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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Monday, February 5, 2018

Sundry, various

January has been a little zoo-ey in the Mouse House and while I've needed to distract myself with sci-fi/fantasy-based movies and t.v., I just haven't been able to bring myself to write about them.  Here are snippets of what I've been consuming:

The End of the Fucking World - I didn't fully binge this one but I cruised through it two or three episodes at a time.  I thought it was fantastic and I hope they don't spoil the ambiguous ending by adding a second season.  What there is now is enough.  A little bit road trip movie, a little bit YA romance, a little bit gory and murdery, this is a weird one and I liked it.

Black Mirror S4 - The latest installment of Black Mirror episodes is a mixed bag, with some very strong ("USS Callister" and "Hang the DJ") and some very much less so ("Black Museum," I'm looking at you).  Still, I'm a fan of anthology series and am generally game for whatever Black Mirror wants to offer up.

Timecrimes (Los Cronocrimenes) - I watched Timecrimes (in Spanish, with English subtitles) because it's by the same director as Colossal, which I so liked.  It's a twisty, turny time-travel story about a middle-aged Spanish man who suddenly finds himself being chased by a man with a bag over his head.  I'm not telling you more than that.  Roger Ebert really liked it; I thought it was okay but realized that it's not the best idea to watch subtitled films if you keep dozing off - difficult to keep up with what's going on.

I'm also plowing through the DVR (the CW's superhero shows, SyFy's Happy! and The Magicians, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and The Good Place), most of which are making me happy to some degree.  What are you watching these days?

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Mini movie review: Colossal

Here's the plot outline of Colossal:  when unemployed party girl Gloria (Anne Hathaway, playing against type) gets tossed out of her NYC apartment by her boyfriend, she is forced to scurry back to her small town hometown, tail between her legs.  Living in her parents' empty house, she reconnects with grade school friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis, playing against type) who gives her a job in his bar.  Gloria is a semi-alcoholic, self-destructive mess and Oscar is also a semi-alchoholic, self-loathing mess but they are rocked out of their navel-gazing when the news reports the appearance of a kaiju (giant monster) rampaging through Seoul, South Korea - which, they discover, is connected to/controlled by Gloria.

What makes Colossal an especially interesting movie is that there are no rom-com facets at all.  In a more typical movie, Gloria and Oscar would connect, bond over the kaiju, fight and then make up.  In this actual movie, Oscar is even more horrible than Gloria - an angry, jealous, entitled drunk.  I kept having to change how I felt about what was going on: some parts were funny, some pathetic, some infuriating, and I enjoyed the fact that things did not play out as I expected them.  There's not a lot of kaiju action in Colossal - in this movie, the monsters are much closer to home.

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Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Mini movie review: Kong: Skull Island

I'm not going to lie to you: 2017 has been a rough year.  I mean, I have had it exceedingly easy compared to most people.  But I have been anxious/unhappy/frustrated/sad/angry under our country's current administration.  I have needed to escape in pop culture that has no connection with current events, the more fantastical the better.  That's how I found myself watching Kong: Skull Island the other day. 

I liked Peter Jackson's King Kong film, finding myself appreciating and connecting with Andy Serkis's Kong.  This iteration does not have that personal connection: Kong disappears from the screen for long periods of time and when he is onscreen, he is all rampaging warrior.  His posture is strange: upright, like a human; but there is no personality peering out of those big brown eyes this time.  Still, K:SI is hugely entertaining.  And as has been said, sometimes you don't know you needed to see a gas-mask-wearing Tom Hiddleston slicing mutant pterodactyls with a samurai sword until you see a gas-mask-wearing Tom Hiddleston slicing mutant pterodactyls with a samurai sword.  Escape accomplished.

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Friday, December 15, 2017

The Walking Dead S8E8 "How It's Gotta Be" 12/10/17

One of the problems with The Walking Dead is that there is no spatial sense or sense of time.  How far are Alexandria, the Hilltop, the Kingdom, the Sanctuary and Oceanside from one another?  In some episodes, it seems like just a few miles; in this episode, people seem to be driving for hours and hours and hours.  And how long has this all been taking, this carrying out of Rick's plan against Negan and its subsequent breakdown?  Days?  Hours?  Also, how long does it take to die of a zombie bite - one that doesn't rip your throat out but a flesh wound that merely introduces the virus into your bloodstream?  Asking for a friend.

Rick stares down into the Sanctuary, stunned by the epic falling apart of his plan.  At the first return of gunfire by the Saviors, Jadis and her garbage people cut and run and we never see them again for the rest of the episode.  So they were super-helpful.  Carol drives up, Jerry riding shotgun, and Rick dives into the car.  The three of them talk over each other, expositing that (a) the Saviors got out and (b) the Saviors are going to hit back with a vengeance so they need to warn the other communities ASAP.

This is interspersed with a flashback to Carl telling Rick that they need to stop fighting and start working on how everyone is going to live in the future, after this shit with Negan is over.

Back at Alexandria, WTF Daryl, you don't even stick around to see if your plan worked?  No, he didn't and he will be surprised to find out that no, it didn't, not really, since the Saviors got out.  In a house, a weirdly shaky Carl is writing what looks like goodbye notes - of course, if Negan has his way, there won't be anyone around to read them.  He has crap handwriting, btw.  That night, Michonne catches him dropping food down into the sewer; he's got Sadiq stashed there.  Then, they hear a pounding at the gate.  Michonne: "They got out!"  It's Negan, giving them three minutes before he huffs and puffs and blows their house down.

At the Kingdom, Ezekiel finally snaps out of his funk when the Saviors arrive and start throwing their weight around.  He hides, sneaking around, and setting off a big explosion.  The Saviors give chase, knowing that Negan wants his head on a pike.  In the confusion, some of the Kingdom people start to fight back, which is particularly notable since none of those left are fighters.  Carol directs the people on where to meet up outside and then she sees Ezekiel.  He has Shiva's old chain in his hands and he smiles at Carol as he closes and locks the gates, himself inside with the Saviors.  Carol's all, NO! And he tells her to save his people like she saved him.  Then the Saviors come up and knock him unconscious.  Luckily, Morgan is lurking there, outside the Kingdom's wall.

Out on the road, Maggie, Jesus and some Hilltop redshirts get ambushed.  Maggie: "They got out!"  One of the Hilltop redshirts gets shot and the Saviors throw their weight around, menacing and threatening.  The Hilltoppers are finally allowed to return home and toe the line.  When she gets back, Maggie calls one of the imprisoned Saviors out of the holding pen and, in front of a shocked Jesus, shoots him in the head.  She orders him tossed out of the Hilltop with a message: WE HAVE 38 MORE.  STAND DOWN.  "We aren't even but it's a start."  Then she starts planning for Hilltop to make the last stand against Negan.

In Alexandria, Carl has decided he is in charge and his plan is for everyone to run and hide in the sewers.  His goal is to save lives for what comes later.  Michonne protests that they can't just give their home up to Negan.  Carl's all, no - all we have to do is survive the night.  As Negan continues his countdown, Carl climbs up to the top of the wall and offers himself up: Kill me, if you have to punish someone, and leave everyone else alone.  Negan's all, that's tempting but it's much less fun when you volunteer.  So then Negan starts firing off grenades or RPGs or some such, exploding some of the houses.  Carl drops back down and as the Alexandrians start to scatter, they toss around smoke bombs so that soon the town's streets are full of smoke.  As Negan and his goons stroll through the town, Carl skulks around, unseen, heading for the sewers.

And on the back side of town, Daryl and some cohorts bust through the walls, with Dwight and some Saviors giving chase.  The Alexandrians get out far enough and then set up their own ambush: Daryl, Michonne, Tara and Rosita with big ol' guns.  There's a shootout, during which one of the Saviors realizes that Dwight betrayed them, then Daryl and his posse prevail, killing everyone but Dwight, who has gotten wounded.  It looks touch and go for a moment, whether Daryl et als. will let him live but in the end, they scoop him up and take him with them, sneaking back into Alexandria and into the sewers, as Carl planned (except for Michonne - she won't go down there).  Daryl does ask Dwight what happened, if what Daryl did allowed the Saviors to get out, but Dwight says that Eugene figured out how to get out.  Which begs the question: with all the recent focus on Eugene, why didn't we get to see this brilliant idea?

Back at the Sanctuary, Eugene's conscience gets the better of him.  He takes care of the guards (dosing them with laxative - heh) and gives Gabriel keys to a car just outside so the priest and the Hilltop doctor can get away.  Amazed, Gabriel asks him to come with them but weird ol' Eugene just leaves them to it.

When Rick finally makes it back to Alexandria - seriously, where the fuck has he been? how long does it take to drive from the Sanctuary? - he goes to his house and starts yelling for Carl and Judith like a fucking lunatic.  Negan is there, waiting for him, and the two of them have fisticuffs, Rick managing to dodge Lucille more often than not.  Eventually, Rick gets himself tossed out a window and just makes a run for it. 

Michonne finds him, out there on the smoky streets, and leads him down into the sewers.  Everyone is there, sad and quiet, but safe for now.  Rick glares at Dwight and Sadiq, is relieved to see Judith.  He and Michonne go to Carl who for once is not wearing that STUPID FUCKING HAT.  And then Carl pulls up his shirt and shows them the walker bite on his stomach.  It's been there a while - hence the goodbye letters, hence the attempt to offer himself up to Negan since he's going to die anyway.  Michonne falls to her knees (and now I'm thinking that's why everyone else is so sad and quiet too) and Rick just stares at his son, stricken.

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

Overdue notice

Oh yes, the latest recap of The Walking Dead is super-late.  I don't really have any excuses other than I just haven't been able to make myself do it yet.  WHY OH WHY IS IT AN EXTRA-LONG EPISODE?  There is absolutely no reason for it - they easily could have cut it down to a regular length episode (and still not much would have happened).  What could they have cut out?  All the "artsy" close-ups of people's faces.  Shots of characters grimly driving cars.  And Aaron/Enid's entire storyline. 

Here it is:  Aaron and Enid are going to Oceanside because Aaron thinks he can convince Oceanside to join the fight against Negan even though not so long ago, the Alexandrians raided their community and took ALL their guns and ammunition.  To sweeten the deal, Enid stops at a distillery - that somehow has not been entirely looted since the zombie apocalypse happened (which is bullshit, because no one is going to leave a distillery unplundered) - so they can load up a truck full of hooch.  They park outside Oceanside and that night, when Aaron confronts an Oceansider lurking nearby, Enid shoots her.  It turns out to be the community's matriarch so I'm pretty sure that's not going to help Aaron and Enid's bargaining position.  So what was the point?

Recap up tonight.  Promise.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Walking Dead S8E7 "Time for After" 12/3/17

First of all, WTF kind of strategist is Rick if his plan hinges on the cooperation of Jadis's junkyard people?  He thinks he's just going to walk into the junkyard with no back-up and convince them - using his silver tongue or effervescent charm - to join with him against the Saviors?  How's that working out for you, Mr. Stuck-in-a-Box?  What happens to the rest of your people when the junkers kill you?  Did you plan for being stuck in a box?  Also, I am not a Eugene fan so this episode was excruciating.

Prologue - Rick is let out of the box for a few moments so Jadis can photograph him and some other junker dude can make a quick sketch.  Jadis tells him this is so she can sculpt him: "After."

Eugene - At the Sanctuary, Eugene is being all Eugene-ish.  He has a face-to-face with Dwight and instead of picking a side - joining Dwight to help take down the Saviors or ratting Dwight's betrayal out to Negan - he simply decides to keep his mouth shut as long as Dwight keeps his activities quiet and doesn't let any innocent workers get hurt.  He spends some time with a dying Father Gabriel (apparently gooping oneself up with zombie guts can led to some fucking nasty infections (which of course Negan has not caught)) and rebuffs Gabriel's pleas for aid in getting the doctor back to the Hilltop.  He misses a deadline negotiated with one of Negan's "wives" for fixing her boombox but manages to cadge the bottle of wine she promised in payment because he needs help sleeping.  He has a one-on-one with Negan, who blows all sort of smoke up his ass, making Eugene feel important.

Daryl and Tara, et als. - Daryl, Tara, Michonne and Rosita go over the plan: crash the garbage truck into the Sanctuary, busting a hole in the building so the walkers swarm in and take out as many Saviors as possible, with the hope that the workers won't get caught in the crossfire.  Morgan, who has been in a nearby building on sniper-duty, joins them.  Rosita and Michonne are all, why can't we stick to Rick's plan?  Daryl's like, well, we don't have the numbers to take out the Saviors now that the Kingdom has been wiped out.  Rosita and Michonne bow out, which begs the question why they even bothered leaving Alexandria in the first place.  Also, Daryl seems to have a bit of a death wish going on, saying that it doesn't matter if he survives this operation - he just wants it to work.

Eugene - While fixing the wife's boombox, Eugene gets an idea.  He fetches Sasha's iPod from the coffin (which is conveniently stashed in some storeroom nearby) and affixes it to a radio-controlled model airplane: the plan is to draw the swarm of walkers away from the Sanctuary by playing music, just like those Saviors were going to do with the speaker-truck last episode before Rosita and Michonne took them out.  Dwight finds him and warns him not to do it.  Eugene actually grows some balls turns the speaker on and launches the airplane.  Dwight considers shooting Eugene in the head and then settles for shooting the speaker-plane out of the sky before it can distract the walkers.

Daryl and Tara - Daryl and Tara, with Morgan providing coverage, put their plan into action: getting the garbage truck in close, then Daryl putting a cinder block on the accelerator and jumping out.  The truck crashes into the building and the walkers swarm in through the gap.  Inside, it's carnage.  Unprotected workers are easily taken down by the walkers; the Saviors wield their semiautomatic weapons but there are a lot of zombies and they have to retreat.

Eugene - Eugene FREAKS THE FUCK OUT, watching the walkers invade the formerly safe Sanctuary.  He runs to Gabriel's bedside and shouts at him that he won't help as all he can do is protect himself.  But he uses a LOT of words and it is super-annoying.  Then he goes to Negan, promising that he can make enough bullets to replace the ammo spent on the walkers so that Negan can go on the offensive against Rick's crew as soon as this shit is cleaned up.  He also alludes to another revelation, something big - but they are interrupted by Dwight and Negan's other lieutenants.  With Dwight in attendance, Eugene is not brave enough to rat him out to Negan, so he just says that he can get the intercoms working again and scurries away.  If someone can explain to me why it was necessary to devote a whole episode to this twit, that would be great.

Epilogue - Jadis lets Rick out of the box, putting him in the center of the junkyard arena in his boxers, hands tied.  One junker stands behind him, keeping him there, while another comes out with a walker.  These junkyard walker designs are pretty awesome, actually: this one has a half-helmet, protecting its skull but leaving its mouth free, and a long pole is attached to the back of the helmet, allowing the junker to control it and stay out of reach.  Rick manages to get free, downing the two junkers by gaining control of the walker.  He uses the pole to fight the men, eventually twisting the walker's head right off, which is fantastic.  Then Rick tackles Jadis, knocking her gun away and wrestling her to the ground, her panicked face just inches away from the walker's still-gnashing teeth.  Rick's all, I'm getting my clothes and my gun back now and leaving, and if you don't join up with me, my people will come back and murder you all.  For some reason, the junkers don't just shoot him where he stands.  Instead, Jadis gives up and agrees to join him.  There's some negotiation - each community will get a fourth of the Sanctuary's supplies - and Rick explains his grand plan: they will go to the Sanctuary, he will offer the Saviors amnesty and then, after they give up, he will kill Negan and everyone has a happy ending.

Except, of course, when Rick, Jadis and the junkers get to the Sanctuary, it is no longer surrounded by a herd of walkers because they are all inside the building, chewing on the living.  I assume Rick recognizes Daryl's garbage truck but he really looks more stunned than anything else.  I dunno: I think I'm with Daryl and Tara in that Rick's plan seemed pretty far from likely to succeed.

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

Sunday, December 3, 2017

In brief

It's supposed to be winter - I am supposed to be skiing right now - but the weather gods are not cooperating, keeping our skies clear and dry and mostly too warm for the resorts to make much man-made snow.  Our ski area is open, with just two trails available, so that's enough to get Mr. Mouse out of the house, at least for the mornings (if he doesn't ski, he gets fidgety).  I prefer a greater snow-to-rocks ratio in my skiing so I've opted out and opted for holding down the couch to watch some movies.  Here are some recent successes:

Josie and the Pussycats - Yes, I watched it.  And it is ridiculous in all the right ways (early 2000s fashion! A very young Rosario Dawson! Excellent soundtrack with "Josie's" vocals done by Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo!), plus it is completely subversive/satirical with respect to all those manufactured pop acts from that time period with their sponsorships and product-placement.

Split - In which former golden boy M. Night Shayamalan puts together an excellent B movie about three girls who get kidnapped by a dude with multiple personalities (twenty-three total, we're told).  It is suspenseful and tense, with interesting cinematography, and James McAvoy is just outstanding as Kevin, the dissociative identity disorder guy.  We only get to see about eight of the alters onscreen but McAvoy plays each one as a separate character and it's fantastic.

Krampus -  'Tis the season!  I think I was hoping for more scares from this admittedly PG-13 flick but the movie has a strong cast (Adam Scott, Toni Collette, Allison Tolman, David Koechner, Conchata Ferrell) and visually it looks great, with some wonderfully twisted takes on holiday classics.  Krampus is an actual folkloric baddie, the yin to St. Nicholas's yang, doling out punishment to naughty children.  

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Walking Dead S8E6 "The King, the Widow and Rick" 11/26/17

The episode title references Negan's instructions to his Saviors to capture "the King, the widow and Rick" alive ... but to be honest, this damn episode should actually have been titled "The King, the Widow, Rick, Carol, Carl, Michonne and Rosita, with some Daryl and Tara for good measure."  If the intent had been to focus on Ezekiel, Maggie and Rick, the writers lost their focus a bit.  And in case you were wondering, this is another talk-heavy/place-setting episode.

The good guys have set up a nifty little message system, hiding notes for one another in various roadside trash heaps.  As we check in with Carol/the Kingdom, Rick/on the road and Maggie/at the Hilltop, the ponderous voiceovers talks about how the plan is working even though we're losing people.  Only there are a LOT more words - but it's all kind of pointless because it's just rehashing everything we've just seen over the last couple of episodes.

Rick:  On foot and on his own, Rick walks to the Garbage People's compound to try once again to enlist their help.  Jadis and her weirdos hear him out and then turn him down, throwing him into a hot storage container.  Jadis:  "[He] talks too much."  Word, sister.

Maggie:  The denizens of the Hilltop are conflicted about the Savior prisoners Jesus has brought back.  At first, they are tied up along the outside of the wall, guarded by Jesus and other gun-bearing Hilltoppers.  This is dangerous for Maggie's people, however, with the exposure to walkers and non-imprisoned Saviors.  Gregory thinks they should build a gallows.  Maggie instead builds a barbed wire enclosures within the Hilltop's walls.  The prisoners are ushered inside; Gregory, who has been driving Maggie up a fucking wall, also gets roughed up a little and thrown in with the Saviors.  Maggie tells Jesus that she's only holding onto the prisoners on the off-chance that they can be exchanged for any of their people that Negan takes captives.  Otherwise, after this is all over, they're going to have to be killed.  Afterwards, Aaron (who delivered the baby Rick found to Maggie) heads back out, with Enid tagging along.

Carol:  Even though "The King" is in the title, Ezekiel is too busy being sad so most of the focus is on Carol.  They're supposed to meet up with Rick and since she is unable to roust the King, Carol goes alone.  She is followed by some little kid (Henry?) and has to rescue him from a couple of walkers he is trying to fight.  She snaps at him, then hands him a gun and leads him back to the Kingdom.  Over Jerry's protests, she forces her way into the theater where she finds Ezekiel sitting on the floor beside his throne, clutching a length of Shiva's chain in his hands.  He is very sad.  Carol gives him a rousing speech about how his people need him to lead them as he has done up until now and if he's struggling, to just fake it 'til he makes it.  They have a nice little bonding moment (and both these actors are so good together) over how he helped her when she isolated herself in that house but ultimately Ezekiel says he just can't be the King now.

Carl:  For reasons, Carl goes out into the forest, looking for that dude he and Rick came across a few episodes ago, the one Carl tried to befriend and Rick chased off by shooting rounds into the air.  Carl finds the dude who is engaged in setting up walker traps - his parents thought that killing zombies released their souls and he is trying to honor his parents by offing the undead.  Intrigued, Carl asks the three questions (remember those).  Sadiq says he's killed about 237 walkers (nice!) and only one person, putting him out of his misery after a walker attack.  Carl's all, let's be friends and then they both almost get killed when a small group of walkers comes out of nowhere.  They finally put down the walkers and Carl's like, come with me, I can't take you to my community because my dad's kind of touchy but maybe I can put you somewhere else.

Michonne and Rosita:  After basically being absent for the first five episodes - they have been "healing" back at Alexandria, Michonne and Rosita go against orders and leave Alexandria because of reasons: they want to "see the Sanctuary."  Whatever.  Like they would do that.  This is just an excuse for the writers to get them on the road where they hear some music coming from a warehouse.  Worried that the noise will draw the herd of walkers away from the Sanctuary, they go to check it out.  The warehouse is storing a TON of weapons, like military grade, and there are two Saviors inside, getting a truck laden with speakers blasting opera to go to the Sanctuary, specifically to draw the herd of walkers away.  Michonne and Rosita get into a gunfight with the two Saviors.  Rosita AWESOMELY blows one dude up with a fucking RPG but the woman gets away, driving off in the speaker truck.  Fear not - read next paragraph.

Daryl and Tara:  When Daryl gets back to Alexandria, Tara goes looking for him.  She says he was right to not kill Dwight because they couldn't have gotten this far in the plan without him, but after this is all over, she's gonna kill him.  Because he killed Denise, yes?  Daryl, still holding a grudge for his Sanctuary treatment at Dwight's hands, says maybe the two of them could kill him together.  Later, whilst driving their big ol' garbage truck, they broadside the speaker truck and hook up with Michonne and Rosita.  Daryl's like, we got a lot more work to do - all of us.  They drive to where Michonne and Rosita can see the herd of walkers swarming the Sanctuary.  Daryl's like, we're gonna end this thing, right now.  I think he's still not on board with Rick's plan and wants to blow some shit up.  And frankly, with Rick stuck in a Garbage People's storage container, sweating his ass off, Daryl may have a point.

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

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Walking Dead S8E5 "The Big Scary U" 11/19/17

I dunno: The AV Club liked this episode but man, it was ALL TALKING except for the Rick-n-Daryl show, which wasn't full of talking but also seemed jarring and a little out of place given the tone of the rest of the episode. I suppose it's good to spend more time with the bad guys - delve a little deeper into what makes them tick but IT WAS ALL TALKING.  Sorry this is so late - The Punisher and then Thanksgiving got in the way, and then I just was putting it off - but now we begin:

Bit of a flashback to Father Gabriel in his more cowardly days, praying and asking to be given purpose in the remaining life he has.

Then, a bit more recent flashback when Gregory was staying (being kept?) at the Sanctuary: Simon brings him breakfast and then takes him to a meeting with Negan and Negan's upper level councillors (Simon, Dwight, Eugene, Regina, some other asshole).  Gregory talks and talks, clearly terrified out of his mind but bluffing as best he can.  Negan, who is a little less obnoxious, lays out his overarching strategy: if you kill the right people, you can manage to save hundreds more (hence being called "the Saviors").  Gregory makes promises, saying that he can deliver the Hilltop to Negan and exile anyone who thinks to ally themselves with Maggie/Rick/etc.  Negan's all, I think you are playing both sides, Gregory.  Gregory: [weasels like he's never weaseled before.]  Simon interjects that if Gregory can't deliver, they can always go in and kill everyone.  Negan abruptly stands up and slams Lucille into the table, scaring everyone: "People are a resource!  Money on the table! People are the foundation of what we are doing here!"  He glares at Simon, snarling, "Are you confused about who's in charge? Are we backsliding?"  Simon:  "Um, no."  Negan sets out the new plan:  "We kill the right people (Maggie, Rick, Ezekiel) in the wrongest way possible and we make 'em all watch!"  That'll bring the communities back in line.  Then, the meeting gets broken up as the coordinated attacks begin.  Then those events happen and eventually Negan and Gabriel get trapped in that trailer and we're back up to now.

Negan and Gabriel sit quietly as the walkers claw at the trailer walls.  Negan: "Your friend Rick is an asshole."  Gabriel: "You're an asshole."  Negan, chuckling: "Yes, I am.  But Rick's gonna get people killed.  [paraphrasing] I may kill people but I don't get them killed."  Gregory thinks that may be semantics, despite what Negan says.  And then there's a lot of talking.  Gregory says that he's looking for a purpose and maybe being stuck in this trailer with Negan is it: "I think maybe I'm here to take your confession."

Here's the just of it.  Gabriel confesses that he is a coward and locked his parishioners out of the church when the apocalypse happened.  Negan only confesses to cheating on his first wife when she was alive; he feels no compunction about what happened after the shit hit the fan.  As the zombies get a little more excitable outside, Negan points out that the longer he is stuck in here, the more the Saviors are going to come apart at the seams without him to keep them in line.

Meanwhile, Simon, Dwight, Eugene, Regina and that other asshole have assumed that Negan is dead and what the hell are they going to do next.  They argue amongst themselves but do come up with some salient points:  they need to protect the worker population because the workers outnumber the Savior fighters by a lot and if the workers revolt, they could win through sheer numbers.  Regina wants to mount an attack.  Dwight wants to protect what they have left and stay alive.  Simon wants to find out who on the inside leaked the information that allowed Rick to get this attack coordinated.  Everyone looks at Eugene here; Eugene looks at Dwight.

In the comic relief interlude, Rick and Daryl work to retrieve the munitions from the truck they overturned.  Daryl packs up a bunch of explosives: he thinks they should blow a hole in the far side of the Sanctuary and allow the walkers to flood in, wiping everyone out.  Rick thinks that is a bad idea - that would kill workers as well as Savior soldiers - and they need to stick to the original plan (of which there are apparently a few more stages left to enact).  Daryl's all, nope, Ezekiel's crew is gone (the dying Savior truck driver told them this before he croaked) and we're gonna blow shit up.  Rick's all, nope, we're not.  Daryl grabs the explosives and storms off towards his motorcycle.  Rick tackles him and there are fisticuffs.  For the record, Daryl punches first.  They're pretty well-matched, slugging and snarling and wrestling each other to the ground.  At one point, Rick grabs the pack of explosives and tosses it back towards the wrecked truck - which is leaking gas and possibly on fire at this point) just as Daryl catches him in a choke hold.  Daryl brings Rick down and just before he loses consciousness, Rick sees the flames catch at the truck.  He and Daryl stop fighting to scramble away, getting just out of range as the truck explodes.  They sit there, hilarious expressions on their faces, and then they get up to continue with the plan: since the explosives exploded, Daryl's got no reason to go against it now.  As they get ready to continue on, Rick on foot because his jeep is shot up and Daryl on his motorcycle - Rick mutters, "Chokehold's illegal, asshole."  Daryl: "Mm-hmm.  Yes, it is."  Heh.  Rick says that he'll meet Daryl after the last play.  Daryl asks if that's really necessary and Rick says yeah, it is.  They head off.

Negan and Gabriel make a run for it, dressing themselves with zombie guts for disguise and armed only with Lucille and Gabriel's partially-loaded pistol.  They make it about halfway before the walkers notice them.  They're going to make it, of course, because Negan won't be taken down by some random walker horde.

Inside the Sanctuary, the remaining ruling committee is getting frazzled.  To make matters worse, the workers are advancing on the Saviors, getting restless and worried and rebellious.  Things start to escalate and Regina loses her cool and shoots a couple of workers.  Just as everything is about to fall completely apart, Negan and Gabriel, covered in gore, stagger into the hall.  Everyone - worker and Savior alike - drops to their knees.  Gabriel kneels too.  Negan does his schtick and promises that after he's gotten cleaned up, he and the committee will be figuring out how this all could have happened.  And then they'll get back to doing what they've always done: saving people.  As he saunters off, tossing a directive to his men to put Gabriel in a cell but treat him gently, a woman calls out, "Thank you, Negan.  Thank god for you!"  Negan grins at a flabbergasted Gabriel: "And that is why I am here."

Later, Eugene brings Gabriel a pillow and some food.  Gabriel is sick (why is he sick?), sweating and shaking.  Eugene says he'll get the Sanctuary's doctor and Gabriel looks up, saying that the Sanctuary's doctor is Maggie's doctor, kidnapped from the Hilltop.  Looks like Gabriel has found his purpose: he's going to bring the doctor back to Maggie.

And in the one WTF moment of the episode: as Rick tromps down the road, heading for wherever he is heading, he hears something.  He stops and looks up, just as a helicopter flies low overhead.  That's the first aircraft we've since the apocalypse started.  Wonder who's flying it?

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