Into the Unknown Vol. 1

Into the Unknown Vol. 1
by R.C. Murphy

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.

Morales and his wife Miranda may be the wisest characters in TWD history. The morning after walkers ambushed the quarry camp, they grabbed their kids—Louis and Eliza—and left before they joined the others in the graves poor, delirious Jim dug. Anyone in the camp with half a brain should’ve left behind the Grimes love-triangle mess, which had in a way compromised the safety of the camp. Grasping at the flimsy straws the CDC trip offered wouldn’t help in the long run, either, and Morales understood this. If his family were destined to die, he wanted to be near kin. I don’t blame him. I’d rather die with family than alone or surrounded by strangers. With meager supplies, Morales and family would have to use the freeway on their way to Birmingham, Alabama in order to scavenge enough to get by on their own for an undetermined time. That near two-hundred mile trip is a breeze nowadays. With the dead out and freeways clogged with abandoned vehicles, it’d probably take an entire day to reach their destination. Did they find their family? I like to think an uncle or cousin escaped unscathed, establishing a safe community for the area, and Morales takes over as their leader. Morales presented himself to Rick not as The Leader of the quarry group, but a person willing to make hard calls to spare everyone else the burden, so it’s only natural he care for his own community.

The charisma Juan Gabriel Pareja displayed in his first scenes on the show is all-natural and requires no acting, something fans have come to learn over the years as he makes appearances alongside TWD alumni at conventions throughout the United States. Pareja has been busy on the small screen, securing a recurring role on Amazon’s Goliath, which also stars Billy Bob Thornton, Maria Bello, and William Hurt. He also co-starred on shows like Castle, The Mentalist, and Hawaii 5-0,. Pareja did some voice acting post-TWD, lending his talents to the video games Battlefield 4 and Dead Rising 3. Catch Pareja in action in Crackle’s Mad Families, alongside Charlie Sheen and Leah Remini.

Viviana Chavez didn’t have an overabundance of screen time while the Morales family camped with the others. Miranda was soft-spoken and supportive of her husband. Often, her time was spent with the camp’s children. On the flipside, Viviana is quite outspoken, and quite busy. Recently, she’s joined forces with several other film creators to create Bed Head Media. She also operates a photography business, Vivify Photography. On the screen, Chavez has been on a slew of fan-favorite shows like Homeland, Reckless, Sleepy Hollow, and Quantico. She’s also landed roles in Nightcrawler, Furious 7, and The Accountant.

As half of the total children in the quarry camp, Noah and Maddie Lomax provided a way to establish some fond memories for Carl before his path took a dark turn after his mother’s death. The Lomax siblings, portraying Morales’ high-energy kids Louis and Eliza, were the reason behind some of the rare light-hearted moments on the show. They’re also the only non-Grimes children on TWD to survive for more than two seasons so far. Maddie has taken time away from acting post-TWD. Noah went on to star in several films, including Safe Haven, 99 Homes and Brave New Jersey to name a few. He also has guest-starring spots on The Middle and Bones.


Everybody Dies in the End: Review for Z Nation 314

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Everybody Dies in the End:
Review for Z Nation 314
by A. Zombie

zn-314-grandpazThe episode rolls onto the screen, following The Man and the hounds on his tail, Addy and Doc. The worst babysitters ever get some help from Grandpa, the zombie Lucy sent off on an unknown mission in the last episode. He’s kinda sweet. Too bad the nice guys always bite the big one in the end on this show. Grandpa does a pretty good job of leading Addy and Doc to the Zona base hidden in Mt. Casey. Only one problem: Their backup was last headed toward Puget Sound. They have no clue if and when help will arrive, so Addy makes an executive decision—she’ll climb the mountain without any gear or training; Doc babysits Grandpa. She seriously spends most of the episode uselessly scaling a mountain when the rest just walk in the front door not long after.

Dr. Sun and Roberta cobble together a communication rig and contact Kaya to get an update on The Man’s location. Thank goodness someone is at Northern Lights manning the computers. Citizen Z and Kaya’s uncle have been missing for twelve hours, and there’s not much hope left for their survival. Updated on the change in pick-up locations, the rescue team shifts gear and heads off. They end up stopping again long before reaching the mountain.

zn-314-kill10ktosavehimAll the drugs in 10k’s system were bound to gunk up his system. The serums constantly battle the infection hidden in Murphy’s bite. In a blink, 10k goes from fully functional to each breath coming out a death rattle. By the time Roberta’s team pushes ahead to Mt. Casey, he’s pretty much toast. Only a Hail Mary can pull him from the drug-induced full-body shutdown. Do they really have time to try an experimental procedure on 10k? Not really. Roberta clearly states that Lucy is the priority, but somehow they all wind up playing doctor instead. How do you save a problem like 10k? Same way Dr. Merch accidentally saved Murphy—kill him. Dr. Sun drops the death bomb on Murphy’s reality with no preamble. When the zombies attacked during the original vaccine procedure, Murphy’s heart stopped. He’s been dead for four years and somehow looks better than some people after a week at the spa. Suddenly his brand of living doesn’t seem so bad, so long as one isn’t squeamish about eating brains.

Yet again we almost lose 10k. The doctor’s plan works, thankfully, snatching him from Death’s greedy paws once more. What will the long-term effects be? No clue. We’re not even sure 10k is technically the same kind of undead as Murphy. There’s no clue what balance of vaccines are in his system. If Dr. Sun doesn’t take the opportunity to study him, as well as Murphy and Lucy, she’s insane.

Curing the world will have to wait a little longer.

Roberta, Doc, and Murphy race from 10k’s newly-revived side to intercept The Man and Lucy before their transport arrives on the mountaintop. Being somewhat sane again, and the rational shot-caller since Murphy’s too emotionally compromised to effectively lead the rescue, Roberta attempts to talk The Man down from his plan. Why break up a family which never had a chance to bond? Why torment a child? It takes no time at all for civil debate to end and the bullets to fly. Murphy uses Roberta to distract The Man, shooting him so Lucy can race to his side.

zn-314-theshotIt’s not the reunion anyone anticipated. Yes, Lucy readily embraces her father. Then she hits him. Several times. There’s also quite a bit of yelling about abandonment and her mother. Yada, yada, yada. There’s no time for personal problems with The Man still fully functional. Murphy and Roberta take him on, but he slips their grasp yet again. The Man hits Murphy and Roberta with the same bullet, in that order. If they survive, Roberta’s life will be incredibly different. As will their personal dynamic. There’s always been an almost loving respect from the pair, which strengthened greatly around the time they passed the Grand Canyon. How much will it deepen when they’re mentally connected? Then again, Roberta may buck against the change like 10k has, which resulted in his death and magical resurrection. Murphy or Roberta may die from the gunshot. We don’t know! The episode ends with the Zona aircraft—actually a United States Airforce vehicle from Zone A—firing a weird weapon at everyone on the mountaintop.

Know who’s not on the mountaintop anymore? The Man, because Addy pushes him to get him away from Lucy and the aircraft. Addy herself goes over the edge, too. Then 5k sprints over and jumps after them, wings outstretched like he can actually fly. I don’t even know what’s going on now. If the kid saves Addy, whatever. I’ll buy it. There’s no use over analyzing anything they do on here.

We’ve got the two lead characters bleeding to death. The team’s sniper just died and came back to unlife as a fully functional Blend, or something. They’ve gained a hormonal teenaged girl who can control zombies—except the Zona guards inhabiting the mountain our heroes are trapped atop, who keep turning in droves as their version of the cure fails. Their main fighter fell off a mountain. They did have two new mouths to feed, but now it’s just Red because 5k took a flying leap. Oh, and let’s not forget the impending doom hovering above the crew.

It’s going to be a very, very long wait until season four. I’ve got no clue how they’ll wiggle out of this corner. Though, it’s not as tight as the corner they wrote themselves into when Murphy nuked the entire USA, so it’s doable. Maybe. Hopefully.


Duel: Review for Z Nation 313

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Duel:
Review for Z Nation 313
by A. Zombie

Z NATION -- "Duel" Episode 314 -- Pictured: Caitlin Carmichael as Lucy -- (Photo by: Go2 Z/Syfy)

Z NATION — “Duel” Episode 313 — Pictured: Caitlin Carmichael as Lucy — (Photo by: Go2 Z/Syfy)

Addy tracks The Man and Lucy to a boatyard. The girl plays with new zombie friends, and has no clue where her captor went. Great. Convenient. Time to run. By the way, anytime in the episode you think Addy and Lucy will get away, they make it no more than half a mile before they’re caught again. It’s beyond frustrating. Not just as a fan, but as someone who really does not enjoy watching the hero get their backside handed to them at all turns, especially when there’s someone more than capable of helping standing ten feet away flapping their hands. I fail to grasp how The Murphy’s daughter, raised on tales with her father’s heroic feats to save humanity, would allow the woman she calls an aunt to be beaten within an inch of her life. It makes no sense that she’d stand up to The Man when they’re alone, but the minute Addy steps on stage, Lucy is an infant needing rescue.

That side thought took wings and flew. Unlike this episode.

zn-313-shoppingtripDuring one of their half-mile trips, the ladies stop to replace Lucy’s too-small clothes. Just what every horror fan wants, ten minutes trapped in a department store with a moody tween and her zombie pals. Lucy has no interest in clothes fit for survival. She has no grasp of danger because the undead, the main threat in the apocalypse, treat her like a princess. So why bother grabbing heavy clothes to protect her skin? Addy does manage to find suitable clothes for Lucy; a leather jacket for protection, as well.

While Lucy laments their so-boring task, she pries Addy for information about her parents, particularly her mother. They have similar conversations throughout the episode, with Addy dancing a jog around the truth for as long as possible. Who wants to be the person to tell a child their father is an egocentric jerk with a messiah complex? On top of that, no one needs to be the person to detail how a child’s mother died. But this is TV, and Lucy harps on her unstable identity because she was raised an orphan. The only way Addy sees to work toward peace of mind for the girl is to stop telling fairy tales. Gone is the king and his pie-baking queen. Lucy knows now that her mother killed a lot of zombies to keep her safe—zombies Lucy sees as innocent since no one knew they just wanted to be near the baby, not kill her.

Lucy’s interactions with the zombies take a bizarre twist in this episode. With her sudden maturity, she’s more in tune with how the undead think instead of just ordering them around like self-propelling dolls. For her, the undead are intelligent companions. Addy believes it’s the girl’s wild imagination at work, failing to understand Lucy isn’t drawing names and life stories from thin air. The girl’s powers are pretty heavy-hitting. Though, whoever decided a glass-shattering scream would be her main method to summon zombies needs to sit in a room listening to nothing but Nickleback turned up to eleven for twenty-four hours. Surely there was another power gimmick which wouldn’t result in a migraine for every viewer. Let’s hope with Lucy’s newest growth spurt taking her to a teenager that the screaming fits will fall to the wayside. She does seem far more like her parents—calm but dangerous when cornered—toward the episode’s end.

zn-313-watersidefightThere’s a couple decent fight scenes between Addy and The Man. As I said before, the episode is one long fight with breaks to teach Lucy how to human. For the most part, Addy hold her own, delivering quite a bit of hurt during their clashes. She even gets the chance to almost kill him, though a bulletproof vest saves his life. But when each fight inevitably ends the same way, with Addy knocked down/out and The Man dragging Lucy away, it’s no longer fun to hop from brawl to brawl. It becomes a chore to watch The Man go from fighting to torturing Addy. There’s a line between incapacitating a powerful character enough to believe they couldn’t mount a rescue at the last minute and beating a woman within an inch of death—dislocating her shoulder and drowning her because it looks cool to nearly kill a lead character. But it gets the point across: No matter what Addy does, she can’t save Lucy alone.

Well, I didn’t think the finale would revolve around Lucy’s abduction, but here we are. I’d anticipated the clash in Murphytown to be what swings us into the fourth season. It just makes sense to send off with a civil war. However, if Zona is finally stepping onstage as a real danger, shifting the plot from Operation Bitemark infighting to joining forces against a new big bad makes sense. But is Zona really enough of a threat if they’ve only got one mercenary at their disposal and Murphy’s built an army? The Man is good; not that good, though.


The Siege of Murphytown: Review for Z Nation 312

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The Siege of Murphytown:
Review for Z Nation 312
by A. Zombie

zn-312-robertasnewlookWhen we catch up with Roberta, it’s much like I anticipated. She’s hyper-aggressive. Everything Roberta does or commands reflects only her mission to obtain Murphy’s blood. The soft-spoken way she handled Dr. Sun is replaced by hard, cold truths spoken with venom when they butt heads about whether the Red Hand should be ordered to avoid shooting civilians. To Roberta, if any person in Spokane will even think to stop her, they’re the enemy, and if they’re at his side then they’ve accepted the risk. It’s not like such battles haven’t taken place worldwide in the apocalypse—the Red Hand held a similar invasion on the toy factory. But I don’t think Dr. Sun has seen as much action as everyone assumes, leaving her often shocked at the lengths these American survivors will go to secure their place in the new world order. She’s seen nothing yet. Roberta is all-in on this game, nothing left to lose. That desperation mixed with grief will be her downfall.

With or without confirmation of Lucy’s location, Roberta will press on with her mission. Using her new army, they cobble a whole plan, not just a half-considered series of actions which may or may not blossom into a plan by the time all’s said and done. At last, we see her potential as a leader. For what it is, the plan has few faults and is pretty simple: Kill the power to the fences, stage a distraction at the front gate, then Roberta and Dr. Sun break in on the opposite side to grab stuff from the lab, not to mention the too-vital blood. And for the most part, the plan works brilliantly. Red Hand members grab a Blend guard, Bowden, from the power station and toss zombies in the water to jam the turbine. Hopper uses Bowden, covered in blood and guts, to fish for the other guards at the front gate. Roberta enters Murphy’s compound without a hitch.

zn-312-murphycontrollshisarmyOutside, it’s a whole ‘nother story. What any of them failed to take into consideration is Murphy’s connection to the Blends, not just the zombies. Naturally, these civilians duck and cover when the Red Hand opens fire. It’s up to Murphy to provide them with courage to return fire. Courage he has in spades, by the way. Murphy comes across a world-class coward, but a coward wouldn’t have fought to retain autonomy of his body after countless attempts to turn him into a lab specimen. A coward would have sighed and given in after the Zona crew pulled the wool over his eyes by dangling Dr. Merch in his path like a quick fix to all his problems. A coward certainly wouldn’t stand in the middle of an invasion to direct his people, then remain in the building. The old Murphy may have run and let his people perish. This Murphy, looking rather dapper with is white hair, actually has morals and they say he must find a way to help everyone live. Even if that means they no longer live as humans.

The physical fighting is pretty boilerplate for an apocalypse show. We say goodbye, and good riddance, to Hopper and several background Red Hands, a few Blends as well—though only one of note dies. Roberta kills Hope Chaffin, but it’s Murphy who lies to her family about her demise. Not a good way to keep your lieutenant’s trust, man.

A mental fight for dominance takes place throughout the episode in several high-tension diplomatic discussions between Roberta and Murphy. The pair spend the entire time one-upping each other. Roberta snags 10k and attempts to break Murphy’s hold. Murphy uses the kid to track her location and offers to turn her into one of his kind. She demands his blood. He shoots off a barb about not being able to trust humans anymore, when she was the only one he trusted back at the Grand Canyon to see how distraught he was after the mass zombie murder. It’s a lot of similar tit for tat emotional battle maneuvers until the final face-off in Lucy’s nursery. In a brilliant move, Roberta uses Murphy’s brain-lust to distract and control him. Great. Awesome. Oh, wait. He’s got a ton of people around him he can summon with just a thought. Roberta goes from on top of the apocalyptic world to sitting at Murphy’s feet in a heartbeat.

Just as quickly, they all forget the war to chase a random airplane.

zn-312-roughlandingIt’s about damn time Citizen Z and Roberta meet face to face. Propelled by the knowledge that they may never make contact through the remaining NSA resources, he flew off with Kaya’s uncle to Spokane. Their landing is perfectly timed, dropping them into the end of the battle with news about something far more pressing than who gets to control Murphy’s future—Lucy’s abduction by The Man. Suddenly it’s all hand on deck. Murphy’s first instinct isn’t to rush off with his people. He asks Roberta to get his girl—it may have something to do with Hope’s final words stating that Murphy loves Roberta—and she agrees to help. With a caveat; they have to work out a deal to make the cure before going to the coordinates Citizen Z has for Lucy’s destination.

No Doc in this episode, sadly. Addy is on The Man’s trail, locating several abandoned vehicles and the zombie road signs Lucy leaves along their route. Kaya is pregnant, so expect her to become even crazier about Simon and Addy’s not-a-thing-ever. Red and 5k aren’t actually dead, or hallucinations, and pop up to save 10k’s sanity once the serum Roberta gave him kicks in. We wrap things up with Murphy and Roberta, plus their assault team, loading into vehicles, ready to fetch Lucy. It’s going to be one heck of a fight when we finally have the four most powerful people in this universe in the same room together.


Second Coming: Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 210

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Second Coming:
Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 210
by A. Zombie

aved-210-pastrubybeatenkellyHenrietta doesn’t get the satisfaction of killing her idiot, Sumerian-reading husband. After he bolts with the Necronomicon, he’s stopped dead in his tracks in his VW Bug. The Prima Donna isn’t alone on her stage anymore. Enter Ruby. Again. This one is blonde. And very angry. It takes her no time to secure the book. Since it’s a short-format show, they waste no time jumping into the temporal-paradox thing by having Ruby meet herself. Past!Ruby is aghast she’d eventually team with El Jefe, seeing it as a betrayal. Now!Ruby speaks her heart, warning herself about her fall from immortality. But all Ruby has wanted is a family, turning her back on her children when she’s moments from bringing them into the world is impossible. Plus, she’s super evil. Ruby kills Ruby. Before she’s too weak, Now!Ruby does a little magic with the Necronomicon one last time to hurt her past self, then hands the burden off to Kelly. They really did try to send the kinder Ruby off with something resembling grace and compassion, giving her and Ash time to say goodbye in their own, bizarre way.

Her sacrifice is worth it the minute Ash’s hand reappears and Kelly announces they’ve actually changed the timeline. But wait, if he has a hand then . . . . Yes! Pablo lives. Kidding. Kinda. TheirPablo is in the demon realm. The Pablo in the trunk? Baal. Dude pulled a Skywalker and buried himself in the nearest warm body to survive. Ash’s vision wasn’t grief or drugs, it was Baal putting the whammy on him so he could find a new Ruby to manipulate. This time, Daddy is present for his spawns’ births. The birthing scene isn’t nearly as traumatic when the book vomits them instead of Pablo.

aved-210-henriettafinalformThere is, of course, only one way to settle this beef between El Jefe and Baal—a fist fight. No powers. Man against man, without all that mumbo jumbo. The stakes? The demonic duo and their progeny scoot back south-side if Ash wins. If he loses? Hell on earth. And the spawn get to eat Kelly. The guys fight each other from one end of the cabin to the other. It takes about two or three destroyed rooms for Baal to use his powers. Ash faces off with Chet, who’s amazingly sober, and the fight is as funny as expected. The second ghost of the night appears not as a huge man living in the now, but as Ash’s sister Cheryl. She’s in and out of the scene so quickly, it’s easy to miss it. The Ghost of Christmas Past is Brock. There’s an agonizing moment where it’s impossible to tell if this is a demon trick or if Brock was brought back to life to screw with Ash’s head—I’m still not clear on it. Somehow we go from mourning Brock again to a chainsaw fight. Ultimately, all the fighting is there for the sight gags and cameos. The real fight is one of wits just when it looks like Baal will win. Ash disarms Ball with his crude humor and uses the demon’s own claw to kill him.

Ruby uses the downtime before her lover’s death to seduce Ruby to the darkside. It doesn’t work, of course. Not even after Ruby tries to beat optimism and loyalty to Ash out of her. Their scenes break up the fight, feeling more like an excuse to hit Kelly or have the demon spawn fondle her than anything which adds to the story.

The Necronomicon has a fit. It summons a portal to hell and in go the baddies. Luckily for us, portals are a two-way street. Like the beautiful phoenix he is, Pablo crawls from the ashes of the cabin. Is it really our little buddy? Ash hits him to make sure. Poor Pablo can’t catch a break. What a way to welcome back a hero.

aved-210-ashappreciationdaySpeaking of, Ash’s longtime service to humanity has finally been recognized. Once they return to the present, the town sets up a day just for Ash. Really, it’s a platform for Ash to finally tell the populace how awful they’ve been to him. They don’t mind the blunt outburst. They will probably mind that he’s moving back to town, since he’ll likely be up to his drunken, drugged-out ways sooner rather than later. Ash isn’t the only new person in town, Past!Ruby took her own time stroll. She didn’t perish in the hellfire which destroyed the cabin, and she wants revenge. It’ll be easier than she thinks, seeing as a bunch of kids just stumbled across the Necronomicon at the cabin’s ruins. Here we go again.

Now begins the wait for news about season three.


Doc’s Angels: Review for Z Nation 311

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Doc’s Angels:
Review for Z Nation 311
by A. Zombie

zn-311-docsnewthreadsTo speak the word, one must first follow it. Sounds really deep, huh? Really, it just means Doc uses a busted old radio to follow the signal coming from this absolutely stunning little mini-castle smack-dab in the middle of nowhere. The woman on-air spends her days reading poetry and old stories. Before we see her, we know she’s an odd duck. Foretelling goes a long way on this show. Even knowing Doc’s walking into danger, it’s still fun to tag along to watch him become horribly uncomfortable with the situation he’s bumbled into.

Because, let’s face it, everything that’s happened to Doc since the Zs rose has been a case of him stumbling into the wrong place at the worst possible time. Yet he’s only gotten blown up once, so we’ll just say Fate is on his side. For now.

The impassioned poet doesn’t live alone. Camilla bunks with Linda and Sara, the latter of whom has a keen eye for style and an industrial Bedazzler. I’ll tell you what, the bedecked zombies are some of the oddest I’ve seen onscreen to date, and I’ve seen the Return of the Living Dead series more times than I care to admit. A few zombies escape Sara’s glittery wrath, but for the most part these Zs have every inch of exposed flesh covered in rhinestones. They look like some weird wraith tasked with protecting a pharaoh’s afterlife treasures.

The zombies aren’t the oddest thing at the ladies’ castle.

zn-311-bedazzledzombieBut we can’t let ourselves get distracted by bejeweled dead guys and gorgeous, yet odd women. Oh, no. There’s a mission to complete, and complete it Doc will before he tends to his . . . uh . . . basic needs. The homemade radio station is Camilla’s haven, powered by the same solar panels keeping the women comfortable despite the dead taking over the world. The minute Doc fails to connect to Citizen Z, we know he’s found yet another trap. And this time he’s all alone. No Addy to save the day or Roberta to snag him from death’s door.

Cheers to whichever sicko in the writer’s room gave the women an Ed Gein twist to their self-sustaining lifestyle. The truth lingers at Doc’s periphery during the in-between scenes where Linda, or Camilla, or Sara, attempt to seduce him. They never give him enough time to focus on what’s really in the house, and he doesn’t much care at first. He’s just glad for warm meals, a bed, and time not spent hiking across the countryside chasing what probably feels like a hopeless endeavor by this point.

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The consent lines are awfully blurred in this episode. No one would be okay with this story line if Addy were the one trapped in a house of killers, plied with booze and weed, and found three aggressive people in her bed looking for sex after she clearly secured her safety for the night. But because it’s Doc, and because he’s our clown, this story is supposed to come across funny. It honestly stops being funny the minute the women are in his bed and he’s resigned to sleeping with them. Someone, somewhere along the line should have thrown a flag on this play and called for writing to tweak it. Make it less rapey—something I thought I’d never have to say about this show.

Aside from the clear failure to understand that consent doesn’t require a gender, the episode works in conjunction with the previous as a pallet cleanser. Killing two leading men in just as many minutes was a huge leap for a show which, until now, has protected the main cast with an iron fist. Each death has been carefully calculated and spread apart enough to not bring down the zany antics. Losing Hector and Vasquez, then prepping for war against Murphy and possibly The Man? There’s some tense action on the horizon. This stuff, Doc’s misadventures and the campy conception fairy tale they told Lucy in ep. 310, is vital to keeping the show’s tone as-is. Otherwise it becomes that other show, where everyone is always miserable and downtrodden. There’s no joy in watching abused people get kicked repeatedly. And what everyone needs right now is a little joy in their life, given the state of the news, not endless reminders of how bad things can get.

Bright side, Doc does get a message to Citizen Z and Kaya. He also escapes with his skin intact, scoring a bonus fluffy pink robe on his way out and liberating a bicycle from a zombie who obviously won’t need it anymore. With Doc’s message in-hand, Kaya makes quick work tracking The Man. Looks like the plan is back on track just in time to start a war.


Home Again: Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 209

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Home Again:
Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 209
by A. Zombie

aved-209-drunkanddrivingwithacorpseHow on earth did they go from mourning Pablo to hopping back to the past? A lot of booze, grief, and a joyride, all topped off with an angeldust-laced joint. With that magical mixture, Ash summons Pablo’s smartass spirit—or has a hell of a hallucination—and they work out another plan which is sure to fail, but the gang will try anything to save their fallen buddy. After Ash scares Ruby into compliance by driving erratically, they use the spell on Pablo’s chest to play the time warp again. Ash didn’t travel back to days of old this time. Well, unless you consider 1982 ancient history.

Yeah, about that reading off Pablo thing—he’s riding shotgun on this mission. They lovingly duct taped plastic bags around his body to keep his insides in . . . side. But to make him easier to transport, they have his feet above his head, and it’s really hard to watch any scene featuring Pablo’s bisected corpse. It’s just gross and absurdly sad. Leaving Ash as the catalyst to get Pablo back is plain mean to fans. The odds of him succeeding are slim. This story arc is probably a reset button to really play with the powers in the Necronomicon, and maybe turn Pablo into a real boy again. They destroyed the book, our main antagonist, only two seasons into a show with no projected end, then its replacement fell to pieces from the pressure before fully transforming. There’s no one to fight on the show unless they allow Ash to do his time travel thing. With Ash tinkering in the past to stop the book before it ruins their lives, he’s bound to fudge up their lives in horrific, yet comedic ways. I’ll take it if we get Pablo back. The balance with this cast is vital to the show’s success. Drop just one of the main group and it’ll never have the same vibe again.

aved-209-ashhenriettahumanEpisode 209 is also the prequel to Evil Dead that everyone has badgered Raimi about for years. We’re dropped into the story not that long before Ash and his sister are supposed to visit the cursed cabin in the woods. Ray Knowby, the man who recovered the Necronomicon in an excavation, is at home with his wife, and a student who’s there to assist translating the book. Seems like a peaceful afternoon at a bookworm’s house. That’s until you see that Henrietta Knowby is leashed to a basement support beam like a rabid Doberman and creeptastic Ray needs more than just translating from his student, Tanya.

Meanwhile, the gang drops off their car and tucks Pablo into the trunk—with a helpful note should he resurrect like Jesus on a random Sunday in the Spring. They barely make it five feet when Evil swoops in, chasing them through the dense forest. The gang splits, Ash finding the Knowby’s cabin and the women end up deeper in the wild portion of forest. For the most part, Ruby and Kelly are there to demonstrate more nods to the films. They bitch about Ash, then are attacked by demonic trees. Teamwork saves the day. If Kelly needs a gig after Ash fixes the timeline (ha!), she could totally open a private eye firm where she hunts demons. Maybe Ruby could help, since she’s without that whole immortal thing now.

We take a beat for another infamous Ash Hits Himself fight scene—this is a nod to AoD when Ash is infected by evil and attacked by miniature duplicates of himself, one of which he ingests, boils, and eventually it becomes the leader of the Deadite army. There’s no doppelganger action in the episode, but the creature Ash vomits sure does have a foul mouth. I think I found my new best friend in that little lump of what-the-hell-is-that. Too bad Ash kills it.

aved-209-raytanyaRemember Henrietta from the original film? That makeup stuck with fans for a long time—worn by franchise regular Ted Raimi. Fast-forward to now. In order to bring a classic monster like Henrietta to life, it requires an army, and there’s two of her to really drive home the transformation between human and deadite. Now that doesn’t mean they actually attempted to mask Ted’s identity once the swap happened. Nope. Not that anyone would want to hide Ted. He set the tone for the creatures in the franchise, seeing him don Henrietta’s skinsuit again is oddly satisfying and something I didn’t know I needed from the show until the minute I realized they had indeed swapped the “living” actress for the man who created the role for the big fight—which isn’t even done. There’s more to look forward to in the finale!

Christmas came early, that’s for sure. It’ll be a merry one if we get Pablo back, too. First, Ash has to defeat the hag—again—and snatch the Necronomicon from a man who’s got nothing left to lose, since his wife’s possessed and all. Piece of cake. Cue nervous laughter.


They Grow Up So Quickly: Review for Z Nation 310

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They Grow Up So Quickly:
Review for Z Nation 310
by A. Zombie

zn-310-teapartyMa and Pa take their sacred duty seriously. There’s no B.S. on that farm when it comes to Lucy’s safety. It’s not completely clear how much control the child has on her adoptive parents, though she’s got enough of her birth father’s mental mojo to speak through Pa and make it almost convincing. One thing we learn for certain, her bond with zombies is far deeper than Murphy’s. He sees them as tools. To Lucy, everyone is a friend, alive or dead. She prefers the dead. They listen far better than her new friends, who are awfully distracted by the idea of leaving the picturesque farm. No one is going anywhere until the lady of the hour is ready. She isn’t. They have to play, first. That’s if her usual playmates—a small zombie horde dressed as pirates, clowns, dolls, and there’s even her very own pink-clad princess complete with pointy, veiled hat. Lucy hosts a rollicking tea party, then they break for a good ol’ game of hide-n-seek. Doc’s it. They all survive mostly intact. One zombie-doll steps out of line, forcing Doc to give it mercy before it ate his face. This is where we see the flaw in Murphy’s cloistering plan—for all her powers, Lucy doesn’t understand death or how far her control over it reaches. This may be something biting everyone’s backside once they get her to Spokane.

zn-310-lucyaftertortureIf they get her to Spokane. The z-doll’s final death sends Lucy bolting into the woods. Why is it always the woods? In said trope moment, Lucy’s cornered by an Ender. So accustomed to foul looking/smelling people listening to her, it’s almost lights out for the girl before Addy steps in to chase off the Ender. The fight is fast, ending with Addy pulling a dominance move to frighten the Ender. That growl made me laugh, but it’s to show Addy’s further decent into a killing machine post-Mack. With the direction they’ve taken Addy lately, it wouldn’t be surprising for Roberta to be written out or her role minimalized to follow Addy’s one-woman zombie extinction team.

zn-310-conceptionfairytaleOne near-miss isn’t enough when dealing with Murphy’s kid. Oh no. Just like her father, everyone wants to grab Lucy and use her blood. Someone else lurks on the farm, waiting for the right moment. The Man got the information he needed when he infiltrated Murphyville, and saw his threats through. Just when Lucy finally allows Doc and Addy to take her, plus Ma and Pa, to Washington, The Man K.O.s Addy, stabs Ma and Pa, and takes the conveniently fully-stocked vehicle, with Lucy in the backseat.

Murphy is going to be so pissed.

zn-310-knifegameHe’s got a lot on his plate. 10k’s continuing behavior problems. Incoming blends to wrangle. A child to recover. Adapting what meager technology they have into something more coherent. Murphy’s due to hit another breaking point from the stress, but it’s not in this episode. The action we see in Spokane centers on mental control. We’ve reached an impasse in 10k’s imprisonment. Murphy can either break 10k, or dispose of him and use the resources to bring in someone malleable to his plans. He’ll never admit it, but Murphy has a soft spot for the kid. Which is why he bulldozes into 10k’s brain, forces him to play a knife game, and pushes a new name/mission into the mental oatmeal that’s left after so much abuse. Thomas—10k—is off, with a freshly bandaged hand, at the episode’s end. To where? Not where Murphy truly needs him, which he figures out too late as Lucy’s tortured screams invade her father’s mind. Their bond is strong, only muted by their distance. If they were together, it’d be hard to tell where one ended and the other began. Murphy can’t get his hands on Lucy or he’ll up their power base exponentially. But he can’t allow The Man to kidnap her, either. Maybe Doc and Addy will recover Lucy first.

Like it’s ever that easy on this show.


Ashy Slashy: Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 208

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Ashy Slashy:
Review for Ash vs Evil Dead 208
by A. Zombie

aved-208-ghostbeatersarriveEpisode 207 was the fantasy. A world Baal controlled almost completely, save flickers from the real world clueing Ash in from time to time while his gourd cracked from demonic mind games. This week, we peek behind the Wizard’s curtain to see how he pulled it off. How, exactly, did Baal make the delusion grounded enough to convince the poster boy for Stubborn Jerkface he’d imagined the last thirty years? There’s a little truth in every lie. A stand-in was brought in to act as Kelly and the facility’s security squad provided any necessary corpses. The icing on the cake? Linda is really there to sell the delusion story.

aved-208-lookieunicornThomas drags his wife and daughter further into his mess for the last time. He’s the sole reason Linda is at the asylum. Lacey is held as a bargaining chip over her parents’ heads, either they cooperate with the plan or she pays. That’s the problem with demonic deals, you can’t trust the sulfur-reeking bastards further than you can throw them. Lacey goes the way of the dodo, returning as a deadite to stalk the gang while they search for Ash on this doomed rescue mission. Pretty sure all the good deadite one-liners for the season are in Lacey’s dialog, especially during the final father/daughter moment. Turns out Thomas does have a spine. Unfortunately, Lacey left it on the floor for Linda to stumble across. There’s a few magical moments with the young deadite before Kelly blows off her head.

That’s two messy secondary characters settled. Is the writers’ bloodlust slaked?

Not. At. All.

aved-208-kellyfightspuppetPlot twist! Ash’s plan actually works for once. What plan? The one he laid out before Ruby gave Pablo’s Necro-backside a kick to find the anti-Baal incantation. Yeah, like anyone actually thought he was serious when he said it’d be as simple as hiding a pet tracker on a demon. Sure, Ash went along with the tracker, but hey, it works. They have the book and the demon in the same spot. It’s not that simple, though. The danger to Pablo is real. Ruby is Captain Charming while they search the asylum, failing to reassure Pablo about his odds at every turn. On the other hand, Kelly is so optimistic, I thought she’d kiss Pablo at one point—except then we’d know how this would all end.

Pablo gives it his all, gets beat around a bit, too. But he sends Baal off in a spectacular splat, damn the odds. Or not. Baal’s final mind game comes in the form of leaving the Ghostbeaters wondering how to move on without their little buddy Pablo. Unless there’s immense magical interference, Pablo can’t come back from being bisected at the belly button. A shame. He really is my favorite on the show. Always on the bright side. There to lend a hand, especially since Ash only has one real hand. Dependable and kind, Pablo is—was—the perfect buffer for Ash’s abrasiveness.

Where do they go after killing off a main character and the bad guy? I’m not psychic, but I’m going to assume there’s some pretty hefty repercussions to a half-formed, deceased Necronomicon laying on an asylum floor. Plus, Ruby isn’t a saint. This is her chance to reclaim what her children and Baal took from her. Crap will hit the fan again soon enough.


Hearts Still Beating: Review for The Walking Dead 708

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Hearts Still Beating:
Review for The Walking Dead 708
by R.C. Murphy

Watch out, there! Episode spoilers lurk in this review.

It took seven additional episodes for Rick to realize a woman was right. Not only that, Michonne has echoed the sentiment the entire time, only backing down when he’d momentarily convinced her things would work out. Rick is surrounded by women telling him to stop being a door mat. Does he listen? Nope. Not until several other people kick the bucket and Negan gets the chance to show off for the people who didn’t witness the murders Rick obviously failed to explain in great detail. Are the writers intentionally adding misogyny to Rick’s bag of tricks? Why take seven episodes to do the only thing which makes sense, unless it’s to prove Rick can think for himself without some chick butting in? Maggie calls for war and she’s too emotional to make a rational decision. Rick has two friggen corpses right outside his house and when he jumps to, “We have to declare war,” it’s completely natural to believe he’s in his right mind. Because men handle death better. Because Maggie’s marriage deemed her an emotional risk. Because the writers have no clue how to actually cobble together an interesting war story which doesn’t revolve around men with guns at the helm. I called it weeks ago; Maggie should be the general in this army. Rick is so wishy-washy, he sparkles. That is not who you want leading the charge against Negan.

twd-708-aratrositaEveryone on a suicide mission, please stand up. Whoa. That’s a lot of ill-advised—nah, you know what? It’s dumb. It’s idiotic to have half the main fighting force split and scamper off like little mercenary rats. Defying the odds, they all head in different directions, but still manage to find what they want. Carl didn’t want to be marched home by his shirt collar, that’s for sure. But he still got a couple shots off in Negan’s presence, and let’s not forget the man himself admitted to being afraid of Carl’s particular brand of crazy. Rosita got the easiest commute when Negan happened to show up just as she’s obtained her precious bullet. And, as predicted, she throws away her shot. Well, unless you count Lucille’s non-fatal wound. On top of blowing her chance to kill Negan, Rosita more or less hands Eugene to the Saviors—a new bullet-making toy Negan happens to find on the road—and Olivia’s skull is ventilated by Arat during the search for the bullet-maker. The “Let’s Kill Negan” chemical isn’t just in the water in Alexandria.

twd-708-carolmorganRichard interrupts a short catch-up chat between Morgan and Carol, petitioning her to appeal to Ezekiel about going to war—though it took him ten minutes to get to the point. Carol’s reaction is exactly what we expect; she’s out of the war game and just wants to be left alone to read on the couch. Morgan isn’t all-aboard the war train, either. Richard won’t let the idea go, and with how the episode ends, he’ll get his war soon enough. Michonne is the only one to leave on a suicide mission and come back without taking a shot at her target, because she chose not to endanger herself or her people by foolishly attacking an armed body large enough to steal the stubborn from her spine. The only action Michonne sees after kidnapping the Savior, Isabelle, is when the woman instructs her on the best method of survival—shoot Isabelle, take the truck, go home, and hide the truck so well no Savior ever finds their missing property and comes for answers.

twd-708-mandateOn the other side of the fence, there’s people like Gabriel, who just want to keep everyone alive and as happy as possible. We also have the token sympathizer, Spencer. It doesn’t take long for him to figure out the game, especially after the blonde Savior, Laura, all but shags him there by the truck for a job well done fetching supplies. With his newfound momentum, Spencer spruces up for a man-date with Negan, complete with a bottle of whiskey in tow. The pair hit it off so well, they opt to play a game of pool out in the gorgeous weather. The town gathers to watch, and it does not a thing to still Spencer’s tongue. What’s galling is the writers failing to have anyone step up and tell Spencer to shut his entitled, bratty mouth. Yes, Negan shuts him up in his way, but there’s a couple dozen people standing around who know Rick can’t realistically be held accountable for the Monroe family’s deaths. It’s ludicrous to bring most of the cast in and use them as wallpaper for a scene we see coming fifteen minutes in advance. Mix it up a little. Want to show dissention in Rick’s ranks? Use the crowd in the scene, not as props. Let them speak for once. Why drag around the remaining handful of Alexandria characters and not use them? Looking back at seasons past, there’s only one or two people left from each main safe-haven Rick visited. Why? Because character development is a luxury one doesn’t possess when driven by a network to make everything bigger and better. More blood! More fighting! But, god, please no more getting to know the guy who lives three houses down from Rick. He might just have some insight, but we’ll never know because he could be replaced with a cardboard standee and it’d be just the same as it is now. Unless that guy goes batty and kills everyone, he’ll never get a chance to be more than a generic-named background noisemaker.

In the episode’s big moment, they brought everyone together in Alexandria to silently watch Spencer do the dumb thing and get dead. Surprise. Not. Snooze.

Pro tip, writers: Stop holding the dreaded relationship conversation right before you plan to kill a character. It gives the death away every single time.

Rick and Aaron bring supplies, but fail to remove a rude note from one tub. Aaron receives the punishment for such insolence while Rick wrings his hands. Who does that? Who finds an offensive note and thinks, “Let’s leave this here for the psychos to find.” The same guy who keeps racking up debt from an overlord because he can’t keep his people in line. We’ve known for years that Rick isn’t a leader. Spencer just went about trying to depose him the wrong way.

twd-708-warcouncilarrivesMichonne comes back to tell Rick they have to kill Negan. He has the gall to say he knows. See my first paragraph again if you need a refresher on, “The friggen man just can’t admit the women are right.” We end the episode in Hilltop with a lot of hugs. Why, though, is there two minutes of awkward reaction shots before they head inside? Why is Rosita with the war council when she screwed up so much? Do we care that Daryl and Jesus made it to Hilltop? Nah, I care more that Daryl bludgeoned Fat Joey for no real reason while pretending his decision to murder was better than any decision Joey would’ve made in his future—all a pretense to bring Daryl back to his more aggressive form, which won’t work when the character has no substance to work from.

They’re promising war when TWD returns in February. I’ll assume all the gut-wrenching moments the actors and producers warned us about are in the final episodes, because nothing I saw in these eight wowed me and made me think anyone in the TWD camp gave a crap about making a quality story.