Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Walking Dead S7E10 "New Best Friends" 2/19/17

We start with Ezekiel, Morgan, Richard and some others meeting with the Saviors for their regular hand-off.  Richard can't keep him mouth shut and starts to get manhandled; Morgan steps in to defend him and ends up getting smacked upside the head.  Ezekiel manages to calm things down but the Saviors confiscate Richard's gun and Morgan's staff, along with the regular tribute.  (I'm guessing Morgan will end up fighting the Saviors with Rick and getting his staff back at that point.)  When they return to the Kingdom, Daryl approaches Morgan and is all, WTF, you're bleeding, the Saviors did that to you, why won't you fight?  If Carol was here and knew what happened to Glen and Abraham, she'd fight.  Yes, says Morgan, she would - and that's why she left.  Daryl still thinks Morgan is being a pussy.  He stalks off and finds Richard who is practicing with a bow (since he is now gunless).  Richard hands him a crossbow, noting that he and Daryl seem to have a lot in common.

A little later, Richard brings Daryl into his big plan.  They collect guns and Molotov cocktails from Richard's hidden stash, then walk out to a road where they will ambush Saviors who pass by.  They'll kill and burn them, and then when more Saviors come to investigate, they'll find the trail to Richard's weapons stash, which then will lead them to a cabin "where some loner Ezekiel cares for" lives alone.  The Saviors will kill her and that, Richard thinks, will be just the impetus Ezekiel needs to fight.  Daryl is all, TELL ME HER DAMN NAME.  And finally, Richard does and Daryl is NO I'M OUT AND IF CAROL EVEN GETS A HANGNAIL I WILL KILL YOUR ASS.  They have fisticuffs - as the Saviors drive past unimpeded - and Daryl's like, I'm serious - you leave her alone.  Richard: "I would die for the Kingdom."  Daryl:  "Why don't you?"

On the Rick side of this episode, things are about to get weird.  Rick, Michonne, Rosita, Aaron and Tara have been captured by this insane and ridiculous group/cult, who all dress in grey and black leather and robes, have very strange names (their leader is "Jadis") and speak like bad fantasy fan-fic. Rick is nearly gleeful about it all, though, seeing in their numbers allies against the Saviors.  They bring out Gabriel and after some rough stuff where Rick's group gets slapped around a bit, between Rick and Gabriel they manage to talk fast enough to get Jadis at least interested in what they have to say.  Gabriel is all, tell us what you need and we'll get it for you, right now.

Editorial note:  I didn't pick up on what this new group calls itself but they are ridiculous.  They live in a damn junkyard.  And how long has it been since the zombie apocalypse came to pass?  Two years at most?  And all these people are so weird now?  Would people really change (change their names) like that?  I get that a zombie apocalypse might make you a little crazy but these folks are right the fuck off the deep end.

Jadis considers Gabriel's words and then she and a couple others "show Rick up-up-up," taking him up to the top of a junk heap.  She wants to see how capable he is: she pushes him off and he falls down into a small clearing, surrounded by junk and currently occupied by a very awesome, be-spiked zombie.  After some struggle during which he manages to impale his hand on one of the spikes, Rick offs the zombie.  Seriously: that is a very clever way to rig a walker to inflict maximum damage.  Jadis is enough impressed to bring him back out of that pit.  She tells him that if he gets her guns - lots of guns, right now - she and her people will join the fight.  There's a bit more haggling after that, but that's the deal.  She lets Rick and his group go, warning them that the guns better come quick because her offer has an expiration date.  (The camera lingers on Tara a bit and I'm guessing she'll be hard-pressed to keep her silence about that all-women community on the coast, you remember - the one with all the guns.)  Also, Rick and Gabriel have a heart-to-heart: Gabriel was kidnapped by one of Jadis's people, who forced him to clear out the pantry; Rick's all, thanks to you, the clues you left behind, we now have these new allies.

Back outside of the Kingdom, Ezekiel and some of his men drop by to see Carol (against her wishes) - they've brought her some fruit cobbler.  She shoos them away.  A little later, there's a knock on her door.  Annoyed, she opens it ... and it's Daryl.  The look on her face when she sees him, on his face when he sees her - these two are the best part of this stupid show.  He looks so fragile.  She is in tears and speechless.  "Why'd you go?" he asks, voice cracking.  She explains it to him - how she couldn't stand to lose anyone else, how if she kept killing people she would lose herself.  She asks him if the Saviors came after she left.  Terrified, she forces herself to ask: "Did anyone get hurt?  Is everyone okay?  Did the Saviors [chokes back a sob] - is everybody back home okay?"  He looks at her a long time, really seeing her here, safe and whole, and then replies: "We got them all.  And made a deal, like Ezekiel.  Everyone's all right."  Later, he asks her if Ezekiel is an okay guy.  Yes, Carol replies, I think he is.  Daryl doesn't overstay his welcome but heads back to the Kingdom after giving his friend a huge hug.  Carol watches him go.

Daryl heads straight for Shiva's cage when he gets back to the Kingdom.  Morgan finds him there and marvels, "You're good with her.  Ezekiel will be impressed."  Daryl shrugs, saying that he figures any guy who's got a pet tiger can't be that bad.  He tells Morgan that he found Carol and that he gets it, why she's there.  But they need the Kingdom and he wants Morgan to handle it.  Morgan demurs, saying it can't be him.  Daryl scoffs, saying wake the hell up.  But Morgan is all, I know you get it - you're the same as me because you didn't tell Carol about Glen and Abraham (because if you did, she'd be here right now, gearing up for war), you kept her safe from it.  Shiva takes this moment to purr and lick Daryl's hand through the bars of her cage BECAUSE SHE'S A GIRL AND HE'S DARYL AND OF COURSE SHE LIKES HIM.  ROWR.  Daryl looks down at her almost fondly, then picks up his new crossbow.  He tells Morgan: I'm going back to Hilltop to get ready for war.  And in the morning, the gates of the Kingdom open to let him do just that.

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Walking Dead S7E9 "Rock in the Road" 2/12/17

So, here we are again.  Before we start, I just want to state for the record that Santa Clarita Diet is my current favorite zombie show.  But, you know, yay The Walking Dead.

Alexandria.  Father Gabriel is on the wall, taking watch in the middle of the night.   Then he leaves his post, goes to the pantry and cleans it out of all remaining food, and drives off, a slight smile on his face the whole while.  He's up to something - he's not just deserting.

Hilltop.  Maggie, Jesus and the Alexandria group try to convince Gregory to join them in rising up against Negan and his Saviors.  Gregory, slippery, smarmy, cowardly and very entertaining, is all, no, and don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.  The Alexandrians are discouraged but fear not!  Enid has been recruiting and there's a group of Hilltoppers (Hilltopians?) waiting for them outside, ready to be trained and willing to rise up.  Rick's all, this is good but it's not enough.  Jesus is all, it's time for you to meet King Ezekiel.  The Alexandrians:  WTF  - there's a king?

The Kingdom.  Jesus brings them to the Kingdom, where Richard walks them in.  He's all about rising up against the Saviors and is hopeful that Alexandria's strength might be enough to convince Ezekiel.  Morgan appears en route to their royal audience.  Hugs all around.  Rick and Daryl ask him about Carol; Morgan, to his credit, keeps her secret, saying that she was here but she left when she was healed from her wound.  Then they go in to meet Ezekiel ... but before any of the talking starts, the Alexandrians are all WTF JESUS YOU DIDN'T MENTION THERE WAS A FUCKING TIGER.  Shiva's all, rowr motherfuckers.  To their credit, Rick follows protocol, playing along with the royal attitude.  Ezekiel hears what they have to say - they took out one Savior outpost but they need more people - and the Kingdom has the people - in order to put them all down for good - and then invites them for dinner and to spend the night.  The Alexandrians are antsy to get back home.  But the king says will make his proclamation in the morning.

In the morning, despite many of his people being on board with joining Rick, Ezekiel declines to participate [for now, because it's pretty obvious that the Kingdom will get sucked in before this is all over].  He does offer Daryl asylum, however, and Rick makes a reluctant Daryl stay, pointing out that if Negan finds him in Alexandria, they will all suffer for it.  [This, of course, sets up a Daryl and Carol reunion at some point in the near future.  Yay!]

On their way home, the Alexandrian contingent finds a trap that the Saviors have set on the highway: cars blocking the on-ramp to funnel any walker herd up the highway, and a cable hung with explosives strung across the highway median.  They clear away the cars and start to take the RPGs and sticks of dynamite off the cable, realizing that they can use this stuff against the Saviors.  As they work, discarding anything damaged or too unstable, a walker herd approaches.  Rick send Jesus and Sasha off on foot back to the Hilltop to keep Maggie informed.  Carl, Rosita and Tara move the cars back onto the ramp.  And Rick and Michonne jump-start the two cars that the cable is strung between - and drive towards the coming herd.  In what is one of the better (and uckier) gimmicks, they totally clothesline hundreds of walkers.  It's gross and awesome and pretty much genius.

Alexandria.  They all survive - without getting eaten and/or blown up - and make back home with just enough time to hide their vehicle with its cargo of explosives before a contingent of Saviors shows up, searching for Daryl.  The Saviors ransack the houses in their search but don't take anything this time.  After they've left, Aaron informs Rick et als. about Gabriel's disappearance.  Rosita is all, that coward ran away, but Rick finds Gabriel and realizes that the reverend didn't just scarper.  They find his notebook with B O A T scrawled on the last page.  Rick and Aaron are all, how did he know about the houseboat?

So they (Rick, Aaron, Tara, Rosita and Michonne) head back out, ostensibly on a scavenging run (since the Saviors warned them that they'd be back soon for their pick-up), and go back to that houseboat.  They don't find Gabriel but they do find a boot print that they think might be his.  They expand their search, making their way towards some warehouses.  And then suddenly they are surrounded by a LOT of people.  People we have never seen before, all carrying guns and axes and knives.  It's pretty tense but Rick just smiles, a big shit-eating grin on his face.  Because he's just found an army to rise up against the Saviors.

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

Monday, January 30, 2017

Better living through chocolate

It's been AGES since I put a food post up so, in an attempt to assuage the prevailing mood with chocolate, here's a new brownie recipe.  Mr. Mouse and I are attempting to eat a plant-based diet these days which, to us, means not only no animal products but also no oils.  A lot of vegan recipes add fats via oils so I have adapted a "Chewy Vegan Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie" recipe from www.food.com as follows:

CHEWY VEGAN CHOCOLATE CHIP BROWNIES


¾ cup unsweetened applesauce*
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp ground flax seed**
½ cup almond milk (or soymilk)
2 cups flour
¾ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 ½ cups semisweet vegan chocolate chips***

Preheat oven to 350◦F.  Add ground flax seeds to almond milk and stir for about 30 seconds, set aside.  In a large bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, baking soda and salt.  Cream sugar and applesauce in another large bowl.  Add the flax seed/almond milk mixture and mix well.  Stir in vanilla.  Slowly mix in dry ingredients.  Mix in chocolate chips. Pour brownie mixture into lightly greased**** 9x13 baking pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean.

Note:  the original recipe was for cookies but I found the dough too wet to roll into balls and went the brownie route instead.  They came out very moist and fudgy.

* This is a substitution for ¾ cup canola oil.  The applesauce worked GREAT.

**  I found pre-ground flax seed in the health food section of my regular grocery store; you can also find whole flax seeds and grind them yourself.  Flax seed is somehow an egg substitution in vegan baking.

*** I found non-dairy/non-gluten dark chocolate chips in the health food section and just used a whole bag.  They were actually tasty on their own – not like yucky carob.

**** I used just a tiny bit of coconut oil

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

In the doldrums

If you're a sailor (or if you've watched the Pirates of the Caribbean movies), you know that the doldrums are places in the oceans where the prevailing winds are calm or even non-existent, sometimes trapped sail-powered boats for days or weeks on end.  If you're a landlubber, you know that the doldrums have come to refer to a period of listlessness or mild depression.  Well, I'm not a sailor.  Ever since the election but especially since the inauguration, I have been fighting to compartmentalize my sadness and horror at what this country is becoming.  I'm not succeeding particularly well - although while I walk around feeling like crying all time, I am not actually crying all the time.  So there's that.  To be able to sleep at night, I have been severely restricting my online presence after making my phone calls/sending my emails to try to fight the power. 

And my entertainment has been focused as well.  I'm trying Tom Hardy's FX show, Taboo, although I am finding it slow (and since when are you allowed to say "fuck" on that level of cable?  I'm all for it, of course.  I was just surprised by it.). I plowed through Netflix's The O.A. and am almost done with their A Series of Unfortunate Events as well.  Both shows are pretty well done and continue Netflix's strong streak of original programming.  (For books I just plowed through my collection of old Bloom County and Outland books - dated 1980s through early 1990s - and it is amazing that so much of the stuff Berkeley Breathed was poking at back in those days - environmental damage/change, corrupt politics and Donald fucking Trump - are still issues today.)

Things will pick up here on the blog in a couple of weeks when The Walking Dead comes back.  I'm even looking forward to watching that damn show again, where I can say, "Well, things are going to shit in the U.S. now but at least we aren't overrun with zombies."  Yet, anyway.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Niblets

There's been a smattering of media consumed in the Mouse house lately, although nothing earth-shaking:

The Shallows - A decent, short, survival horror flick of the hot chick vs. man-eating shark variety, starring the gorgeous Blake Lively.  Her surfer girl is catching some waves on a secluded Mexico beach when she is attacked by a shark and must fight for survival, clinging to a rock and a buoy with only a wounded seagull for moral support.  There was a squirm-inducing self-surgery scene and I jumped a couple times.  I do question how much a person could actually have their eyes open underwater in the ocean, but that's a minor quibble, really, for an inoffensive B-movie.

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency - Douglas Adams's book is in fact nothing like the television series, other than there's a character with the name of Dirk Gently and he's British.  Everything else is different.  Everything.  In the book, there's ghosts and robots and ... I liked the show much, much better, actually.

All You Need Is Kill - This novel, by Hiroshi Sakurazaka, is the source material for the Emily Blunt/Tom Cruise movie, Edge of Tomorrow, recently seen and enjoyed.  The movie does differ from the book in some respects, although it is fairly faithful.

I've tried a couple of episodes each from a couple of Netflix originals, Trollhunters and Crazyhead, but was not impressed enough to explore further.  There is so much out there that if I am not immediately drawn in, a la Stranger Things or Jessica Jones, I lose patience.  The next one I'm going to try is The OA, which has gotten good reviews so I'm hopeful.

Finally, Mr. Mouse and I are doing a New Year decluttering around the house and I've been going through all our books.  We have a lot and we're trying to only keep the ones to which we have a personal connection.  While I was going through the stacks, I found the first three books of Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet: A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet.  I plowed through the first one and am on the second already.  But I don't think I've ever read the last two books so now I'm thrilled to be able to finish the series.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Midseason break

We're in the midseason break after all the "fall finales" - when did that become a thing, by the way? - and all of a sudden I have all this time on my hands since I'm not watching all the television.  We (both Mr. Mouse and I) have enjoyed Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, Search Party and People of Earth and as mentioned here previously, I found Sweet/Vicious to scratch an itch I didn't realize I had.  Westworld was decent as well; the latest run of Black Mirror was excellent; and while I didn't love Luke Cage as much as I did Jessica Jones, I would still rank it higher than Daredevil's second season.

I've also been able to watch a couple of movies, neither of which have moved me to do full reviews here but each which at least merit a mention.

Guillermo del Toro's mismarketed and under-watched Crimson Peak was gorgeous, with amazing set design, costuming and atmosphere.  It definitely suffered from a lack of plot, I thought, and was clearly more of a Gothic romance than a ghost story as the movie's marketing team would have had us think.

I did enjoy Edge of Tomorrow with Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.  I am not a Tom Cruise fan but he was pretty good here, a darkly funny Groundhog Day-esque sci-fi thriller in which the day the European ground forces are annihilated by the invading alien menace gets reset each time Cruise's character dies.  As the A.V. Club said, there was something satisfying about watching the guy get shot in the head over and over and over again.  And I put Emily Blunt's "full metal bitch" character up with Ellen Ripley and Sarah Connor as kick-ass science fiction movie heroines; she doesn't get the depth the other two do (plus they have multiple movies/a television series to build on) but she's pretty great.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Walking Dead S7E8 "Hearts Still Beating" 12/11/16

Here's me complaining again about these extended episodes ... why? why? why? why? Is it just to sell more advertising?  Because this episode, while it had two great bits, one good one and ended on a hopeful note, was clearly stretched thin to fill out the running time.  I'm going to try to be succinct here, especially since there's not a whole lot of compelling dialogue.

Hilltop.  Sad Maggie visits Glen's grave before climbing to a lookout post on the Hilltop wall. Whatsisname Gregory comes out and gives her shit about how all the Hilltopians seem to treating her like a hero after that night with the bonfires and the cars and the zombies.  He says don't let it go to your head; she's like, don't let it bother you - seems like it bothers you.  He's about to bite into a tasty-looking apple when another Hilltopian chimes in, "Dude, you know she's pregnant."  Gregory tosses the apple to Maggie who bites in with a little smirk.  [That's the good bit.  She's totally going to end up running that place.

Alexandria.  Negan showers, changes and makes spaghetti dinner.  He's very skinny without his leather jacket and he's hardly scary anymore.  He just talks a lot and taunts people mostly.  He makes Carl set the table.  Outside, Spenser hands over his crossbow and some of the cache he found to the Saviors, sucking up to them a bit.  Because he's a weasel.

Sanctuary.  Daryl escapes his box, finds someone's room (Dwight's, I think) and changes his clothes, snarfing down a jar of peanut butter as he goes.  He sneaks into the motorcycle holding pen and, when he is surprised by a Savior, beats the guy to death with a stick.  Daryl takes the guy's gun just as Jesus pokes his head around the corner.  The two of them take a motorcycle (or two, it's not clear) and sneak away.  I guess nobody really pays attention to much at the Sanctuary when Negan is out on a run.  It's pretty brutal what Daryl does to that Savior but he's had a rough time lately - it's understandable.

Pond.  Rick and Aaron find a bullet-holed dinghy and paddle through the gauntlet of floating walkers towards the houseboat.  The dinghy takes on water quickly; they get attacked by walkers and Aaron gets pulled under.  But he gets away, swimming unscathed to the houseboat while Rick manages to get the dinghy there.  They find a fair amount of food, a taunting note ("Hooray: you win but you still really lose") and a bunch of guns, but no ammo.  They cut the houseboat's mooring and drift to shore, then load up their truck and head back to Alexandria.

Kingdom.  Carol catches Morgan leaving some fresh vegetables on her porch.  He didn't intend to disturb her but she asks him in, just for a bit, muttering that people are having a tough time leaving her alone.  When he turns to go, Richard (?) is on the porch: he wants them to help him convince Ezekiel to rise up and fight against the Saviors.  He says, "Carol, I imagine that violence and fighting is something you haven't been a part of."  The looks on Carol's and Morgan's faces are fucking hilarious.  [That's one of the great bits.]  But they tell him no, they won't have any part of it: Morgan because he doesn't want to kill people and Carol ... because the writers are making her not want to kill people right now.  We all know that she's going to come around and kick all kinds of ass, but in the meantime we just get sulking.  Richard pouts and leaves.

Out on the road.  Michonne tries to get some information from the Savior driving the car: why were you out there alone, how long you been with Negan, etc.?  But the woman won't talk.  She drives to an overlook: down below are many, many people.  She says to Michonne that it's Negan down there, they are ALL Negan down there.  Then she turns off the car, tells Michonne to ditch it where she likes and that there's a silencer in the glovebox.  Next is a long shot: we hear a muffled pop, then Michonne slides over into the driver's seat and drives out of there.  I guess we'll never know why that Savior was out there alone - it had to be at least a little interesting, seeing how the Saviors never go anywhere not in packs.

Hilltop.  Enid reads people well and she picks up on the fact that Sasha is planning to kill Negan but is keeping it from Maggie.  Enid's like, what if you had help?  It isn't just you.  And while we in the audience know Enid is referring to Carl, Sasha doesn't and she's all, it sure feels like it's just me.  [And Michonne, and Rosita ...]

Alexandria.  Speaking of Rosita, Father Gabriel finds her in the chapel.  She feels alone after Abraham's death and she's willing to risk her life to take Negan's.  He tells her she's not alone, that the group needs her and that they will fight back - just maybe not today.  He asks her not to throw her life away.  She seems unconvinced.  In another part of town, Spenser cleans up and takes a half bottle of scotch over to Rick's house where Negan is holding court.  He weasels his way up onto the porch and they drink, and then later Spenser says the guy across the street has a pool table in his garage and they drag it out and start playing pool in the middle of the street.  A crowd starts to gather, Saviors and Alexandrians, watching.

Rick and Aaron arrive at Alexandria and the Saviors unload their haul.  Unfortunately, Aaron left that taunting note in one of the crates and the Saviors decide that he's being disrespectful.  Then they proceed to kick the shit out of him, although they don't kill him.  Back at the pool table, Spenser thinks he's getting on well with Negan and makes a play for Negan to get rid of Rick, who "has a history of not working well with others," and setting Spenser up as leader of Alexandria.  Such a weasel.  Negan may be crazy but he's not actually stupid - he knows Spenser is a weasel too.  So he takes out a giant knife and unzips Spenser's belly.  The guts LITERALLY spill out onto the ground.  Ick.  Ain't nobody going to miss that guy.

This obviously raises the tension in the general area.  The Saviors start waving their guns around; the Alexandrians - including Carl, Olivia, Rosita, Tara, Father Gabriel and Eugene - are shocked.  As Negan yammers on and on, Rosita can't take it anymore, hauls out her forbidden gun with its handmade bullet and fires it at Negan's head.  And even though everyone on this fucking show can take out a zombie with a pistol headshot from fifty yards away, she MISSES from a distance of ten feet, hitting Lucille (the barbed-wire-wrapped baseball bat that Negan is all weird about) instead.  This of course makes him really crazy.  Rosita gets tackled, a knife held to her face.  Negan picks up the shell and wants to know who made the bullet. Rosita says she did.  He doesn't believe her and tells one of his Saviors to kill somebody.  Poor Olivia gets a bullet between the eyes just as Rick and Aaron stagger up.  Tara speaks up that she made the bullet.  Negan doesn't believe her either and is all about to kill someone else and then Eugene, terrified out of his mind, shrieks that it was him, he made it.  Negan believes him, so he bids Alexandria farewell, taking Rick and Aaron's scavenge haul with him (noting that it isn't enough) and also taking Eugene.  Guess we all know what Eugene's job is going to be at the Sanctuary.

When Michonne gets back, she finds Rick (who has been trying to process the fact that both his son and Rosita separately tried to kill their oppressor) and tells him that even though there are way more Saviors than they thought, they have to figure out a way to fight Negan.  Rick's all, yeah, you're right, we can't keep on like this.

Hilltop.  Sad Maggie visits Glen's grave before climbing to a lookout post on the Hilltop wall.  Then she smiles and yells to Sasha and Enid because someone has come to visit: Rick, Carl, Michonne, Rosita and Tara.  Everyone hugs and then Daryl and Jesus come out from around a corner.  And this is the other great part: the looks on Daryl's and Rick's faces as they walk to each other and embrace, Daryl burying his face in Rick's shoulder.  [God, I love Daryl.  Remember how sketchy he was at the beginning?]  And then this group all stands around and sappily smiles at each other before walking en masse towards the Hiltop mansion.  This is the group who will rise up against Negan.  They won't all survive, of course, but this is who'll do it (plus Morgan and Carol).

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Walking Dead S7E7 "Sing Me a Song" 12/4/16

Oh dear holy humping hell - why the FUCK are they doing all these extended episodes?  Negan talks and talks and talks and talks and fucking talks and a few other things happen around the edges but there is NO WAY that it merited 90 minutes.  I've bitched before that Andrew Lincoln/Rick isn't a strong enough actor to carry a whole episode.  Well, Chandler Riggs/Carl is soooooooooo not good enough an actor to lift so heavy a load.  At least Jeffrey Dean Morgan/Negan is around to talk and talk and talk and talk ....

Michonne goes out on her own.  She whistles to attract walkers, calmly slices their heads open with her sword and then drags them off.  From the bloody smears on the road, it's apparent that she's done this before.  Rosita drags Eugene off to that workshop he and Abraham found however long ago: she is going to force Eugene to make a bullet for her.  Spencer and Father Gabriel try to get them to come with on a scavenging run but Rosita is focused and tells Spencer to leave her the hell alone.  Spencer is too busy whining about how much Rick sucks to worry about her too much.

As the truck nears the Saviors' Sanctuary, Jesus tells Carl how to jump out of the truck and roll into the driver's blindspot so as not to be seen.  Carl's like, cool, you go first.  Jesus jumps out, rolls away and hides; Carl gives him a little wave and then fades back into the truck, picking out a choice semi-automatic rifle as he hides.  When the truck stops for unloading, Carl fires at will, killing two guys and shouting that he's only here for Negan.  Negan strolls up and Carl is quickly tackled, Daryl warily watching from behind a chainlink fence.

Negan decides that he will try to turn Carl to the dark side because it'll be fun.  He walks him through the complex, an old factory of some sort, showing off as people kneel before him, being benevolent as he promises fresh vegetables for everyone for continuing to follow the rules.  He shows Carl his harem - eight or so attractive women that Negan calls his "wives,' all wearing little black dresses, sitting in a fairly well-appointed room.  Dwight and Daryl stop by, having prepared a crudite tray (I shit you not).  Negan sends the two of them off to fire up the furnace and fetch a mop, then has Carl carry the crudite tray off to his private rooms.

Spencer and Gabriel drive and Spencer can't stop talking about how much Rick sucks.  So Gabriel tells him he's a shithead and that he's walking back to town.  Spencer: ???  Then Spencer hears something, runs out into the woods and finds a zombie - a former survivalist/hunter, still wielding a compound bow and stuck in a tree in a deer stand.  Spencer tugs the zombie out of the tree, collects the weapons and discovers a list in the dead man's pocket of all the supply caches hidden in the woods.  Score!

Negan talks and talks at Carl.  He makes the boy take the bandage off his wounded eye socket, makes Carl "sing [him] a song" while Negan dances around, swinging Lucille like a maniac, switching from menacing to cajoling to jovial on a dime.  Carl still has a little backbone in him but all he can do is tread water here, wondering WTF is coming next.  What's next: Negan brings Carl down to the furnace room.  Everyone is there, including a bound man ("Mark") who broke the rules and is due for punishment.  In this case, it's like how Dwight got punished: by having Negan press a red-hot iron into the side of Mark's face while he screams and then passes out.  Carl and Daryl trade quick looks, like holyshitomigoddidyoujustseethatpsychoshit.  Negan has made his point. I suspect the people living at the Sanctuary will toe the line, at least for a while.

At that workshop. Eugene doesn't want to enable Rosita in her seemingly suicidal quest to kill Negan.  She yells at him and says some mean but true things and repeats, over and over, "Make me a bullet."  Eugene makes her a bullet.

Negan talks and talks at Carl some more, then decides to take him back to Alexandria.  Just before they leave, Daryl is all, "If you do anything to [Carl] ..." and Negan's all, "Dwight, Daryl needs a time-out.  Put him back in his box for a while."  But while he is in his box, someone slips a piece of paper under the door.  There are some keys (?) taped to it and it reads, GO NOW.

Michonne has dragged enough walker corpses into a pile in the middle of the road that one of Negan's people (a red-headed woman) can't drive past.  Michonne ambushes her, taking her gun and her knife and forces her back into the car.  "Take me to Negan," says Michonne.

Back at Alexandria, Negan makes Carl take him to his and Rick's house.  Olivia is there, babysitting Judith.  Negan bullies her, makes her cry and then suggests that they go bone a while, just to pass the time.  Shocked, she slaps him in the face.  Negan just laughs, then leans in and tells her, "I am about 50% more into you now." He tells her to go make him and Carl some lemonade.  After she scurries off, he makes Carl take him on a tour of the house.  Carl tries to avoid his little sister's bedroom but Negan isn't to be put off.  He seems quite taken with the toddler, picking her up and cuddling her.  He and Carl sit on the porch, drinking lemonade, Judith in Negan's lap.  Negan is finding this suburban life all quite pleasant, actually, and he muses that maybe he should just kill Rick and Carl and move in.  Carl just glares daggers at him.

What, you ask, has Rick been doing all this time?  He and Aaron are out on a scavenging run.  They find a place with a big sign basically telling people to go away or they'll be shot ... and at the bottom, if they've read this far, then [the guy whose place it is] is dead and they can "have at it, assholes."  Rick and Aaron climb the fence and walk in, thinking they might find guns and ammo.  What they find is a pond with a houseboat moored in the center and dozens of walkers floating and moored around it.  Pretty clever, actually - still protecting the supplies, even after death.  Guess they'll go after it next episode.

I mean, I get all this.  Negan is an asshole, a sadist, an utter lunatic, but he verges on charming as well.  He's certainly the closest thing this show has to someone who is interesting - which is awful because he's a bad person.  But he's more interesting than Rick, certainly, so even though he is a crazy, scary, sadistic motherfucker, so he's almost becoming the main character.  I just find his schtick exhausting.

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Walking Dead S7E6 "Swear" 11/27/16

God help us, yet another episode when nothing happens - not even hardly any zombies, which get less and less scary with every season and which have nearly been "reduced to an environmental hazard at this point." (A.V. Club)

A couple of girls walk up the beach, taking out whatever walkers they find washed up on the shore.  They also find Tara (remember her? Last seen after Rick and the Alexandrians took out the Saviors' outpost, after which she and Heath headed out on a two-week scavenging mission.  So it has ONLY been two weeks in the show's time. Bleh.)washed up on the shore.  The younger one, Rachel, is about to kill her - kill all strangers as a matter of course - but the older one, Cindy, keeps her from it, saving her life.  Cindy drags Tara above the high tide line.  This is the current timeline.

Flashback:  Tara and Heath are nearing the end of their two-week scavenger hunt.  They argue a bit about the meaning of life these days - Tara's all, we belong with other people, in communities, together.  Out on a bridge, they get attacked by a swarm of walkers and separated.  Tara ends up getting knocked off the bridge and washed down river, which is how she ended up on the beach.

Now: Tara comes to after Cindy leaves her a spear, some water and a dried fish.  When Cindy heads back to her settlement, Oceanside, Tara follows her and if Oceanside has any defenses, they aren't any good because Tara walks right in.  She skulks around in the underbrush for a while, noticing that (a) there's only women in this encampment and (b) they have a substantial stockpile of guns and ammo.  And then she gets noticed and captured.

I'm guessing that the writers are using Tara as a little bit of comic relief because her lies are appallingly bad when her captors interrogate her about where she's from.  They aren't that rough on her, however, because she gets invited to dinner with the head of Oceanside and several others, including Cindy.  They invite her to stay with them because they don't want her going off and telling anyone else about their community.

They used to be in another place but Negan and the Saviors attacked them, killing all the males over the age of ten.  They ran and found this place, by the ocean with lots of food, and have been killing strangers ever since to protect themselves.  Tara's all, but I have a girlfriend [Ed.: oops] and I have to go back.  So they agree that one of them will go with her, ostensibly to check out Alexandria and see if it might be an ally.

In the morning, Tara, "Beatrice" and "Cathy" leave Oceanside, heading back to that bridge so Tara can maybe find Heath again.  En route, however, Tara figures out that the other two have been told to kill her once they're far enough from the community.  She makes a run for it and almost gets away before Beatrice catches her.

But Cindy has been tailing them and knocks Beatrice over the head, saving Tara's life again.  They go back to the bridge and Cindy says she'll help pick off the milling walkers so Tara can get across.  But first, she makes Tara swear (SWEAR) that she will keep Oceanside a secret.  Tara swears and then battles her way across the bridge, Cindy shooting as many zombies as she can before Beatrice and Cathy show up to take her back to Oceanside.

Once across the bridge, Heath is nowhere to be found but their RV is gone, leaving only ruts in the mud behind.  She shrugs hopefully and then starts walking back to Alexandria.  When she gets there and Eugene opens the gate for her, she has a big grin on her face - but he is only sad because he's the one who ends up telling her about Denise (off-screen).

Later, Rosita finds Tara sitting sadly in the clinic, mourning her murdered girlfriend.  Rosita's all, we have to fight back - all we need are lots of weapons and ammunition.  For a moment, Tara is quiet and we are all meant to think that she's going to give Oceanside up.  But she doesn't, honoring her promise to Cindy and instead telling Rosita that she didn't see anything like that out there.

I dunno.  It was okay, I guess.  It was nice to spend time with Tara, who we really hadn't gotten to know.  But this episode advanced the plot not at all.  Sigh.

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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Walking Dead S7E5 "Go-Getters" 11/20/16

I almost just can't anymore with this show.  I'm starting to dread watching it and of the first five episodes, the one with Ezekiel and Carol was the only one I enjoyed, followed by the Daryl-centric one that I didn't enjoy but didn't find tedious and/or horrible.  This one, "Go-Getters," is tedious.  There is interminable talking.  So much talking.  Just going let you know that up front.

We're spending most of this week up at Hilltop, where Maggie and Sasha have come for Maggie's medical care.  (She's fine, by the way, just needs to stay off her feet for a while.)  They have also brought Glen and Abraham's bodies with them to Hilltop (why? why didn't the main group take them back to Alexandria?  Could Maggie and Sasha just not bear to say goodbye?) and buried them within the walls.  This proves to be a problem for Gregory, Hilltop's cowardly, sneering, weaselly leader.  He's all, we burn our dead, not bury them!  Plus, you have to leave because if Negan finds out that we're harboring you, it's bad news for everyone.  Jesus promises Maggie and Sasha that they can stay.

For a brief interlude back at Alexandria, Rick and Aaron head out on a scavenging run because the pressure is on to provide for Negan.  Both Michonne and Carl are at best ambivalent about the new state of things.  Michonne stalks out into the woods, telling Carl she needs to work through some shit.  Carl practices throwing darts and his aim is SHIT now because he only has one eye.  Heh.  Also, Enid decides she's going to walk to Hilltop to see how Maggie is doing.  Carl tries to talk her out of it but over the wall she goes.

Back at Hilltop, everyone is awoken in the middle of the night by a ruckus: apparently Hilltop doesn't post nighttime sentries because the Saviors have (1) opened the town's gates, (2) lit a bunch of bonfires and (3) brought in a car blasting music which (4) attracts all sorts of walkers.  Seriously, Hilltop?  No one is keeping watch?  Maggie and Sasha have been locked into their trailer for some reason (?) but climb out through a vent at the top.  The rest of the Hilltopians are COMPLETELY USELESS, even after Maggie shouts at them to get the gates closed.  So while Sasha and Jesus singlehandedly (doublehandedly) take down every single zombie - and there's a lot, so it's pretty badass - Maggie finds herself a tractor and runs over the music-blasting car until it is crunched into pieces and thus no longer blasting music.  They get the gates closed and everybody goes back to bed.

Carl takes a car and finds Enid (wrecking the car in the process, which seems wasteful) and accompanies her to Hilltop.  Along the way, they find rollerskates and skate together for a while, holdings hands.  It's cute, I guess, and shows that underneath it all they're still kids but it seems like an incredibly bad idea.  I mean, can you imagine fighting walkers on rollerskates?

In the morning, Simon, a Negan-surrogate, shows up at Hilltop with a small army.  Simon badgers Gregory for a while before sending the Saviors out to collect half of Hilltop's stuff.  Gregory, who is definitely a coward with a sense of self preservation, tries to curry favor with Simon by turning Maggie and Sasha over to him.  But Jesus has stashed them away in a different closet than Gregory thought, and all Gregory ends up doing is handing over his entire stash of scotch.

Outside the walls, Enid tells Carl that she knows he's out to kill Negan.  She thinks he shouldn't do it, not because that crazy asshole doesn't deserve it but because she's worried about how it might change him.  And they even smooch.  But he's not backing down so she sneaks into Hilltop and finds Maggie and Sasha and they all have grilled cheese and tomato soup together.

After the Saviors head out to load their trucks with their collected booty, Gregory and Jesus have words of sorts, Gregory insisting that Maggie and Sasha must go.  Jesus puts his foot down and Gregory's all, you know, if you want to be in charge you can, but you have to stick around and stop wandering outside the walls.  Jesus is all, no, I don't want to be in charge but these two are staying.  Gregory gives up and walks away.  Maggie and Sasha are all, that dude should not be in charge.  Jesus is like, I'm pretty sure I know who should be (with a knowing look at Maggie).  When Maggie heads off to rest, Sasha asks Jesus if he can find out where exactly Negan lives.  Seems like she's got the same idea as Carl.

So when the Savior trucks roll out, Jesus hops into the back of the one designated for Negan.  He helps himself to some of that scotch before starting to pour it out the back of the truck.  He is only slightly surprised when Carl pokes his head out from behind some boxes: "Hey."

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