for violence. In Woodbury, Merle’s darker instincts weren’t shunned or contained. He was allowed to run wild and do anything necessary to protect the town. That won’t fly with Rick, though. We already know this. Surprisingly, Merle has a connection of sorts with Hershel. Maybe we’ve found the one person—other than his brother—who can truly reach Merle on a level not based on hate and violence. Only time will tell if he will mesh into the group or continue to try and rip them apart emotionally from within. Merle only knows how to defend himself—with words and weapons.

Daryl is caught in the middle of everyone’s warring emotions. Merle wants his submissive little brother back to do his bidding without question. Rick needs a strong second in command to hold him up while he continues to suffer a mental breakdown. And Carol is determined to see him free himself of his brother’s scheming and mental abuse. Carol is possibly the best thing to happen to Daryl since he was a child. She believes in him. Not what he can do for her or how she can use him. Carol wants to empower Daryl, the same way she has herself since her husband became zombie chow. Most of all, she wants to see him whole so they can finally have a meaningful connection, which is denied to so many during crisis situations. Daryl is hesitant to follow her lead, though. It is understandable. Numerous people have used him and tossed him aside when someone or something better comes along. He doesn’t see his self-worth beyond what he can do with a knife and crossbow. With time Carol can make him understand, but not if Merle is going to trail along behind her, whispering doubt into Daryl’s ear.

Oh Rick . . . bats are still winging around in your belfry, aren’t they? You know it has to be bad when Carl of all people steps up and questions Rick’s ability to be the leader they need in order to survive the war with the Governor. But can Rick step down? Leading his group, keeping them safe, may be the final thing keeping him grounded. His wife is dead. He has no connection with his newborn daughter and his son is turning into a young man he doesn’t recognize because of the rough life they lead. Rick is drifting. Lost. The only time he is coherent is when danger and death knock on the front gates of the prison. He won’t find an easy out, though. Hershel and Glenn will hold him accountable for everything that has happened since Lori’s death—crazy or not.

Between Andrea and the Governor, it is difficult to figure out who fans hate the most. Andrea keeps making bad decision after awful decision and tops it off with a slice of, “What the heck were you thinking?” Phillip is evil. He makes no effort to hide it now, even when faced with Andrea’s endless questions about his intentions. Sure, he’ll say the right things, the kind things, but his eyes—eye—speak the truth. He has been wronged, by Rick, Michonne, and Merle. Nothing will stop him from his vengeance, no matter how pretty and blonde she is. Even poor Milton is helpless to do anything kind and decent in the face of Phillip’s vengeance. Andrea, Milton, and now Tyreese and his crew, are nothing more than weapons the Governor can use in his schemes. He knew Andrea would eventually sneak away from Woodbury and go to the prison. He was counting on her to do it so he could gauge the mental health of the people he is at war with. Phillip fights with everything he’s given, and he just happened to be blessed with a seriously intelligent mind and a taste for death. And now not only does he have a feel for who he is facing, but with Tyreese’s help, he’ll have everything he needs to tackle where he wishes to attack.

Andrea should have done what Carol told her to, don’t you think?

I can’t leave without giving props to the wizards at KNB EFX. Their work on the zombie Andrea mutilates is astounding. Disgusting, yet beautiful to those who are intrigued by special effects.

What do you think is in store for Team Prison? Let us know in the comments below.

A New Line for Special Forces commander Rooker

We’ve unveiled a lot of surprises here at Zombie Survival Crew moving into our third year and …we’re not done yet!


merle_knife_3colorZSC Command is very excited to unveil the new Rooker line of gear in honor of our Special Forces commander extraordinaire, the one and only Michael Rooker! There are several new t-shirt designs to choose from and if you’re ready to join the Rooker Army, there’s even a set of official ZSC dog tags!


All of the new gear is up for pre-order, with orders beginning to ship on March 1. You can find the Rooker line gear here:


And in case you missed our earlier reveals here’s a recap of what else is newly available on the site:


MerchPage8Check out the ZSC Reedus line. Inspired by the work of Blue Brigade commander Norman Reedus, a portion of sales of all Reedus line gear is going to development and disaster response charities (primarily Oxfam and Doctors Without Borders, unless there is an immediate disaster response need unfolding when we make our quarterly contributions).



IronEBookThumbCheck out Blindsided by the Walking Dead, Green Brigade Commander IronE Singleton’s autobiography. This harrowing tale of struggle and survival takes you from the street corners of one of Atlanta’s worst public housing projects to alleyways filled with zombies from The Walking Dead. IronE’s autobiography was co-written by our Commander-in-Chief Juliette Terzieff.


All of the new products and Zombie Survival Crew standards can be found here:

Don’t Suffer Alone

Review of The Walking Dead 308 “Made to Suffer”
reviewer: RC Murphy

If the scene inside the homes of our loyal brigadiers was anything like the inside of the Zombie Survival Crew command center before the mid-season finale of The Walking Dead aired…you have my sympathies. We were all on edge—anticipating and dreading the hour to come. Last year’s mid-season finale left even the strongest zombie slayer in tears. It set a very high bar for what we wanted to see from season three. And you know what? It delivered. By forty minutes into the show, it felt like we’d run a marathon right alongside Team Prison and Team Woodbury. But wait; there is a new team in town—Tyrese and his small band of survivors.

This episode in particular had a lot of interesting pairings throughout. We’ll go through a few of them while covering the wild ride of episode 308.

Caution: There may be spoilers below!

Carl, Tyrese, and Sasha

Tyrese hit the screen swinging for the fences. His first moments were strong, gruesome, and showed us exactly the flavor of survivor he is. He is a leader cut from similar cloth as Rick when Rick first joined up with the group at the quarry. The road through the Zombiepocalypse is not an easy one. How on earth is Tyrese capable of still caring at a level Rick abandoned during their time at the farm—when he was trapped in the bar and had to kill to save himself, Glenn, and Hershel? Carl recognized this quality in Tyrese, not when he first found his group in the boiler room of the prison fighting for their lives, but when Tyrese told him they take care of their own dead. Carl has fashioned himself to be the same sort of leader. He does what is necessary to spare the people he’s taken it upon himself to keep safe. Carl is fully prepared to bury his father and take charge—not out of malice, but a sense of duty. Someone has to ensure the safety of the women and Hershel. Whether or not Carl and Tyrese will get along, it is hard to say. Tyrese did step up to Carl’s defense when the very vocal Sasha tore into him. She is a wild card, demanding respect and trust blindly from the people they meet along the way. Obviously she has not run into the sort of vile people Team Prison has.

The Governor, Andrea, and Michonne

This is a pairing we’ve seen before on The Walking Dead. However, the last time these three shared screen time, it was not nearly as intense. The Governor had more time to pour his crazy-laced Flavor-aid down Andrea’s throat before this confrontation. She’s bought into his lies hook, line, and sinker…until she actively catches him trying to keep her out of the firefight by giving her house-call duty. It is hard to tell if Andrea was just being petulant or if she smelled a hint of the real Governor peeking out in his panic to contain the situation. It was very apparent, in the time they’d been set up as a town, the Governor and his men had always been the aggressors in altercations with the living they deemed as enemies. This lack of true defense know-how leads him to react in a way, which has become, unfortunately, typically American. The Governor calls Rick and his group terrorists, using fear to rile his people up enough to give him permission to run them down fox-hunt style. He will eat up Woodbury’s resources, resources gathered to keep them alive and safe from the zombies beating down their doors, trying to get revenge for what has been done to him personally—all in the name of justice. Yee haw! Michonne had the right idea—cut the snake off at the head. Sure, the Governor has lieutenants to take his place, but they don’t have the appeal he does. Something about him always struck her as wrong. Boy did she find out why when she stumbled into his Man Cave and discovered Penny, the biter daughter he’s been keeping locked up like an asylum patient, and the infamous fish tanks o’ heads. The fight between Michonne and the Governor was long anticipated and did not disappoint. At certain points, it seemed as though Michonne would join the heads in the tanks. When Andrea came to see what was going on, the tension between her and Michonne was dang near another body standing between them. How rattled is Andrea’s faith in the Governor now?

Ow, sorry, I need a break. There is something in my eye. Okay, who is next?

Rick and Shane

You’re not reading that wrong. Just when we thought Rick had gotten over his issues with his former best friend, they come roaring back. This time in the form of a visual hallucination—far more startling than the auditory hallucinations he suffered after Lori’s death. It was so out of the blue, so staggering, I did not know how to react. Shane is dead, really dead. Bullet in the brainpan dead. The guy Rick mistook for Shane looked nothing like him. Were we wrong to think Rick was mentally capable of taking the reigns back from Daryl?

Daryl and Merle

Since fans found out Merle was returning to The Walking Dead as more than a hallucination of Daryl’s behalf, they’ve been clamoring for a Dixon Reunion. In my head, I saw it as the brothers sitting down to stew some squirrels and share a couple warm beers, telling of their best walker kills. Unfortunately, the writers for the show aren’t nearly as nice as I am (looking at you, Mr. Kirkman). First off, the Merle Daryl knew back when he left the quarry to grab supplies at the department store is long gone. This is a more refined Merle, clean and given a purpose in life—help the Governor save the human race no matter what. Heavy emphasis on No Matter What. Merle has some sense; he didn’t blindly chase after Michonne and reported her dead, instead. Admittedly, he was distracted by Glenn and Maggie and learning the location of their new safe haven. That distraction became his downfall in Team Woodbury. Unfortunately, his strange fixation on finding Daryl is what leads to their reunion. Both were bound and dragged before the people of the town to pass judgment—are they terrorists or will they be set free? The Governor used them as a scapegoat to cover his backside. That is good leadership.

Now for the really bad news…we have to wait until February 10th 2013 at 9:00 PM e/p to find out what will happen to Merle and Daryl.

If you get The Walking Dead withdrawals, AMC will be running all three seasons, up to episode 308, of the show on New Years Eve and New Years Day. Keep an eye on Twitter, some of your ZSC commanders may live-tweet a few of the episodes.

What do you think will happen to Daryl and Merle? Let us know in the comments below.

Don’t Answer The Door

Review of The Walking Dead 307 “When The Dead Come Knocking”
reviewer: RC Murphy

We’re one episode closer to the dreaded, the unthinkable, the torturous mid-season finale of The Walking Dead season three. Everything so far has been building to the confrontation between Team Prison and Team Woodbury. Which side are you on? Let’s take a look at each team and their actions in episode 307. Maybe that’ll help you make your decision.

Team Prison has gained a very strong ally in Michonne. That is, if Rick decides he can trust her. It honestly looked as though he wanted to leave her standing in the middle of a field of walkers. Not to mention bearing witness to how easily she disposes of the living that prevent her from continuing in her relentless drive to survive the apocalypse. Rick’s distrust of strangers is at an all-time high. That the two prisoners, Oscar and Axel, made it into the “inner sanctum” of the crew’s trust is astounding. So many strangers have attempted to harm the group; Rick has developed serious trust issues. Most of those may actually stem from Lori and Shane working inside the camp to hurt him, even though they thought they were doing it for Rick and the group’s benefit. Look where that got them.

Once Rick watched Michonne work with her sword, he saw potential and stepped in to help her. However, Rick wasn’t the savior of the day.

It was a bullet from Carl’s gun that took out the walker inches from ripping into Michonne. He didn’t hesitate. He lined up a clear shot and took it. Carl has nothing to prove at this point. It was his gun tasked to put his own mother down after her emergency c-section. After, a coldness crept into Carl. He’s been different, slightly distant, but nowhere near as isolated by his grief as his father. Rick took a while to work out his grief, to the point where we didn’t know if he’d come back to the group in one piece. During that time, Carl helped clear the prison of lingering walkers and took care of his newborn sister. Heck, he even named the baby—Judith. At some point, Carl tasked himself with being the man of the family. And you know what? It is a role he fits into well. Carl has done a lot of growing up since season one, back when he wouldn’t still for a haircut and went off with Shane to catch frogs. He’s matured enough to be in charge of the prison while the others are off to Woodbury on a mission to rescue Glenn and Maggie.

Merle, Merle, Merle…you are a tiger, fully incapable of changing your stripes, no matter how hard you try. We are finally seeing the old Merle, the one Rick and the others left handcuffed on the rooftop. He is a master at warping the truth to suit his needs. In his world, he needs to be the perpetual victim. He uses the pity his twisted stories garners to sucker people into trusting him. His attempt to do the same with Glenn fails miserably. Glenn will not give up the location of the others. Why does Merle want to get to Daryl so bad? He doesn’t strike me as a sentimental man. He was the one who left Daryl to fend for himself for most of his childhood. Caring now raises too many questions. Namely, is he trying to recruit Daryl to the Governor’s army? The Governor seems concerned that once Merle sees his brother, he’ll switch sides. Guess we’ll find out soon, huh?

Andrea thinks she has seen the darker side of Woodbury and the Governor, Phillip, after the undead WWE match from before and the scientific endeavors in this episode. She couldn’t be more wrong. He used the experiment with the dying man to keep her out of the way so she wouldn’t find out about Glenn and Maggie. Was it overly important? No. She knew full well what would happen once the subject was reanimated. Any of the other soldiers could have stood by and dispatched the biter just as easily. It is the same thing Phillip has been doing with her all along—keep Andrea distracted and complacent. How will her opinion of him change once Team Prison comes into Woodbury? Will Andrea jump ship and go with Michonne and Rick? She trusted both of them at one point. Throwing her lot in with a guy who lies as well as he breaths is seriously stupid.

The Tough Guy of the Week Award goes to: Glenn. Obviously.

Glenn remained utterly calm in the face of Merle’s storm. Somehow he managed not to die (with a few too many close calls for Team Glenn to be comfortable, to be honest). And despite the condition he was in, he wasn’t the one to break. His faith in Rick kept him rock solid through the interrogation. Hopefully that faith is founded.

Next week is the mid-season finale. What do you hope will happen when Team Prison and Team Woodbury clash at last? Let us know in the comments.

The Sound of Grief

Review of The Walking Dead 306 “Hounded”

reviewer: RC Murphy

Talk about an action-packed episode. A lot happened in Woodbury and at the prison. To make things easier, I’m going to start with the Woodbury crew.

There is no love lost between Merle and Michonne. This week we’ve seen what happens when they attempt to hunt each other. They are equal in their abilities to fight and think like the purest of predators. Michonne is stealthier, able to use the wilderness to her advantage. She is also a very quick learner, collecting information about the walkers to use to her advantage. Merle isn’t that savvy. He’s all hack-and-slash. Anything that gets in his way ends up with a bullet in their head or that wicked arm-baronet he’s rigged.

Merle also has a very distinct disadvantage—he is a believer. This is a side of him we never saw until the Governor took him in, cleaned his system of drugs, and set him on a path to a specific purpose. Unlike Hershel when we first met him, Merle is not crippled by his belief in God. He knows during the end days, one has to look closer to earth to find someone to follow. His ten commandments came straight from the Governor’s mouth. Merle is happy to be a disciple in this strange cult that’s formed in Woodbury. He will go to any lengths to spread the word, even cutting down unbelievers like Michonne. Despite the fact that she could be one of their strongest allies in the fight to survive.

Andrea doesn’t see the cultish side of Woodbury. She thinks the darkest secret behind those tall walls is the undead MMA match we witnessed in last week’s episode. Oh honey, it gets a lot worse. No matter how much you dig, they’ll keep deflecting your questions; convince you there’s nothing amiss. For all of her time fighting, scraping by during the winter, Andrea is still very naïve. She wants to believe in the good in people—so long as that good goes toward making her life more comfortable. There’s an internal struggle she’s fighting. The need to have a place to call her own that is safe and the thrill of the kill, taking down walkers to earn her keep. The last time we saw Andrea fight this hard to prove herself, Daryl nearly had his head blown off. The Governor keeps a tight leash on his little army. She is too wild, too unpredictable. Will he tame her to suit his purpose?

It seems like he fully plans to tame her through…softer means. We all saw it happening long before it did. But I will admit, seeing both of them let their guard down long enough to have a private moment was surprising. Then again, how low were the Governor’s, I mean Phillip’s, mental walls? If he’s playing a game with Andrea, he is winning. She is utterly clueless and falling for each and every smooth line he feeds her. Someone needs to shake some sense into Andrea before it is too late.

Now let’s see what is going on in the prison with Rick and his crew.

Warning! There may be spoilers below. If you have not watched episode 306 of The Walking Dead, turn around and go watch it.

The sound of grief is different for everyone—a sob escaping as you walk past a spot that triggers memories of the one you lost, the roar of anger at your inability to keep a loved one from harm. It could be the deafening quiet filled with everything left unsaid before they left this world, or the sound of a kiss to remind yourself that you’re still alive.

The sound of grief may even be a phone ringing in an empty room.

Daryl’s way to cope is to jump into action. He can’t sit still and do nothing while the group stews in their grief. The show of emotion makes him uncomfortable. However, he doesn’t run from it, he acknowledges it. Daryl took Carl aside and showed him a glimpse of his past, just enough for Carl to know he has someone he can relate to. He is not alone, despite the loss of his mother. He will survive and grow to be a stronger person. Of all the people for Carl to look up to, Daryl is the first I actually want him to be like. He’s capable, smart (but not book smart), a quick thinker. Daryl also cares on a level no one else is capable of. How else would he be able to know at a glance that it is Carol’s knife in the walker? He does have a breaking point, but it is handled in private. His anger over failing Carol almost cost him the chance to find her again.

You have to look outside of your grief or you’ll be blind to important things.

Rick is beyond blind. He’s put himself into total isolation. That he remembered to clean up and speak complete sentences is a small miracle at this point. His gourd is cracked. No, it isn’t just cracked; he stuck that sucker in a blender and hit frappe. Rick’s behavior is causing some serious concerns. The minute Rick admitted to talking to someone on the phone, the warning bells went off in Hershel’s mind. We saw the thought on his face, “If Rick has snapped, what will happen to us? How will I tell everyone that the man we’ve relied on to keep us alive will no longer be able to help?” To be honest, I don’t think Rick can any more. When one begins to hear the voices of the dead calling, there’s no going back. You’ve passed Go, gone straight to the asylum—forget about the two hundred dollars.

The group will have to deal with a new face at the prison in next week’s episode. This arrival is what ties the two groups of survivors together and brings us one step closer to a face-off with Rick and the Governor. Can Rick handle it, though? His people need him to rally and save the day.

What do you think? Will Rick rise to occasion and help his people? Let us know in the comments below.

Speak Now Or Hold Your Peace

Review of The Walking Dead episode 305 “Say the Word”

reviewer: RC Murphy

Be honest, how many of our brave Zombie Survival Crew brigadiers tuned into the newest episode of The Walking Dead and sent up a wish similar to this? “Please don’t kill off anyone I love on the show this week.” Oddly enough, that has been the mantra in the ZSC Command Center since last season. Yet, we keep coming back to see what our favorite group of Zombiepocalypse survivors is doing, no matter how heart breaking it gets.

Does this sort of behavior ring a bell with anyone else?

Speaking of familiar things, who else yelled after seeing captive walkers (or biters) in Woodbury? Yes, that always works so well. Ask Hershel and his family if it is a good idea to pen up a bunch of zombies and feed them like livestock. Oh wait, you can’t ask part of his family because they were eaten. Not by the captive zombies, true, but the sentiment is the same. They are dangerous, even with “modifications”. It hardly surprised me to see what the Governor had planned for the walkers in his care—even though it gave Merle a chance to show off his fighting skills. Who needs two hands to be a hardcore killer? Not that guy! Merle is the star of Woodbury’s twisted professional wrestling company. It fits too well.

The more we see of the Governor, the harder it is to stomach his interactions with Andrea. It took her seeing the seriously extreme lengths he goes to in order to entertain the people in his city for the first real thread of doubt to creep into her mind. She’s forsaken Michonne’s advice, pushed away the only person who really, truly had her back. What are the Governor’s intentions with Andrea? He’s not as obvious as Merle. Nor is he as loyal as Michonne when it comes to watching someone’s back. We can’t believe he wants a romantic relationship with her…can we? Fish tanks, guys. Fish. Tanks. Andrea could very easily end up in the Governor’s screwed-up man cave if she isn’t careful.

Grief is a very, very solitary thing. It stuffs your head with so many emotions; it is like having a brain transplant with a tub of cotton balls. You can’t see past it. You can’t acknowledge the pain others are in from their grief. All you feel is the hole in your chest getting bigger and bigger until it feels as though a truck could drive through it and not touch the sides. That is where Rick is. He can’t comfort his son—the son who was forced to “put down” his mother in order to save her from a more horrific existence than they were already living in. Rick hasn’t even acknowledged his newborn daughter. The only thing separating him from the things he’s killing is a heartbeat and if he keeps going down the path he is on, he will join Lori in the gut of a walker.

While Rick is isolated from the rest of the group—a group he swore he’d lead and protect with everything he had—there are still problems that need addressing. Daryl stepped up to the plate without so much as a second thought. He leapt into action to make sure they had everything they needed to care for the baby, with Maggie helping. Heck, Daryl even killed dinner during their trip out for supplies. How’s that for multitasking?

There’s been talk about who would make a better leader, Daryl or Rick. Rick is a great leader normally. He is a quick thinker. Is trained in paramilitary techniques. His heart is large enough to encompass everyone he deems as part of his crew and once they make it into his heart, he would die to protect them. However, Rick is fragile. He’s been run through the ringer since day one when he woke in the hospital. It was only a matter of time before something happened and he snapped a cog. Daryl, on the other hand, is usually very mellow. He stands back from the problem and assesses it, not with book smarts or anything someone else taught him, but with the skills and knowledge he gathered himself. Daryl was raised to be a survivor. It was the only way to make it through his rough childhood in one piece. His fault lies in the fact that he can’t, he won’t hold your hand and talk through your emotional breakdown. Daryl is a man of action, not emotion. Though, once he’s gotten comfortable around someone, he begins to take care of them in subtle ways, ways that doesn’t look like he cares too much, even if he does.

What about Carol? We never saw her body. A glimmer of hope shines in the darkness covering the group. Hopefully there are some answers next week and this isn’t drawn out like the search for Sophia.

Who would you rather follow into battle with the undead, Rick or Daryl? Let us know in the comments below.

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Complied by: RC Murphy

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