Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Preacher recap "Pilot" S1E1 5/23/16

When I finished watching the pilot for AMC's new series, Preacher, this is about all I could articulate:  "Whafuck?"  And so now I'm going to recap it.  I know absolutely nothing about the comics so what we see on the show is what we get.  Please note: this show is best consumed with a glass of whiskey.

OUTER SPACE - In the cheesiest, most mid-century sci-fi way possible, some throbbing thing shoots through the galaxy, heading for Earth.

AFRICA - The alien(?), invisible, throbbing thing bursts into a corrugated tin shack church, slamming into a charismatic preacher just as he holds forth about the Word of God.  The small congregation cheers and applauds the miracle and the preacher intones in a deep, throbbing voice BE QUIET.  Everyone immediately gets silent. The preacher says that he is the prophet, the chosen one.  And then he explodes, drenching the first few rows with blood and guts and bits.  The congregation flees, shrieking, and the alien, invisible, throbbing thing rushes out of the church, looking for its next infiltration.

FLASHBACK - In black and white, a preacher, on his knees, tells his off-screen son Jesse to promise him [something].  Jesse promises and then there's a gunshot.

TEXAS - Our preacher, the now-grown Jesse Custer, drags his hungover self out of bed and into the church.  He voiceovers his sermon - a page of which he inadvertently dropped; and a portion of which hinges on an episode of Friday Night Lights - as the camera moves through the dried-up town of Annville.  He's a terrible preacher and his organist plays him off the pulpit so everyone can get outside to the picnic portion of the church day.  There are a lot of rednecks, drinkin' beer and shootin' squirrels and eatin' potato salad.  A boy grabs a beer out of the cooler and tracks down Preacher Jesse, who is desperate to get away from a sad sack parishioner who is bending his ear about his troubles with his mother.  When Jesse sends the sad sack away, the boy says that his dad is mean and hurts his momma, and he wants the preacher to hurt him - he's heard that before Jesse became a preacher, he "did things."  Jesse demurs because "violence makes violence makes nothin' much at all."  He does offer to talk to the kid's daddy and the kid blows him off, disgusted:  "Right.  Pray for me, preacher."  Jesse:  "If there was anyone listenin', I would, believe me."

Later that evening, Jesse is sitting in his truck on Main Street, drinking straight out of the bottle when Sheriff Root interrupts him.  He asks Jesse to swing by and see "Eugene," who has been asking for him.  Jesse agrees.  He asks the sheriff to talk to the boy's momma, the one who's being beaten by her husband.  The sheriff is all, I will respond to a formal complaint, which of course they both know isn't coming.  Jesse: "Of course.  Don't want to lose the wife-beatin', squirrel-shootin', redneck vote.  I imagine that's a key demographic for you."  The sheriff sort of brushes him off and tells him to drive careful.

30,000 FEET UP - There is a serious party going on in a private jet, heading for Tijuana.  One of the bartenders is a hilarious, nearly unintelligible Irish bartender who is doling out drinks and drugs as fast as his customers can consume them.  When the bartender excuses himself to the bathroom, he finds a heavily annotated Bible hidden in a cabinet. It means something to him because when he returns to the main cabin, he instigates the most amazing fight.  There are more swords, spears and large knives hidden about the cabin than you might imagine and the other men make use of them, but the Irish bartender handily takes them down, using a golf club, a heavy glass bong, a silver tray and empty wine bottles, one of which he throws into the chest of the pilot who has also entered the fray.  The bartender asks "How'd you wankers find me then?"  When one of the remaining men tells him to go to hell, he shrugs - when will you idjits ever learn? - and then plunges his face into the man's neck.  Because he's a vampire, of course.  Alarms start sounding as the plane starts going down, so he fills an empty booze bottle with some blood, grabs an umbrella from the coatrack and throws himself out of the plane with a grin.  I don't know what the fuck is going on here but it's awesome.

TEXAS - Jay, the sad sack, is plaguing Jesse at the diner the next morning as he eats with his organist (also a waitress at the diner), talking about sick parishioners, next Sunday's church service, her love life.

BACK IN AFRICA - Two weird dudes, dressed head to toe in early 20th century khaki safari gear, drive into the village and check out the church.

TEXAS - Jesse goes to check on a parishioner who has missed work.  The old man is passed out on his couch and when Jesse steps into the house, he sees a pistol on the sideboard and hears the shower running.  "Thanks for the warning, Walter," he snipes at the unconscious man as he quickly skedaddles.  A young woman hears the door and steps out of the shower, watches Jesse drive away.

KANSAS, NOT THAT LONG AGO - A muscle car swerves off the highway and through a cornfield as the driver - a young woman, the one who stepped out of the shower at Walter's house - fights with two much larger men who are also in the car.  She kills one of them quickly (he collapses onto the gas pedal, keeping the car going); she struggles mightily with the other guy, biting his ear off.  The car emerges from the cornfield into a farmhouse's dooryard: the man falls out of the car; the girl kicks him in the crotch and then slams two unshucked ears of corn down his throat.  "Gimme back my map!" she says, pulling it out of his pocket.  From behind her:  "Awesome! So awesome!"  Her audience is a couple of little kids:  the little girl informs her that she's ten, and she's in charge.  The young woman quickly assesses the situation and asks the kids if they like arts and crafts.  She is funny and charming and clever and they help her MacGyver together a bazooka out of cans, moonshine and tin soldiers.  The kids are smitten.  As a helicopter approaches, she puts them in the tornado cellar and tells them not to come out until the noise has stopped, "just like a parade."  The camera stays with the two little kids in the cellar and we watch their stunned faces as we hear the offscreen shots, explosions and screams for mercy.  When it quiets down, they come out.  The young woman apologizes for all the mess ... "but fun, huh?"  The little girl asks her name.  "My friends all call me Tulip," she says, and gives them a wink before driving off.  The little girl's face is transcendent, full of hero worship.  I have to say that I'm fairly smitten by Tulip myself.

SOMEWHERE - The Irish vampire is alive, but just barely, body exploded in a crater by the impact when he landed after bailing out of the plane.  A curious cow comes over and the vampire coaxes it closer.  "Come to Cassidy," he coos before grabbing the poor cow.  I guess you need sustenance after, you know, exploding on impact.

TEXAS - Jesse fulfills his promise to the boy from the church picnic, going to talk with the boy's mother, Betsy.  She admits that her husband (Donnie) hurts her - beats her, whips her, scalds her - but when Jesse asks her to make a complaint to the sheriff, she's all, you don't understand.  "I like it.  When he hurts me, I like it."  She seems to be telling the truth and Jesse is all, WTF?

RUSSIA - The two weird dudes, this time wearing huge fur hats, drive up to a Satanist church as a frantic man screams [Russian subtitles] about how the priest just exploded, getting brains and blood all over everything.

TEXAS - Jesse and Tulip meet up.  They've got a lot of history and Tulip tries to convince him to help her with some job, the one with the map she had to kill those guys and the helicopter for.  He rebuffs her, saying that he doesn't do that anymore.  She can't believe that he's back here, in this town, playing straight: "We are who we are ... why waste another minute pretending we're different."  After he leaves her, he goes to the sheriff's house to see Eugene.  The sheriff hands him a disgusting puree of red meat, hot sauce and veggies - "It's his dinner" - and sends Jesse upstairs.  Horror movie music plays as the preacher climbs the stairs ... then the bedroom door is flung open by this young man.  Eugene is a sweet, enthusiastic, open boy - whose face is weirdly, disgusting disfigured [I believe in the comics his nickname is "Arseface," so picture that].  Eugene wants to come back to church because he thinks God has abandoned him because of "what [he] did."  Jesse agrees that what he did was wrong [Are we to assume that whatever Eugene did caused his face to be like that?] but that church is for everyone and God forgives him.  Jesse is very kind to him: "No matter what you done, if you need Him, He has to be there for you ... God doesn't hold grudges."  Eugene thanks him and pulls him into a big hug.

T.V. news onscreen in a bar in town:  Tom Cruise has just spontaneously exploded at a Church of Scientology meeting.  How fucking awesome is that - genius.  As Jesse sits nursing a beer, Cassidy struts in, asking for a bottle of whiskey.  He drinks half of it and then scoots over to talk with the preacher.  Neither Jesse nor I can understand more than one word in three he says.  After Cassidy excuses himself to find a phone (he calls a buddy, asking for money and asking how "they" keep finding him), a bunch of Revolutionary Civil War reenacters walk into the bar.  Donnie is one of them and he wastes no time punching Jesse around for talking to Betsy.  It isn't until Donnie says he's going to have to beat his son for snitching that Jesse takes a stand.  He was willing to take a few punches but only a few.  And then a most excellent bar fight as Donnie and at least four of his buddies try to beat the living shit out of the preacher.  But Jesse can more than hold his own - a slight smile on his face throughout the whole fight - and he puts each of them down, with a very slight assist from Cassidy.  The sheriff arrives to put a stop to things but Jesse is all, "Almost done, Sheriff."  And then he snaps Donnie's big, meaty forearm over his knee and Donnie squeals at the bone poking through his skin.

Later, in the cell, Cassidy is all, WTF kind of preacher are you?  "The bad kind," admits Jesse.  With some coaxing, Jesse says that he came back to keep a promise.  The church organist bails Jesse out and drives him home.  He tells her that he's quitting and he'll tell the parishioners at Sunday's service.  "I am who I am, I guess."  She is bitterly disappointed:  "You were never really here in the first place, Jesse, so what difference will your leaving make?"  After she drives away, Jesse notices lights blinking up at the church.  He goes inside but the power is off and everything is still.  He sits in one of the pews and gives God an ultimatum:  speak to me now or never.  When he gets no response, he shrugs, lights a cigarette and stands up.  Just then, the alien, invisible, throbbing entity enters the church, pushing the wooden pews aside as it moves up the nave.  Jesse stares, dumbfounded, as the entity/force/??? moves closer and closer.  And then it slams into him with a rush, throwing him back up into the altar.

FLASHBACK - Jesse's dad, on his knees, tells him that he needs to be one of the good guys because there's too many of the bad ones.  As off-screen young Jesse sobs, someone shoots his dad in the head.

TEXAS - After being unconscious with a fever for three days, Jesse wakes up on Sunday.  (Please note that he hasn't exploded.)  Cassidy had found him passed out in the church; the Irishman subsequently moved into the church attic and fixed the A/C.  Jesse hurries to get ready for the service and as he walks up to the church, the sad sack catches him again, still complaining about how his mother treats him.  Jesse turns to him and says - in an intense, throbbing voice - "Be brave, tell her the truth, open your heart."  The sad sack stares at him, repeating the words.  Jesse: "Did you hear that?" as car alarms go off in the distance.  But the sad sack is already walking away, repeating Jesse's words like a mantra.

At church, where Tulip and Cassidy have slunk in the back, Donnie is with his family, arm in a sling, and Eugene is sitting next to his dad, Jesse tells the congregation that there's no sermon today, plus he'll try not to punch anyone either.  Then he says that he's let everyone down, that he's been a bad preacher, and that as of right now, he's gonna fight for them, pray for the sinner, avenge the innocent, cool the wrathful, welcome those who are lost and speak forth the Word of God.

Speaking of the Word of God, the sad sack has taken a plane to Florida and then driven to his mother's retirement home, continuously repeating Jesse's words.  He pauses at the snacks table and then finds his mother.  Calmly, he asks his mother to stop criticizing him constantly and although he has been a disappointment to her, he is her only son and it would mean so much to him if she would treat him with respect.  And now, he goes on, unbuttoning his shirt and picking up a huge knife, "I have to open my heart to you."  And he plunges the knife into his chest and rips the still-beating heart out of his chest.

Cut to Jesse:  "For all this I am responsible.  I am that preacher.  This is my answer.  This is why I've come home: to save you."

Cut to: those two weird dudes.  One of them eats a teabag (???!!?) while the other walks up and reports, "It's here."  Now they're wearing big cowboy hats and cowboy boots and they're standing just down the road from Jesse's church.

I mean, seriously, this is the most bugfuck show I have watched in a long time and I watch a lot of weird stuff.  So far, I love it.

Next time on Preacher

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mini movie reviews: Trainwreck and Sleeping with Other People

I'm not generally one for romantic/sex comedies/dramedies so it is a little surprising to me that I ended up watching not one but two this weekend:  Amy Schumer's Trainwreck and Alison Brie/Jason Sudeikis's Sleeping with Other People.  In the interest of full disclosure: I watched the whole of Trainwreck but my faulty Netflix DVD of SwOP crapped out on me with about twenty minutes to go - on the plus side, I can't spoil the ending for anyone!

I thought Trainwreck was a hoot.  Amy Schumer plays a hard-drinking NYC working girl who took her philandering father's life lessons to heart and cannot commit to a monogamous relationship.  Even when her would-be steady guy is played by John Cena (DAAAAAAMN).  She parties hard and picks up dudes as she likes and - other than the sheer numbers of partners - has a very healthy sex life.  She knows what she wants and what she wants, in part, is for the guy to not sleep over.  Amy works for a Cosmo-like magazine and is assigned to do an article on this young orthopaedic surgeon to the pro sports stars, played by Bill Hader.  Since this is a rom-com, these two mismatched people fall for each other, break up and ultimately get back together.  But as written by Schumer, whose Inside Amy Schumer I like a lot, with the gender roles upended, the traditional formula doesn't seem so traditional.  With strong supporting players - Brie Larson as Amy's long-suffering, more stable little sister, Colin Quinn as their aging, ailing dad and scene-stealer Lebron James - Trainwreck is both funny, sweet and fun.

I went into Sleeping with Other People with some confusion: I thought it was going to be a slightly darker take on a rom-com.  And I guess that technically it is but it is much less light-hearted and comic than I presumed.  Alison Brie's Lainie and Jason Sudeikis's Jake first meet in college, where they lose their virginities to each other.  A decade+ later, they reconnect in NYC, each with their own sexual issues:  Jake cannot commit, with a never-ending parade of women traipsing in and out of his bed; Lainie is hung up on this total dweeb of a guy (a nearly-unrecognizable Adam Scott) who is about to marry someone who isn't her.  Jake and Lainie become best friends, speaking honestly to each other, supporting each other and basically becoming a couple - except that they don't have sex with each other.  (I assume they end up with each other in the end? Anyone?)  Brie and Sudeikis have fantastic chemistry and there are very funny moments, but overall I found the tone of SwOP to be a little sad.  Other reviewers thought it was pretty terrific - you should decide for yourself.

  

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Mini movie review: Captain America: Civil War

#teamcap

That was fun and way better than Avengers: Ultron.  Although there is a lot going on in CA:CW, it didn't seem over-stuffed and it finally felt like you got to spend some time with the characters.  Yes, some didn't get much screentime (Clint, Vision, Scott Lang) but we definitely got to know some of the others (Scarlet Witch) better.  The newest Spiderman got just enough time to be completely engaging - and to act like the enthusiastic teenager I believe Peter Parker is supposed to be - and T'Challa ... Man, I was ambivalent about the Black Panther movie before but now I'm excited for it.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Still alive

But clearly I am going to have to move True Blood S7 up in my Netflix queue because I just don't seem to be watching or reading anything here these days.  I'm thinking about recapping Preacher when it comes on but I don't know anything about the source material so I don't have any idea how I'll like it.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Mini movie review: The Maze Runner

Here's another post-apocalyptic dystopian YA novel-turned-movie for you, along the lines of The Hunger Games except there's no love triangle (no love interest at all - amazing!) and no one emerging with Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss charisma.  I don't know how much of that is due to the source material, however: THG books are so strong; I don't know anything about The Maze Runner series by James Dashner. Still, TMR is a decent little movie, even if it fizzles out towards the end.

Thomas (our hero) wakes up, retching and amnesiac, in a subterranean elevator as it rocks to the earth's surface.  Once above ground, he is met by a group of boys/young men who are trapped in a wooded glade surrounded by a shifting, murderous stone maze.  The boys have set up a nice little society in the three years they have been there: building living quarters, assigning jobs; following rules.  Thomas (who remembers his name but nothing else in a day or so) immediately starts questions things: who keeps sending boys to the surface once a month in that elevator?  Who were the boys before?  Where are they?  Who made the maze? And most importantly, how the hell do they get out of here?  Thomas earns a job as one of the titular maze runners: fast, brave and clever boys who go out into the Maze every day, memorizing its layout.  Within no time at all, Thomas has upset the status quo by surviving a night in the Maze, killing one of the giant, robotic/flesh spider monsters called greavers, and figuring out how to escape.  As expected, his actions shake up the fragile glade society.  But Thomas has sparked something in many of the other boys and they make a break for it.

None of the characters are all that deeply developed and the dialogue isn't anything to write home about.  But The Maze Runner is a passable entry into the genre, particularly since it isn't dragged down with the romance typically inserted in other YA science fiction.   The plot moves steadily forward; the named characters are distinguishable and relatable; the action, while depending overmuch on CGI (see above re: giant robot spider monsters), is decent, if a little confusing and dim sometimes.  My biggest issue is with the very ending where after keeping my attention for the run-time, the movie has no sort of resolution for its characters, instead going out on a "this story will be continued in the SEQUEL so no point in resolving anything NOW" note.  The Maze Runner did pique my interest enough to add the SEQUEL to my Netflix queue tho, so well-played, movie.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Mini movie review: The Neverending Story

So ... that was not quite what I had hoped for or expected.  The Neverending Story is a classic (?) early 80s children's fantasy movie, based on the first half of the German YA novel of the same name by Michael Ende.  Ende was so disappointed with how the movie came out that he tried to get the name of it changed, so as not to continue to be associated with it, but it was too late and the rights had been locked down.  This rather makes me want to check out the book - in translation, of course, as my German is rusty nonexistent.

The Neverending Story is a framework piece, with the overarching story about young Bastian, a bullied boy, mourning the death of his mother, who obtains a fantasy book, The Neverending Story, which not only immediately captures his imagination but also draws him in, literally.  The story-within-the-story is a quest by young Atreau who must find a cure for the young Empress so that she can save their land of Fantasia from the Nothing, which is swallowing and obliterating it.  After travelling 10,000 miles with the help of some gnomes and Falcor the luckdragon, all to no avail in the end, Atreau and the Empress must call upon Bastian to help save them.

The creature effects are pretty rudimentary, especially when compared to similar films like The Dark Crystal.  But I liked the creatures - I love practical effects and am willing to forgive a lot.  But this movie is sooooooooooo sloooooooooow, even at only 90 minutes long.  The creatures talk slowly, there are pointless scenes and there are an awful lot of gazing off into the distance and/or moving through space with nothing happening shots.  Slow.  The other thing I struggled with was how bad the child actors were.  I can't really fault the Empress as she didn't get a lot to do.  But Atreau is pretty awful and any time he was called upon to express any kind of intense emotion, he shouted.  There was a lot of shouting.

I suspect that if I'd seen this movie as a little kid, I would have liked it a lot.  Seeing The Neverending Story as an adult, however, didn't do the movie any favors.  Next time I have a craving for early 80s fantasy with lots of creatures, I'm going for The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth or Time Bandits.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Allow me to pause for a moment here

Wow.  Once The Walking Dead ended, things really dropped off here, didn't they?  Part of the problem is that I was traveling for several days.  And although I have two books going right now - The Covenant by James Michener and The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie - I've read them both before.  I need to get to the library; I need to watch the DVD of The Neverending Story that Netflix sent me (can you believe I've never seen it?); I need to find something new to recap.  I need to finish off True Blood but that really seems like a summertime project - something about watching Alcide and Jason, with their shirts off, all sweaty ... I'm rather thinking I might try recapping Preacher when it comes up on AMC.  That's a few weeks away, however, so I'll try to consume some media worth sharing here before then.

Monday, April 4, 2016

The Walking Dead S6E16 "Last Day on Earth" 4/3/16

First of all, let me admit that I was completely wrong about the guy in body armor being Negan.  Second of all, what an utter waste of ninety goddamn minutes.  Seriously.  This show is the worst.

Here's the B story, running throughout the ninety goddamn minutes and really only serving to break up the tension that is supposed to be building in the A storyline:  Morgan finds a saddled horse, then he finds Carol.  He patches her up as best he can (although she has a cut on her abdomen that needs stitches and antibiotics); they blandly argue about him taking her back to Alexandria because she's all, you were right and I can't kill anymore because feelings.  She scarpers off while he wastes time killing a zombie that wasn't going to hurt anybody.  That wounded Savior finds her, shoots her a couple of times (arm and leg) and then, when the Savior is about to finish her off, up rides Morgan on his horse.  Morgan warns the Savior and then shoots him about six times with the gun Rick insisted that he take.  Because, Carol, you see that anyone can kill when they really need to.  Then, two guys in body armor (another online reviewer thought they looked like street hockey players, which LOL) show up, one on horseback and the other on foot.  Morgan says to the pedestrian one, "I found your horse.  Found my friend too.  She needs help."  The street hockey players say, "Then let's get you some help" and the pedestrian one holds out his hand for Morgan to shake.  I'm assuming that the street hockey players are going to be allies in whatever battle against the Saviors there is in S7.

Here's the A story:  Maggie is really pretty sick so in a BRILLIANT move, everyone who is a first-tier character not already captured by the Saviors, plus a couple second- and third-tier characters as well, jump onto the RV to take Maggie to the Hilltop doctor.  No, really: Rick, Carl, Abraham, Sasha, Maggie (of course), Eugene and Aaron (remember him?).  That leaves Father Gabriel in charge of defending Alexandria.  No, really.  As they start off, Rick is confident and encouraging, saying that their group is strong and mighty and can do anything that needs to be done.  Woohoo, go team!

Then begins this series of encounters with the Saviors, who have inexplicably become extremely confident, tactical and stealthy, despite all prior events to the contrary, where no matter what road Rick et als. drive down, they are stopped by a Savior blockade:  first just a bunch of guys with a beaten prisoner, parking their trucks across the road; then a bunch more guys with their trucks parked across the road; then a string of zombies, several of which have been festooned recognizably with some of Rick's captured peoples' belongings (like a couple of Michonne's dredlocks and Daryl's leather jacket), chained across the road; then really a lot of guys with their trucks parked across the road (surely at least one of these could have been edited out); then a massive pile of burning logs. 

Each time our heroes are turned back, Rick's confidence fades further and he begins to doubt the wisdom of this venture.  Never mind that this is rather implausible since the timing and set-up of each roadblock would have been daunting at best, even if there are hundreds of well-organized and efficient Saviors, which we have been given no reason to believe there are.  Until now. With the RV running low on fuel and night about to fall, the gang realizes that as the crow flies, they aren't that far from Hilltop.  Eugene devises a plan whereby he will drive the RV off as a decoy while the rest of them haul Maggie (on a stretcher) by foot through the woods.  Eugene gives Rick his recipe for making bullets and Rick sincerely thanks him for it; Eugene and Abraham have themselves a moment and a big hug, saying goodbye.  Eugene drives off.

The rest of them make their way through the woods, Carl strutting and being all, you're right, Dad, we can do anything!  And then the woods erupts around them with eerie birdcalls.  It's the Saviors, and they herd our heroes into a clearing.  There are many, many, many Saviors there, all heavily armed.  Eugene is there too, bloodied and on his knees, the RV parked at the far end of the clearing.  Rick and his group are forced to their knees and then Dwight comes up, depositing Rosita, Michonne, Glen and Daryl (Daryl!) in a line with the rest of them.  Carl and Michonne are the only ones showing the slightest bit of bravado - everyone else looks terrified.

And then, the moment everyone has been waiting for all season, ever since the comics fans told the non-comics fans about him:  Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan.  For the record, Negan emerges from the RV, barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat "Lucille" nonchalantly over his shoulder, with ten minutes left in the episode.  And then he commences to do nothing but speechify for approximately nine minutes and 50 seconds.  JDM has considerable charisma but holy fuck, this is just boring.  He goes on and on and on and on.  He doesn't stop.  We know - from the comics - that this is the point where Negan beats one of our beloved characters to death with Lucille, just to show Rick et als. just what the hell he's up against.  But it's just talking ... interspersed with shots of Rick becoming more and more unhinged, sweating, shaking, nearly drooling with fear.

Finally, Negan stops talking and picks someone to beat to death.  And the camera switches to first person POV, where we the audience are in the shoes of his victim, and we watch Lucille descend.  There's a splash of blood and a cut to black, and horrible squishy noises.  And that's it.

Seriously, show?  First we get a bait-and-switch with Glen's "death," then last week we get a Daryl-gets-shot fakeout, and now this?  Three bullshit tricks in one season?  You stretch approximately twenty minutes of plot into a bloated 90-minute episode, ostensibly to build tension towards the big Negan reveal and confrontation (never mind that said tension was completely dispersed every time you cut away to Morgan and Carol's boring story (never mind that you've taken two of  the best characters and given them a boring story)), and then you don't even show it?  Fans have been steeling themselves for the loss of a major character as a heart-rending way to end the season and talk about ad nauseum until S7 ... and we get this?  Not cool, TWD, not cool at all.

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

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Walking Dead S6E15 "East" 3/27/16

The cold open gives us an Impressionistic view of a roadside showdown in which Carol ran into trouble.  We know it was Carol because of the rosary sitting in a puddle of blood.  We don't know what happened or who survived.  Backing up a little, the next scene shows Carol packing up food and gear in anticipation of her departure from Alexandria.  Tobin comes in and it's literally blah-blah-blah as the sound fades out during his talking to her, showing her displacement.  Later that night, she slips from their bed, grabs her pack and leaves.

Here's what I'm not recapping: Rick and Michonne snuggling together in bed because ick.  Except that they both seem happy and they both are all, we're not losing this.  So of course they will.

Things get a little confusing for a bit because Daryl hops on his motorcycle and leaves, apparently to revenge Denise's murder, around the same time that it's discovered that Carol is gone.  Glen, Michonne and Rosita take off after Daryl and Rick and Morgan take off after Carol.  Because when two of your best fighters leave, it's a REALLY good idea for five of your other best fighters to leave too.  People are making extremely bad decisions here and, quite frankly, not acting the way they should be acting, given what we know about these people.

Carol drives down a stretch of road in one of the cars that had been placed outside Alexandria's gates (it's covered in spikes as an anti-zombie precaution).  She comes up to a pickup truck carrying five men, well-armed with guns and spears.  They shoot out her tires and the stand-off begins.  They know she's from Alexandria.  She figures that they are Saviors.  They are menacing and Carol starts to shake and tremble, on the verge of another panic attack.  She begs them not to let this devolve into violence - no one needs to die today - but the men sense weakness and move towards her, menacing.  And then she shoots them all with the semi-automatic she has hidden inside the sleeve of her oversized barn coat.  She doesn't get them all, however, and the driver lunges out of the truck, shooting back at her.  She hides behind her car and when he gets close enough, impales him on one of the spikes.  Then she takes his gun and goes to check on the others.  One man is hiding and when she gets closer, he lunges at her with a knife.  Their struggle is offscreen and there's a gunshot.

Back in Alexandria, Maggie looks tired but she is working on getting the town prepped for when the Saviors attack.  She hides guns and other stuff.  Enid tells her to sit and rest, "put your feet up and eat some pickles," and she'll take Maggie's guard shift on the wall.

Rick and Morgan drive and talk, looking for Carol.  Blah blah blah.

Back at the aftermath of the roadside massacre, the passenger in the truck is still alive, although shot in the shoulder.  He gets out to survey the damage.  The man who attacked Carol with the gun is lying on the road, bleeding from a massive stomach wound.  The passenger tells him to shush and then walks off.  In the distance, on the road, there's a figure but it's too far away to tell whether it's Carol or just some wandering zombie.

Rick and Morgan get to the roadside massacre.  When that gutshot man can't tell them anything useful, Rick just puts his knife through his skull.  They put down a zombie who is feeding on the man Carol impaled.  Rick shakes his head, admiringly.  "I'm proud of her.  She took four of them down.  That woman, she's a force of nature."  Morgan just looks weary at all the humans killing other humans.  Bless his heart but he sure does seem naive to think that this world is going to get any better.  He and Rick find a trail leading off through the fields.  There's some blood and they decide to follow it, just in case it's a wounded Carol.  Or a zombie Carol who needs to be put down.  Rick notes that these dead Saviors are awfully close to Alexandria: "We didn't end it."  No, notes Morgan, "we started something."  Unbeknownst to them, the shoulder-shot passenger comes out of his hiding place and follows them.

In the other storyline, Glen, Michonne and Rosita have gone back to the train tracks where Denise died.  They find Daryl's motorcycle, hidden in the underbrush.  Rosita thinks that maybe they should just let him do what they want but Glen's not having any of it, saying that Daryl's going to get himself killed.  They catch up with him after a while.  He's furious, with himself: for not having killed Dwight out in the burned forest.  Glen pleads with him to return to Alexandria so they can figure things out. "It's gonna go wrong out here."  Michonne also asks him to go back but Daryl can't/won't.  He continues off along into the woods, Rosita trailing after him.  Glen and Michonne don't follow, but decide to head back, regroup.  But instead of moving swiftly and with purpose, they stop in a clearing for a heart-to-heart and before long, they are captured by Dwight and a group of Saviors.  Why has everyone decided to not use their brains today?

Rick and Morgan find a female zombie who looks a little like Carol.  It's isn't her though and they put it down without incident.  They continue on through pastureland to a barn.  There's a small swarm of zombies there, and a man who seems to be fighting them.  He hides from Rick and Morgan, though, telling them that he's just out here looking for his horse, but there's a bunch of walkers.  While Rick and Morgan tangle with the zombies, the man runs off.  It kind of looks like he's wearing body armor.  Rick takes a shot at the man but Morgan gives him a shove and the bullet goes wide.  It is my completely unfounded opinion that this is Negan and he has drawn the walkers here as an impediment to Rick and Morgan.  Morgan's all, you didn't know who he was.  Rick: I don't take chances anymore.  Except that he's out here, looking for a woman who doesn't want to be found.  Then Morgan tells Rick the story about how he saved that Wolf and the whole Carol/Denise/Wolf thing.  "All life is precious ... [because I saved him, he saved Denise and then Denise] was there to save Carl.  It's all a circle.  Everything gets a return."  He tells Rick to take the car and go home where he is needed.  He says that he will keep looking for Carol and he will find her.  Rick: "You're coming back."  A statement, not a question.  Morgan: "Yeah.  But if I don't, don't come lookin'."  He turns to go but first, Rick insists that he take a pistol.  Morgan doesn't want to but he does.

When Rick gets back to Alexandria, he is a little concerned that Michonne, Glen, Rosita and Daryl are still out there.  Nothing to panic about yet.  Enid goes to check on Maggie and Maggie asks her to give her a haircut.  She wants it short because she's got a lot to do and doesn't want anything getting in her way.  Of course, right after she says that, she screams and drops to the floor, clutching her belly in pain.

Meanwhile, Glen and Michonne are bound and gagged at the Saviors' campfire.  Daryl and Rosita sneak up, intending to save them.  Glen spots them and struggles, trying to wave them off.  That's because Dwight and another couple of Saviors are sneaking up behind them.  "Hi, Daryl," says Dwight, as Rosita puts her hands up.  As Daryl turns to face him, Dwight shoots him (from the way the gun was pointing, it looks like he shot Daryl in the shoulder and not the head, which is why I am not FREAKING OUT right now) and the screen goes black.  Then Dwight says, "You'll be all right."

This fucking show.  Does EVERYONE have to make really stupid decisions all at once?  Carol: whose character has been painstakingly built over five seasons to make her into a total "force of nature" has completely flipflopped from out of nowhere, with no warning.  All the best fighters rush off half-cocked, with no plan - what if Carol didn't want to come back, Rick and Morgan? what then? - leaving Alexandria to be defended only by Abraham, Maggie, Sasha and Carl.  Glen and Michonne: yes, let's stand here in the middle of an unfamiliar forest and just TALK, instead of hightailing it back to the car.  I know I'm echoing other reviewers when I say that with these last couple of episodes, it really seemed like the characters were doing things just because the show's writers wanted them to, and not acting from a place of character.  Everything is being moved into place for next Sunday's season finale - in which we'll finally get to meet Negan, and it'll all be horrible.  I shall have to start steeling myself now in order to get through 90 minutes of this mess.

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

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Walking Dead S6E14 "Twice as Far" 3/20/16

Life goes on as usual in Alexandria: whatshername checks the food pantry; people take turns on their guard watches; Morgan practices his moves and builds a solid cell ("It'll give you some choices next time," he tells a skeptical Rick); Carol sits on her porch and smokes, running through the rosary she picked up in the last episode.  We learn that Rosita has hooked up with Spencer.  And Darryl works on his recovered motorcycle.  Carol stops by to see him, sharing her cigarettes.  They talk a little about how he lost the 'cycle - to the people in the burned forest after he saved them.  She says she's sorry but that's how he is and we're all stuck with that.  Darryl grunts: "No, we ain't.  Shoulda killed 'em."  He asks her what the Saviors did to her and Maggie.  Carol, who is soul-searching after her latest bout of killing 'em, says: "To us?  They didn't do anything."

Dr. Denise watches as Abraham and Eugene head out, ostensibly on a scouting mission.  She consults a map and then finds Darryl and Rosita: she knows where there is an apothecary nearby and thinks they might be able to scavenge some usable drugs from there.  The catch?  She wants to go with them.  Both Darryl and Rosita think this is a VERY BAD idea but they don't really have anything else to do and she convinces them to take her with them.

En route, Denise tries to give Darryl some pointers about driving a stick-shift beater truck since he's grinding the gears like crazy; she grew up driving trucks like that, her brother taught her.  [I call shenanigans:  there is NO WAY Darryl doesn't know how to drive a standard.]  When they come to a downed tree, they get out and walk.  Rosita suggested going along the train tracks - as it is twice as far by the road - but Darryl's all, no way, I ain't takin' no tracks (perhaps remembering the good old Terminus days).  He walks off down the road, Denise trailing behind; Rosita rolls her eyes and stomps off down the tracks.

Meanwhile, somewhere else, Abraham and Eugene have made their way to an industrial area.  Eugene has designs on a smelter, thinking that they should start making their own bullets, seeing how ammunition is very important and a finite commodity - Abraham is quite impressed with this thinking.  But Eugene also insists that he's "changed, adapted, become a survivor."  Abraham rolls his eyes a bit and when a lone zombie staggers out of a back room, moves to put it down.  Eugene insists that he can do it himself and Abraham lets him, wary.  When Eugene doesn't seem to be able to get the job done, Abraham steps in.  Eugene is furious, telling the larger man that he doesn't need him any longer, and Abraham get frustrated and takes off, leaving Eugene to find his way home alone.

Rosita rejoins Darryl and Denise without incident, and they make their way into the apothecary.  The outside windows are covered with gory handprints but inside, there's nothing but a bad smell.  As Darryl and Rosita load up their packs with every bottle on the shelves, Denise decides to explore, particularly since she hears a thudding coming from a storeroom.  I will confess to being a little nervous at this point since Denise is the obvious one to get wounded and/or killed, and it's dark and I was sure that something was going to jump out and fasten its teeth on her.  But instead she just finds one broken down, emaciated zombie with a cast on its skeletal foot.  Above this zombie, written on the wall: HUSH   HUSH   HUSH  HUSH   HUSH.  And in the sink, submerged in disgusting, murky water, is a toddler's sneaker ... on a toddler's foot, connected to, one presumes, the remains of a toddler.  Denise gasps and runs out of the shop as Darryl and Rosita look on, all WTF?  After they're done packing up the medicines, they find her outside, huddled against the wall.  It's a little more horrible outside the Alexandrian walls than she had hoped.  But Darryl tells her that she did good, finding this place, and they head for home.

When they get to the railroad tracks, Darryl walks down them, saying, "This way's faster, right?" and Rosita and Denise grin at each other.  They pass some cars as they walk and Denise can't help but check them out, looking for stuff to scavenge.  She finds a car with a cooler - and a zombie - in it.  Both Darryl and Rosita are all, never mind about that, but Denise is not to be put off.  They don't see her open the car door and pull out the cooler, the zombie tumbling out afterwards.  Denise struggles with the zombie and the other two hear that, and come running.  But she waves them off - like Eugene tried to wave off Abraham - and manages to stick her knife into the zombie's head.  Then she throws up.  But there was a six pack of soda in the cooler, so she seems to think it was worth it.  Darryl and Rosita are pretty pissed at her but she had a point to make.  She has been scared and sheltered and she needed to be brave, to get outside the walls and prove herself.  She was too afraid to tell Tara she loved her and that was stupid and she wishes that ... and right in the middle of her impassioned rant, she gets a motherfucking arrow through the back of her head, through her eye.

It's a group of Saviors, led by Dwight - the guy from the burned forest who stole Darryl's crossbow and motorcycle (so now we know how the motorcycle ended up at the Savior compound) - who still has the crossbow.  He's the one who just shot Denise.  They also have Eugene, hands tied and on his knees.  There's some speechifying by Dwight and both he and Darryl are all, I should have killed you, to each other.  Eugene spies Abraham hiding behind some oil barrels at the side of the tracks and helps escalate things by saying if the Saviors want to shoot somebody, they could start with the "first class a-hole who deserves it so much more than us three."  Heh.  Things erupt pretty quickly at this point: everyone shooting at everyone else and, awesomely, Eugene lunges forward, fastening onto Dwight's crotch WITH HIS TEETH.  Dwight screams and screams [I'm also going to call shenanigans here too: Eugene would have to have awfully strong jaws to successfully bite through jeans enough to hurt].  Dwight finally breaks away and he and his remaining Saviors take off through the woods.  Darryl snatches up his crossbox - REUNITED AT LAST - but Rosita calls him off.  Eugene has been shot and she and the other two men pick him up and carry him off.

Back in Alexandria, Eugene is okay.  The bullet just grazed him and the antibiotics that they got from the apothecary Denise found have saved him from infection.  He and Abraham make up:  "I apologize for doubting your skills.  You know how to bite a dick, Eugene, and I mean that with the utmost respect."  Some time later, Darryl buries Denise in the town's graveyard.  [I may have moaned a little, seeing his bare arms.]  Carol finds him there:  "You were right.  I knew it when you said it." I think she means that she now agrees that he should have killed Dwight in the burned forest.

And then we get a Carol voice-over, as Tobin reads the note she left over a similar montage of daily life to what opened the episode.  Basically, Carol has come around to Morgan's way of thinking.  She doesn't want to kill people anymore.  But instead of staying in Alexandria and building a life there, she has decided that she doesn't want to be involved in having to defend the town because it would mean fighting other humans:  "I love you all here.  I do.  And I'd have to kill for you.  I can't.  I won't."  Instead, she's leaving, going out on her own, and asks that no one come after.  "I can't love anyone because I can't kill for anyone.  So I'm going, like I always should have."  Which is total crap because out there, on her own, she's most likely going to have to fight and kill other people to survive.  I call shenanigans, writers.

Seriously - WTF are they doing with Carol's character?  I guess I'm okay with her questioning herself but this running away is crap.  I'm guessing she's going to get caught up by the Saviors and come into play when we finally have to deal with Negan, so this is all just a plot device, not actually being true to the character.  Stupid show.

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