Thursday, December 24, 2015

Just discovered: Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries

Thanks to this article, I put the Australian import Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries in my Netflix queue and last night I gave it a try.  I was so delighted with S1E1 that, despite it already being past my bedtime, I just had to watch the next episode.  You see, Phryne Fisher (pronounced "Fry-nee" and played with panache by Essie Davis, recently of The Babadook (which I still haven't seen)) is a fantastic character and one unlike almost any on television - Agent Carter comes closest.

In the first episode, Miss Fisher returns to 1920s Melbourne after some unspecified time abroad, and wastes little time setting up shop as an amateur detective, in part because playing cards is "boring."  She apparently grew up poor but as a result of WWI, inherited a title and scads of money.  She is a flapper in her 30s or early 40s (again, unspecified, but one character calls her a "spinster") - she is gorgeous and exquisitely garbed in beaded gowns, high-waisted pants, marabou feather boas and Chinese silk kimonos.  She is very smart, clever, funny, perceptive, loyal and generous, but doesn't suffer fools.  When she is smarter than all the men in the room, she deftly sidesteps their chauvinism and goes on doing what she wants.  She drinks, drives scarily fast, carries a golden gun and thinks nothing of climbing up the outside of buildings.  She loves men and has plenty of casual sex, all on her own terms; she refers to her diaphragm as "family planning."  By the end of the second episode, she has acquired a new maid, sportscar, foster child, mansion, butler, two hired men/drivers and the grudging respect of the handsome detective inspector. 

Her first two cases involved not only murders, but also cocaine trafficking, rape and illegal abortions, gambling and abused orphans - but the show has a soft touch and a light tone.  Phyrne Fisher is simply marvelous and I can't wait to see what else she does. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Bits and pieces

Things do fall off around here when I don't have a regular recapping gig, don't they?  Plus schedules tend to get out of whack around the holidays and everyone is flitting about, hither and thither.  Mr. Mouse and I haven't done too much hither and thither-ing, luckily, and our holiday plans are contentedly at-home.  We just finished watching the second season of Fargo, which is the one of the few scripted shows we watch together (Better Call Saul will be the next, when it returns in February).  If you haven't been watching Fargo (or Better Call Saul, or Justified, for that matter), you really should.  This second season had a much higher body count than the also-excellent S1; it was also funnier and just full to bursting with a talented cast.

I also recently watched Jessica Jones which I absolutely loved.  I had thought to say something profound about it, but sites like the A.V. Club and The Mary Sue are full of well-written recaps and articles; just google it and you'll find oceans of discussion.  It isn't easy to watch with its discussion of sexual, emotional and psychological abuse, but it is an important discussion.  Krysten Ritter is phenomenal in the title role, ably portraying the complex, damaged Jessica.  If the only thing you've seen David Tennant in is Doctor Who, you're in for a shock:  he is charming, yes, but also terrifying as the sociopathic, abusive victim.  The rest of the cast is really good too and it's refreshing to have most of the major players be women.

In stark (pun intended) contrast to Marvel's strong, grounded Netflix offerings is Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron.  I watched it last night and, as much as I love Joss Whedon's work, this one left me underwhelmed.  And exhausted, frankly, from all the CGI battles.  After watching the more realistic fights and stuntwork in both Jessica Jones and Daredevil, the AoU CGI just left me cold.  I appreciated the small character moments and humor - Natasha and Bruce; Hawkeye getting some actual lines; everyone giving Captain America a hard time for being an old fogy - but it all just seemed overstuffed and a bit frantic.  I will say that James Spader knocked it out of the park with his Ultron voice work.

What's next around here?  I'm watching S2 of Sherlock and also the Tenth Doctor on Doctor Who, and next up in my DVD queue is the remainder of S4 of Game of Thrones (so far behind!).  I just finished S2 of Penny Dreadful which I ADORE and am anxious to continue on with S3.  There's always something - and I'm always up for suggestions.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Mini book review: The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

The Museum of Extraordinary Things, by Alice Hoffman, is historical fiction taking place in New York City in the early 1900s.  It is told from a couple points of view: Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant making his living as a photographer in Brooklyn; and Coralie Sardie, who performs as the Mermaid in her father's "museum" / freak show, which competes with the other, larger attractions in Coney Island.  When Eddie, a witness to the horrific Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, is hired to find out what happened to a lost young woman who had escaped the fire, his life becomes intertwined with Coralie's, as she tries to extricate from her father's clutches.

I actually found the romance between Coralie and Eddie to be the least interesting part of this book, instead finding the details of the two terrible fires - the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and the Dreamland Fire - much more compelling.  I had never heard of either of these two disasters before this book.  The Triangle fire was particularly sad, the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of New York City, in which 146 immigrant garment workers died, either burned to death, because their bosses locked them in the work rooms, or killed when they jumped from the building's eighth, ninth and tenth floors to escape the flames.  The Dreamland fire happened just months later, when exploding light bulbs at the amusement park ignited tar that was being used to patch a roof leak.  Over sixty exhibition animals died and the once-elegant park was destroyed, never to be rebuilt.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Mini book review The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman

I think the most important question is: how has it taken me this long to read The Golden Compass, the first book in His Dark Materials, a beloved YA fantasy series by Philip Pullman.  I suppose it's because it came out in 1995 and I was just a few years out of college at that point, not spending much of my time reading YA fantasy.  But now that I am much, much older, I am happy to have discovered the series.

The Golden Compass follows young Lyra Belacqua and her shape-shifting daemon Pantalaimon as they discover that the world is much bigger and more complicated than they were led to believe.  At first ensconced among the aged academics at Jordan College, Lyra has run wild for the first twelve years of her life.  But children have started disappearing in the town and strange deals are being struck behind the College's closed doors, and Lyra soon finds herself at the center of it.

There is a lot of world-building on which to come up to speed quickly here, daemons (an animal familiar, bonded to every person at birth, which can shapeshift until its human partner reaches puberty at which point the daemon settles into its truest form) and armored polar bears and canal-dwelling gypsies and hot air balloons and treacherous relatives and dead children and the Northern Lights.  I got sucked in quickly, my interest only fading slightly towards the very end when it was apparent that things were winding towards the next book in the series.  Lyra is an interesting, imperfect protagonist - I am looking forward to seeing what she gets up to next.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Walking Dead S6E8 "Start to Finish" 11/29/15

Is it possible that an episode dealing with the demolition of the protective wall around Alexandria and the subsequent influx of hundreds of zombies is boring?  Yes, it is very possible.

The episode opens in scaredy Sam's room as he draws disturbing pictures of walkers and listens to "Tiptoe through the Tulips" (not the Tiny Tim version) over and over again.  Sam is damaged goods, we get it.  Doesn't make me care about him at all.

So the clock tower comes down, crashing into the wall, and just moments later the herd of zombies that was clustered outside is inside, filling the streets.  Every human denizen panics, shouting and screaming and firing off head shots and running for safety.  Deanna even acquits herself very well, standing at Rick's side and shooting zombies fairly efficiently.  She gets knocked onto some metal, however, and cuts her leg badly.  Morgan and Carol momentarily forget their quarrel and run for it; Carol falls, hitting her head hard, and Morgan helps her into a house.  For a moment, it looks like Maggie is going to be the big character kill of the half season: the walkers chase her up a ladder and she ends up pulling herself up, by sheer upper body strength, to safety atop a lookup platform on the wall.  Eugene almost gets himself bit when he finds a walkie-talkie on the ground (Daryl's voice is coming through it and Eugene, terrified, says "Help," thus answering the question as to who said "Help" a couple of episodes ago) but Tara and Rosita save him, dragging him into a garage and slamming the door on the approaching zombies.  Rick, Deanna, Gabriel, Jessie, Carl, Ron and Michonne take refuge in Jessie's house (where Judith and Sam already are).  So that's everyone, pretty much, separated and hunkered down, and wondering WTF do they do next.

Outside the wall, Glenn and Enid stare in horror at the damaged wall and the swarming zombies.  Enid is all for cutting and running, believing that there's no hope.  Glenn is all, our friends are in there, my pregnant wife is in there, I'm not giving up.  He heads off, leaving Enid with a sad face, trying to figure out what to do.

At Jessie's house, Sam is on the verge of a freakout at all the hubbub around him: Judith wailing, Deanna bleeding everywhere, people shouting and running around, zombies pounding on the walls.  Rick checks on Deanna.  Michonne has stopped the bleeding from her leg wound but they also find a bite on her side.  Deanna: "Well, shit."

The Morgan and Carol show.  She's in rough shape, woozy and bleary-eyed.  Morgan thinks she may have a concussion but when he tries to take a look at her head, she pushes him away.  He notes that she doesn't trust anybody.  Carol:  "Some more than others.  But you're dead last."  They both kind of chuckle at that.  When she tries to stand up, she staggers and he helps her sit down again.  "Carol, whatever we have to settle, it can wait.  It has too."

In what may be one of the worst ideas EVER on this show:  Doctor Denise IS ALONE IN THE ROOM WITH MORGAN'S CAPTIVE WOLF.  WTF is she doing there?  I realize he's wounded and his hands are tied but still.  He's a psychotic killer and even with his hands tied, I'm pretty sure he could hurt her.  I get that she's hiding out from the walkers but she could wait out in the hallway and not in the SAME ROOM.  Also, she decides she might as well see what she can do about his wound while they're waiting.  So.  Much.  Stupid.

Here's my issue with Rick.  The show has decided that he's the hero and so they keep writing him so that the other characters keep putting him in charge.  But he's not any good at it.  He's unstable and his plans/ideas get a lot of people killed, over and over again.  And yet the survivors keep making him their leader.  Alexandria was doing pretty well until Rick and his gang showed up.  Now at least two-thirds of the original Alexandrians are dead and the wall is down.  Part of it is just bad luck, and zombies.  But part of it is that he is not a good leader.

Carl sees Ron heading into the garage.  He follows Ron in there to see if he's okay and no, Ron is not all that okay.  He gets in Carl's face about how Rick gets people killed.  Carl tries to smooth things over but Ron is feeling desperate.  He locks the door to the house, putting the key in his pocket, and then pulls his gun on Carl.  He fires a couple of shots, breaking windows and alerting zombie passersby to the human presence.  Rick and Jessie, hearing the ruckus, try to get into the garage but can't with the locked door.  Rick busts the door down and they find the boys in there, Carl desperately trying to blockade the broken windows, Ron doing not much of anything to help.  It's no use and zombies start pouring in.  The humans retreat to inside the house, trying to barricade the now-broken door with a sofa.  As they try to hold back the flood of walkers, Rick asks Carl WTF was going on in there.  For some reason, Carl covers for Ron, saying that they were just fighting against the walkers.  Ron, meanwhile, has picked up his gun and scampered into another room so Carl follows him.  Carl pulls his own gun and takes Ron's away without any further fuss.  Carl:  "Look, man, I get it.  My dad killed your dad.  But you need to know something: your dad was an asshole."

There's a lot of talking in this last "fall finale" episode, a lot of talking for what should be an action episode.  Deanna and Michonne talk a lot about Alexandria's future and what each woman wants, for the community and for herself.  Deanna and Rick talk a lot too, about how he's the new leader now (ahem).  Deanna says that he needs to be the leader of everyone in the community, not just his people.  Because like it or not, the Alexandrians are "his people" now too.  Also talking: Tara, Rosita and Eugene.  Until they decide to get out of the garage they're stuck in.  Luckily, lock-picking is within Eugene's skill set.

Eventually, the group at Jessie's house can no longer keep the zombies out of the house.  They retreat upstairs, blocking the stairwell with a sofa.  It is holding for the time being.  But it won't hold for long and Rick decides that they'll have to make their escape to the armory using the old "wearing zombie guts" camoflage.  Father Gabriel and the Alexandrians are like OMIGOD ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME but Michonne and Carl are like, yeah, we've done this before - you just gotta keep quiet and they think you're one of them.  Little Sam comes out of his room and is all, I CANNOT DO THIS.  Jessie pleads with him, asking him to pretend that he's brave because they just cannot stay here any longer.  Michonne checks on Deanna, telling her that they're leaving.  Deanna says that she's got a gun and she plans on using it on herself soon, before she turns.  Blah blah blah.

Carol takes advantage of Morgan's back being turned to make a break for it.  She runs back to the Wolf's cell, where Denise has gotten him hooked up to IV antibiotics.  Morgan is hot on her heels though, and they immediately have a stand-off.  Morgan is all, no killing/every life is precious (which, I love you, Morgan, and I get it, but no, in this world, every life is NOT precious).  Carol is all, I will kill you and then I will kill him so that no one else has to die.  Heh.  They fight and, because Morgan has a big stick, he knocks Carol out.  But then the Wolf lunges to his feet and knocks Morgan out.  He grabs Carol's knife and menaces Denise, who pleads for all their lives and then, kind of awesomely, shouts at him, "You are so full of shit!"  Then Tara, Rosita and Eugene burst in and the Wolf grabs Denise, holding the knife to her throat.  He makes them give him their guns and then he walks out, still holding Denise.  There's nothing they can do to stop him.

Once everyone is coated in zombie guts (Judith is tucked underneath the bespattered bed sheet that Carl is wearing), they go downstairs.  Rick has instructed everyone to be silent and they slowly move through the herd milling about on the first floor.   On the porch, they clasp hands so as not to get separated.  It's working, they're making slow progress, they're moving through the zombies unscathed.  And then poor, stupid, traumatized, useless Sam:  "Mom.  Mom.  MOM!"

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

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Walking Dead S6E7 "Heads Up" 11/22/15

FINALLY THEY TELL US: Glenn is not, in fact, dead.  When Nicholas shot himself in the head and fell off the dumpster, pulling poor Glenn with him, Glenn landed on the bottom with Nicholas on top of him and it was Nicholas's guts the walkers were digging into.  Glenn, after screaming for a bit, managed to drag himself underneath the dumpster and hide there, killing enough walkers so that the dead bodies fell all around the dumpster, blocking access.  Eventually, the herd wanders off, bored, I guess, and a filthy and very thirsty Glenn drags himself out from under the dumpster.  As he collects Nicholas's pistol, there's a shout, "Heads up!" and Enid, standing on top of a neighboring building, tosses him a water bottle.  Glenn's all, Enid?

He climbs into the building through an easily accessible window (WTF WHY DIDN'T HE AND NICHOLAS GO IN THERE TO ESCAPE THE HERD?), looking for her, but she doesn't want to talk to him.  He asks what happened back in Alexandria, with the air horn and the gunfire, what happened to Maggie.  Enid's like, people died, it wasn't walkers but people, and you should go.  She bolts and Glenn chases after her, wanting answers.  As he searches for her, he finds the dead Alexandrian who got caught when Michonne's group was scaling that fence.  Well, the Alexandrian is more undead but Glenn finishes the job, a little sorrowfully because he's a good guy.

Back at Alexandria, life is getting back to "normal," with people shoring up the walls, keeping watch over the hundreds of zombies outside.  And Rick is back to being a sanctimonious asshole, telling Morgan they "need to talk" and generally being Mr. Bossypants.  When he sees Father Gabriel putting up flyers for a prayer circle, Rick tears them down, which is a pretty dick move - and even Carl thinks so - but Gabriel is unfazed and keeping posting them.  Rick and Carl take Ron to practice with a gun.  He's not allowed to do any actual shooting because (a) too noisy and will attract walkers and (b) waste of ammunition.  Rick shows him how to load and aim; Carl is more than a little condescending ("You'll be scared") but I'm not sure he means to be.  Also, WTF SOMEONE CUT CARL'S HAIR and he needs to STOP wearing that fucking sheriff's hat.  It was sweet when he is a little kid but he just looks ridiculous now.

Later, Rick, Michonne and Carol sit down with Morgan.  Rick says how he got attacked by the Wolves at the RV and that Carol told him that Morgan let some of the Wolves go.  (In Morgan's defense, those Wolves could have been other Wolves, out and about, and not the ones from the Alexandrian attack.  I mean, they were but it could have been other Wolves.)  Morgan explains his "all life is precious" creed, and how it saved him.  Everyone else is all, it's a nice sentiment but things are not that easy (Morgan: "It's not easy!"), plus the Wolves burned people alive.  I get Morgan's point but those Wolves really are bad news.  Afterwards, Rick takes Michonne aside, telling her about a plan he's formulating to draw the herd away from the walls.  When she asks him if he's going to include the Alexandrians in this operation, he doesn't want to, not trusting them.  She's like, I think you need to get over this us vs. them thing.

Glenn finally corners Enid and, after she draws a gun on him and he disarms her, convinces her to return to Alexandria with him.  She doesn't want to go, doesn't want to trust anyone, doesn't want to let her walls down and get close to anyone, but she does go with him, extremely reluctantly.  Along the road, they find some green helium-filled balloons that had been left out as part of the original draw-the-herd away plan.  Enid takes them, tying them to her pack and saying that maybe they can use them to distract the walkers.   When they get back to Alexandria, they are dismayed to see the herd swarming around the walls.  Enid is particularly disheartened, but Glenn's all, the walls are still up and I will not let you die.

Alexandria's infrastructure is falling apart a bit, pieces of the clock tower periodically falling to earth.  While Rick and some Alexandrian dude (whose name I don't know/don't care to know) work to shore up the walls,  Elsewhere in town, Ron sneaks into the commissary and steals some bullets.  I think Carl is going to regret having given Ron the shooting lesson.   Back out at the wall, Rick and Whatsisname observe Deanna's son Spencer trying to get past the walkers: he's rigged a cable from the wall to an outside-the-wall building with a grappling hook and is pulling himself across.  Everyone is yelling at him to stop and go back.  The grappling hook of course slips and he falls, landing on a bunch of zombies.  While Spencer scrambles to climb up the cable - and Rick, Morgan and Whatsisname scramble to pull him back up, Tara climbs to the outside of the wall for a better shot and starts shooting the walkers.  When Spencer is finally pulled to safety, the first thing Rick does is shout at Tara, "What the hell were you doing? You've already almost died once for these people!"  She gives him a disbelieving look and then awesomely flips him off.  Rick turns his attention to Spencer, who is bemoaning the loss of one of his shoes.  Rick's all, WTF, dude?  And Spencer said he thought he could get out, get to a car and lead the walkers away (which is basically what Rick's preliminary plan is).  When Rick says, "if you have an idea like that, you come to me," Spencer just looks at him and asks, "Would you have listened to me?"

Morgan stops by the infirmary and talks with Dr. Denise.  She's been putting together cheat sheets on chalkboards, things like how to deal with infection, etc.  He asks her how stocked with antibiotics they are, saying that he has to dress a wound but doesn't want to waste the medicine if it's not necessary.  When she says she'll take a look at his arm, he says it isn't his wound and he doesn't want to get her involved in anything she doesn't want to get involved with.  But she wants to help and, after gathering supplies, she and Morgan head out, trying to be surreptitious about it.  But Carol is there, babysitting Judith and lurking on a porch, and is immediately suspicious.  She runs to hand the baby off to Jessie - and while she's in Jessie's house, Sam (still hiding upstairs) calls down to her, asking if the people who came were monsters?  Carol: "The only thing that keeps you from becoming a monster is killing."  Which, yikes.

Judith-less, Carol goes to the house Morgan and Denise went into.  As she's trying to unlock the door, Morgan opens it.  Carol growls at him, "Who the hell do you have in there?"  Meanwhile, Carl walks down the street, oblivious to the fact that Ron is stalking along behind him, gun at the ready.  But before anything untoward can happen, two things happen.  First, a bunch of green balloons is seen floating through the sky and Maggie just KNOWS that Glenn released them.  Second, the clock tower finally falls - and when it falls, it crashes right through the wall, opening the floodgates.

Getting to know what happened to Glenn aside, this episode felt a lot like place setting, putting things into place for what's to happen next.  I'm not crazy about the Morgan vs. Carol conflict because they're both good characters who have been through a lot, and they're putting Carol into the villain role.  As they say in this episode, things aren't black and white, they're not so simple.  Also, Rick just drives me effing nuts, he's such an asshole.  What are the chances we could just stuff him under a dumpster for an episode or two?

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

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Mini movie review Three ... Extremes

I suppose technically I should have tried to squeeze this one into last month's Scarelicious Movie Series but I just wasn't able to get to it in time.  A horror anthology of three short films from different acclaimed Asian directors, Three ... Extremes is a well-put together package.

"Dumplings" is the first film, by Fruit Chan.  Ching Li, an aging actress, who is losing the attention of her husband to much younger women, seeks the help of Auntie Mei (played fairly straight by the kooky Bai Ling, almost unrecognizable with a minimum of makeup).  Auntie Mei makes special dumplings which will rejuvenate the women who eat them.  The filling in those dumplings is horrifying and the sound effects as Mei assembles the dumplings and then again as Li slurps them down are positively grisly.  I liked this short film the best of the bunch: it was the most straight-forward and easy to follow, despite not being for those of squeamish stomachs.

Park Chan-wook's "Cut" is the second installment about a movie director who is kidnapped and tortured by a deranged extra, forcing him to choose between strangling a child and watching his pianist wife's fingers get chopped off one by one.  I found this one to be way too long and also confusing: the movie director's set was built to resemble his own home but when the kidnapper takes the director and his wife, he ties them up in another identical set?  It can't be the same movie set because people would walk in on the goings-on; it couldn't be the director's home (despite dialogue to the contrary, although that could be the fault of the subtitling) because lighting is clearly visible up above the walls.

The third and final short is "The Box," by Takashi Miike.  A young woman, a former circus contortionist, is haunted by her identical twin sister who died under tragic circumstances when they were ten years old.  "The Box" is quite beautiful and stylish; the actresses are gorgeous; the stark whites and deep colors are striking.  Miike's film is formal and psychologically scary, not overtly violent or gruesome.  I also found the pacing a touch slow - but I was getting sleepy towards the end of it and that probably impacted my perception.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Walking Dead S6E6 "Always Accountable" 11/15/15

Any yet ANOTHER episode in which we don't know what happened to Glenn.  But, as a consolation: Daryl's arms.  Thank god.

Sasha, Abraham and Daryl have reached the twenty mile mark, having led the bulk of the walker herd away.  They turn off, heading back towards Alexandria.  But almost immediately, as they drive through the remnants of a small town, they are ambushed and shot at.  Sasha and Abraham crash their car and then get out and shoot the shit out of a small sedan that was chasing them; Daryl lays his motorcycle down pretty hard, hurting his arm, but gets back up.  He manages to lose the cars chasing him by driving into the forest.  He goes in a ways, to where the forest is all burned, and falls over, from exhaustion or pain or relief.

A little later, he gets up and starts to push his 'cycle through the woods.  It's hard and exhausting work, however.  He tries raising Sasha and Abraham on the walkie - they don't answer - and then notices the blood dripping from his left hand.  Daryl takes off his leather jacket WHEREUPON HE REMAINS SLEEVELESS FOR THE ENTIRE EPISODE and my lord Norman Reedus has great arms.  He hides the motorcycle and starts to explore on foot, crossbow at the ready.  He comes upon a couple of young women who are startled to see him, exclaiming that they earned what they took.  And then a guy comes up behind him and knocks him out.

When Daryl comes to, the other three have tied his hands.  They force him at gun point to come with them, traipsing through the woods.  They're fairly clean and seem a little clueless, and they think he's with some group.  Daryl keeps his head down and his mouth closed, listening as they exposition to each other about setting the forest fire to burn out a bunch of zombies.  They walk a while until they come to some trucking depot where they had left someone.  The place is overrun with zombies and they get a little despairing and while they're distracted, Daryl grabs the duffel bag they put his crossbow in and makes a run for it.  Out in the woods, he gets his hands free, tries to radio for Sasha and Abraham again (no response) and then almost gets bitten by a random walker when he has difficulty getting his crossbow out of the bag.  He kills the walker, however, and then takes a look at the duffel bag: inside is a small Igloo cooler marked "Insulin - keep cool."  Oh, Daryl is almost always cool.

Back in the town, Sasha and Abraham try to raise Daryl on the walkie (no response) and debate what to do.  Abraham thinks that Daryl has likely already headed back to Alexandria but Sasha doesn't think he would have left them behind.  "The best way to find a tracker," she says, "is to stay put."  They find a place to hold up for a while - an insurance agency with one resident walker, banging around inside a glass walled office like a moth on a porch light.  They talk some, back and forth, Sasha worried about Abraham's state of mind (in light of how reckless he was a couple of episodes ago, jumping out of the car and tussling with the moving walker herd) and Abraham noting that she's maybe not all that stable herself.

Out in the burned forest with Daryl and his arms: he has gone back to those three morons to return the insulin to them.  He takes their gun and a little carving the guy was whittling, giving them the cooler back.  When he turns to go, though, a truck crashes through the trees.  A bunch of men jump out and call out, "It's over! You owe us what you took and you're coming back with us."  Paraphrasing.  The three are scared, calling back that they won't go back, and then Daryl grabs them and leads them further into the woods.  When they pause to hide, he gives the gun back to the guy.  They watch through the trees as the other men search for them, and as they are hiding, one girl collapses and the other gives her a shot of the insulin.  One of the searchers gets bitten on the arm by a walker and the leader of the group (Wade?) chops his arm off with a machete to try to save him.  After the searchers have given up and left, the guy turns to Daryl: "We thought you were with them.  We knocked you over the head and tied you up.  Why did you come back?"  Daryl shrugs, "Maybe I'm stupid."

In town, Abraham goes out on a scavenging mission.  He finds a Humvee with a rocket launcher/bazooka/RPG shooter (?) and a box of cigars.  He also finds the former soldier, now a zombie, hung up on a fence with another RPG warhead thing on its shoulder harness.  Because Abraham is a little crazy himself right now, he tussles with the zombie, getting awful close to getting himself bitten.  Then he comes to his senses and backs off.  As he sits on the tailgate of the Humvee, puffing on a cigar, he watches the zombie fall off the fence all on its own, leaving the weapon in its harness behind, caught on a bit of fencing.  Well, huh, goes Abraham, and collects the rocket launcher thingy.

When he gets back to the insurance agency, there's more back and forth between him and Sasha, where he says that he's had a bit of an epiphany: their lives are difficult but there is hope, he has hope for the future.  Also, he kinda fancies her and he "can tell" that she's into him too.  [??!??!?]  She laughs, pointing out that he's "got some stuff to take care of" first - which I took to mean he's got to break it off with Rosita before she'll hook up with him.  He grins at her.

Daryl and the three dipshits walk through the woods again.  They find a burned out house which they recognize and when they get up to it, they find two bodies burned in the wreckage.  They knew those people and realize that they must have died when the forest fire swept through.  They feel guilty for causing the deaths.  But they're still stupid and when Tina, the diabetic girl, goes up to place flowers by the bodies, she is too stupid to realize that these dead people are actually undead.  The zombies tear out Tina's neck and she bleeds out by the time Daryl can put the two zombies down.  Later, when Daryl and the guy are digging graves for the dead people and Tina, Daryl asks Rick's three questions: how many walkers have you killed, how many people have you killed and why? He's decided that, stupid or not, he should bring them back to Alexandria to be safe.

When they get back to where Daryl hid his motorcycle, they turn on him because they're awful people.  While the guy holds his gun on Daryl, the girl takes his crossbow (noooooo! not his crossbow!!!!!) and they both get on the 'cycle.  They say they're sorry.  Daryl:  "You're gonna be."  They ride off on his 'cycle and he stares after them for a moment before starting to walk.  Luck is with him for once: he comes across a truck and, after clearing out the walker trapped in the cab, is able to get it started.

The final scene is Daryl, Sasha and Abraham in Daryl's new truck, driving back to Alexandria.  And when Daryl gets on the walkie, reaching out to "Rick? Anyone copy?", this time someone responds.  Just one word: HELP.

Everyone on the interwebs thinks the "Help" on the walkie was Glenn although in an interview Norman Reedus said it definitely was not.  Taken as a whole, this was a decent Daryl-centric episode, welcome because we really haven't seen much of him this season.  The Sasha and Abraham stuff seemed sort of filler-ish but did I mention the gun show?  Daryl should just give up on long sleeves forever.

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

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Mini movie review: Gone Girl

Remember how I loooooooooved the book Gone Girl and was worried that they'd butcher it with the movie?  Well, I needn't have worried.  David Fincher did a pretty good job with it.  I imagine the few people who watched the movie without having read the book first were drawn in and surprised at the twists.  I still contend that Ben Affleck was completely miscast as Nick Dunne (too old, too hulking, too bland an actor) but I didn't find him to be distracting in the role.  I finished watching the movie the way I finished reading the book: amazed at this creation in which nearly all the characters were horrible people.  If you've been living under a rock, I still recommend reading the book first - it is extraordinary - but if you're interested in the movie, it does all right by the source material.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Walking Dead S6E5 "Now" 11/8/15

Just so you know: I was unimpressed and largely uninterested in this episode.  You've been warned.

In case you were on the edge of your seat, wondering how Rick was going to get out of the RV when he was surrounded by the splinter herd of walkers, there's no reason to worry: apparently he simply got out of the RV and ran really fast back to Alexandria.  Of course, the splinter herd followed him there so once he's safely inside the walls, it doesn't take long until the town is surrounded by zombies.  Um, way to go?  (And seriously, he just outran the hundreds and hundreds of zombies?  Why doesn't everyone do that?  Ugh, this show.)

In the aftermath of the Wolf attack and with the town surrounded, the sheltered Alexandrians are freaked right the fuck out.  They have never encountered anything like this before, not the violence, not the sheer numbers of hungry undead slobbering for their flesh.  The townsfolk start to freak out, getting all "the end is nigh" and doing things like that rationing their limited food is pointless.  It is amazing to me that these people have lasted as long as they have, even sheltered by their walls.  They are, almost to a man, entirely useless and stupid people.  Maybe Rick's group is scary and off-putting and a little crazy, but at least they have learned how to adapt.

Aaron, one of the few capable Alexandrians (where's his boyfriend? we haven't seen him all season), admits that the Wolves found Alexandria because he lost his pack on a recruitment mission.  He feels guilty.  Rick gives him a sympathetic look, saying that there will be more for everyone to talk about.  Deanna can't deal with any of this and just walks away, dazed.  Jessie goes back to her house and drags the dead Wolf out of the kitchen, so at least she's got that much presence of mind.  Her younger son Sam, however, is not having any of this, refusing to come downstairs because upstairs he can pretend none of the recent horribleness has happened.  Jessie tries to coax him downstairs but finally gives up.

Someone who is not giving up is Maggie.  Despite overhearing various peoples' suspicions that Glenn is dead since he hasn't come back or sent up the flare like he was supposed, she has decided that she is going to go outside the walls to find him and bring him back, or otherwise confirm that he is dead.  Aaron sees her preparations and tells her that he can't let her go by herself - he'll go with her and, even better, he'll take her out through some old sewer tunnels that should get them out beyond the assembled walker herd.

In Alexandrian stuff I don't care about: Deanna starts drawing up plans for new gardens and crops and solar power plants and reinforced fortifications, as though she's starting to get her groove back.  Her son Spencer is losing his shit, however, getting drunk and despondent and yelling at his mom for living in a dreamworld of Alexandria being safe.  Also, Ron and Carl get into the lamest fisticuffs EVER when Carl says he's going over the wall to look for Enid and Ron's all, I'm going to tell your dad and you'll get in trouble.  Later, Ron does tell Rick about Carl's plan and then, weirdly, asks Rick if he (Rick) will teach him (Ron) how to shoot.  Rick's all, yeah, I'll teach you.  For what it's worth, I don't trust Ron and I think if Rick teaches him to shoot it's going to be Carl who ends up getting shot.

In Alexandrian stuff I slightly care about: Dr. Denise is freaking out a bit because Whatsisname who got shot in the leg a couple of episodes ago is running a fever from his infected leg wound.  Tara stops by the infirmary and gives Denise some moral support; Denise hits the books and figures out how to draw the pus out of Whatsisname's leg; later, Denise finds Tara to thank her and ends up planting a big ol' smooch on her.  Tara looks surprised and happy.

Jessie walks by a neighbor's house and is dismayed but not surprised to find a zombie battering at the windows from inside: the woman had become despondent and slit her wrists, forgetting that she would turn into a walker after death.  Jessie puts the zombie down and then turns and gives a Rick-esque speech to the horrified Alexandrians watching from the street: blah blah blah, this is what life is now, we have to fight, if we don't fight then we die.

Down in the sewers, Maggie and Aaron have to pull some debris out of the way.  The metal snaps, hitting Aaron in the head. dazing him and cutting him badly.  While he tries to pull himself together, two extremely disgusting and rotting zombies come out of a tunnel.  One comes after Maggie and although normally she would have no problem putting it down, this zombie is too squishy and rotten for her to get a grip: her hands keep pushing right through its body.  GROSS.  The second zombie crawls towards Aaron.  He puts it down and then manages to get the one attacking Maggie before it can bite her.  His head is pouring blood and she tells him he needs stitches and should go back.  He protests, "I was just there for you!" and tells her that he's sticking with her.  They push on through the tunnels.

When they get to the end/exit, where there's a grate across, Maggie sighs, saying that they didn't get out far enough - there are too many zombies milling about.  Aaron ignores her at first, saying he can do it but Maggie shouts, drawing the walkers' attention.  Aaron stares at her as she cries.  She's pregnant, she should have gone with Glenn, she doesn't even have a photo of him because she swore that she'd never be apart from him.  "I don't know if he's alive ... I don't get to know what will happen, I don't get to know why it happened, right or wrong.  I have to live with that."  Aaron grabs her, pulling her into a hug.

After night falls, Deanna walks along the dark streets, taking supplies back to the food bank.  She is surprised by a loose zombie - which used to be a Wolf and which must have been hiding under a nearby porch - and fights back when it comes after her, stabbing at it with a piece of broken bottle.  But she's useless at it, only stabbing it in the chest, covering herself with blood and gore but being entirely ineffectual.  Rick comes to her aid, putting the walker down efficiently.  She looks up at him and says she wants to live.  Rick tells her that she needs to lead but she shakes her head, saying that what Alexandria needs is him.  She asks him if what she wanted for the town and its people was "just pie in the sky?"  He says no, gently.  Later, Rick finds Jessie hanging up laundry in her garage.  He's a little sad, worried about Glenn and Daryl and Sasha and Abraham.  And then they make out, so that happened.

WTF, TWD?  First you ambiguously kill off/don't kill off Glenn, then you subject us to ninety minutes of Morgan turning into a zen master, and now you give us an episode focusing on the cannon fodder redshirts Alexandrians, almost all of whom are unnamed and completely useless?  We don't care about most [any] of these people and are just waiting for them to get killed off.  You know, at this point I don't even care if Glenn is alive or dead - I just want it confirmed one way or another so we can move on.  I do not care for this trolling of the audience.  Yes, you've gotten your fans to talk about nothing else since the infamous dumpster but it's just not cool.  Plus, you stick us inside Alexandria for a whole episode and there's no Carol?  I just can't even.

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

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Mini movie review: Big Hero 6

Netflix had a distribution goof and ending up sending me two DVDs at once, 3 Extremes and Big Hero 6.  Last night I rather felt like I needed to see something light and fun, rather than creepy Asian horror, and the animated Disney picture fit the bill.

Based on an obscure Marvel comic (even more obscure than Guardians of the Galaxy), the Disney version of Big Hero 6 follows teenage tech-wiz Hiro who, after kicking serious ass in back-alley robot fights, is convinced by his older brother Tadashi to channel his big brain towards more useful things.  Hiro invents some amazing microbots and everyone is all amazed and happy, until Hiro refuses to sell his invention to a slightly shady tech company.  Shortly thereafter, Tadashi dies in a lab explosion and all Hiro has left of his big brother is Baymax, an inflatable robotic "health care companion."  Hiro and Baymax start to investigate Tadashi's death and learn that a frightening, kabuki-mask wearing figure has stolen Hiro's microbots.   Soon Hiro recruits his brother's former lab mates as a tech-supported superhero team to defeat the kabuki guy.

The animation in Big Hero 6 is impressive:  the detail in the fantastical, futuristic Asian-fusion city of Sanfrantokyo is amazing; the movement of Hiro's hair is so realistic.  The character development is less impressive and despite the death of Hiro's brother being the central motivating event, this movie does not so much tug at the heartstrings; it wants to be soulful but ends up a bit lightweight.  Baymax is easily the best and funniest character, both in his physical comedy and his speech.  My favorite bit was when his battery ran low: not only did he deflate but he sounded drunk.  Kudos to voice actor/comedian Scott Adsit for bringing him to life.

Big Hero 6 does not reach the heights of the best animated Disney/Pixar films but it was entertaining, funny and well put-together.  Sometimes that's all you need.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Walking Dead S6E4 "Here's Not Here" 11/1/15

So by now the entire internet is full of conspiracy theories about how Glenn is not actually dead (the latest one I read says that Nicholas's gun was out of bullets and so he didn't kill himself and the whole thing was a hallucination - which would be such CRAP, and intentional trolling of the audience on the show's part - if you don't want to kill Glenn, don't kill him, but don't purposely fuck with the audience.  This is all to say that in this super-sized episode, we still don't know whether Glenn is dead or not because this episode is all about Morgan.  It's a Lennie James showcase is what it is.

It starts with a framing device: Morgan staring straight into the camera and saying, you want to know everything about me?  Well, here it is - every last bit.

And then we get Morgan's backstory, starting with right after Rick, Carl and Michonne stayed with him.  He has slipped into full-tilt crazy and manages to burn down his apartment during a ranting and raving fit.  Then he wanders in the forest for god knows how long, super-crazy, slaughtering zombies, terrorizing humans and even killing a couple men who threaten him.  So.  Much.  Crazy.  And then he finds a lovely little stone cabin in the middle of the woods.  It's surrounded by fences, has a tidy vegetable garden out front and a cute Nubian goat tethered in the yard.  Morgan approaches and I fear for the goat until a calm voice calls out, "Can you step away from the goat?  She's not yours.  I still need her: I'm figuring out how to make cheese."  Morgan crouches and scurries and shoots his rifle, trying to get into the cabin.  When he comes around a corner, a big man is there ("Eastman," played by John Carroll Lynch, who was Norm on the movie Fargo) and he whacks Morgan on the head with a stick.

When Morgan regains consciousness, he is in the stone cabin, in a cell.  All he can do is mutter and rant and shout "Kill me!"  Eastman goes on about his business, practicing cheese-making, making meals for himself and Morgan, practicing aikido down by the creek, tending to his garden and his goat (who is named Tabitha), killing the various zombies who wander into the area.  He kills them with a stick and after he kills them, he buries them, checking their IDs and making grave markers for them.  This goes on for quite some time, Morgan maintaining his crazy and Eastman trying to reach him.  Eastman was a forensic psychologist for a prison and he knows something about getting through to disturbed people.  It takes a while though.  At some point it comes out that Eastman has never locked the cell door and Morgan is free to stay or go.  There are some fisticuffs and Eastman manages to subdue the enraged Morgan using aikido.  Finally, Morgan breaks down and cries.  Eastman has gotten through to him and now the healing can begin.

They continue their days together now.  They bury the zombies they kill.  Eastman teaches Morgan aikido and talks to him about why he believes every life is precious, why he will not killing any living thing (why he is a vegetarian these days).  Eastman tells Morgan that he used to have a family.  But one of the prisoners he was counseling - the only man he ever met who was truly, utterly evil - broke out, went to Eastman's house and killed his wife, his son and his daughter. Morgan seems to think that there's more to the story but that's all Eastman will say.

At some point, they decide to journey to the coast.  They need some equipment and Morgan says that he left some useful stuff out in the woods where he was staying before he met Eastman.  They go out there and Eastman can see from the debris left behind just how crazy Morgan had been.  But then a zombie lurches out of the woods towards them.  Eastman says that Morgan can take care of it, using his aikido staff.  When Morgan approaches the walker, however, he recognizes that it is one of the men that he killed earlier in the episode and freezes.  Eastman steps in and puts the zombie down, but gets bit in the process.  Morgan is very angry: at himself for freezing up, at himself for having killed that guy in the first place, at Eastman for stepping in and getting himself bitten.  Eastman is resigned about it, not much they can do.

They go back home.  Eastman stops at the burial ground to start digging the dead zombie's grave while Morgan goes back to the cabin.  Sadly, Tabitha got out of the house and is now dead, being eaten by a zombie.  Morgan kills the zombie and brings it and the dead goat back to the burial ground.  Eastman sighs and they get to digging.  Later that night, Eastman is getting sicker and sicker and he admits to the secret he had been keeping: after that escaped prisoner killed his family, he bribed the prison guards and kidnapped the guy, bringing him back to this cabin, locking him in the cell and starving him to death.  It took 47 days for the guy to die.  And after that happened, Eastman came out of the woods only to learn that the zombie apocalypse had happened.

Eastman is fading quickly and he tells Morgan that he can stay at the cabin for the rest of his life if he wants.  There's plenty of food, solar power.  It's safe enough.  But it would be better if he went back out there and found people.  People are what's important in this world now.  Then he sighs, saying he's ready and there's a gun in the lockbox.

I am grateful that we didn't have to see Eastman kill himself or Morgan put him out of his misery.  We do see Morgan practicing aikido forms by the creek before putting on his backpack and heading out, walking past the burial ground with new grave markers for Eastman and Tabitha.  He finds his way to some train tracks and a sign proclaiming "Terminus: Sanctuary for all, Community for all, Those who arrive survive."  He smiles, at peace, and heads on down the tracks.

And then we're back to now and we learn that the person to whom Morgan has been telling his backstory is the Wolf that he had been fighting (and who he obviously didn't kill because every life is precious) at the end of last episode.  Morgan is trying to convert this Wolf away from the crazy.  But the crazy has taken ahold but good and the Wolf says that if the zombie bite on his stomach doesn't kill him, he's going to get out and kill everyone in Alexandria, including the children.  Morgan stares hard at the Wolf and leaves, locking him in.  Not every life is precious, Morgan.  There are still people who are truly, utterly evil.  Outside, he pauses, thinking.  Then he hears a shout in the distance: "HEY! OPEN THE GATE!"  And Morgan takes off running.

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

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #8: It Follows

Implacable sexually-transmitted murder ghouls.

If that phrase isn't enough to make you want to watch It Follows, then I don't know what will.  Arguably one of the best horror films in recent memory, It Follows follows Jay, a pretty teenage girl living in an out-of-time Detroit suburb who, like many horror film denizens before her, makes the wrong choice about whom she sleeps with.  When she does, the guy tells her that he has passed It on to her and she'd be wise to sleep with someone else - anyone else - as soon as possible to get rid of It.  He tells her what It is, to the best he can: It, taking the form of strangers or someone she knows, will stalk Jay, walking straight for her, wherever she is, and never stopping.  If It catches her, It will kill her.  If It kills her, It will come for him.  Jay doesn't know if she can transmit It to someone else in good conscience but she has to do something.

It Follows is a great and extremely creepy movie.  The cast (all teenagers as adults are rarely onscreen, even in the background) is terrific, understated and sounding like actual teenagers.  The Detroit setting is bland, until the kids venture into the gray blight of the city.  The score is fantastic, a synth throwback that ramps up the tension.  The menace of It is, in part, that It could be anyone, at any time - any time someone walks onscreen, there's a possibility that they are It.  It isn't a ghost but It is unstoppable and the fact that Jay is being stalked all the time is very unnerving.

It Follows has a couple of grisly scenes but is not at all a gorefest, its scares instead suspensefully ratcheting up through clever direction and music cues.  This is a smart, well-crafted horror film, definitely recommended and a strong finish to this year's Scarelicious October Movie Series.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

The Walking Dead S6E3 "Thank You" 10/25/15

Sorry this has taken so long to get up.  I was out of town for a while, and then I watched the episode and I've been putting off recapping ever since.  Sometimes this show is just exhausting.

Just so's you know, there's a LOT of running in this episode.  It starts with Rick, Glenn and Michonne running through the woods with a bunch of Alexandrians as the horn blares in the distance.  They are trying to (a) redirect the walker horde back onto the road and (b) stay alive.  Rick is on the radio to everyone, checking in, giving orders.  Daryl wants to go back to town to help with whatever is going down but Rick is adamant: they have to stick with the plan, they have to get the walker horde away. New plan: Rick will run back a mile to the RV to help redirect the horde; Glenn and Michonne are to head back to home with the Alexandrians.  Rick points out that some of the Alexandrians aren't going to make it and he tells Glenn and Michonne not to wait, not to get held up by the weak and wounded. Some of the Alexandrians try to rebel a little - tired, scared - and then some of them get munched on.  "Just get back safe," orders Rick.

In Glenn and Michonne's group, one girl has a twisted ankle and then, when they have to fight a small group of walkers, one of the Alexandrians panics and ends up shooting another Alexandrian in the leg.  Also, a third Alexandrian has been bitten on the shoulder just a little and he'll succumb eventually - he just wants to get back to town to say goodbye to his wife.  So out of the five Alexandrians with Glenn and Michonne, three are injured, one fatally.  The other two are Heath and Nicholas, and Nicholas is just barely holding his shit together.

Out on the road, Daryl is all conflicted, wanting to go back to help out in town.  Sasha and Abraham say that they need him there with them, helping keep the horde on track.  "Nah," says Daryl, "I got faith in ya." And rides away as Sasha and Abraham shout after him.  But they have to let him go, continuing the sloooooow drive, leading the walker horde away from their home.

Glenn and Michonne's group come to the remains of a town that Nicholas claims to be familiar with and which is "halfway home."  [Here's an issue I have: I don't know the geography here.  I don't know how far away the zombie-filled quarry was; I don't know how far this group is from Alexandria; I don't know how far out Daryl, Sasha and Abraham were; and, quite frankly, it takes Rick an inordinately long time to run one fucking mile back to the RV at the bend in the road.  It all seems a little off to me.]  Glenn tells Michonne that he NEEDS to get home [so don't they all, Glenn, drama queen] but he's not about to abandon any of the useless wounded Alexandrians.  Michonne's like, dude, I'm with you.  Since Nicholas was most recently in this town, he leads the way.  They try to find a car that starts with no luck and end up having to hole up in a pet store as walkers, separated from the main horde, start straggling in.

In the store, Glenn has a plan: he's going to find a building in town and set it on fire so that the inferno distracts the gathering walkers, allowing the humans to escape.  He tells Michonne that if he doesn't get back in a certain amount of time, she's to take the Alexandrians and go on without him.  Nicholas says that he knows where a feed store is which should burn quite nicely.  They head out. Michonne and Heath have a tense moment when he accuses her of planning to dump the Alexandrians and run and then she awesomely gets in his face and is all YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN OUT THERE ON YOUR OWN YOU DON'T HAVE A FUCKING CLUE HOW HARD IT IS OUT HERE.  Just as they get ready to leave the pet store - all of them, by the way, even the wounded ones - more and more walkers show up.  Lots of walkers.

Rick runs and runs and runs on his ridiculously long mile down the road, stopping to battle a few zombies along the way.  He also manages to slice his left hand quite badly in the process.  But he keeps on running.  And running and running and running.  FINALLY he finishes that damn mile [I mean, it takes me ten minutes to run a mile.  Rick is probably in better shape than I am, cut hand notwithstanding, plus he's got zombies chasing him.  Should have been quicker, is all I'm saying.]  He climbs into the RV and heads off, chasing the horde.

Finally, Michonne's group makes a run for it.  The Alexandrian girl with the twisted ankle goes down and gets eaten almost immediately.  Michonne pauses, looking back, and Heath grabs her, dragging her away.  Meanwhile, when Glenn and Nicholas get to the feed store, it has inconveniently already been burned down.  And a huge herd of walkers is heading their way.  Glenn's all, where do we go?  Nicholas is on the verge of panic, looking around wildly before finally heading off down an alley.  Unfortunately, this alley is blocked with a chainlink fence with walkers behind it.  For some reason, they don't quickly scamper up a nearby and visible fire escape and are soon trapped as walkers close in on them.

Across town, Michonne's group is in another alley which is also blocked by a chainlink fence.  There are no walkers on the other side, however, and they all climb up and over.  Well, the one guy who'd been bitten didn't quite make it: he gets pulled down into the herd and slowly, horribly, pulled apart.  For some reason, the group all just stand there and watch him suffer and die instead of putting him out of his misery.  Seems like a strange reaction.  Finally, the three remaining humans run away, heading home.

In Glenn and Nicholas's alley, things are super dire.  They are completely trapped and the number of zombies closing in on them is insurmountable.  Desperate, they climb up on a dumpster and stand there, just barely out of reach of the clutching hands.  They pick off a few zombies but it really doesn't do any good.  There are just too many of them.  Nicholas is freaking the fuck out.  I mean, Glenn is scared too because there really doesn't seem to be a way out.  But Nicholas is losing his goddamn mind.  He looks right into Glenn's eyes, says "Thank you" and then puts his gun to his head.  Glenn screams at him to snap out of it but Nicholas pulls the trigger, splashing blood across Glenn's face.  Worse - and I mean SO MUCH WORSE - his body collapses into Glenn, knocking them both off the dumpster and into the arms of the ravening zombie horde.  The sad music swells as Glenn silently screams in slow motion, the zombies chowing down on intestines and other nummy innards.

Rick pulls over at some possibly predetermined place [I missed that part of the plan] and tries to radio Glenn, anybody.  He raises Daryl, who is still heading back to Alexandria.  Gunfire is heard in the distance and Rick is all, even though we don't know what's going on at home, we've got to stick with the plan, keep the herd away from the town.  Daryl considers these words, turns around and heads back to meet up with Sasha and Abraham, keeping the herd moving.

Rick has some additional excitement to contend with, however: the Wolves who Morgan chased out of town without killing have found the RV.  Two of them rush inside, attacking Rick.  They battle and he manages to kill them.  Then he can see in the sideview mirror more Wolves sneaking up so he goes full Rambo, shooting through the side of the RV and putting them all down.  That's good, of course, but afterwards, the RV won't start.  And the zombie herd, the portion that Rick was supposed to lead back to the main herd, it has arrived at the RV, swarming around it, surrounding it.  Rick cannot fucking believe it.

Of course, by now EVERYONE has read all the internet theories that Glenn is not actually dead, because we didn't actually, incontrovertibly see him die, like we have all the other major character deaths, because The Talking Dead didn't do an in memoriam segment for him, like they have done for all the other major character deaths, because etc. etc.  People are all, those were Nicholas's guts the zombies were eating and perhaps Glenn managed to drag himself to relative safety under the dumpster.  Maybe.  I certainly am not eager or happy to say farewell to Glenn as his character was a much needed counterpoint of sanity to Rick's increasing madness.  But his escaping from that situation would be SO improbable that it would be a cheat, the writers bending the rules of the show's world just to spare him.  I don't know.  I don't want him dead but I don't see how he could have made it.  And since it looks like we're getting a Morgan-centric episode next, it may be a while before we are shown what happened.

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

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious Movie Series #7: What We Do in the Shadows

Apparently I'm on a New Zealand horror/comedy kick (not intentional) because the movie I watched after Housebound was What We Do in the Shadows.  It was well-received when it came out, from what I remember; maybe I was a little tired when I watched it because I sort of had a "meh, okay" response to it.

The concept is this: four vampire roommates, sharing a flat in Wellington, New Zealand, are being followed by a documentary crew.  They've been together a while, these roommates.  There's Viago, a 17th century dandy who is rather concerned that the chore wheel is not being paid attention to; Vladislav (played by Jemaine Clement, of Flight of the Conchords fame), who used to do a lot of torturing but just hasn't been feeling it much lately; the 8,000 year old Peter, who looks like Nosferatu and who is not a morning (technically, evening) person; and Deacon, just a couple hundred years old (Peter sired him) and the slacker of the bunch ... until one night, instead of eating the guy Deacon's familiar brought to the flat, Peter makes a vampire out of Nick.  As a brand new vampire, Nick turns the original flatmates' lives upside down, bringing them into conflict with a vampire hunter and a pack of werewolves but also getting them into some cool clubs downtown.

What We Do in the Shadows is clever and funny in some parts ("We're werewolves, not swearwolves") and quite spurty with blood in other parts.  But I just wanted more out of it, for both the funny and the gory.  It seemed like it wanted to go all-out but just never fully committed and I think suffers from that.

I'm really going to have to watch something truly scary at some point before this year's series ends, aren't I?

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Walking Dead S6E2 "JSS" 10/18/15

We start with what is a flashback into what happened to Enid [such a name for a teenage girl!]: after the zombie apocalypse, her parents were eaten in front of her eyes when their car died; then she wandered, for god knows how long, alone, just managing to stay alive by hiding and eating turtles raw and other horrible, traumatic things.  "JSS," she writes, in the grime on car windows, in the dirt, constructed out of turtle bones, in the blood and dirt on her hands as she enters the Alexandria gates.  At first I think those are her initials and she changed her name when she arrived at Alexandria.

And then we're back in the show's present, just before the horn starts blowing at the end of last episode, as the Alexandrians who remained behind go about their day, not knowing what Rick, Michonne, Glen et als., are doing, not knowing that what was supposed to be a dry run, a rehearsal in the great walker exodus, is actually happening for real.  Ron is acting out, refusing to talk to his mom [what's her name again?], angry in the aftermath of his father's death.  Father Gabriel asks Carl to teach him how to fight.  Maggie tells Deanna that she needs to get back to leading the community.  And Carol continues her charade of uber-housewife, making casseroles out of terribly expired cans of things that no one else wants.  Little glimpses of the real Carol show through, as when she rather sharply tells another housewife that she should stop smoking cigarettes - "it's disgusting and it'll kill you, and there's more than enough out here that will do that now."  Tara and Eugene swing by the infirmary, finding that the new doctor (since Rick killed Pete, the last doctor) was trained as a psychiatrist and is uneasy about her new role.  People are living their lives, moving on.

And the Wolves show up, abruptly and without warning.  And all hell breaks lose.

They scale the walls, setting the Alexandrian guards on fire.  They don't have guns, which is good, but they hack the townspeople into pieces - literally into pieces - and it is HORRIBLE.  Zombies eating humans is bad enough, but these feral, violent people, the Wolves, are vicious and without mercy and it is brutal to watch, eviscerations and bludgeoning and all kinds of awful things.  Our first glimpse is Carol's point of view: having just put her celery soup casserole into the oven, she watches from her kitchen window as her cigarette-smoking neighbor gets cut nearly in two.  And then our Carol, the real Carol, re-emerges and she is, of course, a BAMF.

She wastes no time putting Carl in charge of guarding baby Judith in their house.  Enid comes in the back, intending to say goodbye to Carl and then skipping town ("This place is too big to protect, there are too many blind spots"), but Carl's all, no, you're going to help me and you're not going anywhere.  Pete's wife Whatshername and her younger son hide in a flimsy closet but she is worried about older son Ron being out and about.  Carol, meanwhile, sneaks through the backyards, observing the atrocities (including watching a Wolf smear a W in a victim's blood onto his forehead) before stabbing one of them through the back of the skull.  Then, she gathers another gutted, sobbing housewife into her arms and comforts her, before putting a knife into her skull too.  Carol pauses.  She knows she has to kill these people, these humans, and she'll do it, but it gives her no pleasure.  From up in a watch tower, Deanna's son Spencer, is not a very effective shot, missing various Wolves running amok.  An eighteen-wheeler comes crashing into the outside wall below the watch tower.  After the crash, the horn sounds.  This is the horn from the end of E1.

Rosita and Aaron bring wounded folks into the infirmary, then run out to try to help.  Spencer climbs down to the crashed truck.  He tries to get in there but the Wolves have stuck a zombie in there and he freezes, afraid, as the horn blares on and on.  Luckily, just then Morgan shows up (Rick having sent him back at the end of E1).  Morgan dispatches the walker and yanks out some wires, stopping the horn.  He then climbs over the wall and into the town where he immediately sees a huge Wolf dicing up a body with an ax.  Morgan stalks towards the Wolf, telling him to leave town.  The Wolf advances, raising his ax, but before they can engage, a hooded, masked figure darts up behind the Wolf and stick a knife into his skull.  He drops, dead, and the hooded figure is, of course, Carol.  While Morgan bitches about how she didn't have to kill the guy, she kneels down and smears some of the dead Wolf's blood onto her forehead in a W.  She looks at Morgan, telling him that the Wolves don't have guns but if they find the armory, everyone in town will be fucked.  She asks for his help.  Morgan: "You don't have to kill people."  Carol:  "Of course we do."  Morgan: "Carol! You don't like it!"  But that's not the point, is it?  You do what you have to do.  These Wolves are not to be reasoned with.

In the infirmary, psychiatrist Denise is afraid to try to do surgery on the wounded woman; Tara and Eugene urge, encourage and yell at her and she finally agrees to try.  Sullen teenager Ron is chased and almost offed by a Wolf but Carl kills the man, saving Ron's life.  Ron is not appreciative and Carl is shaken by having killed another human.  Pete's wife Whatshername hears footsteps downstairs and summons her courage, telling her younger son to lock the door behind her.  When she goes downstairs, a female Wolf is in the kitchen.  They fight, the Wolf slamming her head into a wall.  Little does the Wolf know that Whatshername is used to that, having lived with an abuser.  Whatshername pulls herself to her feet, grabs a pair of scissors off the counter and throws herself at the Wolf, stabbing and screaming and stabbing and screaming.  That's how Ron finds her when he finally comes home, his mom covered in blood and stabbing another person to death on the kitchen floor.  Damn.

Carol and Morgan head towards the armory, Morgan splitting off when he sees a Wolf attacking Father Gabriel.  Carol gets to the armory, killing several Wolves as she goes, and then loads a bunch of guns into a bag.  God, I love bad ass Carol.  Out on the street, Morgan saves Gabriel by knocking the Wolf down and tying him up.  The Wolf looks at them, saying, "We're freeing you.  You're trapped.  People don't belong here anymore."  Morgan and Gabriel looks at each other, confused, but then BAMF Carol strides up and just shoots the Wolf in the face, cutting off any further soliloquy.  She hands a gun to each of Morgan and Gabriel; Morgan, who really does think this can be solved without killing, is speechless and horrified and gives his gun to Gabriel.  Carol knows better, despite how much this is costing her in her soul, and stalks around, shooting Wolves.  Morgan gets cornered by five or six Wolves.  He beats the crap out of them with his stick and warns them that his people have guns and if they don't leave right now, they'll all be killed.  "You keep choosin' this life, you will die."  Wolf:  "We didn't choose."  And then, incredibly, they run off, Morgan slamming the gate closed behind them.  I mean, Morgan isn't wrong in theory - it should be people banding together against the walkers.  But that's not the way of the world any longer.

After the place is cleaned out of Wolves, Carol sits on her steps, looking at the bodies on the street.  She rubs at the W on her forehead and for a moment, just a moment, tears well up in her eyes before she manages to clamp down again.  Aaron walks through the town, pausing by several dead Wolves.  He rolls a body over and picks up a messenger bag.  When he opens the bag, he pulls out a bunch of photographs of Alexandria: I don't remember this but I guess he lost that bag on one of the runs he and Daryl did?  And the Wolves found it and thus found Alexandria.  Oops.  In the infirmary, Denise has been unable to save the woman she was working on.  Tara tries to say something comforting to her ... and then reminds her to "get her brain."  Don't need no zombies walking around now that the massacre is done.  Inside his house, Carl stares at the Wolf he killed, lying out there on the lawn.  Then he turns, calling for Enid.  But she is gone, leaving a note behind her: "just survive somehow."  JSS.  And then the timer goes off and he takes Carol's casserole out of the oven.  This whole horrible attack happened in nearly real-time, in just the amount of time it took to cook dinner.

Finally, Morgan walks through the streets, making sure everything is safe.  He sees the door to Deann's house is open and goes inside to investigate.  There is one last Wolf in there, hiding, and he nearly gets the best of Morgan.  But Morgan fights back, with all he's got, giving the Wolf an ass-kicking.  The Wolf pulls away, realizing that Morgan is just beating on him, and grins, "You can't, can you?  You should have."  The Wolf lunges again and Morgan drops him.  Then Morgan grimaces and says, "I'm sorry," and then he kills that Wolf.  Out in the street, he and Carol pass right by each other, neither saying a word to the other.

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

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Sixth Annual FMS Scarelicious October Movie Series #6: Housebound

Housebound, a horror/comedy/thriller from New Zealand, came recommended to me by my friend Spencer R., who played it at his Halloween party last year to good results.  Spencer and I tend to like the same stuff genre-wise - although he draws the line at zombies - so I went into it with confidence.

Kylie is a twenty-something miscreant who gets arrested during a failed attempt at robbing an ATM.  The judge feels that she will not be well-rehabilitated in jail so he sentences her to eight months house arrest, complete with ankle bracelet, with her mother.  Kylie is not much pleased about that: her flaky mother lives out in the country with dial-up internet (THE HORROR), a mumbly new husband and a creepy neighbor.  Plus, it seems as though the big, creaky house they live in is haunted: her mother certainly thinks so - things move or go missing, gadget batteries drain unpredictably, there are noises in the walls - and while the jaded Kylie is skeptical now, when she was a child, she certainly believed in the ghosts.  When the mysterious happenings start to pick up again, Kylie finds an unlikely ally in her parole officer and they learn that the house used to be a halfway house for disturbed teenagers.  At least one girl was killed there and certainly enough psychic torment was unleashed in the house to bring on the disturbances.

I'm not going to go any further because to do so would be to spoil the movie.  The very entertaining Housebound does have a bit of a Shaun of the Dead feel to it (albeit lower key in both humor and gore) but with about twenty minutes left, switches to more of a thriller/comedy.  Kylie is a good anti-hero, not particularly likable but strong and resourceful (her knife and cheese grater combination was excellent).  I enjoyed Housebound quite a lot but it's pretty light on the horror aspects

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Walking Dead S6E1 "First Time Again" 10/11/15

Here's the stylistic deal:  the black and white scenes took place right after the events of the S5 season finale; the scenes in color are "now," seemingly six months later.

Now.  Rick is speechifying about some grand plan on the cliff over a quarry that is teeming with walkers.  Behind him, a tanker truck that had been serving as a barricade to keep the walkers in slips off the cliff and zombies start pouring out of the quarry.  All of a sudden, everything slips into high gear: this was supposed to be a dry run for the plan but now it's for real.  Rick shouts instructions and everyone runs off, knowing exactly what they're supposed to do, but for us, the viewers, it's chaos.  And the walkers, thousands of them, keep coming and coming.  I hope this is a good plan.

Then.  Deana, sitting by the pool of her dead husband's blood, tells Father Gabriel that he was wrong about Rick.  Gabriel nods sadly.  Abraham takes Reg's body to be buried and, sad, starts drinking heavily.  Tara is in the infirmary, conscious now, when Glen and Nicholas come in [after nearly beating each other to death out in the woods].  Eugene comes in and is thrilled to see Tara; she says she's glad nothing happened to his hair.  She asks where Noah is, not knowing that he got eaten because of Nicholas.  Everyone else looks sad.  A bloodied Rick tells Morgan that he's glad to see him and says that he doesn't take chances anymore.  Morgan thinks that sounds good.

Now.  The plan, via Rick's walkie-talkie voiceover is that Daryl leads the walkers out, Sasha and Abraham joining him at the bottom of the hill.  Glen's crew heads to the tractor place to lock that down.  Everyone has their assignments.  Everyone runs with purpose.

Then.  The next morning, Rick (with a distracting number of tiny bandaids on his face) and Daryl bring each other up to speed (what happened in Alexandria; the walkers with the Ws carved in their foreheads).  Rick doesn't think Daryl needs to bring any more new people back into Alexandria; Daryl disagrees but doesn't make a big deal about it.  Eugene is standing guard at the compound's front gate when a long-range run comes back.  Heath is a new named character - perhaps he will survive the episode.  Later, as Rick is showing Morgan around, they see Gabriel and an Alexandrian digging graves for Reg and Pete.  Rick's all, Pete doesn't get to be buried inside the walls and Deana, making a sudden appearance, orders that Pete's body be taken out into the woods and left there.  Rick and Morgan pick up the body, Pete's son Ron watching them from the trees.  As they load Pete's body into the trunk of a car, Rick tries to explain what happened.

Now.  Rick, Michonne and Morgan move into position by a steel wall reinforced by RVs.  Rick:  "It'll hold."  Michonne: "Well, that's good.  You know, considering where we're standing."  Then, moments later, Morgan hilariously asks Michonne if she stole a protein bar from his stash when they met the first time.  She gives him a look: "No."  Because he could have sworn there was one more peanut butter left.  She sighs, "That's how it always is.  You always think there's one more peanut butter."  Heh.

Then.  Rick and Morgan take Pete's body out into the woods.  Rick wants to just leave it there but Morgan insists on digging a grave.  They are interrupted when Rick hears something, though.  They investigate and find themselves on the edge of the quarry.  They stare down at the hordes of walkers, more and more being drawn in by the cries and groans.  The CGI is not all that good but the sight is still terrifying.  From behind them, Ron runs up, chased by several walkers.  Rick grabs the kid before he runs over the edge of the cliff; the walkers tumble over.  Later, Rick tries to tell Ron that it's not safe beyond the town's walls and he'll teach him how to shoot but, not surprisingly, Ron is uninterested in listening to anything from the man who just killed his father.  He is surprised, however, when Rick and Morgan go back and finish burying Pete.

Now.  So, so slowly, Daryl rides his chopper down the middle of the road, leading the huge herd of walkers.  There are thousands of walkers, more than enough to overrun tiny Alexandria.  Meanwhile, Glen, Nicholas and Heath get to the tractor store.  There are a bunch of zombies trapped inside, banging on the windows and growling and the concern is that they will make enough noise to distract the walkers on the road.  They need to keep the walkers on the road.  After a false start, they break a window and walkers tumble out.  At first the three men keep their cool, taking them down with head shot after head shot.  Then there are too many and it gets a little tense.  But they manage to put them all down, each man saving the others' lives in turn, Nicholas redeeming himself by saving Glen.

Then.  Rick and Morgan report to the Alexandrians about what they saw at the quarry and Rick lays out his plan.  "It's not a matter of if, but when."  Carol is still playing her meek housewife role and supports Rick's plans.  New character Carter (played by Ethan Embry) is the voice of opposition but Deana overrules him.  One by one the members of Rick's group show their support; the Alexandrians are slower to agree but some of them do.  Rick explains that walkers herd up and play follow the leader unless they get distracted.  This way they can lead them out and away from the town.   Then they go through the plan again.

Now.  The plan where Rick, Morgan and Michonne are stationed is a trouble-spot, a place where the road bends.  The wall is there to turn the walkers, to keep them on the road.  But walkers are mindless and many walk right into the wall, bouncing off.  Hence the reinforcements.  And Rick, Morgan and Michonne fire off flares, attracting the zombies' attention down the road.  The wall shakes and trembles but it holds and the herd keeps moving.

ASH VS. THE EVIL DEAD commercial!  Ooh you lucky Starz subscribers!!!

Then.  Housewife Carol makes the rounds, handing out water as people build the walls.  Rick tells her that she needs to keep the people who remain in Alexandria safe and of course she will (I'm getting tired of Nurturing Carol - I want BAMF Carol back).  Later, when she hands Morgan some water, he asks if she was a cop with Rick before.  Bemused, she says no and asks why he would think that.  Morgan:  "Because you're always watching, always keeping ready."  Carol: "Hmm. Aren't you sweet."

Now.  Abraham and Sasha notice that some of the zombies are wandering off course.  Abraham jumps out of the car and runs into the woods, hollering and waving his arms and capturing the errant walkers' interest, leading them back to the road.  When he gets back in the car, he is splashed with blood and he chuckles, making entirely inappropriate comments about how much blood Reg and Pete were covered with on the night of their demise.  Sasha is all WTF I'M THE CRAZY ONE IN THE CAR.

Then.  When some walkers lurch out of the woods toward some wall-building Alexandrians, including crankypants Carter, Rick encourages the townspeople to use their shovels to protect themselves.  But the Alexandrians are pretty much useless and Rick, Morgan, Michonne and Daryl step up, quickly and efficiently putting down the threat.  Morgan stares hard at Rick and accuses, "I thought you didn't take chances anymore."  Rick shrugs and Carter glares daggers at him.  Later, as he is raiding the storeroom for snacks, Eugene overhears Carter trying to garner support among some of the Alexandrians to kill Rick before he gets them killed.  Eugene is discovered and Carter points a gun at his head.  But then Rick, Daryl and Morgan are there.  Rick easily disarms Carter and points his gun at his head.  Daryl says, "Rick ..." and Rick backs off, handing the gun to Daryl and saying he's fine, he won't kill Carter.  (We're supposed to be seeing Rick's dark side here but the show is too much in love with having him be the hero to really make him go dark.)  Later, Rick and Morgan have a nice moment - observed by an eavesdropping Michonne, who seems relieved to see Rick making a connection with someone - when Rick lets Morgan hold baby Judith.

Now.  Rick, Carter, Glen, Morgan, Michonne and a bunch of others fan out in the woods, paralleling the road to push any wandering walkers back on track.  Carter is amazed that Rick's plan is working and shakes his hand - so of course Carter won't survive the episode.  Indeed, as he moves out on point, Carter runs into a walker and is unable to defend himself, getting the side of his face bitten right the hell off.  It's super gruesome and Carter screams and screams and screams.  Unfortunately, his screaming distracts the walkers in the herd and some start wandering off the road towards the noise.  While others fire their guns to distract them back, Rick runs up to Carter.  He kills off the zombie and knocks the shrieking man to the ground, desperately trying to get him to stop screaming.  But Carter won't or can't stop and, just as Morgan and Michonne run up, Rick runs his knife through Carter's brainstem.  That stops the screaming.  Rick actually has a moment when he looks like he feels bad about what happened.  That moment doesn't last long.  Morgan and Michonne have a little more trouble with it: they know it had to happen but it doesn't make it any easier.

The plan seems to be working.  The herd is moving in the right direction and Daryl, Sasha and Abraham are to lead them twenty miles out and away before ditching the herd and returning home.  The walkers should continue moving in the same direction, away from Alexandria.  But then.  Then a horn sounds in the distance.  Coming from the direction of Alexandria.  And the noise is distracting the herd, pulling them off the road, turning them in the direction of the town.  It's a disaster.  Our heroes start running through the woods, heading back home.  And the camera pulls back into a helicopter shot, showing literally thousands of zombies lurching towards Alexandria.

Thank god Carol is back there.  She'll take care of it.

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

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Strong start but now we falter

I was doing really well for a while with the timely True Blood recaps and getting some movie reviews out there for this year's Scarelicious October Movie Series.  But then Mr. Mouse and I had some well-deserved time off and well, now I'm behind - especially with regard to getting the recaps of the new season of The Walking Dead up here for you.  I have the first episode queued up in my DVR (why oh why do they insist on 90 minute episodes?) and the plan is to watch it tonight and then get the recap up tomorrow.  But the real issue is that the next episode recap is going to be really late and I'm sorry about that.

Hopefully I'll be able to squeeze in at least one more scary movie but I'm afraid that the next ten days will be pretty sparsely populated around here.  Sometimes life gets in the way of pop culture consumption - it's just unfortunate timing.  Please check back in and watch some good scary stuff of your own.

P.S. Anyone out there watching this season of American Horror Story: Hotel?  I've seen the first episode and while it had some strong moments - slick and stylish visually, a bunch of intriguing possibilities with storylines, some nice acting (especially from poor Max Greenfield, even though his fate was surprisingly horrible, even for an FX show) - I'm afraid that, like most of the other AHSs, it's just going to tease us with the possibilities and throw most of it away in a tangled mess.  They introduced so much I just don't have faith in the production team to make any sort of sense of it.  With luck, it will end up being a gorgeous, twisted hot mess ... and not just a limp, faded mess.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

True Blood episode recap S6E10 "Radioactive"

After the funeral, Sookie and Alcide take a walk.  His hair (a wig, I'm hoping) is atrocious.  [My dvd then gets stuck so I've fast-forwarded and the next scene is this:]  When they get to Bill and Jessica's, the freed vampires, all still completely high on Bill's/Lilith's/Warlow's blood, are swing-dancing in the front yard, pulling off their clothes and throwing them on a bonfire and generally fucking like bunnies.  Sookie sees Jason being fed on by Violet and runs to see him.  Violet is initially defensive and very jealous but then, when she understands that Sookie is Jason's sister, plants a soul kiss on her.  Jason:  "Uh, Sook?  This is Violet.  She's European."  Sookie makes the rounds, with both Pam and Tara hugging her and glad to see her.  But Sookie has some melancholy to her because in her head, she's saying goodbye as a human before she goes to Warlow.  Bill, watching her from inside the mansion, realizes this and feels bad about it.

Sookie returns to the faerie realm where Warlow is just finishing putting together the most sparkly, flowery May pole you've ever seen.  There's some stupid faerie ceremony to wed the two of them, he explains, but she interrupts, saying that she'd maybe like to postpone their wedding/her transformation, and maybe they could just date a while first, get to know one another.  Like flipping a switch, Warlow turns on her [This character is so inconsistent: first he was all evil and scary, then he was all in love and flowery, and now he's all scary again?  So annoying].  He hits her across the face, grabs her by the throat and ties her to the damn May pole, growling, "Who the fuck do you think you're talking to?"

Back at Bill's, vampires are HILARIOUSLY playing volleyball to "Wishing Well" by Belly - because everyone knows vampires love 1990s alt-pop.  Tara notices Pam, sulking to one side, mood obviously changed.  Pam is going after Eric and Tara is pissed off but can't do anything to stop her.  Pam tells her to take care of Willa (who is so oblivious that she hasn't noticed Eric is gone) and flies way as Tara growls, "You guys are the worst fuckin' makers."  In the house, Jessica finds Bill who is SO SAD to learn that since he was so far drained, he lost all of Lilith's blood and its accompanying powers: "I feel like Bill again.'  He's also sad about Sookie and tells Jess about the deal Sookie made to save the vampires.  Jessica is all, stop moping around and go save her then, for chrissakes.  He is such a twat.

A little bit later, Bill, Jessica, Jason and Violet discuss how to save Sookie.  But because she and Warlow are on that other plane, they need another faerie to get them there - and the only other faerie in Bon Temps is Andy's daughter Adalind.  While Bill releases that scientist he had captive in the basement (glamouring him so he won't remember and giving him a big bag of money for his trouble) Jason and Violet go to the Bellefleurs.  Andy is completely against the idea, of course,  but Adalind stands up to her dad and says that she wants to help Sookie.  So Andy and Jason arm themselves with lots of silver UV light bullets and wooden stakes and everyone traipses off to the cemetery.

Blah blah blah.  Warlow is yapping to the captive Sookie.  I DON'T CARE.  And when night has fallen in the real world, he fangs up and bites her.  In the real world, Bill, Jason, Jess, Andy, Violet and Adalind get to the cemetery.  Adalind doesn't know how to use her faerie magic to transport them ("I'm two weeks old!").  Bill muses that fear is what usually rouses a fae's power and Violet's all, why didn't you say so?  She fangs up and gets in Adalind's face, shrieking at her to use her power; terrified, Adalind does, bringing them all into the faerie world.  Bill and Warlow fight while the rest of them rescue Sookie who is unconscious from the blood loss.  They transfer back to Bon Temps, going back to the Stackhouse house.  Jason and Violet revive Sookie while Andy hides Adalind in the basement safe room.  Bill and Warlow transfer back over to the real world, continuing the fight there.  Warlow easily overpowers pretty much everybody, locking them all down with Adalind while he goes after Sookie.  She, meanwhile, has woken up and is hiding in the bathroom.  He corners her there, Jason staggering up the stairs after him.  Just before all is lost THANK GOODNESS Niall (remember him? stuck in that hell dimension so he can be a deus ex machina?) comes out of the portal in the bathroom and grabs Warlow so Jason can stake him.  (I would think that it would take more than a simple wooden stake to kill a 5,500 year old vampire.  But what do I know?  In any case, what an utter waste of a villain.)  Sookie and Jason pulls Niall out of the portal, saving him.  There's a downside to killing Warlow: his magical blood dissipates, leaving all the vampires who used to be able to walk in the sun back the way they were.  This is a problem, especially for Eric who was sunbathing naked on a glacier in Sweden.  He screams and catches fire.  Note: I refuse to believe that Eric is dead.  I also appreciated the full frontal nudity, however brief.


Bill has written a book about Lilith and Hep V and what the former Governor did.  And he goes on a book tour, trying to mend vampire/human relations.  Back in Bon Temps, Sookie and Alcide (who has gotten a haircut, thank god) have shacked up.  Also, Jason and Violet are still together.  She has made him give her oral sex for the last 170 days with no reciprocation.  He's wondering when he gets his turn.  Not yet, says Violet.

What else has happened?  Sam is now the mayor of Bon Temps and has sold Merlotte's to Arlene, who has renamed it Bellefleur's.  And roving bands of Hep V infected vampires are throughout Louisiana, attacking small towns.  The town calls a meeting at one of the churches, taking blood samples from all the humans to see if any of them are carriers for Hep V (which doesn't harm humans but can be transmitted).  The reason for the meeting: Sam and Bill, with the local churches' support, think that the best way to protect the townsfolk is to pair each of them up with an uninfected vampire.  The vampire gets clean blood to feed on (since Tru Blood is still no good) and the human gets protected by their vampire.

Some of the townsfolk think this is a terrible idea but some are amenable and attend a BBQ at Bellefleur's Bar & Grill later that night.  Vampires and humans get paired off (Tara's mom makes amends with her estranged vampire daughter by offering to be her food, for example).  Jessica, noticing that Andy and Adalind are not in attendance, goes to their home and offers her protection, without using them for food.  Andy doesn't want to have anything to do with the vampire who killed his other three half-fae daughters but Jessica is not dissuaded, standing guard long after he has closed the door in her face.

Alcide and Sookie get their blood tests back - clean, of course - but neither is interested in pairing off with a vampire.  As they head for home, Bill shows up and, holy hell, we're all back into let's-save-Sookie mode.  Bill thinks she should hook up with him for protection because she's so delicious; Alcide is all growly and says he can protect her himself.  EVEN THOUGH SHE HAS HER OWN FAERIE MAGIC.  Then, both Bill and Alcide sniff the air: a huge swarm of infected vampires is converging on the party at Bellefleur's.

This?  This is how you end the season?  After a strong E9, you finish with this crap?  Aaaarrrggghhh.  This show pisses me off so much.

Previously on True Blood / next time on True Blood