Of Wolves and Men Review of “The Walking Dead” 516 – “Conquer”
Let’s get the messy part out of the way—this episode didn’t warrant an extra twenty minutes of screen time. All it did was give producers a chance to dump all the plot threads into a pool and pray it all untangles in the end. They should’ve refined the story into something a little more cohesive that fits the normal forty-two minutes per episode. Every plot element was unnecessarily drawn out. It’d be different if the time was spent on much-needed character development or laying down a solid base for next season. It wasn’t. They flung everything off the table and fans are supposed to be happy with how the story lands until October. As far as finales go, this is The Walking Dead‘s weakest. So what did happen in the finale? Let’s discuss.
You know the drill, there’s spoilers from here on out in this review.
After weeks wondering why Morgan was brought back during a couple quick scenes, we finally get an answer. Kinda. It’s entirely possible, given the state of things in Alexandria by the end of the episode, that Morgan will fill the long-empty “morality of the group” position. A role desperately needed since Hershel’s murder. We were led to believe Gabriel would fill the need, but he’s loonier than a monkey in rubber pants. Morgan isn’t a pushover. When he’s confronted by the men who’ve been mutilating the walkers around Alexandria, he attempts a passive resolution. It doesn’t work, so he thunks them over the head and locks them in the car he’d used as a hotel room the night before. Later, Morgan bails Daryl and Aaron out of a tight spot—they unwittingly walk into a trap set by the same men who attacked Morgan. These men, wolves they consider themselves, could be the big bad for next season. Honestly, they don’t feel too threatening now that Daryl, Aaron, and Morgan know where they are hiding their zombie collection. What kind of weirdo keeps a zombie collection, anyway? (Zombie bunnies don’t count, guys.)
The entire time Rick and company have been in Alexandria, it’s felt like he and Michonne are growing apart. She wanted to find home so bad and he’s fought it tooth-and-nail since meeting the townsfolk. It’s not until Rick wakes in a makeshift holding cell with Michonne watching over him that they finally understand—they want the same thing and are going about it completely different ways. She doesn’t care if he conspired with Daryl and Carol to secure emergency weapons. She’s willing to look the other way while Carol coaches Rick on how to Play The Part—tell Deanna and her followers exactly what they want to hear, just like Carol has done since they arrived. Michonne has overlooked and forgiven a lot in the name of keeping their newfound home. Being a pushover won’t work, she knows it. However, she also understands in order to get what they all want, someone and something’s got to give. Michonne is the law alongside Rick. She can’t run off like Carol, threatening to murder anyone in the way—a message Pete got loud and clear in this episode. Michonne tells Rick, “We don’t need (guns) here. I don’t need my sword. I think you can find a way—we—can find a way. And if we don’t, I’m still with you.” So even though he’s been a paranoid nutjob for weeks, one of his most capable allies is still at his side. How much is Michonne willing to overlook and forgive in her quest for normalcy, though?
Tensions are riding high between everyone, not just the town’s peacekeepers. Toward the end of the episode, there’s a huge clash between Sasha and Gabriel—the crew’s most unhinged members. Sasha spent her afternoon laying in a mass walker grave, wondering what’s wrong with her. Gabriel spent his strolling around, looking for a walker to do what he can’t—end his life. At the moment of truth, he kills the walker. It’s actually one of the best kills in an episode filled with walker deaths. But when Gabriel and his inability to commit to death and Sasha with her equally large death wish are in the same room, the claws come out. “I think I want to die,” Sasha tells Gabriel. He replies, “Why wouldn’t you want to die? You don’t deserve to be here. What you did can never be undone. The dead don’t chose, but the choices you made, how you sacrificed your own . . . .” He goes on, blaming Sasha for Bob’s death, saying Tyreese deserved his death because of what she’d done. Most of what he says is directed at himself, not her. It doesn’t stop Gabriel from attacking Sasha. In the end, Maggie pulls them apart and sits them down to pray.
Another tense duo come to blows in the midst of the big, “What do we do with Rick” problem. Nicholas lures Glenn over Alexandria’s walls and shoots him in the shoulder. The wound isn’t fatal. Throughout the middle and end of the episode, Glenn and Nicholas take turns beating the snot out of each other and the walkers drawn their way by the noise. It ends with Glenn pinning Nicholas to the ground, a gun pointed at his head. Nicholas begs, crying. Glenn visibly wants to kill him. Is psyching himself out for the kill, telling Nicholas repeatedly to shut up. He doesn’t do it. Should he have? Not in this instance. Nicholas is a coward. He made his attempt to rid himself of the one man who knows just how much of a coward he is. Now that the plan has failed, I’m sure he’ll back down. He may even become Glenn’s new sidekick.
The town meeting to discuss Rick’s attack on Pete, the gun he’d hidden, and the threats made after the fight is doomed from the get-go. Deanna’s motivations aren’t without bias. It’s obvious she wants Rick gone. He’s a thorn in her side and constantly questions how she’s run things since the settlement was created. She doesn’t even wait to see if Rick will show up to the meeting that’ll decide his fate—which he won’t, seeing as Gabriel let a zombie into Alexandria after failing to secure the gate and he’s tracking it while his crew stands up for him. All those kind words from Michonne, Carol, Maggie—and let’s not forget Abraham’s eloquent offering—they’re for naught. Once Rick walks in with a dead zombie over his shoulder, it’s pretty much sealed. Instead of rushing to save his own hide, Rick hunted a walker on his own to ensure their safety. Not even Deanna’s admission of Gabriel’s concerns, which we heard last week, matter after Rick’s little speech.
“The ones out there, they’ll hunt us. They’ll find us. They’ll try to use us. They’ll try to kill us. But we’ll kill them. We’ll survive. I’ll show you how. You know, I was thinking . . . I was thinking, how many of you do I have to kill to save your lives? But I’m not gonna do that. You’re gonna change.”
Rick’s place in Alexandria is cemented when Pete comes into the meeting fully prepared to kill Rick—with Michonne’s katana. Reg steps in the way to calm Pete and is killed instead. Without hesitation, Deanna gives Rick the order to put Pete down.
This is the chaos greeting Morgan after he reluctantly agrees to come back to Alexandria with Daryl and Aaron. How will the old friends get along after such a brutal reunion? Who knows? We’ve got quite some time to ponder how things will land in an evolving Alexandria.
Shh . . . . Was that rustle a walker or a spoiler? Tread carefully.
Death rituals in the zombie apocalypse are odd. More often than not, there’s no corpse to bury or they’ve been forced to cremate their pals because there just wasn’t time to dig a grave. Deanna and family memorialize Aiden by listening to one of his mix CDs. Music has been a vital part of this season, keeping the tone just a little off balance. Aiden’s death does the same to Deanna. She isn’t thinking as rationally as usual when it comes to confrontations and playing the intrigue games they’ve already established between the factions. Typically it’d be an ideal time to pounce, but her opponent isn’t playing with a full deck, either.
At least this means Deanna won’t have time to yell at Sasha for going Lone Ranger in the forest around Alexandria. The second Michonne discovers that Sasha is gone again, she takes off after her. Rosita tags along to be the voice of reason. “You seem screwed up that we found something,” Rosita says to Michonne while they’re on Sasha’s trail. She holds a mirror up to Michonne’s guilt about Noah’s death—if she hadn’t pushed, they wouldn’t have been there for him to die. Irrational, yes. Just like Sasha’s quest to single-handedly decimate the walker population. She’s not a human nuke, but does make an impressive dent in the walker numbers near Alexandria—with assistance when the dung hits the fan at one point. Not that Sasha wants or needs Michonne’s help, of course. She’s beyond saving.
Someone else blows off steam by taking out a few walkers. Carl follows Enid out into the woods on one of her numerous outings to simple run free, away from the nightmares. She’s got a few tricks up her sleeve to deal with walkers—including using a kitchen timer to draw them away. At one point they end up cornered by a horde and hide inside a dead tree. Enid tells Carl, “It’s their world. We’re just living in it.” Which them? The walkers who outnumber the living? The adults making all the wrong decisions, costing the children their homes and loved ones repeatedly?
Things in Doc’s house aren’t getting any better. Carol is fed up. She wants to see an end to it and prods Rick toward making a decision. She’s been digging into the problem. Discovered that Jessie tells Sam to lock himself in his closet during Pete’s outbursts, and once Sam came out of the closet to find her unconscious, bleeding on the floor. Rick decides to try negotiating before following Carol’s suggestion to kill Pete. Rick’s idea of good negotiating techniques may need some work. Like, say, not cornering your opponent in a graveyard. Deanna has all the right answers to Rick’s suggestion—separate them—but she’s thrown for a loop at the suggestion that they kill Pete if he doesn’t comply. The answers aren’t enough. Rick pokes at the hornet’s nest, goes to Jessie and tries to make her see that she can’t fix what’s wrong with Pete.
“You’re only going to make things worse.”
“If things get worse, it means he’s killed you and I’m not going to let that happen.”
Why is Rick fixated on solving Jessie’s problems? Is this an attempt to save one woman, therefore saving the countless others he’s failed since waking in the hospital so, so many moons ago? Certainly it can’t be love. How wrong it is that we question his motives so much simply because he wants to do the right thing. But he’s going about it all wrong. His motives may not be transparent, but the window Rick and Pete break through during their fight is crystal clear—and shattered like Rick’s hope for a future in the walls of Alexandria.
Grab your Kleenex and let’s go. Just watch out for the spoilers below.
Let’s get the worst part out of the way. The supply run had potential at first. For once, Aiden didn’t have his head wedged so firmly he couldn’t hear Glenn’s advice. They followed procedure. Well, except Eugene who just didn’t want to be there. Cowards don’t do brave things and helping find replacement parts for the power grid borders too close to heroism for his taste. But the coward wasn’t the problem. Once inside, things start to unravel. Nicholas and Aiden lose their calm once the walkers close in on their location. That’s the only way to explain how Aiden failed to see the grenade pinned to the chest of an armored walker before he took another shot. Unbelievably, that’s still not the worst thing to happen on this run. After both Nicholas and a dying Aiden admit they were the reason four of their previous supply runners’ deaths, everyone jumps from frying pan into the fire. Eugene single-handedly carries Tara through the walkers to the van outside. Nicholas runs the wrong way—ending up cornered in the building’s lobby which they knew was overrun. Glenn and Noah try to save him and each other, but Nicholas’ panic eats his last two brain cells.
Noah’s death is by far one of the hardest to sit through. Steven Yeun’s performance during the scene breaks my heart. It says so much about Glenn and his morals—he let go of Noah, the least he can do is be there for him until he’s gone.
There’s an unspoken code amongst native Alexandrians when it comes to walker interactions. From the examples given during the supply run and at the construction site with Abraham, it’s safe to assume the code is, “Every man for himself.” Abraham is the only man to step up and save Francine after walkers invade their trip to grab supplies for the wall expansion. Slowly some of the others turn back to help, but it takes a while and they’re still not totally convinced they did the right thing providing backup for Abraham. Tobin, their overseer, knows they reacted wrong. He almost got one of his crewmembers killed. After he returns to camp—leaving the others behind—Tobin resigns from his position and tells Deanna to give it to Abraham. Is it wise to put yet another “outsider” in charge? Maggie convinces Deanna that it certainly won’t be the end of the world, plus her people are competent and she has faith in their ability to help Alexandria.
“They’re not good people. They’ve done things. They’ve done unspeakable things.”
Gabriel could undo all the good press Maggie has been putting forward for the group. Usually it’s Rick to put his foot in the crazy mess and drag it all over the carpet. Not this time. The guilt-crippled priest is everyone’s worst enemy. He can’t accept what he sees in himself and instead of dealing with it, finds an external source to blame. Rick, unfortunately, makes a great scape goat—possible more so after Deanna learns of her son’s death. Despite all their mistakes, do they deserve paradise? Is Alexandria the best they will find or is there a better paradise for them to take over?
The takeover may have a hiccup if Rick wants to do this thing covertly and without killing innocents. Over the course of the episode, it becomes alarmingly clear that something isn’t right in the Doc’s house. Sam spends more effort trying to stay at Carol’s house than it’d take for him to walk home. This is after she terrified him into keeping mum about the guns she stole. Even after all her effort, she’s still not the most frightening thing in the boy’s life. Once she realizes something is wrong, she sees the patterns emerge. Rick sees them too when Pete drunkenly accosts him about bringing Carl and Judith in for checkups. When Carol asks Rick to kill Pete, it’s inevitable. She’s been there, done that, and knows it’s going to take something drastic to shut down an abuser his size. Can Rick do it? Can he kill for Carol, for Jessie and her children—whom he hardly knows yet seems to care about her? What happens if Rick does kill Pete? They need a doctor more than a law man. Deanna may reconsider her stance on his place in Alexandria if he costs them the town’s doctor.
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.
It’s no secret we get a little antsy this close to October. Not because someone left an open jar of honey next to the Command Center desk for the ants to enjoy, but because we’re so close to the return of AMC’s The Walking Dead, we can taste it. Not that I want to know what a walker tastes like. Or the food in Terminus. If you can even call it food considering what we all think it’s made of. Ew.
All babbling aside, TWD’s producers have been doing a pretty good job of giving us just enough information on the blog hosted by AMC to keep us from pacing a hole in concrete floors. Executive Producer David Alpert had a couple things to say during an interview from the trenches while filming recently:
Q: Last year, you mentioned Season 4’s theme related to the possibility of civilization. What would you say the theme for Season 5 is?
A: I think with Season 4, Scott Gimple really focused on whether you can get away from the things that you’ve done. Can you turn your back on your past? I think Season 5 is a response to that, in that you are what you’ve done, where you’ve been and where you’re from.
Q: We’ve heard the Season 5 Premiere was quite ambitious in terms of production. What are you most excited for fans to see once it airs?
A: We’re attempting things that have never really been done before on the show. We’re taking some bigger swings and I can’t wait for the fans to see that. Hopefully, they feel as good about it as we do.
Alpert also alluded to the comic book baddie Negan joining the cast soon. How soon? We have no clue. Rumors have been flying right and left since the Governor’s demise—who will be the new Big Bad? In the comic book realm, there’s over 50 issues between the Governor’s death and Negan’s appearance. As we’ve seen in the past, the producers aren’t afraid to tweak what’s already established. Alpert did add, “I cannot wait until we introduce Negan. He is just like the coolest f—ing character on the planet. You thought the Governor was bad news? . . . Man, wait until you meet Negan! He’s one of the greatest villains ever created. It’s so exciting.”
In other TWD news, on September 5th AMC announced that it ordered a pilot for a companion series to The Walking Dead. TWD producers Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, and David Alpert will act as executive producers, with the addition of Dave Erickson from Sons of Anarchy who will also be the showrunner. There’s no casting or location news this early in the game. Production won’t begin until late 2014.
Robert Kirkman had this to say about the new series, “There are many corners of The Walking Dead universe that remain unseen in the shadows. Being given the opportunity to shine a light into those corners and see what lurks out there is an absolute thrill. I know the fans are anxious to hear what Dave and I have been cooking up for this new version of The Walking Dead, and I’m happy to be one step closer to sharing it with them.”
Lastly, AMC recently released 10 production stills from season five over on their website to continue teasing us. Go ahead, take a peek. Might as well watch the trailer again while you’re over there, too.
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” 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.***
Where 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.
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.
Producers 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.
However, 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?
One 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.
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.
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***
An 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?
Over 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.
Tension 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.