Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Walking Dead S3E15 "This Sorrowful Life" 3/24/13

Here's the thing: this one starts off pretty weak but finishes strong.

Rick insists that they have to turn Michonne over to the Governor.  After talking to Herschel, he enlists Darryl (who is looking SO young - I think they've dyed his hair or something), but both Darryl and Herschel are uncomfortable with this plan, saying that this isn't what their group does. Still, they go along with it because they support Rick as their leader.  Rick then goes and brings Merle in on the plan.  Merle doesn't think that Rick has the cohones to go through with it but he's willing to pitch in.  Although Michael Rooker isn't really given much to work with as Merle, he absolutely makes the most of it.  Andrew Lincoln should take lessons from him and Norman Reedus.

Lots of talking, blah blah blah: Carol and Merle, Darryl and Glen.  Darryl then finds Merle poking around down in the basement laundry and the two brothers talk, Merle goading Darryl for rolling over and letting that pussy Rick be in charge.  Merle points out that the folks here look at him [Merle] like he's the devil for grabbing up Glen and Maggie and delivering them to the Governor ... and yet here they are, preparing to do the same thing to Michonne.  Darryl refuses to rise to the bait, simply saying, "I just want my brother back."  Merle gets a little teary-eyed at that and orders his little brother to get out.  After Darryl leaves, Merle for some reason puts an old desk telephone in his duffel bag.

As Herschel reads scripture with Maggie and Beth, Rick digs around in the courtyard, looking for wire to tie Michonne with (so she can't chew through it - Merle's suggestion).  Ghost Lori is there, watching him silently, and he freaks out a little, tossing the wire inside.  He goes back into the prison and finds Herschel alone, telling him that he's changed his mind - they're not giving up Michonne.

It's too late, though, because she's down in the tunnels with Merle, clearing out walkers until Merle clocks her upside the head, knocking her out.  He drags her off and somehow gets her out of the prison without anyone noticing.  After the commercial break, they walk through a little town, Merle informing her how Rick was supposed to be taking her to the Governor but couldn't go through with it.  She's very calm, under the circumstances.

Back at the prison, Rick tells a relieved Darryl that the plan is off, but that he can't find Merle and Michonne so he's going after them.  Darryl says no, you can't track for shit, I'll go.  Also, Glen asks for Herschel's permission to marry Maggie.  The old man gives it, of course, and smiles, just a little.

Merle and Michonne come to another town, or another part of the same town, and Merle ties her to a post on the porch of a motel while he tries to jumpstart a car.  He gets the vehicle going but accidentally sets off the car alarm too, which draws the interest of a whole bunch of walkers.  While Merle is wedged under the dashboard, trying to shut the alarm off, Michonne frantically shouts for his help and tries to get her hands free as the walkers lurch closer.  Merle doesn't hear her, however, and she's forced to improvise some solo bad-assery: stomping a walker's head to mush and then decapitating another one using the wire leashing her to the post.  Merle finally notices what's going on and puts down a bunch of the zombies.  He cuts Michonne's wire leash and they jump into the car and drive off.  That was pretty cool.

As they drive, Michonne gets more lines than she's had since she joined the show, using pop psychology to try to get through to her kidnapper (i.e., if you were a truly bad man, you wouldn't feel the weight of what you are doing, etc.).  Merle scoffs that she's just as much an outsider to the prison group as he is.  "Yeah," she says slowly, "but once the Governor is done with me I won't have to live with myself."

Prison.  Glen goes out to the fence, looking closely at the female walkers there.  He snips the ring finger off one of them using wire snips.  A ring for Maggie!  Hopefully he'll bleach the hell out of it before he gives it to her.

When Michonne urges him to just turn around and go back to the prison, Merle snaps, "I can't - I can't go back.  Can't you understand that?"  Then he stops the car, cuts the wire off Michonne's wrists and hands the samurai sword back to her.  "You go back and get ready for what's next.  I got something I gotta do on my own."  Stunned, Michonne gets out of the car and watches as Merle drives off without her.  I assume he thinks he can't go back because of what he did to Glen and Maggie.

After the commercials, Darryl finds Michonne killing some walkers in a field.  She tells him that Merle let her go and she let him live.  "Don't let anyone come after me," Darryl says and runs off.  Meanwhile, out in front of a roadhouse, Merle is sitting in the car, drinking whisky out of the bottle and cranking the redneck rock-and-roll.  This of course draws a bunch of walkers.  Once the car is surrounded, he drives off, slowly so they can keep up, leading them on like the most gruesome Pied Piper ever.  He takes them to the place where Rick was to meet with the Governor to hand over Michonne, then jumps out of the still moving car, letting it rolls by itself to a stop.  The walkers crowd around the car and no one notices Merle duck into one of the barns.

On the other side of the buildings, Martinez and his crew hear the blaring music and investigate.  They open fire on the walkers and, in all the confusion, Merle takes careful shots of his own, dropping several of the Governor's men before anyone notices.  Unfortunately, a zombie gets into the barn with him and attacks him, and when they crash through the door, the Governor's men are there, ready to kick Merle into submission.  The Governor strides up, roaring "Leave him to me!"  He grabs Merle around the neck and drags him back into the building where they have a brutal, ugly fight.  Merle is still dazed from the kicking he got and the Governor quickly gets the better of him, including biting two fingers off his remaining hand.  He shoves Merle down and the elder Dixon pants, "I ain't gonna beg you!"  The Governor steps back, intones "No," and calmly shoots his former right-hand man.

Prison.  Glen asks Maggie to marry him by simply handing her the ring without saying a word.  She says yes and I guess that's how marriage proposals go after the zombie apocalypse.  When they rejoin the group, Rick makes a little speech.  He confesses to what he was going to do to Michonne (everyone is stunned and horrified).  "I was wrong not to tell you and I'm sorry," he says.  He tells them that he was also wrong to want to dictate to the group: "We're the reason we're still here, not me.  How you live and how you die, it isn't up to me.  I'm not your governor ... we vote: we can stay and we can fight, or we can go."  It's about damn time he figured that out.  Afterwards, he goes up to one of the guard towers and sees Michonne walking home alone.

Back at the meeting spot, after all the living have departed, Darryl shows up.  He walks among the remaining zombies, several of which are noisily feeding on the Governor's dead men.  One of the feeding zombies, of course, is Merle - because the Governor is just enough of a psycho bastard to have shot him in the heart, not the head.  Norman Reedus's face is a symphony of emotion as he watches his dead brother come towards him: sorrow, rage, revulsion, denial, fear, horror.  Dead Merle lunges at him and Darryl just shoves him away, like a kid on a playground.  Dead Merle comes again and Darryl shoves him again.  Dead Merle comes a third time and this time Darryl's face changes, just a little, and he pulls out a huge knife.  He throws his dead brother down on the ground and stabs him in the head, over and over, screaming and crying.  When it's done, when Merle is really dead, Darryl falls back on the ground, sobbing.  He looks like just a little kid.

You know, they will probably have Rick kill the Governor but they should really let Darryl do it.  Merle was a bad guy, with very little to redeem the character even from the first time he met him, and he only got worse under the Governor's tutelage.  But there was still a spark there between him and Darryl, and he was the only blood Darryl had left.  There will be lots of blood at the season finale - that much is apparent.  I'm thinking Herschel might buy the farm, so to speak, maybe Beth, possibly Carol (although I hope not).  In the comics, pretty much everyone gets it except Rick and Carl, plus Glen and Maggie who have made a run for it before the battle begins.  I'd be okay with Rick getting killed off, but they'll never do that since he's supposed to be the hero.  But if they kill Darryl off, I will be pissed.  I think the Governor will be killed, since his usefulness seems to be at an end, and probably Martinez and Milton, and maybe Andrea.  It's time to close the book on Woodbury and move on to the next chapter.

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

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Mini movie review: Prometheus

I wanted to love Prometheus.  Really, I did, because I love Alien and Aliens so much.  And Prometheus is big and beautiful (I didn't see it in 3D, just regular 2D on my home television), and with a great cast: Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce, etc.  But I thought it was slow, and not in a creepy, tense way, and not scary, and I was underwhelmed by the aliens.  I didn't really care about any of the characters because the movie took more time being slow and beautiful and didn't spend any time with the people so you could get to know them before they got killed off.  Beautiful, yes, but boring - and an Alien movie should NOT be boring.

Also, what the hell sort of biologist would look at that rearing, hissing, alien snake thing and want to cuddle it?  What a moron.  It's an angry alien cobra, for chrissakes.  I kind of had a hard time taking the rest of the movie seriously after that.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Walking Dead S3E14 "Prey" 3/17/13

This show clearly does better when the episodes are more focused, like the very good "Clear" and this fairly decent episode.  This time it's the Woodbury folks we get to spend our hour with, Andrea in particular, and although the cat-and-mouse with her and the Governor ran a little long for me, it wasn't half bad.

Flashback.  Andrea, Michonne and Michonne's armless, jawless walkers hunker down around a campfire out in the woods.  Andrea tries to get her friend to talk, and does manage to elicit from her that she knew her pet walkers before they got zombified.  Michonne isn't really feeling chatty, though, and mutters, "They deserved what they got.  They weren't human to begin with."  Then she walks off into the night.  I'm not sure what the point of all that was.

Now.  In some hidden chamber, the Governor rigs up manacles on chains between two posts.  [If this follows the comic at all, Michonne is going to be strung up there at some point.]  He lays out some horrible instruments, including a speculum (WTF is he planning to do with that?!?), a scalpel and a bone saw.  Eeeuw.  Milton watches him from the doorway and finally asks, what is this?  The Governor smiles:  "My workshop."  A disturbed Milton asks how this could possibly help the town, how it helps them rebuild.  He tells the Governor that he understands the business with Michonne, and how sad it was about his daughter, but he thinks they should just leave the folks at the prison alone: "It's done.  It doesn't matter."  The Governor: "It's all that matters."

While Caesar Martinez and his thugs get ready for tomorrow's "meeting" with Rick, Milton finds Andrea and tells her that there's no deal - that the Governor is planning on killing Rick's people and unless he hands over Michonne.  She's all, I have to stop this.  He shows her the Governor's workshop and she stares into the room in horror.  Milton tells her to get out of town and warn Rick's people.  Andrea: "No.  I have to kill him.  This is sick and I can't just stand back ..." They hush up and lean back into the shadows when the Governor comes into the room, fussing with his equipment, sitting in the old dentist's chair he's set up, whistling a creepy little tune.  Andrea pulls out her pistol and almost shoots him but Milton grabs her hand, stopping her.  He still remembers when the Governor was a sane, nice man.  Later, Andrea tells Milton that if he's going to stay in town, he can't keep looking the other way.

She stalks towards the wall but is accosted by Martinez, who says that the Governor is collecting all the guns so the folks going out to the "meeting" will be best supplied.  "I think I'm more effective armed," she snaps but he insists and she ends up handing over her gun and spare clip.  The Governor catches up with her then and apologizes for not telling her this was happening, saying he wants her with him for the "meeting" tomorrow.  She's pretty smooth when she promises to be there at his side.

Tyrese and Sasha are on guard duty at the main gate, taking pot shots at walkers (Tyrese is a terrible shot) when Andrea finally shows up.  She tries to shoo them off their post but they won't budge, so she bites the bullet, so to speak, and tells them that she's leaving town.  "I can't stay here.  The Governor, he's not who he seems to be ... he's done terrible things and he's planning worse.  I gotta get out of here."  They try to talk her out of it but she jumps over the wall and runs off.  Tyrese and Sasha then go report the encounter to the Governor.  He thanks them, saying that Andrea is a little damaged from her winter out in the world.  They say they hope this hasn't hurt their chance for a life in Woodbury and he says no, not at all, just help out where you're needed.  The Governor heads out to hunt Andrea down and Milton catches him, asking him to let her go - she just wants to be with her people.  The Governor snarls at him, shoving him up against a wall, "You talked to her?  What else did you tell her?  About the deal? About Michonne?"  He gives Milton another shove and takes off.

Andrea runs down the road until she hears a truck coming.  She ducks into the woods as the vehicle passes and is immediately besieged by walkers.  One grabs her from behind around a tree trunk, pinning her but not readily able to bite her; more stack up in front of her.  In an impressive display of bad-assery, she keeps calm and starts stabbing with her little knife, then taking off running again.  I still don't like her much but that was nicely done.

Martinez brings Tyrese, Sasha, Allen and his son, as well as some other townfolk, out to the pits where they keep their captive walkers.  The plan is to load some of them into horse trailers to use against Rick's people.  Tyrese and Sasha are appalled at the thought of intentionally using zombies against other humans while Allen is all, whatever, don't fuck this up for me and my son.  (I totally didn't recognize Allen as the guy who came to the prison with Tyrese and really don't care about him at all.)  He and Tyrese start shouting at each other, then shoving, then Tyrese kicks Allen's ass until Martinez breaks it up: "You guys are very helpful.  [So-and-so], take them back to town so they can do some knitting."

Andrea runs through a field, hearing that truck again.  It's the Governor, hunting her.  He sees her and comes barreling across the field towards her, nearly running her down, blaring the truck's horn like a crazy person (which, of course, he totally is).  She makes it into the safety of the woods just in time.  As the sun sets, she finds an old factory, ducking into it as the Governor drives up.  It gets dark very quickly and then there's a whole TEN MINUTE scene where she hides from him, and he tries to find her, and they each kill some random zombies, and he does that creepy whistling and then goes extra crazy and smashes a bunch of windows with the shovel he's currently using as a weapon.  Andrea finds a door that she thinks will get her out but when she opens it, it opens to a stairwell crowded with milling walkers.  She closes the door quickly and when she turns around, the Governor is there.  As he advances on her, she goes back into that stairwell, hiding behind the opened door as all those walkers lurch towards the Governor.  He shouts and screams and fights them off with his shovel and his gun but they swarm him.  Andrea watches for a while from the door then gets the fuck out of there, assuming she's left him to his death.  She calmly dispatches another couple of walkers on her way out, no big deal.  I sort of hope she's going to steal his truck but she doesn't.

Also that night, out at the Woodbury pits, someone drives up, pours gasoline all over the walkers in the trailer and the pit, and torches them.  We never see who does it but we're meant to think it's either Tyrese or Milton.  My money's on Milton.

In the morning, Andrea reaches the prison.  With a big grin on her face, she steps to the edge of the woods, arms raised to wave to Rick whom she can see patrolling on one of the guard towers.  But before he can see her, the Governor springs out of the bushes, clamping his hand over her mouth and dragging her down to the ground.  Rick sees some movement out of the corner of his eye but when he checks through his binoculars, all he sees are milling walkers.  Poor Andrea - so close.

The Governor drives back into town, pausing to tell Martinez that he didn't find Andrea.  Martinez updates him on the torched pit walkers, saying he thinks it could have been Tyrese.  The Governor says he'll want to talk with them, plus Martinez needs to go out and get more biters.  When he meets with Tyrese et als., Tyrese says that he doesn't like the idea of feeding humans to the zombies.  The Governor chuckles, saying that the zombies are only for intimidation - he would never feed people to them.  Tyrese apologizes for losing it out at the pit, saying that his mouth sometimes gets away from him and he won't let it happen again.  No worries, says the Governor.  As he leaves, he turns back and asks, "Where'd you get the gasoline?"  Tyrese: ????? The Governor nods.

Out on the street, he runs into Milton, who asks about Andrea.  Didn't find her, going to keep looking.  Milton says it's a shame about the pits and he hopes the Governor will find out who did it.  The Governor: "Already did."  The two men glare at each other for a bit and then move on.

The camera pans slowly through the Governor's awful workshop.  And there's poor Andrea, cuffed to that dentist's chair, gag in her mouth, eyes wide and trying not to panic.  It really doesn't look good for her, that's for sure.

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

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


We've had house guests for the past five days, so I have a lot of television watching to catch up on, including the latest episode of The Walking Dead, which I haven't even seen (much less recapped). I'll get it up here before the next episode airs.  In the meantime, here's a blog-theme appropriate video for your viewing pleasure:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Walking Dead S3E13 "Arrow on the Doorpost" 3/10/13

Rick, Darryl and Herschel drive up to an old farm out in the boondocks.  Leaving the well-armed Herschel with the car, Rick and Darryl head towards the barn, Darryl circling the perimeter, Rick going inside.  The barn is illogically spotless, with a table set up in a square of sunlight in the middle of the floor.  Also, the Governor is there.  Andrea facilitated the meeting between him and Rick.  "We have a lot to talk about," says the Governor.  As Rick points his gun at him, the Governor pointedly takes off his own gun and holster and hangs it on a peg.  Rick holsters his weapon but keeps it on his hip.  "Suit yourself," smirks the Governor, but he's got a secret pistol taped to the underside of the table.

Outside, Darryl goes back to Herschel to tell him that the Governor is already here and that he and Rick are beginning their palaver.  Darryl doesn't like the feel of things and the two of them get even twitchier when Andrea, Caesar (the Governor's latest right hand man since Merle's defection) and Milton drive up.  Darryl asks why the Governor showed up early and Andrea shakes her head, "He's here?"  She self-importantly stomps into the barn and inserts herself into the ongoing conversation there.  Rick says that he knows all about what the Governor has done - the raids, the fights, Maggie.  The Governor says, "Merle did that."  Rick: "You know what I'm talking about."  Andrea is all, I don't know.  Back outside, Darryl and Caesar snipe verbally at each other a bit.

Prison.  Glen has everyone arm themselves and get ready in case they need to defend themselves against a Woodbury attack.  Merle thinks they should go out to the meeting place and kill the Governor while he's out of the town.  Glen's all, no, it's too risky, we stay here.

The meeting.  Rick wants to split the countryside up so the prison dwellers and Woodbury will leave each other alone.  The Governor scoffs and says he's only interested in Rick's surrender.  Andrea tries to mediate and they toss her out.

Editorial note:  This is a tough episode to recap because it's basically two men sitting and talking, saying a lot of the same things over and over again.  Rick refuses to surrender even in the face of overwhelming odds.  The Governor isn't interested in negotiating much.  It's a lot of the same, going round and round, although it does get more interesting by the end.  There's posturing on both sides, Rick and the Governor feeling each other out, both of them at least a little nuts, both of them a little honest at times.  The Governor turns on his charm and for a while it seems Rick is not entirely immune to it, eventually having a drink of the whiskey the Governor brought with him.

Outside, the rest of them begin to talk a little.  We learn that Milton is recording the events, writing a history of the apocalypse and its aftermath.  When some zombies intrude, Andrea, Caesar and Darryl go to take care of it.  Andrea drops the first one and then, hilariously, Darryl and Caesar start one-upping each other in measuring their dicks, by which I mean increasingly impressive zombie kills.  Andrea rolls her eyes and walks away.  Afterwards, Darryl finds a pack of cigarettes in one of the dead walker's pockets.  He offers one to Caesar, who says that he prefers menthols.  Darryl: "Douchebag."  They start talking: Caesar is just a regular guy who fell in with the Governor after he lost his wife and children to the walkers.  Caesar: "You know this is a joke, right?  They'll do their little dance and then, the next day, we'll get the word."  Darryl:  "I know."  And then he hands Caesar a cigarette after all.

Meanwhile, Herschel and Milton are talking.  Milton asks what happened to Herschel's leg and is impressed and intrigued that he survived a zombie bite.  He asks to see Herschel's stump.  Herschel:  "I'm not showing you my leg.  I just met you - at least buy me a drink first."  Heh.  They laugh and it's a nice moment, making it all the more sad that these two groups will never get along because of the stubbornness and insanity of their respective leaders.

Rick and the Governor, blah blah blah.  The Governor says he can't back down to Rick because he'll look weak to his people ... but the two of them are going to end up killing everyone they know and love.  It's a lot of talk and christ we're only halfway done.

Prison.  Merle is arming himself to go after Rick, Darryl, etc.  Glen, Maggie and Michonne end up tussling with him until Beth breaks up the fight by firing a pistol into the ceiling.  Afterwards, Merle approaches Michonne and asks her to come with him.  She can "shogun the Governor's ass and [he']ll take care of the others."  She refuses, telling him he's on his own.  Out on one of the catwalks, Maggie finds Glen on watch.  She reaches out to him and they finally really talk, Glen apologizing for making it all about him when they got back from Woodbury, Maggie saying that she just wanted him to see her. They tell each other "I love you" and embrace and kiss, and then it starts getting hot until Glen says he can't do it out in front of all the watching zombies.  They go inside, closing the doors, and rip off each other's clothes.  Naked sex!

The meeting.  Herschel excuses himself to Milton and goes to talk with Andrea who is sitting by herself, wondering WTF she's doing.  She asks him what happened to Maggie but all Herschel says is, "He's a sick man."  Andrea: "What am I going to do now? I can't go back there!"  Herschel tells her that she's family and she belongs with them, but if she joins them, it's settled.  Andrea doesn't know what to do.  Inside the barn, Rick and the Governor keep talking and talking.  "This fight will go down to the last man.  So let's end it, today.  Let's not do this - we can walk away."  The Governor tells Rick that there's only one thing he really wants, and it's not the prison, not getting rid of Rick and his people.  He pulls off his eye patch and shows Rick his raw, empty eye socket.  He wants Michonne.  He asks Rick if one woman is worth all the rest of the lives of the people at the prison.  "You could save your son, save your daughter, save everyone you know.  It's your choice."  He promises that he'll leave them all alone and gives Rick two days to think about it.  "I'll be back here at noon."  The meeting over, the two groups split again and drive to their respective homes.  Andrea returns to Woodbury with the Governor.  She totally sucks ... unless she's planning on being a double agent.

Woodbury.  Privately (but with Milton overhearing), the Governor tells Caesar to set up around the barn at the next meeting and when Rick's group shows up, to kill everyone except Michonne who is to be kept alive.  Milton is horrified, saying that there'll be a slaughter.  The Governor: "Not for our side.  We're going to have to eliminate Rick sooner or later - might as well do it now."

Prison.  Upon their return, Rick gathers everyone together and tells them to get ready for war.  He does not tell the group about the Governor's request for Michonne, but later he does confide in Herschel, saying that he could save everyone by sacrificing her.  Herschel wants to know why Rick is telling him this.  Rick: "Because I'm hoping you can talk me out of it."

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

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Recently read

With the imminent arrival of house guests, I haven't been getting all that much reading done - too much house-cleaning to catch up on.  I have, however, managed to squeeze in a couple of things:

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill - After reading the short story collection, 20th Century Ghosts, and his second novel, Horns, I became a Joe Hill fan.  It's not surprising, I suppose, because I am a huge fan of his father's work and Hill writes a bit like him, same super-natural/horrific subject matter, same engaging accessibility, same gift with characters, but without the tendency to run long.  Hill's first novel, Heart-Shaped Box, is a solid, exciting, ghost story thriller with an unusual protagonist - you don't often see aging shock rockers as main characters in novels.  HSB moves along quickly - perhaps a little too quickly as I would have like it to stretch out a little longer.  It has plenty of scares and a good lesson to be learned: whatever you do, don't buy a ghost off eBay.

Kick-Ass by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. - I had a bemused reaction to the movie version of Kick-Ass but was interested enough to want to read the comics the movie was taken from, which was the first eight books of the series.  The comics are much darker (the guy doesn't get the girl and Big Daddy is a seriously twisted dude) and incredibly gory and violent.  I can see why they would have lightened things up for the movie a bit although in doing so, the humor just doesn't quite click; there is not much humor in the comics.  I don't see continuing to read more issues but I feel like I understand the movie a little better now having read the source material.

PS - I'll update this with links shortly.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

The Walking Dead S3E12 "Clear" 3/3/13

Rick, Carl and Michonne are making that run, out to find more weapons and ammunition.  It's tense inside the car: Michonne is driving and glowering, per usual; Carl is sulking in the back; Rick is trying to keep the crazy reined in.  As they go, they blow by a hitchhiker with a big orange backpack.  The guy screams desperately for them to pick him up: "I'm begging you - pleeeeeease!" Michonne doesn't even touch the brakes - that's cold, even for this crew.  A little ways down the road, they have to drive on the shoulder to get around a wreck, eventually getting the little car stuck in some mud.  Suddenly, the car is surrounded by walkers.  Rick, Michonne and Carl seem bored by this more than anything.  Rick cracks his window, sticks out his pistol (not a euphemism) and tells the other two to cover their ears.  Cut to an exterior shot of the car surrounded by dead zombies.  That's awesome, that the show doesn't feel the need to show us the carnage: it just happens.  Rick and Carl find some stuff to put under the car's wheels for traction, Carl bitching about why Michonne had to come on this run.  Of course, she can hear everything they say because the windows are down.  As they get the car unstuck and take off again, the hapless hitchhiker comes around the corner and screeches at them to wait for him.  They don't.

They pull into a town - which happens to be Rick and Carl's hometown [here I have a geography quibble: how long have they been driving?  The group was on the move for months over the winter and yet the prison is only a short drive from Rick's town?  Maybe the drive for this supply run is much longer  but nothing indicates an overnight (or overnights) trip].  They immediately go to the sheriff's office, finding it completely stripped clean, although Michonne does find one bullet that she gives to Rick.  He says that there used to be some guns at some of the bars and the liquor store so they decide to check those places.  As they walk through town, there's a lot of graffiti warning people away, plus a pile of charred corpses in a vacant lot.  When they turn onto the main street, they are surprised to find it transformed into a gauntlet, a zombie kill zone set up with barbed wire, spears and booby traps, baited with live pigeons and rats in cages.  They walk through carefully and get a chance to see how the gauntlet works when a zombie tries to follow them in.  The zombie gets caught in the barbed wire and then, before they can do anything about it, its head blows apart. They turn to see a man on a rooftop, wearing a helmet and waving a rifle at them.  He tells them to leave their guns, their shoes and Michonne's sword.  So then everyone starts firing at each other.  The guy comes off the roof and manages to pin Rick down, almost gets him too, until Carl pops up and shoots the guy in the chest.  He goes down hard and they check him out, discovering that he's wearing body armor and is still alive.  When they pull off his helmet, Rick recognizes him: it's Morgan from S1E1, the guy who saved Rick's life when he didn't know anything about the zombie apocalypse.

They take Morgan back up to his second floor rooms, dodging the booby traps he's set up: a knife-filled pit under the welcome mat, trips wires that spring nasty axes right at head level.  His rooms are filled with all the guns and ammo from the sheriff's department (plus a lot more, it's a frickin' arsenal) plus stores of food and crazy writing covering the walls - like CLEAR and THE DOORKNOB YOU HAD THE KNIFE and EVERYONE TURNS and, sadly, DUANE TURNED, etc., etc.  Rick puts the unconscious man on his cot, tying his hands, and the three of them start bagging up weapons.  Rick finds the walkie he left with Morgan back in the day and gets a pang of guilt, telling Carl and Michonne that they're not going to leave until he wakes up.  Michonne is not enamored of this idea, saying Morgan is crazy and dangerous.  Rick: "I know him."  Michonne: "He wasn't like this then."  Carl finds a map of the town that Morgan has drawn on the walls; there's a notation saying Rick's house, and the surrounding neighborhood, are all burned out.  "It's gone," Carl mutters.  Michonne helps herself to some snacks.  When Rick is all, "we're eating his food now?", she replies "Mat said welcome."  Heh.

Carl announces that he's heading out to the baby store around the corner because he wants to get a crib for Judith.  Rick doesn't love that idea but Michonne says she'll go too.  Carl is not enamored of that idea but he can't keep her from following him.  He tries to give her the slip out on the street but she finds him, gone right past the baby store and looking in the windows of a cafe.

Back at the apartment, Morgan wakes up, in full crazy mode, stealthily pulling a knife from under the cot and launching himself at Rick.  They struggle and fight, Rick hollering that Morgan knows him.  "I don't know anyone anymore," Morgan shouts, shoving the knife into Rick's shoulder.  Rick throws him off, "You know me, you crazy sonofabitch!" and aiming his gun at Morgan's head.  Morgan collapses, crying, "Please kill me."  After the commercial break, Rick bandages up his shoulder and reminds Morgan of what happened when Morgan saved his life.  It takes some doing but he finally gets through to the other man.  Morgan remembers, remembers how he kept waiting for Rick to call him on the walkie: "You were not there!"  Rick stammers that he had people, was trying to keep them safe, kept getting pushed further out into the country.  Morgan:  "Did your wife turn?"  Rick says no, she died.  And then, heartbreakingly, Morgan tells him about what happened to him: how he was unable to kill his wife with the gun Rick left him, and then later, when he and his son Duane were out scavenging for food, his zombified wife cornered Duane, and then she was just on him, and then Morgan had to kill both his wife and his son.  Lennie James knocks it out of the part here - he's so good.  Rick sits and listens, and you can see on his face that it's slowly starting to sink in for him:  that he's in much better shape than he could be, better than Morgan is, and that maybe he should start pulling himself together and counting himself lucky because it could be so very much worse.  Morgan: "The good people always die, and the bad people too, but the weak people, like me, we have inherited the earth."

Michonne is all, why are we here and not picking out cribs?  Carl: "I want to get Judith something from here first."  They peer into the cafe and see that it is full of quiescent zombies.  Carl says he's got a plan and she can't stop him.  Michonne: "Well, you can't stop me from helping you."  They get a couple of the caged rats and some skateboards, strapping the cages to the boards and quietly rolling them into the cafe.  While all the zombies pigpile on the cages, trying to get at the tasty treats inside, the humans sneak into the cafe.  Carl climbs up on the bar, pulling down a framed photograph of himself, his mom and his dad in happier, pre-zombie times.  A hidden zombie grabs his ankle but Michonne silently stabs it in the head.  They are almost safely out when one of the rats gets out of the cage and scurries towards them, drawing all the zombies with it.  The walkers chase the humans and they barely make it out, slamming the doors behind them.  But Carl has dropped his picture and is furious when Michonne won't let him go back in for it.  "It's the only one left!" he cries, remembering that his house is all burned up. Michonne's all, cut your bullshit and stay here, and this is how we'll get it done.  While Carl sulks at the front doors, she disappears around the corner of the building.  An unrealistically short time later, she comes back and hands him the photo.  Carl smiles up at her, thanking her and saying that he thought his sister should know what her mom looked like.  Michonne shrugs and says it was no big deal.  "Beside," she says with a straight face, showing him a gaudy, rainbow-striped papier mache cat that she also grabbed, "I couldn't leave this behind.  It's just too damn gorgeous."  Carl looks at the cat and looks at her, just barely concealing his smile.

Rick and Morgan talk some more, Rick trying to convince Morgan to come back to the prison with them.  Morgan refuses, noting that Rick is taking an awful lot of guns back with him, and correctly surmising that someone is trying to take what Rick's got away from him.  "You will be torn apart, by teeth or bullets, you and your boy."  He says that he can't go through it again.  It's horrible here but he knows what he has to do: "I have to clear."   He's staying put.  A frustrated Rick doesn't argue anymore but grabs up his bags of guns and leaves.

Down on the street, Rick meets up with Michonne and Carl, who are toting a playpen between them, while Morgan "clears" the dead and entangled zombies from his gauntlet.  The three of them walk past him and Michonne quietly asks Rick if Morgan is okay.  Rick: No, he's not.  Carl pauses to tell Morgan that he's sorry for shooting him.  Morgan:  "Hey, son, don't ever be sorry."  They get the car loaded up and Rick asks Carl if everything went okay with Michonne out there.  Carl smiles and says, "I think she might be one of us.  Everything went okay."  When Carl gets into the car, Michonne comes up to Rick, who is gazing off into the distance, and says, "You see something?  I know you see things, people.  I used to talk to my dead boyfriend.  It happens."  Rick shrugs: "You want to drive?"  Michonne says yes.  Rick:  "Good, 'cause I see things."

Things are less tense in the car on the drive back.  When they get back to that wreck, there's a godawful mess on the side of the road: meat and guts and shredded clothes and lots of blood - all that's left of that poor hitchhiker.  They do pull over and pick up his untouched backpack, just in case there are any supplies in there that they can use.

Now THAT is how you do a goddamn Walking Dead episode!

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

Lame ass excuse for a blogger

Damn it, I did it again - went the whole week without getting the recap of The Walking Dead up here.  I'm so sorry!  And it was finally a good episode too: focused, funny and heart-wrenching, with some sorely-needed character development and interaction.  Even with no Darryl whatsoever, I liked it a lot.  I'll get it as soon as I can.  In the meantime, I know I'm lame.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mini movie review: Sucker Punch

My first thought upon finishing Sucker Punch was incoherent.  No, my thoughts weren't incoherent; that's what the movie was - an incoherent, lightweight piece of throwaway entertainment.  I could see what writer/director Zack Snyder was trying to do: a young girl (they made her 20 years old so they could sexualize her without making it completely creepy) gets institutionalized after her beloved mother dies and she attacks her skeevy stepfather and accidentally kills her beloved little sister.  In the mental hospital, she creates a fantasy world to escape into - a brothel where the beautiful, young whores must dance for their customers - and in her fantasy, she creates another fantasy world where she and her sisters-in-bondage kick all kinds of ass.  The three worlds all intersect and impact each other and by the end, the heroine helps one of her friends escape the brothel/mental institution but sacrifices herself via lobotomy because she can't bear what she did to her sister.

As you might surmise, Sucker Punch is just a big mess, all style (and it is fairly gorgeous to look at) and very little substance.  I can understand the girl (whose only name we learn is "Baby Doll" ugh) creating a fantasy to escape into - see Pan's Labyrinth for a successful example - but why for hell's sake would she choose to escape into a brothel?  Her quest in the second, ass-kicking fantasy goes on too long: guided by mystical Scott Glenn, she must find five items to help her escape.  Five is too many, Zack - three would have been plenty.  But no, you could tell Snyder was thinking, "Let's have her fight giant demon samurai.  And then steampunk Nazi zombies - that'll be great!  And after the Nazi zombies, how about orcs and a couple of dragons? Ooh!  And after the dragons, a speeding train caper!"  It's just too much.  Not to mention that Emily Browning as Baby Doll is stiff and uncomfortable-looking; we never get to see her actually perform her magic dances that entrance her audience/allow her to enter the second fantasy world.  It's just as well.  She has more personality AFTER the lobotomy.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Walking Dead S3E11 "I Ain't a Judas" (2/24/13)

Prison.  The gang gripes and fights amongst themselves about whether to cut and run or hunker down in the dark like rats. Merle is of the opinions that they should have scarpered last night but now that they've waited so long, the Governor probably has scouts on every road.  They're outmanned and outgunned and he can just starve them out if he wants.  They all start snapping at each other - Maggie at Merle, Herschel at Rick: "Get your head clear and do something!"  So Rick takes a gun and goes out to a catwalk, staring dolefully at the many, many walker lurching around in their once-cleared field.  Carl joins him for a bit, telling his dad that he should stop be the group's leader:  "Let Darryl and Herschel handle things.  You deserve a rest."  He's not wrong, Rick.

Woodbury.  The Governor has Milton tally up all the able-bodied townsfolk so he can build his army.  Including the adolescents, they have 38 potential soldiers.  The Governor says that everyone  is to be armed and in training as soon as possible.  Andrea barges in and demands to know what happened at the prison.  The Governor bold-facedly lies to her, saying he went in peacefully and Rick's crew just started firing on them.  She announces that she's going to see her old friends to settle things down.  "They're hostile," he warns, " ... you go to that prison, [then] stay there."

Prison.  Glen is all agitated, wanting Merle out of the prison.  He doesn't care how: kick him out, deliver him to the Governor as a peace offering, whatever.  Herschel visits for a while with the man in question and they talk a bit, friendly enough, quoting Scripture back and forth.  Herschel seems surprised that Merle would know his Bible verses so well but Merle simply says that Woodbury had a great library and it's one of the few things he misses about the town.  Then he tells Herschel that when the Governor comes back, he'll kill Merle first, then Michonne, then Darryl and Glen, then Herschel and the women and the children, leaving Rick for last so he can watch all his friends die.  "That's the man you're dealing with."

Carol checks in on Darryl.  He looks very young in this scene (and very pretty, sweat and dirt notwithstanding).  She says: "He's your brother but he's not good for you.  Don't let him bring you down.  After all, look how far you've come."  Darryl looks around him at the scurvy cell they're sitting in and then they both burst into giggles.

Woodbury.  Andrea runs around, trying to keep the Governor from assembling his army.  She finds Milton and tells him she needs him to cover for her when she leaves for the prison.  When he refuses, she goes further and asks him to help get her out of town.  Meanwhile, the Governor examines the ruins of his eye.  It's gross.  Milton shows up, reporting what Andrea's asked of him.  The Governor tells him to help her.  Milton:  "Okay, do you really want me to do that or is this some sort of test?"  The Governor chuckles and replies, "She asked for help, [so] help her."

Out in the woods, sometime later.  Andrea and Milton capture a walker.  As Milton holds it down, she proceeds to Michonne-ize it, amputating both of its arms at the elbow and crushing its teeth out of its head with a rock.  It's pretty gruesome to watch, even being a zombie.  After they get the maimed walker into a collar, a couple more zombies stagger out of the underbrush.  Before Andrea and Milton can react, Tyrese jumps out and crushes the loose zombies' skulls with his shovel.  Hi, Tyrese!  When Sasha, Alan and Ben join them, Andrea and Milton explain about Woodbury, offering to bring the group in.  Tyrese et als. are grateful, tired of being on their own.  As Andrea moves off into the woods with her pet zombie, Tyrese asks if she needs any help.  Nope, she says cheerfully.

Prison.  Merle speaks with Michonne, telling her that his hunting her down was just him following the Governor's orders.  "Anyway, I hope we can get past it - let bygones be bygones."  Michonne rolls her eyes but doesn't try to stab him, so I guess they're mending fences.  Maggie and Carl are out on watch when they see Andrea and her zombie coming out of the forest.  They come up through the infested field, Andrea taking out any walkers that get too close.  While Maggie keeps Andrea in her rifle's sights, Carl fetches everyone else out into the prison yard.  They stand there with their guns, watching their old friend approach.  After some hesitation, they open the gates and let her in, shoving her to the ground and binding her hands behind her.

Inside, Andrea stares at her former friends.  They are exhausted, hungry, filthy, watching her with haunted and distrustful eyes.  Carol does give her a hug, saying they all thought she was dead.  Incredulous, Andrea asks after Shane, Lori and T-Dogg.  Her heart breaks for these people but they don't trust her and most of them won't even meet her gaze.  They tell her what really happened when the Governor visited the prison; they tell her that the Governor almost killed Michonne and would have killed Glen and Maggie.  She protests that she didn't even know they were in town.  When they ask her why she's here, she says "he's gearing up for war and I'm trying to stop it."  Glen snarls that they'll fight that war and Darryl promises to take the Governor's other eye.  Rick: "If you want to make this right, get us inside."

Later, Michonne and Andrea talk alone, Andrea protesting that she didn't abandon Michonne - she just wanted a more normal life.  Michonne shakes her head, saying that the Governor has Andrea under his spell.  "You chose a warm bed over a friend.  That's why I went back to Woodbury: to expose him for what he is.  I knew it would hurt you."  Andrea cries a little.  Seriously, though, she's about the dumbest character currently on this show.  And that's counting all the mush-brained biters.

Woodbury.  The Governor welcomes Tyrese and his people, who have noticed that the town seems to be gearing up for something.  The Governor says they were recently attacked and, as they talk, it comes out that Tyrese et als. were recently in the prison with Rick's group, the Governor and Milton get very interested.  Alan says that if they "need help with [Rick], we're in."  And Tyrese says they just want to do whatever they can to earn their keep.  The Governor smiles, telling them to get comfortable and feel safe.

Prison.  Carol and Andrea fuss over baby Judith a bit, Carol bringing the other woman up to speed on all that's happened since the farm.  Then, Carol looks Andrea right in the eye and tells her: "Sleep with him, give him the greatest night of this life and get him to drop his guard.  Then, when he's sleeping, you can end this."  Andrea looks back at her, aghast.  A little later, they give her a spare car so she can get back to Woodbury.  She looks around at her former friends but not one of them gives her a goodbye hug, or even a smile.  Rick does return her weapons to her, though, and tells her to be careful.  And then Andrea drives off, picking her way through the milling biters.  She looks back at her old companions in the rearview mirror: there are so few of them left and they look so small and lost.

Woodbury.  After Andrea gets back to town (where she is hassled a little by the folks on watch), she goes straight to the Governor.  She tells him that she went to the prison (duh) and says "they're broken, living in horrible conditions."  She confirms that Michonne and Merle are both there.  He asks if Rick sent her back but she says no, "That was my call."  The Governor, touching her cheek: "[It's] because you belong here."  Then they start making out.

Prison.  Everyone sits around in the dark, moping.  Beth starts singing a Tom Waits song as the camera pans from face to face.  Darryl, Herschel and Rick talk together about Andrea's visit.  Rick has decided to go on a run with Michonne and Carl to pick up more guns, ammo and food so they can get ready for the Governor's next attack.  Darryl is to be in charge while he's gone - and if Merle fucks things up, he's got to take care of it.  Darryl nods.

Woodbury.  Tom Waits starts singing his song now.  After sex, the Governor is asleep, unguarded. Naked Andrea gets out of bed and picks up a knife.  She stands over him with it for a long time, staring at the blade, staring at him.  But of course she doesn't go through with it - she's so frigging dumb - so things are going to get a lot bloodier for our heroes before this is all over.

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