You Better Watch Your @$$, One-Eye Bri… The Walking Dead re-cap season 4 episode 07 “Dead Weight”

November 27, 2013   No comments
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You’re a deadweight, right straight
On your way sunk in the midnight shade.
Skies burn, eyes turn
Learning to counterfeit their disease…
– Beck

Here's mud in your...oops, sorry Bri...

Here’s mud in your…oops, sorry Bri…

Part II of the mini-storyline answering the question “What was the Governor doing while the prison crew raised pigs and fought the bleeding-eye virus?” finds the newly-monikered Brian Herriot quickly reverting to his old Phillip Blake ways.

Well, that didn’t take long at all, did it?
Just by peeking ahead and seeing that there were going to be exactly 2 episodes before TWD’s mid-season break, I had a feeling The Gov would go rogue on us sooner than later. But the previous episode “Live Bait” led me to think there might be some soul-searching going on underneath that badly-dyed/combed-over noggin of his…and that there might be some deep psychological trigger that might make mean ol’ Phillip Blake shove nice guy Brian Herriot aside for control of the Gov’s mind/body/soul.

Nope. As far as I could tell, all it took was Martinez drunkenly requesting another golf ball during their round of tipsy RV-roof driving-range practice to get some cold stink-eye and a club to the cranium from Brian. Er, I mean Phillip; that was definitely Phillip going Happy Gilmore on Martinez’ dome, not Brian.

 

Brian killed a guy!

Brian killed a guy!

 

So apparently the Gov’s bottom line is that he is simply a megalomaniac whose power-mad tendencies are always so close to the surface that some boozy mild gloating from his former lieutenant is enough to set him off? Well, OK, if that’s the case…but it seems like a bit of a waste of all the nuanced character-building and psychological goodwill that was established in the prior episode. Kinda reminds me of how season 3 wasted all that almost-unbearable tension it built up in episodes like Arrow On The Doorpost/Prey/This Sorrowful Life to peter out timidly in the season finale.

A quick peek at IMDB confirms what is fairly obvious from watching these last 2 episodes, and that is that have been 2 different sets of writers/directors. I understand that is a fairly common practice on most shows, including this one…but there seemed to be a very noticeable break in continuity from the previous episode. A shift in tone is understandable going from the prison/virus scenario in episode 5 to the beginning of the Gov’s story-line in episode 6, but at this point it almost feels like TWD staff isn’t quite on the same page.

“Dead Weight” began with the Gov playing chess with his homegirl MeganPenny. It seems the Gov has become quite the family man since the last episode and was he actually doing laundry while they played? Wow, a regular Ozzie and Herriot…BRIAN Herriot, that is. We get a quick allusion to the Gov’s newly-revealed back-story that his dad was a bit of an abusive butthole (more to come on that later), followed by more of TWD’s infamous ALL CAPS fore-shadowing:

MeganPenny: “It’s your turn…Brian, it’s your turn.”
Gov: “I’m thinking…”

 
GET IT?
LIKE “HIS TURN” AS IN “HIS TURN TO LEAD THE CAMP!” AND HE’S “THINKING” AS IN HE’S “THINKING” ABOUT IT & MAKING NEFARIOUS GOV-PLANS!
GET IT?!?

We learn that Martinez is running the camp, along with some new favorite characters I’ll refer to as: Pete Stallone aka Italian Rick, his brother Mitch aka Redneck Tim Roth aka the less-Tiger Beat-ish Daryl of the group…and a promise of some steamy girl-on-girl action for Tara in the form of an army chick with dark curly hair I’m going to call Karen v2.0. Does Martinez seem a little quick to forgive and forget the Gov after he went postal on his fellow Woodburians in the season 3 finale? Well, maybe…but keep in mind they have a history in which Martinez witnessed the Gov be a hero and leader of men, protect people and build/establish Woodbury as a safe place. So if he thinks he can get that guy back, I’m sure he’s all for it.

Martinez brings the Gov along on a supply run with Pete Stallone and Redneck Tim Roth, which inspires the great line which I’ve chosen as the title of this re-cap. So going forward, I will alternately refer to the Gov as OEB, aka One Eye Bri. I really dug the headless corpses in LAZ-BOYs with signs identifying their various sins…it would have been great if in addition to LIAR/RAPIST/MURDERER, there had been additional signs that read: BAD TIPPER or TWERKER or LIMP BIZKIT FAN.

There were some interesting things in the cabin they found, including a picture of a father/mother/child that was eerily similar to the one the Gov carried of his family and oh yeah: severed heads. Because what kind of weirdo keeps severed heads around, right? (the Gov looks shiftily from side to side) One thing that was noticeable in the hanging-out-having-warm-beer at the cabin scene as well as the family cook-out with Martinez that followed was that OEB was always quick to change the subject whenever his topic of his past was broached…

Yo Bri: tell 'em bout that time you killed half the town and pass the potato salad...

Yo Bri: tell ’em bout that time you killed half the town…and oh yeah: pass the Sketti-O’s…

After he teed off on Martinez (literally) and then fed him to some walkers, the Gov grabbed up his family to leave…so maybe it wasn’t just all about him taking over the camp at that moment? Maybe he did just snap with Martinez and immediately regretted his actions, for the only thing keeping him from leaving the camp far in his rear-view mirror was a huge mud-hole in the road full of walkers blocking his passage. (“SLOPPING” my closed captioning read on my TV as the mud-hole walkers squirmed around) OK, I call B.S on this, because this show takes place in Georgia near where I live and let me tell you there isn’t a guy down here who wouldn’t have jumped at the chance to go muddin’ over a bunch of face-eaters! The Gov clearly is a Yankee transplant or even worse: an Atlanta native…

So the next morning OEB pays a visit to Pete Stallone, who very inaccurately says that he saw this coming…in fact he did NOT see what was coming, which was Mr. Blake/Herriot with a sharp object. Afterwards the Gov heads to Mitch/Redneck Tim Roth’s trailer for what you assume is a repeat performance…but instead the old smirking Gov we’ve learned to despise appears to recruit Mitch as his new right-hand man. Martinez had previously said that the Gov had “ice in his veins”, and this was very apparent in how utterly still and un-shaking his hands were when he extended Mitch a light. Cool as a Cyclopsian cucumber he is.

He offered up to Mitch a summary of how he viewed his late brother Pete Stallone similar to how he viewed Rick: “Men like him, always doing what they thought was the right thing…even at the cost of other people.” And his method of covering up Pete’s death was classic Gov as well, suggesting they tell the others that Pete “died on a supply run”, saving them and going out as a hero. Not the first time we’ve heard that before, right?
The Gov also told Mitch a story about his childhood and his abusive father, and I had an issue with that as well. Not with the content of the story itself – of course abuse is horrible – but the fact that we had to hear about it as implication for why the Gov has turned out to be such a turd. One of the things I liked about the Gov’s character was that he had a mysterious side, and while it was nice to learn more about him over this 2 story arc, I just felt the whole abused-kid angle was a little…well, cheap? Too easy? Lazy? I preferred NOT knowing what made the Gov the scoundrel he is today, using my imagination to wonder if maybe he just popped out of the womb a genuinely unpleasant person or if he was spanked too much by mean nuns in Catholic school, or whatever. “Silence of the Lambs” was great when we just had a glimpse of Hannibal Lechter; by the time the sequels/re-boots rolled around, we knew every little thing about him and it did NOT make anything better…

Anyway,  from there we are treated to the old familiar sight of the Gov running the show again, using his considerable alpha male charisma to rally the troops around him and clearly re-shape the camp to his personal liking (you got the feeling he’d been chomping at the bit to do that). As well as narrowly saving MeganPenny from a rogue walker who wandered into their otherwise secure camp. And in fine throwback fashion, staring at Pete Stallone chained just below the surface of the lake…yes, ol OEB still has a thing for keeping walkers alive er OK, I mean un-undead and suspended in H2O.

Once again we hear that tense tearing bass theme-music, the same notes that played when he was chasing Andrea in “Prey” and again when he first reappeared at the end of “Internment”. This must be what the Gov hears in his head while he is planning bad thoughts and/or about to go into stalker mode, for the next scene has him…

At the prison! Ah, full-circle tie out to “Internment”! He watches Rick & Carl, then moves along to Hershel and…Michonne. How chilling the sight of that one-eyed tiger lurking in the edges of the trees and watching them: Rick & Carl working obliviously, Hershel Claus & Michonne cutting up and laughing. The episode ends with him aiming his gun at her…of course we know he doesn’t kill her at that very moment, due to the fact that we see Michonne (with a band-aid on her head!) in the trailer for next week’s episode! Way to crush your cliff-hanger, guys!

So what will happen this week in the mid-season finale? The afore-mentioned trailer clearly shows a stand-off with the Gov + his campers (they need a name…New Woodburians? Briansburg-ians? Herriotsville-ians?) vs Rick + the suddenly-depleted West Georgia Correctional Facility. As well as the ominous warning that ALL WILL FIGHT…SOME WILL FALL!

Which leads me to my next complaint about this episode (wow, I guess I really didn’t like it very much, did I?)…isn’t this pretty much where we were back in March? I mean, maybe that’s intentional: that the last time the Gov ran away with his tail between his legs and then freaked out, etc…and maybe that’s leading up to how he’s rebuilt himself as a different guy and we will have a completely different outcome this time. And he finds the prison at a particularly weak moment, with stalwarts like Glenn and Sasha sick and suddenly tough cookie Carol banished. But I now have this feeling that everything that we’ve seen so far in season 4 has kind of been a waste if we haven’t really advanced the story any further than this.

So as we move onto the mid-season finale, a few notes:

  • Did anybody else notice that they referred to the other survivor from the Gov’s season 3 finale melt-down (the burly black guy with dreads) as “Shumpert”? LOL! I had to look it up on IMDB (again), but he was referred to as Bowman in season 3. Why the sudden name change to SHUMPERT (seriously: SHUMPERT?) in season 4? I feel like this is an inside joke that I’m not getting…or maybe his name was Bowman Shumpert, which would fit an English polo player much better than a machine-gun toting mercenary. But more than likely this is just another example of the lack of continuity over time.
  • At the Gov’s camp site there was a…wait for it…TANK!  Yay! Finally someone on the show listened to me! Hey, the Gov may be as wacky as a fruit-bat, but at least he understands practical transportation in a zombie apocalypse better than those open-air-riding hippie weirdos at the prison. The Gov in a tank > Tyrese on a pogo stick…
  • This season has been relatively death-free for major characters at the prison…sure, we’ve lost Beth’s victim of the week, Krispy Karen, that Indian doctor, etc, but who the heck were those guys, anyway? At this point in season 3 we’d lost T-Dog and Lori…we’re over-due for a tragic death of a major, and are we taking bets on who that might be? Now that Hershel has had his hero turn in “Internment”, is it his time to go? Does Beth Wayne Gacy finally check out? Does Team Glaggie (Glen & Maggie) get their numbers cut in half, 2 to 1? Does the Gov finally make good on my prediction that he would take or kill something near/dear to Rick, specifically Coral and/or Judith L. @$$-kicker?

Unfortunately, while I’m sure SOMETHING earth-shattering will happen, I have a feeling we will be left hanging til FEB 2014 to find out the really good stuff…

Or my name's not Bowman Shumpert, ol' chap...

Or my name’s not Bowman Shumpert, ol’ chap…

Tune in later,
-jcs

The Man in Charge, He Just Lost It…The Walking Dead re-cap season 4 episode 06 “Live Bait”

November 22, 2013   No comments
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And I ask for no redemption
In this cold and barren place
Still I see the faint reflection
And so by it, I got my way
“Last Pale Light in the West” – Ben Nichols

0406_GOV3a48aafa40aa4926c964bd6d6757dc71
Now that the virus threat at the prison is seemingly contained (for now) and the walker-overrun-threat placated (for now), the show takes an unexpected but welcome left turn to spend an entire episode with our favorite Suicide King (or is he now just a One-Eyed Jack?), the Governor Phillip Blake.

This type of rewind and fill-in-the-blanks episode centering around one character was very unexpected, and my initial reaction was: “crap…is this entire episode going to be about the Gov?” But by the time the episode was over, it had become my easy favorite so far in season 4, albeit in a totally different and more subdued, character-driven way than the slam-bang white knuckle ride of a previous episode, “Internment”.

Taking a quick peek of some chatter on social media (which I try to avoid before immersing myself into re-cappage) reinforced my hunch that this would be a very polarizing episode for many fans, similar to season 3’s “Clear”. However unlike “Clear”, which I found to be grating and over-acted (sorry Mayor Jim!), I thought “Live Bait” was well-written and VERY well acted. I understand many fans would want to keep the story with the group and in the prison (and with Daryl! SQUEEEEE!), but personally I was getting a bit worn-out on the whole prison/virus storyline and found this episode a nice break.

Of course 2 very important things help made a detour like this one a success:

  1. The strength of the Governor’s character.
  2. The strength of David Morrissey’s acting. 

Both are obviously top-notch…

I wasn’t particularly sold on David Morrissey early on when he was announced for the role and after I google’d, IMDB’d and youtube’d him. I just didn’t see the menace of what I was being assured was going to be a ruthless master-villain in the vein of Darth Vader meets Lord Darkness. And I still wasn’t buying what he was selling when he debuted his smirking, smooth-talking self in episode 03 of season 03. But somewhere along the way, I began to buy into the Gov’s brand of crazy and by the end of season 3 I was totally sold on the thought that a normal-looking guy-next-to-you-in-line-at-Piggly-Wiggly like him could harbor the darkest monsters of all.

At this point, I do believe it’s safe to say that the Governor is the most interesting and complex character on the show. OK, I hear you Michonne fans unsheathing your samurai swords in disagreement, and I think you would have an argument that she is 1b to the Gov’s 1a. And speaking of Michonne, how cool would it be to see a back-story arc for her in a similar type of episode? Yes, please! We know Rick’s story pretty well and most of the others we know enough about to be satisfied. I mean, I know Glenn delivered pizzas before the apocalypse and that’s plenty for me. I don’t need to see an episode of Hershel Greene, Vet M.D. I do think these type of mini-story-lines will be the exception and not the norm going forward on the show, reserved for only the best and most interesting characters, and that’s the way it probably should be.

Just before the start of “Live Bait”, I re-watched the previous episode “Internment” and noticed that the ominous deep, tearing bass tones that played at the end during the Gov’s reappearance, are the same ones that wreaked havoc with my nerves during season 3’s master episode/thriller movie tribute “Prey”. Cool way to give the Gov a theme, Bear McCreary…nice work as always.

The way this episode began – abruptly stepping back to the end of season 3 and the Gov’s post-prison-raid-freak-out – immediately reminded me of “Breaking Bad” (RIP). Which is a goooood thing; anytime the up-and-down inconsistent Walking Dead can borrow from its fellow AMC master drama is a benefit. In fact, I wonder what it would take to get Vince Gilligan to visit the West Georgia Correctional Facility now that his time in the New Mexico meth business has come to a close? The mind boggles…

I think many of us wondered exactly what happened after the Gov went cuck-coo on his crew and commenced what had to have been the most uncomfortable car ride ever with Martinez. And we found out: Martinez dumped him as soon as he possibly could, slipping off in the night like the bar hopper who thought he’d left the honky-tonk with a 9, only to discover after sobriety kicked in that she was really a 3.

This leads to the Gov’s stumbling walk of deep introspection, similar in spirit to Forrest Gump’s cross-country running montage (and with a slightly less-cool beard). But first the Gov needed to pay one last visit to Woodbury to reconcile a few things. And by “reconcile” of course I really mean go all Mrs O’Leary’s cow on it and burn it to the ground. This, coupled with the mournful song playing in the background (“Last Pale Light in the West”), create an instantly memorable and iconic image of the Gov destroying everything he’d built as he moves on…

"Smokey the Bear can kiss my..."

“Smokey the Bear can kiss my…”

And as someone who’s thrice-visited the real-life Woodbury…twice with Walking The Walking Dead tours and once to buy a suit of armor (yes I own a suit of armor, don’t judge)…it was tough to watch it burn knowing there will likely be no future storylines there. Pouring out some sweet tea on the curb for my homies in Senoia, GA…

Apparently the Gov shambled for a pretty good amount of time, sporting quite the Chia-face by the time he finally collapsed in the street next to the Gorbelli delivery truck. Hey, they even recognize No-Shave November in the zombie apocalypse! AMC knows that with the enormous popularity of Duck Dynasty, beards are HOT right now and I don’t mean in just the itchy/scratchy/summer-in-GA kind of way. The Gov’s whiskers were more Unabomber than ZZ Top, but it was hard to see his eye patch and not immediately think of Snake Plissken.

Gov Snake: I don't give a **** about your war... or your Governor or Billy Jenkin’s backgammon set.

I don’t give a **** about your war… or your Governor…or Billy Jenkins’ backgammon set.

Ah, I can hear it how:

“I swear to God, Snake, I thought you were dead.”
“Yeah. You and everybody else.”

But just as Gov Snake appeared to be fading into that not-so-good night, he spies a figure in the window…crap, was that Penny? Well, no it wasn’t…but it was an actual little girl, who we later learn is named Megan. She and her family: her mom Lilly, her aunt Tara and her grandpa…er, let’s just call him Wheezy. I don’t know if it ever mentioned their last names, so I’m going to call them the Gorbelli’s. And like any good Italian family, the Gorbelli’s are VERY chatty. And I mean, like talking WAY too much to this scraggly mess of a stranger who looks like he…well, has slaughtered a bunch of people in cold blood, including his own townsfolks (you know: because he totally has!)

(And in a nice reference to fellow Georgia resident Honey Boo-Boo, they serve him Sketti-O’s…brilliant!)

No matter how much the Gov bristles like a porcupine and clearly wants to be left alone, the gals, especially Lilly, seem intent on drawing him out of his shell. Although she physically resembles Maggie, Lilly’s ability to accurately read and judge men makes her a little more like Andrea. It’s while the Gov is finally reluctantly speaking of his past (conveniently leaving out a few dozen murders in which he took part) that he reveals himself to be…Brian Heriot? Not Phillip Blake? Well, maybe his burning of Woodbury wasn’t just symbolic and the Gov sees this as a great opportunity to start over as someone less…what’s the word I’m looking for here? Ah yes: HOMICIDAL! So in a nod to the comic, he “borrows” someone else’s name, who if the graffiti-covered wall is any indication, probably won’t be using it anymore.

The Gov begins running errands for the Gorbelli gang, first procuring a backgammon set from Billy Jenkins up in 303, who as it turns out had fallen in the tub and the best LifeCall monitor in the world won’t be able to help him get back up. (Late 80’s pop culture reference!) Also, the Gov accepted the mission of raiding a local nursing home for oxygen tanks that Granpa Wheezy needs. While walkers with walkers seem like easy pickin’s, the Gov struggled a bit with dispatching them, especially the one in the wheelchair who resembled Katherine Helmond of Soap/Who’s The Boss?/Brazil fame.
The whole mission seemed like a very odd and dangerous thing to ask a stranger to do, but that Lilly Gorbelli is a saucy one.

Along the way, the Gov begins to bond with Megan, the young girl about Penny’s age. Hmmm…she’s without a dad, the Gov has lost his Penny…wow, pretty obvious, right? Just more of TWD’s 2-by-4-over-the-head brand of story-telling, in the same vein as Carol & Lizzy/”no Mom, oops I mean ma’am” and Michonne/“here hold this baby even though it’s clearly bothering you to do so and you must have a deep secret regarding babies”…

Finally the Gov lets go of his Snake Plissken look and has a meeting with a razor and comb. And is it just me, or did his comb-over/dye-job/toupee/whatever-that-mess-is look much less artificial when he was channeling Tom Hanks in Castaway than it did after he reverted back to his newscaster/realtor look? And how have I never noticed how much he looks (and sounds!) like Liam Neeson when he is clean-shaven?

Anyway, he has a nice scene teaching Megan how to play chess, including her drawing an eyepatch on the King…ooh, that gives me a good idea, more on that later…and him dispensing some classic Governor advice that it’s perfectly acceptable to kill as many pawns as necessary to get the king.
“Even if it means machine-gunning down your own pawns after a botched prison raid?”
“GET IN THE HOUSE, MEGAN!”

This leads to Grandpa Wheezy taking his last er, wheeze…and the Governor, er, Brian Heriot for some reason choosing NOT to warn the rest of the Gorbelli clan that Gramps was going to turn into a slobbering ravenous zombie upon passing away. Hey, I get that it would not have led to such a dramatic kill scene, but some fore-warning might have been nice, Governor Phillip Brian whatever your name is now, seeing as how it caused you to brutally bash Wheezy’s head in with the same oxygen tank that was giving him life, and splatter the gals with the diseased brains of their dearly departed. Nope, nothing traumatic about that…

So, our new little group sets out on the road, with Gov Phillip Brian playing the Chevy Chase role behind the wheel of the Family Truckster (wouldn’t it have been great if “Holiday Road” had been playing?) And which leads to a rather awkward scene where the Gov and Lilly make out…in the same bunk with the other 2 girls. Wow, who outside of a frat house or a trailer park in Arkansas gets jiggy in the same bed with sleeping family members? But hey, that’s all part of the Gov’s mad player game! Forget Rick and/or Daryl as heart-throbs, the Gov just passed Shane for number of post-apocalyptic booty calls on the show!

A little bit of car trouble later and the gang runs into a herd of walkers/biters…and while getting away on foot, the Gov & MeganPenny fall into a pit of walkers. Well, the Gov was taking his channeling of Liam Neeson quite seriously as he went all “Taken” on the hapless walkers. This scene contained some of the most brutal walker take-downs ever seen on the show, as the Gov became the Govinator basically with his own 2 hands and a couple bones. The jaw-off kill will go in the hall of fame with Michonne’s wire-around-a-pole decapitation and Daryl’s head-in-a-hatchback scenes from season 3.

IT'S BRIAN NOT PHILLP AND YOU SHOULD FLOSS MORE!

IT’S BRIAN NOT PHILLP AND YOU SHOULD FLOSS MORE!

 

Turns out Martinez & crew show up as the ones who built the pit and…well, what happens now?

This is leading up to some interesting scenarios as the show moves back to that moment at the end of “Internment”:

  1. Is the Governor now a “good guy” because he’s rediscovered his humanity thanks to the rollicking Gorbelli family? It seems like there would be some hard feelings between Team Prison and Team Gov that would be awfully hard to get past, especially for Michonne, Maggie/Glenn, Daryl, etc. 
  2. Does the re-connection of Martinez cause the old sociopathic Phillip Blake to rear his smirking head from inside apparent good guy Brian Heriot?
  3. Will it be revealed that the Gov was the guy guilty of feeding rats to walkers outside the prison gates and/or spreading the virus? 
  4. Will Phillp/Brian continue to develop as a deep and nuanced character ala Walter White of Breaking Bad: a complex guy with some good traits and basically good intentions, corrupted by the hint of power and unable to let go of personal vendettas that ultimately lead to his un-doing and override any redeeming values he may have?

I’m not sure but either way, I’m looking forward to finding out more about this character, no matter what he chooses to call himself…

Tune in later,
-jcs

We All Change..TWD re-cap season 4 episodes 04.03 “Isolation”, 04.04 “Indifference, & 04.05 “Internment”.

November 17, 2013   No comments
  Written by:

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

I Smell a Rat…The Walking Dead re-cap season 4 episode 2 “Infected”

October 23, 2013   No comments
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courtesy of Entertainment Weekly...and bandanas everywhere.

courtesy of Entertainment Weekly…and bandanas everywhere.

When Im lyin in my bed at night
I dont wanna grow up
Nothin ever seems to turn out right
I dont wanna grow up

As expected, episode 2 of season 4 of The Walking Dead brought about some carnage from inside the walls of Farmer Rick’s Happy Commune aka the West Georgia Correctional Facility.

One thing I always look for while watching these episodes is a theme. Sometimes it is obvious, sometimes not so much…but the clear theme for “Infected” was: RATS! Let’s review:

  • The episode began with an unknown party feeding rats to the walkers thru the fence…which immediately reminded me of a Halloween prop I’d seen at a local Halloween City that sprang up this month…thankfully the walker didn’t begin telling bad jokes in a Brooklyn accent like the prop did. 
  • Those same head-free rats were later found by our plucky heroes outside the gate, tipping them off that SOMEONE on the inside has been feeding the walkers…and spreading a disease?
  • Coral (Carl) Grimes RATTED out Jamie Lee Carol for teaching a class in “Intro To Shivs” to the kids during story-time. 
  • And yes, Tyrese Buble busted out a Rat Pack song on his future-crispy sweetie.
  • But most importantly, there is clearly a RAT inside the walls of the West Georgia Correctional Facility, what with all the walker-baiting and corpse-burning going on. (More on that later…)

So let’s pour out some of our collective forties on the ground for newly departed show “favorites” (OK, not really) such as Man Coughing, Kid Who Looked Like McLovin, and Carol’s Story-time Buddy With The 2 Daughters and…well, some others, I guess, such as Karen, The Hot Chick Who Was Italian or Maybe Some Kind of Spanish (thanks, Peter Griffin). We’d grown attached to her (OK, not really) as that sassy gal in the background at Woodbury last year and she was clearly an ascending character as the only survivor of the Gov’s melt-down/shoot-out in season 3’s last episode. But to be honest, I had to check imdb.com to make sure that was the same actress playing her when season 4 began last week.

It certainly seemed like things weren’t going to end well for her once Ol’ Brown Eyes Tyrese started crooning to her and trying to set up a post-apocalyptic booty call. A Frank Sinatra song seemed like an odd choice, given the moment was clearly calling for some Barry White or Teddy Pendergrass. Sure that would have been some stereotypical music choices for Tyrese, but this is the show that featured the sudden appearance of an Indian doctor and Asian Glenn using what appeared to be a Hello Kitty camera…

(And does it seem like a good idea to take pictures of people while they are sleeping during a zombie apocalypse? Seems like a good way to get a knife to the temple. Hey, it’s what Carol would do…)

So we knew Karen was doomed and probably should have taken Tyrese up on his offer to shack up…and given TWD’s un-subtle method of fore-shadowing (referenced in my last write-up), we knew by that lingering shot on her bracelet that we’d see that again. (SEE, IT’S A RECOGNIZABLE BRACELET AND ITS METAL…SO IT WON’T BURN UP OR ANYTHING LIKE THOSE YELLOW LIVESTRONG BRACELETS, GET IT?)
In fact, I’m sure we were all expecting Patrick McLovin to dine on fresh Karen instead of Man Coughing…

One thing that came up in this episode is that Deputy Grimes wasn’t just farming on the side, but had apparently retired completely from walker-braining and kinda-decision-making. (Watching last week’s episode again right before this one made the storyline even more obvious). But here’s the thing: we were only briefly introduced to the kinder, gentler Farmer Rick for about 90 minutes before he is sending his piglets to the walker slaughter-house, setting a controlled burn to his garden, and going back to his vocation of walker exterminating. I know the show has a need to move fast, but was that really enough time to make his transformation back to being Lil @$$-Kicker’s dad again, Deputy Rick @$$-Kicker, mean that much to us?

Also during this episode, Beth (rhymes with “Death”) continues her descent into menacing blue-eyed rag-doll reaper. (I’m pretty sure she’s had a date with every single person who died this episode…just a hunch.) Hey, she’s singing another lovely acapella song for us! What is it this time…maybe something age- and culture-appropriate for her, maybe by Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift? Maybe a country throwback like Loretta Lynn or Reba McIntyre?

How do you move in a world of fog
Thats always changing things
Makes me wish that I could be a dog
When I see the price that you pay
I dont wanna grow up
I dont ever wanna be that way
I dont wanna grow up

Holy crap, was that a Tom Waits song?
What 17-year-old Georgia farm girl sings Tom Waits songs?
Crazy doe-eyed merchants of death, that’s who!

Her singing has officially gone from hauntingly beautiful to clown-in-a-graveyard creepy.Beth Lechter warbling a song about not wanting to grow up while holding Judith @$$-Kicker should alarm Farmer Rick, and pretty much anyone else who doesn’t enjoy infanticide…


And speaking of TWD’S CAPSLOCK story-telling symbolism:
LOOK AT MICHONNE FREAKING OUT WHEN SHE WAS HANDED JUDITH!
I BET SHE’S LOST A BABY IN HER DARK PAST, WHICH WE ARE JUST NOW STARTING TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT!

No, I just really don't like poop...

No, I just really don’t like poop…

Michonne got her opportunity to break down in a very obvious way due to the fact she suffered an injury while riding her horse through a herd of hungry walkers, something I warned her about just last week. (She never listens to me). But not to be out-done, Farmer Rick and Fonzie Dixon one-and-two-up’d her by riding through Walker-palooza not just in an open jeep but a wagon with no sides or back! Seriously, does no one remember that tank from the first episode?

The open jeep-and-wagon scene served a couple of purposes:
>To divert walkers from the weakening fence.
>To get the possibly disease-carrying pigs away from the farm.
But most of all to remind us that EVERYONE LOVES BACON! EVEN THE UNDEAD!

So who is the mystery person feeding rats to the walkers and (possibly) dragging off bodies to be set on fire? There are some interesting possibilities:

  • The daughter with the flair vest who liked to name walkers might have fed them, but is surely ruled out as the body-dragger-and-burner.
  • Burning bodies fits the MO of Morgan…but that doesn’t make much sense, given that he’s currently busy being cross-promoted to death on AMC’s Low Winter Sun.
  • It certainly seems like something our ol’ buddy Governor Phillip might do, especially if those rats are known to be carrying a toxic disease. While the Gov seems more like a machine gun kinda guy, it might fit his slow-boiling kind of insanity to try and destroy the prison from within, especially if he is under-manned and under-armed. Also, if you will recall, Tyrese gave the Gov very explicit directions into the prison back at the end of season 3, information that I expected to be used in the finale that wasn’t…that didn’t make sense to me then, but maybe it does now…

Some thoughts before next week’s episode “Isolation”

  • Why is cutting and tossing piglets to their death much more disturbing than watching Man Coughing getting munched on?
  • Will Beth serenade us with something light and airy by the Smiths or Nick Cave or maybe Type O Negative?
  • Will Carol’s maternal instincts kick in with the 2 recently-orphaned daughters? Seems like a good fit given that they appear to be about the same age as Sophia.
  • Rick was really taking the farmer thing to the next level with his farmer’s tan. Seriously, it was the palest, thinnest chest since…well, Glenn in the last episode. Is Michonne the only one on the show working out?
  • I don’t know, Beth, what DO you call someone who loses a child, you morbid little weirdo?
Have the lambs stopped screaming, Daryl?

Have the lambs stopped screaming, Daryl?

Tune in later,
-jcs

Part II of The Walking Dead re-cap season 4 premiere “30 Days Without An Accident”

October 15, 2013   No comments
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Precious mem’ries how they linger
How they ever flood my soul
In the stillness of the midnight
Precious, sacred scenes unfold…

Continued from part I of the season 4 premiere re-cap, found here:
http://walkingthewalkingdead.gonnageekhosting.com/2013/10/i-told-you-not-to-give-them-names-the-walking-dead-re-cap-season-4-premiere-30-days-without-an-accident-pt-i/

Any season premiere needs at least one BIG HUGE LOUD CRAZY action moment, and of course for season 4’s premiere that was the walkers dropping through the Big Spot ceiling like guano in a bat cave. To me, the scene didn’t quite have the “holy crap!” power of the walker herd down I-95 that opened season 2 or the prison raid in season 3, but it was a very cool memorable moment nonetheless. There was only one casualty, but who didn’t see Zach/Larry/Trevor’s demise coming after his not-good-bye moment with Stone Cold Beth Bundy? For all of the good stuff that TWD does, subtle fore-shadowing isn’t on the list; the writers typically take the Robin-Williams-Using-A-Jackhammer-In-A-Room-Full-of-Cymbals approach to foreshadowing. Sort of an ALL-CAPS mentality, like your Me-maw on Facebook:

SEE, GLENN IS LOOKING AT BABY STUFF BECAUSE HE THINKS MAGGIE IS PREGNANT!

SEE, NEW GUY BOB IS STARING AT THAT BOOZE BOTTLE BECAUSE HE IS AN ALCOHOLIC PROBABLY BATTLING POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER BECAUSE HE WAS A MEDIC IN THE ARMY!

LET’S MAKE SURE EVERYONE SEES THIS ONE WALKER WITH THE BLEEDING EYES OVER AND OVER AGAIN! AND THEN CUT TO THE DEAD PIG! SO EVERYONE GETS THAT THERE MIGHT BE A CONNECTION!

er, I just want to verify that you did indeed see me, OK?

er, I just want to verify that you did indeed see me, OK?

Ah yes, bleeding eyes and dead pigs…I love it when the show starts to look like a Nine Inch Nails video! Oh, and a dead newbie nerd…we barely got a chance to know McLovin before he goes all 28 Days Later on us in the shower.

(I can’t shake the feeling that Beth may have flirted with him earlier in the day).

Throughout the off-season we’ve heard about a new walker threat looming, and apparently it’s not just increased numbers but something that now affects the living as well. Is it air-borne? Pig-borne? Maybe THAT’s why you shouldn’t name them! GET IN THE HOUSE, VIOLET! This is setting us up very nicely for what should be a wild and bloody 2nd episode when newly-turned McLovin attacks from within the secure walls of Farmer Rick’s Happy Commune…can’t wait!
Until then, some thoughts:

  • Maybe it’s just her resemblance to Jamie Lee Curtis that appeals to me, but did anyone else think it was kinda hot when Carol turned story-time into Cutlery-and-Shanks 101?
  • It was great to see the return of that green Hyundai Product Placement hatchback…
  • Look at Sascha getting all bad@$$ with a katana blade! But can the show handle 2 strong black females with Samurai swords? For that matter, what about Tyrese & Bob co-existing, or have the writers finally figured out that they can have more than one strong black character of each sex at the same time? Going back to last season, the writers have set up Sascha as the strong one compared to her big brother Tyrese, who seems full of self-doubt. To me this fact — coupled with the fact she and Michonne sorta cancel each other out — makes Sascha a prime candidate to become a walker snack in the next episode. 
  • Not to be outdone by Michonne and Daryl’s choices of transportation that provides very little protection,  what are the odds that Glenn announces to the group he is going to start using  a pogo stick when they go on runs? Will Maggie don roller skates?
  • Personally, I think Violet was a great name for a pig.
  • And finally a note to Michonne: I see you are considering a trip to Macon, GA. Might I recommend you make a pit-stop at a restaurant called Steak Out? It’s a place that actually delivers steaks as well as some of the best, juiciest cheeseburgers ever…let me repeat: They bring delicious red meat to you. OK, there’s probably a good chance the place has been over-run by now and the delivery guy probably has bleeding eyes, but hey, it’s worth a shot…

 

See ya next week, yo!

See ya next week, yo!

Tune in later,
-jcs

I Told You Not To Give Them Names… The Walking Dead re-cap season 4 premiere “30 Days Without An Accident” pt.I

October 14, 2013   No comments
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TWD_0401_screencrush_

As I travel on life’s pathway,
I know not what the years may hold.
As I ponder hope grows fonder,
Precious memories flood my soul.


Hey, we’re back! Seems like only yesterday it was March 31 and Rick was discharging a bus-load of Woodburians into their new home in the prison yard, much to Coral’s (Carl’s) apparent dismay.
(Hershel, on the other hand, was probably stoked at the sight of all those other old-timers getting off the bus. Bingo Night, everybody!) Six-and-a-half months later and the infamous West Georgia Correctional Facility has become Farmer Rick’s Happy Commune. It would have been epic if the opening music had been replaced with the Green Acres theme song:

Grime’s Acres is the place to stick!
Hog Farming is the life for Rick!
Walkers all along the chain link fence!
Keep Woodbury, it’s better than living in tents!

While season 3 began like a lion and ended like a lamb, season 4 of The Walking Dead began with a whisper and looks to quickly build to a scream…
Wait,
you say, like a whisper? But it rained walkers inside the Big Spot!
Well, yeah…but besides that it was mostly quiet, this episode being used to ease us back into the madness and introduce us to new characters, most of whom I classify as “Love Interest” or “Semi-Anonymous” or “Dead Meat” or in the case of Beth’s short-lived beau: “Semi-Anonymous Dead Meat Love Interest”…ah Zach (or was it Justin? Or Cody?), we hardly knew ye!

Our hero Deputy R. Grimes seems to be adjusting to farm life, even if he did choose to use earphones to drown out the sound of walkers on the other side of the fence. (Wonder if he was listening on a Sony Walk(er)man…get it?) I will file this under “Normally-Smart Characters Doing Stupid Things”, more examples to come. Hey, at least Ricky was listening to some classic country instead of poop like Florida-Georgia Line or Nickelback (which is pretty much the same thing)…

Everybody seems to be contributing at Farmer Rick’s Happy Commune, including Coral (for new readers, this is how I reference Carl, the way his daddy says his name)…when we last saw Coral, he seemed on the edge of a very dark place, having killed a young Woodburian with absolutely no remorse. But I suppose we’ve moved on from that; look at the therapeutic power of raising piglets! He now seems like any other angst-ridden teen on network/cable TV, even being revealed to be a comic book fan in a clever but obvious nod to the show’s source material…

Hey, comics are cool! See, even the surly black ninja chick likes them!
And in what is no way a coincidence, we’d like to remind you to stay tuned to AMC for Kevin Smith’s Comic Book Men!
Or Low Winter Sun or Hell On Wheels or Talking Whatever, OMG just anything please don’t change the channel!

In fact, I suggest going all the way and making Coral a full-fledged Precocious But Angst-Ridden Sitcom Teen, firing clever one-liners, barbs and put-downs on a weekly basis…and since every sassy sitcom kid needs a catch-phrase (“What You Talkin’ ‘Bout?”, “Did I Do That?”, “Dyn-O-Mite”, etc), for TWD I’d suggest the obvious: “GET IN THE HOUSE, CORAL!”…Some examples:

RICK: “I told you not to name them…”
CORAL” “Yeah, well…you named ‘Judith’!”
RICK: “GET IN THE HOUSE, CORAL!”

CORAL: “What’s wrong with the pig?”
RICK: “I don’t know. No one knows. There’s literally no way of knowing…”
CORAL: “Uh, couldn’t we just ask Hershel? He IS a veterinarian, you know…”
RICK: “GET IN THE HOUSE, CORAL!”

And Smells Like Teen Coral could also wear a Misfits T-shirt and ride a skateboard…hey, why not? Couldn’t be any worse than RIDING A MOTORCYCLE OR A HORSE THROUGH THE MIDDLE OF A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE! (see, I told you there would be more examples of “Normally-Smart Characters Doing Stupid Things”)
I know it looks cool, but seriously, Michonne…a horse? You want to ride something into battle that your enemies want to eat? DID SHE NOT SEE EPISODE ONE? And speaking of episode one, why doesn’t anyone think to use a tank for transportation? Seems much smarter than a horse or motorcycle or the Segway I’m sure that we will soon see Hershel zipping around on…

(Speaking of Michonne, I’m not sure how I feel about the awkward flirting between her and Rick. I mean, come on: she brought him a razor! Everybody knows that when a woman wants a guy to shave it’s because she wants to snuggle, am-I-right-ladies? Don’t get me wrong: I like Rick and I like Michonne, but I’m not sure I like Rick AND Michonne. It just seems a little forced and I hope the writers don’t push it just for the sake of having a love interest.)

And speaking of TWD characters becoming popular sitcom stereotypes: for all practical purposes Daryl Dixon is now Fonzie. Leather jacket? Check. Motorcycle? Check. An almost Chuck-Norris-like mystical sense of toughness and invulnerability? Check. Coolness to the point of being worshipped like a minor deity? And check. I was almost expecting him to stumble upon a jukebox at the Big Spot that he could rap with his fist to make “Blueberry Hill” begin playing (or maybe more fitting: “Freebird”). Like Fonzie was originally written as a side character who quickly took over “Happy Days”, the writers are certainly portraying Dreamboat Daryl quite differently from the angry squinty-eyed redneck of the first season.

From the Some Things Never Change Dept:
Hershel Claus is still alive and kicki…er, well, alive and still dispensing good ol’ country wisdom in a way that suggests Andy Griffith writing greeting cards for Hallmark. Hersh, or WMF (White Morgan Freeman) as I like to call him, somehow channels Yoda, Barnaby Jones and Cliff Clavin often in the same breath…and sometimes I get the feeling Rick isn’t sure whether he wants to hug him or punch him in his nub.

From the I Got It Wrong Dept:
Once again, I fully expected a grisly death for Beth and once again I was wrong. But I think I realized that SHE’s not the red shirt here, but is instead some sort of black widow who attracts the red shirts. First Jimmy and now Zach/Chuck/Frank/whatever his name was last night…there was a certain slow-motion sociopathic way she stoically turned the “30 Days Without An Accident” counter back to zer0 at the news that her sweetie had become walker chow, her dead-doll liquid blue eyes never registering a blink…”Oh, I don’t cry anymore…” she told Daryl and I TOTALLY BELIEVE HER…

(and you could once again practically hear the women of America squee when she and Daryl had their be-careful-she’s-only-17 hug…WATCH OUT FONZIE DIXON, HER TOUCH BRINGS DEATH!)

From the Odd Side Story Dept:
That would be the little ashy-grey Christian Ricci-lookalike girl with the big secret of her fella Eddie (apparently) doing his best Gwenyth Paltrow/Se7en impersonation. I’m usually a pretty good accent-guesser guy, but her Irish brogue befuddled me; I thought perhaps she was just another British actor on the show mangling a Southern accent. Given the way she had begun to annoy me in such a short time, I wondered if she might be a replacement for Lori. But Rick had 3 questions to ask her and surprisingly one of them wasn’t “Have you seen Coral?”

(to be continued)

The Evolution of Carl Grimes

April 9, 2013   No comments
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In this current season we watched Carl Grimes grow up and prove himself to be a pretty valuable member of the group. Last season he took a lot of criticisms for not ‘being in the house.’ I have to admit that I jumped on that bandwagon as well. How could you not with all the funny meme’s on the internet? I am the biggest sucker for WD meme’s. It’s kinda sad.

 

          I didn’t really pay too much mind to Carl in the first season, Second season I felt sorry for the kid. He got shot, lost the only other kid to keep him company and mom was too busy playing home wrecker to pay him any attention. It’s not his fault he couldn’t stay in the house. Who lets their kid just wonder around during a zombie outbreak? If anything was to blame for Dale’s death, it was poor parenting. But there was some good that did come from Dale’s death, other than him finally minding his own business. It was Carl’s wake up call.

 

With a forced pep talk from Ranger Rick, it finally sinks in that his childhood is over and it’s time to start acting like a man. And what was his first act as a man? Not staying in the house and popping a cap in zombie Shane’s ass. The only man that ever really stood up for him. It was Shane Carl turned to for advice. As much as everyone (except me) was ready to see Shane go, you have to admit he was more of a dad than Rick.

 

          There was a lapse of about 8 months from season 2 to season 3. We see that Carl has become pretty handy with his piece and is willing to do what it takes to survive, even if it means puppy chow for dinner. You can tell he’s not the same kid that was on the farm. He took off by himself to search the prison for medical supplies when Hershal’s leg got hacked off. That was the moment I realized this kid was no joke. If Chuck Norris had a bastard child running lose in the zombie apocalypse, his name would be Carl.

 

          With all the crazy shit Carl has been through, you’d think he would be just as wacked out as his dad. The kid witnessed his mother try to give birth and failed. He actually handed Maggie the knife to cut her open to save his baby sister. After all was said and done he did not hesitate to send mommy dearest to her maker. The look on his face leaving the room was epic, making that scene one of my top 3 WD moments.

 

Carl is made for the zombie world. Not only cuz he is one tough lil fucker, but because he knows what has to be done without letting emotions stand in the way of doing it. With that being said he is still able to follow his mother’s good advice of doing what he feels is right. He helped Tyresee and his gang when they enter the prison but still had enough since to lock them in a cell and offer to kill their infected group member. He probably saved Rick’s life when he blew a round into Morgan’s chest instead of hiding like he was asked. If you paid close enough attention, it was his call that snapped Rick out of the twilight zone when Michonne showed up at the prison. Even when he tried to ditch her to get a family photo from a diner filled of walkers, he knows when to back down and accept help no matter how capable he thinks he is. He was right to be leery of Machonne until she gained his trust. His judgment of character far exceeds his father’s.

 

Even in the season finale when Carl popped Ben, I think he made the right call. All Ben had to do was put down the gun and it seemed to me that he was trying to be sneaky about it. Why would you try to hand someone your gun when they clearly told you to put it down? And wasn’t it Ben and his father Allen who was talking about over throwing Carl and the group after Carl saved them?

 

I’m excited to see what’s going to happen to him in season 4. He seems more grown up in the show vs. the comics. If it was up to me (and I’m only joking) Rick would die and Machonne and Daryl would adopt Carl. Carl would grow up to be ‘The Zombie Terminator’. Seems legit right? Even if that doesn’t happen, I am officially team Carl.     

 

         

 

              

 

         

 

A Merle Of Constant Sorrow…The Walking Dead re-cap season 3 episode 15 “This Sorrowful Life”

March 27, 2013   1 Comment
  Written by:

(photo courtesy of rickey.org)

(photo courtesy of rickey.org)

For six long years I’ve been in trouble
No pleasure here on earth I found
For in this world I’m bound to ramble
I have no friends to help me now

As expected, the 15th episode of the 3rd season of The Walking Dead finally delivered the goods after a nice slow build-up of the last few shows. Mirroring season 2’s next-to-last episode, there was the death of a major character. However as dramatic as the Rick-Shane showdown was last year, it lacked the sadness and pathos that marked Merle’s demise in “This Sorrowful Life”.

While many folks seem to think this season’s acting highlights came during the Rick and Morgan tense post-traumatic-stress-disorder shouting match of “Clear”, for me the finest acting of this series to date was Michael Rooker’s nuanced performance as Merle this past Sunday night. Previously Merle (or “MORHL!” as his baby bro Daryl likes to call him, similar to the way rednecks call Marlboros “MAW-BURLS”) had mostly been a one-note character, a leering and hateful racist with psychopathic/violent tendencies.

(Although with great politically incorrect lines; one of my faves being the time that he threw the walker in a room with Glenn and said that it would be hungry again in an hour. LOL. Smiley face.)

But in this episode we were allowed to see the weariness of a man struggling with demons and the knowledge that there just isn’t a place for him among most folks, even in this brutal world in which he now finds himself. While the sights of Merle ripping apart prison mattresses in search of drugs or chugging whisky by himself in a car surrounded by walkers were far from subtle, the quiet brokenness and bone-tired expressions of Rooker’s countenance kept the scenes from becoming maudlin.
Even as Carol, Daryl and even his captive Michonne tried their best to reel Merle back in and remind him that he could have a place with the group if he wanted it, Rooker’s haunted eyes let us know that it just wasn’t going to be possible, and cast a sense of foreshadowing that his story was going to have a…well, sorrowful ending. I hesitate to use the word “poetic” to describe Merle’s redemption story, but maybe “lyrical” (in a classic country music sensibility, more on that later) isn’t too far off…

And just as a reminder, here are this writer’s words from my previous prediction write-up:
>I think there have been signs leading up to his redemption cycle coming full-circle, which would be sacrificing himself for his brother and the group. Merle knows he’ll never fit in fully with Rick’s group, no matter how much Hershel Claus sits down and shares the good book with him. He’s all but confessed his sins and going out in a blaze of glory protecting his “family” makes sense. And Merle’s death could lead to some nice dramatic scenes from Daryl. I wouldn’t be surprised if episode 15’s title “This Sorrowful Life” doesn’t turn out to be a reference to Merle himself.

Whoa. I’ll take “Prescient” for $1000, Alex…LOL. Winky face.

When Daryl interrupted walker Merle/MORHL from his lunch of Ben Tartare, the pathetic look on Rooker’s face was every bit as sad + chilling as the moment when walker Sophia shambled out of the barn last year. Acting props to Norman Reedus for a gut-wrenching scene as well. I’ve read/heard that Reedus and Rooker are close off-screen, and Daryl’s display of distraughtness (yes I know that’s not a word) felt quite genuine at the loss of his brother. This was demonstrated by him making a genuine ugly-cry-face, the kind people make when their hearts are really breaking and not the way that actors typically cry (usually in a more photogenic manner). So Daryl gets points for ugly-cry-face, which makes up for his disturbing recent trend of softness he’s been showing lately. Hey, its great to see Daryl’s good guy side, but the writers don’t need to lose sight of the fact that it was his surly cut-you-with-a-broken-beer-bottle attitude that made everyone like him so much in the first place…

And if “Clear” had the feel of a Vietnam-era war movie, “Arrow On The Doorpost” a tense Western, and “Prey” an 80’s slasher flick (ch-ch-ch-ch), “This Sorrowful Life” came across like a mournful little indie flick (and I mean that in the best possible sense). Or perhaps more accurately a good ol’ country song complete with a whisky chuggin’ ne’er-do-well anti-hero looking for a final reckoning  And I don’t mean the modern garbage country on the radio today with laundry list songs about cruisin’ down the dirt roads in brand new Chevy Silverados sung by guys with frosted tips and Ed Hardy T-shirts. I’m talking about the Johnny Cash/David Allen Coe outlaw/white trash songs about desperation, bad decision-making and basically drinking yourself to death…you know: good times. In fact, could the name “Merle” be a reference to Merle Haggard? Yes, I believe I’m going to insist that it is…

But enough about Merle, let’s talk about the finger-chomping one-eyed monster who shot him but apparently NOT IN THE HEAD. Wow, they are really slapping the “villain” paint all over the Gov pretty heavily, aren’t they? He’s progressively gone from somewhat sneaky/probably-not-nice/mildly-disturbed to full-on Darth Jason Kruger Lechter Bin Laden the last few weeks. I fully expected the Gov to kill MORHL, but forcing him to join Team Walker so that a member of Rick’s posse (much less his own brother) could stumble across him was a master stroke. This only reinforces my hunch that even if Phillip Blake dies this Sunday, he will do something utterly reprehensible and soul-ripping to deputy sheriff Rick Grimes and/or family before he checks out.
(But now I’m not sold that the Gov is going to die for sure at the end of the season finale. More on that later.)

Back at the prison, Hershel Claus was reading to his girls from the 91st Psalm, which in absolutely no way indicates that he is going to die soon. Especially when he said to them: “What I wouldn’t do to keep you 2 safe…” (I know what: live to see season 4). Actually, I’m starting to wonder if the writers are making it so very obvious Hershel Claus is dead meat as a diversionary tactic, the old bait-and-switch. While we are watching/waiting for a Woodbury bullet to take out our dispenser of sage greeting-card wisdom, Beth gets Axel’ed instead? Sure, it could happen that way, although I think I may be over-thinking things and sometimes fore-shadowing is just fore-shadowing.

So if Hershel Claus dies, who assumes the mantle of White Morgan Freeman and gets to wear the Dale Horvath Memorial Moral Compass around his neck? Well, Glenn’s “I totally get it now” dialogue with Hersh had the feel of a passing-of-the-torch moment, so he’s the obvious candidate. Especially since he spent the first 2 seasons as Dale’s RV and philosophy padawon before now becoming Hershel’s…

SON-IN-LAW?

Yes, Glenn popped the question on Maggie in the most romantic way possible: by cutting the fingers off a female walker to get her a ring. And the thing is? That made perfect sense to me and I thought nothing of it. Given the show’s occasional propensity for corporate tie-ins (ahem, I’m looking at you, green Hyundai Tucson), I almost expected a tender moment ala Lifetime/Hallmark/Larry Levinson where Glenn extended a Kay’s Jeweler’s box of gnarled rotting fingers to his beloved. Because every kill begins with “K”. He went to Jared? No, actually he just went down to the chain-link fence with a pair of bolt cutters…

I know I said before that a surprise Maggie pregnancy could dramatically shorten Glenn’s lifespan on the show. But I think instead their impending nuptials insure they will live and Hershel will…well, not. By knowing that Glenn will now be the man of the family, Hershel can die in relative peace. Because what he wouldn’t do to keep those 2 (girls) safe…(He said that, you know)
But who can legally perform Glenn + Maggie’s ceremony? Does being a deputy sheriff give Rick the authority? Does the Gov have jurisdiction? That would be awkward. And what do you get newlyweds during a zombie apocalypse…ammo, duct tape? Are they registered at that “Piggly Wiggly up on 85”?

Another pivotal moment towards the end of the show was Rick finally coming to his senses about sacrificing Michonne to the Gov and giving an emotional speech to the group where he rescinded his previous declaration of Ricktatorship. “I’m not the Governor…” he declared, letting us know that spending time around ol’ Phil Blake had taught him a few things about the importance of a democracy (or the seductive dangers of tyranny?). Rick also took the opportunity to demonstrate his rhyming skillz in front of the group by channeling Nipsy Russell and/or Johnnie Cochran when he said:
“He said he’d leave us alone, if I gave him Michonne…”

Hmm, not bad. I wonder what’s next from M.C. Grimey and the Funky Bunch?

If the crossbow bolt don’t hit, you might get bit?

Roses are red,
Hershel is moral,
Is that Lori I just saw?
GET IN THE HOUSE, CORAL!

So now we’re winding down the final episode and it feels like there’s quite a few loose ends to tie up: Andrea’s situation in the Gov’s little shop of horrors (we forgot all about her!), the fates of folks like Milton, Tyrese, etc and oh yeah some attack on the prison or whatever. We are either in store for an amazingly jam-packed episode (which I certainly think it will be to a degree) or…maybe some open-ended items/unresolved business left hanging over the summer. Yes, while last season ended after farm-pocalypse and (the promise of) the introduction of Michonne and prison life, I think this season will more likely end with a major cliff-hanger. Specifically I’m leaning to the idea that Gov Phillip Blake might just ride off into season 4 with something of Rick’s (ie Judith L. A$$-kicker) in tow.

It’s gonna be good…till it’s over. Then it’s gonna really be a sorrowful life for us viewers. Frowny face.

Until next time, some notes + questions:
>Why did Maggie suddenly show up dressed like a Nazi SS Stormtrooper with brown UPS shirt + pants and knee boots?
>Was Michonne’s wire-around-a-pole decapitation the walker kill of the year? Or is it still Daryl’s head-in-the-hatchback?
>Did you know that if you watch the show with close-captioning turned on (yeah, I’m a little deaf), that when the walkers chow down it reads “(munching)” on the screen?
>Did you know that putting “This Sorrowful Life” into google image search yields a photo of a pregnant Kim Kardashian wearing white mom jeans? I think Google was taking my request a little too literally…

And a quick trivia quiz: what grows the s-l-o-w-e-s-t on The Walking Dead?
a. The grass at the prison.
b. Carol’s Jamie Lee Curtis hairdo (sing: “AC-TIV-EE-AHHHH!”)
c. Glenn’s pube-stache.

The answer of course is (c)…you shouldn’t be getting married if your wife and/or her little sister can grow thicker facial hair than you.

Tune in later,
-jcs