Friday, March 27, 2015

The Walking Dead S5E15 "Try" 3/22/15

Deanna, her husband and her remaining son sit around the house, mourning Aiden and listening to one of his "Run Mix" CDs.  You know, because Nine Inch Nails is such excellent bereavement music.  Elsewhere: Carol makes a casserole and writes a sympathy card; Sasha, looking more and more unstable, takes up her post in the watchtower and takes out a zombie.  Her aim is still good as ever.  After a knock on the door, Deanna finds Carol's casserole, left on the doorstep.  She picks up the card and goes back inside, leaving the casserole there, then takes the card to a candle and burns it, unread.  Also, outside the walls, Daryl and Aaron see the flicker of a campfire out in the distance.  There's someone else out there.

Deanna watches the tape she made of her interview with Nicholas after the disastrous run from last episode.  This interview is intercut with shots of Glen (talking to Rick).  Nicholas blatantly lies about what went down, claiming that Glen left Aiden to die and was actively trying to push him out the revolving door and into the waiting zombies.  Nicholas: "They did this! It was them ... these people have to go - they are not like us."  But Glen, he tells the truth, sadly, exhaustedly, tells the truth about Nicholas's cowardice and Noah's death.  He speaks earnestly when Rick mutters that [Rick's group] doesn't have to abide by the Alexandrian rules.  "We have to make this work!" - Noah wanted it that way.

That night, as she and Rick watch Jessie and her sons from across the way, Carol asks if he's thought about what to do about Pete.  She says that Sam told her that his mom put a bolt on the inside of his closet and told him to hide in there when the fighting gets bad.  Carol: "If walkers hadn't gotten Ed, I wouldn't be standing here right now."  Some time later, Pete comes up to Rick, who is standing in a small park, revolver in hand, staring into the middle distance. Pete is looking a little drunk and a little clueless and Rick growls at him to "keep walking."  A befuddled Pete stammers and then moves on.

In the morning, Michonne gets up, looks at her new constable uniform and sighs.  Rosita comes in and tells her that she thinks Sasha spent the night in the watch tower (Abraham is up there now) but then didn't come back home.  They grab up some weapons (a handgun for Michonne, a big knife for Rosita) and go outside the walls, looking for their friend.  It's the first time either of them has gone outside the walls since they got to Alexandria and Michonne thinks it already feels different - she says she feels like she was asleep in there.  They start finding a trail of dead zombies, all shot in the back of the head.  Michonne: She's hunting them.

Rick finds Deanna at some new grave sites.  He says that there's a problem with Pete; she says that she'd hoped it would get better.  Rick is incredulous that she knew about the situation and did nothing about it, but she points out that Pete is a surgeon and has saved lives.  Rick: "He's beating his wife."  He suggests separating Jessie and Pete but Deanna is like, what if he doesn't agree to that, decides to ignore it.  Rick's all, I kill him - you obey the rules or you die, that's civilization now.  Deanna is NOT having any of that: at worst they'll exile Pete.  Rick says you can't throw him out because he'll just come back and attack Alexandria.  She is adamant - they don't kill people here.

Everyone is out in the woods today, even the teenagers!  Enid calls out that she knows Carl is following her ("You're very loud.").  He thinks they should go back but she doesn't want to.  She likes being out in the world,  she feels like it's where she belongs, running through the woods, and as he chases her with a grin, Carl realizes he likes being out there too.  They come across a sole walker.  Enid has a trick: she winds up an egg timer and throws it near the zombie.  The ticking, and then the ringing, distracts the monster.  They run off to safety and sit down on a log to talk.  Except she won't talk about what happened to her before she got to Alexandria.  Then they hear a herd of walkers approaching and have to hide in a convenient hollow tree.  The herd moves past, unwitting; Carl touches Enid's hand and they almost kiss.  Some of the walkers that lurch past, they have the W carved in their foreheads.

Glen finds Nicholas washing out the van.  He says that the four people he and Aiden left behind, and Noah, are on him - Nicholas must carry those deaths.  Glen tells him that he had better not go outside the walls anymore.  He's not threatening Nicholas, "[he's] saving [him]."  Nicholas isn't having any of that shit, of course, and later goes outside the walls to collect that gun that Rick hid away in the jar before coming to Alexandria - that gun that was missing when Rick tried to retrieve it an episode or so ago.

Michonne and Rosita finally find Sasha - "I'm tired of playing defensive," she snarls - just a sizable herd of walkers comes up.  As Sasha starts taking them down, shot after shot, Michonne has some flashbacks to when she was still out on the road, wielding that sword, slaughtering zombies.  She raises her own gun and when Sasha complains that she doesn't need any help, Michonne tells her, "This isn't for you."  And then the zombie-carnage begins in earnest, Rosita stabbing skulls, Michonne and Sasha efficiently taking shots.  Sasha pauses to reload and a zombie knocks her down; as she reaches for her knife, Michonne takes the walker out.  Sasha shoves the body off her, slaps Michonne's outreached hand away and cries out, "I don't want your help! You can't help me- nobody ..."  She trails off, tears shining in her eyes, then stalks off into the woods.  After a brief pause, Michonne and Rosita follow her.

Somewhere further out, Daryl and Aaron track a trail of zombie parts strewn on the ground.  Daryl notes that whoever did this seems to be taking parts with them - and it happened not very long ago.  A little ways on, they find a naked dead woman tied to a tree.  She had been tied there, alive, and left for the zombies to tear apart.  Again, Daryl notes that this just happened not long ago.  Daryl grabs the body by the hair, lifting the dead woman's hair.  There's a W carved in her forehead.  And then she opens her eyes as a zombie.  Without flinching, Daryl punches his knife into her skull.

Oh fabulous: back in Alexandria, Rick finds Jessie working in her garage and confronts her about Pete beating her.  She says that she can "fix it."  Rick's like, no, but I can.  She protests and says that Rick will only make things worse.  Rick points out that anything "worse" means Pete kills her.  She asks him why he cares, why is this so important to him.  "I'm married," she reminds him, saying that she can take care of herself.  Then she goes inside, closing the garage door on him.  Rick walks away, stopping in the middle of the street.  He looks vaguely unhinged, like he's just barely holding himself together as he watches the Alexandrians go about their business, walking dogs, chatting on porches.  Then he whirls and goes back to Jessie's house.  He tells her about Sam asking for a gun to protect her.  Now she's in tears.  And, for some reason, she starts acting like she likes him too, asking, "Would you do this for someone else? Would you do this for anyone else?"  And when he says no, she whispers that yes, she wants him to take care of her.

And then Pete comes in, disheveled and drunk.  He is not pleased to see Rick there, so close to his wife.  He tells Rick to leave and Jessie stands up to him, telling her husband that he's the one who needs to leave.  Pete starts shouting and Rick tries to get him to leave with him.  Pete gets more riled up and the punches start flying - and a grappling Rick and Pete fly through the front window, bounce off the porch and crash into the street.

This is an ugly, brutal fight: attempted eye-gauging, throttling, smashing of heads on asphalt.  Everyone comes running, sprinting - Glen, Carol, Nicholas, Rosita.  Rick and Pete are like animals.  Jessie tries to pull Pete off Rick and he shoves her away; Carl tries to pull his dad off Pete and gets shoved away as well for his trouble.  Finally, Deanna runs up and screams at the two men to stop.  Rick staggers away, pulling his illicit pistol out.  Everyone backs up a few steps.  [Note: while all this is going on, a herd of walkers swarm part of the walls and Sasha, back up in the tower, methodically takes them out.]  Rick, blood-soaked and sounding like a lunatic, rails at the Alexandrians, saying that they don't know how to deal with the reality of their situation, that they pretend like they know what's out there but they don't.  He says, if you want this place to stay standing - starting right now, they have to control who lives in Alexandria.  Deanne, tensely:  "That's never been more clear to me than right now."  Rick all but giggles, "Me? Me?  You mean me?"  My god, this man is teetering on the edge of insanity, isn't he?  He keeps ranting and raving ... until a uniformed Michonne comes up behind him, unseen, and clobbers him over the head, knocking him unconscious.  Good lord, woman, what took you so long?

Some of my friends are floating theories on what's going to happen on Sunday's 90 minute finale.  Their consensus is CARNAGE.  The internet has been thinking Glen's going to bite it - in which case they ought to just kill Maggie off too, because she'll have lost a fiance, sister and father in short order, not to mention all the rest of her family back in S2, plus she's hardly ever onscreen anymore - but my friends are thinking it'll be Carol.  I hope it's not Carol: she and Daryl (and Michonne and sometimes Glen) are my favorites.  And if they kill Daryl off, I will quit this stupid show.  The comics apparently have Carl losing an eye at some point around now, and some horrible outside people (the Wolves? the Wolverines? I dunno, I gave up on the comics because they were just way more gory and horrific than I could handle) kill Glen quite gruesomely.  I truly have no idea what's going to happen, other than what little was shown in the "next time" tag.  I don't suppose they'll kill off Rick - I wouldn't really have an issue if they did.

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

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Book review: Perdido Street Station by China Mieville

I struggle a bit with how to describe Perdido Street Station by China Mieville:  steampunk-science fantasy?  It's self-proclaimed "New Weird," I guess, complex and realistic world-building that jumps off into both science fiction and fantasy realms.  One thing it isn't supposed to be is comfortable and in that regard, Perdido Street Station is very successful.

A half human/half bird creature (a garuda) comes to fringe scientist Isaac in the scruffy city of New Crobuzon, asking for his help.  As Isaac researches the solution to the garuda's problem, he comes across a biologic specimen that is strange and beautiful and, once it reaches adulthood, wreaks a kind of havoc never before seen in New Crobuzon.  Isaac, his lab partners, his part-insectile artist lover, the criminal underworld, the city's municipal government and even more fantastical New Crobuzon denizens are drawn into the terror.

That all sounds pretty good ... except for that Mieville seems to be much more interested in his world-building than in constructing the narrative.  Perdido Street Station is plot-light but description-heavy, going on and on about the neighborhoods and architecture and subversive politics and the xenian inhabitants of the rotting city (cactus people! human/machine hybrids! Alien face-hugger-shaped parasites that show up for a couple of chapters and then disappear!).  It's very difficult to connect and relate to the novel's protagonists when the author keeps such distance from them.

Perdido Street Station is also not a fun or happy book.  There is very little levity to break the bleakness and things end badly for pretty much everyone.  I'm not a Pollyanna, I don't need all the books/movies I consume to be happily ever after.  But unremitting rot, horror and squalor for 700+ pages is rough - even the grimmest of Stephen King's book have some light bits.  I'm glad I read it, I wanted to finish it, and I'm intrigued by the premise behind another of Mieville's books, The City and the City; I just can't wholeheartedly embrace this one.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Walking Dead S5E14 "Spend" 3/15/15

Let's just get this spoiler out of the way right now: Noah dies tonight, a horrible, awful, gruesome zombie death, probably the most nasty zombie kill this show has done to date.  It's pretty shocking, especially for something on television.

It's a quiet morning in Alexandria.  Father Gabriel walks into what they're using for a church and marks a page in his Bible.  He is distracted for a moment by a bowl of strawberries, left for him by a grateful parishioner.  Then he turns back to his Bible and begins to methodically rip pages out of it.  It looks like he pulls out the whole New Testament: no turn the other cheek in this post-apocalyptic world, eh, Father?  It's all an eye for an eye now.

As Darryl and Aaron head out of town on a recruiting trip, Noah meets with Deanna' husband, Whatsisname Architect Guy: Noah wants to learn how to build things, preparing for the future, in it for the long haul.  Later, the crew is gearing up for a supply/scavenging run.  Eugene needs some converter something or other to fix the solar power grid; he doesn't want to go on the run but they - Glen, Aiden, Noah, Tara and Nicholas - insist that he come along so they pick up the right parts.  Glen and Aiden seem to have resolved their differences - in fact, Glen seems to be the de facto leader of this run, something that Aiden seems completely comfortable with.  Tara presses Noah to find out what he learned about some Alexandrian girl - seems like they each might be kind of interested in her.  They all pile into a van and drive off, godawful techno music blasting for some reason.  In another part of town, Rick is being all constable-y when he stops by Jessie's house to find her picking up after someone has vandalized an art project/sculpture she'd been working on with her kids.  He is acting slightly less creepy but still.  She tries to shrug it off, saying it isn't important, but he just smiles, saying he needs something to do today.

The supply crew checks out the warehouse, relaxed but wary.  A lone walker approaches and Noah takes it down.  "Nice shot," Glen says ... and this is where it becomes clear that Noah will not survive the episode:  connecting with people, earning their respect, becoming friends, planning for the future?  You just can't do that on TWD or you'll get killed off.  Anyway,  they scout for exits to the warehouse - there is only one, with the back door surrounded by swarming walkers, held in check by a chainlink fence.  One way in, one way out.  They go in cautiously, checking for zombies.  They find some behind another chainlink fence but deem it safe enough to search for what they need.  They spread out, two people to an aisle, looking for the converters.  Tara and Eugene find crates of the equipment but a walker creeps up on the group, unnoticed at first.  This walker is wearing armor and a helmet, a former soldier apparently.  Aiden starts shooting at it, not noticing that there is a grenade attached to its vest.  Glen notices and shouts for Aiden to stop but it is too late: one more shot pierces the grenade.  BOOM.

In the aftermath, Glen, Noah, Eugene and Nicholas are okay, shaken and cut but not badly injured.  Tara is unconscious with a bad head wound, however.  And Aiden, Aiden is stuck to the shelving, impaled on a couple of pieces of steel.  Nicholas says he's dead and their attention turns to the approaching zombies who have gotten out of the cage.  They narrowly escape the walkers, collect the limp Tara and take refuge in a nearby office.  Tara is in bad shape and they realize they need to get back home soon.  Then, horribly, they hear cries and moans from out in the warehouse: it's Aiden and he's still alive.  Nicholas waffles, suggesting that they abandon him, but Eugene insists: he will take care of Tara while Glen, Noah and Nicholas go fetch Aiden.  Wow, Eugene, manning up!

Back in Alexandria, little Sam knocks on Carol's door, looking for more cookies.  She is very brusque with him - having lost her daughter, Mika and Lizzie, she is not at all inclined to befriend another child.  She tells him that she'll show him how to make the cookies but he'll have to steal a bar of chocolate for the recipe, and another bar for her.  She shoves him out the door, not expecting to see him again.

Out in the field, Abraham is part of a salvage crew collecting sheet metal from a construction site so they can expand/reinforce the walls around Alexandria.  The crew gets interrupted by a small herd of walkers.  The Alexandrians are, generally speaking, terrible shots.  Francine, the lookout, falls out of the front loader bucket when someone shoots out the bucket's hydraulic hose [I'm not mechanical, don't really know what it is].  As walkers swarm her, the crew chief orders the crew to back off to safety, abandoning her.  Abraham is all, WTF? He runs forward and grabs Francine.  Their retreat to the rest of the crew is cut off by zombies so he shoves her into the cab of the front loader and then crawls underneath the machine himself.  As the zombies move forward, Francine shoots the ones further out while Abraham makes like a lumberjack and hacks up "the uglies in the front."  

Back in town, Dr. Pete stops by Rick's house, seemingly three sheets to the wind and offering beers to the new constable.  Rick is nonplussed, apologizing for not having found out who vandalized the artwork.  After some awkward, "Let's be friends, man, we kinda have to be," Pete leaves.  Rick stares after him, rubbing the wedding ring on his finger.

At the warehouse, Eugene is getting nervous that the guys haven't come back yet.  He steels himself, hoists Tara to his shoulder and makes his way out of the warehouse, shooting zombies with relatively good aim.  Meanwhile, as Noah keeps watch, Glen and Nicholas try to pull Aiden off the steel beams.  He screams horribly, drawing the attention of the walkers.  They can't pull him free.  Nicholas leans in and whispers in Aiden's ear, "You left them.  We both did.  That is who we are.  I'm sorry."  Noah begins firing at the approaching walkers, muttering at the others to hurry.  Nicholas bolts, leaving Glen to try to free Aiden himself.  Aiden clutches at Glen and confesses that the four people on his last crew, the ones who died, had been left to die by him and Nicholas.  Glen looks at him in horror and then Noah shouts, "They're here!" and hauls Glen away.  The walkers converge on the impaled Aiden, going straight for the intestines.  He screams and screams until he dies.  And I thought THAT was going to be the most awful scene of the episode.

Over at the construction site, Abraham gets in the crew chief's face: "That's how it is with you people? You leave people to die?"  Crew chief: "We have a system!  Tell 'em, Francine."  Francine: "Screw you, asshole" and punches the asshole in the face.  The crew chief is all, well, let's call it a day but Abraham is all, we've got four hours of light left - you good with that, Francine?  She is and the crew gets back to work as Abraham designates two lookouts.  The crew chief goes back to Alexandria and tells Deanna what happens.  To his credit, he says that Francine would have died if Abraham hadn't taken charge, plus Abraham is now leading the crew better than he ever has.  There is no bitterness or rancor: he simply realizes that Abraham is a better man for the job.  After he leaves, Deanna muses to Maggie that once again, one of Maggie's group has been placed in a position of power.  Maggie simply says you need us, we're good at this.

To Carol's surprise and annoyance, Sam comes back with the chocolate.  They make the cookies and Sam tries to ask her questions.  She resists and he says, "We don't have to be friends.  But it doesn't have to be quiet."  She is taken aback by this and begrudgingly answers some of his questions.  When he asks her why she stole the guns, she says it's because you sometimes have to protect yourself.  He asks if he can have a gun - but it's not for him.  Carol, concerned, wants to know who it's for.  Sam takes off running.  Carol's like, oh shit, Dr. Pete is beating on his family.

At the warehouse,  Glen and Noah catch up to Nicholas as he tries to leave via the other exit.  It's a revolving door and there are lots of walkers waiting outside ... and approaching from the inside too.  The men end up barricaded inside the revolving door, Nicholas in one section, Glen and Noah in another.  They have to coordinate pushing evenly so the door doesn't turn and open enough to let the walkers in.  Suddenly, wonderfully, that terrible techno music sounds as Eugene drives up in the van, music blaring.  He yells at the walkers to get their attention, drawing most of the outside ones off.  Still, at least a dozen are pawing at the revolving door.  It's close and scary and very tense.  Nicholas starts to panic and pushes the door open enough to get to the outside.  But this turns the door enough for the inside walkers to reach in and grab Noah's leg.  He screams, clutching at Glen, but the zombies are too much and he is dragged out of the door, eyes wide.  Glen wedges himself in the door and, screaming and crying, is forced to watch as his friend is quite literally pulled apart.  Like, the zombies press Noah up against the glass, tear into his belly and pull his face from his skull.  Right there on television.  Yeesh.  

Minutes or moments later, Nicholas runs up to Eugene in the van.  "We're leaving!" he shouts.  Eugene is all, where are my friends?  They tussle and Nicholas throws Eugene to the ground and dives into the van.  But Glen is there, and he hauls Nicholas out of the van and bludgeons him into unconsciousness.  He helps Eugene up and mutters, "Help me get [Nicholas] in the van."  Eugene: "Where's Noah?"  Glen: *sad face.*

In Alexandria, Carol knocks on Jessie and Pete's door.  A drunken Pete answers, not that happy to see her.  She asks if Sam is okay and Pete is all, why wouldn't he be?  She asks to speak with Jessie and Pete says that it isn't a good time, closing the door in her face.  Carol marches herself right over to Rick's and tells him that Pete is hitting Jessie, and maybe Sam too.  When he asks how she knows, she just knows.  Carol: "I know how this is gonna go with Pete.  There's only one way it can go.  You're gonna have to kill him."  Rick just stares at her, creepy and bug-eyed.

Father Gabriel comes to Deanna's house.  He tells her that he is grateful to be in Alexandria but she has made a mistake in letting in the others: Rick, his group, they're not good people - they've done unspeakable things.  As a concerned but stealthy Maggie eavesdrops from around the corner, Deanna says, Rick told me that they had to do some hard things when they were on the outside.  But Gabriel insists that Rick et als. will only look out for themselves.  They're dangerous and they will destroy what she's built.  He rants a little about fallen angels and false light and not deserving Paradise and Deanna thanks him for coming.  She shows him out and leans against the wall, mind churning.  And from outside, you can hear the van pull up and Glen screaming for Maggie, screaming for help.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Walking Dead S5E13 "Forget" 3/8/15

In a nutshell: Sasha is a mess, Darryl is really making an effort, Carol is scary and Rick, well, Rick seems to be heading down the rabbit hole.  Also, my DVR freaked out a little bit in the middle of the party so if someone could explain the significance of the A on peoples' hands, that would be awesome.

Sasha can't sleep what with photographs of the house's previous occupants staring down at her.  In the morning, she takes a rifle and a silencer out for target practice; she also takes all those framed photos with her and shoots the hell out of them.  She's super-twitchy, eyes darting around, looking for walkers.  Hoping for walkers, actually.  After she's shot those photos to shit, she sits down on a stump and whisper-begs to the woods, "Come and get me."

Carol, Darryl and Rick have a surreptitious rendezvous out by the ramshackle house where Rick and Carl killed all those walkers last episode.  They plan a gun heist: Carol says that the guns are stored with the food stuffs and there's a window that just closes with a latch.  She'll manage to get in there and unlatch the window so they can liberate some guns.  Just in case.  In the meantime, she says, everyone needs to try to fit in with the Alexandrians.  She looks pointedly at Darryl when she says this.  A lone walker comes lurching out of the woods and Carol takes it down.  They look at it closely once it's dead: someone had carved a "W" into its forehead while it was still alive.  That's disturbing.

Rick and Michonne meets with Deanna, who has conscripted Maggie to work with her.  Deanna has grand plans for eventual government! industry! community! but Rick would more like to talk about security for Alexandria.  It comes out that they have no lookouts up in the clock tower.  Deanna is like, there hasn't been any reason, but all of Rick, Maggie and Michonne are all, we need to keep an eye out!  Sasha comes up and volunteers for as many shifts as possible but Deanna isn't sure she's stable enough yet.  She tells Sasha that if she will come to the party she (Deanna) is throwing this evening, welcome Rick's group, she'll consider it.  As Rick strolls down the main street some time later, Carol sees him and breaks away from the housewives with whom she has been sharing recipes.  They decide that tonight - during the party - will be the night they steal the guns.  Carol tells Rick that he can't do it - he's too visible a personage - but since she's basically become invisible, she'll do it.

Darryl is tromping around in the woods by himself.  He finds Aaron and, when the other man asks if he can tag along, grumpily allows it if Aaron can keep up and keep quiet.  As they walk, Aaron reaches out, saying that he knows how Darryl feels as an outsider with the the Alexandrians because he and Eric are outsiders too.  But if he gets to know the people, the people will get less afraid of him and he will become less of an outsider.  Aaron suggests that Darryl try going to Deanna's party.  Darryl shrugs it off, saying that he's got nothing to prove.  They come into a clearing and there's a pretty black horse grazing there.  Aaron says he's been trying to catch the horse, to bring it back inside the walls before the zombies get him.  Darryl takes the rope Aaron has been carrying and almost gets it around the horse's neck (one of the Alexandrian children named the horse "Buttons").  But a small herd of walkers emerges out of the woods.  Buttons runs away and Darryl and Aaron efficiently put down the walkers.  Aaron is pretty handy with his gun and Darryl gives him a grudging look of respect.  Once the walkers are dead, they start tracking Buttons again.

Carol stops by the pantry to pick up ingredients for cookies for the party.  Her real intent, of course, is to unlatch the window.  While she's browsing the shelves, a couple of big fellows come in to check out some guns, heading outside to do some wall repair before the party.  One of them asks Carol if she's afraid of guns.  She smiles gently and says no, but she's not very good with them.  The man, very politely and sincerely, tells her that if she ever wants to learn to shoot, he would be happy to teach her.  Better to be safe than sorry.  Carol thanks him and they all leave the armory/pantry.  The window is now unlatched.

The party begins in the early afternoon.  Our group is clean and showered and I don't even recognize Rosita without her Army cap.  Abraham frowns, saying that he doesn't know about [the party].  Rosita notes that they have beer.  Abraham: I'm gonna give it a try.  Deanna introduces Rick to her husband, the architect who put up Alexandria's wall.  He seems like a decent guy and Rick actually smiles.  It looks genuine.  People keep rolling in.

Darryl and Aaron keep following Buttons, putting down zombies as they go.  There is one moment when a fallen walker grabs Aaron's leg and Darryl has to save him.  "Thanks," says Aaron.  Moments later, Aaron shoots another one who was coming up behind Darryl.  "Thanks," says Darryl.  They find Buttons, who is backed up into a fence cornered by some walkers.  "I got the ones on the right," says Darryl.  They are too late to save the poor horse, however, who is pulled down by the zombies.  The two men kill the zombies as they munch on Buttons's intestines, and then Aaron puts a bullet in Buttons's head, putting him out of his misery.  Aaron looks miserable too: "He always ran."  Darryl shrugs, saying that Aaron was just trying to help him.

Inside the party, Noah is feeling shy and uncomfortable.  He tries to bail but Glen and Maggie latch onto him, saying that he's family and they'll stick with him.  They put on brave faces and begin to mingle.  Outside the party (it has somehow gotten to be nighttime now, even though in the last scene with Aaron and Darryl and poor Buttons, it was clearly afternoon), Darryl peers through the windows.  He has showered and changed his clothes but he can't make himself go inside.  As he walks away, Aaron comes out onto his own porch, gives Darryl props for trying to go to the party and then invites him in to have dinner with him and Eric.

At the party, Carol notices the pantry-keeper in attendance and heads off to do her thievery.  Jessie comes up with her husband and introduces him to Rick.  His name is Pete, he is the community's doctor and he does not seem at all menacing like he did the other night on the porch - although he is a little brusque with his wife.  Jessie stays to talk with Rick and to my eye, he is starting to get a little weird, staring at her too long and too intensely.  Totally staring.

Sasha finally works up enough courage to come to the party.  Another of Deanna's sons, Spencer, greets her at the door and offers to introduce her around.  He's a little too friendly for her, however, and she scurries inside to find someone she knows.

Darryl slurps up Eric and Aaron's spaghetti [not a euphemism] enthusiastically, wiping his mouth on his sleeve before remembering his napkin.  After dinner. Aaron takes him into the garage where there is a motorcycle frame and a whole bunch of random parts.  He tells Darryl that he's been collecting parts whenever he sees them but he doesn't know what to do with them.  He asks Darryl to be the community's other recruiter.  Eric shouldn't/can't do it anymore because he can't take care of himself.  But Darryl is good out there, can judge people's intent accurately and, at times, still needs to be out there in the world.  "The main reason I want you to help me recruit is because you [know] the difference between a good person and a bad person."  As Aaron has been talking, Darryl has been poking around the engine parts, checking out the bike frame.  But he's been listening and when Aaron pauses, he says, "I ain't got anything else to do ... thanks."

Michonne and Abraham have a bit of a moment at the party, out on the porch, in the quiet.  He's a little drunk, which makes him some poetical, but he's not incoherent.  He says that he's come to realize that things have come to work out pretty damn well for him.  And what about Michonne, what has she done?  "I put on this dress," she says.  Abraham smiles, "Try again."

Carol easily climbs into the pantry/armory, grabs a square of chocolate out of the freezer and then starts putting handguns in her bag.  She is interrupted by Sam, Jessie and Pete's younger son, who has followed her, having hoped that she was going to make more cookies.  Carol, without batting an eye, turns ice-fucking-cold.  She says that she'd be happy to make him more cookies but he can't tell anyone he saw her here.  Sam protests that he tells his mom everything.  Carol moves in on him, slowly, backing him into the wall.  And she says that if he tells his mom, one morning he won't wake up in his bed - he'll wake up outside, beyond the wall, tied to a tree and too far away for anyone to hear him scream when the monsters rip him to pieces.  Or he could not tell anyone and get cookies, lots of cookies.  Jesus, Carol! Yikes!  The scene would be slightly more effective if the kid playing Sam was a better actor but still - damn.

Back at the party, Jessie brings Judith back to Rick.  He says that the only reason he's here is for the baby and Carl, but he gets what Jessie has been telling him: here isn't that bad.  And then, as she hands him the baby, he kisses her.  And it's completely creepy.  Jessie smiles awkwardly at him and goes back to the party.  Ick.

Meanwhile, Deanna has dragged Sasha into a group of chatty women, telling her she doesn't have to talk.  Sasha clearly just can't do this and she starts to panic, eyes darting around, listening to snippets of inane cocktail conversation.  These people sound like the zombie apocalypse never happened and Sasha can't deal.  Bookclubs!  Dentists!  Tea!  Eating canapes!  Drinking wine!  One woman corners her, asking her what her favorite meal is because she's planning on making dinner for each of the new arrivals and she's worried that she'll cook the wrong thing.  Sasha, wildly: "You're worried?  THAT'S WHAT YOU'RE WORRIED ABOUT???"  She runs out as the party goes silent, staring.

The next day, Sasha waits at the gate while Deanna brings her the scoped rifle.  Deanna asks her what it is exactly that has her so spooked.  Sasha: "This.  This isn't real."  Deanna snaps that she knows Sasha has been through a lot but that is bullshit.  She hands over the rifle and lets Sasha out of the town.  Back in one of the group's houses, Michonne puts a couple of nails over the mantle and hangs up her sword with a sigh.

Also out of the town, Darryl, Carol and Rick are meeting at the derelict house again.  Carol opens her bag of guns and offers the men their pick.  Darryl, to the others' surprise, declines to take a gun, saying that they don't need these right now and, like she said, he's going to try to make it work.  Rick the scary creeper takes one, though.  When they go back to town, Rick strolls the streets.  Jessie and Pete are out walking.  They wave to him and keep going.  He stops and stares creepily after them, and put his creepy hand on his illegal gun.  Then he cocks his head to one side, hearing something.  As a chipper and pleasant song [that I don't recognize] starts to play, Rick walks to the wall.  The music distorts creepily as Rick puts his hand and his head against the metal panel.  An overhead shot shows a walker on the other side of the wall, scrabbling at it just opposite Rick.  Creepy.

Three more episodes.  There's a whole lot of characters on this show right now ... so I'm guessing the carnage will start to mount soon.

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Walking Dead S5E12 "Remember" 3/1/15

How would you do, suddenly thrust back into society after struggling to survive outside in the zombie apocalypse?  In this episode, they'll talk about it a lot.

Rick's group, with Aaron and the limping Eric, slowly enter Alexandria's gates.  They are all wary, skittish.  Darryl's got a dead possum, carrying it by the tail, "dinner."  As the shields close over the gates, Rick tells Sasha to take out an approaching walker.  She's a great shot and nails the thing at distance.  As the Alexandrian gate guard watches, agog, Rick mutters, "Good thing we're here."

Aaron takes them to meet Deanna, the de facto leader of Alexandria.  She's a former Congresswoman and very good at reading people.  She sits down with each (or most) of the group one on one, filming the sessions for future reference.  Rick goes in to see her first.  He looks so sketchy, feral even.  He leaves a rancid handprint on a wall as he roams the room.  She tells him that her people have been hunkered down here basically since the zombie apocalypse started.  It's got a solar grid, cisterns, gardens and orchards, very nice houses tucked behind solid walls.  Rick is all, you need to keep your gates shut because people on the outside will come in and take what you've got.  He wants to know what Deanna wants from him and his people.  She wants them to help her community survive and thrive.

The group has to turn in their weapons if they're going to stay.  Taking their cue from Rick, they unload, Carol fumbling sheepishly with getting the strap from her huge rifle over her head.  Then Aaron takes them to two big houses, side by side, and tells them that they can stay in either or both.  These places are spotless, furnished in country-chic Restoration Hardware.  Because they are suspicious, they all hunker down in one, making beds in the living room.  They take hot showers (nearly ecstatic at being able to do so) and Rick shaves off his nasty-ass beard.  There's a knock on the door and it's a friendly neighbor lady, Jessie.  She works at the pantry and has brought food and supplies.  She also used to be a beautician before the zombie apocalypse and she offers to cut Rick's hair.  He acquiesces, but as she chats innocuously with him, he struggles with trying to accept gracious help from a perfect stranger, with trying to remember how civilized people behave.   "It's okay if you're not okay with all of this yet," she tells him.

Darryl's interview with Deanna: He walks around her living room, still carrying that damn possum.  She asks him if he wants to be here and he replies, "The boy and the baby - they deserve a roof, I guess."  He won't sit down and is clearly uncomfortable being inside.  Afterwards,
Darryl sits on the porch, cleaning his possum (not a euphemism), and when he's done, he doesn't bother to wipe up the blood and guts.  He is clearly NOT HAVING ANY OF THIS.  It took him so long to build relationships with the people in his group, to cast off his past and carve out his place, to earn their respect.  Being back in civilization puts him off balance - even if the Alexandrians are on the level.  Perhaps especially if the Alexandrians are on the level.

Deanna stops by their house that evening to check on the newcomers.  It looks so weird to see them all sitting in a living room with electric lights.  Rick says that he heard she gave them all jobs.  She says yes, and she's got something in mind for him and Michonne, and she's closing in on something for Sasha, and she's "just trying to figure Mr. Dixon out."  She bids them goodnight and leaves.  That night, unsurprisingly, Rick can't sleep.

Michonne's interview:  Michonne says that if this [place] is what [Deanna] says it is, then it's what they've been looking for.  "We're ready for this."  Deanna asks, "All of you?"  Michonne pauses for a moment, then answers, "All of us."

The next day, some of the group goes exploring.  Rick loses sight of Carl and Judith for a moment and panics.  Jessie finds him and calms him and takes him to some older neighbors who are thrilled to see a baby again.  Then Carl goes to meet Jessie's son Ron and two other teenagers, Mikey and Enid.  Enid is pretty defensive: she just came in "from outside" recently too and doesn't seem to trust anyone yet.  Ron and Mikey ask Carl if he wants to play video games, or go to Mikey's house to play pool.  Carl is taken aback a bit at all this normal teenager stuff.  The other boys are sensitive to it, seeing his discomfiture; Enid just snarls, "Pull it together, sport."  Carl pulls it together and says, yeah, let's play some video games.

Carl and Judith's interview:  He remarks that this is the kind of place his mom would have liked.  When Deanna probes, he tells her that not only did his mom die but he was the one who had to kill her afterwards.  "It had to be me."

Later, when Rick asks his son how Ron's was, Carl asks him what he thinks of Alexandria.  They agree that it seems like it's a nice place.  Carl likes the people too, but thinks "they're weak.  And I don't want us to get weak too."  That night, neither Rick nor Michonne can sleep.  She tells him that she is willing to sign on to whatever Deanna's got for them.  Rick seems to be leaning in that direction but hasn't made a final decision.  He goes out for a walk.  The streets are quiet in the middle of the night but there's a man smoking on a front porch.  The man speaks, "You're Rick."  Rick stops, nods.  The man, not introducing himself or coming into the light, says, "My wife cut your hair." Rick nods again.  The man, with a bitter twist to his voice, "Welcome to Alexandria."  Rick keeps walking.

Carol's interview:  Carol sits, smiling sweetly at Deanna.  "I did laundry, gardened, always had dinner on the table for Ed every night when he came home. [pause] I miss that stupid, wonderful man every day." OMIGOD CAROL IS SUCH A BAD ASS - SHE DOESN'T TRUST THIS PLACE AT ALL.  She goes on to say that she really hasn't had much to offer her group - they've just been nice enough to protect her. HAHAHAHAHA.  When Deanna asks her where she thinks she'll fit in, she chirps, "Do you have anything like Junior League? I'm a real people person!" Oh dear god I love Carol.

Afterwards, Carol comes out of their house, dressed in tan pants, an oxford shirt and a periwinkle blue cardigan.  She grins at Darryl, off to her new job making food for the older folks.  Her goals is to meet as many folks as possible.  His look of disbelief is fantastic.  She stares at him, "Have you taken a shower yet?"  He very clearly has not.  Carol: "Take a shower.  We need to keep up appearances, even you."  As she walks off down the sidewalk, he calls after her, "You look ridiculous!"

Glen's interview:  "We need to make this work ... because we were almost out there too long."

Rick leaves Alexandria, walking around its walls, checking them out.  Back inside, Carl catches a glimpse of Enid climbing over the walls.  Intrigued, he follows her but she disappears into the woods and he loses her.  Good job, Carl.  Rick has found his way back to the derelict house where he hid that pistol.  He runs into a couple of walkers but doesn't really care ... until he discovers that someone has taken the gun he hid.  Someone was watching.  The walkers close in and Rick pulls out a knife.  Carl joins him and they turn to face the threat calmly.  They put down the zombies one by one, helping each other, using whatever is handy for stabbing the creatures in the head.  They are professional and efficient.  They are determined not to become weak.

Meanwhile, Glen, Tara and Noah have been recruited by Deanna's son Aidan as a potential supply run crew.  Those four, plus the gate guard Nicholas, head outside the gates on a trial run.  Aidan is a self-proclaimed douchebag, handing out handguns and insisting that the crew follows his instructions precisely.  However, Aidan and Nicholas have tied up a zombie that killed four of their people last month and are torturing it, picking away at it for revenge, a "pre-game ritual" to remind them what they're up against.  Glenn: WTF?  But the zombie has gotten loose and the two douchebags are upset about it.  They whistle and call for it, drawing it closer, but tell Glen et als. not to kill it: they want to chain it back up.  While Glen and Noah watch in disbelief, the zombie breaks away from Aidan and Nicholas, lurching at Tara.  She grapples with it, its skin PEELING OFF IN HER HANDS OH YUCK, but unable to either get away from it or kill it.  Glen charges in, burying his knife in its head.  Aidan is pissed that he lost his plaything.  Tara, having nearly been bitten, is more pissed (rightfully so).

When they get back inside Alexandria's walls, Aidan gets in Glen's face, saying that the three of them will have to get new jobs as they clearly aren't cut out to do runs.  What an asshole.  Glen does his utmost best to stay calm and keep the situation from escalating.  As they argue and push each other, our group members and Alexandrians draw near, including Deanna.  Aidan snipes to his mom, "Why'd you let these people in?"  Glen can't help himself: "Because we actually know what we're doing out there."  Aidan takes a swing, which Glen easily ducks; then Glen drops him with one punch.  Nicholas charges in and Darryl grabs him, dropping him.  Rick races up and pulls Darryl off the other guy before he can hurt him - which is probably good timing because Darryl looks like he's a little pent up.  Aidan climbs to his feet and Michonne gets in his face: "You want to end up on your ass again?" Heh.  Deanna stares angrily at her son.  "Rick and his people are part of this community now.  In all ways.  As equals."  She orders Aidan and Nicholas to come talk to her after they turn in their weapons.  As the crowd disperses, Deanna asks Rick and Michonne to be Alexandria's constables.  They accept.  Darryl sniffs loudly and stalks off.  Then Deanna thanks Glen for knocking Aidan on his ass.

That night, Rick slowly walks in front of his group wearing a sheriff's uniform.  They all stare.  Darryl is outside smoking and Rick asks if they're good.  Darryl says yeah.  Carol, in her cardigan, comes out on the porch and asks if they're staying.  Rick says yes, and they can probably all start sleeping in their own beds.  Carol is concerned that if they stay they'll get weak.  Rick nods, saying that Carl said the same thing.  But, he says, "We won't get weak.  That's not in us anymore.  We'll make it work.  And if they can't make it, then we'll just take this place."  He smiles a little, and Carol and Darryl exchange an ambivalent look behind his back.

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

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Walking Dead S5E11 "The Distance" 2/22/15

Maggie and Sasha bring Aaron back to the barn where everyone is immediately suspicious.  Especially Rick, who wastes no time punching him in the face for mostly no reason.  I mean, sure, the group has been duped and nearly destroyed in the past by seemingly friendly people - they should be wary of strangers.  But right from the get-go, Aaron, clean, well-fed Aaron, is nothing but polite, sincere and even a little bit funny.  His job, he says, is to convince the group to follow him back home, to his community.  He's brought photos of the walled community, and food, and slowly, group members drop their guard, just a little.  Well, not Rick with the face-punching.

There's really a lot of talking here in the barn.  When Rick finds a flare gun in Aaron's pack, the group gets tense, wondering how many others are out there in the woods, waiting to attack them.  Aaron continues to be earnest and calm, gently trying to persuade them.  He says that there is only one other guy out there, which Rick doesn't believe.  Aaron suggests that they all drive back to the community together - they can be there by lunchtime - his vehicles are parked just a couple miles away.  "You can trust me," says Aaron.  Michonne is beginning to do just that: she says to Rick that she wants to go check out the vehicles (Maggie does too).  Rick's like, going out there is dangerous.  Michonne rebuts that with "Not finding a safe place for all of us to live is dangerous."

In the end, Michonne, Glen, Maggie, Abraham and Rosita head out to try to confirm Aaron's story - while out in a field, unseen, a man watches them.  The rest of them break up into groups of two and disperse into the woods around the barn to keep an eye out for ambush; Rick, Judith and a tied-up Aaron remain in the barn.  When a hungry Judith starts crying, refusing the mashed up acorns Rick tries to feed her, Aaron says that there's a jar of applesauce in his pack.  Rick, increasingly paranoid, makes Aaron eat some of the applesauce first (over Aaron's protestations that he hates applesauce, that his mom used to force him to eat it when he was growing up).  Out on the road, the gang finds an RV and a beater.  They hear a rustling in the bushes and everyone tenses up, raising their guns and snarling, "Come out with your hands up, asshole!"  When it's only a zombie that lurches out of the shrubbery, they all relax (which is kind of hilarious) and Abraham and Rosita take it down.

The road crew drives the two vehicles back to the barn.  They unload all the food - more than the group has seen in a long time - and Rick tells Aaron that they're keeping all of it, even if they don't go with him to his community.  Carl's like, why wouldn't we go?  Michonne, taking a leadership role in Rick's increasing fragmentation,  speaks up: "If he was lying, or trying to hurt us.  But he isn't ... we need this.  So we're going.  All of us.  Somebody speak up if they feel differently."  Darryl, to Rick: "I dunno, man, this barn smells like horseshit."   Rick:  "Yeah.  We're going."  But when they ask Aaron where his community is, he waffles, saying that he's happy to drive them but he doesn't want to tell them.  Michonne is all, you're not driving.  Aaron hesitates and then tells them what route to take.  But Rick is not down with that, saying they'll take another road and leave after dark.  Aaron protests, saying the route he mentioned has been cleared.  But Rick has laid down the rules and the group is willing to go along with them.  Later, Michonne asks Rick if he really means to join Aaron's community.  He says he's not sure but he's at least going to go take a look.

Rick, Glen, Michonne and Aaron drive the beater car and the rest of them take the RV.  As they drive, Michonne looks at Aaron's photographs and wonders why there aren't any people in them.  "I took a picture of the whole group but didn't get the exposure right."  Immediately, Michonne asks him the Questions.  How many walkers have you killed?  I don't know, a lot.  How many people? Two.  Why?  Because they tried to kill me.  Just as things start to get tense in the car, however, they come upon a huge zombie herd.  Huge.  The car plows through them, blood and guts and limbs flying.  ("Zombie car wash" is the term flying around the internet.)  Finally, the car stalls out, the engine clotted with too many body parts.  Glen can't get it started.  The RV is nowhere to be found and everyone hopes that they turned around before getting in the middle of the herd.  While Michonne pulls arms and other parts out of the engine block, Aaron starts to panic.  Then they see a flare exploding into the car.  Aaron knocks Michonne aside and runs off into the woods.  Rick is not inclined to give chase but Michonne points out that their people will have seen that flare and assumed it is them.  She and Rick and Glen abandon the car and run into the dark woods after Aaron.

They are soon surrounded by walkers and Glen gets separated.  He almost gets bitten but doesn't, and then he finds Aaron, hands still tied behind his back, desperately kicking at a ravening zombie.  Glen kills the zombie and then cuts Aaron free.  Meanwhile, Rick and Michonne are running out of ammo so Rick fires a flare into an approaching walker's face.  That's pretty excellent.  Glen and Aaron come up behind them and take out the rest of the zombie menace.  They make their way to a road and follow it towards where the flare went up.  Conveniently, they find the RV and the rest of their group safely holed up in an old garage.  Aaron starts shouting, "Eric? Eric!"  A voice calls, "I'm in here," and Aaron rushes inside.  Eric is lying down, his ankle broken but otherwise unharmed, and the two men embrace.  When Rick approaches them from out of the shadows, Eric smiles and introduces himself easily.  Rick seems almost feral when he grunts out his own name in response.

Aaron goes out to the rest of the group and thanks them for saving Eric, saying that he is grateful and he will repay the debt to each of them when they get to his community, Alexandria.  They decide to hunker down for the remainder of the night.  Rick wants to keep Aaron and Eric separate and Aaron stands up to him, saying that the only way that happens is if Rick shoots him.  Rick seems inclined to do that until Glen steps in, saying that he wants to be safe too but he believes that those two men are on the up-and-up.  Rick backs down.  He seems soooooo sketchy anymore.

In the morning, they all drive towards Alexandria in the RV.  They have to pause to change out a battery at one point, which is a lovely little call-back to the first (?) season when Dale taught Glen RV repair, which gives Rick the opportunity to sneak away and hide one of his guns in the yard of an abandoned house.  Just in case.  When they get to the walls surrounding Alexandria, they get out and stand there for a moment, listening: they can hear children's voices inside the walls, laughing and playing.  Carol pauses next to Rick, saying quietly, "Even though you were wrong, you're still right."  Rick chuckles mirthlessly and they all turn towards the gates.

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


Monday, February 16, 2015

The Walking Dead S5E10 "Them" 2/15/15

It's a walker-and-talker, folks, wherein we have a little palate cleanser after losing Beth and Tyrese in the prior two episodes.

The gang's latest vehicle runs out of gas, dead on the road, some sixty miles outside of Washington D.C., and they get out, trudging along, just trying to make forward progress.  They are in rough shape, desperate for food and water.  Some are in rougher shape than others, namely Maggie (who has to put down a walker when it interrupts her crying jag out in the middle of the woods), Darryl (who is so hungry that he resorts to digging up earthworms and eating them) and Sasha (who finds nothing but a dry stream bed and desiccated frogs, which she tries to bury).  It's hot, everyone is cranky or worse, and they are beginning to pick up trailing walkers.  That's a cool shot, actually, with the group staggering up the rural road, slow and relentless walkers in the distance; and every time the camera returns to that shot, there are a few more trailing zombies.  They don't get closer but they don't stop.  Maggie, to Sasha: "How much longer we got?"  Sasha: "About sixty miles."  Maggie: "I wasn't talkin' about that."

Walking and talking: Rick tries to get Darryl to open up about Beth.  Gabriel tries to get Maggie to talk to him about Beth and she smacks him down pretty abruptly.  Sasha wants to take down the following walkers and Michonne tells her that she needs to ease up, that they aren't strong enough for fighting.  Darryl goes scouting and Carol tags along because he can't/won't stop her; she tries to get him to open up about Beth.  Carl finds a broken music box and gives it to Maggie.

They find a narrow spot in the road with a bridge and set up as a place to deal with the small walker herd.  As the zombies lurch towards them, they methodically push the creatures off the bridge, thus not having to really engage them.  Except Sasha is spoiling for a fight and breaks rank, lunging into the herd, blade flashing.  The rest of the fighters (Rick, Glen, Michonne, Abraham and a returning Darryl, who saves Rick from a back-biter) stagger into the fray.  They are all exhausted and it is a close thing, but they finally take out all the walkers.  Afterwards, Michonne chastises Sasha for starting a fight that they almost couldn't finish.  Sasha doesn't give a shit.

More walking.  They find a few cars stranded on the road and paw through them, looking for anything useful.  Maggie opens one car's trunk and is shocked to find a formerly female zombie in there, hands and feet bound, gag in its mouth.  It's pretty dark: had this woman been kidnapped and then just left in the trunk, dying and turning alone?  Maggie slams the trunk closed but is upset when she can still hear the walker's movements.  The trunk is jammed as she frantically tries to get it open.  Glen walks up, calms her, opens the trunk and dispatches the walker with a knife to the temple.

Later, the group sits in the shade, resting, as thunder rumbles in the distance.  They found some booze, which Abraham is sipping at.  Tara and Rosita don't approve but there doesn't seem to be anything anyone can do.  Just then, a pack of four feral dogs (a border collie, a German shepherd and two Doberman pinschers) comes out of the woods, snarling and barking.  Rick and Darryl pull out their knives but no one seems to know what to do.  No one except Sasha, who efficiently shoots all the dogs.  Everyone eats that night, lost in their own sad thoughts.

More walking and talking.  Glen tries to get Maggie to talk to him about Beth and she gives a little speech crafted by the writers to try to explain why she never seemed to care about Beth: when she didn't know what happened to her after the prison and when Darryl told her she'd been captured in Atlanta.  She's sad now though, and isn't sure she wants to keep fighting.  Abraham tries to reach out to Sasha but she's angry and rebuffs him.  Glen tries to reach out to Darryl, "We can make it together.  But we can only make it together."  Darryl decides to go scouting again, alone this time.  He finds an old road and a barn in a clearing surrounded by old pine trees. He sits in the shade to watch the barn, light a cigarette, smoking a little, stubbing the cigarette out on his hand.  He cries a little, for Beth.

When Darryl rejoins the group on the road, they're all standing there, staring at a pile of water bottles with a sign "FROM A FRIEND" on them.  Rick and Abraham won't let anyone drinks, however, not knowing if it's a trap.  Just then, the sky opens up and it starts bucketing rain.  Everyone laughs (not everyone: not Darryl or Maggie or Sasha) and opens their mouths, drinking in as much as they can, washing the dirt and sweat from their skin.  But the storm gets stronger, thunder and lightning crashing overhead.  Darryl shouts that he found a barn and they run to it.

There's only one walker inside, which they dispatch easily.  That night, as the storm rages overhead, Rick, Carol, Michonne, Glenn and Darryl sit around a small fire, talking.  Michonne expresses her belief that this is not all that life is but the others are all, look, it may get better and we hope it gets better, but this is what life is right now.  Rick: Blah blah blah, we are the walking dead but maybe one day we will live again.  Darryl: "We ain't them."

Later that night while the others sleep, Darryl keeps watch.  So he is the first to the banging barn doors when a horde of walkers approaches, trying to get in.  He bars the doors as best he can.  Maggie wakes up and runs to help him, then Sasha, then everyone else - even Carl, who places baby Judith safely on the barn floor away from the fire.  The storm rages and crashes violently, the music rises and the moans of the walkers and you can't pick out one sound from the next as the group desperately tries to keep the zombies out.

Come morning, the storm has passed as has the zombie threat apparently.  Maggie wakes up and joins Darryl, who is sitting off to one side.  They watch a sleeping Sasha and Darryl says, "He [Tyrese] was tough.  She [Beth] was too - she just didn't notice."  He hands Maggie the music box, saying he cleaned the grit out of the gear box for him.  She thanks him and he turns over to get some sleep.

Maggie goes and wakes Sasha and they grab their weapons and venture out of the barn.  It is utter destruction out there: the storm downed all the trees and crushed the walkers.  They walk to the edge of a meadow and watch the sunrise.  Apparently these three tortured souls (Darryl, Maggie and Sasha) have now attained some peace with their recent losses.  Maggie: "You're gonna make it.  Both of us, we will.  That's the hard part."  She tries the music box but nothing happens.  They laugh a little and then a man appears.  The two women draw their guns and he puts his hands up.  "I'm Aaron ... I'm a friend.  I'd like to talk to the person in charge.  Rick, right?"  Maggie and Sasha are all, WTF?  Aaron:  "I have good news."  And then that damn music box starts playing.

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

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Walking Dead S5E9 "What Happened and What's Going On" 2/8/15

Welcome back to The Walking Dead!  I don't know why it took me so long to get this recap up because there's hardly anything to recap.  Seriously.  This show has been on break since the end of November when we were left with Beth's brutal death and on its highly anticipated* return ... we get about five minutes of plot and a bunch of art shots.

We join Rick, Glen, Tyrese, Michonne and Noah in a car, heading for Noah's home in Virginia.  In the wake of Beth's death, they are lost, disconsolate, without a plan; Beth had planned to get Noah back home to his family so that 's what they all decided to do.  This car is front-running while the rest of the crew are somewhere further back - Rick's group is going to go in first to scout it out before bringing the rest in.  Noah is convinced that his mom and twin little brothers will be fine, living in their gated community.  Everyone else is grimly hopeful or just grim.  When they get to the neighborhood, the gates are locked but when Glen climbs up and peeks over, the place is burned out and deserted.  They all go in and Noah falls to his knees, looking at the pieces of dead bodies strewn around the cul de sac and all the ruined homes.  As he sobs and shudders, Rick, Glen and Michonne decide to scout around for anything useful.  Tyrese says he'll keep an eye on Noah since there are a few walkers lurching around and the group splits.

Rick, Glen and Michonne find a few things that they can use - a clean shirt, a baseball bat - and the subject of Beth comes up.  Both Rick and Glen are all, even if Darryl hadn't killed that Dawn chick, we would have.  Michonne gives them the stinkeye and says that she's worried that they've been out on their own too long.  She wants to find a safe (safe-ish) place and hunker down, build a community, reclaim their humanity.  They think about this neighborhood as a possibility but when they go to the back wall, they realize that the place had been breached by humans first, walkers second, and maybe this is not the place.  Then Michonne suggests that even though Eugene lied about a cure being in D.C., maybe he was right about there being people in D.C.  They are only about one hundred miles away at this point and since no one else has any better ideas, Rick decides that they should try D.C.

Meanwhile, Noah has pulled himself together enough to want to go see what happened to his house.  Tyrese isn't sure this is a good idea but follows along to keep the kid out of trouble.  When they get there, Noah's mom is dead and decayed on the living room floor.  To give Noah some space to say goodbye, Tyrese checks out the rest of the house.  He finds one of the little brothers dead and decaying on his bed but forgets the whole TWINS thing and the other twin, now a zombie, sneaks up and takes a big chunk out of his forearm.  Oops.  Noah runs in and offs his zombie brother and then runs for help.  Tyrese cowers in the bedroom, blood gushing from his arm.  It takes Noah a ridiculously long time to find the others and while he's gone, Tyrese hallucinates a whole bunch of other dead characters - Beth, Bob, the Governor, Mika and Lizzie, that Terminus asshole who Tyrese failed to kill when he had the chance - talking to him and either telling him that it's okay to let go or that he fucked up and is now getting what's coming to him.  When Rick et als. get there, they chop off his bitten arm and hustle him back to their car.  As they drive to rejoin the rest of the group, a barely conscious Tyrese hallucinates all his dead friends again and then dies, head against the car window.  They rejoin the rest of the group and bury Tyrese, Gabriel saying some words over the grave.

And that's what happened.  That's it.  This episode was filmed quite nicely, with a lot of striking, almost abstract shots.  And the scenes with Tyrese post-bite are feverish and disjointed, kind of artsy.  But that's it.  I guess it's good that as nice a character as Tyrese got nearly a whole episode to himself to say goodbye to the show but I was sort of underwhelmed by the whole thing.  In hindsight, my reaction was quite possibly related to the 100% lack of Darryl in the episode.

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

* I'm sure some people were highly anticipating it coming back.  I wouldn't count myself among them.  Yes, looking forward to seeing what comes next, but it's not like I was counting the days or anything.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

On the plus side

The Walking Dead comes back on tonight so there will finally be an update here.  You know, in the next day or so.  Not immediately.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mini movie review: Under the Skin

To say that the recent movie Under the Skin is based on Michel Faber's novel of the same name is not quite accurate; "very loosely based on" would be more accurate.  Scarlett Johansson drives around Glasgow, picking up men, finding out if there is anyone who will miss them and then taking them back to her place.  She is not quite human, ScarJo's character, and there are nefarious ends for the men she picks up.  (And that is where the "very loosely based on" changes to "a whole different story, really.")

Divergence from the source material aside, Under the Skin is a wonderful little genre movie, beautiful and slow and creepy.  There is hardly any dialogue.  The music is atonal and alien, as though filtered through the main character's not-quite-human senses.  There is very little plot, although there is a clear beginning, middle and end to the story.  It is tense in parts, melancholy in others, awful and squicky in a couple more.  It appears that Scotland is a very grey and rainy place. And yes, this is the movie where ScarJo goes completely bare nekkid.  It is unmomentous and not played for titillation.  She has a very real woman's body: beautiful, yes, but hardly unrealistic.  And the way she wears this body, carefully, awkwardly, as though it doesn't exactly fit, is part and parcel of this role.

With Les Revenants, this movie is the second bit of visual media that is classified as genre but doesn't line up exactly as horror/science fiction/fantasy.  You don't need to have read the original novel to enjoy the movie version of Under the Skin but it is my recommendation that you do both, since the two make good companions, different as they are.