The big news for 2018’s Spring television lineup is Fear the Walking Dead‘s cross-over with its parent show, The Walking Dead. As we found out a couple months ago, TWD’s Morgan will hop over to the show’s spin-off, which begins its fourth season on AMC on April 15th.
But how are they going to do it? The shows, as the production teams pointed out when FtWD was announced, happen during drastically different points in the apocalypse. It’s safe to assume Morgan won’t hop in a DeLorean to pay a visit to the Clark family. New showrunners Andrew Chambliss and Ian Goldberg (both from Once Upon a Time) sat with Entertainment Weekly for a few interviews leading up to the season four premiere. During an interview in January, Chambliss said, “As Morgan Jones steps into the world of FTWD, he’ll be continuing the journey he began on The Walking Dead way back in the pilot.” That’s not where his story picks up on the new show, though, and I think this sentiment is all about showing that they plan to maintain the character’s integrity. What about the time gap, though? It’s a huge elephant in the room. Are they willing to skip ahead that far just to fix the show? Photos from the FtWD set show Morgan with a sharpened staff, which could put his personal time line somewhere near “Here’s Not Here” [The Walking Dead ep. 604] where he learned how to staff fight with Eastman. Which leads me to believe Morgan must be the busiest man in the apocalypse if he’s gone from saving Rick to losing his kid, losing his mind, learning martial arts, traveling from Georgia to Texas, then back toward Washington D.C. where he became a Savior for a heartbeat, only to reunite with Rick, join a war, then move on after losing his mind yet again. Yes, this franchise does enjoy their time-jumps, but their new plan stretches reality a bit thin if we’re to buy into the desolation they’ve established as the norm in the universe. These characters just do not have the resources to do so much in so little time.
We have another elephant in the room:
We’re already on season seven and this one’s on season two and that would be crazy. As far as if those characters will ever encounter each other, I mean, they’re in the same universe so it’s completely possible. Geographically, they’re nowhere near each other so it would be somewhat farfetched if group A were to somehow encounter group B unless over the course of many, many, many, many seasons somehow it made sense.
Robert Kirkman, creator of the TWD comics and show producer, said this at a comic convention in Hawaii back in 2016. Here’s the guy who created the universe admitting how far-fetched the notion is, as illustrated above. The thing is, Past Kirkman is right. It doesn’t make sense to cross over any character—let alone Morgan, seeing as they fleshed out the gaps in his story fairly well. When asked to speak about the crossover in a recent EW interview, Kirkman now says, “When we started Fear the Walking Dead, the original idea actually included some things that would eventually tie in with the other show. We wanted to give it a few seasons to find its sea legs, so to speak, and make sure that it stood on its own and provided its own experience. The goal was that eventually, once we had established that, we would find some kind of creative way to tie things in.” Which, ya know, I didn’t grasp that potential when Kirkman shot the idea down in 2016. Everyone in the production was originally very much against combining the shows because of the time gap and location issue.
Well, Fear the Walking Dead isn’t doing nearly as well as they hoped. It never found its “sea legs,” as Kirkman puts it. The characters remained superficial icons representing stages in human grief and coping. When the production ramped up the action with the hopes of making the family more interesting by pitting them against each other at the ranch, it brought in even more unnecessary racial tension. That tension then spilled onto the San Diego Comic-Con stage in 2017 when talk show host Chris Hardwick and FtWD guest star Dayton Callie projected some seriously xenophobic behavior whilst bashing the foreign accents of leading cast members. How did the production mop up that mess? First, they never commented on it publicly. Then Hardwick was surprisingly absent from the TWD SDCC panel, presumably so producers could focus the conversation on the somber reality of losing a beloved stunt man and not the antics of AMC’s host. Finally, it seems the only way to truly get past the scandal is to move a minority character from the more popular show and use his deteriorating mental condition to completely change the narrative style with the goal to “kick start” FtWD’s flagging energy and viewer numbers.
Lennie James’ character Morgan isn’t the only newcomer for season four. He is, however, the only new minority character on a show with a well-documented and rocky history with racial issues—such as portraying Mexicans as cultish death-worshipers who ignore common sense altogether, or having Walker drop his Cowboys vs Indians style grudge only after a white man dies to “absolve” all past sins, like the old racist was Jesus or something.
Who are the new characters? Jenna Elfman plays Naomi, an aloof but adept survivor who isn’t exactly an open book. Maggie Grace is coming onboard to play Althea, who has an undisclosed background which gives her an advantage over others in the apocalypse. Taking a slight turn from some of his latest roles, Garret Dillahunt plays soft-spoken and humorous John for FtWD’s upcoming fourth season. Kevin Zegers also joins the cast, but the production remains mum on his character.
Everything the production has planned for season four boils down to using Morgan as a tool to repair the broken things which only cracked further with every attempt to fix them. The linear time line left the plot too predictable, so they plan to “experiment” with the time a little. Having stereotypes for leading characters means fans aren’t surprised in the least when Madison does things like focusing on the needs of one child over the other’s, nor do they bat an eye when Alicia finds comfort in a casual relationship instead of confronting her mother right off the bat because they established Alicia as someone who clings to relationships when stressed in season one. None of the characters change. They don’t grow. Circumstances may force certain behavior, but they always wrap back around to the same people they were three seasons ago. Morgan, on the other hand, is compelling because he changes so drastically over eight seasons. The same could never be said about Madison and her family, and it’s not like good character writing rubs off on the others just because one guy is present. This plan to use Morgan as television-writing duct tape makes no sense from a practical standpoint.
The long road to finding a home in the apocalypse is a tale told literally a thousand times, even in the guise of a family drama. Fans have seen it all. Unless FtWD pulls a rabbit out of their hat, all this rearranging of characters across the franchise will only hurt both shows in the end. The cagy answers from Kirkman, Goldberg, and Chambliss don’t assuage my concerns, either. They’re acting like they reinvented the genre, here, and I just don’t think that can happen with FtWD. Not without them starting over from the beginning.
Honor: Review for The Walking Dead 809 by R.C. Murphy
Whoa! Slow down, there. Before you read on, be aware there’s copious episode spoilers in this review.
This is the first time a main character’s death hasn’t affected me in any way, shape or form. Which is strange considering I cry at the mere possibility of certain characters biting the big one. For instance, when Carl was threatened by Negan before the Glenn/Abraham murders, I came unhinged, yelling at the TV. How is it possible for the show to suck all the emotion out of losing yet another original cast member?
Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Rumors flying around TWD’s decision to preemptively end Carl’s story don’t make anyone out to be the good guy, here. That being said, the production team seems to be going out of their way to ruin what should be a heartbreaking goodbye. The outpouring of love from cast members for Riggs is more touching than the character’s final scene. It takes two full episodes for Carl to pass. The story is told in that tiresome disjoined timeline style they lean on in order to create false tension. Which means we spend every second of the extra time in the extended episode watching scenes which provide no new information because it’s all stuff astute fans figured out during the hiatus. Carl’s time with Judith is sweet. I thought that’d be the tear-trigger for sure. However when we jump back to the present, Carl’s goodbye to his sister is loaded with weird propaganda. The guy who opted to spend his afternoon finger-painting with his sister then goes on to have an adult conversation with her? If the conversation ended when he gave Judith the hat, that would have been the emotional cue the production wanted. Instead we’re forced to watch this loaded speech which only traumatizes the youngest cast member. It’s not touching. It’s uncomfortable and as a parent, I wanted to get Judith out of there way, way before Daryl finally speaks up to offer his protective services.
We can’t talk about Carl’s demise without pointing out one thing which makes me think the production has it out for this character in particular: Red Machete. AMC picks a sub-plot every year and produces a web series which usually leads into one of the two Walking Dead shows. This year’s production brings back The Claimers. Quick refresher: The Claimers came around in season 4, giving us a small taste of how Rick’s crew would react to a Negan-esque character who swept through the apocalypse taking what they wanted no matter who stood in their way. These are also the men who died in probably the most violent hand-to-hand combat scene featuring Rick. Why so violent? They threatened to rape Carl and Michonne. The timing of The Claimers’ return feels wrong. Either someone in the production forgot that these men threatened the outgoing character with sexual assault, or this is an intentional poke at Carl’s character as he’s shuffled out the door in the newest TWD controversy. Honestly? I’m not sure how anyone forgets what trash The Claimers are, let alone forget it long enough to resurrect these men for two webisodes. And all of this to, what, glorify a weapon Rick wields? Don’t we have enough problems with weapon-lust in this nation without using rapists as props to show what an awesome thing it is to be able to maim a living creature?
Red Machete exists solely to build Rick’s mythos as a savior of the apocalypse. It’s this weird piece of character PR, but nowhere near as weird as Carl treating Rick like Jesus during their final scene—a scene which lasts far too long because they splice it with Morgan’s meltdown instead of just letting Riggs and Lincoln take us away with their amazing performances. Yet again we have a moment where the actors are doing remarkable things, but editing and the script fail them utterly. Watching Carl confess his sins to Jesu—I mean Rick, is like watching a train wreck in slow motion. For a long moment, I thought I was imagining things, putting in subtext because I’ve got a hyperactive imagination. But, no. Rick goes on to absolve Carl of his sin. Then Carl tries to rewrite Rick’s past by thanking him for his sacrifices and saying his only job as a father is to love. Gee, who else goes around pardoning others of their misdeeds and spreads love as he does so, no matter the cost to him personally? Not only are Carl’s constant speeches at the end tiresome, but they’re loaded with weird junk dialog and take too long to get to the point. Carl’s plan is suicide so he won’t turn on his friends and family. The longer he delays, the more likely it is he will falter or become too weak to ensure his shot will prevent resurrection. Mindful to the last, it makes no sense for Carl to wait so long, to suffer needlessly, and completely traumatize his loved ones by making them listen as he dies.
As Carl drags out his death, Alexandria’s remaining citizens forget how to survive an attack. Pretty much everyone stuck in the tunnels freaks out at one point or another. Who do they turn to while Rick mourns his son in his newest father fail? Not Michonne. Or Rosita. Not even Daryl is a viable option for these poor panicked people. They look to Dwight to be the new white savior, going so far as to have Michonne lead the charge; she nearly attacks him, desperate to make the Saviors leave. We’ve seen her crumble before, but this wasn’t even a good variation, just an excuse to put another man in charge of the group so the lead character can fall into destructive grief head first.
Khary Payton as Ezekiel – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 9 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Over at the Kingdom, Ezekiel waits for the inevitable end. Gavin’s endless lectures about how good they had it as a team underscores his deepest fear: Negan’s punishment for lieutenants in charge of misbehaving communities beholden to the Saviors. Gavin’s leadership skills kept him one step ahead of his boss’ wrath, but the second Ezekiel steps out of line to join Rick, it’s a domino train leading to the worst outcome possible for a man who just wants to maintain the status quo. Negan doesn’t get a chance to teach his Kingdom-minders a lesson, though. Morgan and Carol, each on a separate mission originally, team up to save Ezekiel. Here’s where we see how they plan to move Morgan off TWD. The plan is apparently just to make him so crazypants, the others insist he leaves. Even Carol, the most pragmatic character on television, is done with Morgan’s uncontrollable need to kill those who’ve harmed his people. On the other hand, this ham-handed method of shifting Morgan from TWD to FtWD gives us an insane death gag on par with the scene I mentioned above with The Claimers and Rick. As always, when the writing fails, I sit back and enjoy the fights. One has to find the silver lining somehow and TWD’s stunt team rarely disappoints.
The episode focuses on Carl’s demise and his quest to wring a promise from his father before the end. What promise? To save their people, give up on the war, and find peace in a stable community. There’s even little fantasies sprinkled throughout to reinforce his desire for the future. All of which is disregarded by Rick in the preview for next week’s episode. So, yeah. I’m really looking forward to watching Rick ignore his dead son’s wishes, just like he ignored him while he was alive. We’ve seen so much character growth over the last eight seasons, I can’t believe it. (Yes, that is sarcasm, readers.)
How It’s Gotta Be: Review for The Walking Dead 808 By R.C. Murphy
Slow your roll, pal. Just need to let you know there’s episode spoilers in this review. Now you may proceed.
They went through all of that killing just to get to this? We saw this coming. Everything which happens on screen, save one or two surprises, is exactly what Negan told us would happen back when all this grandstanding and one-upmanship began. Who didn’t see two of the three safe havens falling to the Saviors? Hilltop was never, ever under threat. Maggie could’ve locked the gates and shrugged with the same result and more of her people left above ground to tend crops. Yet now we’re going to believe she’s grabbing this metaphorical warhammer Rick dropped and wants to ram it down Negan’s throat? Why? She’s lost enough and despite her part gets a pass. There’s Saviors galore in her prison cell to use as leverage. Hell, give Negan Gregory to use as a pet in exchange for prenatal care or something. Why should the woman with everything to lose be the one to save Rick and his people from his ego?
Who else will pay the price for Rick’s actions? Enid sure isn’t going to be the same after her own ill-considered attempt to recover resources squandered in the secondary attacks—namely fighters. She and Aaron take off for Oceanside with no real plan, just a sense of urgency gripping their throats. Which explains why they think stopping at a distillery to grab a hostess gift is the thing to do instead of, oh, giving them their gun back or, gasp leaving them alone so they don’t cost the women any more lives. They park the truck near the community and wait. Aaron is caught when the women do come for them. Enid shoots first, thinks later, and Natania goes down for the count. This. This is why I think Rick’s influence is the real evil in that world. There’s no way Enid or Aaron on their own would have thought to further harass the women they robbed at gunpoint on their own had they never met Rick. Now one’s a murdered and the other lost his husband in a pointless war.
There’s so much wasted time in the episode. First, flashbacks to Rick’s argument with Carl after saving Siddiq and the revelation that Carl doesn’t even consider the war necessary. Then those over-dramatic slow-mo reaction montages just keep popping up whenever they pleased, dragging the action to a standstill, and all to deliver one gotcha moment. Yeah, Jerry’s car accident works as a surprise. But it would’ve been better had I not been rolling my eyes through the umpteenth such montage this season.
And yes, I yelled at the TV when they dared threaten Jerry’s well-being. I’ve lost one favorite character already, if Jerry goes, I’ll riot.
Everyone’s trapped in their corner of the world by the newly liberated Saviors. Hilltop is stopped on the road by Simon’s team. They hold Jerry’s life over Maggie, giving her an ultimatum. She and the jolly guy bite the big one and then the walker horde clears Hilltop, or Hilltop pays the price of one soul for the honor of returning home unharmed in order to continue farming. One minor character’s death later, they’re home sweet home. Maggie vents her frustration while venting a Savior’s chest. The guy’s packed up with a message for the Saviors and dumped for them to find, triggering Maggie’s dumbest decision to date, which is perpetuating Rick’s war when they’re clearly going to get dead sooner rather than later if they continue down this path.
Gavin’s rounding up The Kingdom’s people to flush out their batter and bruised leader. Ezekiel takes the time to spring a plan. An explosion draws the Saviors away while he drives a bus between them and his people. Everyone flees past Carol, who’s only just arrived from magically saving Rick from himself. Let’s take a break here for a second. I want a legitimate answer as to how Carol and Jerry just so happen to drive by as Rick arrives with Jadis. It makes no sense for them to be driving that close to Sanctuary when they didn’t even have confirmation Rick made it out of the dump because the snipers were gone after the truck did its job. Even if they did hear him on the radio, they still made it to the Sanctuary in record time. Nothing about this makes sense. They waste Rick for two episodes dealing with the Scavengers just for Jadis to order a retreat the instant the Saviors open fire. Then he’s snatched up by Carol like a stray kitten in a storm like it’s the most normal thing for her and Jerry to have their Sunday drive right then and there. By the way, if Jerry and Carol were patrolling, why didn’t they report the Savior’s escape when they heard the firing squad doing its job? This is a frustrating example of the ways the show screws itself up to save a main character so flawed by male ego, he should’ve rightly died five seasons ago.
But back to The Kingdom. Everyone runs for it, leaving Ezekiel behind. Carol assumes he’ll lock the Saviors in. Nope. Ezekiel sacrifices himself to keep the Saviors occupied. After all, he’s the target, not the innocents living in the community. There’s always hope in the wings, however. Morgan lurks outside the gates. Will he save Ezekiel or let the Saviors use him to send a message to everyone involved in Rick’s war? Looks like the former, but it’s hard to tell with Morgan. He’s not alright anymore.
Bombs away! Alexandria’s undergoing some drastic structural changes. Negan’s cool ran out about the time he hid in that trailer with Gabriel. It’s time to send a clear message to these communities and how can anyone ignore the sound of their house blowing up? Trying to get ahead of the damage, Carl orders everyone to evacuate. It’s not a popular call. Michonne is aghast at the idea of giving Negan their community so easily, but Carl is in charge and he says run. While they make his plan work, Carl buys time chatting up Negan. It’s a great scene for the guys. Shows promise for those moments they talked about wanting back at SDCC. But all we’re going to get is this one moment.
For the most part, Carl’s plan is a success. Everyone makes it to cover ahead of the Saviors invading the residential section. Daryl, Michonne, Tara, and Rosita thin out the enemy by drawing a guard post away from the rear gate. Dwight helps them lay the trap and is outed by Laura as a traitor. They take his wounded self to the spot where everyone’s laying low and wait.
Rick makes it back to Alexandria just in time to see it lit beautifully by massive flames. Negan greets him at his house for a chat. By chat I mean fight. Rick takes the chance to run for his life after Negan forces him out a window. Down the street, Michonne turns a Savior into ground beef. Rick hauls her off the bloody mess and she leads him to the sewers where everyone’s hiding. Even Judith is down there, safe with Uncle Daryl.
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes, Danai Gurira as Michonne, Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 8 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
Know who’s not safe? Carl. For some random reason, he shows up at the end with a walker bite to his stomach. We’re lead to believe Carl was bitten while saving Saddiq. So this whole time he’s been dying and hiding it? Sure. Okay. Way to write off one of the major characters in the most anticlimactic way possible. He doesn’t even get to go out in a blaze of glory. We get no real closure with Carl here. He’s going to die in a friggen sewer, probably. The guy who maintained more heart than the rest, even after murdering his mother out of mercy, is written off with a whimper after all that build-up for something with Negan? This smells fishy. How insulting for Carl to die this way, too. And how weird for this death to be so public despite Carl not actually passing in this episode. I found out in a spoiler the next morning because there’s approximately five thousand rumors as to why Carl, a character who is still alive and kicking in the comics, dies now on the show in a lackluster way, tagged onto the very end of the mid-season finale like an afterthought.
So we’ve got that to look forward to when the show return from hiatus. Plus, figuring out how everyone else will move on after this setback in the war against the Saviors. Will anyone be left on Rick’s side to fight this fight?
We’re closer to New Seattle than everyone anticipated. Which is a relief, honestly. Not having a premiere date in-hand was worrisome. Why put off an announcement until less than two months in advance? We went through this already with Z Nation. One had hoped iZombie wouldn’t fall into that late-to-press trend, but here we are, less than two months out and CW finally drops the good news. It’s great and all, but the information delays are getting old. Likely it’s a way to create false panic, drum up news and viral campaigns to “Save this show! Let the network hear you want season blahblahblah.” There’s enough to panic about in the real world, could we stop with the fear-mongering when it comes to the future of people’s favorite franchises? Just spit it out. We all know no amount of online petitioning will really save a show—look at the footwork Dark Matter fans, cast, and creators put into saving their ship; if anyone deserves another season based on effort alone, it’s those guys. At least for now iZombie seems to have a future through season five after details emerged in the recent news regarding Knepper’s future with the CW franchise.
On Monday, February 26th at 9 PM, iZombie’s fourth season will take us into a changed Seattle. Zombies are free to live their truth in the open. It’s transformed the city from top down. Even the police department gets with the times, bringing in zombie partners for their detectives so everyone can share in Liv’s whacky brainventures. The extra hands on deck are necessary. This season the gang isn’t fighting a someone so much as a something. That something being mass migration to the newly dubbed zombie safe-hold on the notion that anyone can save themselves from terminal illness and constant pain with just one tiny scratch. The walls won’t keep desperate humans out for long. Their heightened security certainly doesn’t keep out a new character, Levon (Daniel Bonjour), or the smugglers bringing the ill into Seattle. Levon follows their story for a documentary detailing the changes to the city.
Over at AMC, they’re planning a little further in advance than everyone else and on January 13th during a press tour a spokesperson announced a slew of premieres for their spring schedule, including Fear the Walking Dead.
FTWD shambles into its fourth season on Sunday, April 15th at 10 PM. Fret not, those who aren’t night owls, that late start time is only for the premiere. The show hops back to its normal 9 PM timeslot for the remainder of the season. This time around fans will watch through Morgan’s eyes while Madison and her family struggle to survive. Because we needed that family to be even more removed from the fanbase who’re still struggling to connect with the lead characters. Sure. Right. Maybe the perspective change will bring fresh energy to the show. But honestly this reeks of a desperate grab to save a floundering fish. The producers crowed for years that there’d never be a crossover. Well, those quotes did not age well at all. On top of Lennie James coming on-board, the newest cast members for the AMC spin-off include Jenna Elfman, Maggie Grace, Garret Dillahunt, and Kevin Kegers.
AMC shook things up for The Walking Dead, as well. Rick and company will be returning for a ninth season, according to the latest press release. They won’t be coming back with the same showrunner, however. Scott Gimple plans to move on and oversee the entire TWD franchise as its chief content officer. Taking his place as showrunner is TWD’s co-executive producer Angela Kang. TWD returns to AMC for the second half of season eight on Sunday, February 25th at 9 PM. There’s no premiere date for season nine just yet. Expect that news sometime this summer.
The 25th is going to be a busy night. Ash vs Evil Dead also returns to the small screen on February 25th at 9 PM. Ash took on the evils from his past last season. Well, there’s one last blast from way-back to rock his world. Ash gets in touch with his inner papa bear in the third season of the Starz show after learning he’s actually got family to defend, since, ya know, the others all went deadite. Can he break the grip Death has on his family tree? With a chainsaw hand, he can do anything. But I don’t know if a chainsaw will help him become a better parent.
Stock up on popcorn, guys. There’s a lot of undead entertainment headed your way.
Time for After: Review for The Walking Dead 807 By R.C. Murphy
From the looks of it, sense and reason has abandoned everyone during this mad rush to rid the world of Negan. Rick allocated most of his town’s resources for the fighters, sparing precious few capable people to guard their children and pacifists while he fails to negotiate with the Scavengers. The Kingdom will need generations to recover from their massive losses on the battlefield. Hilltop is a powder keg with a couple dozen torches crammed in a cage just inside their fence. Daryl’s leading an off-mission strike force straight into the heart of Savior territory. So far the only one to speak a word of sense is Rosita. It took watching Sasha lurch out of a coffin and her own near-fatal injury for Alexandria’s wild woman to learn a little caution. For Rick, there will never be enough cautionary moments like that. He’s wired to take control no matter what life throws his way. At some point, dumb luck will run out. With the Saviors one step closer to freedom, that point could be now.
But first he’s gotta get out of that shipping container.
Jadis has a simple plan to rid herself of this roach who insists her people must join the fight: kill him with a walker and celebrate the death with a sculpture. I guess it makes sense in her head. As per usual, when Rick’s pitted against the undead, he comes out on top. The armored walker becomes his primary weapon against Jadis and her guards. They fight over Jadis’ gun, but Rick gets the upper hand, pinning the leader’s face in the dirt perilously close to the snapping walker head. Truce time. The pair talk terms, with Rick coming out on top because of course he is, he’s the white savior who just takes what he wants at every single turn. Honestly, Rick’s story lost its appeal because he never grows beyond this desire to be at the top. What we’re seeing now? It’s the same behavior which cost them the prison and three-quarters of Alexandria’s population since his arrival. But good ol Officer Friendly has his new fighters. They head to an outpost, ready to trigger the end to his plan . . . only to discover Daryl’s beat him back to Sanctuary.
We all knew this was a stupid idea when Daryl said it the first time. Now it’s just ridiculous that despite the two ballsiest fighters in their ranks pulling out for moral reasons, he still feels compelled to go off-book to subvert the mission everyone worked and bled for to make a success. Oh, Tara’s still right there, ready to kill ’em all with a grin on her face. What’s pushing her other than the dead girlfriend thing? Regret that she didn’t get the women in Oceanside killed sooner so Alexandria could have the guns. For character motivation, it sucks. Everything about Tara’s behavior screams she’s going to get herself killed soon. Rosita got a second chance, not sure that’ll be the case here. The writers are making sure we’re not going to mourn too hard when Tara’s bloodlust goes awry. Pushed by her eagerness, Daryl rams a truck into Sanctuary, letting the undead inside. They don’t realize the quickest mind in the east is already at work scheming his way out of this mess in the name of his master.
Eugene is a worm. But a worm with convictions which put his safety as important as, oh, a Christian’s belief that Jesus died for their sins. He’s serious when he says numero uno is his sole concern. The only reason Negan is even considered in Eugene’s plan is because the guy’s got means, motive, and a mean streak a mile wide which will come in handy. Everything Eugene needs to do puts him head to head against Dwight and Gabriel. The latter man finds himself in the infirmary in Dr. Carson’s care, a condition Eugene says he brought upon himself. For Dwight’s part, he’s doing his damndest to keep the bloodshed to a minimum. His goal is to save everyone. Only Negan dies in the original plan. That will not happen should the bat-wielding guy get an earful about his good pal helping the enemy. They call a timid truce. Inspired by a request to fix a boom box, Eugene builds a speaker drone to draw the undead away. Dwight halts the maiden flight moments before the truck sends everyone into emergency mode. This is where Eugene’s bluster slips. He freezes once, flies into a rage, and winds up making a deal with the devil before drinking himself stupid. It’s a knee-jerk reaction to an immediate threat. The walkers have to go. The only way is if they unload the armory into the growling mass trapped on the first floor. He’s got what he needs to make more bullets, all he needs is the time. Time he gets. Negan okays the action and they unleash lead hell in the warehouse. Eugene is so focused on the undead, he doesn’t bother trying to find another time to tell Negan about Dwight after they’re interrupted. And as far as getting the doctor out? No way! The doctor stays put should Eugene need his services. At least the guy knows what he needs. Doesn’t mean I gotta like him.
We’re at the mid-season already, yet it feels like we haven’t gotten very far. A lot of people died, but the odds are more or less still the same, given the Scavengers flipping sides. Everyone is down on ammunition, the Saviors more so after clearing house. Negan is still alive. Rick’s free to cause more chaos. Culling the supporting cast doesn’t exactly mean they’ve progressed the plot a lot in seven episodes. Siege warfare told long-form isn’t always compelling for network television and we’ve seen this kind of thing before on the show so the reactions and deaths are predictable. Even this reformed Rosita’s desire to let fate roll without her interference was foreshadowed. We wanted something new, but this war they promised is more of the same Rick-driven drama they’ve given us for eight season—which has never, ever made sense from a survival-focused standpoint. Pretty much everything this guy does is on our Don’t Even Consider It list. Where can they go from here? We’re right back where we started, only now the bad guy’s really pissed off.
Mercy: Review for The Walking Dead 801 By R.C. Murphy
It’s a grandiose plan, that’s for sure. Armed to the teeth and prepared with steel-plated vehicles, a large militia formed from Hilltop, Alexandria, and Kingdom fighters begins the episode by running through the last gut checks and minutiae required to successfully survive the day ahead. The plan itself is pretty simple: Rick will convince the Savior sergeants to step aside and give them the head of the snake, or they’ll pin everyone in the building with gunfire and another teams will draw walkers to it to finish everyone off. Rick has an unreasonable moment when he once again fixates on personally murdering Negan himself instead of compromising on any method to contain this threat. Because that plan has worked so well any other time he’s tried it. The only difference is now Rick’s dragged two other communities into his vendetta in order to secure weapons since he got all his taken away.
Maggie and Ezekiel don’t seem all that put out with Rick and his whole scheme, which is weird because if I ran a community the last thing I’d do is let some guy drag me into a fight he keeps provoking. Yes, the Saviors are giant turds, but Rick is the one who set everything in motion by insisting he and he alone should lead the most ruthless group in a fifty mile radius. Honestly, this has gone on so long, I firmly believe they never should’ve stayed in Alexandria once the threats became too much. But this is someone else’s sand box and they want Rick to pull everyone into all-out war, so off they go after a hearty round of pep speeches from each leader. Before anyone points out that Maggie is not the official leader, she’s the only one other than Jesus looking out for those people at the moment and he doesn’t want the job, therefore Maggie is in charge. No one has a problem with it, either.
On that thought, it’s strange that Maggie’s pregnancy doesn’t progress in the least, but the show’s children all aged greatly during the hiatus. They’re insisting she participate in the war, or at least the first part of the plan at Sanctuary. That being said, the optics of sending an obviously pregnant woman into a fight is pretty sketchy and I can understand why they’d hold off a little longer on the great bumpining. As a Glenn fan, though, I just want proof he’s living on in some little way. The longer they put off actually acknowledging that their most successful woman is also a mother, the more frustrated I get. Maggie can be both at the same time, just let her be her whole self instead of treating her like Mrs. Potatohead, cherry-picking different traits to use each season/episode.
Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel Stokes – The Walking Dead _ Season 8, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
For once, the battle plan goes more or less as intended. There’s no great triple-cross putting people in the middle of a trap. Rick amazingly keeps his calm until the end of the firefight when the bloodlust finally gets to him and he again fixates on being the soul responsible for wiping Negan off the map. The dialog is kinda laughable at points. It’s painfully obvious Rick is buying time so the secondary team can get the walkers in position and he fails to make a compelling argument against violence which just leads to a firefight. A firefight in which some of his best fighters are elsewhere. Remember, the real plan is to kill them with walkers and save the cavalry for cleaning up the rats who jumped ship before they closed in. The only snag in the plan comes at the end when they’re forced to flee or get trapped in the walker horde. Just about everyone makes it into a car. Then Gabriel goes back to grab Gregory—who threw in his hat with Negan, and then ran like a startled chicken when the fighting began, only to get pinned by gunfire in the walkers’ path. One of them makes it out of Sanctuary in an armored car. It isn’t the one we want to get away.
The stage is set to watch the fallout from this fight stretch across at least the first half of the season. They’ve got more Saviors to contend with, not to mention that snake still has its head and until Negan is out of the picture, Rick won’t rest.
The Walking Dead franchise draws big business for everyone involved. It only makes sense that game developers would scramble to snatch a piece of that pie. There’s a few TWD games already out in the world, namely the tension-ridden series from Telltale Games and it’s spin-offs, A New Frontier and Michonne. Telltale teamed up with Zen Studios to produce The Walking Dead Pinball, which allows players to play pinball on location maps from Telltale’s main TWD game, including the addition of player choice to determine the ongoing story. Scopely released its addition to the franchise in 2015 with The Walking Dead: Road to Survival—a game recently plagued with glitches which inspired spending freezes from dedicated players and several intense press releases from the developer promising to do better for the game’s devoted fan base.
Two more developers have stepped in to bring more undead fun to the masses this year. First up is Disruptor Beam’s The Walking Dead: March to War. While not set in the television universe and taking most of its cues from the comics, it still has events inspired by the show. In this strategy game, players develop alliances with each other in order to not only survive the walkers wandering through Washington D.C., but also the humans they encounter while building a secure home base. Players have a twenty mile map to work in, encompassing all the iconic buildings and monuments in the nation’s capital. If they’re having a hard time figuring out what to do, players have the opportunity to bring Rick and Negan onto their advisory council. Help is always needed, according to the developers. Getting by on one’s own in the game is apparently pretty difficult. March to War is free for iOS and Android devices. But you get what you pay for, and this is a new game. Expect some glitches while the developers roll out updates. The graphics aren’t stellar. There’s also been several complaints about monetary purchases failing.
The newest addition to the TWD franchise will be The Walking Dead: Our World from developer Next Games. Whereas all the other TWD-based games focus on player vs player fighting or dive deep into what’s basically a pick-your-own-adventure game format, Our World is vastly different. The game is, essentially, Pokémon Go but with walkers instead of brightly colored creatures. Augmented reality games were all the rage last year and Our World feels like it may have missed the boat by, oh, six months or so—that’s being generous since there’s no actual release date yet. That delay may be in their favor though, giving developers more time to work out the quirks which made other AR games difficult to play, or downright ridiculous due to the programs inability to read the distance to the ground accurately. Game play for Our World shows grounded characters, so there will be little chance of watching Michonne or any of the other television characters floating four feet in the air as they slay the undead. When it does finally release, the game will be available for iOS and Android systems.
This year the San Diego Comic-Con panel for The Walking Dead was a vast departure from the way the show’s run things for the last seven years. Yes, the cast was there in force. Yes, the series’ showrunner and producers were on stage to guide the conversation away from spoilers. But Hardwick was nowhere to be seen. There were no prepared questions or discussion, and they jumped straight to audience questions. There weren’t even name tags on the table. The mood on stage was about eight notches down from past years. They’ve had a seriously rough summer, and given everything it’s surprising they still came at all instead of sending a smaller delegation with the trailer. No one would have blamed them for cancelling.
Scott Gimple opened this year’s panel with a touching statement about John Bernecker, an accomplished stuntman who tragically lost his life after an on-set accident a couple weeks ago. Prompted by a fan’s question later in the discussion, Robert Kirkman and Greg Nicotero also took a moment to remember late director George Romero, the man who created the zombie genre as we now know it.
The cast and crew were excited to announce that episode 801 is actually the show’s 100th episode. Danai Gurira misspoke at one point, saying, “100 years,” instead of episodes, to which Lincoln claimed it felt like it. To celebrate the occasion, AMC has a few things up their sleeves for social media and the likes come October. The producers also brought a retrospective video to show the panel audience to kick off the celebration. I’m not sure what clips they used, but Reedus was especially touched by the video and took the chance to gush about his time on the show toward the panel’s end.
The panel had about 30 minutes of fan questions after the retrospective. We didn’t get much about the new season outside the 5-minute trailer. Kirkman did put his foot down about possible future story lines—there will be no immune characters or another search for a cure, ever. They also teased new characters, but intentionally left the answer so vague, I’m just going to assume an alien invasion is a go until proven otherwise. Gimple joked that as part of the 100th episode, Judith will get her first zombie kill. “Three’s old enough,” Gimple said as everyone laughed. Kirkman promised that season 8 will be, “action-packed and fast-paced.” Chandler Riggs and Jeffrey Dean Morgan stated they hope the show story line falls in line with the comics, as both would love to delve into that particular Carl/Negan dynamic. When asked about Glenn’s legacy living on in the baby, Lauren Cohan hoped the writers give Maggie the chance to instill his strengths in the child as it grows, as well as passing on tales of Hershel, Beth, and the extended family they’ve left behind.
The rest of the fan questions prompted some levity in the group, but not much. On a few occasions, Gimple acted as moderator, urging actors who weren’t answering fan questions to talk about, well, anything. To wrap things up, they showed that baffling trailer again.
No, I don’t think they’re pulling a Dallas, guys. Calm yourselves. But the end does raise a whole truckload of questions.
There’s reports flooding our servers detailing instances where folks mistake actors for fictional people who live in a plastic box. I’m not talking one report. There’s many. It’s overwhelming. And if I’m honest, it breaks my heart a little to have so many confused people out there in the world.
Surely you jest, R.C.. There’s no way someone’s eyesight is that bad.
No, voice inside my head, this is not a joke. This is merely a response to yet another string of fandom-based attacks on actors who they worship . . . until the writers take the actor’s character on a darker path.
Where does this turn against the talent begin?
I’ve personally witnessed exchanges where fans downright refuse to call an actor by name, insisting, “They’ll always be [character name] to me,” with a laugh like that forgives the rudeness. No, my dude. By transferring the character’s name to the actor, you’ve dehumanized them. It then gives your conscious leeway to continue with a conversation which often accuses the actor, not character, of vile things, like racism, bigotry, rape, and murder. Sometimes the name confusion thing is an honest mistake; though given the age of the internet, that excuse is thinner and thinner by the minute.
The real problem comes when fans continue to dehumanize actors, stripping them of autonomy and presuming they’re directly responsible for their actions on screen. Worse is when fans demand reasoning from the actor. News flash: Actors work from a script written by a team of other people, they’re given direction from yet more people during the filming process, and even then the action on-screen is further changed in the editing room to adjust the scene’s tone or cut in new dialog because something changed last minute. That character worshipped or hated by millions is actually fifteen badgers in a bag pretending to people. One lucky badger gets to be the face, but there’s so much more under the surface. It isn’t fair to actors when fans refuse to differentiate between who they watch on-screen and the person they meet at a comic-con or happen to pass on the street.
How does confusing a name turn into death threats? I’ve honestly got no answer for you. My brain isn’t wired in a way which allows me to even consider the violent actions some so-called fans have taken. Floods of threats happened several times in the seven years TWD has aired. Lori Holden and Sarah Wayne Callies were constantly under fire during their tenure, blamed for every instance their characters made an ill-advised decision and threatened with sexual violence or death if the character didn’t shape up or get killed off of the show. Children on the show aren’t immune to this bile. When Sam panicked during their escape from walker-ridden Alexandria, fans took to social media to call the young man playing Sam degrading names, accusing him of being mentally handicapped, and even going so far as to write fetish-like theories where a child is mutilated by walkers. Even Yahoo’s TV reviewer chimed in, their article vibrating with indignation that a traumatized child dare act traumatized—uh, what? Brighton Sharbino was the subject of a terrifying online campaign, besieged with death threats after her character Lizzie demonstrated sociopathic tendencies and became a threat to her traveling companions, including an infant.
At comic-cons, actors are often followed on the way to the bathroom, into an elevator up to their to their hotel room, and at one event where the greenroom was on an elevated platform some fans camped out and zoomed in with cameras to watch the actors eat. Norman Reedus was bitten, and while the incident was blown out of proportion, it should have never happened in the first place. Keep your mouths to yourself!
In recent weeks, two TWD actors pulled some or all of their social media accounts. Alanna Masterson took to Instagram a while back to firmly reprimand fandom parasites who felt it their duty to police her postpartum weight. While she did deactivate her account for a bit, it appears she’s active again on the site as of the end of May. I doubt the same will be said about Josh McDermitt. We left McDermitt’s character in a really crappy situation—die like Abraham or work for Negan—and every Eugene fan knew what the choice would be; he’d chose life. But there’s still that unhinged group who launched irate messages at McDermitt, putting Eugene’s betrayal on his head and threatening his life so often, he’s reached a breaking point and will not subject himself to the hate any longer. We honestly don’t deserve McDermitt, guys. In the FB Live video recorded before he closed up social media shop, he ended it by stating he loves his fans. There’s people threatening him daily, but he still acknowledges those who genuinely care about him, the actor.
How can we prevent incidents like this in the future? Well, let’s start by assuring everyone can see the differences between an actor and the character they portray on the big screen, TV screen, or stage.
Photo credit: J Benham from sickpix
This is an unnamed zombie. Their clothing is torn, dirty, bloody, and doesn’t fit properly. What about makeup? Does it suggest they’re going out to coffee with friends? Nope. It screams, “I’m a god damn zombie, bro! Let’s eat some people.” The zombie’s face/arms/etc. are covered in blood/slime/dirt.
This is an actor. Who just so happens to be me, and the same person portraying the zombie above. Note that the clothing is neat-ish. Hair is neatly styled. The actor sits in a natural, friendly position for this headshot. There’s no blood or dirt. There’s no underlying need to devour human flesh. There’s little similarity between the figures in the images other than the eyes.
Given some fan’s theories on how reality works, the fact that I often portray the undead means I should totally be a cannibal, correct? Truth is, I hardly eat meat, let alone desire to take the time to kill a human and process that much flesh for consumption. My hobbies include . . . wait for it . . . using my acting skills to raise money for charity. So tell me again, why would anyone assume an actor in a violent or morally ambiguous role would want to perpetuate the same during their off-time? Acting is emotionally and physically exhausting work. The minute they can drop it and relax, they will. Keep in mind, fake blood is unpleasant at best and a stain-filled, hair-pulling nightmare at worst, and we won’t get into more complicated SFX makeup with its aerospace-quality adhesives and suffocating prosthetic pieces—few actors enjoy the process and certainly wouldn’t endure the extreme discomfort outside of paid gigs. The same can be said for the wardrobe, which is often the same outfit in different stages of disgusting on shows like TWD. Once actors scrape off the makeup and put on their own clothes, that’s it. They’re free elves, no longer controlled by the chaotic chorus—the creative team building their character.
Do yourselves a favor. Make sure you understand the difference between an actor, their character, and the situations in which said actor fully controls the character’s actions—which is rare, despite how many times one hears, “Yeah, he just made that up on set that day.” At the end of the day, the performance the actor delivers isn’t just theirs, but has been manipulated by writers, directors, producers, digital artists, and the editor. Instead of attacking one person over the decisions of many, why don’t you focus your energy on supporting the amazing work they’ve produced? No one, literally no one alive right now needs to endure yet another human being attacking them for situations completely out of their control.
Occasionally, The Walking Dead characters escape the worst fate—death by Grimes incompetence—and move on to make their own safe place in a world gone to the undead. Their numbers are tragically far, far fewer than those the main group has buried over seven seasons. Guess it just got easier to write deaths opposed to penning compelling reasons why anyone would distance themselves from Rick’s flawed leadership. Whereas we mourned the loss of numerous great characters in the Life After Death articles, in this sister-series I’ll take a stab at predicting what happened to our absent survivors, and we’ll catch up with the actors who brought them to life.
This week, we’re covering the rest of the GMH gang.
The Grady Memorial Hospital team was, at best, an example of filling a dire need during trying times. What tainted their good deeds was the cruel bartering system, which quickly degraded into indentured servitude. The rampant abuse of power garnered attention from Beth, and later Rick’s crew, and they were obliged to run moral interference. Amanda took up the leadership mantle after Dawn’s death, opting to use peace instead of force to settle the bloody standoff. But what if some of the hospital’s surviving team broke away when their lush Armageddon life dried up? There was ample potential to sprout dissent in the ranks; power-stripped officers would readily peel off to find their own income once the meds-for-favors business ended. They’d likely leave within days of Rick’s departure, not waiting to see how Amanda’s new plan would work for them. They have high expectations, ones which don’t include giving away medicine because it’s the right thing to do. Living in Atlanta’s outskirts, they’d embrace their mean side and form a brute squad, roadmen taking advantage of anyone desperate enough to check the city for supplies. It’s not the good life high above the undead chaos like at the hospital, but we’ve seen how far ruthless men make it on this show. They’d be okay for a while.
Thankfully, the actors who brought these officers to life are a whole lot nicer. So, where have they been since facing off with walkers?
Officer McGinley, along with is partner Franco, just wanted to keep the status quo—even though it cost numerous people more than they’d bargained for. Hey, everyone has to find a way to survive, right? Kyle Clements brought McGinley to life on the small screen. Not long after he turned in his officer’s uniform, he appeared in Wild Card and appeared alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger and Emilia Clarke inTerminator Genisys. Late 2015, Clements joined the covert side of Marvel when he played a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent on ABC’s super-drama Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. The following year, he appeared on Quarry and played a guard in the young adult drama Allegiant. He’s got a couple projects coming up, so keep an eye out!
For Officer Bello, her job was everything. It only made sense to continue her life-long dream after the zombies took over. Where did good intentions go wrong and she fell in league with someone as selfish as Dawn? Unfortunately, we may never know. Away from the TWD universe, actress Amber Dawn Fox can be found in a few independent flicks, including Descending, Fix It in Post, Levon, Proverbs, and Tarnished Notes. She also appeared in an episode of Secrets and Lies in 2015. Catch Fox in action in the upcoming flick The Haunting of Four Points.
Ever-present Officer Tanaka lent a hand whenever necessary. His caring nature got the best of him when Percy faked breathing problems so Beth could pilfer drugs, completely catching the officer off-guard. Since his time as Tanaka on TWD, Jarod Thompson has worked on a few projects, including a short film, providing a voice for an animated adaptation for the graphic novel The Zombie Kronicles, and for his first film appearance, Thompson dances in A Change of Heart, which stars Virginia Madsen and Aimee Teegarden.