Who Are You Now?: Review for The Walking Dead 906

Who Are You Now?:
Review for The Walking Dead 906
by R.C. Murphy

Don’t leap ahead without knowing there’s episode spoilers in this review. There. You’ve been warned.

Let’s do the time warp again! Usually when the production team introduces a time jump of any significant period, the fans wind up feeling a tad cheated. For instance, we missed Hershel being born thanks to the last time jump, and that’s really something that should have been celebrated given how poorly the pregnancy was handled in the first place. But for this particular skip in time, we’re brought in at a pretty good place. Not to mention the new additions to the cast, who are knocking it out of the park from the get-go. Cailey Fleming, playing an older Judith Grimes, is a scene stealer, for sure. I sincerely hope she gets to hang around for quite some time. Her exuberance is a breath of fresh air for a show that was getting old and stale.

Danai Gurira as Michonne, Dan Folger as Luke, Nadia Hilker as Magna – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

Speaking of newcomers, there’s a new survivor group in Alexandria. Meet Magna, Yumiko, Luke, Connie, and Kelly. Judith saved their bacon at the end of the previous episode and continues to do so now. She’s the one to finally put her foot down to get Magna and her people, particularly the injured Yumiko, somewhere safe. Watching a group of adults constantly one-upped on the humanity charts by a child is something to behold, and Judith does it quite often. She even gets a dig in on Negan when he smarts off while helping with her math homework. Her strong spirit moves only so many people. Michonne isn’t as easily swayed by her daughter’s iron will. Matter of fact, she’s pretty cold about Judith’s desire to help from the instant she sets eyes on the newbies. The community intervenes, led by Gabriel, and agrees to hold a vote over their fate. It’s a sham trial. Michonne already made up her mind and knew all the right ways to push her closed gates agenda on the voters. The minute she’s tired of pretending to care, Michonne exposes Magna as an ex-con who is still in possession of a knife, therefore rendering her untrustworthy.

Magna’s betrayal doesn’t go unpunished. Her group turns on her instantly, with Connie being the voice of reason, telling them all to not make it personal. To just take the help they get and go. And to particularly not go after Michonne with yet another knife Magna somehow found. The woman must be secretly related to Magneto, I swear. It’d explain her name. As expected, Magna still strikes out on her own after dark to settle things. She’s stopped in her tracks on Michonne’s porch by a heartwarming sight. Inside, Michonne’s youngest child, a boy, runs up and hugs her like he’s missed her for weeks, but it’s probably only been minutes. A child’s love is just that big, sometimes. In this case, it’s so powerful that Magna surrenders the knife, admitting to wrongdoings in the path that haunt her. If anyone can understand, it’s Michonne. This turn in behavior spurs Michonne into action. The next morning, the group’s eviction day after the failed vote, she cuts them off and offers to take them to Hilltop to find more permanent lodging.

While Michonne keeps her cool as much as possible in public, privately she’s a complete wreck. Several times in the episode her mind swerves off-track, sending her into conversations with the dead (or presumed dead) who cannot and will never answer. How often does she “accidentally” find herself at the charred husk of the bridge speaking to her husband? Obviously often enough that Judith knows about these one-sided conversations. In one scene toward the episode’s end, we learn so, so much about the family dynamic left behind after Rick’s departure and how neither of the Grimes women have been allowed to mourn properly. Judith tries to work her problems out by helping, rekindling the philanthropic efforts of her father and brother. Michonne? Her emotions are stuck simmering in a pot on the backburner, millimeters from boiling over. It’s not healthy. She’s going to snap one day soon.

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

The only thing snapping in the Kingdom is the old pipes. Now a teenager, Henry does his best to patch things up, but he’s woefully uneducated when it comes to making these kinds of repairs. After a tense conversation with Ezekiel, refereed by Carol, they all agree to send Henry to Hilltop to learn from Earl the blacksmith. With Carol as escort, the pair take off. But first, a detour. In one of Carol’s rare bad decision moments, their side trek takes them too close to the now abandoned Sanctuary where some former occupants still reside. All they want is supplies. Life without a home means no growing their own food and being forced to revert to scavenging. This time they picked the wrong target. Henry wants to fight them, but Carol keeps him from getting killed and hands over whatever they ask for. Until later when she goes back alone to inform Jed and his crew that they pissed off the wrong parent. By inform I mean she lights them on fire. Sometimes Ruthless Carol still sneaks out. She’s determined to never lose another child to the apocalypse. Nor a friend. Before they reach Hilltop, Carol finishes the detour and picks up Daryl. Wonder if he brought any of that fish he caught.

Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter, Christian Serratos as Rosita Espinosa;  – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC

In a bid to open communication lines (and maybe find the long-lost Anne?), Gabriel goes back to work on an old radio. Problem is, the signal isn’t that great. Solution? An amplifier stationed a few miles down the road to boost the signal. Gabriel barely gets the idea out of his head before his new lover, Rosita, jumps at the chance to help. She nabs Eugene on the way out of town to provide technical aid. Probably a mistake in some ways considering he spends the entire trip trying to prove he’s a better partner choice for her than Gabriel. Even after the zombies hit the fan, he tries yet again to express his feelings for her. I’ve never been so annoyed by this man, I swear to Bob. For goodness sake, he fell ten-ish feet, has a messed up knee, and there’s walkers on their tail, but sure, let’s finally admit to a decade-long crush. The pair wind up sliding into a ditch and covering themselves in mud to hide from the walkers.

That’s when things get extra weird. The walkers . . . talk.

Guess we’re finally going to meet the Whisperers. Gotta say, their first appearance is pretty creepy. Looking forward to seeing how this story line progresses.

The Obliged: Review for The Walking Dead 904

The Obliged:
Review for The Walking Dead 904
by R.C. Murphy

Watch out, there’s a horde ahead! A horde of episode spoilers, that is.

Sometimes a dream just isn’t obtainable. Could be because said dream cannot be done with the means at hand. Other times Nature puts Her foot down and reminds one of their place in the world. In the case of Rick’s precious bridge, both forces wind up closing down construction. First, over half of the workforce walks out. Then the former Saviors rob the Kingdom and there’s a firefight with numerous casualties. All that bad news comes after the biggest blow of all—the newly risen river will wash away the bridge supports long before the remaining laborers can finish repairs. Everyone from the camp has a near-death, or actual death, experience during this doomed build. Sometimes escaping one near-death situation leads one right into the path of another, though.

And sometimes that path is cut by the people whom you trust the most.

This particular trip started back when Maggie made it clear that Negan’s survival was the final nail in the coffin of her open cooperation with Alexandria, particularly their leader, Rick. She’s had nearly two years since then to subvert certain fail-safe systems put in place to keep her activities in check. Her most important weapon being Rick’s good pal Daryl. Maggie’s second most important weapon is her rage. It keeps her focused on her mission, despite Jesus’ best efforts. While Maggie rides toward Alexandria, Rick is led astray by Daryl. Their inevitable physical encounter over Negan’s fate isn’t all that satisfying when it’s cut short by the pair falling into a pit. While it’s not his original plan, Daryl still gets the job done, delaying Rick long enough for Maggie to get to Alexandria.

The price for Maggie’s “justice” comes at the episode’s end, when shortly after scrambling from the pit, Rick opts to lead the walkers away from the main road on horseback instead of cutting off Maggie’s mission. At a crossroads with heavy debris, Rick accidentally leads one horde into another, spooking his horse. Our hero is impaled, and we’re left to wonder if this is finally it for Rick. We know he’s leaving, just not how he’s leaving. The production team has said it’s not death, but things aren’t looking too promising for Rick’s continued survival at this point.

What does Maggie hope to get out of her scheme? Will she even follow through? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Then there’s Michonne, who is barely hanging in there by the skin of her teeth. While the bridge crew works, she remains in Alexandria to make sure everything runs as it should. Unfortunately, not even the mental drain from being everyone’s stern voice of reason is enough to exhaust Michonne, allowing her a good night’s rest. To blow off steam, she does what any woman would do; she decapitates zombies in the middle of the night. One of her daytime chores puts her in charge of forcing Negan to eat during his hunger strike. They make a deal. All she has to do is chat with a lonely man for a little while. Negan digs his mental hooks deep during the conversation. The theme for Michonne’s story arc in this episode is how her life is so similar to Negan’s. There’s even a moment early in the episode where after finding a lynched zombie, Michonne’s attacked and forced to use a baseball bat to defend herself. The hunger strike ends when she admits they have similarities, however her outlook on the future is far, far better than his. We glimpse where Negan’s head is really at during the end of their second conversation when Michonne reveals that Lucille is still in the field where the final battle took place.

In the junkyard, Gabriel does his best to make what are surely his final moments with Anne as pleasant as possible. If one ignores the fact that she’s about to turn him into a walker as payment for transportation on some creepy sounding guy’s helicopter. The lord must have blessed that man’s tongue. All Gabriel’s talk about forgiveness gets to Anne. Instead of turning him, she knocks him out and runs. The only trace of her left behind is a note pinned into Gabriel’s coat.

Looks like we’re saying goodbye to quite a few characters. Either that or this universe is about to expand again.

Warning Signs: Review for The Walking Dead 903

Warning Signs:
Review for The Walking Dead 903
by R.C. Murphy

Yup. You guessed it. There’s spoilers in this review.

Rick’s little experiment crumbles around him, yet he still somehow holds out hope that everyone can and will live together. Like one speech from only one community leader absolving murderers and thieves of their sins is enough to make their victims magically forgive. It’s painfully obvious that others in power positions do not agree with Rick. Matter of fact, the only ones on his side by the end of the episode are Carol and presumably Ezekiel. But even Carol has her doubts about letting the former Saviors into their trust bubble. She takes them case by case, but the others don’t have the luxury of being able to compartmentalize thoughts and emotions with Carol’s skill long enough to work past the knee-jerk, “these are bad people,” reaction. Rick wants so badly for the Saviors to be redeemed in the eyes of society. Why? Why risk everything for these people? Because he is those people. Rick has seen and done just as many awful things. In another person’s narrative, Rick is a power-hungry monster who has left nothing but destroyed communities in his wake. Maggie and Daryl’s decision during this episode’s climax will send Rick into a spiral where he’s forced to assess his sins.

In order to put that self-assessment off for as long as possible, Rick takes to lollygagging around Alexandria. Well, after he and Michonne finish “discussing” the idea of having a baby together. He makes a doctor’s appointment for Judith, takes his favorite ladies out for a picnic, and goofs off instead of returning to the bridge worksite. In typical TWD fashion, they’re making Rick as happy as possible before yanking the rug out from under the character. It’s quite a task, keeping Rick happy. And it never lasts for long.

The assassinations send the former Saviors into a panic. As a group, they’ve been banned from carrying firearms, putting them at a distinct disadvantage against a serial killer using something similar to a crossbow. Cooperation between communities fails completely. By episode’s end, Sanctuary’s citizens walk out en masse, citing fear for their safety as their main concern. They’re right to be afraid, but are too late to save those with the largest targets on their heads. Those Oceanside ladies sure did work a great con, by the way. They were way, way down on my suspect list, though it is not out of character for that particular group to look at how Maggie solved her problem and emulate it. Can Maggie take them at their word now? Was Arat the final name on their revenge list or will they somehow remember another Savior who wronged them and start the cycle again? I’ve no doubt that this is not the last death of this nature. I do doubt that Maggie will get her revenge as easily as she seems to think it’ll happen.

At this rate Michonne won’t ever get a chance to pass her new laws, what with everyone running around playing assassin and all.

One subplot finally getting some traction is Anne and the mysterious helicopter. Spooked by accusations of being the serial killer, Anne returns to her old home to recover a walkie talkie linked to whoever operates said helicopter. The conversation the two have is in code, but the meaning is clear. In order for the mystery man to follow through with their plan, she has to make some form of payment. A human payment. Love-distracted Gabriel falls right into the trap by failing to agree to run off with Anne to a newer, better place. Either she’s going to ditch him and find other payment, or hand him over to the mystery man.

Peace has already reached its limits and Rick hasn’t made nearly as much progress as he wanted. Pushing society to development faster than it can handle keeps backfiring. Yet he drives on like there’s a fever burning his veins and the only cure is everyone living in perfect harmony. Sure, he says he’s bettering the world for everyone, and in Carl’s honor, but his decisions come from deeply selfish roots. That alone is why the wheels will totally come off Rick’s wagon over the next few weeks.

Walking Dead Stars to Visit PaleyFest NY

Walking Dead Stars to Visit PaleyFest NY
by R. C. Murphy

With the TWD premiere fast approaching, the cast and production team is in full promotional mode. The icing on the cake before this year’s season 9 premiere on Sunday, October 7th on AMC has to be TWD’s place amongst the handful of shows chosen to feature in this year’s two week celebration of the television format at PaleyFest NY.

On October 6th at 3 PM, The Walking Dead will hit the festival stage with stars Norman Reedus, Melissa McBride, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and showrunner Angela Kang. Other guests may still be added to the lineup for the panel portion of the festivities. The panel will be moderated by EW‘s Dalton Ross. Fans in attendance will also be treated to an early premiere of the first episode from season 9.

As of this moment, the main theater for this TWD event is sold out. Don’t despair if you’re still planning to attend. PaleyFest does offer a significantly cheaper ticket to watch panels in an overflow theater with a video feed of the event.

This year’s PaleyFest NY lineup includes: Outlander, Drunk History, David Tennant, Documentary Now!, Sunday Morning, Murphy Brown, Shark Tank, The Good Fight, The Conners, and Top Chef. There is also a four-hour workshop on October 13th for festival attendees who wish to learn more and want to eventually work in television.

About PaleyFest:

Named for William S. Paley, founder of CBS and The Paley Center for Media, PaleyFest is a must-see pop cultural event produced by the Paley Center that brings fans together with the stars and creators of their favorite shows for panel discussions with audience Q&A. PaleyFest takes place both in LA & NY. The next PaleyFest LA takes place spring 2019.

PaleyFest NY 2018 runs from October 5th through the 18th.

Whispers from the TWD Camp

Whispers from the TWD Camp
by R.C. Murphy

Josh McDermitt as Dr. Eugene Porter, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Khary Payton as Ezekiel, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

With the official countdown to the season 9 premiere underway, it was only a matter of time before we got more casting news from The Walking Dead.  They’re hard at work, wrapping up Rick and Maggie’s final season with as much energy as possible. Which is probably why the production team brought in one of the comic series’ most talked about foes to be the newest bump in the survivors’ path to their long-promised utopia. Everything I hear about this group sets my hair on end. Who on earth goes around wearing zombie skin all the time? There’s not enough soap on earth to make that okay.

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne, Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon, Khary Payton as Ezekiel, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

The show’s producers dropped Samantha Morton’s name during the 2018 SDCC panel, announcing her role as Alpha and officially presenting what will likely be the Big Bad for the season, the Whisperers. Alpha is their leader. She has a daughter in the comics, Lydia. That character will make the jump from page to screen, brought to life by Cassady McClincy (Love,Simon).

Khary Payton as Ezekiel, Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

That’s about where the assumptions about Lydia start and stop. Her comic storyline centered on a relationship with Carl which makes her switch teams. With him out of the picture, it’ll be interesting to see if they simply shift her plot onto another character or if Lydia will find a completely different secondary life outside the comics, much like Morgan’s story changed as he kept returning to the show. Will she be a monkey wrench in the plan to build a modern society or shift loyalty to help further distance the living from walkers, whereas her mother clings to the dead like a security blanket? The potential for Lydia is endless without Carl there.

Khary Payton as Ezekiel, Cooper Andrews as Jerry – The Walking Dead _ Season 9, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

In other news from the set, AMC released a handful of images from season 9. For the most part they cover the process of reclaiming old technology, as the cast and producers discussed earlier this summer. There’s also some clues about how the time jump has affected some of our favorite characters. And, boy, can I hear some ‘ships sinking as I type. Looks like Carol and Ezekiel have moved past the awkward kinda flirting stage at last. This photo set also answers questions about how long Jadis/Anna and the Saviors would actually stick around to help. To be honest, I thought Jadis would fall back to a minor character, but there she is, on a salvage mission with the other community leaders.

The Walking Dead returns to AMC on Sunday, October 7th. Keep an eye out here for updates as we get closer to the premiere.