Was that a cough, pretty boy?

Was that a cough, pretty boy?

 

I will light the match this mornin’, so I won’t be alone
Watch as she lies silent, for soon light will be gone
I will stand arms outstretched, pretend I’m free to roam
I will make my way through one more day in hell…
How much difference does it make?

“Indifference” – Eddie Vedder/Pearl Jam

 

  The last in a series of episodes beginning with the letter “I” delivers a real punch, er bite, wrapping up a somewhat slow-moving but tension-building storyline with a very intense ending and the appearance of an old one-eyed amigo…

First of all, I apologize for being remiss in the timeliness of my re-cappage lately and I would like to say that is simply because I was waiting to summarize all these “I”-series episodes together. But while I might like to say that, it would not be true. Fact of the matter is, “Isolation” was shown the week of Halloween and those who know me know that we GO BIG on Halloween down here at the Monsta P (click here to see). Yes, I’d Clark-Griswold’d myself into a real mess, both from a house-decorating stand-point as well as an overly-convoluted costume build that I (in typical J. Christopher Smith fashion) put off until the night before.

But totally worth it, right?

But totally worth it, right?

So, yeah: for me most of Halloween week was spent in a sleep-deprived psychedelic state, fueled by mass quantities of coffee and those Red-Bull-knock-off energy drinks they sell at Fred’s called RIP-IT. (I’m too scared to actually read a RIP-IT label, but I’m pretty sure they’re made with turpentine, bits of actual roadrunner, and possibly meth). Between no sleep and the corrosive RIP-ITs, most of my week felt like I was an extra in a David Lynch remake of “The Abominable Dr Phibes” animated in the style of “Yellow Submarine” with MC Escher as set designer.

On top of that, I had to travel out of town for business the next week, which should be OK because with Halloween week’s stress and delirium behind me, I could peacefully settle down into the hotel room to watch the NOV 02’s episode “Indifference” and…

ARRRRRGGGHHHHHH!!
The hotel where I was staying didn’t have AMC!
And this wasn’t some flea-bag motel. I won’t say the place’s name, but it is most associated with a certain herpes-ridden socialite and rhymes with “the leaves are WILTIN’…”

I remember seeing those ads during TWD and Breaking Bad warning that certain satellite companies were going to stop carrying AMC, but I paid about as much attention to those as to the PSAs from Smokey T. Bear who berated me in his semi-threatening grumbly voice only I can prevent forest fires (which couldn’t possibly be true, as I haven’t been near a forest in years). But alas the show was nearly over by the time I found a pirated choppy live stream on the interwebs that appeared to be from a Wal-mart webcam pointed towards someone’s grandmother’s 1977 Zenith console TV. In Russia. And the feed likely gave my laptop more cooties than a whole skank of Kardashian sisters combined.

OK, so last week I was finally back home and in a non-catatonic state so I could properly catch up on episode 04.04 “Indifference” as well as the new one, episode 04.05 “Internment”. So let’s get caught up! Some observations of this 3-episode mini-series:

“Isolation” began with the discovery of the corpses of Well-Done Karen and David Flambé, leading to a prison yard tussle between Karen’s beau, the furious love ballad crooner Tyrese Sinatra and former pig farmer Ricky Grimes. At first the much larger Tyrese gets the upper hand, but he is soon over-powered and pummeled into submission by Rick. I understand Rick is a former officer of the law and trained in hand-to-hand combat, but it seems a stretch to see someone the size of a linebacker being thrashed so soundly by someone with a physique that is only slightly more substantial than that of a walker (or even Glenn). But it seems the writers have been going out of their way to make Tyrese as soft as a giant chocolate marshmallow.

It takes his sister Sasha falling ill to snap Ty out of his sissy tantrum and into action. Hey, I think I may have some insight why Tyrese seems so unstable and edgy:
He’s wearing a wool beanie in the middle of Georgia in what appears to be the summer!
That’d make anybody cranky. Maybe Ty should consider something linen or mesh, some sort of breathable fabric…and maybe something with a brim…but I digress.

There were some memorable highlights in “Isolation”:
1. The search team driving into a sea of walkers that seemed to go on forever and really convey the hopelessness of the world our heroes now find themselves in…wow, great shot!
2. Hershel Claus deciding to take his chances doctoring to the folks in isolation. He busted some real K N O W L E D G E on Rick and Maggie before heading off, to the point where I think if he had been a rapper (MC Hersh?) he would have dropped his microphone defiantly, grabbed his crotch, and then stomped off to the isolation ward. Thankfully, he didn’t.
3. Blah  blah blah and some other stuff and CAROL DID WHAT?!?!?!?
Wow, did NOT see that one coming!

Which leads to the observation that: this season, the writers are apparently trying to right some previous wrongs by making the female characters STRONG from their previous states of either annoying (Lori), weak (old Carol), terrible decision makers (Andrea) and completely unlikeable (er, did I mention Lori?). Maybe they noticed how well everyone responded to samurai chick Michonne and decided to make EVERY female a bad-@$$:

  1. Maggie, who ever since the Woodbury attack, now wears full riot gear! Even when she doesn’t have to! Because you should never not have to! Not only is there absolutely no doubt who wears the pants in her relationship with Glenn, I think there is now reasonable question as to which of them will be the one inevitably getting pregnant…
  2. Sasha, who before getting sick, was becoming a ninja-esque Michonne 2.0…and even in her weakened condition I have no doubt she would still beat Tyrese leg-wrestling…
  3. Beth Wayne Gacy…ah, nothing needs to be said about her and those frozen blue gateways to the abyss she calls eyes. Nothing. When Maggie told her of Hershel Claus’ decision to enter the isolation ward, she already knew. How did she know? The same way Michael Myers always seems to know where Jamie Lee Curtis will be…
  4. Which of course is a perfect segue way to our spikey silver fox, Carol. She went from being the ultimate punching-bag-of-the-trailer-park to the West Georgia Correctional Facility’s resident professor laureate of modern stabbing…and as it turns out, fire. She’s turned out to be more lethal to a cough than a silo full of Robitussin…

Meanwhile, the men have drifted in an opposite, soft-pink and pastel direction, including:

  1. Glenn, who stops just short of wearing an apron when he’s around Maggie.
  2. Pig Farmer Rick, who has yet to meet an indecision he didn’t like.
  3. Daryl, who is too busy being molded into the show’s sensitive hunk to notice he’s not as redneck tough-n-crazy as he used to be.
  4. Tyrese, or as I like to think of him: Jello Puddin Pop.
  5. Coral, who has gone from cold-hearted teen assassin back to hiding in his pop’s shadow.
  6. Bob Stookie, who will reveal himself as an untrustworthy booze hound.

So, yeah…in light of all these strong women, the toughest guy is now a one-legged septuagenarian who prefers offering nuggets of wisdom and bad country humor to offing walkers. In fact, one of the most telling lines to me was in the next episode when Rick told Carol that Tyrese would want to kill her and she coolly and without hesitation said: “I can handle Tyrese.” Yes, no doubt in my mind that she could! And speaking of…

“Indifference” contained a couple of different story-lines running concurrently, including Rick’s struggle of how to deal with the suddenly much-scarier-and-tougher-than-him Carol, the search team’s hunt for medicine and Hershel’s struggles back at the prison to care for the ill. The dialogue between Rick and Carol seemed especially sharp, full of barbs and back-and-forth, including a nice dig from Carol about Rick murdering his former homie Shane. Along the way, they meet the absolutely happiest survivors of a zombie apocalypse ever, who I will refer to as Hippie Chick and Redneck Eminem. OK, so they found love in a horrible world and that’s wonderful, but their giddiness made it so that it wasn’t so terrible when we later see a pack of walkers enjoying a nice rare shank of Hippie Chick.

There was good dialogue with the search team as well, with Daryl firing little crossbow bolts of snark at Michonne. Are the writers trying to tease us with a little sexual tension between them as well? No seriously, I saw him check out her butt in the previous episode as the search team was gearing up. That seems to feel a little more natural than Rick/Michonne, but I guess we’ll see.

And its during this part that we are introduced to the REAL terror of this episode, something that should strike fear in the hearts of all of us who live in Georgia:

KUDZU!

Of course, now it makes perfect sense! “The Walking Dead” is nothing but a huge metaphor for KUDZU! It is mindless, devouring/over-running everything in its path while its victims hack fruitlessly away at it. And it seems to be originating in Georgia and spreading across the south…the reason the show doesn’t take place in Minnesota or Arizona? No kudzu there!

The real pinnacle of the search team storyline was the recklessness of Bob Stookie, who I will now refer to as Boozy Bob. Wow, that guy needs a drink BAD…but to me it was all worth it because it brought about the re-emergence of redneck Daryl! YAY! No more sensitive heart-throb Daryl Fonzerelli as he went nose-to-nose with Boozy Bob in a roadhouse way that felt very very authentic. Heck I was half-expecting Daryl to rip that bottle from BB’s hands, smash it against the roof, and shove the jagged edge under his throat. At least that’s what I was HOPING he was going to do…

And sadly, we had the exit of Carol.
Sure it makes sense. Now that she’s no longer a meek burden to the team, let’s 86 her. Great call, Rick. I understand you are threatened by anyone who can make a gutsy decision (right or wrong) in under 10 hours. (And did anyone else think Carol was going to drive over Rick after she did her loop thru that cul-de-sac on her way out?) Too bad, because Rick could’ve really used someone handy with a blade and/or a flame-thrower in the next episode…

“Internment”, which was WOW, just WOW.
While I had been OK so far with the slower, character-driven pace of the previous “I”-series episodes, I did not see the slam-bang excitement of this episode coming. Driven by some of the best music Bear McReady has put to an episode since last season’s “PREY”, the season had a palpable tension, especially once everything started getting squirrely in the isolation ward.

This was a rare episode that allowed Hershel Claus to carry things on his gimpy shoulders and by golly if Scott Wilson wasn’t more than up to the task. Not only did Hersh get to finally start putting down walkers in direct knife-to-skull combat, but he even had the cocky swagger of an action hero by the episode’s end! It’s almost like White Morgan Freeman had a force-field of folksy wisdom around him, making impervious to the virus as well as walker attacks. Hershel is always a popular choice among speculation of who will die next…and now that we’ve seen a more complete swing of his character arc, it would feel like a shame if he did leave us. Hershel’s channeling of Chuck Norris was almost enough to forgive him the terrible “spaghetti night” jokes…almost…

Other highlights include some father-son bonding between Rick and Coral as they played real-life “Call of Duty” with the walkers over-running the fence and later the compound. A genuinely sweet moment (well you know, except for all the splattered grey matter), Rick obviously sees his boy becoming a man to be trusted with firearms and capable of helping defend the group…which is just in time because there was a very familiar one-eyed figure just outside the prison gate the next morning…

and CLUCK, goes the chicken…I think that catches us up until 11.17’s episode “Live Bait” and we see what our buddy Phillip Blake is up to…some random observations from the “I”-series of episodes:

>Hershel had a coffee mug and I swear it looked like it read: #1 Dispenser of Down Home Country Sayings
>Lizzie’s cough was very unconvincing, like maybe she was trying to get out of gym class.
>I see what you did there, ALL-CAPS symbolism of TWD writers when Lizzie said “no Mom” to Carol (SEE, BECAUSE CAROL HAD THIS DAUGHTER NAMED SOPHIA…)
>Not sure Glenn is right to be so cocky about Maggie’s devotion to him, that she’d bust thru the barrier of the isolation ward if she saw him in his sickly state. Dude, before the apocalypse she would have tipped you for the pizza and shoo’d you off her porch.
>Coral seems to be hitting puberty the way his voice is cracking…
>and speaking of “Coral”, I now am pretty sure Andrew Lincoln has been reading my re-caps, given how he’s been enunciating Carl’s name differently of late, sounding more like “KARR!”
>It looks like Dodge is now providing promotional dollar$ to TWD as the search crew took off in a sexy Dodge Challenger instead of the old Hyundai…
>We didn’t see much of Beth in the last episode, I’m going to assume she was off making lampshades out of skins of the children at the prison. Or as Hershel called her: “Bethy” LOL, as in “angel of deathy” or “choking me out of my last breathy”…
>And finally, it was revealed that not only was Lori a horrible person, but also a lousy cook as well. Oh, and still an even more horrible person because she knowingly made her loved ones eat food that she knew tasted like toxic sludge. Wow, even long after she’s been eaten and digested, the writers are still making us hate her…

Who all's up for gut-rot pancakes?

Who all’s up for gut-rot pancakes and nagging?

Tune in later,
-jcs

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avatar J. Christopher Smith (10 Posts)

Chris is a lifelong fan of anything dark + macabre, beginning with the old classic black-and-white horror movies (that he had to sneak and stay up and watch) as well as campy TV fare such as The Addams Family, The Munsters, and The Night Stalker. That led at an early age to the writings of Stephen King and Peter Straub, then onward to the works of artists such as Edgar Allen Poe, Edward Gorey, Thomas Harris, Carl Hiaasen, Chuck Palahniuk, and of course, Dr Seuss. Chris was born + raised in Middle Tennessee, received his further education at Western Kentucky University, and currently lives among the moss-covered oaks of historic coastal Southeastern Georgia. In past lives he's been a long-haired bass player in college rock bands and an over-worked restaurant manager, but currently crunches numbers and curb-stomps spreadsheets for a Fortune 500 company. Chris enjoys spending time at his spooky marsh-front manor (dubbed the Monster Plantation or Monsta P) with his lovely wife Melanie, their dogs, and a monkey butler named Amos Moses.


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