Call me crazy—most people do, anyway—but I was under the impression most television shows currently on the air wanted viewers to connect with and actually like the main character. If Bailey Barker’s brain is as close to pre-z Liv, it’s a wonder they based a show around her at all.
At her core, the Liv we find somewhat plucky and charming at times should be interesting beyond her profession. I have no doubt if allowed to live her life, Liv would’ve gone on to become an extremely competent doctor. She’d probably stick to the ER though because her bedside manner is like being comforted by a decade–old dead guy. I could never imagine hyper-focused Liv with a private practice. Yes, they dragged out the “She’s missing Drake,” tidbit yet again to drive home the idea that she can’t cope as a functional kinda-human without her beau by her side. But while she’s at it, can she come over to clean the command center?
With Ravi in on the truth behind the Chaos Killer’s identity—thanks to sleuthing far better than the pros, by the way—he’s on board to help Major figure out how to stay alive. There may never be full trust between any of these people when all these secrets hit the fan. So what’s one more? Major insists Liv remain on the outside. At least until their mad scheme is complete. The guys need to figure out how to cure the memory side effect from Cure 2.0. Unfortunately the lab rats can’t talk. In a streak of utter brilliance, Major offers up the pain in his backside to play guinea pig. The Chaos Killer has one last victim on his list. Vaughn Du Clark is slated to become a zombie, then get cured, memory wiped, and cured from the side effect. For a hair-brained plan, it’s not half bad. Too bad Major is an idiot who must secretly hate dogs. The pet groomer he conned a few episodes back leads Bozzio straight to Major as he’s in the middle of nabbing VDC. I’ve seen karma work wonders on television before, but Major’s circled back tenfold to kick him in the junk while he’s down.
What does this mean for Blaine? The guy still has no clue what’s going on. Don E. and Chief set themselves up to run the Lucky U and brain businesses, leaving the funeral home for Blaine to run. He knows there’s something not right, though. Blaine takes a trip to the police station to find Ravi in the morgue since he’s the only doctor he knows. Clive and Bozzio don’t buy the memory act. Neither does Peyton when she confronts him about killing her case against Boss. There’s some astounding acting during the scene where Ravi lays it all out for Blaine, all the grim details he has about the guy’s past. Bonus laugh, Major is so zen on coffee shop owner brains, he has the clarity to pity Blaine instead of just trying to kill him for ruining their lives.
I was hesitant to see if they could pull all the plot threads together for the season finale. There are some things which just slip past—Liv’s MIA family, Ravi’s ability to forgive so quickly, Peyton showing up just to nag or use people, etc.—and we take them just to get to the point. I’m way more invested in Blaine’s story line than Liv’s with Drake. Even Major’s story line is more entertaining, though it should have resolved before now to make it believable that these people managed to miss his involvement with the whackadoo company owner. The random dirty cop story line with Benedetto featured in the episode even begins to make sense in the grand scheme—one of the detective’s great catches is a Lucky U dealer who won’t talk because he, “works for zombies.”
Another LU dealer is the murderer in the episode. He’s killed by Chief, undoubtedly leaving evidence which will lead back to the funeral home. I would applaud the writing skill it took to get this all to work, but I can’t until Liv gets an actual personality. Gotta have standards.
Surprise! Spoilers! It’s the only surprise we’re discussing this week.
Once we were all done scratching our head over Nick’s game of tag with an infected man, the show ran a course so predictable, I could not make myself focus on the screen. This is insane. Why can’t the show manage to start interesting and stay there? Not only that, but I keep catching their attempts to play games with viewers. “Oh, we teased Jack and the Never-Competent Pirates in 201, we better let them lay low until 204. That’ll really shock the audience!” Yeah, no. The arrival of Jack and the others—who are so inconsequential, they don’t get proper credits online so I cannot confirm their names without rewatching the entire episode and I’m so not mentally prepared to do that, it’s akin to torture—was about as exciting as I’d thought it’d be. They cook up a ruse to get onto the yacht using the pregnant woman’s condition to their advantage. Once Madison sets her eyes on the distressed woman, it’s all over. Strand is the only person to freak out appropriately, but he can’t arm himself because Daniel stripped the magazine from his gun. Now we know why all the paranoia last episode. They needed Daniel to be the one to do the dumb thing and salvage the most boring pirate invasion I’ve seen on television to date.
The pirates climb onboard, point a gun, and have run of the ship. Chris even asks, “Do I shoot them,” at one point, like they haven’t been actively trying to dodge these pirates for three episodes. Did they magically forget the threat which had been on their backside not that long ago? Even a warning shot would have proven the group we’re watching has some chance to make it for the long run. If they can’t? Why the hell are we still following them? Why torment viewers with boring characters if the endgame means they die?
With the pirates onboard and Strand without a weapon, he bails. Takes a raft and scurries like a rat off a sinking ship. He’s shot at, popping the raft. Really, Strand’s escape attempt is to take him from the main story and force flashbacks on the show—like the endless flashbacks on TWD season six weren’t bad enough, now this show’s caught the way-back virus. I’m all for character development, but everything we learn from Strand’s flashbacks could have been handled within the plot timeline. There’s no reason to detail his business plans. We already know he’s shady enough to rob someone. The only new information is his homosexuality, again something they could have included later in the season as an actual surprise. Instead they try to salvage his character from Stereotype Land by info-dumping his background and sexuality in unnecessary flashbacks. While they did attempt to drag out the Big Gay Surprise until the episode’s ends, I knew right away what would happen when Thomas touched Strand’s tie in their first scene together. For those with their head in the sand, it’s a thing. They’re a couple. Men on television do not do casual tie-grabs and hand-holding, let alone kissing. Again, this show can diversify itself to oblivion, but cannot weave these characters into a cohesive story with true depth.
During the pirate raid, Travis farts around pretending he can’t start the yacht. That’s pretty much the plot for the episode. The side plots are Strand’s flashbacks and Alicia negotiating her family’s survival with Jack. Everyone else is tied up and left in the main cabin to bicker or plot escape attempts they never actually see through. There’s no actual action until Connor, the pirate leader, arrives. He sees use in Alicia and Travis, so bags their heads and drags them to his speed boat. Connor isn’t as lame as the other pirate characters. He has morals. But it may be an illusion of a coherent character. He may just be a walking bag of morals. Time will tell.
On shore, Nick’s bizarre game of tag turns into a quest to find a location Strand sent him to. Nick meets with Luis, Thomas’ assistant, who is supposed to lead Strand to the house in Baja. Luis has no clue about the others on the yacht or the plan to take them to Mexico. But because Nick says Strand sent him, Luis grabs a raft and off they go to get the others. They arrive just in time to kill the remaining pirates Connor left. Madison manages to do one thing—stab the man who did all the talking before his boss arrived. The gang is stuck there on the yacht until Luis knows Strand is safe. They’re only getting to Mexico with him. Time to turn around and find the man left for dead. Oh, look, he’s still alive. Hooray. What about Travis and Alicia? They can’t even make a supply run on an empty beach without nearly dying, how are they supposed to attack armed pirates?
I don’t know how they expect fans to hang around for two more episodes, let alone stick out the entire fifteen-episode second season and the already-purchased sixteen-episode third season. There’s nothing exciting. Scenes which should hold our interest fizzle into predictable messes or are so incomprehensible, they frustrate viewers. I keep waiting to be wowed. I want to be wowed.
Pretty sure this is going to end in disappointment again.
Okay, they’re at least tying everything together so it feels somewhat like one show and not two separate things where some people do police work while others flounce around being two-dimensional stereotypes. Don’t expect much from Liv. They dosed her with another hyper-paranoid woman’s brain—this time a brilliant scientist. They give Liv the brain of a woman three times smarter than her and she still ends up obsessed with the whereabouts of her boyfriend instead of focusing on something like, oh, actually staying in the lab to help Ravi figure out a cure so Major and Blaine don’t die from the serum she supplied. Then, she uses her intelligence to break into Max Rager, pry into the goings-on in their testing facilities, and is caught after Rita watches her walk into an elevator. This isn’t Metropolis. One cannot style their hair differently, don glasses, and expect anyone with half a brain cell not to recognize them. Liv has done some dumb things, but walking into Max Rager knowing full well they may have had a hand in killing her lunch—Elinor Cash, a research scientist burned alive—is the worst idea yet. She’s lucky Du Clark’s Super Max-induced insanity was in check long enough for him to let her walk out the door with nothing more than threats over her head instead of a bullet through it.
While Liv does the things Clive told her not to, he’s busy scratching his head alongside Bozzio. See, they found Blaine’s pop’s cabin. Lo and behold, more brains found in connection to the Meat Cute fiasco. This prompts a friendly argument about what kind of brains they keep finding. The report Liv doctored is exposed when the FBI lab tech says the brain Clive had tested before wasn’t bovine. Oops. Clive’s shuffling closer to the undead truth. For a detective, it sure takes him a long time to figure out things right under his nose. For instance, how did he miss the fact that the main suspect in the Cash murder, who should be horrifically scarred despite claims of plastic surgery, has an identical twin sister? The twin’s flawless appearance should’ve set off huge warning bells. Instead he took a pretty girl at her word up until he finally has to do police work in order to wrap up the episode.
Blaine isn’t having a good week. He’s killed. Revives as a zombie . . . again. Then is forced to take public transportation to the morgue in order to beg for a bite and pants to cover his dignity. Not only that, but the cures Ravi cooked up keep failing and Blaine’s sporting a cough which would make consumption envious. His time may be up. Where does that leave his zombie clients? It’s a very real fear Liv and Ravi drive home repeatedly once they realize Blaine may very well just keel over one day if they can’t find a stabilized cure. The nerdy brain Liv and Blaine eat helps Ravi to an extent and he produces something which may work. Desperate, Blaine makes final arrangements for himself, including passing control of the brain biz to Don E. and Chief should he kick the bucket, before taking the cure which may or may not work. Mortality humanized Blaine, even when in his ideal state of undead. Before, he was undead without a care about the future. Now he knows this is not the key to immortality. It’s a great bit of character development to see Blaine actually care about the void he’d leave.
Major may be doing his last dirty job for Blaine if the zombie’s Hail Mary doesn’t work. Drake is the newest name pulled from the Max Rager list which complicates Blaine’s life. The double agent may be exposed at any time. It’s a hazard Blaine can’t leave with his fate in the balance, so off Drake goes to the freezer. Major is almost caught making the grab. Liv is waiting yards away inside a cheesy pirate restaurant to confront Drake about his connection to Boss and his drug trade. It’s a talk they never get to have. Funny how when Liv makes an idiot of herself by snooping, she never gets to resolve her feelings in a healthy manner.
I’m not sure where things are heading. Clive surely will make the zombie discovery soon. Liv may even find out Major is the serial abductor. Who knows? There’s so many threads in this plot, I’m not sure they can shove resolutions for everything in before the season ends. They have four episodes to make it happen.
Even fans who’ve been upbeat and optimistic got to the last thirty seconds in the finale and probably had a similar reaction to what exploded from my mouth. No, I can’t repeat it. We’re a family-friendly site. It’s so frustrating seeing a glimmer of what they can do with this story line, but realizing it’s too late. The damage is done. Negan’s introduction should’ve come in episode 608, no later than that. Heck, I may have even accepted this ill-advised cliffhanger if it were the mid-season finale. However, after sixteen episodes of virtually nothing, they cannot dangle the Biggest Scariest Bad Guy in front of us and not give any resolution. Yes, death can be a resolution. The group needed to be brought fully into the New World Order. The only way to do that is for one person to die. That’s the deal they’ve been told all along. Each time someone mentions the Saviors taking over, it’s accompanied by a mandatory death to make a point, or in this case get even for a lot of dead guys. Imagine Lord of the Rings ending with Gollum tackling Frodo. Is the ring destroyed? Does Sauron get a clue and regain his property? Every writer knows there has to be resolution to the plot, even if it’s just to wrap up part of what’s going on.
What’s the point of spending all this time and effort to film Negan’s cat and mouse game if the bad guy isn’t really all that bad? Don’t get me wrong, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is better than anticipated as Negan. He blew me away with one smile and, “Pissing your pants yet?” I could not be more pleased with where the show is going in terms of a quality antagonist. Well, an antagonist besides Rick’s massive ego.
Negan stole the show, hands down. He wasn’t the only one delivering a stellar performance despite a script lacking any real depth. Everyone gave it their all. I understand why so many were weary after, but where’s the vomit-inducing portions? The most shocking thing is the hanging, really. Hysterically, they shot that in full detail, yet kept the ever-promised major death a cliffhanger. And while, yes, it has an impact, there’s nothing personally at stake for the characters until they’re shot at and run. Much like the ending; we came into the finale expecting to put any character’s life at stake and came out with no one immediately in danger. There’s six months to shrug it off. Where if they’d given us a death, it’d be six months wondering how they’ll survive without so-and-so.
I’m at the point where I find fun where I can with the show before I lose my mind. Honestly? Negan is fun and I want to see where he’ll go.
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier; Walker – The Walking Dead – Season 6, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
It’s irritating that it’s no longer enjoyable to watch the people we’ve grown to love or love-to-hate for six seasons. Carol has been a favorite character since the get-go, but when her life was seconds from ending, I didn’t care. The writing changed her so much, the character begging for death wasn’t the one I’d invested my fan-love into. The best part of her story arc is Morgan killing for her after she warned him that caring will always lead to doing anything to keep them alive. Again, it’s a long, drawn-out arc for a twenty–second payoff.
So here we are, waiting to find out who bites the big one and none of us are happy about it. The TWD team are scrambling to defend their decision. You know what? I’m not even going to bother reading their excuses. That’s what it is now, nothing but excuses. They got too comfortable being on the pedestal. When it came time to put Lucille to work, they didn’t have the guts to push their boundaries, lest they fall. It backfired. How many fans will stay with season seven after the premiere? I have a feeling most will watch to find out who died and move on to bloodier pastures.
Yup, you guessed it. There’s spoilers in this review. I highly suggest you watch before reading.
Last week I mistakenly labeled episode 214 as the penultimate, when this week’s episode is the one leading into the now-inflated finale. My bad. In my defense, these last few episodes blurred together with nothing truly standing out until the last fifteen seconds in this episode. That gunshot is the only reason fans are hanging in to see the finale. They don’t care about this boogeyman we’re promised. They’ve bitten the Daryl-is-in-danger bait and swallowed the hook.
How did we get to a point where the most reliable defender for Alexandria winds up with an enemy bullet in him? I don’t even know. A lot of the logic they have Daryl working on right now doesn’t fit the Daryl we’ve known since he first calmed his roll and became a team player. Yes, people regress when stressed, but for him to completely snap and spiral in this guilt loop is whoa, wait, what? He’s a better man than the one they needed in order to lure so many valued fighters into the middle of nowhere. Yet again, they’re relying on the revenge trope to undermine character growth and create bad situations. Even Rosita gets sucked into Daryl’s mindset. Not that Glenn and Michonne fare much better after leaving the two to hunt Dwight and his gang. They’re surrounded and used as, yup you guessed it, bait. Snap. Reel. Toss the catch into the ice chest. Well, not yet. We know Daryl was shot, but not the severity of the wound. I’m gonna guess it didn’t tickle, though.
So that’s four fighters out of the way. Five including Carol, who snuck out during shift changes early in the morning with a fully-loaded go bag and a coat with some interesting modifications—which I totally want should the undead hit the fan at some point. They want Carol to seem traumatized, on the brink, but she’s premeditating pretty much everything that’s happened in the hours after burying Denise. An insane person would not take the time to cook herself that much food, let alone pack enough gear for a few weeks and sew a friggen gun into her coat sleeve. It’s like they don’t know who the character is anymore. Oh, wait. I’ve said the same thing since they set her on the Morgan witch hunt. A hunt which is flipped on its ear with Morgan and Rick awkwardly buddy copping it through the countryside looking for Carol. An homage to Rick and Shane’s fight way back in season two? Possibly, but the whole mistrusting Morgan story line is so convoluted, their discussion has no impact other than, “Duh, we know that’s how Rick thinks now.” It’s not a surprise he thinks Carol’s murders at the prison were justified. He just sanctioned widespread murder to wipe out the Saviors. Nor is it a surprise Morgan feels this is a poor plan. Killing leads to killing. Morgan saved a man, who saved a woman, who saved Carl’s life. Which is the preferred outcome? This is something they’ll never agree on. Matter of fact, things between the men are downright tense after they follow the blood trail to a barn and a man just looking for a horse. Rick assumes the armored man is a Savior or fled from Hilltop and wants to shoot him—ignoring the encroaching walkers. Morgan sabotages the shot. There’s some eye daggers before they continue the hunt for Carol, any surviving Saviors, and the Horse Guy—who may or may not be a hint to another comic book tie-in. We never find out what happens after Carol leaves the road where she killed a handful of saviors.
We have seven fighters incapacitated thanks to Daryl’s revenge scheme, Morgan chasing Carol, and Maggie’s sudden complications from the kidnapping. Seven of their best fighters just happen to be out of town the episode before the Big Bad huffs, puffs, and blows their gates in. Why stack the deck against the protagonists this way? Oh, right? They have no tension left for Negan’s arrival. All they can do is make overwhelming odds for the characters and hope it’s enough to make fans ask questions on social media, driving up word of mouth advertisement and allowing them to repost the few good things fans say or ask in order to convince everyone their poor plotting for season six was worth it in the end. Going into next week, I’m convinced they’ve lost the love of story and are simply milking the cash cow until they can switch beasts and attempt to get milk from the shriveled dugs Fear the Walking Dead sported throughout its freshman season. Basically, they have no writing integrity because they got too comfortable being the best in their genre and stopped trying to do new things. Rehashing old ideas and generalized plots is nothing new or surprising. We did most of this before with The Governor. Honestly? I get more enjoyment from just about every other post-apocalyptic show than what the Walking Dead franchise has offered in three years.
I’m tired of the camera gags they use more and more often on the show to prove, “Hey, it’s from a comic book. We do comic book like things! Aren’t we cool? Don’t we do awesome, obviously cartoony things like that Dead-whatever guy?” First, they use CGI to put blood on the camera lens. In this episode, there’s more of that nonsense, plus binocular POV shots and a jump gag from Maggie’s POV shot like it was meant to be in a 3D film, not on standard cable television. We’re talking one of those monster in your face, then suddenly a knife through their head almost into the POV character, moments. They even turned the walker with the knife to give that slow dimensional pull back. Why the hell would they put in a shot which, aside from a cheap scare, doesn’t fully translate to a standard definition viewing experience? It seems like they’re toying with an idea for something down the road—maybe 3D versions on Blu-ray for season 6—and we’re catching glimpses of the man behind the curtain. It’s not my bag. None of it. 3D hurts my head. Watching them refine the process for the show’s home release is like watching water boil around food I’m allergic to.
Whoops! Watch out! Man, that was close. An episode spoiler nearly got you. They wait below.
Honestly? They could’ve skipped to the last two minutes of this episode. The whole ordeal with Carol and Maggie held captive in the meat processing plant is here to stall for time. Even the characters are stalling in the episode where they stall so they don’t blow the Negan reveal with anything considered speed or fan service. Fans have asked for Negan by name and loudly since TERMINUS was teased. Producers used it to their advantage, thinking if they keep trolling out line after setting their Negan-shaped lure, fans will gladly stay put and watch the shiny thing. Fish get bored. People get bored just as quick. They should’ve snatched that line tight ages ago and reeled everyone in for what I’m sure will be a stellar performance at least from Jeffrey Dean Morgan. Keeping us in the lurch doesn’t mean we’re eager to see what they’re withholding. It means by the time we get to Negan, who cares? There’s only so much self-inflated hype about a character people will tolerate. How many times have we all seen headlines promising a gruesome finale and Negan’s mug on our screen? Personally, if I had a dollar for each, I could afford to do makeup on my own army of undead and produce a short movie.
The plot is straight-forward: The Saviors refuse to trade Maggie and Carol for their guy Primo right away. The ladies, their three women captors, and one injured man, head to the slaughterhouse the Saviors use as a safe house. Carol plays meek. Maggie is outed as being pregnant and questioned, which leads to a lot of nothing revealed on either side. Paula, the woman taking charge, picks on Carol for being weak, does the same to Maggie for having the gall to breed given the apocalypse and all. Paula pretty much is an avatar for Strong Woman Who Needs No Man. That’s all you need to know about her. Molly is a dying smoker. I don’t know if the other woman ever gets a name. Donny bleeds out from the wound Carol gave him before they were captured after being KOed by Paula for attacking their captives to get revenge. Eventually they kill enough time to jam in a bunch of killing after the last commercial break. Carol is left alone when the Saviors, minus Donny, gear up for the trade they will turn into an ambush with their incoming backup. She gets free, using a random rosary which just happens to fall out of a walker’s pocket. Carol frees Maggie. They argue, again, about whether or not they should finish the plan or run. Carol wants to run. She’s done risking Maggie’s life. Maggie is bloodthirsty and irrational—they’ll blame her pregnancy for the a-typical character behavior, no doubt. In the end, they kill their captors, lure the backup to the slaughterhouse, and burn them. The ladies save themselves, but the menfolk and other backup are right at the door as they exit. Because in a boring as hell episode, we’ll make it all about women’s empowerment and not plot progression.
“But that whole ‘We are all Negan’ thing! It’s important!”
You’re a sheep. We know there’s A Negan. We know he’s probably not coming until the finale. Going from experience with this show, either the episode will be so much Negan, we grow tired quick or he’ll be a thirty second tease at the episode’s climactic cliffhanger ending. The Savior’s dialog is meant to be a red herring for the characters. Not us. Not in the day and age where social media ensures we know everything coming up for shows and movies. Even people who avoid as many teasers and trailers as possible are still overwhelmed with this information. There are few surprises in entertainment anymore. Negan is perhaps the worst kept considering how often people drag out interviews with the show’s actors relaying the harrowing days on set filming the finale. I’m not buying it. I can’t. They’ve talked a big game a lot lately, but cannot deliver anything nearly as solid as the prison attack story line. It’s just fluff. No substance.
We finally, finally get the time jump we’ve waited at least six episodes for and the events following are so dull, I bet half the audience couldn’t tell me how many vehicles Rick and Daryl drove throughout the episode—hint, it’s more than two. Two things of note happen in this episode. One is such a bone-headed move by the writing and production crew, I cannot believe they think it’s going to work. Or that fans want this thing to happen in the first place. The second is a ham-handed attempt to make this show feel like it was once a comic book.
And now, the spoiler-filled portion of the review. You’ve been warned.
Let’s just get it over with: They killed Jessie and her children to put Michonne in Rick’s bed. At last. They’ve been dancing around this doomed ‘ship for a while, usually pushing back the inevitable hookup with Rick making questionable decisions, irritating Michonne, and putting them back in their friendship box. We were happy with them in that box. At what point did fans honestly ask them to change Rick’s relationship status to, “Grieving, but banging my number one fighter,” because that makes sense? Yes, it’s been a few weeks their time, but it’s been one week for us. Fans are still reeling from losing Jessie, Sam, and Ron. Wait. Who am I kidding? The writers never gave those characters a snowball’s chance in hell of becoming three-dimensional, relatable characters. Seeing how easily they wrote them off, Jessie and Rick was a red herring for the possible relationship established at the end of this episode. Which sucks. Rick and Michonne had a nice, normal moment together. They’re laughing. Relaxed, despite their hectic days. The kids are safe. No one from town was injured, killed, or has the sniffles. It’s a side of these two we rarely see honestly portrayed on screen. Then the moment is ruined by an awkward make-out session and the producers making it perfectly clear they slept together. Like having two leads in bed together is a vital part of this show. There hasn’t been a serious romance-driven story line since Lori and Shane scrambled to figure out their future with Rick awake. We saw how well that story line ended. It was meant to end that way, though. Shane’s mental illness and inability to let Rick “win” carried the relationship drama with the plot. Michonne and Rick hooking up makes no sense, unless you look at it from the POV of a producer scrounging for viral gossip on social media. They wanted this moment to wag jaws online. Instead, people are rolling their eyes.
The second issue I had actually involves the episode plot—which is essentially just Rick and Daryl attempting to go on a supply run and failing spectacularly, but they have help failing from a new guy. What, another new guy? Yeah. He’s an odd duck, and has more than a few tricks up his sleeve. After Rick and Daryl follow Eugene’s advice and hit up a barn on a sorghum farm, they find a truck with supplies. Taking the truck, they move down the road, stopping at a gas station so Daryl can find a can of pop for Denise to give to Tara. The new guy—Paul, but friends call him Jesus—manages to steal the truck, blow a tire on it down the road, gets the truck taken back, and hitches a ride on top of said coveted vehicle. Rick brakes suddenly, flinging Jesus onto the ground. The guy still has enough left in his system to run around the truck, dodging Daryl’s attempts to snag him. The fight only ends after Jesus puts down a stray walker that’s sneaking up on Daryl and Daryl thanks him by tackling him in the truck’s cab. They hit the gear shift and the supplies, plus their new wheels, sink into a pond. The whole thing is downright cartoony. I half expected Jesus to pull a large carrot from his coat and call Daryl, “Doc.” While a “day in the life” episode can be fun, this took a comic character’s introduction and gave it no real thought in how to ground this guy in the reality they’ve established. Daryl and Rick aren’t this moronic. They wouldn’t have their keys pick-pocketed. They would be on-guard, still. Daryl knows there’s more guys like the bikers he blew up out there. Rick is too gung-ho to add a thieving stranger to their ranks—an action simply brushed off by Rick telling Daryl he was right to recruit after Pete killed Reg, back when Rick wanted to close ranks and keep out strangers. But there’s never a real reason given as to why Rick changes his mind after Jesus cost them easily a week’s worth of household odds and ends for Alexandria. It’s convenient for him to change his mind because the story needs Jesus down the road. Just to be safe, after Denise tends to the head wound which knocks Jesus out after the truck fight, they lock him in the prison room. Jesus escapes in time to catch Michonne and Rick nude in bed together.
Another tidbit they added which doesn’t make much sense is Deanna’s walker in the woods. Carl and Enid see her first in the episode. Though Deanna’s face is hidden until later, they give the game away by showing her bandaged leg wound. Later, Spencer and Michonne end up wandering aimlessly until Spencer finally opens up a little about feeling like an outsider with his family dead. Right on cue, Carl leads Deanna’s walker past the adults. Spencer finally tells Michonne that killing his mother again is why he keeps sneaking off. Luckily he found her that time, otherwise the scenes would’ve been completely useless. Oh, wait, they already are. The writers are trying to salvage a character they’ve repeatedly made too cowardly or too stupid to live. It’s too late for character development. Spencer has been on the show for too long to make us care now. It just means they plan to kill him horrifically down the road. If this show is anything, it’s predictable when it comes to secondary character deaths.
This episode could’ve been fun. It did have its moments, especially the friendly moments where Rick wasn’t the Rick they’ve written for the last three seasons. There were some cute jokes, and few laughs, but for the most part it’s a skippable episode. All the momentum they built with the townsfolk banding together for that epic fight scene is lost one episode later. They’re going to drag this plot down to snoozeville, then catch us off guard with Negan’s brutality. Only, it’s not a surprise if we see it coming episodes away.
You guys remember Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, and Army of Darkness, right? If not, please educate yourself on some of the most hilarious cinema featuring murderous corpses. Well, some of them were corpses. Others were possessed. Either way, the Deadites are a force to be reckoned with.
Ash, our debonair hero, thought he’d put those suckers to bed thirty years ago. Flash-forward to present-day. He’s fat, hiding it with the most ridiculous girdle worn by man, and hornier than a chihuahua on Viagra. The opening sequence for the series is literally everything diehard Evil Dead fans want to reintroduce Ash. At the drop of a woman’s undergarments, he’s able to get laid—his sole goal in life, it seems. The mood is soured when his for-now lover’s face morphs into a Deadite. Hard to keep going after that, huh?
But why is Ash seeing Deadites at every turn? Well, see, he wanted to get laid by the blonde artsy woman with words tattooed around her wrists not long before the show’s timeline starts. StonedAsh managed to focus through the haze long enough to grab the nearest book—the Necronomicon. Whoops. So they read from the friggen book, of course, and here we are, smack in the middle of Deadite Country.
Elsewhere, two State Police officers are dragged into Ash’s mess when they’re called to a domestic dispute. Only, the house is abandoned. People had been there, judging from the table-load of drugs and booze left behind. Oh and the corpse crouched in a corner, hands still raised to fend off whatever scared her to death, could be a clue. I don’t know. I wasn’t a cop before turning undead.
Amanda Fisher and her partner, Carson, find one other person in the house—Ash’s blonde date who read from the book. You know where this is going, right? Fight time. Blondie cranks her head around 180* and dislocates her shoulders before launching at Carson. Amanda takes some wicked-huge scissors to the hand. Then things get really out of hand, ending with Carson and the blonde woman without heads. That escalated quickly. Later in the episode, we learn that Amanda is out on leave pending an investigation into the shooting and a psyche evaluation, because how many people say their partner went crawling on the ceiling before attacking them? A kind, and kinda hot, stranger—played by Lucy Lawless—more or less tells Amanda she’s not nuts. A fact Amanda confirms by going back to the crime scene, where she finds Carson’s shirt fibers on the chandelier.
Over at ValueStop, Ash attempts to swindle Mr. Roper out of his paycheck and possibly, maybe, forgetting Ash is supposed to work that day so Ash can run like a scared rabbit into the sunset before the Deadites find him. But first, he has to make a fool of himself in front of the new woman Pablo brought in to work with them. Hello, Kelly. I like your lack of accepting misogynistic nonsense and skill with a wrist lock. That’s how you introduce a female character, ladies and gentlemen. Take note.
Ash’s plans to bolt come too late. The Deadites are on his trail. In a scene calling back to Army of Darkness with the army of MiniAshs, he fights a possessed doll, only to be saved by clueless Pablo. Well, not totally clueless. Pablo’s brujo uncle warned about a man who would be the only one capable of defeating the evil dead, El Jefe. Putting two-and-two together, Pablo figures out Ash is that guy. Cool. They’re saved. Except Ash still wants nothing to do with the hero biz. He’s out of that game. Paid the ultimate price.
They’re only hope gone, Kelly and Pablo don’t know what to do next as things get weirder around the store. Kelly receives a video call from her father, with guest star—her undead mother! Off to save Mr. Maxwell. But first, a pit stop.
For a man living in a trailer, it sure is taking Ash a long time to skedaddle. He’s gotta think about Eli, man. Poor bearded dragon didn’t ask for any of this. He just wants to chill and eat. But it’s a good thing Ash is so ill-prepared to leave. Pablo’s pit stop requires the man himself to fight Kelly’s Deadite mother. Yeah, Ash isn’t on board with that plan, either. He doesn’t get much of a choice. The Deadites are in the trailer park, changing his weird, yet kind neighbors into joke-cracking killers. One grabs Kelly, strangling her through the trailer’s window.
He’s always been a sucker for a woman in need. Ash flings an ax at the Deadite, severing its arm. The trailer starts rocking—and not for any goodtime reasons. Cue the quick change into GoodAsh. Admit it, you all swooned when you saw the blue shirt. Bonus badassery, a foot-trigger, spring-loaded shotgun storage compartment in the trailer’s floor. I want one of those. But Ash loses a point for admitting he needs to do cardio.
There’s one more Deadite fight, this time with sweet as cream Vivian. She’s silly enough to stand between Ash and . . . wait for it . . . are you sure you’re ready? The chainsaw. They knock each other all over the trailer. Ash ends up, yup, on the ground. Pablo is pinned to the wall with a knife in his right shoulder, leaving Kelly to fend for herself against something she’s never seen before. Her bravery flees, though she manages to hold DeadViv at bay just long enough. For what? For the most awesome moment in the show. Pablo flings the chainsaw to Ash using his foot. Angels sing. The engine revvs. DeadViv is so excited her head just flies off.
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.
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.
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.
Mack’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.
Full Metal Zombie Review of “Z Nation” 104 By A. Zombie
The brain trust SyFy thinks we want to follow through the zombie apocalypse is at it again. This time their antics start in Pennsylvania—smack dab in the middle of Amish country. Their mission is to locate the Emergency Headquarters Infection Control in McLean, Virginia. There’s more than a few hiccups along the way. Yup, you guessed it, more vehicle trouble. Plus, a special guest star. Like it makes up for all the poor decision-making skills demonstrated during the episode.
We get two glimpses into 10k’s past. Unfortunately they cover the same event in his life. The first instance is 10k simply telling the group about how he struggled after his father died—he couldn’t put him down for good even when he came back a zombie. The second instance comes later as a full-blown flashback to the moments before his father passed. Character development is great and all, but most of these characters get one solid tale in their backstory and everything about them leans heavily on that moment.
Unless it’s Citizen Z. We know nothing about this guy aside from he’s a NSA employee who missed a doomed flight out of the frozen tundra. He’s weird as hell and has developed a new hobby—cyber-stalking Addy. This character has gone from quirky to creep in a blink. He hacks into Addy’s social media page and proceeds to carry out hours of idle chit-chat with himself as her. I know he’s lonely and all, but his behavior is disconcerting. It’s also dangerous. Citizen Z mistakenly sends the group toward what looks like a functional helicopter in McLean, Virginia. If he’d paid attention, he should have easily seen the truth.
The car problems on this show have hit ridiculous levels. In this episode, they end up car-jacked and taking over the thieves’ broken-down VW Bug. Further down the road, they find the original thieves in the middle of another car-jacking, but this time a soccer mom, her husband, and their two kids are the ones who drive away in Warren and Garnett’s truck. Shortly after that, the zombies get the family and our survivors recover their truck. Even though they have wheels again, they still opt to locate the helicopter.
Enter, Bill Moseley. Yeah, the crazy face-wearing guy from House of 1000 Corpses. In this episode, he plays bat-poo crazy General McCandles. Doc is the only one who gets through to the general. After Doc sees not only McCandles’ mental condition, but the nasty zombie bite he’s sporting too, he realizes this may be a lost cause. Except, he doesn’t get to pass the word on. McCandles tosses Doc down an airshaft, where he makes friends with the last doctor to upset the general. By friends, I mean they share a joint and there’s a moment where the undead doctor isn’t trying to actively eat Doc’s face. For a little while, we think Doc got blown up for nothing—the helicopter has no propellers and is surrounded by crates of who-knows-what—but he emerges from the building looking way too close to a zombie for comfort.
So the fast-track to California is out. They’ll have to risk driving to California. With the way they go through cars, it’s honestly a miracle they’re still in possession of wheels not attached to roller skates.