Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Walking Dead S6E10 "The Next World" 2/21/16

This week on The Walking Dead, we have a kindler, gentler episode, giving us a break after the utter misery of the last one.  Not a whole lot happens but we get some character work that doesn't entirely feel like filler and although it isn't a fantastic episode, it's a pretty decent one.

We pick up back in Alexandria, a couple of weeks after the massacre.  The walls have been rebuilt, Carl is up and at 'em, Rick is actually calm, happy and at peace.  He and Daryl are going on a supply run since everything is quiet:  in addition to the necessary food and medical supplies, Michonne has requested toothpaste and Denise ADORABLY asks Daryl to bring back some pop for Tara as a surprise, if he comes across any.  As the guys head out, Eugene suggests that they check agricultural supply spots for sorghum wheat, which would be a good crop for them to grow.  They pick up speed heading out of town and Rick pops in a CD of perky country music.  "No," Daryl protests in vain, "Don't, don't, please don't."  And then he gives Rick some serious side-eye as Rick snaps his fingers along to the music.  Aw, it's a buddy-roadtrip episode!

Back at Alexandria, Michonne notices Spencer heading out into the woods outside the walls with a shovel on his back.  She climbs down from the walls to follow him.  Inside the walls, Maggie finds Enid who is by herself, writing in her journal.  She asks the younger girl what she's been doing with her time and when Enid can't/won't account for herself, suggests that maybe she could help out.  "I'm around," says Maggie, in a friendly tone, "Come find me."

Rick and Daryl slam on the brakes and pull to a stop in front of a barn with SORGHUM written on its wall.  In the barn they find a small box truck loaded with all kinds of food and toiletries.  They are thrilled and get the truck started, deciding to take it back to town and return later for their car.  On the way back, they stop at an old gas station.  Daryl breaks into a vending machine, pulling out orange soda and some chips.  Rick is all, ???? and Daryl explains that it's for Denise.  Rick nods, saying that she has really stepped up, saving Carl's life and all.  He admits that he was wrong in his initial assessment of the Alexandrians.

Just then they are interrupted as a guy in a leather coat, wool beanie and a kerchief over his face runs up, knocking into them.  Our boys pull their guns and the guy introduces himself as Paul Robia (?), "Jesus" to his friends (because of the resemblance when he reveals his face).  He says that there is a small herd of walkers coming this way and he's not sticking around to deal with them.  He says that he's on his own, with no camp, and when Rick starts to ask the three questions, Daryl stops him, saying, not this guy.  When Jesus runs off, Rick points out to Daryl that Jesus was too clean and put-together to be out on his own.  They wonder if they should follow up and then a series of small explosions erupt behind them: firecrackers, that Jesus put in a barrel.  Daryl says to Rick, he swiped your keys, didn't he? and they run back towards the truck, only to watch as Jesus drives away in it. Daryl: Shit.  Rick: Shit.

Michonne catches up with Spencer out in the woods.  He says he's just walking and she tags along, wondering what he's up to.  Also out in the woods, Carl and Enid.  Apparently this is where Enid has been going, accompanying Carl who has become a little bit withdrawn after his eye got shot off, needing some alone time.  He's content to read comics out in the woods but Enid has come to the end of her patience with that.  They see Michonne and Spencer walk past but don't say anything.  A little later, they come across a lone walker.  At first Carl is bent on killing it, since their friends are out in the woods, and then he refuses, to Enid's dismay.  "This is bullshit! It should be dead!" she cries.  He pushes her away, saying that he's not going to kill it, that she wouldn't understand.  Carl tells her to go home and then leads the walker off in the other direction.

Rick and Daryl run and run, finally catching up to Jesus and their truck when he has to stop for a flat tire.  They overpower him eventually - he puts up an awfully good fight - and tie him up, leaving him sitting on the road ("The knots are loose," Rick assures him) as they drive off in their truck.  A bit down the road, they see a farm near a small lake and turn in.  As they drive through the field, however, there is some banging coming from on top of the truck.  "It's that guy," snarls Daryl.  Rick slams on the brakes, throwing Jesus off the truck (how the hell did he get up there that quickly?) and Daryl jumps out, chasing him through the field.  As Daryl and Jesus tussle, Rick parks the truck to deal with some walkers that are approaching.  Jesus makes a run for the truck, Daryl close behind him.  They struggle again in the cab of the truck, Jesus stealing Daryl's gun.  He points it at Daryl's head and then says, "Duck!"  Daryl ducks and Jesus shoots the walker that was quietly approaching.  Daryl says thanks and then pulls Jesus out of the truck, knocking it out of park in the meantime.  The truck begins to roll backwards, towards the lake.  Jesus gets a hard knock on the head from the truck door and collapses.  But Daryl and Rick are too slow to save the truck and can only watch in disbelief as it rolls into the lake and submerges.  They shrug: what can you do?  Rick's all, we can't just leave that guy here, passed out in the field.  Daryl suggests that they just stick him up in a tree, out of reach of any walkers, but Rick insists that they take him back, let Denise patch him up and then question him.

Michonne and Spencer see Carl running through the woods.  Then they see the walker that is following him: it's zombie Deanna, Spencer's mom.  Spencer has been out looking for her; Carl led her to him, understanding that Spencer needed to be the one who puts her down (just like he had to do for Lori back at the prison).  Michonne grabs zombie Deanna's arms, holding her still, and Spencer puts a knife into her skull.  They bury her together, Michonne marking a nearby tree with a carved D, and then she insists that Spencer come back to Alexandria with her.  "It's where you live and you still have family there."

Back in town, Michonne finds Carl sitting on the porch with Judith.  At first she chastises him for not killing zombie Deanna, then he explains: it needed to be someone who loved her.  "I'd do it for you, Michonne."  Michonne pulls him and the baby into her arms, saying "Me too."

Rick and Daryl bring Jesus to Denise, then after she's bandaged him up, they lock him in that house they use for new people, leaving some water and a note, probably explaining that they brought him here for safety and that they'll talk soon.  As they head out, Rick says, "It is pretty stupid for us to be goin' out there."  Daryl: "Yup.  Do it again tomorrow?"  Rick:  "Yup."

Rick goes back to the house and crashes on the couch.  This is where Michonne finds him.  They sit companionably for a while, each not much wanting to talk about their day.  He hands her some mints that he scavenged, since all the toothpaste is at the bottom of the lake.  Michonne: "Oh, so you had a day!"  Then their fingers touch, and their hands, and then they lean in and kiss.  (Apparently a couple of weeks is all he needs to get over Jessie.)  Michonne laughs a bit and then they go at it.  Some time later that night, they sleep in bed together, naken, her sword on one side of the bed and his gun on the bedside table.  A man's voice: "Rick. Rick! Wake up."  Rick and Michonne lunge out of bed, stark naked, grabbing their weapons.  It's Jesus (christ - this guy is supernatural in his ability, Houdini-like).  "We should talk," he says, smiling a little.

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

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Walking Dead S6E9 "No Way Out" 2/14/16

And we're back ...

We start with Daryl, Sasha and Abraham getting stopped on the road by Negan's men.  Our three are disarmed and one of Negan's thugs takes Daryl around back of the truck, ostensibly to search for whatever else loot may be stashed there.  The head guy yammers on a bit; the rest of the thugs aim all their guns at Sasha and Abraham; the droning music amps up the tension.  Then the head guy decides that he is, in fact, going to shoot Sasha and Abraham, despite having promised that he wouldn't.  He raises his guns and then BOOM ALL THE GUYS DISINTEGRATE IN A MASSIVE EXPLOSION.  Heads fly everywhere.  And Daryl saunters out from behind the truck - where he somehow killed the thug he was with without anyone else hearing anything - holding that rocket launcher Abraham scavenged.  It's completely ridiculous: we never heard or saw the rocket fly by, for one.  But it's also kind of nice to have a tiny little bit of humor in this largely humorless show.  "What a buncha assholes," mutters Daryl, as they climb back into their truck.

Back at Alexandria, Rick leads Jessie, Sam, Ron, Carl with Judith, Gabriel and Michonne through the milling zombies.  I believe their original plan was to get to the arsenal and at first it goes well - they aren't being noticed at all.  But then they step off to the side as Rick tells them that the weapons they'll get at the arsenal won't be enough (so? at least they'll be more than what you've got now) so they should walk all the way to the quarry and then drive back to lead the walkers away.  Terrible plan, Rick.  But everyone just nods their heads.  Gabriel volunteers to take Judith to the church to wait it out and for some reason, Rick decides that he can trust the reverend with his daughter.  Really?  Jessie wants Sam to go to the church too but Sam is terrified to leave his mother and insists that he can make it.  They all grab hands and continue on.

Tara, Rosita, Eugene, Carol and Morgan regroup where the Wolf and Denise left them in the brownstone (a brownstone? in a rural housing development?).  They've only got Rosita's gun and Morgan's staff.  Carol takes the gun and does a sweep of the house.  Meanwhile, the Wolf and Denise hunker down in a stairwell, waiting for a break in the zombies to make a run for the wall.  Doesn't seem like that's a particularly safe place.  Denise looks like she's about to go into shock but the Wolf is all, I need you, we can do this.  Also, Glen and Enid get to the church and look for supplies - guns, ammunition, sheets they can use to climb the wall and get Maggie down from her perch.  This is weird, though: how fucking big is Alexandria that Gabriel and Judith haven't gotten to the church yet?  Have the Glen and Enid scenes been edited in out of order?  Enid finds a gun hidden in the altar.

Editorial insert #1:  This fucking show keeps changing the rules.  Whereas sometimes people can't talk at all without being tracked by the walkers, now it appears that low talking - not even whispering - is okay ... until it isn't.  Then Rick changes the plan halfway through town?  He couldn't have gotten them to safety inside the arsenal, with additional weapons, before revising the plan to head for the quarry?  Also, the first time they tried the zombie guts disguise, they were drenched with the gooey stuff.  This time they're just wearing barely coated ponchos.  INCONSISTENT.  Writers, you need to keep the rules of this universe consistent.  Sigh.

All of a sudden, it's night.

Editorial insert #2:  Night really? Already? And Rick's group STILL isn't out of town yet?  How were they possibly going to walk to the quarry in the dark with all those zombies? STUPID SHOW.

Everyone's zombie guts poncho is pretty dry by now but still the zombies don't notice.  Until Sam - who was doing fine before - decides to remember all the crappy things Carol told him about getting eaten alive by monsters and freaks out.  He stops in the middle of the road, refusing to go any further.  Jessie, Rick and Ron whisper-shout at him and still the zombies don't notice.  Until suddenly two zombies swoop into the shot and start gnawing on Sam.  WTF?  Did none of Rick, Carl or Michonne see them coming?  And then Jessie screams and zombies pounce on her.  And then Rick starts to go a little crazy, having flashbacks of how much he lurves Jessie.  Jessie is getting chowed on but is still holding onto Carl's hand and he can't get away.  So Rick takes out his machete and hacks her arm off.  Carl falls over, his gun getting knocked out of his hand.  A traumatized Ron picks up the gun, aiming it at Rick or Carl, whoever.  Before he can shoot, Michonne skewers him through the back with her katana.  He lurches and the gun goes off.  Rick flinches but it was Carl who got shot.  In the eye.  As Michonne wields her sword like the badass she is, Rick snatches up Carl's limp body and they make a run for it.

In the "brownstone," Rosita reminds Eugene that he's a coward and Carol and Morgan have a little talk - nothing much gets resolved except that she says she really should have just killed him.  Outside, the Wolf and Denise make a break for it.  He reaches the ladder up the wall but when she gets cornered, he goes back to help her, getting a big bite taken out of his arm for his trouble.  Her backbone snaps into place and she says, "Get me to the infirmary and I can save your life."  They almost make it too - but Carol, on lookout, shoots the Wolf down.  He gives Denise a little shove, urging her on.  Aaron and some others have taken refuge in the infirmary and when Denise looks out the window and sees Rick and Michonne coming with Carl, she has them help her stitch Carl back together.  Because getting shot through the eye wouldn't kill you.  (I know, it's in the comic but it's a little harder to swallow in a live-action show.)  As they work to save his son, Rick freaks out some more.  He grabs his machete and runs back outside.

Out in the horde, Rick is fighting like a maniac.  As soon as she can, Michonne runs out to join him, as do Aaron and the other Alexandrians.  Gabriel sees them from the church and decides to be brave, as do many other previously cowardly Alexandrians, and eventually Carol and her group - even Eugene - are out there too.  The small group of humans hack and slash and kill walkers and make a stand, being impressively efficient at it.

Editorial insert #3:  Seriously?  I mean, it's very inspiring but again, inconsistent that this small group isn't being completely overrun.

Meanwhile, Glen and Enid get over to Maggie.  Enid scampers up the scaffolding to try to get Maggie over the wall, Glen tries to singlehandedly murder scores of zombies and Maggie screams her lungs out because it pretty much looks like he's going to be killed.  Until semiautomatic weapons roar out from atop another section of the wall: it's Sasha and Abraham and they rake the zombie horde with their guns, saving Glen and bringing death to the walkers from on high.

Daryl is there too, of course, and after they rescue Maggie, Enid and Glen, they back the tanker truck up to a little pond in the center of town so that Daryl can pour out a bunch of gasoline into the pond.  Then he lights it up by shooting it with the rocket launcher.  There's a huge explosion and the zombies are all attracted by the light and noise.  Like bugs to a bug-zapper, zombies walk into the flames and burn.

Editorial insert #4:  Is that a thing?  I know we've seen zombies attracted by bonfires before but I really don't remember them walking right into it.  Writers changing the rules again, just to suit the situation.  

Then there's this strange scene of each of our heroes, one at a time, up against a black background, murdering zombies.  Perhaps it's out of the comics, perhaps it's meant to be uplifting and inspiring, but it's just a little silly and out of place, IMHO.  We get it.  You kill zombies.

In the morning, it looks like everyone has survived (really?), including Carl.  And Rick has had this massive change of heart: he realizes that the Alexandrians are not useless and that together they can rebuild the walls, rebuild the town.  He gets all teary and tells his son that he has hope for a future for him, a feeling he hasn't had since before he woke up in the hospital.  "Ah want to show you the new world, Coral!"  And, heartwarmingly, just as the episode ends, Carl's fingers twitch and close around Rick's hand. Awwwwww!

I just.  I don't know.  Yes, this was a more exciting episode than many when they're just walking and talking and talking and walking.  But even the zombie violence isn't that interesting anymore - there really needs to be consistency, so there can be tension when things are going badly for the characters and we know the writers aren't just going to change the universe's rules to get them out of it.  There needs to be character development - look at Denise, for a decent example.  There needs to be more plot than finding a safe place and then losing it moments later, then finding another safe place, and then losing that one moments later.  The Walking Dead is such a hugely popular show - I just want it to be a better one.

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

Monday, February 15, 2016

Mini movie review: Only Lovers Left Alive

I don't think I've ever seen a Jim Jarmusch film before so I can't speak to how Only Lovers Left Alive stacks up against the rest of his library.  But I can say that if you were looking for a romantic movie to watch on Valentine's Day (before diving into the misery that is The Walking Dead (recap coming soon)), this was a good one.  More atmospheric than plot-driven, OLLA follows Adam and Eve, two super-cool, effortlessly chic vampires, still completely in love with each other after centuries of marriage.  Eve, played with alien elegance by the otherworldly Tilda Swinton, is living in Tangiers when the movie begins, in a flat filled with ancient books and beautiful fabrics.  She occasionally socializes with her dear old friend, Christopher Marlowe (John Hurt), who is still writing five centuries later and is still indignant about William Shakespeare's fame.  Her husband Adam (Tom Hiddleston), however, is hiding out in a decaying mansion in a decaying Detroit, collecting beautiful, rare guitars and making beautiful, melancholy music.

As I mentioned above, there's not much plot: Eve goes to Detroit to visit Adam; her little "sister" - at most, Eve says, they are related "by blood" - Ava (Mia Wasikowska) shows up and wrecks some slight havoc; Adam and Eve return to Tangiers.  Usually I like a lot of plot in my movies.  But this moody, funny movie is wonderful.  Yes, Adam and Eve are vampires and they do drink blood, but they drink it out of tiny cordial glasses, getting stoned off each sip.  What these creatures of the night are about is culture through the ages - science, literature, music, art.  They listen to vinyl and play chess, there are stacks of leather-bound books everywhere.  Adam and Eve are deeply in love with each other and, as much as Adam might bitch about how the "zombies" (humans) are ruining the planet, they are still in love with the fact that art is still being created in the world.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Mini movie review: Frozen

I have long been a fan of Disney animated movies but refused to see Frozen in a reaction to everyone's omgitssoawesomeandwonderfulandthebestanimatedmovieelsaissogreat and just generally losing their minds.  Last night I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about and was just a bit underwhelmed, to be honest.  The songs were all forgettable - except for THAT ONE SONG which I admit that I like (although I don't have a little daughter playing it ad nauseum) - and the story was a bit light.  I liked Sven the reindeer the best but was surprised that I enjoyed Olaf the snowman too.  I had assumed that he would be totally annoying, like the Jar-Jar Binks of Frozen, but he wasn't and I actually laughed at a number of his lines.

Elsa, who every little girl dresses up like for Halloween, is an odd character.  Her parents were horrible to her, encouraging her to lock herself up after what was clearly an accident.  And then she finally breaks free and runs away and ... locks herself up again.  She doesn't really do anything (other than making that gorgeous ice palace).  It's Anna who is the hero: she searches for Elsa, battles adverse conditions and makes the ultimate sacrifice to save her sister - but it's Elsa who all the little girls emulate and love.  Anna (yes, annoying at times but she had a crappy, limited childhood) gets shafted, in my opinion.