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.
The Walking Dead: Chupacabra (205) Reviewer: RC Murphy
This episode had a lot going for it. A. Lot. So much so that I had to sleep on an idea on how to tackle this review. Which, by the way, didn’t help one dang bit. My head is still spinning. The writers for TWD are mean, mean people. I’m just going to jump right in and hope this makes sense.
Carol broached the subject of an internal power ranking system for the original group of survivors. For Hershel’s family, it is obvious who is in charge. With the other group it gets fuzzy because there are so many males vying for that top spot. You have to look at them like a pack of wolves. As Carol sees it, and others as well, Rick and Lori are the Alpha mating pair. Where it gets murky is trying to rank the rest of the group. Who is the Omega member? That one person left to fend for them self until they prove their worth, takes the brunt of everyone’s aggression, but also is there to ease tension in their own way. Can you guys figure it out?
Glenn and Maggie get a lot of grief this episode as people begin to connect the dots and see something brewing between the two. Maggie is treated like a child, scolded for making the decision to get close to someone not approved by Hershel. He has such a tight grip on everyone who lives on that farm that the idea of one of his slipping free to interact with the newcomers tweaks his nose big time. She’s lonely and wants to reach out to feel alive again after god knows how long of simply existing. Glenn flat out admits to Dale his reason behind wanting Maggie. Any day could be his last. In a world where the dead don’t stay dead nothing is certain, least of all tomorrow. That being said, poor Glenn needs lessons in wooing a lady. Maybe Shane, the ladies man that he is, can teach him a few things. Or not. Shane can gather notches on his headboard, but none of them are meaningful relationships. I don’t think he’s capable of that.
Speaking of, Shane makes a very telling statement about the passage of time after the zombie outbreak:
“It’s like we’re old folks, the people in our story are all dead.”
They’ve been living on the run for less than a year, from what I can tell. In that time everyone they knew, except for the family and friends traveling with them, have probably been eaten, turned to walkers, or just died. A year for your life to flip completely upside down and turn “I know her” to “I knew her”. It’s really a hard concept to grasp. This also means that time is not measured in days, but resources. Rick’s guilt over leaving Sophia doesn’t cause Shane to lash out about time wasted, but people injured or killed during the hunt. Yes, people are resources, especially after you’ve established a camp and everyone has their separate duties to uphold.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t address the Dixon brothers. Honestly, when I heard Merle would be back I could not figure out how the heck the writers were going to make that one work. A lot of far-fetched things happen on the show, but the long-lost brother walking out of the shrubbery? Impossible.
* * * * *
[Slight spoiler below. If you haven’t watched, turn away now.]
* * * * *
That being said, how messed up does your family have to make you in order for your subconscious to kick up the image of your abusive, druggie brother to play cheerleader? I mean, it is very obvious that Merle never did anything to help Daryl, even when he was a child. Daryl has been left to fend for himself over and over again by his brother. So what the heck? Leaning on personal experience, I know how far one will go to prove to their sibling that they aren’t needed any more. Everything is moving on just fine without them there to muck up the gears. Even in the end of that scene, Daryl did not reach for Merle. He got himself out of the bad situation. Only to walk into another one that he has no control over. No Merle cheerleader to provoke him into action that time.
Normally I’m all about women fighting against gender roles and branching out to do “manly things”. Unfortunately, Andrea goes about it all wrong. She is very fragile emotionally, I get that. The last few weeks of her life have been spent planning how to opt out of existence so she can join her dead. Then Daryl pops some sense into her head, but she is still torn. If she can’t leave then she wants a bigger role; she wants to move up within the “pack”, so-to-speak. Her drive to be more nearly costs someone their life. Where is that line between challenging the “norm” and knowing when to fall back and follow orders? Andrea crossed it, no doubt about that. Will this incident throw her back into where she was or can she press on with her reforming backbone?
One last note… Who the heck is in the barn?! I want to hear your theories about the barn’s occupants. Next week we’ll see if any of us were correct.
It has to be said, Greg Nicotero and his crew really, really, really outdid themselves for this episode. If you haven’t watched yet, just be prepared for a scene worse than Rick taking an ax to a decomposing walker in season one’s “Guts” episode. Oh, and don’t even think about eating. I had to leave a bowl of ice cream to melt on my side table.
With the nod to outstanding and epic grossness out of the way, lets dig into the meat of the episode. (Did you just gag a little? So did I. Promise that’s the last intestinal pun in this review.)
Can we address the Shane problem? Last week’s review lit off a small debate in the ZSC command center about whether or not Shane acted within reason given the circumstances he was in. I was hoping this week he’d give us a clear direction his head is going, but it became impossible to tell if the guilt eating him alive stems from using a good man as zombie bait or because he feels that he failed Otis in some way by leaving him behind. Later in the episode he tells Andrea that in order to kill you basically have to turn off everything that makes you human and act on instinct. The need to survive is a strong instinct, I’ll give him that. But… wasn’t there another way? A humane way at least?
This episode brought our core group of survivors back together. Once they were all gathered two people stood out, T-Dog and Daryl. T-Dog had a bad patch in the last episode, meaning he lost his ever-loving mind while burning up with a fever. Some of what he told Dale made sense in a way and that is what haunts him. The idea that because the group may see him as weak, it could cost him his spot with them. How rough would things have to get for any of them to look at T-Dog and, essentially, vote him off the “island”? He could simply be paranoid with a bit of brain fry from the infection… or maybe he’s got every right to fear being left behind.
Then you’ve got Daryl who seems from the get-go to want nothing to do with anyone on the farm, whether they are original survivors or part of the new group living there. As soon as they parked he was off into the woods alone. All of that progress he made being a decent man around Andrea vanished. Only thing I can think of is he fears opening up, at least until the Cherokee Rose. Daryl gave Carol a deeper look into himself than he has with anyone. Again he knew exactly what she needed to hear and gave it to her in this wonderfully sad story about the flower. He knows that crying won’t bring him Merle back, but also understands that Carol needs the tears to voice her grief, worry, and the sliver of hope that Sophia will come back.
Seeing where everyone ended up this episode has me rethinking what I said about Glenn last week. I assumed that he would likely jump at the chance to ride at Rick’s side again when he resumes the hero role. Only… Glenn became his own hero this week. Sure there was a lot of awkward moments where he became really goofy and cute, however you’ve got to give the man a hand at lassoing a bloated zombie like that. We know he’s not exactly a smooth talker with the ladies, but Glenn is growing out of the sidekick role if he keeps this up. Go, Glenn, go!
I’ll wrap this up with a quick thought on something Hershel said to Rick. Faith seems to play a huge part in how Hershel approaches life. He sees God’s hand in everything around him. If a rainbow forms after a storm, God sent it. A car hits a man on his way to dinner with his wife; God decided it was his time to go “home”. But, you see, I cannot fathom how his faith holds up when faced with the animated corpse of someone he knew. Is Jesus cleverly disguised in the blood splatter and we just can’t see it because the need to survive has blinded us to faith? Or is Hershel clinging to the one thing he has left to give him hope for his family? That’s got to be it. Mankind will tell themselves anything to maintain hope, even if it means believing in a miracle cure that’ll never come, from God or mankind.