Knots Untie: Review for The Walking Dead 611 By R.C. Murphy


WARNING: This review contains episode spoilers.

So naked Rick and Michonne don’t turn Jesus into swiss cheese.

TWD 611 ChatWithJesusMatter of fact, once the cavalry arrives to restrain Jesus again, they somehow end up listening to what he has to say. They’re totally onboard with sending the town’s ruling council and the majority of their top-tier fighters with this stranger, as well, even after hearing he’d taken full stock of their supplies and people before essentially turning himself in to Rick. They were more suspicious of Morgan, the man who may be the sole reason Rick saw more than a week outside the hospital after his coma. Yes, Morgan snapped his Slim Jim after his son passed, but he is fully not crazy now and Carol still watches the man like he’s about the club them all to death and make sachets from their skin.

With no real concern whatsoever, Rick, Michonne, Glenn, Maggie, Daryl, Abe, and Jesus climb into an RV—there’s always one which just happens to be nearby—and take off toward an undisclosed location with only their vague threats to keep Jesus from driving them into a trap.

Which exactly what it looks like not long after we rejoin the gang on the road. A car, one Jesus swears belongs to his people, crashed on the roadside moments before they drove past. Now, not only are the fighters separated from the group, they’re being put directly in harm’s way for people who may still turn around and put bullets in their brain pans. There’s an urgent rescue. One of the guys, Dr. Carson, thanks Maggie and Glenn by being probably the only OB left alive in the state and offering to care for their baby. How’s that for luck?

TWD 611 WalkerUndercarriageGagDuring the entire episode, Jesus is essentially Google—feeding Rick and Maggie exactly what they need to manipulate Gregory, Hilltop’s chicken-livered and misogynistic leader. It’s all too easy, this plot. Somehow we end up at the right place at the right time for these unfortunate people to demonstrate the kind of antics keeping Negan top dog in the county. But with all the bad Negan has done—namely, his men murdering a sixteen year old boy upon The Saviors’ first meeting with Hilltop—Jesus seems not concerned at all about being in the room with two men confessing to blowing up quite a few of the boogeyman’s goons. If that were me, I’d wash my hands of Alexandria, not matter how badly we needed another trading post.

Hilltop itself is designed to resemble a walled medieval estate during wartime, with all the folk from the farms and homes under care of the lord encamped within the walls. It’s so blatant, Gregory turning out to be a world class jerk doesn’t surprise me in the least. It’s even less surprising that one of his own men would then stab him, hoping Gregory’s death would secure the release of a man Negan took captive. Why did he take this guy and kill another Hilltop citizen? Gregory sent his people to deliver their usual payoff knowing it wouldn’t be enough. It’s never enough. Negan will demand more and more. Though Gregory survives, this hasn’t done a thing to teach him to grow a pair and take on the man running their lives from afar.

In comes Rick and his band of killers.

TWD 611 NotFingerPaintingTimeRickSeriously? This is where the story goes? They veer from attempting to set up a functioning ecosystem in Alexandria to hired mercenaries who’ll just kill and take what they want. These are the people Rick wants to kill, usually. But when it suits them, murder is on the table. They wouldn’t need to kill Negan so soon if they’d stopped to do the boring things like clear fields. But they need food now. Hilltop has a functioning system in place which produces enough food to send half to Negan without forcing strict rationing in Hilltop. If Negan doesn’t need that food being dead and all, Alexandria will take it. Now. Half of whatever is on-hand is cheaper than the cumulative price to keep Negan at bay via bribes.

But again, this is all too easy to follow to the conclusions the writers want. They’re trying to make fans guess who’s going to die. Is it Glenn? Negan and Glenn’s comic book story is well known, spread by every reviewer trying to make the show into something it’ll never be—an accurate reflection of the comics. They drive more nails into Glenn’s coffin during this episode, finally giving us a glimpse at his and Maggie’s child in an ultrasound. Every happy character dies on this show. It’s no surprise. Abraham seems a tad happy himself after some soul searching and a near-death experience, but he’s mostly in the story now to fire large weapons and make us question Glenn’s fate going into the season’s end. Some say golden boy Dixon will bite the big one. It makes sense, seeing as he did blow up Negan’s people.

It’s all so boring, this weird dead pool going on in the fandom. I never watched the show to see who would die. I kept watching because the characters made rational decisions in an interesting setting and the story pace never lagged so much, I wanted to wander off for a snack ten minutes into an episode. They’ve killed the Negan story line before it begins.

Zombaby! Review of Z Nation 205 By A. Zombie

Hold on… yeah, spoilers.

znation2Doc spots a gigantic cheese wheel and takes a bite. Then Roberta and Addy push the sucker downhill, letting gravity take care of the undead parade. Vasquez helpfully suggests they head to a Mennonite community not far away. He’d been by there six months prior and saw survivors. Considering Serena can’t waddle five feet without projectile puking, it’s a good thing the community isn’t across the state. There’s a long, drawn out sequence covering Serena’s attempt to win gold in the Vomiting Olympics. Give the woman a medal and let’s move on, already. My lunch is trying to crawl up my throat. Note to self: leave the finger sandwiches for after the show.

After the worst of Serena’s morning sickness is over, the group is fired at, destroying the SUV they stole from the Zeroes. Vasquez takes a long-range radio as a souvenir. Serena saves the day, opening fire with an automatic rifle and cursing so much a sailor would be jealous. Hate to admit it, but as gross and annoying as she can be, I’d want her at my side during the apocalypse. If, you know, I still played for Team Living Folk.

Faced with yet another car problem, they simply steal the truck from the woman Serena killed and roll down to the Mennonite community. Vasquez and 10k scout ahead. 10k takes out a few zombies covered in what’s later revealed to be anthrax. Not exactly the fun kind of white powder. Vasquez takes a minute to steal food and listen to the stolen radio. Roberta makes the call to take a chance and enter the community to ask for help. Good thing, too. Not long after they make contact with the Mennonite leader, Jacob, 10k succumbs to anthrax poisoning and Serena’s water breaks. The baby is on the way. No one is prepared, least of all Murphy.

10k is shuffled off to a bunkhouse with other anthrax patients. There’s not enough Cipro, an antibiotic made for animals but still okay for human use, to cure the sick Mennonites and 10k. All they can do with their current supply is stave off death for a little longer. Addy and Vasquez take Jacob to a small town nearby in hopes of finding more antibiotics in the pharmacy. One problem, though; they aren’t the first to reach the pharmacy. Inside they find a junkie who has literally taken everything behind the counter in an attempt to kill himself. Obviously it didn’t work. The junkie asks them to kill him. When Addy declines, he desperately attacks Vasquez, who shoots him in the head. Jacob judges their actions harshly after Addy explains it’s just the way they have to do things now.

Back at the community, Serena and Murphy are flat-out ridiculous while dealing with her labor pains. Doc has no clue what to do between a sick 10k and the mother-to-be’s screaming. At one point Doc arms himself with a meat cleaver after witnessing the baby pushing through Serena’s stomach to say hello to her father. Murphy isn’t fazed. After Addy and Vasquez return, she succumbs to the anthrax, as well. Roberta is pushed into a corner. She can let two of her people die, jeopardizing the safety of Murphy and the baby who both carry the cure, or she can rob some very nice people and doom their sick to death. The latter option wins. There’s simply too much at stake—which she conveys to Jacob as they steal what little Cipro is left.

Back on baby watch, it’s time for the blessed event. This is one determined newborn. The little girl not only pulls herself from Serena’s womb—without injuring her mother—but she also chews through her umbilical cord. The crew aren’t the only ones to witness the birth. Zombies from everywhere flock to the barn, including three people leading a camel.

Yes, they snuck in a Jesus joke. You may applaud them for their audacity.

The zombies are riled up once Murphy holds his daughter. He can’t control the undead, they’re too focused on his daughter. Serena sacrifices herself, attacking the zombies so Murphy and the others can flee. Roberta stops to give her mercy after she turns. It’s unclear how, exactly, everyone makes it out of the barn unscathed considering 10k and Addy were too sick to move at the moment of the birth. Television magic, I guess.

Father and daughter have a nice bonding moment before Roberta orders everyone back into the truck so they can continue to dodge the nuclear fallout and head toward California. Murphy takes a second to give his little girl a proper name, Lucy, named after his mother.

And the moment is over when the camera cuts to the giant cheese wheel still mowing down everything in its path.

How fast can the group travel with a newborn on board? Hard to tell. Plus, there’s now the problem of feeding a baby without a mother or supplies. What does Lucy eat? We’ll probably find out soon. I’m going to guess baby doesn’t crave momma’s milk.

Survival School: Keep Comfortable – by RC Murphy

Comfort. That concept is the antithesis of what it means to survive in the zombie apocalypse. For the most part, we’re prepared to leave our cozy homes with their soft mattresses, refrigerators, filtered water, and indoor plumbing to chance it on the road in order to stay one step ahead of the undead menace. But without taking a couple moments to pamper yourself, life will start to suck and thoughts will wander. What if I went back home? Surely the zombies skipped my house and moved out of the city.

Yeah, and while they were there, they gave the living room a fresh coat of pain and reupholstered the couch your cats scratched up. Instead of putting yourself in danger’s path with daydreams of normalcy, we’ve compiled a list of things you can do for your road-weary body.

Take care of your transportation: Better get used to hoofing it around the country once gasoline and diesel supplies run out. Walking takes forever, but any forward progress is good when the enemy is shambling in your wake.

  • Invest in good insoles for your shoes/boots. Something graded for a ton of walking or high-impact work insoles.
  • Clean socks. If there’s one thing you over pack in your go bag, make it socks. A quick change will give your tootsies a burst of energy—caffeine for your feet.
  • Freedom. Feet trapped in shoes for too long stay damp and court fungus. Take some time to give them a wash and let them dry out every day. As a bonus treat, give yourself a massage with a dollop of minty lotion.

Soothing sore spots: Not only will fighting the undead take a toll on your muscles, but so will everyday chores—made much more difficult by the lack of modern conveniences. Spas will be seriously lacking, as will a bathtub to soak in, but heat a cold applied to appropriate muscles will help.

Rice heating pads are wonderful and ridiculously easy. Take a tube sock, fill it with dried long grain rice, and warm it. Dried beans would work, as well. Warming will be tricky without a microwave. Put a brick-sized rock near your campfire for about half an hour. Pull it away from the fire with tongs or a pot holder. Set the rice-filled sock on top and flip it over every minute or so until it feels like the rice is heated through. Apply the heating pad to any sore muscles

Ice packs come in handy, too. They’re also pretty easy to make. However, you’ll need access to an ice chest still filled with ice to refreeze these packs once you’re away from home:

  • Method #1: Alcohol/Water Ice Pack
    You’ll need:
    2 cups water
    1 cup rubbing alcohol
    2 zip-top bags (quart or gallon)
    Dump the water and alcohol in the first bag. Seal it, pressing out as much air as possible. Secure the filled bag in the second—just in case there’s leakage when it defrosts. Freeze the mixture for about 12 hours before the first use. It’ll be squishy, but that helps it mold to your body better.
  • Method #2: 1-Ingredient Gel Packs
    You’ll need:
    Corn syrup or dish soap
    2 zip-top bags
    Pour the dish soap or corn syrup into the first bag. Secure the filled bag in the second. Freeze for about 12 hours. These may freeze harder than the above method, but still work well.

Pucker up: Being out in the elements won’t do pretty things to your lips. Wind, sun, and inevitable mild dehydration will chap your lips, possibly to the point where they’ll bleed. Keep Chapstick handy. Or make a quick and easy lip balm from the recipes below.

  • Method #1: Mint and Honey Lip Balm
    You’ll need:
    1 teaspoon petroleum jelly (or Un-Petroleum Jelly)
    peppermint extract
    one teaspoon honey
    small container with a lid.

Heat the petroleum jelly for 30 seconds in the microwave. Mix in 3 drops of peppermint extract and the honey. Put the mixture into the container. Let the lip balm set overnight without the lid. Once the mixture is set, pop the lid on and you’re good to go.

  • Method #2: Drink Mix Lip Balm
    You’ll need:
    A small container
    enough petroleum jelly (or Un-Petroleum Jelly) to almost fill the container
    a packet of flavored drink mix (water bottle add-ins like Kool-Aid or Crystal Light, try to avoid any with aspartame).

Mix the drink mix and petroleum jelly until you reach a color/flavor that appeals to you. Spoon it into the container and close the lid. Done!

Biting pests: We’ve covered bug repellents before, but I’ve discovered a new, super-strong recipe to share. Don’t forget, in a pinch you can simply rub fresh peppermint, spearmint, catnip, pennyroyal, citronella, lemongrass, basil, or lavender on your clothes for moderate insect repelling powers.

  • New recipe: Four Thieves Vinegar
    You’ll need:
    32 ounce bottle of Apple Cider Vinegar
    2 tablespoons each of dried Sage, Rosemary, Lavender, Thyme and Mint
    a quart size glass jar with airtight lid.

Pour the vinegar and dried herbs into the jar. Seal tightly and set it on the kitchen counter near the coffee pot (or a place you see every day). Shake the jar vigorously every day. Continue for 2-3 weeks. After 2-3 weeks, strain out the herbs and store the vinegar in the fridge. To use on skin, dilute with a 50/50 mix of vinegar and water in a spray bottle.

There you have it, a few ways to make life running from the undead moderately comfortable, or at least tolerable until the spas open up again

Survival School – Quick Tips and Tricks

The internet is chalk-full of information to help us survive after any cataclysmic event—natural and manmade. You can lose yourself for days trying to gather everything by yourself. We’ve done some of the work for you, brave brigadiers. Below you’ll find a handful of advice we found online to help you once the zombies rise and force us to abandon our homes.

Light Sources


Fill a gallon jug with water. Strap a headlamp or flashlight onto the jug, with the light facing inward. This will illuminate a small space, like a tent, with soft light. No glares and no bright beams which could attract predators to your camp.

Fill a clear soda/water bottle with half water and half bleach. Set the bottle into the roof of any shack or improvised shelter with a sturdy roof. The mixture will reflect sunlight, creating approximately the same wattage as a 55-watt light bulb. Note: This is a daytime-only solution.

Crayons! We haven’t personally tested this trick yet, but if you need a quick emergency light source, light a crayon. It should provide the same amount of light as a small candle for about 30 minutes. Note: Not ideal for handling, the wax will drip. Make sure you have a sturdy, clutter-free spot to set the lit crayon.

Fire Starters


There are a lot of options for homemade fire starters. We chose two that required very little work and used items which would normally just be thrown away. For both, set them with the kindling at the base of your fire and carefully light the edge.

  • Muffin Fire Starter
    Muffin Tin
    Paper muffin wrappers
    Dryer lint
    Melted wax (crayons work!)

Set the paper muffin wrappers in the muffin tin. Fill the bottom of each wrapper with a wad of dryer lint. Pour the wax over the lint, leaving about a quarter of an inch of room at the top so you have a place to light the fire starter. Allow to cool thoroughly before packing.

An alternative method utilizes an empty cardboard egg carton. Put in the lint and wax as described above. When the wax has set, cut the egg carton apart.

  • Tube Fire Starters
    Cardboard toilet paper tubes
    Dryer lint
    String (optional)

Pack dryer lint tightly into the toilet paper tube. Wrap the filled tubes with newspaper. Tuck the ends of the newspaper into the tube, or tie off the ends with string—either way works, so long as you trap the lint so it doesn’t fall out in your go bag.

Containing the little things


Don’t throw out those Altoids (or similarly-sized) tins! They’re incredibly helpful when packing your go bag. Here’s some ideas:

Sewing kit –Pack with sewing needles, straight pins, safety pins, tiny spools of common-colored thread, buttons, small scissors, seam ripper, and anything else you need to mend or make your own clothing.

Fire lighting kit – Pack with matches, a lighter, flint, and a small wad of dryer lint or some other easy-to-light material. Affix a piece of sandpaper to the inside of the tin’s lid to light the matches.

Individual first aid kit Pack with bandages, alcohol wipes, tweezers, packets of antibiotic ointment, Tylenol, aspirin, Benadryl, other personal medications. Note: Ladies, don’t forget to pack a separate container (a coffee can or plastic baby wipe box) with feminine hygiene items.

Jewelry box – Keep your sentimental jewelry items safe. Wearing a wedding ring while on the run could lead to problems. Any blow to the hand could cause your fingers to swell.

Gaming kit – Pack with a pack of cards, dice, Yahtzee scorecards, a small pencil, and any other small game items you can think of to entertain yourself.

Soap holder –Soap will be at a premium during the Z-poc. Don’t waste it! Store your used soap in a tin to keep it clean.

Don’t Leave Home Without it

Pill organizers aren’t just for keeping track of your weekly medication needs. Grab a couple extras to add to your go bag.

Spice rack –Cooking in the wild will likely lend to a lot of bland, boring meals. But not if you take along a miniature spice rack packed with your favorites. Be sure to label each compartment. You wouldn’t want to confuse paprika with cayenne pepper.

Seeds – Who knows how long we’ll have to fend for ourselves without the aid of grocery stores or farmer’s markets? Pack some easy-to-grow vegetable and fruit seeds in your go bag. Once you find a place to settle down for a little while, plant a small garden. Check your area for what produce items grow the fastest and easiest.

Old t-shirts

When you pack your kitchen supplies, toss in a few old or over-sized t-shirts. They have many possible uses, a few of which we’ve included below:

Rags – Cut the shirts into smaller pieces to use for wash cloths, dish washing cloths, and clean-up rags.

Bandages – Cut shirts into long strips, about 2-3 inches wide. Boil them in water, with a tablespoon (or more, depending on the quality of the water) of bleach and hang to dry somewhere they won’t get dirty. Makes great compression bandages to slow bleeding. Also can be used as a wrap to brace sprained joints.

Small hanging bags – With a minimal amount of sewing, which can be done by hand, you can turn a t-shirt into a bag.


  • Needed:
    A large t-shirt
    Needle and thread
    Straight pins
    Felt or permanent marker

Lay the shirt out on a flat surface. Using the side of the shirt as the bottom edge of the bag-to-be, trace out the shape of a purse, with a handle on the top. Pin both sides of the t-shirt together with straight pins. Cut out the bag, leaving the bottom of the bag intact (don’t cut down the side of the shirt, it provide a solid bottom for your bag). Stitch the sides of the bag closed. Leave the top open. Cut out D-shapes to create the handles. Note: if you wish to use the bag to store fruits or vegetables, or to use as a hanging sack to dry dishes, cut tiny holes in the solid sides of the bag—not too many, just enough to allow airflow.

By RC Murphy