Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Mini book review: Sleeping Beauties by Stephen King and Owen King

Sleeping Beauties is a 2017 collaboration between horror master Stephen King and his son.  No, not Joe Hill, pretty famous in his own right, but Owen King, who still relies on the family name.  This ponderous book follows what happens in small town Appalachia - standing in for the world - when a pandemic brings down all the women.  When a female human falls asleep, she does not wake up and becomes wrapped in a cocoon.  When the men try to take the cocoons off, the sleepers attack, violently and mindlessly - so it's better to leave them wrapped up.  A very few women stave off sleep - the insomniacs, or those with access to amphetamines or cocaine - but for the most part, the men of the world are adrift.  And that does not go well.  Oh!  And there's a supernatural woman - goddess or witch, perhaps - who has ushered in this state of things.  Some of the men want to protect her.  Some of the men don't.

I'm sounding pretty flip here but I did like Sleeping Beauties reasonably well.  It reads largely like a Stephen King book (so I wonder how much collaboration the co-authors did), with its detailed, intricate world-building and knowledge of small town life.  It's also a fairly political novel: King is liberal and it is clearly pro-feminist, as well numerous digs at the current administration.  Lots of the characters (and there are LOTS of characters) are pretty thinly sketched, including Evie, the goddess/witch, and one would think that she would be more developed, being so intrinsic to the story and all.  I wouldn't put it up with King's best works by a long shot but would put it lower-middle of the pack.

Image result for sleeping beauties stephen king

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Distractions

I don't know about you all, but the last several weeks (year+) have been rough.  I've really needed to escape from this country's current events each evening, trying to bury my head in streaming television sand. 

I just started S6 of Supernatural and I must admit that I dozed off now and again towards the end of S5.  Just like with The X-Files, I prefer monster-of-the-week episodes to mythology-arc ones and the back half of S5 was rather light on standalones. I also plowed through the newest Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt episodes: reliably weird and funny (especially Titus), although the show is hitting its hot button topics a little harder this time.  I've also seen the first two episodes of Cloak and Dagger (on Freeform): I like it, but they need to get their two leads together.  I may have to check out the comics source material.

To change genres entirely, I'm nearly through S1 of the Queer Eye reboot and I just love it, am in tears nearly every episode.  The guys bring kindness, hope and support with them and we just need so much of that right now.

Finally, I'm revisiting Dark Angel on DVD, Jessica Alba's debut vehicle.  To be honest, the show hasn't aged that well since 2000, although there is a marked improvement from the pilot to the next couple of episodes.  Still, when you're in need of a kickass sci-fi heroine in black leather, you take what you can get.

And best of all, Luke Cage S2 coming very soon - woohoo!!!

Friday, May 25, 2018

A few thoughts on Supernatural

To be completely honest, I haven't been missing television at all (although this poor little blog certainly has) in the wake of having given up cable.  I think of all the shows I used to DVR (Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, Black Lightning, iZombie, Legion, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Gotham, The Walking Dead, RuPaul's Drag Race, Better Call Saul, Fargo, Last Man on Earth (R.I.P.), Preacher ... and I'm sure there are more but I can't remember them now) and I really don't miss any of them.  Maybe Drag Race and Preacher.  And Legion.

Not even those, really.  Not too much - because I've been plowing through Supernatural as fast as I can at 2-3 episodes a night after Mr. Mouse goes to bed.  In hindsight, I can't believe I didn't start watching it right when it first aired: two years after Buffy ended, surely I needed to get a supernatural show to fill the gap.  I didn't, though, for whatever reason, and I am surely enjoying it now, having just started S5.  It's definitely testosterone-heavy (all the cool girls, be they good or evil, do seem to get killed off) but Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as the brothers Winchester are charming as hell, and there is definitely a subversive sense of humor running through the show's veins.  I can't believe it is the longest running genre television show - just renewed for its fourteenth season!  What that means for me, however, is that I've got a lot of episodes ahead of me and that makes me happy.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

A few thoughts on Shutter Island

Leo DiCaprio does a passable Boston accent, I guess, having immersed himself in it for both The Departed and Shutter Island, both Martin Scorsese films.  I haven't seen The Departed  yet but I just watched SI last night.  It's a long movie, and I confess to nodding off every now and again - perhaps I shouldn't have started it so late - but as psychological horror flicks go, it holds its own.

The movie takes place in the 1950s.  DiCaprio is Teddy Daniels, a federal marshal, sent out to Shutter Island, an inescapable island facility for the criminally insane, off the coast of Boston.  A new partner (Mark Ruffalo) goes with him as they've been tasked to find out how an inmate, a woman who drowned her three children, could have disappeared from her locked room.  There is literally no way she could have escaped and yet she is gone.  Things get weirder and more intense as Daniels starts to learn about government conspiracies and illegal human experimentation, and starts having flashbacks to his time in the army, liberating Dachau in WWII. 

I'm not a huge DiCaprio fan but he does a great job here, arcing from capable to defensive to slowly unraveling.  I guessed the twist in general terms but the movie stayed interesting and makes me want to read the Dennis Lehane book from which it was adapted. 

Image result for shutter island

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A few thoughts on Night Stalker

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Previously on The Walking Dead 

Next time on The Walking Dead

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, March 17, 2018

A couple of itty-bitty book reviews

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

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