The bad-news pair catch up with Doc and Addy near Wall Drug Store—which is apparently a battleground territory for the budding post-z political system. As expected, they’re riding in style, complete with an armed and gorgeous escort. President Sketchy—yes, you read that right—liberated the limousine from the President Bill Clinton collection at a museum in Little Rock, Arkansas. Sketchy proves he’s a people’s president, giving Addy and Doc a ride after their likewise-liberated Murphymobile overheats and keels over on the roadside. Must mean they’re really good friends. Doc and Addy might feel differently, but they’re stuck now as the presidential motorcade rolls into Wall Drug Store for the next stop on the campaign trail.
Funny, I don’t remember sexy dance routines as part of the typical political process. Then again, after the last year, anything is possible.
After coaxing the skittish locals from their hiding places with his sweet moves, President Sketchy wins over the crowd with half-truths, and a promise to build a giant wall around the north-west quarter of the USA. All the people have to do is donate to the cause. People who have so little, they don’t even have a clean water source within walking distance, and a serious number of them are falling ill by the minute.
Before Doc and Addy force Sketchy to do anything about the more immediate problem, another claimant to the deserted USA throne waltzes into Wall Drug Store. John L. Lannister and Sketchy are probably the worse candidates for the job. They’re full of hot air, empty promises, and so much ego it’s a wonder they fit it inside a limo. This is the moment in the show where they really unleash the full potential of the political-frustration-turned-humor brewing in the writer’s room. Hell, there’s even a jab at TWD when Sketchy and Skeezy argue about the newcomer, revealing they thought Lannister died— no one could’ve survived being surrounded by zombies near a dumpster! Yeah, but it only got that TWD character a little further down the road before he became a splat on the dirt. Lannister’s odds aren’t in his favor.
In the name of democracy, the presidential hopefuls agree to hold a debate, followed by a vote for the first post-z POTUS. Addy asks a load of hard-hitting questions, which the candidates dodge with Neo-like ability. They’re as skilled with words as they are at hand-to-hand combat—which is to say, they can’t even give each other a black eye, let alone convince anyone to follow their ideals for a renewed nation. The debate ends abruptly when a man from Rosebud, the town where Wall Drug Store gets their water, rushes in to tell them the entire town turned Z. The messenger does the same, leading the candidates to race to kill his reanimated corpse first. Neither succeed. Addy saves them.
In Rosebud, it’s bad. The entire population is undead, or committed suicide. Here’s a handy lesson for survivalists: Filters do no good if a zombie head is crammed in the system. Not only is Rosebud a ghost town, but the tainted water is what’s killing the WDS citizens, as well. Good thing they have a doctor on-hand. Kinda. What Doc lacks in in-depth medical knowledge, he makes up with the sheer ability to pay attention. Doc is a sponge, absorbing helpful tidbits here and there. Sure, those helpful tips get lost in the z-weed haze occasionally, but Doc’s always able to make things happen for the better. In this case, he realizes the simplest path is the best and treats the zombie remnants in the water like poison. All it takes is some activated charcoal down the hatch to counteract the urge to chomp on someone.
The people are healing, no thanks to either presidential candidate. There’s still the vote to handle. Or they could focus on the water issue and do something constructive with the attention they’ve grabbed . . . . Nope. Sketchy and Lannister opt to use Doc’s news about the tainted water as another barb to jab each other with while doing nothing to enact any change. The people do as bid and begin the voting process, anyway. What can they do? Their government has spoken.
Angry townspeople from a nearby city speak louder, though. They expose the hucksters and their nation-wide scam to rob impoverished people of their meager supplies while doing no actual work to fulfill their promises. The argument devolves into a fight, which morphs into a zombie attack. Sensing no winner in the situation, Addy and Doc steal the limo and run after ensuring the WDS Mayor has the zombies handled. That leaves Sketchy, Skeezy, and Lannister to flail and mudsling over their joint loss. Literally. They’re left wallowing in mud while Addy and Doc ride off in style. Fitting style, at that. The people at Wall Drug Store unanimously wrote-in Doc as the new President of the United States. I’m all aboard with that plan, man.
Out with the old baddies and in with the new. The Necronomicon has returned home to Hell after an extended vacation topside to chill with his Deadite homies. They’re probably lounging around a lava pit telling tales of possession and taking bets on how long Ash will last against Baal. One demon lord doesn’t seem that imposing in a franchise where the lead character faced an army of sassy skeletons and survived. Then Baal whipped out his massive powers.
Unlike some shows where the bad guys all have the same M.O., this one strives to venture into new, different lands. While having an episode plot based around “Who’s really the bad guy,” isn’t shining and new in the idea department, turning Baal into a skinwalker leaves a lot of fun to be had in a cliché plot device. It also allows the SFX department to give Baal’s goons a style not easy to forget. I mean, I’d wet myself if a skinless woman fell through my ceiling and ripped a prostitutes’ arm off, let alone forget it happened anytime soon. One failing in Baal’s powers is this seductive bullcrud he pulls on Ruby. She’s a badass, killing evil right and left; then Baal swivels his hips and she literally can’t form sentences? It’s a huge disservice to the female characters on the show to go from an episode where they clean house without any men to back them up, to Ruby practically begging for a little action from the guy who killed two women inside the sheriff’s station without blinking. Using sex to negate Ruby’s strength is a low blow. Ash gets laid all the time and he still gets the evil-slaying job done. Baal has so many other evil things he can do, let’s lay off the whole, “His groin is mesmerizing,” thing. Okay?
With everyone locked in the sheriff’s station wondering who’s got Baal crawling around in their skinsuit, tensions run higher than Chet’s blood-alcohol level. Sheriff Emery and Ash are at each other’s throats the entire time Linda is at the station. It comes down to Kelly to calm everyone down. By that I mean she grabs the sheriff’s gun and holds everyone hostage—when they’re technically already in a hostage situation. The Inception-like hostage situation happens again elsewhere in the station when Ruby goes to retrieve her dagger. Baal uses a deputy to work his D-Mojo on her, rendering her pretty much useless until the episode’s end when she just happens to help Ash save Linda.
Like having a skin-stealing demon on the loose wasn’t bad enough, Pablo’s got a mean case of what-the-hell-is-that spreading across his stomach. Personal theory, dude’s turning into something akin to the Necronomicon. Why else would he have Sumerian written across his torso? No one signs up for oozing boils and a dead language willingly. Ruby is thrilled about Pablo’s condition. Pablo would rather French kiss a shotgun. But, hey, he should be proud. He’s the key to saving the world . . . after dooming it by tossing the Necronomicon in Hell and freeing Baal.
Looks like more skin-jumping good times aren’t all that’s ahead for the show. Ashy Slashy may just finally win the girl this time around. Sheriff Emery isn’t the man his wife thought after shrieking throughout the fight with his skinless deputy. Linda breaks up with him then and there, totally falling for Ash’s blood-drenched swagger. All of them are out of their minds considering their having a lovers spat over a bisected, skinless corpse.
That’s the joy of this show. It doesn’t really care so long as Ash looks a fool, there’s about twenty gallons of blood used, and someone at home says, “What the heck is going on now?”
Yeah, the warning is right on top this week. We’ve got a lot to discuss and little time to pussyfoot around with generalizations and all that rubbish. You guys waited months for this episode. Was it worth the anger at the producers and writers who said we’d be glad for so much time to stew over who died? Do you feel cheated by the dual deaths? How about all that brain matter on the ground, was it too much? Most importantly, are any of us really feeling the emotion between Rick and Negan or will the directors continue leading it to an awkward place where it’s laughable?
I, personally, feel cheated out of the surprise. The producers showed their hands months ago when they continuously stated that the show would gradually realign with what happens in the comic books. One death talked about constantly is Negan murdering Glenn. Hell, someone just released an action figure featuring Glenn’s mangled face as it’s shown on the page—which is almost identical to what’s on screen for that heartbreaking apology to Maggie. Almost in the same breath as the realigning statements, TWD higher-ups denied that Glenn would die. Red flag. Red flags everywhere. It was raining them at SDCC 2016. Since then, I’ve spent the time away from TWD saying goodbye to my favorite character. So when Negan first hit Glenn, my reaction was a resigned sigh. Then profanity, and more sighing. The show which constantly states they want to break boundaries and do new things is still utterly predictable.
Abraham’s brutal murder wasn’t overly shocking either if one stops for even a minute to think as Negan would when sizing up his newest assets. Manipulation is his bread and butter. One look at Rick’s people and how they handled interactions with the Saviors told Negan everything he needed to know—kill Abe because he’s ride-or-die loyal, keep Daryl because he’s mentally fragile and can be manipulated just like Rick. This is easy for Negan. Twisting people’s minds to do what he wants is the sole reason he’s not rotting in a walker’s gut. So why would an astute audience willingly overlook this? Why, TWD writers, would you go for the two characters who make the most sense if your desire was to shock, surprise, and devastate? Anyone with half a brain who tunes in regularly knew we’d lose Abraham. Daryl sells too much merchandise. Rick’s demise would’ve been awesome, but ultimately disappointing because the lead-up to the murder scene was so lackluster and drawn-out. Killing a woman would’ve started a feminist war in the fanbase. Carl was a good candidate, but he’s got too much potential to carry the show forward now. Plus in Negan-sense, he’s a carrot to dangle in front of Rick to ensure good behavior. The remaining gentlemen, as much as we adore them, just wouldn’t have the same impact. I would’ve been more shocked by that scene if Negan didn’t kill anyone, but just as pissed off with the direction the show took for the season premiere.
I mean, since when is five minutes of Rick staring at a set we’ve already seen before gripping television? He’s supposed to have a breakdown during the whole axe-fetching scene. Okay, that’s believable. So why did it involve long shots of walkers shuffling through smoke cut with the footage shown at SDCC with Lucille and the main cast? The scene felt like something from an indie band’s music video—a lone, agonized man surrounded by the cheesiest surroundings ever, just to feel spooky. Then, to make the death scenes mean even less, they show clips with Rick imagining everyone else getting a kiss upside the dome from Lucille. Why? We already know what he’s thinking. A good actor can do that, and Andrew Lincoln is no slouch when it comes to his face betraying every thought in Rick’s head.
They wanted to come into the Negan Era with a loud noise. In order to make noise, the plot’s gotta move faster than a snail’s pace. Inertia. Ever hear of it? The ball doesn’t roll and keep rolling without a hell of a push. It took the show fifteen minutes to get to the murders. I almost turned it off, thinking they’d strung us along for yet another week, and I was done if that were the case. It wasn’t, but the scene is buried so far in the episode, it does no good other than to turn stomachs. The only reason the scene is hidden in the episode is because of the backlash from the season six cliffhanger. Many fans felt as I did; we’ll watch the opening scene for season seven to learn who died and move on to another, more entertaining show which actually strives to write coherently. In a direct thumb-nosing to the noise-makers speaking against the cliffhanger, they cut together the episode just to make us wait through a couple commercial breaks. How nice of them to ensure the show makes a buck from a group who’re pretty likely to throw out their TWD fan badges after learning who died. I’m not tossing my badge in the fire just yet because I have hope the Negan era will smooth out, but it’s a near thing after this episode.
The violence in the episode really struck some sour notes across the fandom. Every complaint I see is met with a laugh. Fans derided the writers when there wasn’t enough undead violence. They scream for blood anytime a character or group disrespects the main cast. Yet the bad guy, who we’ve been warned about constantly since the show began by fans of the comics, comes in and does exactly what he’s supposed to, and it’s suddenly too much for the delicate flowers planted on their couches. Take up gardening if you can’t handle fake blood on a show centered on how messed up humanity is without actual rules to govern it. Were the close-ups too much? Possibly. I’m not one to judge. Horror and gore are my jam. I only started watching TWD to see what KNB FX could do with extended time to develop creatures and death gags; they’ve yet to disappoint. I will state that wanting a show built on the premise of killing things in order to survive to shy away from gruesome murders is like expecting a unicorn to lick away your tears while curing cancer. It won’t happen.
For the most part, we already knew what’d happen plot wise: Someone dies, Rick and Negan have a long moment to deal with Rick’s stubbornness, the Alexandria crew is absorbed by the Saviors, and Maggie wants blood, but she’s in no position to even walk, let alone lead a war. Daryl as the cause of Glenn’s death was the lone surprise for me—as I stated, I saw the death coming, just not how it’d happen. We’ve waited since Merle’s death for Daryl to be relevant to the plot again and now I want him to be the next big death on the show. Why? Because Daryl knew dang well that someone else, not him, would die for that single punch. They all knew Negan’s M.O. by that point. Abe died because of Rick’s hubris, yet that wasn’t lesson enough for everyone’s apocalyptic savior? Yeah, no. I’m beyond done with their failed attempts to make Daryl into an actual character. He’s been a two-dimensional promotional tool for so long, they’ve forgotten the character has a brain.
Now that the clunky season opener is behind us, maybe the ball will roll through season seven better. But, wait, we’ve still got a whole ‘nother group to introduce over at The Kingdom. If that episode is as awkward and poorly timed as the Negan/Rick glare-downs in the RV, I don’t know how much longer they can continue to pretend they know how to produce a show, let alone write one with so much potential for real depth and ability to shine a light on the massive problems in today’s society. They keep dropping the ball. I’m tired of waiting for someone in the TWD production office to finally pick it up and run it in for a touchdown. It’s time they returned to giving fans entertainment of substance instead of shilling the Walking Dead name and filling their coffers.
A New Mission Review for Z Nation 302 By A. Zombie
Ditching some of the played-out character story lines may be wise rolling into season three. They’ve brought in another surviving “super-power” with the Chinese. They number only two-hundred-thousand total, but they’ve at least got functional technology—sign me up for one of those laser-guided zombie grenades. Murphy and the unknown hacker did their parts to kill the communication network which would have eventually allowed the scattered American survivors to band together. What Dr. Sun Mei, Lt. Mong, and their people don’t have, and what their tech cannot give them, is a cure. Their mission is simple: Capture Murphy and fashion a cure from his blood. It’s the same thing tried by so many. There is no cure just sitting in his blood. But they’ll try to synthesize one anyway or die trying. Hope is a powerful tool.
Roberta isn’t the only one making new friends. Citizen Z is out of the blizzard, and into some strange woman’s bed. In what can only be described as a desperate attempt to get the resident geek character laid at last, we’re introduced to Kaya. She’s the one who dragged Citizen Z and Dog through the storm. She also shared body heat to keep the scrawny dude alive. Not to make it awkward while he’s wandering around naked, but her family lives with her; they don’t speak and have the personality of furniture. So, like before, Citizen Z’s story line is filler to toss the ridiculous jokes they couldn’t cram in Murphy or Doc’s dialog. But at least he speaks to more than a dog now.
We’re introduced to a new class of human—Enders. These lunatics want to kill and end everyone’s suffering, undead and alive alike. These Enders see an opportunity to get ahead in the world just a little after Dr. Sun orders her air support to drop her supplies. The delivery has everything, even a vehicle, whatever’s necessary to launch another Great Murphy Hunt. Catch is, that’s the last of their gear. If someone else claims it, the Chinese and anyone who’d benefit from Dr. Sun’s possible cure are good as dead.
The episode is a really drawn out race to the gear, with the main conflict lasting only a blink once everyone finally makes it to the warehouse where the supplies landed. Things progress predictably. The casualties are many, but only one person of any importance keels over.
The episode sets up the three new missions ruling the season’s plot. First mission: Roberta, Addy, Doc, Hector, and Dr. Sun will obtain enough of Murphy’s blood to make a working cure. Mission two: Murphy will take Dr. Sun’s equipment and create a way to spread his blended human/zombie genes in order to stop humanity from devolving, and the undead from devouring each other. Lastly, The Man and his Zona handlers have a mission of their own: Bring in Murphy and use him as their personal fountain of youth.
Why are you gnashing your teeth, readers? I covered everything important. Oh, 10k! Well, about him . . . .
Wonder if he’ll see the irony after a few days enthralled by the big blue guy. I also called this huge character change at the end of his first scene in the episode, though they held off exposing the bite mark until the very end. It shows Murphy has a soft spot for the kid, but also his ability to use anyone and everyone to see his will done.
You all ready for the Murphy World Order? It’s coming. He’s ruthless enough to see his plan through. With his hybrids at his back, not even The Man can touch him. Bring on our blue overlord.
Unfortunately, the reality during an apocalyptic scenario is that most people will not make it far with their families intact—these solo folks tend to fall to the wayside on the show quite often. There were some pretty stellar actors brought in to populate Woodbury, and some managed to survive long enough to see season four. Unfortunately since we’re talking about them here, the buck stopped for them all by the season’s conclusion.
Karen started as a voice in the crowd who’d occasionally butt heads with The Governor and his commanders, demanding, at the very least, some transparency from their leader. She was one of few left alive to join the prison community after a failed mutiny. Even rarer, she found a place in their ranks and formed strong bonds with several characters, including Tyreese. It took a mysterious, mass-panic-inducing illness to snatch Karen from her new, safer home. Cruelest of all, her death at Carol’s hand is shown repeatedly in flashbacks into the fifth season.
Fans of Melissa Ponzio knew it wouldn’t be long before she hit the airwaves again. After all, Ponzio has been a regular cast member on MTV’s Teen Wolf since day one, playing mother to the show’s leading werewolf. Teen Wolf returns to the small screen for its sixth and final season on November 15th. Ponzio also had a recurring role on Chicago Fire after departing TWD. She attends fan conventions as her schedule allows with fellow TWD and TW cast members.
Every dictator needs strong men to keep things in order. Martinez filled the role nicely. He wanted to believe The Governor could provide the leadership necessary to ensure they’d survive in Woodbury, no matter if their enemy was alive or dead. When Philip failed them all, Martinez made his own camp to protect. It wasn’t until he had people to call his that we see the caretaker side to the character. And then Phillip threw him in a pit of walkers.
Not long after leaving a show where they hunted down zombies, Jose Pablo Cantillo found himself on Constantine, where they hunted . . . just about everything which would snatch you from bed in the middle of the night. Later, Cantillo joined Sharlto Copley, Hugh Jackson, and Sigourney Weaver in the Sci-Fi/Thriller Chappie. He also appeared in Solace with Anthony Hopkins, and recent TWD addition Jeffrey Dean Morgan. His next project will be the Taken television adaptation with Clive Standen. Breaking into other forms of entertainment, Cantillo helped create Free Me, a social-media inspired card game.
Like most secondary child characters, Meghan Chambler existed to perish and push a lead male character to make a horrible decision about the future of their people. Which sucks. The younger generation of survivors deserve a chance. We never got much from Meg, save she really wanted to learn how to beat “Brian” at chess.
Meyrick Murphy is a name to keep an eye on. She’s moved on from being a plot pawn on TWD to starring in several Nickelodeon shows—Legendary Dudas, 100 Things to Do Before High School, School of Rock. Murphy also provided the voice for Mari in the critically acclaimed film Kubo and the Two Strings. It’s still in theaters. Don’t miss your chance to see it on the big screen.
Philip Blake. There’s a world to say about the man who more or less ran the show for nearly two seasons. He was deadly in his practicality and desire to safeguard the haven he carved from the apocalypse-ruined land. There may have been a screw or ten loose in Philip’s head, which we never fully realized until he’s abandoned by his people and he’s forced to rely on his own charm to get by. Like many men determined to make a name for himself, the quiet life Philip created—under the name Brian—wasn’t enough to satisfy his needs. After staging an attack on the prison, complete with a tank, Philip’s single-minded need to destroy Rick cost him everything when Michonne snuck up and stabbed him.
As much as I love David Morrissey, it was a blessing for The Governor to skip on to zombie-less, cloudy fields. Post-TWD, Morrissey landed on CBS’ Extant as Tobias Shepherd. In May 2016, the film The Ones Below was released, starring Morrissey, Clémence Poésy, and Stephen Campbell Moore. The Missing will return to Starz for a second season, featuring a new case and Morrissey as Sam, father of a missing, then miraculously found child. He is also working on Britannia, a 10-part drama set during the Roman invasion of the British isles in 43 A.D.. The miniseries is a joint effort between Sky and Amazon—Sky 1 airing Britannia in the UK and Amazon streaming it in the USA in 2017.
Team Zombie rolled into San Diego for Comic-Con 2016, looking quite sharp, I might add. Wardrobe aside, the gang was down a man. Robert Buckley couldn’t make it. However, newly-christened series regular Aly Michalka joined the cast, along with show creators Rob Thomas and Diane Russiero-Wright. They were in good spirits, despite the usual chaos at the con. For a good reason, they began filming for season three this week. Matter of fact, I think I saw Rose McIver post a video from the set on Wednesday with Buckley in tow. The zombie ball is rolling. But how are they going to deal with the fallout from the season two finale?
We said goodbye to our main Big Bad. His company was taken over by Vivian Stoll and her undead army. Rob Thomas said Stoll comes into the show in a unique position. “I’m not sure I file her under Big Bad” Going into season three, Stoll is a reactionary presence to the impending zombie problems once the public finds out. Only, instead of having a standing army to defend humans, this army is made from the undead to carve out a place in the world for them once the truth flies. Power like that can be corrupted. It’ll be interesting to see which side of the fence Stoll lands on, or if she can carefully navigate the line between and remain lawful neutral. Adding so many new zombies to the mix poses some ethical questions for Liv. An example given later in the panel pits Liv’s shocking white hair and pale skin against Stoll’s brood who strive to always blend in, covering the very thing which makes Liv unique.
Team Z will regroup stronger than ever. Liv is determined to keep everyone on the same page. No secrets. Out the gate, they dig into Stoll’s company. Some B-stories aren’t following through right away. The Boss story line will take a back-burner to establish new characters and dynamics. Major will search for Natalie and fulfil his promise to her. Not sure if that’s a solo mission or not. I’d assume not since they finally have everyone on the same page. We’re not done cleaning up the Chaos Killer mess, either. There’s one more Popsicle to defrost. Robert Knepper will return as Angus DeBeers in episode one this season. I’m thrilled. The DeBeers family reunions are a things of beauty.
The creators promise a shift in the story style. Season three will play out more like episodes of Law and Order, where Liv and Clive catch the bad guys, Peyton prosecutes. It looks like more of the crimes will tie into the zombie thing, at least from the way Thomas phrased the style rundown.
Other random tidbits dropped during the panel include a promise from the creators to McIver that they will not kill Liv’s next romantic interest, even if it is Major. This isn’t Supernatural. The hot lead actor can’t keep dying and coming back via some miracle.
Yes, there’s a love triangle with Ravi, Peyton, and Blaine. No, none of them know where it’s going. Though the cast joked about making it an open relationship, including Clive, and dragging Liv along as the fifth wheel.
Don’t get your hopes up for a working cure. Thomas said if Ravi creates a cure, the show is over. He also enjoys writing Blaine’s memory loss too much to give up cure 2.0’s side-effects and move on to 3.0 just yet.
We learned that McIver got to veto one potential brain for season three. From a list of about fifty. Then the night before the SDCC panel, they informed her she would get to play dominatrix this season. Guess that one isn’t up for negotiation. It better be the most integral part of the story this season or I’m going to roll my eyes at yet another excuse to dress Liv down in any way.
The new zombie blood will shake things up for the show, along with a new story format. If they keep the momentum from the finale rolling through the first couple episodes, it should be a fun ride. iZombie returns to CW in October.
Major’s game of freeze tag is over. The FBI push hard on the Chaos Killer case, landing the newly re-zombied trainer in jail. Without food. Yes, this is a rehash from when Liv was arrested. Yes, crisis is averted just in time, yet again—even after Major is arrested a second time for the Meat Cute incident. Blaine, of all people, is the one to smuggle brains from Don E.’s stash after the tight-belted businessman wanted Liv to pay for a brain she plans to use to keep Major from turning the city’s jail into ground zero for the apocalypse. While she handles the food problem, Ravi and Major use video game metaphors to hatch a plan—retrieve a zombie from the freezer, defrost, show as proof Major didn’t kill anyone, release from jail. Simple. Easy. A cake walk.
Max Rager stole the bodies. DuClark also set out hits on Major and Liv as a gift to celebrate selling the company to a military contractor. Ravi gets caught in the crossfire, killing Janko when the mercenary drugs and attempts to abduct Liv. She’s fine. He’s shaken. The dead guy on the floor gives Liv the perfect chance to peek behind enemy lines. Later, she has a vision starring Major’s zombcicles, all nicely defrosted.
In order to get Major out of jail in time without a victim to hand over, Liv finally clues Clive in about Team Zombie. Okay, it takes stabbing herself in the gut to convince him, but he gets the idea and Major is a free man shortly after. I hope Liv bought Clive a new knife. Clive uses a loophole in the case against Major to secure his release. Bozzio is, understandably, livid. His hands are tied. He couldn’t knowingly leave Major in jail to start another zombie outbreak.
During the zombie antics, Boss sends his guys to clean house. The case against him is gone. He should be sitting pretty, save for his competition hitting the streets again. Chief takes a bullet to the brainpan. Don E. talks his way into a gut shot instead of a headshot. Poor hapless Blaine ends up exposed to Boss’ guys and has a hit put on his head. They use Peyton to lure Blaine into a trap. It gets a tad buddy-cop when Ravi and Blaine team up, armed quite impressively, to rescue her. Which is a joke, really. Blaine wiped out the men holding Peyton before Ravi made it in the door. Major joins Liv on Janko brain. They plan to infiltrate Max Rager during their big bash to celebrate the sale properly. To access the secret lab’s elevator, they’ll just take Janko’s hand along for a walk like it’s Thing. Clive disavows any knowledge of said plan—which lasts as long as it takes him to realize the zombies aren’t going to make the rendezvous time. The party scenes are chaos even before a group of idiots turns themselves into zombies with tainted Utopium. The party’s theme? A lockdown. They’re trapped. Just about everyone dies or is turned.
There’s a new savior in town. Vivian Stoll—the woman from the military contractor—saves Team Zombie when they’re trapped during the outbreak. Liv and Major are fine. Clive has a target on his chest being the sole human left on their feet. Stoll’s people clear the building. She gives them free passage to the secret lab.
In the lab, Rita and her father wait to make things just that much worse for the team. She’s ready to promise her front teeth in order to get free or get a cure. He’s hell-bent on winning at least one battle. The gang is separated in the zombie containment area. Drake, unfortunately, is no longer a coherent zombie. The test cures MR forced on them turned him Romero. Man, dating Liv is a curse. More so when VDC forces Liv to choose between saving Clive or Drake. She shoots her boyfriend. There’s really no choice. Drake was doomed to die the day they introduced him. VDC tries twice to gas everyone. Both times fail, with the final attempt ending after Major breaks a glass wall, following VDC into the elevator, and leaving the bad guy trapped in there with ravenous zombies. Upstairs, they open the elevator to find Rita chowing down on Dad brains.
Major takes the kill shot on his ex. Sense a trend? Stoll’s people take over the situation while she snacks on Rob Thomas. Surprise! The military contractors are zombies hell bent on making Seattle their new homeland.
I’ll admit, it’s one hell of a surprise. Unfortunately, I sense this may devolve into a Buffy situation—everything blamed on a mysterious government body who answers to no one, really, and does convenient bad things to make tension for the show. We’ve seen this trope a lot on genre shows. While this new plot twist did bring a lot of dead bodies, it could be foretelling a rather predictable season three.
Warning, the following contains show spoilers and a strong opinion.
I’m a die-hard fangirl. When a show gets my attention, I hang on to the bitter end—anyone who saw my reaction to True Blood‘s final season know what happens when a show lets me down like a frayed guide rope while climbing Half Dome. At least that show started pretty strong. This show never really found its footing. Every time I thought they’d stepped up to the plate, wanted to be good horror, they failed to follow through. In the two episodes before the mid-season break, they lean toward the macabre. First with Celia’s guests in the cellar. Then they opened the mid-season finale with Ofelia’s face peeling off, only for it to be a dream. The cellar bit? We saw the same plot on TWD when they found the walkers in the Greene’s barn, put there because Hershel believed they weren’t lost causes. Celia saw it as evolution, driven by divine intervention in the form of zombies. Both think the undead are worth our love and care. No part of me was surprised to discover Celia ran a freaky suicide/mercenary side business. Nor did the religious slant surprise me. When they steered the Doomed Ship Lollipop toward Baja, I knew they’d use the culture this heavily. Why not? It gives them the perfect scapegoat to rehash the tiresome but-they’re-family plot. On Z Nation the Zeroes, based just south of the border, worship death. I guess FtWD thought they could do something similar and have it work as anything but somewhat insulting to an entire culture’s intelligence just because they’re constantly portrayed as chill with Death.
The effects gags just aren’t worth the effort to pay attention to the story-telling anymore. In the season opener, I called them out for using the boat propeller in the face gag. Since, it’s been more of the same bland infected action. Why? They set the first half of the season on a boat. Their human bad guys were as interesting as watching leg hair grow. So where does that leave us on the tension front? Bickering and nagging, occasionally silenced by an actor in zombie makeup limply shaking his arms at the lead actresses while they flail a fishing pole at it. Some shows are salvaged by the action when the story goes bad. But when nothing happens in the story or the action? What’s the point? Then it’s just people making bad decisions, living on a yacht, and yelling at each other.
“So we’ll make one of them insane!” Nice try, guys. I’d totally buy it . . . if Chris had any actual reasons not to trust Madison and her family. At what point have they left him behind or put him second? Madison and Travis drove into a riot to save him. They made a deal with perfect strangers in order to secure safe haven until the riot passed. Nick jumped off the yacht thinking Chris wanted to swim away or drown himself. They staged a funeral so he’d have a chance to deal with his mother’s death. So why he’d snap, threaten Madison and Alicia, and run away to hold a family hostage is beyond my reasoning. Nick is a more likely choice, seeing as they laid the groundwork for it with his rampant drug use. He does some batty things, like willingly walk around covered in walker goo on numerous occasions—so much so, the original scene from TWD in “Guts” has lost its impact entirely. Now he’s fearless and buying into Celia’s bull about life eternal. Also so apparently broken, Madison—mother of the decade—asks Strand to sort her crap out while he’s digging his lover’s grave.
If I even start on how they’ve written Madison, I’ll break my keyboard. She’s by far the nosiest, indecisive, and nagging character ever to survive to season two in a show. Seeing as she’s the universal mother figure, I hate to hear what the people at the writing table say about their mothers. Somebody in that writing room needed a hug as a child.
The characters have no backgrounds. They’re all blank until they need convenient problems—Chris’ insecurity and psychosis, Daniel’s PTSD and hallucinations, Nick’s trip down sociopath lane. Alicia led the group to their first real bad guys in the season and we still know nothing about her except she’s impatient and bravery makes her do rash things. Travis has the personality of a jellyfish, only finding a backbone to salvage the weird Chris-Is-Crazypants story. Strand actually has this decent backstory, except it came too late in the game to salvage the damage done before Tom was introduced, and then swiftly killed off to avoid that whole messy gay character issue. Leaving Strand the outcast yet again, essentially a blank slate so he can resume being a prick. Instead of writing a world and characters living in it, they’re writing caricatures to manipulate how viewers see the world and what happens in it. It’s not good storytelling. There’s no consistency. Narrators, the characters driving the story, must be consistent. Someone suddenly sporting a raging case of PTSD leading him to burn a building at the behest of his dead wife just means the writers wanted to blow something up for the mid-season finale. It works for Z Nation because explosions are a part of parodying the genre. It does not work for FtWD in episode 207 when it’s painfully obvious the only reason any of this took place was to burn things on camera. Again, this entire story was lifted from TWD season two, right down to the main survivor group disbanding at the end.
So why should I keep watching? If this show refuses to stick to their characters, follow a coherent story, or just rob content from the mothership, it really isn’t worth my time. I watched in the hopes that someone would bring another quality genre show into viewers’ living rooms since TWD is bogged down by expectations. What I got was essentially the discarded ideas from the main show, stretched beyond believability, and crammed into a glitzy, Hollywood setting. The grand settings are an attempt to mask everything the show lacks. All it did was tie their hands trying to make zombies work on water. I mean, there are ways, but it requires thinking outside the box. AMC didn’t buy outside-the-box. They wanted TWD, but with a longer name. What they can’t buy is my time.
This is the last review I’ll scribble for FtWD. There’s no salvaging the mess they’ve made. I’m jumping ship before it gets worse.
Call me crazy—most people do, anyway—but I was under the impression most television shows currently on the air wanted viewers to connect with and actually like the main character. If Bailey Barker’s brain is as close to pre-z Liv, it’s a wonder they based a show around her at all.
At her core, the Liv we find somewhat plucky and charming at times should be interesting beyond her profession. I have no doubt if allowed to live her life, Liv would’ve gone on to become an extremely competent doctor. She’d probably stick to the ER though because her bedside manner is like being comforted by a decade–old dead guy. I could never imagine hyper-focused Liv with a private practice. Yes, they dragged out the “She’s missing Drake,” tidbit yet again to drive home the idea that she can’t cope as a functional kinda-human without her beau by her side. But while she’s at it, can she come over to clean the command center?
With Ravi in on the truth behind the Chaos Killer’s identity—thanks to sleuthing far better than the pros, by the way—he’s on board to help Major figure out how to stay alive. There may never be full trust between any of these people when all these secrets hit the fan. So what’s one more? Major insists Liv remain on the outside. At least until their mad scheme is complete. The guys need to figure out how to cure the memory side effect from Cure 2.0. Unfortunately the lab rats can’t talk. In a streak of utter brilliance, Major offers up the pain in his backside to play guinea pig. The Chaos Killer has one last victim on his list. Vaughn Du Clark is slated to become a zombie, then get cured, memory wiped, and cured from the side effect. For a hair-brained plan, it’s not half bad. Too bad Major is an idiot who must secretly hate dogs. The pet groomer he conned a few episodes back leads Bozzio straight to Major as he’s in the middle of nabbing VDC. I’ve seen karma work wonders on television before, but Major’s circled back tenfold to kick him in the junk while he’s down.
What does this mean for Blaine? The guy still has no clue what’s going on. Don E. and Chief set themselves up to run the Lucky U and brain businesses, leaving the funeral home for Blaine to run. He knows there’s something not right, though. Blaine takes a trip to the police station to find Ravi in the morgue since he’s the only doctor he knows. Clive and Bozzio don’t buy the memory act. Neither does Peyton when she confronts him about killing her case against Boss. There’s some astounding acting during the scene where Ravi lays it all out for Blaine, all the grim details he has about the guy’s past. Bonus laugh, Major is so zen on coffee shop owner brains, he has the clarity to pity Blaine instead of just trying to kill him for ruining their lives.
I was hesitant to see if they could pull all the plot threads together for the season finale. There are some things which just slip past—Liv’s MIA family, Ravi’s ability to forgive so quickly, Peyton showing up just to nag or use people, etc.—and we take them just to get to the point. I’m way more invested in Blaine’s story line than Liv’s with Drake. Even Major’s story line is more entertaining, though it should have resolved before now to make it believable that these people managed to miss his involvement with the whackadoo company owner. The random dirty cop story line with Benedetto featured in the episode even begins to make sense in the grand scheme—one of the detective’s great catches is a Lucky U dealer who won’t talk because he, “works for zombies.”
Another LU dealer is the murderer in the episode. He’s killed by Chief, undoubtedly leaving evidence which will lead back to the funeral home. I would applaud the writing skill it took to get this all to work, but I can’t until Liv gets an actual personality. Gotta have standards.
Warning: This article contains episode spoilers and a strong opinion.
How on earth does the show’s producers expect anyone to give half a damn about this show? I don’t get it. Since day one there’s been nothing personally at stake for the main family. The only deaths are fringe losses, people who weren’t even fully fleshed out with a personality, let alone on screen long enough for the viewers to care about their fate. Liza kicked the bucket, so what? Travis’ reaction and Chris’ weird corpse cuddling pretty much made her death a circus side show. Daniel lost his wife, who was only on screen to be the religious figure and when she became problematic for the writers, she died. Even in this episode when we should have genuine concerns about Travis’ survival, it’s not there. Not even remotely. My biggest concern was making it to a commercial to get more coffee before I fell asleep from all that excitement. We got one infected man on screen. He kills people we don’t know. Yawn. Snooze. Wake me when it gets interesting.
Interesting doesn’t mean Madison lords over the yacht crew, nagging every single one of them about this, that, or the other. We get it. She’s a mother. She cares about all these people. There are other ways for her to say, “I love you” without nitpicking every decision they make. I’m waiting for the scene where she follows Nick into the bathroom to wipe his backside. Then on top of this become The Madison Knows It All Show, she’s apparently the only able-bodied person on board who can handle any tough task. Strand is conveniently unwell after his swim—I told you he wasn’t shot; FTWD’s social media people tried for days to make viewers react to his possible injury and all I did was laugh. Daniel is looked over once again because he’s not family. Ofelia could wander around nude with a flamingo on her head and no one would notice her. Nick is grounded because mommy is worried about him. Chris can’t handle his own mental mess long enough not to screw up. And Luis? That guy is still around? Just listen to the dulcet tones of a man in the apocalypse whining about money. Pro tip, dude, money means jack-all now. That leaves Madison to play the cavalry and she’s no Agent May (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.).
But why does Madison have to stage a one-woman rescue? Here’s the quick version of the plot: The yacht crew (read: Madison) decides they won’t head south as planned just yet. Madison cashes in a favor from Strand, buying them half a day to find Travis and Alicia. Daniel manages to get information on the pirates from Reed and leaves Chris to watch their captive. With the information, they find a possible location for Connor’s crew. On the pirate side, Travis is locked up by request of Alex, the woman they left adrift in episode 203. She blames Travis for her plight. In the main cabin, Alicia is treated to a dinner she doesn’t get to eat, cooked by Connor himself. He’s called away and Alicia runs into Jack. Jack teaches her how to track other boats for looting. Eventually they concoct a plan to steal a boat and run after the approaching Abigail because Alicia assumes the boat’s early arrival means her family wasn’t taken to shore as promised. Back on the yacht, the crew is hailed by Connor, who tells Reed—his brother—to bring the Abigail in. Madison replies. They agree to a hostage trade. Just then, Chris shoots Reed. But it’s okay, even at point-blank range, Chris doesn’t destroy Reed’s brain. They truss up and head bag the new infected and Madison takes him to do the trade. Alicia hides from the pirates when they look for her. Travis is taken to the docks. The trade works . . . until the bag comes off Reed’s head. Connor flails and is bitten. Travis fights free from the last pirate on the dock. Madison just stands there. Alicia and Jack have a “How dare you” moment before she slides down the side of the dry-docked boat Connor made his home. Madison, Travis, and Alicia return to the Abigail. Jack watches, looking like a kicked puppy.
Now we’ve got no immediate danger for the family. No tension save the meager and trite “family comes first” bull everyone repeats ad nauseam. And they’ve killed off the only season-arcing baddies. Where to go now? Mexico and the mysterious people who still take cash to cross the border? That’s not interesting. That’s idiotic. Any person with half a brain understands money means nothing. So the guy says no he can’t take them. What’s stopping them from just sailing to the Baja coast and skipping the border crossing altogether? This show continues to fail to have a plot. Every time they get close, everything resolves in favor of the yacht crew. I get more excitement watching my turtle kill snails.