Election Day: Review for Z Nation 308

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Election Day
Review for Z Nation 308
by A. Zombie

zn-308-inthelimoThe bad-news pair catch up with Doc and Addy near Wall Drug Store—which is apparently a battleground territory for the budding post-z political system. As expected, they’re riding in style, complete with an armed and gorgeous escort. President Sketchy—yes, you read that right—liberated the limousine from the President Bill Clinton collection at a museum in Little Rock, Arkansas. Sketchy proves he’s a people’s president, giving Addy and Doc a ride after their likewise-liberated Murphymobile overheats and keels over on the roadside. Must mean they’re really good friends. Doc and Addy might feel differently, but they’re stuck now as the presidential motorcade rolls into Wall Drug Store for the next stop on the campaign trail.

Funny, I don’t remember sexy dance routines as part of the typical political process. Then again, after the last year, anything is possible.

After coaxing the skittish locals from their hiding places with his sweet moves, President Sketchy wins over the crowd with half-truths, and a promise to build a giant wall around the north-west quarter of the USA. All the people have to do is donate to the cause. People who have so little, they don’t even have a clean water source within walking distance, and a serious number of them are falling ill by the minute.

zn-308-lannisterBefore Doc and Addy force Sketchy to do anything about the more immediate problem, another claimant to the deserted USA throne waltzes into Wall Drug Store. John L. Lannister and Sketchy are probably the worse candidates for the job. They’re full of hot air, empty promises, and so much ego it’s a wonder they fit it inside a limo. This is the moment in the show where they really unleash the full potential of the political-frustration-turned-humor brewing in the writer’s room. Hell, there’s even a jab at TWD when Sketchy and Skeezy argue about the newcomer, revealing they thought Lannister died— no one could’ve survived being surrounded by zombies near a dumpster! Yeah, but it only got that TWD character a little further down the road before he became a splat on the dirt. Lannister’s odds aren’t in his favor.

In the name of democracy, the presidential hopefuls agree to hold a debate, followed by a vote for the first post-z POTUS. Addy asks a load of hard-hitting questions, which the candidates dodge with Neo-like ability. They’re as skilled with words as they are at hand-to-hand combat—which is to say, they can’t even give each other a black eye, let alone convince anyone to follow their ideals for a renewed nation. The debate ends abruptly when a man from Rosebud, the town where Wall Drug Store gets their water, rushes in to tell them the entire town turned Z. The messenger does the same, leading the candidates to race to kill his reanimated corpse first. Neither succeed. Addy saves them.

zn-308-thedebateIn Rosebud, it’s bad. The entire population is undead, or committed suicide. Here’s a handy lesson for survivalists: Filters do no good if a zombie head is crammed in the system. Not only is Rosebud a ghost town, but the tainted water is what’s killing the WDS citizens, as well. Good thing they have a doctor on-hand. Kinda. What Doc lacks in in-depth medical knowledge, he makes up with the sheer ability to pay attention. Doc is a sponge, absorbing helpful tidbits here and there. Sure, those helpful tips get lost in the z-weed haze occasionally, but Doc’s always able to make things happen for the better. In this case, he realizes the simplest path is the best and treats the zombie remnants in the water like poison. All it takes is some activated charcoal down the hatch to counteract the urge to chomp on someone.

The people are healing, no thanks to either presidential candidate. There’s still the vote to handle. Or they could focus on the water issue and do something constructive with the attention they’ve grabbed . . . . Nope. Sketchy and Lannister opt to use Doc’s news about the tainted water as another barb to jab each other with while doing nothing to enact any change. The people do as bid and begin the voting process, anyway. What can they do? Their government has spoken.

Angry townspeople from a nearby city speak louder, though. They expose the hucksters and their nation-wide scam to rob impoverished people of their meager supplies while doing no actual work to fulfill their promises. The argument devolves into a fight, which morphs into a zombie attack. Sensing no winner in the situation, Addy and Doc steal the limo and run after ensuring the WDS Mayor has the zombies handled. That leaves Sketchy, Skeezy, and Lannister to flail and mudsling over their joint loss. Literally. They’re left wallowing in mud while Addy and Doc ride off in style. Fitting style, at that. The people at Wall Drug Store unanimously wrote-in Doc as the new President of the United States. I’m all aboard with that plan, man.


Life After Death, Vol. 8

Life After Death Vol. 8
By R.C. Murphy

Unfortunately, the reality during an apocalyptic scenario is that most people will not make it far with their families intact—these solo folks tend to fall to the wayside on the show quite often. Over the course of season two, we said goodbye to several mainstays from the original camp crew. We also got to know, then lost horrifically, a couple newcomers who could have gone far had they not become walker lunch.

Browse photos from the set of the two-hour series premiere of Heroes Reborn.

Browse photos from the set of the two-hour series premiere of Heroes Reborn.

Otis was doomed from the get-go, to be honest. First, he accidentally shot Carl, then he volunteered to go on a supply run with Shane as backup. The latter, despite Otis attempting to make up for the accident, was probably one of the worst ideas throughout season two. He didn’t know Shane like we do. Didn’t realize that man would do literally anything to keep Lori happy. Anything meant hobbling Otis to provide cover for himself so he could escape a walker horde and deliver the supplies.

Pruitt Taylor Vince has one of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces, so it’s no surprise that after his short stint on TWD, Pruitt rolled right along with his career. Since hanging up his hat as Otis, Pruitt has filmed nearly a dozen film projects, including Beautiful Creatures, Bending the Rules, 13 Sins, Broken Blood, and Homefront alongside Jason Statham and Winona Rider. As Casper Abraham, Pruitt helped introduce everyone to a new generation of super-powered people on Heroes Reborn. Over the years, he’s had a reoccurring role on The Mentalist as J.J. LaRoche. He took a turn on HBO’s True Blood during the show’s sixth season, playing Dr. Finn, a psychologist who develops a fixation for Pam while she’s held in a vampire concentration camp. Pruitt’s next project is The Life and Death of John Gotti, also starring John Travolta and Kelly Preston.

Jeffrey DeMunn as Chuck Rhoades Sr. in Billions (Season 1, Episode 1). - Photo: JoJo Whilden/SHOWTIME - Photo ID: Billions_101_0466.R

Jeffrey DeMunn as Chuck Rhoades Sr. in Billions (Season 1, Episode 1). – Photo: JoJo Whilden/SHOWTIME – Photo ID: Billions_101_0466.R

No one, and I mean no one was prepared to say farewell to Dale Hovarth after only two seasons. Too much of the group’s stability relied on Dale to be the voice of reason. Not to mention, Jeffrey DeMunn has a calm about him in the role which reaches out to the audience. The fact that it was actions within his own group which caused Dale’s death is no accident of writing. They had to kill their conscience early in order for Rick to spiral to the point they are now. Doesn’t mean I have to like Dale’s death, though.

Freed from playing a nomad in a broken-down RV, DeMunn went on to guest star on The Good Wife, The Affair, The Blacklist, and Divorce. He teamed up with TWD creator Frank Darabont for TNT’s Mob City, co-starring Jon Bernthal and Milo Ventimiglia. DeMunn has a reoccurring role on Showtime’s Billions. He plays Charles Rhoades Sr., father to Paul Giamatti’s character. The senior Rhoades spends his time being obscenely wealthy and meddling in his son’s life. Billions has been renewed for a second season, starting February 2017.

BernthalDaredevilIt was no great secret back when season two aired that I could not tolerate Shane’s overly-aggressive nature, especially when it came to how he treated Lori or he decided to make safety decisions for the group, which always ended in bloodshed. Those very things lead to his death at the hands of his best friend. Oh and then, wonderful man that he was, the kid he considered a son had to kill his reanimated corpse.

But just because I couldn’t stand Shane doesn’t mean I didn’t love Jon Bernthal’s performance on the show. This is one man who left TWD and, zoom, his career skyrocketed—it’s still on a straight shot to the moon, too. Unless you’ve lived under a rock, you know Bernthal was brought into the Marvel universe to play Frank Castle on Netflix’s Daredevil. His jaw-dropping performance in the episode “Penny and Dime” pretty much guaranteed he’d land a spin-off. The Punisher hits Netflix during November 2017, which is not nearly soon enough. Need another Bernthal fix before Mr. Castle gets his own show? He also appeared in numerous films and shows since leaving TWD—Snitch, The Wolf of Wall Street, Fury, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and Mob City, to name a few. His other upcoming projects include Pilgrimage with Richard Armitage, The Accountant alongside Ben Affleck, Sweet Virginia, Baby Driver, and Wind River.

JAMcCuneBlairWitchJimmy wanted desperately to be the hero he felt Beth deserved to protect her gentle soul during the apocalypse. In a way, he fulfilled his dream, but at too-high a cost. We mostly saw Jimmy in the background, helping the Greene family tend to the farm or giving Beth emotional support. He did get his hands dirty gathering walkers to keep in the barn where they couldn’t attack anyone—until Shane let them all out. During the chaos after Shane was killed, walkers swarm the Greene farm. Jimmy was in the thick of it, using Dale’s RV as cover to shoot walkers, then driving it over to help Rick and Carl get off the barn roof. Unfortunately, an RV is not a tank. They broke in and Jimmy became supper.

James Allen McCune is just as generous and kind as Jimmy, but still has a heartbeat. Post-TWD, he went on to appear in Snitch, Congratulations!, and the made for TV movie Anna Nicole. James joined the cast for Showtime’s Shameless during their fourth season as Matty Baker. In some seriously exciting—and surprising—news, James was introduced as the star of a brand new film, The Woods, which is actually Blair Witch, a direct sequel to The Blair Witch Project. James plays brother to Heather, the missing woman from TBWP. The film’s real title and plot was made public during San Diego Comic-Con when the cast and filmmakers were in attendance to screen the film. Blair Witch will have a wide release on September 16th after showing at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 11th.


The White Light: Review of Z Nation 202

It’s glorious. It’s bloody. Best yet, it’s simplistic. No complicated or contrived tension between the characters. The plot rolls out naturally. Are there parts which don’t make a lick of sense? Of course. This show is written for the most part to parody other shows which take themselves far too seriously at times. But that’s the beauty of this show. It’s not bogged down by things like physics.

Citizen Z is still on the run from the NSA zombies loose in the base. He left Dog alone in the command center with orders to stay no matter what. But where’s Citizen Z going? To the weapons locker, of course. Hilariously, even though he emerges from the storeroom with two full bags of guns, he still relies mostly on a baseball bat to dispatch any zombie in his path on the way back to Dog.

Z NATION -- "White Light" Episode 202 -- Pictured: (l-r) Matt Cedano as Vasquez, Pisay Pao as Cassandra -- (Photo by: Daniel Sawyer Schaefer/Go2 Z Ice/Syfy)

Matters aren’t quite so easy for everyone else. The broadcast from Citizen Z turns the small town in Wyoming into the O.K. Corral. Everyone and their psychotic mother is on the hunt for Murphy. A few factions are in play for this episode. First, the bounty hunter introduced in episode 201, Vasquez. Then there’s the Skull Face guys—who never stand a chance. The instant Vasquez sees them, he opens fire. That sets the tone for the entire episode. It’s a free-for-all. Every moving body has a target on their forehead, living or dead. There’s also Soccer Mom, fond of a shotgun loaded with less lethal bean bag shells. Her luck runs out after landing a shot to Murphy’s gut; Cassandra—still very much feral—eats her for lunch. Escorpion, played by Emilio Rivera (Sons of Anarchy), uses a rocket launcher as his weapon of choice. His scenes are few and far between, but the damage he does with that launcher are felt for most of the episode after he deafens 10k with a blast. The last bounty hunting crew to get face time are the Rednecks. They’re just dumb enough to fail right in the pursuit of The Murphy.

Throughout the episode, the main crew get their backsides handed to them. This provides odd little flashbacks for everyone. Addy remembers riding her bike down a suburban street. Citizen Z recalls falling in a park and being scooped up by his mother for comfort. Roberta’s subconscious takes a dip in a pool. Doc doesn’t flashback, he has an out-of-body experience. While floating near the ceiling, he watches Redneck #2 strangling him, then spots a letter opener on top of a bookshelf and tells himself to knock it down. Murphy’s vision is, of course, smoking a joint with a beautiful woman.

Z NATION -- "White Light" Episode 202 -- Pictured: (l-r) Russell Hodgkinson as Doc, Keith Allen as Murphy -- (Photo by: Daniel Sawyer Schaefer/Go2 Z Ice/Syfy)

During the chaos, everyone eventually ends up in the world’s most depressing motel. This place was sad in its heyday. After the apocalypse, it became the place where happiness goes to die alone and forgotten. Redneck #1 and #2 are taken out by Vasquez and Doc in the motel. After #1 collapses, Vasquez decides to join forces with Roberta. She doesn’t say no; he just saved her life. Everyone is scattered in the building. Mack and Addy split up to avoid zombies and find Murphy. He goes down, she up. What neither could predict is the insane number of zombies drawn to the motel thanks to their prey. Caught alone in the stairwell, Mack is swarmed. The nearest door is chained shut. Addy does her best to get to him, but it’s too late. She stays with him, watching the zombies bite him, until he turns and she gives him mercy. Everyone else makes it to the roof where Murphy contemplates jumping. He and Roberta argue, but it’s mostly for show. Murphy jumps, landing in a swimming pool lined with zombies.

He doesn’t make it far. Angry, Addy tracks him down like a bloodhound. She yanks him from the van and beats him until the others drag her off of him. If Murphy hadn’t run from them, Mack would be alive. It’s a harsh truth they all realize the second Roberta asks, “Where’s Mack,” and Addy breaks down. Murphy’s fight leaves him in an instant. Even Cassandra complies when 10k motions her to climb into the van.

ZN202 MackBittenMack’s death is only the second main character loss on the show with any serious impact. It was just assumed he’d continue to be there for Addy even though they aren’t a couple. He made the trip to the compound she called home to make sure she survived the nuclear blasts. No one told him to check on her, he just did it. Mack was the one to suggest they rejoin Roberta’s mission to deliver Murphy to California. As much as he got in the way, he also helped round out the group.

They’re not down a fighter, though. Vasquez hops in the van with everyone at the end of the episode. His plans to sell Murphy to the highest bidder must be out the window after seeing how far the living will go to collect the bounty and promised cure. A solo bounty hunter won’t make it a block with Murphy in custody and he knows it. He also knows the nuclear fallout will make driving westward impossible. They have to skirt the worst damage and hope to find a clear way to the lab. If the lab hasn’t been blown up like so much else in the US.


Rising from Oblivion

Review of “In the Flesh” S2E1
By A. Zombie

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We’re still trucking along with BBC’s “In the Flesh” here in the ZSC command center. By “we,” I mean I am still watching. Everyone else is busy cleaning weapons and ignoring my requests for show time snacks. Would it hurt them to take a little time to bring in a leg of someone delicious? Really, sometimes I feel trapped in this gig. What’ve the folks in Roarton been up to during the series break? Nothing good.

From BBC:

Kieren Walker, in the now seemingly PDS-friendly world of Roarton, is keeping his head down, working soul destroying shifts in the Legion pub and squirrelling money into his ‘escape fund’. The only problem is that he can’t escape himself.

In the wider world, tensions are re-igniting. The radical pro-living party, Victus, is whipping up hatred and the Undead Liberation Army is retaliating violently. When Victus MP Maxine Martin enters Roarton, Kieren is dismayed, sensing that danger is encroaching. And when Vicar Oddie violently clashes with her, it seems Kieren’s instincts are right.

Kieren is also overjoyed by the return of his BDFF (best dead friend forever), Amy Dyer, though his delight is cut short by a tense encounter with Amy’s opinionated beau, ULA member Simon. When Amy and Simon reveal the prejudice still bubbling under the surface in Roarton, Kieren knows he needs to leave the village immediately.

The episode opened with a supposed ULA attack on a busload of innocent bystanders—including the man who killed Bill Macy during the first series finale and his young son. This is only the second time they’ve shown the effects of the Blue Oblivion drug, and it doesn’t look like a good time for anyone involved. Blue Oblivion negates the effects of daily government mandated Neurotripteline treatments. PDS sufferers must use the treatments in order to pass from the rehab facilities back into the world. Without, they’re considered rabid and put down or held in rehab and forced to receive treatment. The legalities around PDS abuse isn’t clear. How many rights do they retain after release from rehab? It’s clear they are capable of finding jobs, as Kieren has once the village calmed down and accepted the returned citizens. They even disbanded the HVF and declared the village a weapons-free zone. To protect themselves or their PDS citizens? Who knows? It’s just a good thing the guns are gone, some of the former HVF “heroes” can’t let go of the past and are itching to stir up trouble everywhere they go. Dead guys can land jobs, but these HVF members can’t be bothered to try, blaming Kieren and his kind for their unemployed status. Not their bad attitudes, lack of hygiene, and lack of motivation to get off their backsides.

p01xkxfnDespite the tension rife within almost every character interaction, the tone for the second series is, so far, much lighter. Even the color pallets are brighter. Except Kieren. He’s still a blob of drab compared to Amy’s vibrancy. Part of it may well be that he wants to blend in as much as possible. Fall into the background, work, earn money, and get gone before people realize he’s still there. Still the loner. And most importantly, still the boy who killed himself and rose from the dead. How often each day does Kieren curse his family for burying him instead of cremating him, as he’d requested? His parents are coping. Slowly. Sue fell back to her role of, “don’t rock the boat,” “everything is normal.” Steve’s adjustment period is taking much longer. He’s at the over-sharing stage of talk therapy. Anything and everything bothering him comes out his mouth. Unfortunately, it’s usually something that pains Kieren or embarrasses him. Jem, unlike the others, is having the hardest time moving on. She’s back in school. A loner now, like her brother. Worse is the PTSD she won’t talk about with anyone, but it’s begun to affect her life day and night.

Maxine Martin is a new/old face in Roarton, with a completely unknown agenda. She’s supposedly there on official business, but there’s glimmers of something under the surface of what she’s saying to the Vicar and others in the village. She’s hunting for something. Or someone. And her fixation on the PDS sufferers in town, especially Kieren, is unsettling. Could she be connected to Lisa, the girl Kieren ate before Jem found him and sent him to the rehab facility? Is she searching for a loved one who was buried in Roarton, hoping they rose and simply weren’t found or reported? We have no clue. It is clear, though, that she’ll do whatever necessary to obtain information and keep her cards close to her chest about her true intentions. Just ask the Vicar. Oh, wait . . . . That ship may have sailed.

So far, this series of “In the Flesh” is much more complex than the last. Can’t wait to see how it unfolds over the next five episodes.


Nothing But Lies

Review of “In the Flesh” S1E2
By A. Zombie

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These little visits with the not-so-nice people of Roarton have become the highlight of my week. What are they up to in the second episode of BBC’s “In the Flesh”? Lies, lies, and—surprise—more lies.

From BBC:

Feeling trapped at home, Kieren escapes to his grave where he is reunited with his old hunting partner, Amy Dyer, who persuades him to take a dangerous day trip. After fleeing when he is spotted, Kieren discovers that Rick, his former best mate who died in Afghanistan, is back in town and is persuaded by Amy to go and see him at partisan local pub, The Legion. After an awkward reunion, Kieren finds himself on an HVF hunting mission in the woods, where the night patrol has reported live rabid zombies roaming free.

Which liar to tackle first? Might as well make that liars and point out the Swiss cheese logic fueling the Walker Family. Kieren is being treated like a mental case from the good ol’ days, back when the mentally disturbed were treated with ice baths, overdoses of opiates, and left to wallow in their filth until such time as they became mindless zombies, easily manipulated by doctors. Once they were free from the asylum, their families secreted them away. A dirty family secret best left locked in the cellar. Jem, despite still hating her brother for killing himself, knows the lies their parents feed Kieren are wrong and will only hurt him. She’s constantly talked over in this episode, and at some points walked out of the room before she says anything to undermine the fantasy Sue and Steve have created for their new way of existing. They’re living in a yacht on the Nile, so far removed from reality it’s going to bite them in the backside like a starving crocodile.

IN-THE-FLESHWhich is exactly what happens when they leave Kieren alone in the house for the afternoon. He gets cabin fever and takes a walk. To a cemetery. Because all well-adjusted zombies like to take a stroll to their own grave. Except Kieren isn’t well-adjusted. He’s an emotionally traumatized and bullied teen who thought he’d finally ended his pain when he cut his wrists four years ago. Not only did he return, but was dumped right back into the same awful place which forced him to take his life. And this time there’s no way out. No friend to buffer him from the cruelest alpha-male jockstraps walking around Roarton. He’s an artist, or was before his death. Small town men don’t understand him. Small town women don’t trust him to be capable of providing for them. Aside from his seriously dysfunctional and lying family, he’s alone.

Enter Amy—who’s a few crumbs short of a cookie and doesn’t care. Really, she doesn’t. In a breath of fresh, possibly insane air, she swoops in and saves Kieren from being, well, himself. She points a shining mirror at his life. Questions everything he’s done since returning home. Amy even invades his home, spills a bunch of lie-abolishing truth about PDS people on his family’s dinner conversation, and makes him seriously think about his quality of life and the lies he’s allowed his parents to live in.

“They don’t like admitting that I’m—”

“What? The undead?”

“Yeah.”

“Shouldn’t they start getting used to it?”

“No.”

“Shouldn’t you start getting used to it?”

She’s also the only person who’s stopped and really talked to Kieren about his suicide. Not blame him and hate him like Jem, but try to understand why he did it. Show a little sympathy for the decision he made. And then point out how stupid he was to waste the life he’d been given, when she’d had no choice—dead from leukemia before ever truly living.

Every PDS person returning to normal life needs their own Amy. Rick Macy, son of HVF leader Bill Macy, could learn a lot from her. From the second he steps off the transport truck, he’s telling similar lies to the one’s the Walkers peddle with every single breath. Rick tries too hard to be normal, to make his father believe nothing’s changed—because Rick knows the second he acts like a zombie, his father won’t respect him. Zombies are not normal. They won’t make their father’s proud. They can’t continue the family name. What good is a dead person to a man like Bill Macy? So Rick lies. He commits self-harming actions, like drinking and eating even though PDS bodies cannot process anything they ingest and get violently ill. The one good thing Rick accomplishes amidst his lies and acts of normalcy is reclaiming his position as buffer in Kieren’s life. But does Kieren really need that buffer now that Amy made him stop and examine where his future could lead?

It’d appear she’s done some good. When Kieren and Rick help the HVF track down a pair of rabid Rotters in the woods, he steps in and uses sound reasoning to keep first Rick, then Bill and his cronies from slaughtering the zombies. Sure, Rick is now diminished in his father’s eyes—why would anyone listen to a pansy who slit his own wrists? But Kieren may have found a purpose to his second life. If he takes Rick down a similar path, they’ll be golden.

Can Rick and Kieren break the habits hanging on from their old lives to start something better or will Bill’s grip on their lives derail the positive influence of Amy’s presence? There’s one more episode in season one of “In the Flesh.” We’ll find out which way the guys go soon.

 


Down With The Sickness

Review of The Walking Dead 302 “Sick”

Sometimes—not often, but sometimes—the pacing of a show is slow enough to seem as though nothing really happened in the course of an episode. We love The Walking Dead at the ZSC. Namely, we love to yell at the screen while watching and flail in frustration when we see the characters do things we know are wrong. This week there wasn’t quite as much yelling.

Part of the pacing issue stemmed from Rick and our main crew backtracking to recap what has happened over the last ten months for a group of new characters—who’d been locked inside the cafeteria of the prison the entire time. First off, holy cabin fever, Batman! How were those guys not climbing the walls? Even as prisoners, at least they got to go outside on a regular basis. Second, in their shoes, a lot of people would have bolted for the woods beyond the prison’s fences and never looked back. It doesn’t matter that the prison is possibly one of the safest (though ickiest) places to be holed up if another herd of walkers gets the munchies. They were locked up for various legal reasons and now have the chance to leave as free men with no repercussions.

Then again, how many people are truly free when they spend their days running for their lives?

Rick hasn’t been free since he woke in the hospital. Each day, each decision he makes to keep the group safe, adds a link to the chains binding him. I wondered last week how much longer Rick could continue to push and do the necessary evils inherent in their lives. What he did in this episode easily added four links to the guilt chain, if not more. He was cold, calculating…Rick was Shane. It lasted only a moment, but it was there in the swing of his machete and the haunted look in his eyes after all was said and done. To answer my own question, Rick can’t push himself much longer before he breaks. As strong as T-Dog and Daryl are, they won’t be able to put the pieces of their stressed leader or the group back together if Rick’s mental cookie crumbles.

Caution: There may be spoilers below.

The one thing that would have sent Rick over the edge damn near happened in this episode. With each survivor they lose, bury, or are forced to put down, a little bit of Rick goes with them. The sense of relief on his face when Hershel opened his eyes after the impromptu amputation was so intense, I thought he was going to fall over. Despite the love Hershel’s daughters have for him, their relief was nothing in comparison. Rick needs these people to keep a firm grip on his humanity. One more grave to dig will be his undoing and Hershel isn’t out of the woods yet, health wise. Not to mention Lori and the baby are nearing the danger zone.

Speaking of the baby crisis, it is about time Carol came into her own and became something more than a victim of fate. She has stepped up a lot in this season, taking matters into her own hands. Carol shows a sense of foresight the others are blinded to. They live moment to moment, not really considering too far into the future. Carol looks at what is going on and knows exactly what needs to be done in order to not only take care of the short-term, but the long-term as well. Not to mention she got about five hundred macho points for taking down a walker to practice performing a C-section.

Carl did something useful. Yes, you are as shocked as the rest of us. Though, the potential for Carl to be more than a burden has been under the surface for a while now, he hasn’t really done much more than get in the way. His methods for being helpful are somewhat lacking in caution, but in the end of the day his efforts will seriously help Hershel. And once again, Lori is at a loss on how to parent her own child. He’s mentally growing up to be older than her. Carl doesn’t need her any more and Lori doesn’t know how to deal. Any time she makes an attempt to be a parent, things just get worse—like pouring water on a pile of dirt on your kitchen floor and using nothing but an old sock to clean it up. The intention is clear, but the execution leaves a bigger mess for everyone else to walk around.

Lauren Cohan gave an amazing performance in this episode. So amazing, a sense of utter dread settled over the scene and convinced fans Hershel was going to bite the big one, then take a bite out of her. Lauren, as Maggie, has really made an impression during her time on the show. It is nice to see a woman in the mix, getting her hands dirty alongside the men to do what needs to be done. Unlike Andrea, Maggie doesn’t want a round of applause any time she kills a walker. Though, to be fair, Andrea has grown out of that…but where is she?

Next week’s episode will be huge. We’re catching up with Andrea and Michonne. But they’re not alone for long. At long last we’ll meet the Governor. There may also be another highly anticipated appearance next week. Did anyone else see what I did at the end of the preview clip?

What did you think about episode 302 of The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments below.

 


Salting The Earth

Review of The Walking Dead 301 “Seed”

October is finally here. For some of you, you won’t understand the huge breath of relief some of us took on Sunday night when we curled up on the couch and tuned into AMC at nine o’clock. Okay, relief may not quite be the right word, given the amount of bloodshed in the season premiere of The Walking Dead, but you get the gist. No more counting down days. No more stalking websites for behind-the-scenes interviews and pictures. The time has come to catch up with Rick, Daryl, T-Dog, Andrea, and the other survivors on the show.

Season three picks up a few months after where season two left off. The opening sequence, with its lack of dialog, spoke volumes about what has happened in their lives since Rick put his boot down and declared the beginning of the Ricktatorship. There was also an amazing pullback shot to unveil the first walker of the season. For all of those who complained there weren’t enough zombies in the last season, your wishes have been granted. There was no way to keep a body count in this episode, not even on the re-watch.

One huge difference in the group dynamic, everyone carries their own weight. Even Carl is given the task of standing guard while the others discuss where to go next on their never-ending quest to find enough supplies to keep them fed and safe. Not only does Carl stand guard, he’s handling a gun and hasn’t managed to shoot his foot or someone who is actually alive. Amazing, considering months earlier he couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn and the group was nearly torn apart over the fact that he’d been given a gun at all outside of target practice. Yeah, a lot of folks will think, “Sure, put the kid in charge of dangerous things” and laugh. But, hey, at least they’re at a prison. Hopefully the place is big enough; he’ll stay inside like he’s told.

The other huge change in the group, they’re moving and thinking like a paramilitary unit now. Months of constant moving have ground down the rough edges from personalities clashing and created a fluid hive mind, lead by Rick. Daryl stands at Rick’s right hand. Glenn and T-Dog are on the left. And Maggie is seriously holding her own with the men during fight scenes. No one is superfluous…without reason. Quit yelling. We all know there’s one character fans love to hate. We’ll get to her later.

What I’m talking about is the efficiency in how the group moves into the prison. It is almost too easy. Rick got them all worked up, spoon fed them pretty stories to rile them up and get them to keep putting one exhausted foot in front of the other. He turned the prison into an oasis—a goal too good to be true in the eyes of tired and starving travelers. Will they find their oasis in the prison or is the proverbial desert stretching out in front of them with no water in sight?

Since leaving the farm, the group has technically been split. Andrea didn’t make it out in the mad dash to the cars and was left behind to fight her way through the woods. When the end seemed to be coming for her, someone stepped out of the shadows and saved her—Michonne. Michonne is ruthless in the way she kills. She doesn’t waste energy in movement. She does what is needed to ensure she isn’t bit and moves on. There is probably a lot of severed zombie heads left in her wake. Michonne also seriously cares for Andrea. They’ve bonded over the months they’ve been on their own path of survival. Well, Michonne, Andrea, and the pet zombies. There’s a band name for someone to use.

Okay, fine, we’ll discuss the Lori Problem. This is similar to the Shane Problem, but with more hair, an incoming baby, and a lot more crying. Long gone are the days when Lori could bat her eyelashes at Rick and convince him to do her bidding. He’s done buying her snake oil treatments for a better life in the Zombiepocalypse. Rick tried things her way and lost his best friend in the process. But he isn’t dwelling on it. Rick is pushing the group forward. Lori just wants to dig up the pain they left rotting in a field on the farm. Her baby is due any day and it is very apparent that Lori is not mentally prepared for it at all. She is still focused on herself and how others perceive her. Can she change her focus once the baby comes or will she spend all of her time worried over whether or not the kid looks like her husband?

The final scene of the Walking Dead premiere left a lot hanging in the balance, more than I’m comfortable with, actually. Any time this show leaves a cliffhanger, fans end up rather upset or disturbed. Despite the potential for fan-angst, what is to come in the season—the Governor, the prison and everything else—promises to be amazing.

What are you looking forward to during the third season of The Walking Dead? Let us know in the comments below.


Slaughterhouse Rules

The Walking Dead 207
Reviewer: RC Murphy

The mid-season finale for season 2 of The Walking Dead had a lot riding on it. I’m not talking about character drama, either. This first half of the season needed to live up to audience’s expectations. We were given a grab-you-by-the-throat first season of TWD. With only six episodes to make an impact, the creators and writers drove the plot and us hard, fast, and dirty. The pacing became a huge part of the appeal. With more episodes to play with, the pacing has suffered greatly. And unfortunately, it is turning people away. Episode 7 had to snag viewers attention again before the break. Did it succeed?

They wasted no time jumping into the major issue at hand: the barn. Glenn’s loyalty is seriously tested in his budding relationship with Maggie. He is torn between keeping secrets he’s sworn to by someone he just met, but feels a deep connection with, or manning up and telling the group of people that have helped him survive this long. In the end, I think he chose correctly and I think Maggie understands he did what he had to. She’s beginning to realize Hershel’s way of coping with the changes in the world aren’t the only way to do things. It only took her nearly being turned into a walker at the pharmacy to figure it out, though. Sometimes it takes a close call that rattles your world to see clearly.

The debate between Rick and Hershel about the occupants of the barn brought up a very good question: In a situation like the zombie apocalypse, is it naive to assume that all humans should band together to protect each other? Rick clings on to the hope that despite their differences in opinion, his crew and Hershel’s family can still coexist, all in the name of being safe. But from what we’ve seen, Rick forcing the issue of banding together has caused more issues. Hershel pulls his family and supplies in closer to his chest. He flat-out refuses any help from the other survivors. There’s a line in the sand, or rather a trench that’s filled with the fires of hell. Hershel cannot bring himself to even approach the line and consider the two factions becoming one group. They question his faith, the way he’s done things since even before the walkers came into existence. For someone living on the edge, that is as dangerous as approaching a zombie unarmed. In Hershel’s world it is his way or go away. No one is allowed to question him.

In the face-off between Dale and Shane we see glimpses of the same ruthless attempt to cling to control from both of the men. Unfortunately Dale isn’t a fighter. He will protect. He will give sage advice and be there if you need someone to unload all of your issues on, but he isn’t a trigger man. He tries to stand up for what he believes is the right thing and is cowed by Shane’s overwhelming presence. Does he see logic in the way Shane is handling things? Probably not. Dale isn’t a fool, though. He knows the kind of man Shane is. He also knows he can rely on that cold inner core Shane possesses to get things done, even if it scares the heck out of him.

Someone I thought would always keep that cold core is Daryl. This season has turned my perception of the mighty squirrel hunter on ear. He’s deep. Emotional. Caring. And completely clueless on how to make any sort of relationship with others work. Each time he opens up, he instantly shuts down and reverts to the “old” Daryl. Carol is the only person to consistently see into his heart, but not even she is safe from the out lash of self-loathing Daryl dives in to. He constantly slips back into the mindset likely formed by his lack of a real family unit. Why love yourself when no one else seems to give a damn? Carol cares and makes it very clear he can’t push her away. Will this tentative step towards an actual connection with another person (one not a figment of his imagination) lead to something more?

[Caution: spoilers below. If you have not watched the episode yet, walk away.]

 

 

I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the final scene of the episode. Everything in the last six episodes came to a boiling point. Shane gave all of that anger, frustration, and lack of forward movement a voice. A very loud voice. I may not be on Team Shane, but he did what he thought he had to do to keep the family he wishes were his safe. Could he have gone about it better? Totally. It still had to be taken care of. How many more walkers would the barn have held? Did Hershel honestly think he could keep going for god knows how long simply shoving the undead away under a metaphorical rug? Eventually the rug gets so lumpy you trip and crack your head open. I think Hershel would have gone on until he himself became infected. He was so set in his idea that the zombies are still living that he couldn’t see the danger staring at him.

Even with Shane being the voice of the turmoil on the farm, it ended up being Rick who took care of the most difficult part of the entire season thus far. My own frustration came to a head when Sophia emerged from the barn. They’ve been searching so hard for so long and she’d been maybe a hundred yards away the whole time. When I sat to think about the episode, I had to wonder if Hershel realized that one of the walkers he’d captured was the little girl they were all looking for. Were his protests to leave the barn alone multifaceted? We know he thought he was keeping his “sick” family safe, but had he been hiding the truth of Sophia’s condition as well?

For as many questions as the mid-season finale (finally) answered, it posed a ton of others. Will Rick move his crew off the farm? Can Hershel look past his faith to see the world for how it really is? What will Maggie and Glenn do? I could go on and on with the questions rattling around my head. Which I probably will considering it is a very long wait until February when the second half of The Walking Dead season 2 kicks off.


Tying Nice Little Nooses

The Walking Dead 206
Reviewer: RC Murphy

This week The Walking Dead seemed to be missing something. They covered a lot of ground as far as addressing each characters plot arc but there was a key something missing. Oh, I know. Action.

Don’t mistake, I do enjoy watching our survivors grow and evolve to adjust to the harsh reality of the zombie apocalypse. That being said, it is a zombie apocalypse. They are fighting every day to survive. We were spoiled by the fast pace of the first season. The writers couldn’t take an entire episode to tie up all of their loose plot strings before the mid-season finale. That’s what they did here, gave us what I refer to as a “catch up” episode to put the ducks in a row in prep for next week, which from the previews promises the action we missed this week and then some. I hope.

We finally get to see Carl back on his feet this week. Right away it is painfully obvious that being shot has affected how he views the world. Carl is beginning to mature faster than we, with our modern sensibilities, think he should. But there is nothing Lori and Rick can do to stop this natural progression. He is old enough to realize their dire situation and wants to help protect the people he loves. Carl probably sees the world with truer eyes than anyone else when he tells his mother about the missing chicken, “Maybe she got eaten. Everything’s food for something else.” That’s the reality they live in. Some of the survivors simply refuse to see it.

That friggen barn is going to give me fits. Hershel’s ideals surrounding the occupants of the barn seem utterly ridiculous when put in contrast to what we’ve seen our band of nomads go through in and around Atlanta. We know these creatures are dead. We know that the synapses, those electric keys to what makes a human a human, aren’t working. All of this was covered for Rick’s crew at the CDC. There is no cure. These people aren’t sick. They are dead. Again, you can see Hershel’s faith coming in to play. He can’t kill the people he knows and loves. The guilt of putting them down would shatter the last marble he’s got rattling around in his stubborn brain. So instead of doing what we deem humane, he keeps zombie pets. To him it is the right thing because the Bible tells him not to kill. But what does the Good Book teach us about survival? Self defense? Turn the other cheek with a zombie and you’ll get a hole in your face.

Turning a blind eye to other situations can land you in the same sort of hot water, only this time the scars are emotional. Lori tries everything she can to avoid telling Rick about her pregnancy. She talks herself in endless circles about the future and what it could hold for her family. Admittedly, what set her off was the near-death of her son, Carl. As a mother I hope to never, ever be in a similar situation. Watching Lori go through it was bad enough. But… are her fears grounded? She says, “Memories are what keep me going”, then goes on to predict her unborn child’s future of nothing but pain and an early death. Life is what you make of it. If they leave the farm, they have months to find a new home base and settle in before the baby comes. There are plenty of areas similar to Hershel’s farm, in close proximity to cities with supplies, which they could move into. One has to wonder if she is worrying about her baby or what will happen if Rick entertains the idea that the baby isn’t his. She’d lose her hero, her husband, and the only one she can actually trust to keep her and Carl safe.

Dragged into the middle of Lori’s crisis is poor Glenn. He is trying, he really is, but still has a long way to go to be the hero he wants to become. The first step? Learn how to lie better. I’d play poker against Glenn any day. That lack of being able to hide the ugly truth is, unfortunately, a key tool of a leader. Sometimes you need to keep things from others to keep them calm and manageable. Rick does this often to give his crew the sense of stability they need while recovering from injuries. What Glenn isn’t lacking, though, is nerve. When the one person he really sees as his to protect is in danger, he went all Rambo. I would like to remind everyone that severing the spine does not kill a walker. Headshots, guys. Glenn nearly forgot, but it did make for an interesting zombie effect. After his hero moment, Maggie finally acknowledges what is inside his heart. She also sees how, in his effort to become more, to rise in the pack structure, Glenn could get himself good and dead.

If you paid attention to this episode, you will notice that there is one character with his nose in everything. The writers have taken Dale’s position as the “wise old man” a tad too far. We already knew that not much escapes his attention. Dale isn’t out in the woods, cut off from the core of the action. No, he stays perched on top on the RV simply watching. But it really bugs me that they felt in order to tie up all of these story lines they needed to use Dale so blatantly. He’s there when Carl expresses his desire to grow up more. Dale is the one to confront Hershel about the barn’s occupants. Heck, he even tries to help Lori about her baby issues. And the topper, Dale goes nose to nose with Shane about his erratic behavior after Otis’s death. There are other, less obvious ways to wrap things up for the mid-season finale. We didn’t need Dale to narrate it for us. He’s far too good a character to use like that.

Next week is the last episode we’ll get in 2011. There are still a lot of questions to be answered. Is Sophia still alive? Will Lori abort the pregnancy after all? Is Shane finally at the end of his rope? Guess we’ll have to wait and see.