Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A few thoughts on Night Stalker

The 2005 television series Night Stalker is a curious little beastie, with ten filmed episodes, only six of which aired originally.  It was a revisit of the classic Kolchak: The Night Stalker, from 1974 and starring Darren McGavin (the dad from A Christmas Story).

The reboot starred Stuart Townsend as Carl Kolchak and Gabrielle Union (impossibly beautiful) as Perri Reed, both reporters for a Los Angeles newspaper (impossibly quaint, watching in 2018).  Kolchak is fixated on unusual/supernatural cases, trying to explain his wife's murder.  Reed is a skeptic but gets drawn in and has to admit that there's some pretty strange stuff going on out there.  It's like X-Files-lite, but due to the early cancellation, the cast never really had a chance to develop much chemistry.

I liked it - weird and supernatural are my jam, of course - and it's certainly not a huge time commitment.  The most challenging part of Night Stalker is just finding it - currently on DVD from Netflix, dunno where else.
Image result for nightstalker stuart townsend

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Walking Dead S8E15 "Worth" 4/8/18

At long last, really and truly, the LAST nearly-real time recap of The Walking Dead.  Mr. Mouse returned our cable box to Comcast and - amazingly - got no push-back when he said he wanted to drop cable and keep internet only.  We got a new modem and our bill will be cut in half.  (My only concern now is that the speed goes down too, so we'll just have to see how it goes.)  I did manage to watch S8E14 last night and take notes so here's a sparse recap; it was a lot of talking anyway.  Sorry, friends, but you're on your own for next Sunday's season finale.

OMG we start with a VERY earnest Carl voice-over: Rick reads the letter his son wrote him and Chandler Riggs gets VO duty.  Also, Michonne steals Carl's letter to Negan because Rick doesn't look to be delivering it anytime soon.

In other locations: Over at the Sanctuary, where (almost) everyone thinks Negan is gone, Gregory sucks up to Simon who is presuming to take over the place.  One person who now knows Negan is back is Dwight, because Negan surreptitiously seeks him out to elicit a confirmation of loyalty. At Oceanside, Aaron is still lurking in the woods, slowly starving/dehydrating to death, trying to avoid walkers and convince the Oceanside women to join the fight.  (They aren't interested.)  At Eugene's bullet-making outpost, Eugene is lackadaisical about meeting bullet quotas but he's adamant about the cooks serving up garlic-sardine mac-n-cheese, which he says sustained him all through his college years.  Also, Gabriel, still sick, is intentionally making bad bullets.  When faced with reprisals, Gabriel: "I don't want to help you but I still fear death" and he's sad to think that he hasn't changed into a better person than when he locked his parishioners out of his church to certain zombie death.

When Negan makes his presence known to the Sanctuary at large, Simon tries to justify his disobedience with respect to the exterminate vs. infect attack on Hilltop.  And we learn that Simon is also responsible for having killed all the Oceanside men and boys (which is something I think we should have been told sooner?).  Negan says he forgives him and announces a new plan, with maps: they're going to set up small stations all around Hilltop and pick off its denizens with snipers whenever someone shows their face.  They'll win the war by attrition rather than all-out assault.

Dwight is now playing a very dangerous triple agent game: he tells Simon he supports him against Negan; he tells Negan he is loyal to him; and he copies the attack map in order to get it to Rick and Maggie so they can defend themselves.  At this point, both Simon and Negan appear to believe Dwight's respective stories but I have a feeling Negan is just playing with him.

Meanwhile, Daryl and Rosita kidnap Eugene from his outpost.  He fears they will kill him but instead they promise to stick him in a dark hole and keep using him for his clever brain.  They are seething with disgust and anger towards him.  They're pretty bad at this kidnapping thing though: during a walker encounter that keeps Daryl's attention, Eugene manages to escape by self-induced vomiting all over Rosita (remember the garlic and sardine mac-n-cheese? SO GROSS).  When she recoils in disgust, he manages to get away.  I don't know how - I thought Daryl was a super-tracker and there's no way Eugene moves quickly.  Whatever.

By the way, we still don't know who Negan's hitchhiker was, do we?

During Simon's "let's plan a rebellion against Negan" meeting, Dwight betrays Simon to the big man.  Negan loyalists shoot all the conspirators (except Dwight and, for some reason, Gregory) but Negan wants to battle it out with Simon in a bare fist battle.  It's Thunderdome time!  Despite Simon starting things off with a sucker punch, Negan beats him down and finally throttles the life out of his former right-hand man.  During the fight, while everyone appears to be distracted, Dwight hands Gregory the annotated map, hands him some keys and sends him off to Hilltop to warn Rick and Maggie. 

After choking Simon (and the nascent rebellion) to death, Negan promotes Dwight to be his #2 guy.  But it was all a ploy because when Negan walks Dwight back to Dwight's quarters, the hitchhiker / Lauren / the girl on Dwight's attack team whom we all thought Dwight killed when he shot the rest of the team is there and she has brought everyone up to speed on Dwight's duplicity.  By the way, smirks Negan, that "plan" I came up with is a fake and you've delivered that bad intel to Rick just as I wanted you to.  And now Negan has "plans" for Dwight - which are undoubtedly even worse than stealing his wife and ironing his face.

Eugene makes it back to his outpost and orders everyone to up bullet production.  Even Gabriel is conscripted to work.

Outside the Sanctuary, dead Simon has become one of the fence-zombies.  He's very bite-y.

Michonne has come within walkie-talkie range of the Sanctuary.  She calls Negan and reads him the letter Carl wrote to him:  "The way out is working together.  It's forgiveness."  But Negan has had enough: "[I'm going to be] killing every last one of you.  That is [the way out].  Rick started this."  And then he crushes his walkie underfoot, ostensibly to keep her from contacting him again but jeez, for someone who is so concerned about resources, couldn't he have just changed the channel?

And next Sunday is the season finale:  will anyone important die?  I guess Morgan is getting out of dodge and moving over to Fear the Walking Dead.  Good luck to him.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Walking Dead S8E14 "Still Gotta Mean Something" 4/1/18

Quick flashback as we see Jadis playing dead to escape the Saviors' massacre of her Scavenger clan.  Later, on her own, she regroups in the cargo container she lives in - which is outfitted to look like an Ikea catalog.  We don't have to see the Rick and Michonne interlude again but we jump right ahead to where she's captured Negan.  She's taken him back to the dump and tied him to a wheeled dolly.  With Lucille slung over her shoulder, and Negan protesting, "What the shit?!?" she drags him out into the center of the dump.

At Hilltop, Ezekiel tries to get Carol to come with him to search for Henry.  When she refuses, he calls her a coward.  He doesn't know that children are her soft spot.  Later, however, when she sees Morgan acting twitchy and making to head out into the woods, she says she'll go with him.  Meanwhile, Tara has figured out that she is not infected, that Dwight shot her with a clean arrow.  Daryl's all still, nope, he sucks.  Tara tells him that he should do what he's got to do, but she's no longer on board with killing Dwight since he's now saved her life twice, despite the fact that he killed her girlfriend.  Also, Rick finds Michonne crying over the letter Carl wrote to her.  He still hasn't read the one his son wrote him and is too busy bottling up his grief to do so.  He says that he's going out to search for food.  But she insists that he sit down and read it right now: "[Writing that for you] was one of the last things [Carl] ever did."  But Rick still heads out of the compound.  On his way out, one of the reformed Saviors asks him to please maybe not kill all the Saviors he finds out there - they may have made a poor decision in the heat of the moment and maybe he could bring them back to be a part of this community.  Rick's all, yeah, I could do that.  Also, Maggie, Rosita and Daryl discuss the low ammunition situation.  Rosita's like FUCK the Saviors have Eugene and he can make them more bullets.  She and Daryl head out to do some recon.

Back at the dump, Jadis is setting up a bonfire for some reason.  Negan is actually talking some sense for once and he says that he didn't order the slaughter of her people.  "This was my mistake.  I'll own this ... I am sorry for this ... I am sorry that you lost all you had."  He actually sounds sincere.  Jadis isn't ready to buy what he's selling right now though.

Carol and Morgan think they're on Henry's trail.  Morgan starts seeing things again and freaks out.  Carol sticks with him but then they come to a crossroads.  She wants to go one way, away from the herd of walkers up ahead, but Morgan - raving that he never dies/everyone else dies - wants to go straight on, through the herd.  Despite wanting to keep an eye on Morgan, Carol has to go her own way.  They split up.

At this point in the dump, I get a little confused.  Jadis goes off, leaving Negan alone to inch his way to a flare and a gun she left behind.  She comes back with a zombie fastened to another dolly for some reason (and I never quite figured out what the point of that zombie was).  She and Negan have a bit of a standoff when he threatens to burn some photographs she has with that flare.  They have a moment of connection, when Negan tells her that Lucille was his wife before the apocalypse and he named that bat after her.  Then they struggle and she gets the gun and the flare away from him.  But the flare rolls into a puddle and fizzles out, just as the alarm on Jadis's wristwatch goes off and a HELICOPTER appears and hovers overhead.  As Negan is all, WTF?, Jadis cries out "I'm here! I'm here!" and waves her arms futilely.  The helicopter flies off and Jadis collapses.  Negan's all, I have no idea what is going on here but I promise you, I can settle this - I can make this right.

Rick finds Morgan, half unhinged out in the woods.  They realize that they are both out there to deal with "them," meaning the Saviors.  "Let's finish it," growls Rick.  Then the Saviors sneak up on them and capture them.  When Rick comes to, he and Morgan are tied up in a warehouse while the group of escaped Saviors argue about what to do.  Jared (the skinny long-haired asshole) is all, we're going back to the Sanctuary and delivering Rick to Negan.  Then Rick speaks up, saying that he and Morgan can bring them all back to Hilltop for reintegration there - but the Saviors need to untie them ASAP because a herd of zombies is coming.  The Saviors argue some more, many of them leaning towards going back to the Hilltop, until the herd swarms the warehouse.  The Saviors release Rick and Morgan so everyone can fight walkers; one of the Saviors even saves Rick from an approaching zombie he doesn't see.  And then.

And then Rick starts shooting the Saviors in the back and chopping into their necks with his hatchet.  Morgan follows suit and they kill the men along with the walkers.  Jared scurries away and Morgan gives chase.  They struggle and then Morgan traps Jared against a metal gate, holding him in place until the walkers eat the guy alive.  Morgan rejoins Rick and they survey the carnage, human and zombie alike.  One Savior is just barely alive and manages to gasp out something along the lines of, "You said we could have lived."  Rick, now completely morally bankrupt in his grief over Carl, just DNGAF: "I lied" and shoots the guy in the head.  Damn.  That's cold, this new Rick.  And, frankly, he's the most interesting he's been in seasons of this show.  Morgan is continuing on his journey to crazytown and, when Rick asks him why he saved Rick way back in S1, Morgan replies, "Because my son was there."  So the parallels are laid right out for us: both Morgan and Rick have lost their minds and their humanity because it was their sons who were keeping them together.

Jadis lets Negan go.  Before he leaves, he asks her about the helicopter but she's not offering up any answers.  He tells her that he'll come by again to see her.  She shrugs and goes back to her Ikea hideaway.

In the "I so don't care about this," after dark Carol manages to find Henry and save him from three zombies who have him cornered.  He hugs and they both cry.  He tells her he's sorry; she tells him that it's okay and that she's the one who's sorry because she was wrong, he is in fact able to survive.  They go back to Hilltop and Ezekiel meets them at the gate, pulling Henry into an embrace and giving Carol a meaningful look.  Then Rick and Morgan return to Hilltop.  Morgan tells Henry that he killed the man who killed Henry's brother.  Henry pats Morgan on the arm and says he's sorry.  This confuses half-crazy Morgan and he wanders off.

On his way back to the Sanctuary, Negan pulls over (where'd he get the car? is it Jadis's?) to pick someone up.  We don't get to see who it is.  When they get back to the Sanctuary, Negan instructs the sentries not to say anything about his return.  He's got some surprises to inflict upon those who disobeyed him.

Also, Rosita and Daryl's scouting trip confirms that Eugene is in fact manufacturing bullets for the Saviors.  They discuss how to put him out of business.  Rosita:  "We don't need to take out the machines.  We take out the man."

Finally, still damp from his bath, Rick sits down to read the letter Carl wrote him.

Seriously though: WHY WILL NO ONE KILL NEGAN WHEN THEY HAVE THE CHANCE? Ugh.

Previously on The Walking Dead 

Next time on The Walking Dead

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Walking Dead S8E13 "Do Not Send Us Astray" 3/25/18

Did anyone watch The Terror?  I didn't although that episode was appended onto the TWD episode in our DVR and before I realized that, I was quite terrified to think that I was going to have to recap a full two hour episode.  Thank goodness for small favors.

So, Morgan is seeing things: Gavin (is that his name?), the dude who Henry killed with a spear through the neck, haunts Morgan, saying ominous things.  So there's that.

The battle between the Hilltop and the Saviors, this time led by Simon, begins. Maggie's got a pretty good plan and it works pretty well to start.  Lookouts warn the Hilltop of the approach.  The Saviors don't show up until after dark and thus fail to see the spike strips laid out, slashing their tires.  Daryl rides through them on his motorcycle, guns a-blaze.  The Hilltop opens their gates to allow him in and the Saviors, sensing an opportunity, rush in.  But Maggie is ready for them and blocks their ingress with the school bus, and then the Hilltop jumps up, surrounding the Saviors on all sides, and lets loose with the guns.

As the Saviors start to advance, the Hilltop retreats, shutting down all lights.  The Saviors press their advantage and then the lights flood on and another wave of gunfire and arrow warfare ensues.  There's casualties on both sides but the Hilltoppers don't know about the sneaky trick with the zombie-blood-soaked weapons.  Simon, dragging Dwight along with him, almost shoots an unsuspecting Tara in the back but Dwight tags her with an arrow instead, not enough to wound her seriously but enough to make Simon turn his attention elsewhere.  It is my opinion that Dwight did not soak his arrows in infected zombie junk as he was so horrified by Simon's suggestion to do so.  I guess we'll see.

Finally, Simon either realizes that he's not going to actively kill all the Hilltop OR it's part of his plan, to have infected enough Hilltoppers to do the damage from the inside.  The remaining Saviors retreat to lick their wounds and/or gloat.  Both Maggie and Rick are somewhat put out that Negan was not in the attack group.  The Hilltop starts to tend to the wounded, putting things to right.  Rick is pretty much mute in the aftermath of the fight, grief over Carl making its way back in.

That night, stupid Henry - whom I dislike just about as much if not more than I ever disliked Carl as a little kid - steals a semiautomatic rifle and goes out to the pen where Maggie is keeping the Savior prisoners.  He wants to know which one of them killed his brother.  He's gonna fuck this up for sure, poor dumb kid.

Meanwhile, in the house, the wounded Hilltoppers are succumbing to the zombie infection in record time.  No, seriously.  While it took Carl more than a day to die from an actual walker bite, these people are turning zombie in a couple of hours - the show even provides us with shots of a clock so we can see the time.  It is stupid carnage: no one hears any screams or growls at first, even though a whole bunch of people are sleeping in a pile in the middle of the floor; no one hears a zombie falling down the staircase.  The zombies manage to kill off a lot of nameless, faceless (and now throatless) Hilltoppers before the main characters - Rick, Michonne, Morgan, Carol, Daryl, etc. - figure shit out and put down all the walkers.

Afterwards, they stand around and are all, WTF?  Most of those turned weren't mortally wounded.  Rick remembers that when he fought Negan, Lucille (the barbed wire baseball bat) was soaked in gore and they all put it together, that these motherfucking Saviors infected their wounded on purpose.  Then Daryl's like, OMG Tara.  They all go to the upstairs bedroom where Rosita and Tara are defending some children or wounded people.  Everyone brings Tara up to speed and they all have sad faces.  I reiterate my belief that Dwight didn't infect his arrows.  Since Tara doesn't look sick at all - and since all the other wounded Hilltoppers turned so quickly - here's hoping she doesn't commit preemptive suicide before they figure out that Dwight is still on their side.

Oh, and Henry did indeed fuck things up.  He unlocks the pen and goes in to start shooting Saviors, but then a zombie shows up and starts chewing on people, and the Savior prisoners break out of the pen.  Some of them leave Hilltop entirely, heading back to the Sanctuary.  A few others decide to stay and cast their lot with the good guys.  Which is good, I guess, because the good guy population just took a pretty big hit.  Hey! On the plus side, there are fewer mouths to feed now!

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

The Walking Dead S8E12 "The Key" 3/18/18

Holy moly - here I am, back again.  I promise that it's not a mouse who cried wolf with respect to the cable cutting ... just not yet.  And another plus: this episode was only half bad (Rick and Negan, Daryl's neutering (metaphorically speaking) and the crappy writing for Michonne, Maggie et als).

As Negan smirks, Dwight frets and Simon looks disapproving, the Saviors goop up their weapons and prepare to attack the Hilltop.  Negan is holding firm to his plan to gross out/infect the Hilltoppers rather than just massacre them all.  A caravan heads out with the goopy weapons, Simon and Dwight driving one truck, and Negan pulling up the rear in a sedan, Lucille marinating in a bucket of walker guts on the seat beside him.  The whole gooping up scene is all sorts of gross.

The good guys all reconvene at the Hilltop.  Maggie, Enid and Michonne are a bit at odds with Enid  sad about Carl and being all, KILL THEM ALL, and Michonne sad about Carl and being all, THERE MUST BE SOMETHING MORE.  Boring.  The Hilltoppers know that the Saviors are coming to retaliate for the Sanctuary being shot up, so they set up a series of look-outs.  Daryl checks in with Rick before they head out and whereas Daryl used to be a rough, gruff, scruffy anti-hero type, now he's all, "Are you okay?" and "It's sad that some people are gone when others are here."  Look, I love me some Daryl but ugh.  Can he and Carol just go hang out and be badasses together?

After the look-outs are in place, Rick spies the goo-caravan en route.  He makes to contact the next look-out as planned and then stops cold because he recognizes that Negan is alone in the last car.  Instead of sticking with the plan, Rick jumps into his SUV and ambushes the Savior caravan, broadsiding Negan's car.  There's a bit of a car chase so as to separate Negan-and-Rick from the rest of the Saviors and then there's a car crash.  When Negan climbs out of his wrecked car, clutching Lucille, Rick shoots at him.  As has been said before, for someone who can put a walker down at 50 yards with a pistol, Rick is a crap shot with an actual semiautomatic rifle.  Negan flees into a warehouse.  And here is where I just began to fast-forward through all the Rick vs. Negan scenes.  They stalk each other, fall through rotting floors, dodge zombies and shout at each other about their various points of view.  They each take turns bludgeoning each other and zombies with Lucille, who at one point catches fire - and then the zombies catch fire, which is kind of cool.  In the end it is all for naught, though, as Negan gets away.

While all this is going on, Simon has halted the Savior caravan in the middle of town.  He instructs the rabble to stay put while he and Dwight go see if they can find Negan.  Simon has been testing the waters with Dwight a bit: he says that he's not convinced that Negan has it right, that the Hilltoppers (and Alexandrians and Kingdomites) have survived everything that has been thrown at them and have not gotten scared by the Saviors.  He seems to be trying to get Dwight to say something disloyal about Negan and Dwight is clearly unsure about where this is going.  They find Negan's burned out, shot up car and continue their conversation.  Simon is all, we need to just move on with [the Hilltoppers] and if Negan is out there dead, or not quite dead, then maybe they need to just move on without him.  He presses Dwight, asking if Dwight hasn't ever wanted to fight back against Negan.  Dwight's voice is saturated with sarcasm when he replies, "When he stole my wife and burned my face?  No, I never once wanted him dead."  Simon's like, well, let's see what we can do about that.  A sliver of hope crosses Dwight's ruined face.

While all this is going on, the sentries at the Hilltop notice a crate with a banner in the field outside the walls.  They all think this is weird but they bring it in to check it out: it's a message with coordinates, saying that if they bring the crate filled with food and/or records, they'll get "a key to [their] future." Since the Hilltoppers are on the verge of starving, Maggie thinks that they can't pass this up, even if it may be a trap.  She, Enid, Rosita and Michonne head out to the coordinates on the note.  There's a van waiting for them there and three women: Georgie, Hilda and Midge.  They seem a little odd but they are clean and well-fed.  Georgie sets forth her deal again: something valuable for food or music (no spoken word).  Michonne is inclined to take whatever she's offering but Maggie feels the need to stretch things out a little longer and instead they bring Georgie and her crew back to the Hilltop for further discussion.  After seeing the Hilltop, Georgie amends her deal: she has noticed that people are looking a little scrawny so in exchange for their record albums, she will give them two crates of food, plus this binder of plans for medieval-level technology like windmills, watermills, etc.  This gets through Maggie's hardened shell, because it was she who always saw the Hilltop's potential, she who wanted to grow things and build community.  She takes Georgie's deal with a small smile and Georgie promises that she will come back once they've started to rebuild, to see what they've done and see what else they can barter.

Simon and Dwight return to the Saviors, saying that they can't find Negan.  There is some worried muttering but Simon says that it's not a problem - they're all Negan and together they can continue, can move on.  And, as Dwight stares in disappointment and horror, by moving on, Simon means they are going to slaughter the fuck out of the Hilltop - they're going to kill them all, not just scare them like Negan wanted to do.  Simon is even scarier than that blowhard Negan, IMHO.

Speaking of that blowhard Negan, he is passed out in the front seat of a car.  When he wakes up, he - and we - sees that the car is being driven by Jadis and she's holding a gun to his temple.  "Well, shit," he grins.  Jadis snarls, "Shut up" and clocks him in the head with her gun.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A couple of itty-bitty book reviews

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman.  I usually LOVE Neil Gaiman.  I love his world-building and the intelligence of the language he uses.  I also love mythology.  When I was a kid, I would take out all the mythology books in my grade school library; I especially liked Greek, Egyptian and Norse, reading the myths and stories over and over again.  Perhaps that's why I didn't love Gaiman's 2017 Norse Mythology: I already knew all the stories he told, so none of it was new.  I also didn't feel like his voice came through at all, which would have freshened the myths up a bit.  For people who don't know the old stories about Thor, Loki, Odin, Baldur, Freya and the rest, this is a nice, accessible introduction.  But for me, it was a bit of a waste of time.

Vampires in the Lemon Grove  by Karen Russell.  This one, a short story collection by the author of Swamplandia (which I know I've read but apparently didn't review here), was not a waste of time.  Each story is touched with a bit of fantasy - vampires, human silkworms, American presidents reincarnated as horses - and each is very different from the other.  Some agreed with me more than others but all were very original, building specific, interesting worlds in just a few pages.  Lots of fun, that one.

Friday, March 16, 2018

The Walking Dead S8E11 "Dead or Alive Or" 3/11/18

Once more into the breach.  This time, I really do think this is the last TWD recap.  Although I realize it's a boy-who-cried-wolf scenario at this pointBecause it's easier, I'm going to do a story-line grouping for the recap, like last time, even though this episode isn't structured that way. 

Daryl, Rosita, Tara and Dwight.  The Alexandrian escapees, led by Daryl, Tara and Rosita, make their way to the Hilltop, trying to stay off the roads so as to avoid Savior patrols.  Things are a little tense (moreso than usual) because both Daryl and Tara would rather kill Dwight outright, not trusting him for past offenses, but Daryl at least sees that he could be helpful - after they reach Hilltop, they'll evaluate.  Dwight, who has been protesting that he HATES Negan and can't go back to the Saviors, suggests that they cut through a nearby swamp since the Saviors avoid it, deeming it too dangerous.  While Daryl and Sandiq (?) clear out the numerous and squishy swamp zombies (kudos to the sound department for some horrific oozy noises there), Tara decides to take Dwight matters into her own hands.  She chases him through the woods at gun point and almost shoots him when a group of Saviors comes into view.  While she hides, Dwight sacrifices himself, so to speak, rejoining that Savior squad and leading them off, away from the hiding Alexandrians.  Tara is amazed that he would do that, especially since he's liable to be killed if any Saviors know of his betrayal back in that coordinated attack.  When she rejoins the rest of the Alexandrians, Daryl is pissed off that Dwight returned to the Saviors but Tara sticks up for Dwight.  They all make it to the Hilltop and share news of Carl's death; Enid is very, very sad.

At the Hilltop.  Maggie - who still doesn't look the slightest bit pregnant, wtf? - is very stressed because supplies are running low.  With the Hilltoppers already on short rations, she decides to stop feeding the Savior prisoners (and Gergory) entirely and denies the prisoners' requests for some exercise outside of the pen.  At the end of the episode, after the Alexandrian escapees have arrived, she relents.  Also, she is happy to learn that Sandiq (?) had some medical training before the zombie apocalypse happened, since doctors are in such short supply.

Negan and Eugene.  At the Sanctuary, Negan tells Eugene that he needs to start making bullets ASAP since they so depleted their supply clearing a pathway through the walker swarm an episode or two ago.  He sets Eugene and a small crew up at that machine shop.  Later, when Negan stops by to check on them, he is unimpressed with their progress.  Eugene tries to explain that it is a slow process and suggests that maybe in the meantime he could rig up some old school catapults and they could just chuck rotten zombie pieces over the Hilltop's walls, to traumatize and demoralize the denizens.  Negan's eyes light up and later he speechifies about how they're all going to coat their bullets and edged weapons with zombie guts: the plan is to wound the rebels, not kill them outright, so that Rick's people die slowly as walkers via infection instead.  I'm not sure that the science is right: people have been dousing themselves in zombie guts for camouflage purposes and no one has gotten infected from that.  Whatever.  I don't really care.

Carlson and Father Gabriel.  Father Gabriel and Dr. Carlson are the odd fellows, struggling to get back to the Hilltop after their Eugene-aided escape from the Sanctuary.  The car they took died and Gabriel's infection is affecting his eyesight.  Carlson is all doom and gloom and yet Gabriel continues to have a smile on his face and faith in his God to lead them where they need to go.  The doctor's skepticism takes a beating as (a) Gabriel hears wind chimes that lead them to a fairly well-stocked house with (b) antibiotics, which Carlson gives to the now nearly-blind Gabriel for the infection, (c) a map, showing them how to get to the Hilltop, (d) a gun with bullets and (e) keys to a jeep in the garage.  En route to the garage, Carlson steps into a beartrap that has been set to catch zombies.  His screams attract the attention of a few walkers.  As the wounded and snared Carlson struggles with a walker, Gabriel manages to find the gun and - nearly miraculously - shoots the attacking walker, saving Carlson's life.  The doctor is amazed; the priest merely believes his God is getting them through.  However, the gunshots have attracted the notice of a band of Saviors, who capture Carlson and Gabriel just as they try to drive off.  Gabriel is still calm and Carlson notices, then remarks that maybe God is indeed giving them opportunities - and he grabs a gun out of a Savior's holster.  But another Savior shoots the doctor dead - despite the group's leader bemoaning the fact that they were supposed to leave him alive, since doctors are so valuable.  They shove Carlson's body off the truck and drive off with Gabriel sitting in the bed, stricken and heartbreakingly wailing "NO!" to the heavens.  He is utterly devastated, seemingly betrayed by his God, and it is truly one of the saddest moments in this show's run, watching him lose his faith.

Previously on The Walking Dead / maybe next time on The Walking Dead

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The Walking Dead S8E10 "The Lost and the Plunderers" 3/4/18

I'm back!  Mr. Mouse hasn't cancelled our cable yet so here's another TWD recap.  And the show structured things a little differently this time, sort of focusing on one character at a time and separating things into chapters, making it much easier to summarize.  Of course, no Carol or Daryl, so boo.

Michonne.  Michonne and Rick finish burying Carl and pack their things to leave Alexandria.  Random zombies wander through the village, coming in through the broken wall.  She looks a little stunned but still manages to take a bunch of them out as necessary.  On their way out of Alexandria, they see that a gazebo is on fire: apparently Carl used to sit on the gazebo's roof (?) so they are compelled to jump out and try to douse the flames.  They can't quite put it all out before the walkers move in and they are forced to get back in their van and drive off.  As they drive, Rick decides that they need to swing by the dump and try once again to enlist Jadis and her garbage people (or Scavengers, or whatever) to the cause.  He and Michonne enter the Scavengers' dump and manage to trip a trap that brings a bunch of junk down in front of the ingress/egress, effectively trapping them in the junkyard.  [For a chapter titled "Michonne," this segment was nearly as much about Rick as it was about her.  At least she had a decent role in Black Panther.]

Negan.  Back at the Sanctuary, Negan is experiencing some pushback from an antsy Simon.  Simon wants to full-on attack Rick and company and Negan has to remind him that people are resources.  He tells Simon that he is to go to the Scavengers and remind them of their deal with the Saviors.  "Deliver the standard message, take one out and the rest will fall in line.  Just one, Simon."  Simon presses his point, saying that the local communities are not falling in line as they should.  Negan snarls at him, "What we do, saving people, is hard.  But it damn well works."  Simon: "Not lately."  Negan says once they put Rick down, everything will be aces again.

Enid.  After killing the beach people's leader (Natanya), Enid and Aaron are brought into the village and shackled to a radiator.  It's up to Cindy, as Natanya's granddaughter, to decide what to do with them.  After a little while, Cindy et als come back, Enid's all, you shouldn't kill us because ultimately we're on your side even though we killed your leader and took all your guns.  Cindy decides to let them go, so they are walked out to a clearing a ways away and released, with a warning to never come back.  Aaron sends Enid back to Hilltop to tell Maggie what happened and where he is; he is going to stay and keep trying to convince the beach people to join up.  Because that seems likely.  Enid gives him a hug and walks off, back to their truck.  Aaron crouches down by a tree.  Whatever.  This was completely pointless.

Simon.  Simon grabs his crew and heads off to the landfill.  There's a bit of a standoff between Simon and Jadis, with their respective people gathering behind each of them, guns at the ready.  Simon - who seems rather crazier than Negan these days - demands an apology and all of the Scavengers' guns.  Jadis stands up to him as best she can but eventually, over the protests of her seconds-in-command, she capitulates, handing over all their guns.  When Simon reiterates his need for her apology, she punches him in the face.  He gets up and shoots two of her people, splattering her with their blood.  Then he signals his people and they mow down all of her now-defenseless people, taking care with body shots only, no head shots.  Jadis can only watch, shaken and upset.  When the Saviors return to the Sanctuary, Simon lies to Negan, saying that they did as instructed, collecting the weapons and leaving the Scavengers alive.  Liar!

Jadis.  Rick and Michonne are quickly surrounded by the now-zombified Scavengers.  They climb atop the piles of junk and find Jadis there.  She is barefoot, wearing only a white slip (did Simon take all her clothes?) and now speaking in full sentences, not the affected speech pattern we've heard until now.  She explains that the Saviors killed all her people, took away this new community she created after the zombie apocalypse.  Rick and Michonne don't have any time for her self pity, however.  They put together makeshift shields and make a run for it, slaughtering as many zombies as they can on their way out the way they came.  Jadis asks to come with them but Rick's all, [you're] no help to us anyway and they leave her behind.  After Rick and Michonne are gone, Jadis figures out how to save herself:  she positions herself on the far side of a trash shredder/compactor and as the former friends/now zombies approach, they fall into it and are chewed into bloody sludge.  It's a truly disgusting visual so kudos to the show for coming up with something new.  After the zombies are disposed off, she slurps down a can of applesauce (?) and ponders her options.

Rick.  En route to Hilltop, Michonne is looking through the letters Carl wrote.  She tells Rick that not only is there one for him, there's one for Negan.  Rick pulls over and grabs the letters, staggering out into a field.  He starts to open his letter, then instead reads the one to Negan.  He gets on a walkie-talkie (scavenged from a dead Savior before they left Alexandria) and demands to speak with Negan.  When Negan answers, Rick tells him that Carl is dead.  Negan seems genuinely sorry to hear this.  Rick then tells him that Carl wanted the two of them to stop fighting and work together but Rick ain't having none of that.  He's going to kill Negan.  And as Rick starts sounding crazier and more ragged, Negan can't help himself but preaching his own sermon: he's going to kill Rick and subsume all the outlying communities, taking them into the Saviors, etc., etc.  "You failed as a leader, Rick, and you failed as a father.  Just give up."  So much for Carl's hope for peace - I don't see it ever happening with these two dumbasses still in charge.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time on The Walking Dead

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Walking Dead S8E9 "Honor" 2/25/18

Here we go, what may be the last The Walking Dead recap on Friend Mouse Speaks (I don't really know when Mr. Mouse is cancelling our cable).  And you know what, I am not going to miss this show at all.  I've been recapping it since the beginning - October 31, 2010 - and in the beginning, it was exciting and new and like nothing anyone had ever seen on television.  But over the last eight seasons, it has become a slog, a chore to watch, a suffer-fest not even enlivened by good writing.  I much prefer I, Zombie these days: there's still zombie action but with intricate plots, humor and characters I actually enjoy spending time with.  So, once more into the fray, my friends.  

In a nutshell: we have two through-lines this time around.  Carl got bit and he dies SPOILER throughout the episode; and Carol and Morgan rescue Ezekiel.  I just saved you 83 minutes.  Seriously, there is NO REASON this episode had to be 83 minutes long.

I'm sorry but I just rolled my eyes the whole time.  I have never liked Carl and to be honest, he got more character development in the initial Carl's-last-day-on-earth montage as he hid Sadiq away, took photos and painted hand prints with Judith, planted a tree and wrote letters to everyone.  Then, picking up right where the last episode left off, when Rick and Michonne catch up to everyone cowering in the sewers while the Saviors burn Alexandria down overhead, Carl lifts up his shirt to show them the bite on his stomach.  Throughout the rest of the episode, he gets paler and sicker and Rick and Michonne sweat and emote their pants off and everyone else sits around and looks sad.  In dying, Carl has become this missionary of peace: he has a vision of Rick rebuilding society, humans no longer killing each other but living together, making things grow and bloom.  He tells Rick and Michonne that they mustn't be sad or vengeful but must be strong for each other and Judith.  He also tells Michonne that she's his best friend which .... okay?  When did that happen?  Must have been earlier this season when we didn't see either of them for multiple episodes at a time.

Eventually the Saviors get bored with all the destruction and leave.  Rosita, Tara and Daryl decide to take the Alexandrian survivors - all of whom Carl did save, so there's that - to safety at Hilltop.  Daryl has Judith in his arms and promises a tearful, shaky Rick that he will protect her.  They leave, casting teary looks behind at Carl.  As he deteriorates, Rick and Michonne sweat and cry and stroke his face.   Then they decide to bring him up out of sewers because who wants to die there.  They manage to get him to the burned-out church where, after more sweaty, teary emoting, Carl grasps his pistol.  He says that he wants to do it while he still can, not wanting to put them through that.  They protect weakly for a little while.  Then, as Rick and Michonne stand on the front steps, we hear a faint shot.  They bury him.  Thus endeth Carl.

Interspersed among all the Carl death scenes is the more interesting Carol and Morgan show.  Carol leads the Kingdom survivors to her little cottage, telling them to hunker down there while she goes back to rescue the king.  Woman in a head scarf: "You versus all of them?" Carol: "Yeah." WiaHS: "They don't stand a chance."  Because Carol fucking rocks.  Young child Henry wants to help her - because Morgan taught him the staff and she taught him the gun - but Carol's all, no, you're staying here.  She sneaks back into the Kingdom (as does disobedient Henry), where Whatsisname and his squad of Saviors has captured Ezekiel, loading him and supplies into a truck to take back to Negan.  Carol runs into Morgan and the two of them systematically start taking out the Saviors.  Morgan has completely abandoned the way of the leaf (or whatever) and methodically stabs the Saviors to death with the sharpened end of his staff.  Carol is all, dude, you're getting a little scary, but this is what he does now.  Between the two of them, they take out about eight men, Morgan stabbing each through the skull after they're down to keep control of the zombification.

Whatsisname figures out things are going south when he can't raise his men on the walkie so he and his remaining Saviors grab Ezekiel and take refuge in the auditorium.  Carol and Morgan have collected semiautomatic guns from the Saviors they killed, however, and it turns into a full-fledged shoot-out.  Carol and Morgan and Ezekiel are ultimately successful but the Eeeeuww Moment of the episode comes when Morgan is wrestling with a Savior: the dude has a bullet wound in his belly and in order to beat the much bigger man, Morgan shoves his hand wrist-deep into that gut wound and pulls out the man's intestines with a squish and a splatter.  Whatsisname, fleeing with a superficial leg wound, looks back in time to see this and is all, HOLY FUCKING SHIT THAT IS FUCKED UP.  He runs off but Carol, Ezekiel and Morgan find him outside.  Morgan has to be talked down from stabbing Whatsisname to death.  He relents to Carol and Ezekiel's convincing - and then the man is stabbed through the neck from behind from young Henry.  The adults are slightly aghast.

The last scene, after all of the Kingdom rescue and all of the interminable dying of Carl, is Rick, red-eyed and blinking in the sun, sitting under a tree from which stained glass windows have been hung.  He seems to be alone, and bleeding from an abdominal wound.  Who even knows what that may be about.

If I find a way (without spending extra $$, I'll pick this series back up because I don't like leaving things unfinished (abandonment of True Blood recaps notwithstanding), but only until they kill off Daryl.  That really will be the last straw.  Ciao for now, those of you who only came for these TWD recaps.  Stop by for little movie reviews when you get the chance.

Previously on The Walking Dead / next time (...?) on The Walking Dead

Monday, February 19, 2018

Science fiction state of mind

Just so you know: We are giving up cable television at the end of the month - SO THIS MEANS NO MORE WALKING DEAD RECAPS UNTIL/UNLESS I CAN FIGURE OUT HOW TO WATCH THEM, FYI - so I'm going to have to step up my game with movie reviews and maybe GASP start reading and reviewing books again. 

In the meantime, I've watched a couple of science fiction movies this weekend since I have been sidelined from skiing with an ugly cough.  Neither of them were anything particularly special but I thought I'd share a few thoughts with you here.

Extraterrestrial - After recently watching and enjoying Colossal, and mostly watching and kind of enjoying Timecrimes, I thought I should check out director Nacho Vigalondo's middle feature, Extraterrestrial (2011).  In Spanish with English subtitles, this is a slight science fiction/romantic comedy (?) hybrid in which the science fiction is almost incidental to the rest of what goes on.  Julio wakes up in Julia's bed, not remembering hooking up with her the night before.  As they try to sort out what happened, they are distracted by the sight of a huge flying saucer hovering over Madrid.  They are further distracted by Julia's creepy neighbor Angel, who threatens to rat them out when Julia's live-in boyfriend Carlos returns home.  The film's focus remains on these people, with the aliens never making an appearance and only affecting things by making people paranoid.  I think what I have liked best about Vigalondo's movies is that while they are all about people dealing with extranormal things (time loops, aliens, kaiju), the people themselves are very real and relatable.

The Cloverfield Paradox - The third of the three loosely-connected Cloverfield movies is pretty much straight sci-fi, a muddle of all sorts of well-trodden movie cliches, none of which really pan out.  The Earth is experiencing an energy crisis and as tension mount, a group of scientists on the Cloverfield Station are trying to get a particle accelerator to come up with free, unlimited energy.  Things go wrong, as experimental particle accelerators are wont to do, and the team finds itself dealing with all sorts of things that don't follow the rules of logic or science.  The movie is entertaining enough but it is not at all original and the short clips back on earth, which try to connect this movie with the other Cloverfields, are distracting and largely pointless.  The cast is solid, though: Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Daniel Bruhl, David Oyelowo, Chris O'Dowd and a cameo by Donal Logue.

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