Friday, February 27, 2015

The Walking Dead S5E11 "The Distance" 2/22/15

Maggie and Sasha bring Aaron back to the barn where everyone is immediately suspicious.  Especially Rick, who wastes no time punching him in the face for mostly no reason.  I mean, sure, the group has been duped and nearly destroyed in the past by seemingly friendly people - they should be wary of strangers.  But right from the get-go, Aaron, clean, well-fed Aaron, is nothing but polite, sincere and even a little bit funny.  His job, he says, is to convince the group to follow him back home, to his community.  He's brought photos of the walled community, and food, and slowly, group members drop their guard, just a little.  Well, not Rick with the face-punching.

There's really a lot of talking here in the barn.  When Rick finds a flare gun in Aaron's pack, the group gets tense, wondering how many others are out there in the woods, waiting to attack them.  Aaron continues to be earnest and calm, gently trying to persuade them.  He says that there is only one other guy out there, which Rick doesn't believe.  Aaron suggests that they all drive back to the community together - they can be there by lunchtime - his vehicles are parked just a couple miles away.  "You can trust me," says Aaron.  Michonne is beginning to do just that: she says to Rick that she wants to go check out the vehicles (Maggie does too).  Rick's like, going out there is dangerous.  Michonne rebuts that with "Not finding a safe place for all of us to live is dangerous."

In the end, Michonne, Glen, Maggie, Abraham and Rosita head out to try to confirm Aaron's story - while out in a field, unseen, a man watches them.  The rest of them break up into groups of two and disperse into the woods around the barn to keep an eye out for ambush; Rick, Judith and a tied-up Aaron remain in the barn.  When a hungry Judith starts crying, refusing the mashed up acorns Rick tries to feed her, Aaron says that there's a jar of applesauce in his pack.  Rick, increasingly paranoid, makes Aaron eat some of the applesauce first (over Aaron's protestations that he hates applesauce, that his mom used to force him to eat it when he was growing up).  Out on the road, the gang finds an RV and a beater.  They hear a rustling in the bushes and everyone tenses up, raising their guns and snarling, "Come out with your hands up, asshole!"  When it's only a zombie that lurches out of the shrubbery, they all relax (which is kind of hilarious) and Abraham and Rosita take it down.

The road crew drives the two vehicles back to the barn.  They unload all the food - more than the group has seen in a long time - and Rick tells Aaron that they're keeping all of it, even if they don't go with him to his community.  Carl's like, why wouldn't we go?  Michonne, taking a leadership role in Rick's increasing fragmentation,  speaks up: "If he was lying, or trying to hurt us.  But he isn't ... we need this.  So we're going.  All of us.  Somebody speak up if they feel differently."  Darryl, to Rick: "I dunno, man, this barn smells like horseshit."   Rick:  "Yeah.  We're going."  But when they ask Aaron where his community is, he waffles, saying that he's happy to drive them but he doesn't want to tell them.  Michonne is all, you're not driving.  Aaron hesitates and then tells them what route to take.  But Rick is not down with that, saying they'll take another road and leave after dark.  Aaron protests, saying the route he mentioned has been cleared.  But Rick has laid down the rules and the group is willing to go along with them.  Later, Michonne asks Rick if he really means to join Aaron's community.  He says he's not sure but he's at least going to go take a look.

Rick, Glen, Michonne and Aaron drive the beater car and the rest of them take the RV.  As they drive, Michonne looks at Aaron's photographs and wonders why there aren't any people in them.  "I took a picture of the whole group but didn't get the exposure right."  Immediately, Michonne asks him the Questions.  How many walkers have you killed?  I don't know, a lot.  How many people? Two.  Why?  Because they tried to kill me.  Just as things start to get tense in the car, however, they come upon a huge zombie herd.  Huge.  The car plows through them, blood and guts and limbs flying.  ("Zombie car wash" is the term flying around the internet.)  Finally, the car stalls out, the engine clotted with too many body parts.  Glen can't get it started.  The RV is nowhere to be found and everyone hopes that they turned around before getting in the middle of the herd.  While Michonne pulls arms and other parts out of the engine block, Aaron starts to panic.  Then they see a flare exploding into the car.  Aaron knocks Michonne aside and runs off into the woods.  Rick is not inclined to give chase but Michonne points out that their people will have seen that flare and assumed it is them.  She and Rick and Glen abandon the car and run into the dark woods after Aaron.

They are soon surrounded by walkers and Glen gets separated.  He almost gets bitten but doesn't, and then he finds Aaron, hands still tied behind his back, desperately kicking at a ravening zombie.  Glen kills the zombie and then cuts Aaron free.  Meanwhile, Rick and Michonne are running out of ammo so Rick fires a flare into an approaching walker's face.  That's pretty excellent.  Glen and Aaron come up behind them and take out the rest of the zombie menace.  They make their way to a road and follow it towards where the flare went up.  Conveniently, they find the RV and the rest of their group safely holed up in an old garage.  Aaron starts shouting, "Eric? Eric!"  A voice calls, "I'm in here," and Aaron rushes inside.  Eric is lying down, his ankle broken but otherwise unharmed, and the two men embrace.  When Rick approaches them from out of the shadows, Eric smiles and introduces himself easily.  Rick seems almost feral when he grunts out his own name in response.

Aaron goes out to the rest of the group and thanks them for saving Eric, saying that he is grateful and he will repay the debt to each of them when they get to his community, Alexandria.  They decide to hunker down for the remainder of the night.  Rick wants to keep Aaron and Eric separate and Aaron stands up to him, saying that the only way that happens is if Rick shoots him.  Rick seems inclined to do that until Glen steps in, saying that he wants to be safe too but he believes that those two men are on the up-and-up.  Rick backs down.  He seems soooooo sketchy anymore.

In the morning, they all drive towards Alexandria in the RV.  They have to pause to change out a battery at one point, which is a lovely little call-back to the first (?) season when Dale taught Glen RV repair, which gives Rick the opportunity to sneak away and hide one of his guns in the yard of an abandoned house.  Just in case.  When they get to the walls surrounding Alexandria, they get out and stand there for a moment, listening: they can hear children's voices inside the walls, laughing and playing.  Carol pauses next to Rick, saying quietly, "Even though you were wrong, you're still right."  Rick chuckles mirthlessly and they all turn towards the gates.

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

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Walking Dead S5E10 "Them" 2/15/15

It's a walker-and-talker, folks, wherein we have a little palate cleanser after losing Beth and Tyrese in the prior two episodes.

The gang's latest vehicle runs out of gas, dead on the road, some sixty miles outside of Washington D.C., and they get out, trudging along, just trying to make forward progress.  They are in rough shape, desperate for food and water.  Some are in rougher shape than others, namely Maggie (who has to put down a walker when it interrupts her crying jag out in the middle of the woods), Darryl (who is so hungry that he resorts to digging up earthworms and eating them) and Sasha (who finds nothing but a dry stream bed and desiccated frogs, which she tries to bury).  It's hot, everyone is cranky or worse, and they are beginning to pick up trailing walkers.  That's a cool shot, actually, with the group staggering up the rural road, slow and relentless walkers in the distance; and every time the camera returns to that shot, there are a few more trailing zombies.  They don't get closer but they don't stop.  Maggie, to Sasha: "How much longer we got?"  Sasha: "About sixty miles."  Maggie: "I wasn't talkin' about that."

Walking and talking: Rick tries to get Darryl to open up about Beth.  Gabriel tries to get Maggie to talk to him about Beth and she smacks him down pretty abruptly.  Sasha wants to take down the following walkers and Michonne tells her that she needs to ease up, that they aren't strong enough for fighting.  Darryl goes scouting and Carol tags along because he can't/won't stop her; she tries to get him to open up about Beth.  Carl finds a broken music box and gives it to Maggie.

They find a narrow spot in the road with a bridge and set up as a place to deal with the small walker herd.  As the zombies lurch towards them, they methodically push the creatures off the bridge, thus not having to really engage them.  Except Sasha is spoiling for a fight and breaks rank, lunging into the herd, blade flashing.  The rest of the fighters (Rick, Glen, Michonne, Abraham and a returning Darryl, who saves Rick from a back-biter) stagger into the fray.  They are all exhausted and it is a close thing, but they finally take out all the walkers.  Afterwards, Michonne chastises Sasha for starting a fight that they almost couldn't finish.  Sasha doesn't give a shit.

More walking.  They find a few cars stranded on the road and paw through them, looking for anything useful.  Maggie opens one car's trunk and is shocked to find a formerly female zombie in there, hands and feet bound, gag in its mouth.  It's pretty dark: had this woman been kidnapped and then just left in the trunk, dying and turning alone?  Maggie slams the trunk closed but is upset when she can still hear the walker's movements.  The trunk is jammed as she frantically tries to get it open.  Glen walks up, calms her, opens the trunk and dispatches the walker with a knife to the temple.

Later, the group sits in the shade, resting, as thunder rumbles in the distance.  They found some booze, which Abraham is sipping at.  Tara and Rosita don't approve but there doesn't seem to be anything anyone can do.  Just then, a pack of four feral dogs (a border collie, a German shepherd and two Doberman pinschers) comes out of the woods, snarling and barking.  Rick and Darryl pull out their knives but no one seems to know what to do.  No one except Sasha, who efficiently shoots all the dogs.  Everyone eats that night, lost in their own sad thoughts.

More walking and talking.  Glen tries to get Maggie to talk to him about Beth and she gives a little speech crafted by the writers to try to explain why she never seemed to care about Beth: when she didn't know what happened to her after the prison and when Darryl told her she'd been captured in Atlanta.  She's sad now though, and isn't sure she wants to keep fighting.  Abraham tries to reach out to Sasha but she's angry and rebuffs him.  Glen tries to reach out to Darryl, "We can make it together.  But we can only make it together."  Darryl decides to go scouting again, alone this time.  He finds an old road and a barn in a clearing surrounded by old pine trees. He sits in the shade to watch the barn, light a cigarette, smoking a little, stubbing the cigarette out on his hand.  He cries a little, for Beth.

When Darryl rejoins the group on the road, they're all standing there, staring at a pile of water bottles with a sign "FROM A FRIEND" on them.  Rick and Abraham won't let anyone drinks, however, not knowing if it's a trap.  Just then, the sky opens up and it starts bucketing rain.  Everyone laughs (not everyone: not Darryl or Maggie or Sasha) and opens their mouths, drinking in as much as they can, washing the dirt and sweat from their skin.  But the storm gets stronger, thunder and lightning crashing overhead.  Darryl shouts that he found a barn and they run to it.

There's only one walker inside, which they dispatch easily.  That night, as the storm rages overhead, Rick, Carol, Michonne, Glenn and Darryl sit around a small fire, talking.  Michonne expresses her belief that this is not all that life is but the others are all, look, it may get better and we hope it gets better, but this is what life is right now.  Rick: Blah blah blah, we are the walking dead but maybe one day we will live again.  Darryl: "We ain't them."

Later that night while the others sleep, Darryl keeps watch.  So he is the first to the banging barn doors when a horde of walkers approaches, trying to get in.  He bars the doors as best he can.  Maggie wakes up and runs to help him, then Sasha, then everyone else - even Carl, who places baby Judith safely on the barn floor away from the fire.  The storm rages and crashes violently, the music rises and the moans of the walkers and you can't pick out one sound from the next as the group desperately tries to keep the zombies out.

Come morning, the storm has passed as has the zombie threat apparently.  Maggie wakes up and joins Darryl, who is sitting off to one side.  They watch a sleeping Sasha and Darryl says, "He [Tyrese] was tough.  She [Beth] was too - she just didn't notice."  He hands Maggie the music box, saying he cleaned the grit out of the gear box for him.  She thanks him and he turns over to get some sleep.

Maggie goes and wakes Sasha and they grab their weapons and venture out of the barn.  It is utter destruction out there: the storm downed all the trees and crushed the walkers.  They walk to the edge of a meadow and watch the sunrise.  Apparently these three tortured souls (Darryl, Maggie and Sasha) have now attained some peace with their recent losses.  Maggie: "You're gonna make it.  Both of us, we will.  That's the hard part."  She tries the music box but nothing happens.  They laugh a little and then a man appears.  The two women draw their guns and he puts his hands up.  "I'm Aaron ... I'm a friend.  I'd like to talk to the person in charge.  Rick, right?"  Maggie and Sasha are all, WTF?  Aaron:  "I have good news."  And then that damn music box starts playing.

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

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Walking Dead S5E9 "What Happened and What's Going On" 2/8/15

Welcome back to The Walking Dead!  I don't know why it took me so long to get this recap up because there's hardly anything to recap.  Seriously.  This show has been on break since the end of November when we were left with Beth's brutal death and on its highly anticipated* return ... we get about five minutes of plot and a bunch of art shots.

We join Rick, Glen, Tyrese, Michonne and Noah in a car, heading for Noah's home in Virginia.  In the wake of Beth's death, they are lost, disconsolate, without a plan; Beth had planned to get Noah back home to his family so that 's what they all decided to do.  This car is front-running while the rest of the crew are somewhere further back - Rick's group is going to go in first to scout it out before bringing the rest in.  Noah is convinced that his mom and twin little brothers will be fine, living in their gated community.  Everyone else is grimly hopeful or just grim.  When they get to the neighborhood, the gates are locked but when Glen climbs up and peeks over, the place is burned out and deserted.  They all go in and Noah falls to his knees, looking at the pieces of dead bodies strewn around the cul de sac and all the ruined homes.  As he sobs and shudders, Rick, Glen and Michonne decide to scout around for anything useful.  Tyrese says he'll keep an eye on Noah since there are a few walkers lurching around and the group splits.

Rick, Glen and Michonne find a few things that they can use - a clean shirt, a baseball bat - and the subject of Beth comes up.  Both Rick and Glen are all, even if Darryl hadn't killed that Dawn chick, we would have.  Michonne gives them the stinkeye and says that she's worried that they've been out on their own too long.  She wants to find a safe (safe-ish) place and hunker down, build a community, reclaim their humanity.  They think about this neighborhood as a possibility but when they go to the back wall, they realize that the place had been breached by humans first, walkers second, and maybe this is not the place.  Then Michonne suggests that even though Eugene lied about a cure being in D.C., maybe he was right about there being people in D.C.  They are only about one hundred miles away at this point and since no one else has any better ideas, Rick decides that they should try D.C.

Meanwhile, Noah has pulled himself together enough to want to go see what happened to his house.  Tyrese isn't sure this is a good idea but follows along to keep the kid out of trouble.  When they get there, Noah's mom is dead and decayed on the living room floor.  To give Noah some space to say goodbye, Tyrese checks out the rest of the house.  He finds one of the little brothers dead and decaying on his bed but forgets the whole TWINS thing and the other twin, now a zombie, sneaks up and takes a big chunk out of his forearm.  Oops.  Noah runs in and offs his zombie brother and then runs for help.  Tyrese cowers in the bedroom, blood gushing from his arm.  It takes Noah a ridiculously long time to find the others and while he's gone, Tyrese hallucinates a whole bunch of other dead characters - Beth, Bob, the Governor, Mika and Lizzie, that Terminus asshole who Tyrese failed to kill when he had the chance - talking to him and either telling him that it's okay to let go or that he fucked up and is now getting what's coming to him.  When Rick et als. get there, they chop off his bitten arm and hustle him back to their car.  As they drive to rejoin the rest of the group, a barely conscious Tyrese hallucinates all his dead friends again and then dies, head against the car window.  They rejoin the rest of the group and bury Tyrese, Gabriel saying some words over the grave.

And that's what happened.  That's it.  This episode was filmed quite nicely, with a lot of striking, almost abstract shots.  And the scenes with Tyrese post-bite are feverish and disjointed, kind of artsy.  But that's it.  I guess it's good that as nice a character as Tyrese got nearly a whole episode to himself to say goodbye to the show but I was sort of underwhelmed by the whole thing.  In hindsight, my reaction was quite possibly related to the 100% lack of Darryl in the episode.

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

* I'm sure some people were highly anticipating it coming back.  I wouldn't count myself among them.  Yes, looking forward to seeing what comes next, but it's not like I was counting the days or anything.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

On the plus side

The Walking Dead comes back on tonight so there will finally be an update here.  You know, in the next day or so.  Not immediately.