Archive for Carl Grimes

The Walking Dead Season Six, Episode Sixteen “Last Day on Earth”

Posted in Entertainment, Horror, Reviews, Supernatural, Television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2016 by Starloggers

negan and the lineup

“As long as it’s all of us, we can do anything.” – Rick Grimes to Maggie Greene

“You ruled the roost, you…built something. You thought you were safe. I get it. But the word is out. you…are not safe. Not even close.” – Negan

The sixteenth episode and the sixth season finale of The Walking Dead opens with Morgan Jones (Lennie James) morgan and horseout in the woods of Northern Virginia looking for Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride). She had run away from their town, Alexandria, because of building guilt over killing people in the past. Now, Morgan finds a horse with a saddle and bridle and begins riding it to continue his search.

Back in Alexandria, the residents are preparing to transport Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) in an RV to Hilltop, a town a day’s drive away, since there is a doctor that can help her. Maggie is pregnant with her husband Glenn Rhee’s (Steven Yeun) child and is experiencing sharp pains in her abdomen, presumably she is in danger of miscarriage. Accompanying her are the town’s leader, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), his teenage son Carl (Chandler Riggs), Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz), his lover Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Aaron (Ross Marquand), and Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt). Before they leave, Rick puts Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) in charge of the town’s defense. They had come into conflict recently with a vicious gang of marauders called the Saviors and everyone is on edge as the Rick’s group leaves in the RV. What they don’t realize is that their fellow residents Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Michonne (Danai Gurira), Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos) and Glenn have been captured by the Saviors in the previous episode.

Later, Morgan rides the horse into an abandoned town with  a few undead walkers shuffling about. He finds Carol badly wounded by a library. Despite her protests about being left alone, he takes her inside the library and tends to her knife wound that she received in the previous episode from fighting some Saviors.

rick and co.

The journey of the RV is stymied when a group of Saviors form a roadblock. Rick and his people step out and he offers to make a deal. This group’s leader (Steven Ogg) demands that Rick and the others turn over their supplies and that one of them may be killed. Being that they are armed with guns, Rick refuses this offer and rather than confront the Savior he has Abraham drive the RV back where they came from and start looking for an alternate route.

In the library, once Carol is mended, Morgan insists on taking her back to Alexandria. She adamantly refuses and states that she cares too much about the Alexandrians. In order to protect them, she has to kill for them, which is something she refuses to do anymore. Morgan leaves her to kill a walker just outside the library. She uses this opportunity to flee the building.

carol on the edge

Carol stumbles through the deserted streets and barely fights off walkers. Just after she kills the last one, she is attacked by Roman (Stuart Greer), one of the Saviors that she confronted in the last episode and she left for dead. Instead, he survived and has been hunting her ever since. He gets the better of her and has her on the ground at gunpoint. Already defeated and weary from her ordeal and her emotions, Carol pleads to be killed. Instead, Roman begins torturing her by shooting her limbs.

Morgan shows up with a gun that Rick gave him last episode and orders him to stop. When Roman refuses, Morgan reluctantly shoots him repeatedly, killing him.

meet the kingdomThe gunfire draws the attention of two armored men. One of them (Daniel Newman), Morgan and Rick briefly encountered in the previous episode. Rick thought he was a Savior and tried shooting him but Morgan stopped him. Now, this same man offers aid for Carol. He and Morgan shake hands.

Rick and the others are having are harder time. No matter where they turn on the roads, they come upon roadblocks by Saviors. Each time, the numbers of Saviors grows ominously larger. One roadblock is different in that a group of chained-together walkers block their RV’s path. When they leave the vehicle to investigate, they discover that two of the walkers have items from Daryl and Michonne, such as his crossbow bolts and a couple of her dreadlocks. An unseen assailant fires at their feet, forcing them back to the RV. But Rick quickly hacks apart the walkers and the chains, which clears a path for them.

rick kills blockers

 

Day turns into night and they are no closer to Hilltop. After more roadblocks, their fuel supply low, and Maggie’s condition worsening they realize they have to do something. Eugene opines that the Saviors may only be on the lookout for an RV. It’s decided that Eugene will drive off with the RV as a lure while Rick and the others will transport Maggie on a stretcher by foot to Hilltop. Before Eugene leaves he gives Rick a “recipe”, instructions on how to make bullets.

carrying maggieRick and his group make their way through the woods in the dark and are just a few miles away from their destination. But taunting whistles announce that they aren’t alone. They hastened their hike but are stopped in their tracks by a spotlight. They are surrounded by an army of Saviors. Nearby is the RV and Eugene held prisoner. The Savior that they first met disarms them and forces them to their knees. Then a nearby van opens up and Daryl, Michonne, Rosita and Glenn are brought out to join Rick and the others. Once that is done the Saviors’ leader Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) emerges from the RV.

A large, imposing man clad in a motorcycle jacket, Negan wields a baseball bat wrapped with barbed wire that he calls Lucille. He informs Rick that he and his people will work for the Saviors from now on and turn over half of what they own to the Saviors. He adds that Rick’s people has killed many of his people and for that he has to make an example. One of the group will be killed. Enjoying the moment, especially the sense of deflated defeat in Rick, Negan decides to randomly pick one of Rick’s party. Once done, he smashes the bat over the victim of his wrath. We do not see who it is, only the POV of the victim as blood pours down the screen before the POV tumbles to the ground and the screen goes black.

negan lectures rick

After all the hoopla and anticipation, the season six finale of The Walking Dead is a mixed bag with a disappointing conclusion. “Last Day on Earth” for the most part had this growing sense of dread over what was to come. We, the viewers knew that Negan was right around the corner, but our heroes didn’t and the anxiousness that we felt as events unfolded was mirrored by Rick’s increasing desperation. He and many of his people started off this episode (and for a good portion of season six) with a sense of bravado that they could do anything. Rick and his people could not be truly faulted, though. They had been through the wringer with many foes and vanquished them, it was only natural that they would become overconfident. But, now they are paying a price. Honestly, they had to expect some kind of reaction from all the Saviors they killed in the last few episodes of The Walking Dead.

rick aaron and sasha

That overconfidence could be the explanation over some of the decisions made by Rick. Why not just head back to Alexandria where it was safer? Why didn’t he realize much sooner that they were being herded?

Strangely enough, the story arc with Morgan was actually the most interesting thing going on in “Last Day on Earth” because for a while many fans have been growing impatient with his non-killing stance and saw it as a hindrance. In this episode, his Pay It Forward approach seems to be paying off with the introduction of the citizens from The Kingdom, a new faction that if mirroring the comic books will become a major ally for the Alexandria Safe Zone. It would be satisfying for Morgan if he ends up joining that community.

As Carol, her behavior is just perplexing. Once an iron lady with a cool head and a pragmatic resolve, she is emotionally falling apart. In recent episodes, Carol has been acting like a meek and helpless housewife, echoing her past. At first, it seemed like an effective ruse to put her enemies’ guards down, but now we’re wondering if it is something else. Perhaps she is starting to suffer from PTSD and if so it’s not a good time because Alexandria needs her now more than ever. But at least, for now, she is safe from Negan.

Regarding Negan, Jeffrey Dean Morgan owned the role the moment he stepped out of that RV. Already a genre favorite thanks to his roles in Watchmen and Supernatural, Morgan’s Negan is an intimidating and sadistic force who is not to be taken lightly. We just wish he had appeared sooner, though it is understandable why the producers wanted to wait until a special moment like the finale to unveil him.

both negans

However, their decision to not reveal who Negan killed was a huge letdown. Never mind the excuses made by them that they wanted a good cliffhanger. Ending the episode like is not an appropriate payoff. In the 100th issue of The Walking Dead comic book, readers saw immediately who Negan killed and everyone got to process over what happened. This did not happen here, unlike Game of Thrones where we see who gets killed at the end of each season and get to express our rage over a period of time. Now, we are stuck waiting several months until the fall to find out who was killed. Good luck to the producers with trying to keep that secret. What is worse is that we won’t be able to fully process the death when it is revealed before being swept up in the next episode. Perhaps, they feared a backlash if they revealed now who died, but that is happening anyway with many disappointed viewers.

So are they worried that people won’t take kindly to the creative decision of who died? Could it be, God forbid, Daryl? Or is it Glenn? It is difficult to say who is the victim and the final moments do not make that clear despite what conspiracy theorists are stating across the Internet. Personally, I think it could be Eugene or Abraham based on Eugene’s apparent farewell expressed before leaving in the RV and Abraham’s recent turn away from a bleak outlook on life. But it could be someone else. All we can do now is speculate until this fall.

José Soto

The Walking Dead Season Six, Episode Nine “No Way Out”

Posted in Entertainment, Horror, Reviews, Supernatural, Television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2016 by Starloggers

blending in

“Faith without works is dead.” – James 2:26

The Walking Dead returned from its mid-season break with “No Way Out” which picks up moments after the previous episode’s coda. In it, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Sasha Williams (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) were returning to the Alexandria Safe Zone in their tanker and stopped by a band of motorcycle thugs on the road. Claiming to being part of Negan’s band, they demanded all of their possessions. However, Daryl killed all of the thugs in one fell swoop with an RPG he had hidden behind the vehicle.

blown up real good

Back at Alexandria, the town is under siege by a horde of walkers that broke through Alexandria’s fortified walls. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his band, which includes his son Carl (Chandler Riggs) and infant daughter Judith, Michonne (Danai Gurira), Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), Jessie Anderson (Alexandria Breckenridge) and her sons Ron (Austin Abrams) and Sam (Major Dodson), escaped from Jessie’s home by smearing themselves with walker guts, thus disguising them.

pseudo walkersOutside in the walker-infested streets, Rick devises a plan to go to a nearby quarry and retrieve their vehicles to lure away the walkers. Gabriel volunteers to take Judith with him to his church for safety. Jessie tries to get Sam to go with the priest, but a visibly nervous Sam insists on accompanying his mother. In the end, he should’ve listened to her. As they make their way past the shuffling undead, Sam grows more anxious and begins hesitating and whimpering. This starts drawing the walkers’ attention and he is soon devoured by them in front of Jessie. Naturally shaken, Jessie begins wailing and is attacked and eaten in turn by more walkers. Despite his horror and grief over losing his girlfriend, Rick is forced to hack off her hand, which is still holding onto Carl. Seeing this enrages Ron who aims a gun at Rick and Carl. Ron is stabbed from behind by Michonne with her katana, but the damage is already done. The gun fired and Carl is shot in the right eye and he falls unconscious. At that point, Rick grabs his son and the trio rushes to the town’s infirmary.

sam eaten

As this is happening another group led by Carol (Melissa McBride) and Morgan Jones (Lennie James) are in a townhouse basement and plotting to rescue the town’s doctor Denise Cloyd (Merritt Wever). The two are at odds with each other because Morgan showed leniency towards a captured Wolf thug (Benedict Samuel) that escaped with Denise as his hostage. Out in the streets, the Wolf and Denise have an uneasy alliance as they evade walkers. He tries to convert her over to his nihilistic beliefs, but she refuses and he begins to waver. At one point, they make for a ladder at a watchtower leading to outside. The Wolf makes it but goes back to help Denise from a walker. Then he is bitten by a walker and she tries to take him to the infirmary, but he is shot by Carol from nearby and Denise leaves him for dead.

She arrives at the infirmary in time to tend to Carl, and Rick, now despondent and angered, charges outside to kill walkers. Michonne and others at the infirmary join him. In turn, Carol, Morgan and their group join him as well. Along the way, Morgan kills the Wolf who by now has turned into a walker.

Seeing this act of defiance, other human survivors, including Gabriel join in on the last-ditch defense. They make progress in killing walkers, but there are too many of them. daryl blows up stuffWhen it seems as if all hope is lost, Daryl, Sasha and Abraham arrive. First they save Glenn Rhee (Steven Yuen), his wife Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) and Enid (Katelyn Nacon), then Daryl dumps gasoline from the tanker into a nearby pond and lights it on fire with another RPG. This attracts all of the remaining walkers who go into the flaming body of water and are burnt.

carl recoversThe next morning, Alexandria’s streets are littered with the bodies of hundreds of walkers. The human survivors are weary but relieved of what they accomplished. Inside the infirmary, Rick talks to his unconscious son and expresses his pride at how the townspeople transformed into a hard group of survivors and how he plans to rebuild the community. Carl shows a sign of recovery when he squeezes Rick’s hand.

jessie eaten

“No Way Out” was an exhaustive, thrilling and intense mid-season premier. The tension was quite palpable throughout the episode, which was aided by fast editing, graphic makeup, shocking deaths and a throbbing score that added to the intensity of what was going on. Equally as troubling to watch were the gruesome, sudden deaths of the Anderson family starting with young Sam. What made his demise so cringing were his final panicked thoughts about self-fulfilling fears of being eaten alive (thanks to Carol’s warnings from last season), which unnerved him so much that they led to his death moments later.

The bulk of the action was wisely spent on day afterAlexandria but “No Way Out” at the start pointed out a new direction and menace to The Walking Dead. The dreaded Negan is coming and Rick and company haven’t seen anything yet when it comes to brutality. The fact that this episode mirrored the events from the comic books quite closely (Jessie’s death, Carl losing an eye) and that the showrunners want the show to follow the comic books makes it more likely that an expected death is coming by the season’s end. negan's goonsThere have been reports that Lauren Cohan was distressed after filming the season finale so it’s easy to conclude that a major character will finally meet the grim reaper. If it is Glenn, the event will infuriate many viewers who went through weeks of agony wondering if he really died back at the dumpster. At this point, it could be another character that meets the end at Negan’s hands. Some fans noted how Daryl was injured on his shoulder blade and since he usually dons a vest with angel wings on the back, they theorize the injury foreshadows something ominous for Daryl.

On the whole, it was a relief to see the meek Alexandrians, Gabriel and Eugene Porter (Josh McDermott) finally growing some gumption and rising to the occasion. Now that they fought off the walker horde will they be able to handle Negan and his gang? Rick may think he is building a new world for his son but that dream will surely be dashed soon.

José Soto

The Walking Dead Season Six, Episode Eight “Start To Finish”

Posted in Entertainment, Horror, Reviews, Supernatural, Television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 7, 2015 by Starloggers

jawless

Dolor hic tibi proderit olim – Latin phrase meaning “This pain will be useful to you”

The eighth episode (and mid-season finale) of The Walking Dead’s sixth season begins immediately after the end of the last episode. A watchtower has collapsed on the metal walls that surround the Alexandria Safe Zone from the undead walkers outside. Now that the flesh-eaters have open access to the town, the townspeople have no choice but to run for their lives.

panick

As people scramble this way and that from the seemingly endless tide of walkers, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and the town’s leader Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh) fire upon the walkers. At one point, she saves his life from a walker but is injured in the melee. The duo are then joined by Michonne (Danai Gurira), Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), Rick’s son Carl (Chandler Riggs), Jessie Anderson (Alexandra Breckenridge) and her son Ron (Austin Jacobs), who all make it to Jessie’s home before the walkers get to them. At her house her younger son Sam (Major Dodson) and Rick’s infant daughter Judith are already there.

maggie climbsElsewhere, Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan) scrambles up on top of a scaffold beside one of the walls and is trapped there as walkers wait below. Outside the town, her husband Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) make their way to the gates and from the safety of a tree spot Maggie from afar. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt), Rosita Espinosa (Christian Serratos) and Tara Chambler (Alanna Masterson) use a garage as shelter. Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) suffers a concussion while fighting off walkers and is helped to a townhouse by Morgan Jones (Lennie James). In that residence Morgan is keeping a Wolf gang member (Benedict Samuel) prisonerwho Carol wants to kill for attacking  Alexandria earlier. The Wolf is being treated for an infected cut by the town’s doctor Denise (Merritt Wever).

At Jessie’s home, Michonne and Rick find out that Deanna has a walker bite mark and is already feverish, indicating she will die soon. She gives Michonne written messages for Maggie and her son Spencer (Austin Nichols). She also tells Rick that he is now in charge of the residents and to protect them well. In the garage, Carl and Ron get into a fight because Ron is still bitter about Rick executing his murderous father. During the fight a window is broken which gives walkers access into the home. Despite efforts from everyone to barricade the walkers, the undead creatures soon flood the ground level which forces everyone upstairs.

Realizing they can’t remain, Rick comes up with a plan. He and Michonne kill two walkers, drag the bodies upstairs and gut the bodies. The plan (used by Rick and Glenn in the show’s first season) is to cover everyone with blood and innards of the walkers to disguise themselves.

Back at the townhouse, Carol feigns sleep carol standofffrom her concussion which drops Morgan’s guard. She bolts down to the basement where the Wolf is being held and attempts to stab him with a knife. Morgan arrives in the nick of time and the two begin fighting. Eventually he defeats her, but is then knocked out by the Wolf who grabs Carol’s knife and Denise as a hostage.

Moments later, Eugene, Tara and Rosita enter the room which is adjacent to the garage they were sheltering in. The Wolf orders them to lower their guns and takes one of the weapons. Keeping Denise as his hostage, the Wolf soon flees from the townhouse.

last message to michonne

At Jessie’s house, everyone, except Deanna, are donned with blood-smeared sheets. Michonne offers Deanna to kill her, but she refuses and brandishes her own gun. She plans to kill herself before she dies and turns into a walker.

They say their goodbyes to Deanna and slowly, hesitantly make their way downstairs. So far so good, the walkers ignore them and they make it outside holding hands. But Sam, who is visibly nervous, begins to call out for his mother and attracts the walkers’ attention.

disguise 2

In a post-credit epilogue, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Abraham Ford (Michael Cudltiz) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) are heading back to Alexandria in their truck. They are stopped by bikers  who demand their supplies who they say belong to their leader Negan.

“Start To Finish” was a nerve-wracking, nail-biting mid-season finale that had its share of faults, which undermine the episode to a small extent. In spite of them and they were frustrating, the episode was well crafted and suspenseful at many points. Especially in the final scenes which showed the slow, careful escape from Jessie’s house while intercut with Deanna’s final defiant moments.

defiant deannaAs the leading resident of Alexandria, Deanna was probably the most interesting new character with her wild and justified swings from boundless optimism to dark, catatonic despair. The character was played wonderfully by Tovah Feldshuh who made every moment she was on screen captivating to watch and never dull. In the short time Deanna was on the show she left an impact and will be missed.

One can’t help wondering if she second-guessed her decision to bring in the nearly feral Rick and his group. Most likely after this crisis passes (if Alexandria is still standing) most residents will certainly blame Rick and his group. They all had a plum life before Rick came along and now boom! People start dropping like flies, the town gets attacked and now the walkers have broken through the gates. In reality, it was only a matter of time before catastrophe hit them, but Rick makes a mighty convenient scapegoat. Let’s see if this plays out before Negan comes along with his baseball bat.

Will Alexandria survive? It’s hard to see how, disguisewhich makes the February episodes must-see TV to see how and if Rick and company survive their predicament. Most likely some won’t make it, the first victim will probably be Sam. That boy is clearly disturbed by what he sees of the outside world as seen by his macabre drawings where he is surrounded by walkers. But while his calling out to his mother puts the group in danger, one can’t help wondering what about Judith? Wouldn’t she as an infant be making noises? That would’ve been a more effective way to conclude the episode. This speculation also leads to wondering if the idea of disguising themselves was a sound one. The last time this ploy was used it had mixed results. Couldn’t most of them hide out in an attic or even the rooftop while Rick or Michonne did the disguise and went for the armory?

tobin tara rosita

Another person that should be culled at this point is Morgan. His unrealistic adherence to not killing is an endangerment to everyone around him. It was easy to follow this philosophy back in the cabin with Eastman where nothing was going on and there weren’t any dastardly humans around, but in that group it’s a hindrance. Oddly, while thinking on this, Morgan’s viewpoint are probably more in line with the softer Alexandrians than with Rick’s group. On the whole, expect the population of Alexandria to drop dramatically when The Walking Dead returns.

In any event, we’ll see what happens in a couple of months.

José Soto

The Walking Dead Season Six, Episode Seven “Heads Up”

Posted in Entertainment, Horror, Reviews, Supernatural, Television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 27, 2015 by Starloggers

walkers gotta eat

You honor the dead by going on, even when you’re scared. You live because they don’t get to.” –Glenn Rhee

The nagging question about Glenn Rhee’s (Steven Yeun) fate at the end of The Walking Dead episode “Thank You” trappedis finally answered in the opening moments of the seventh episode of the TV show. “Heads Up” opens with the final moments of “Thank You” where Glenn and Nicholas (Michael Traynor) are trapped on top of a dumpster surrounded by walkers. After Nicholas kills himself, his body falls onto Glenn and causes both to fall to the floor. The walkers then begin feasting on them, or so we thought. In actuality, with Nicholas’ body on top of Glenn, the walkers engorged themselves on Nicholas’ body and ignore Glenn. This gives him a chance to crawl under the dumpster and wait out the walkers.

After a few days, the walkers give up and shuffle away from the dumpster area. Glenn crawls out and is tossed a bottle of water by Enid (Katelyn Nacon) who is on a rooftop. The last time she was seen in the episode “JSS” she left the Alexandria Safe Zone when it came under attack by the mysterious Wolves gang.

enid and glenn

Glenn tries to get her to return to Alexandria with him but she refuses and the two play a cat-and-mouse game in the town. When he finally catches up to her she holds a gun to him, but he grabs it from her and orders her to join him.

Rick stands guardBack in Alexandria, everyone is on edge as the undead walker horde encircle the walled town. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), the de facto leader of the town, inspects the walls keeping the town safe and notices walker blood leaking through. Later, he and his son Carl (Chandler Riggs) teach Ron Anderson (Austin Abrams) how to shoot a gun. What they don’t realize is that Ron holds a bitter grudge against them; he is jealous that Enid seems to like Carl better and is angered that Rick previously executed his father. After the lesson, Ron sneaks into the armory and steals bullets for a gun given to him by Rick.

Rick meets with Michonne (Danai Gurira) and ponder how to lure the walkers away from the town and consider having someone sneak out and get into to a car to distract the walkers.

By himself, Rick goes to the walls and tries to reinforce them. Tobin (Jason Douglas) soon joins him and offers his help, adding that the inexperienced residents are willing to learn from Rick’s hardened group.  Rick complies. As this goes on, the residents learn self defense from Rosita (Christian Serratos) and the town’s actual leader Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh) starts making plans for expanding the town, confident that they will survive the current crisis.

Just outside the town, Glenn and Enid discover all the walkers surrounding Alexandria. But he find some green balloons that were used by Rick and his group to distract walkers in the episode “First Time Again”. Glenn spots a helium tank in the bushes and more balloons that need inflating. He decides to use them to distract the walkers away from the town.

spencer on a wire

At this time, Rick, Tobin and Morgan Jones (Lennie James) spot Deanna’s adult son Spencer (Austin Nichols) trying to leave town by shimmying on a grappling line he erected from the town’s watchtower. Inexperienced, Spencer hangs perilously over the walkers who try reaching for him. The line weakens and he falls down. As Rick, Morgan and Tobin pull up Spencer back over the wall using the rope, Tara Chambler (Alanna Masterson) distracts the walkers by shooting several of them. Spencer is saved, but Rick screams at him for his foolish act. Spencer explains he was only trying to get to a car to lure the walkers, but Rick won’t have it because he endangered other people with his actions.

Once Spencer is safe, Morgan goes to the infirmary and asks the town’s novice doctor Denise (Merritt Wever) for some antibiotics. He wants to treat the young wounded Wolf (Benedict Samuel) that he captured and is keeping hidden from the others. Morgan is already at odds with Rick and the others because of his pacifistic ways that allowed surviving Wolves to flee town. Those same Wolves later attacked Rick when he was outside luring walkers back in the episode “Thank You”.

Denise convinces Morgan to let her come with him to treat the Wolf. However, Carol (Melissa McBride) sees Morgan and soon confronts him at the townhouse where the Wolf is held prisoner.

Ron sneaks up

At another part of town, Carl is walking along the streets. Behind him Ron sneaks up behind him and gets ready to shoot him.

Back at the walls, Rick and Tobin continue propping up the walls. Deanna comes over to thank him for saving Spencer. At this time, Maggie Green (Lauren Cohan), who is doing sentry duty on top of the walls sees balloons floating upwards outside town. She’s ecstatic because she realizes that her husband Glenn is alive.

But before anyone can celebrate, the fragile watchtower, weakened from Spencer’s exploit, collapses on one of the walls and breaks it down giving the walkers access into Alexandria.

First of all, let’s go over Glenn’s fate. After leaving us hanging for nearly a month the showrunners of The Walking Dead finally revealed what happened to him. Well, after all the angst and hand-wringing on the Internet commemorating Glenn, it turns out he survived. Honestly, his glenn hidessurvival is highly implausible and reeks of cop out. It’s hard to believe that even with bait on top of him that the walkers would completely ignore Glenn. Wouldn’t a couple try to reach for his protruding limbs? The entire affair is just like those old cliffhangers where you see the hero go over the cliff in a car and in the next episode you see him jumping out of the car just in time before it goes over.

While we’re all glad that Glenn is alive and somewhat well, it all feels like a play on our emotions and a cheat. There isn’t any way this can be replicated away in The Walking Dead, a series that is renowned for unexpected character deaths. What’s going to happen next time? Will audiences buy it? Doubtful. If the showrunners continue down this path then this will be the Jump-the-Shark moment for The Walking Dead.

glenn emerges

Still, we’re happy to see that Glenn made it out of that town. Now he can’t be killed off by Negan as in the comic books because he truly has nine lives. How about Abraham? He was losing his marbles for a while there and in the last episode seemed to have gone a road to inner peace–the perfect person to kill off in The Walking Dead.

As an episode “Heads Up” was rather enjoyable and terrifically sets up the mid-season finale with worthwhile cliffhangers that leave viewers hanging. Given the unsatisfying watchtowerway some recent cliffhangers were resolved (offscreen as with Rick’s escape from the stranded RV), the stakes are high for meaningful resolutions to this episode’s cliffhangers. The most cringeworthy being the final shot where the watchtower collapses. Still, expect given the fact that the next episode is the mid-season finale expect even more cliffhangers as the walkers swarm Alexandria.

It’s do or die time, literally, for the Alexandria residents. Thankfully “Heads Up” had some badly needed establishing scenes of the townspeople in training and starting to get into proper survival mode. It was also a relief to see that Rick and his group seem to be gelling in with the residents who are coming around to Rick’s way of thinking.

eugene learnsOne nagging thought comes to mind. In one of the training scenes where Rosita teaches a group on how to properly use a machete, her friend Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) is not only in the class taking lessons but is visibly hesitant about handling a weapon. We know that Eugene has a cowardly streak but last season he’s shown that when push comes to shove he will rise to the occasion so why the sudden reversal? Plus, he’s more experienced to the ways of the outside world unlike the Alexandrians. He should have more of an idea on how to survive.

In any event, expect lots of gore, action and thrills in the next episode. Plus, lots of water-cooler talk after it airs.

Waldermann Rivera

The Walking Dead Season Six, Episode Two “JSS”

Posted in Entertainment, Horror, Reviews, Supernatural, Television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 20, 2015 by Starloggers

carol and lennie fight wolf

Just Survive Somehow – A note written by Enid for Carl

The second episode in season six of The Walking Dead chronicles the citizens of Alexandria as the events of the previous episode “First Time Again” unfolded. They try to live as close to a normal life as possible being that they’re in the midst of the walker apocalypse. Still, an air of unease permeates the walled-in town, which culminates in an attack by the mysterious marauders known as the Wolves.

Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) is busy sharing recipes with a few housewives as she keeps up her veneer of being a meek housewife. That illusion is forever shattered later when at her home when she spots outside her window one of the wives viciously attacked and killed by a Wolf. From there Carol heads for the town’s armory. On her way, she kills one of the Wolves and disguises herself as one of them. The ruse works as she methodically gets close enough to several Wolves and kills them before they can get to the guns stored at the armory.

carol w 2

Along her route to the armory she finds Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) and instructs him to stay home and defend his infant sister Judith. Soon, Enid (Katelyn Nacon) comes by the Grimes home to say goodbye to Carl because Alexandria isn’t safe and as flashbacks in the episode’s cold opening reveal she is a traumatized loner. Carl manages to convince her to stay at his home and help him defend it. While Carl is able to get her to stay momentarily, he is unable to convince Ron Anderson (Austin Abrams) to stay with him, even after he saves Ron’s life.

Unknown to Carl, Ron is jealous of Carl’s friendship with Enid and hates Carl’s father Rick (Andrew Lincoln) for executing his father Pete (Corey Brill) in the episode “Conquer”. Instead of staying at the Grimes household, Ron goes home in time to see his mother Jessie (Alexandra Breckinridge) kill an intruding Wolf with a pair of scissors.

jessie kills 2

Spencer Monroe (Austin Nichols) is on a lookout tower and trying to pick off scattered Wolves with his rifle. He spots a cargo truck racing towards the town’s main gate and fires at the driver. Spencer kills the driver but the truck crashes into a wall and spencerthe vehicle begins sounding the loud, continuous horn that was heard at the end of “First Time Again”, which ruined the plan to lure walkers away from Alexandria. Spencer opens the driver side door and is greeted by a walker that is quickly killed by a newly arrived Morgan Jones (Lennie James). Morgan had been with the Alexandrians who were luring away the walker super horde and hightailed back to town when the truck horn started blaring. After he turns off the horn, Morgan senses Spencer’s fear and tells him to hide as he enters the town.

Spencer soon finds his mother, Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) outside the walls with Maggie (Lauren Cohan). Before the attack, Maggie was consoling the town’s mayor to resume her role and continue her late husband’s expansion. Deanna tells Maggie that she won’t go into the town because she’ll be a liability. Maggie tells Spencer to keep his mother safe as she enters the town to help out.

morgan fights wolf

Meanwhile, Morgan quickly defeats with his staff all the Wolves he finds and saves the lives of many residents including Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam). His method of dealing with the Wolves contrasts sharply with Carol since he leaves the Wolves beaten but alive. On the other hand, Carol coldly kills them.

Slowly the tide turns against the Wolves, and they flee back into the woods. In the aftermath, Enid exits the town, leaving behind a note for Carl that simply states: “Just Survive Somehow”. Aaron (Ross Marquand) finds on the body of one of the Wolves his own backpack that contained pictures of Alexandria. He lost it during an encounter with walkers in the episode “Conquer” and now Aaron is distraught with the knowledge that those pictures led the Wolves to his town.

Morgan undergoes a crisis of his own when one of the last Wolves (Benedict Samuel) he finds is the same one he encountered in “Conquer” and spared. The two men battle and carol and morgan walk different pathsconcludes with Morgan delivering a decisive blow. This encounter rattles him because it undermines his non-violent philosophy. Throughout the episode, he implored any Wolf he battled that violence only leads to more violence. After the battle as he leaves town, Morgan and Carol cross paths without acknowledging each other.

“JSS” has quickly become a fan favorite, many touting it as one of The Walking Dead’s best episodes. For a TV show that boasts so many exceptional episodes, this bestowment isn’t a small feat. Featuring intense action set pieces, nail-biting tension, unexpected character examinations and minimal dialogue, this episode is a true standout.

A nitpick about the season premiere was that it ignored so many of the core characters. Well, now we know what they were up to when Rick was carrying out his master plan. What was so memorable about “JSS” is that most of the characters were more vulnerable. Consider this, if it was Rick and Daryl (Norman Reedus) who were in Alexandria we viewers wouldn’t be so concerned because they can take care of themselves. Now the only hardcore walker fighters were Morgan and Carol, who both had absorbing character development.

For Morgan, tantalizing clues are peppered about his past. How did he become so adept at using a walking staff as such a formidable weapon? When we last saw him in season three, Morgan was a broken man, so how did he find his way back? More importantly, were the suggestions that he was a much more violent man and his experience in “JSS” has threatened to disrupt his inner peace and revert him to a more violent person.

As for Carol, it’s astounding how radically carol disguise 2the character has changed from a meek, abused housewife in season one into a brusque and calculating killing machine. This transformation has been evident last season, but there are cues in “JSS” that there are cracks in her armor. By the end of the episode, she quietly starts to cry after taking stock of the carnage and seeing the corpses of the housewives she was friendly with at the episode’s start. This doesn’t make her weak, it just demonstrates that she still has a heart. But will this mean she starts going down Morgan’s more serene path as implied when the two combatants passed each other? It will be interesting to see the two popular characters reverse roles.

denise patientOther characters had very memorable moments, even a newly introduced one: Dr. Denise Cloyd (Merritt Wever). A cowardly soulmate to Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt), Denise was appointed as the town’s doctor after Pete’s death even though she has minimal medical training. In “JSS” she goes through a fiery baptism where she’s forced to handle life-and-death emergencies and nearly buckles. Only Eugene’s encouragement to not give in to her fear keeps her going. Eugene’s actions in this episode were commendable in that he saw his cowardice in Denise and knew that she needed help and gave her the right words that she needed.

One of the most fascinating characters in jssthis episode was Enid. With little dialogue or explanation we understand her outlook in life and why she is so distant. After Enid witnessed her parents being eaten by walkers in the cold opener, she built up walls to keep her alive and sane. Sadly, while it enables her to survive a brutal world it disallows her from forming any meaningful relationships, chiefly Carl. Her fatalistic view of life prevented her from seeing that defending Alexandria was possible, although she knows that in the long term Alexandria is doomed so it’s better to leave while she can. Some have speculated that she may have been in league with the Wolves, but that’s doubtful, Enid is too much of a loner who operates under her JSS outlook. But, is just surviving enough? That is to be explored.

José Soto

The Walking Dead Season Five, Episode Fifteen “Try”

Posted in Entertainment, Horror, Reviews, Supernatural, Television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 28, 2015 by Starloggers

 

crazy rick

“It’s their world. We’re just living in it…”Enid, telling Carl about the walkers

deannaThe pre-credits scene of episode fifteen – and the season’s penultimate episode – of The Walking Dead‘s season five, “Try”, opens as Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh), Reg (Steve Coulter), and their son Spencer (Austin Nichols) mourn Aiden (Daniel Bonjour), devoured by walkers in episode fourteen, “Spend”. Lighting candles, they sit quietly, each with his own thoughts. Deanna puts on a rock music CD that plays Nine Inch Nails, evidently something that Aiden treasured. Carol (Melissa McBride) brings a tuna casserole to the doorstep with a condolence note. Deanna leaves the casserole outside and burns the note…After seeing a remote light outside the community, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Aaron (Ross Marquand) go exploring and come to a shocking realization: the walkers are invading the territory in increasing numbers, and even worse, there seem to be people lurking around…

Post-credits, the show cuts between Glenn (Steven Yeun) explaining the ill-fated supply run to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), and Deanna watching a filmed Nicholas (Michael Traynor) giving a fabricated version, painting Glenn as the guilty and reckless one. Deanna bars both men from holding firearms and any further community exits until the issue is investigated. Rick sympathizes with Glenn and feels that the people of the community are ignorant of reality, and with a grim hint of possible things to come, tells Glenn that the community’s rules don’t apply to them…

Carol catches a tired Rick later that night, and tells him of further abuse at the home of Pete (Corey Brill) and Jessie Anderson (Alexandra Breckenridge), told to her by their young son Sam (Major Dodson). Rick goes out to watch the Anderson house, a pistol in his hand. Pete walks by and greets him, friendly enough, but is spooked when Rick answers in a menacing tone to go away.

The next morning, Rosita (Christian Serratos) notifies Michonne (Danai Gurira) about the missing Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), last seen in watchtower guard duty. While sashasearching outside the walls for her, they talk about how things have changed for them now that they are living in a protected community; Rosita notes that Michonne didn’t even bring her katana for this outside venture. Further along, they find freshly-killed walkers with bullet holes, and realize that Sasha is outside hunting walkers. They find her and try to bring her back, but she spurns their offer, and continues stalking, explaining that she is tired of being “on the defense” anymore. Just then, a large wave of walkers comes through the forest and attacks, and the three put them down. Sasha remembers how she told Noah (Tyler James Williams) that he was not going to make it. Tired by this outburst, she agrees to return with the other two.

rick and deanna

Rick interrupts Deanna, silently mourning at her son’s grave, and alerts her to Pete’s abusive behavior. He is surprised that she already knows, but is unwilling to separate him from Jessie or execute him because of his needed surgeon’s skills. She suggests that if it gets worse, she will have him exiled, to which Rick strongly objects on grounds that he can still pose a danger by seeking revenge.

carl and enidCarl Grimes (Chandler Riggs) links up with Enid (Katelyn Nacon) outside. They walk together and begin to bond over their shared experiences as young survivors in a new world. Walkers (one with a “W” carved onto its forehead) begin to emerge from the forest, and Enid distracts one by throwing an alarm clock, but the two are forced to hide in a hollow tree until the walkers bypass them. Carl briefly holds her hand, and the two gaze into each other’s eyes with an undercurrent of romantic tension.

Back at the community, Glenn confronts Nicholas. Livid, he struggles to control himself as he tells the veteran resident that men like him should have died at the hands of the walkers, and that he was lucky to have pulled through alive. Furthermore, he threatens Nicholas, warning him never to set foot outside of the walls again. Later, Nicholas sneaks away and retrieves a hidden gun, the same one that Rick hid when his group first arrived in Alexandria, but was stolen.

dead walker

Daryl and Aaron are also outside, where they encounter a grisly find: some dismembered body parts and a naked woman who had been tied to a tree and eaten alive by walkers, now a walker herself. There is a “W” carved into her forehead. They put the woman down, frightened at the revelation that this happened only recently…

Rick confronts Jessie at her home, explaining that he knows her dark secret. Jessie is unsympathetic to Rick’s fightposturing, telling him that he is only making things worse, and assuring him that she can fix her relationship with Pete. Rick remains unconvinced, but obsessed with Jessie, he returns later. She finally gives in, agreeing to his protection just as Pete comes home. Angry at Rick’s presence, he orders Rick out, but in a show of defiance Jessie orders Pete to leave. Pete blows up and attacks Rick. A brutal fight ensues, making its way to the street, where the surprised townspeople come out to witness it. Rick finally subdues Pete, pulling out his pistol and threatening to kill him if he steps out of line. Deanna orders Rick to stand down, but Rick points his gun at the crowd and goes on a rant telling Deanna how Alexandria has grown too complacent and will eventually destroy itself. As he is ranting, Michonne sneaks up from the side and knocks him unconscious. During the incident, Sasha is killing walkers from the guard tower, and kills one with a “W” carved on its forehead…

“Try” is one of the most mediocre episodes of the season, not nearly as sappy and boring as episode ten, “Them”, but not as good as episode fourteen, “Spend”. The emerging storyline with Daryl’s and Aaron’s finds is exciting and coming along methodically with great suspense. It’s likely the murderous outsiders will have a play in the upcoming season finale. Regarding Daryl and Aaron, there’s a strangely positive chemistry between the two, with some element of mutual respect, even though the two are from completely different backgrounds.

daryl and aaron

Same too for the worsening problems between Nicholas and Glenn. The decision for the viewers to hear Nicholas’ story via videotape was an interesting touch on the show’s behalf, adding a certain coldness and artificial impression to the young man’s fabrications. The confrontation between the two was one of the more well-scripted and believable this season. Beyond this, the episode begins to get shaky. Here’s a breakdown:

  • Rick is a seasoned cop yet just takes the word from Carol that Pete is an abusive father and husband. Wouldn’t he try interrogating him first before jumping to conclusions? When did he all go from being a level-headed and collected leader to someone who has no self- control?
  • Rick is aghast that Deanna is willing to look the other way because Pete is a doctor. She does have a point – after all isn’t he looking after Tara (Alana Masterson), one of Rick’s own? Wouldn’t Rick show some patience or at least tell Daryl and Aaron to keep an eye out on the outside for doctors? They are near D.C., and as the episodes in Atlanta show, major cities may mean the possibility of finding doctors, medical supplies and equipment. Why not just go to the capitol?
  • Last season, Rick ripped out the fight 2throat of a rapist, and has slugged it out with many a tough opponent. All of a sudden he has a difficult time taking out the unseasoned – and probably half-soused Pete? The fight should’ve been over in less than a minute.
  • The PTSD storyline with Sasha is so old that it’s even being edited out of the cliché books. Didn’t we go through this last season with her brother Tyreese? To make matters worse, the dialogue between Sasha, Rosita, and Michonne was awful.
  • With Nicholas proving to be a cowardly slug, wouldn’t Rick at least have one of his people keep an eye on him so that he can be seen outside the town, and they would know that he stole Rick’s gun?
  • With an increased amount of walkers seen on the outside – some even bumping up against the town walls – wouldn’t Rick have begun to advise Deanna on the importance of added protection, strengthening the existing foundations, or training the people to handle themselves better?
  • The storyline with Carl and Enid seems more like a feeble attempt to capture The Hunger Games-loving younger viewers. Watching carl and enid 2the two teens prance around in the woods, where the walkers seemed to be more like annoying nuisances, was the most unrealistic storyline this season – and there is heavy competition indeed to win that title. The writers seemed to be copying those older movies where lovestruck teens from industrial towns run out to the countryside where they can hold hands and dream about their future, far away from the hometown grit and smog. The only problem is, this storyline doesn’t seem to work so well when there are flesh-eating zombies around. To make it worse on us viewers, now they are fighting walkers with alarm clocks? Hey, maybe they can defeat the walkers by making them wake up every morning at 4:00. Soon they will be begging for mercy. And hiding in a hollowed tree? When was the last time you even saw a tree like that? And there just happened to be one right there?
  • With all these happenings in town, shouldn’t Rick and Carol be amping up the takeover or at least planning on leaving town since they’ve outgrown their welcome?

At this point, the only way The Walking Dead can redeem itself is by coming up with a rip-roarin’ season finale evocative of the memorable and thrilling second-season closer “Besides The Dying Fire”. It should have an invasion by – a) walkers, b) evil renegades, like those who killed that woman and carved a “W” everywhere, or c) both – is imminent. Morgan (Lennie James) was seen a couple of times this season, and perhaps this will be his return. I welcome it, not just because he was a likable character, but because he was a tough, straight-talkin’ dude who understands how the new world works. Also, it will add good dialogue and a realistic storyline. That’s a plus indeed.

Evan Rothfeld

The Walking Dead Season Five, Episode Twelve “Remember”

Posted in Entertainment, Horror, Reviews, Supernatural, Television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 6, 2015 by Starloggers

“It’s all about survival now, at any cost. People out there are always looking for an angle, looking to play on your weakness. They measure you by what they can take from you, by how they can use you to live…”- Rick Grimes

Remember approach gates

The pre-credits scene of episode twelve of The Walking Dead‘s season five, “Remember”, opens as the survivors shuffle towards the  community’s gate, anxiously waiting to enter. Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) snags a possum, spooking Nicholas the gatekeeper (Michael Traynor). As the massive iron gates close behind them, they walk inside and look around, guns still drawn. Ordered to give up their weapons, Rick – speaking for the group – refuses. Sensing tension, Aaron (Ross Marquand) intervenes on the group’s behalf, telling them they can meet the community leader, Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) first. Welcome, survivors, to the Alexandria Free Zone…

interviewPost-credits, Rick meets Deanna Monroe at her well-furnished and comfortable house. As Rick pokes around her study, Deanna introduces herself. An elegant, assertive, well-spoken fiftysomething, she receives Rick’s OK to film their meeting on reasons of “transparency” in the community. She begins with some basic questions. During the Q&A session, the two size each other up. Rick is somewhat edgy and prone to clipped answers. Calmly and methodically, Deanna explains her story. She was a former Ohio Congresswoman who was evacuated to Alexandria during the outbreak. Alexandria was a planned community specifically designed to be self sufficient with its own cisterns, solar grid, eco-based sewage filtration, etc.. She tells Rick that the community’s massive walls were built with construction materials taken from a semi-built shopping center nearby. People drifted in, little by little, and the community took shape.

Rick is shocked to learn that she has never lived outside during the entire outbreak. Deana explains that the community is hungry for people who have lived on the outside, and that deannaRick’s group is the first that they have invited in such a manner. Rick advises her to “keep the gates closed”, explaining that the outside is dominated by survival of the fittest. As if reading Rick’s character, she asks him if he is “already looking after this place”, and explains that Aaron told her she can trust him. Rick deflects the question and emphasizes his survival credos. Deanna admits that she, too, has committed unsavory acts, mainly exiling three people who didn’t work out in the community – an act which was effectively killing them. Finishing the meeting, she explains that she is good at reading people and tells Rick she needs someone like him to help their community. She asks Rick – who she correctly guessed was a cop – to quickly decide his plans of whether to stay or not.

new home

Later, the group gives up their weapons, piling the guns into a small storage container. Aaron takes the survivors to their new homes, two huge suburban mansions located adjacent to each other. Rick, his infant daughter, and his son Carl (Chandler Riggs) enter one of the houses, preparing to settle in. They marvel at the comfortable and homey touches that they lacked for so long, such as a modern kitchen with running water. Rick immediately showers, basking in the hot spray as dirt washes off his body. While drying, he shaves off his thick haircutbeard. Answering the doorbell, he meets Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge), an attractive young woman sent by Deanna to deliver supplies. She sees Rick’s shaggy wet hair flapping and offers to cut it, explaining she used to be a stylist. Rick reluctantly agrees and the two talk. She offers to introduce Carl to her boys, who are around his age. Rick is quiet at first, but begins to warm up.

Daryl is next for Deanna’s filmed interview. Unable to part with his crossbow – and still without a shower – he paces restlessly, like a caged tiger, while holding his possum. Later, he skins and eats it on the porch…Some of the survivors are suspicious of the Zone. Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride) wonders why the community is “giving” the huge mansions away. Rick remarks about how they took the weapons and now seem to be splitting them up, by housing them in two separate homes. The conversation ends with no real answers, but Rick declares that they should all stay in the same home that night for safety. Come evening, rick and carolthey all hunker down and relax in the comforts, quietly spreading out impromptu sleeping arrangements, although Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and Daryl stand guard by the windows. Michonne (Danai Gurira) confides in Rick that while she agrees with his suspicion, she has a good feeling about the place. Deanna comes by to check if everything is OK, and admires the group’s way of “standing together”. She admits that she has already decided on a job for Rick and Michonne, but won’t tell them just yet.

That night Rick, unable to sleep, enters the kitchen, and takes a knife from the drawers….

The next day, Michonne has her interview with Deanna. Plucking a book from the leader’s well-stocked library, she tells her that this community is what all the survivors wanted…

It’s a beautiful day, and Carl walks off with Judith for a pleasant stroll, joining a loose crowd. Rick also decides on a walkabout, in contrast to Daryl, who crouches on the porch, unyielding. Rick only goes a few paces before realizing that the streets are empty and Carl has disappeared. Panicking, he runs in Carl’s direction, and bumps into Jessie. She directs him to a nearby porch where Carl is merely showing Judith to an older couple, left childless due to the outbreak.

enidJessie invites Carl to meet her son Ron (Austin Abrams), who introduces him to Mikey (Elijah Marcano) and Enid (Katelyn Nacon). The latter is a recent arrival to the community, having come in from the “outside”. She comes across as somewhat distant and cold to Carl, but he takes it in stride.

Carl interviews while holding Judith. He mentions his late mother (Sarah Wayne Callies), resulting in a quirky and unexpected exchange:

Deanna: “Sorry you lost her.”

Carl: “I didn’t just lose her. I killed her. It had to be me….”

While Carl is relaxing in his new room, Rick comes in for a chat. The two discuss their new community. Both like it, but feel that the people are weak and that the plush comforts might make them weak, too.

That night, after a moody chat with Michonne, Rick takes a restless stroll. He meets Jessie’s husband Pete (Corey Brill), who is sitting in a dark porch smoking a cigarette. Rick senses cold vibes and continues on his way.

Carol’s interview is next, where she begins by lying. She describes her pre-outbreak homelife as wonderful and notes that she misses her late husband. She states that she had little to offer her survivor comrades and so became a sort of “den mother”, upon where they were nice enough to protect her. She describes herself as a “people person” and aspires to get a job helping the community. Later, she emerges from her home in new clothes – nice slacks, a white blouse and a homey sweater – looking very much the All-American housewife. She tells Daryl that she is on her way to cook for the elderly. Daryl snorts in ridicule. Carol, in turn, chides him on his hygiene:

Carol: “Have you taken a shower yet? Take a shower, I’m gonna wash that vest. We need to keep up appearances, even you….:

Daryl: “I ain’t startin’ now…”

Carol: “I’m gonna hose you down in your sleep-“

Daryl: (As Carol walks away) “You look ridiculous!”

Glenn’s interview is next, and he takes the most direct approach of all the survivors:

Glenn: “We need to make this work.”

Deanna: “Why?”

Glenn: “‘Cause we were almost out there too long…”

During a moment alone in his room, Carl peeks out the window and spots Enid, equipped with a full knapsack, sneaking out of the Safe-Zone. He follows her over the fence, where he loses her trail in the thick forest, but meets up by chance with Rick. Rick, for his part, sought the pistol that he hid (in episode eleven, “The Distance”) only to find that it has been taken. Carl helps Rick fight off some walkers, who have been alerted to their presence.

dick aiden and walker

Glenn, Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Noah (Tyler James Williams) join a practice supply run with Nicholas, and Deanna’s son, Aidan (Daniel Bonjour), who is the team commander. Aiden explains that their recent runs have incurred shocking loses. Beyond that, he comes across as cocky, arrogant, and compared to the survivors, woefully inexperienced. In the outside forest, he nearly gets Tara killed by a walker, which they had tied up as a practice dummy in revenge for it killing half of the last group. Glen confronts Aiden, and the entire group storms back to the community. Inside, Aidan declares the three currently unsuitable for supply runs and so need new jobs, resulting in a second confrontation with Glenn. As a crowd gathers (including Deanna) Aidan takes a swing at Glenn, who ducks and lands one on Aiden instead. Daryl, in the meantime, pins down Nicholas. Rick, running in just in time, restrains Daryl. Deanna steps in, and with the confidence of authority, instructs the town’s residents to treat Rick’s group as equals. She orders everyone to turn in their weapons, and calls in Aiden and Nicholas for a private talk. Turning to Rick and Michonne, she offers them the jobs of towns constables, which they accept with smiles. Meanwhile, Daryl walks off, in a huff. Furthermore, Deanna thanks Glenn for knocking her son “on his ass.”

Later that evening, Rick emerges from the upstairs bedroom in his new uniform- eerily similar to his old getup as a sheriff’s deputy. The others stare in disbelief…

new sheriffAlone with Carol and Daryl, Rick declares that it’s time to “settle in”, and they can now all sleep in their own homes. Carol echoes Carl’s fears that if they get too comfortable, the place will make them “weak”. Rick says that it’s not going to happen – because if the residents prove too weak to protect themselves, their group will have to take it over…

With this strong episode, the season’s second half is batting 2-for-2, something the show didn’t seem capable of pulling off a few weeks ago with the boring double whammy of episodes nine and ten. The episode’s strength comes not from walker battles – consistent with this season’s theme of placing the walkers as supporting players – but rather a strong emphasis on briskly-moving human drama. The list is huge: the excitement of the new community, new relationships (romance for Rick with the married Jessie?), politics of the new order (will the bitter Aiden try to undermine the new authority?), and unanswered questions: who took Rick’s pistol? And why was the outside infested with walkers, if it was cleared by the community?.

Another plus is the reliance on a strong supporting cast, bringing in the reputable veteran (and multiple Tony award nominee) Tovah Feldshuh to play Deanna Monroe. Feldshuh plays the ex-politician as, well…a politician (she reportedly modeled the character on Hillary Clinton); so much you can taste the snake oil in her dialogue. Ross Marquand was excellent as Aaron, but he seems to have taken a lower profile when the story unfolded.

tara glenn kill walker

The episode’s theme, that of the survivors getting too comfortable and possibly “weak” was played out slowly and methodically, and the writers understandably used appearances as the metaphor. Note how Daryl – the most edgy and suspicious of all the survivors – refuses to shower or even wash or change his clothes. Doing so would be tantamount in his eyes to softening up and trusting others. Carol’s transformation from Carol Peletier to Carol Brady was the most drastic. Or reversion? This is perhaps what she was back in the day, before she became a steely-eyed warrior. It’s understandable that she hid her recent persona from Deanna – this is who she really wants to be – and she wasted no time in doing it. On that note, look how fast Rick got back into cop duds (his boots probably left skid marks on the stairs).

The show dragged only in – where else? – its reliance on clichés so old that you can wipe the dust off of them. An inexperienced and reckless commander, who is an arrogant shmuck? Can’t place it, but it has vague echoes of Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory. New sheriff in town? Try a zillion Hollywood westerns (can’t really blame the writers on this one, it is from the source comics). Carl meeting a pretty troubled girl who dislikes him at first, but you know that sooner or later they will bond? Wasn’t that in The Breakfast Club?

The Walking Dead will need to work a little harder to keep up the interesting storylines now that it is turning into a sort of Alexandria Free Zone 90210 or Free Zone Peyton Place. My guess is that a) we haven’t seen the last of Aiden, b) Jessie’s husband will play a more significant part in the stories, and c)Carl and Enid will take long walks together and share teenage angst – all this up against the backdrop of flesh-eating zombies. Not bad for the second half of the season…

Evan Rothfeld