Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Walking Dead S7E11 "Hostiles and Calamities" 2/26/17

We pick up right from when Negan et als. abducted Eugene from Alexandria, however long ago that was in-universe (just days?).  Because we were ALL dying to know what happened to Eugene.  Not much happens here but we get a bit of a character study instead of the usual overwhelming despair.  BONUS:  no Rick!!!

At the Sanctuary (I forget - is that what Negan's place is called?), Dwight discovered that Daryl has  escaped right as Negan gets back from his raid on Alexandria.  Dwight rushes around, panicked, finding the GO NOW note that spurred Daryl to action.  He recognizes the handwriting: his wife Sherry was the one who wrote it and she scarpered too, when Daryl did.  Dwight tucks that note away just in time as Negan and his goons come for him, beating the crap out of him for allowing their prisoner to get away.

Eugene gets taken into the Sanctuary.  He's terrified, mewling, but all they do is show him to his [very nice] room, with books and video games and beer and fresh produce in the fridge, and tell him, "Welcome home, Haircut."  He's been brought in as one of the upper eschelon, not one of the workers.  He is bewildered, twitchy and awkward as usual, but it's understandable: from all his prior experience with Negan, he should expect a baseball bat through the skull.

After one night in the cells, Negan lets Dwight out, reporting that Sherry is in fact gone as well as Daryl.  Dwight says that he thinks he knows where she might go and Negan orders him to go see the doctor, get patched up and track her down.

Negan has Eugene brought out to the yard and does his typical song-and-dance - my word that man likes to hear himself talk - charming and intimidating, blah blah blah.  He asks Eugene whether he's a smarty-pants, if he knows things, if he can be useful.  For example, how to solve the Sanctuary's defense problem: they've got walkers tied to the chainlink fence but they keep rotting and falling off.  Eugene comes up with the inventive idea that they could melt down scrap metal (he saw a smelter in another part of the compound) and pour the liquid metal over the walkers on the wall.  The metal would harden, fastening the zombie to the fence, and if they poured some on the walker's heads, that would protect the walkers from getting spiked in the head.  Negan likes it:  "Goddamn, if that ain't the coolest thing I've ever heard in my life! Not only is it practical, but it is positively badass!"  He is so thrilled that he decides to send a few of his wives to Eugene's room for a party tonight.  No sex, of course.  Eugene:  "Did you say wives, meaning plural?"

Three wives come over with some wine; Eugene plays old video games.  They talk a little and to their credit, the wives are pretty tolerant of just how effing weird Eugene is.  They manage to convince him to do some flashy science projects with homemade helium, fizzy bubbles and some flash/bang.  The next night, two of those wives come back with a sob story about the third wife being depressed and wanting to kill herself.  They want Eugene to make suicide pills for her.  They talk him into it.  He commandeers supplies from the lower-level workers and gets his Breaking Bad on, mixing up the cold medicine in a musical montage.

Dwight goes to his and Sherry's old home, now in ruins.  He finds her wedding rings there, and a note.  "We always said if we got separated, I should come back here and wait for you.  You'd show up with beer and pretzels."  Etc., etc.  Dwight wanders around, sad, as Sherry reads her note (FOREVER) in voiceover.  Finally, he leaves but not before unpacking the beer and pretzels he'd brought with him.  He leaves these on the table in case Sherry comes back.

Upon Dwight's return, Negan assembles the group in front of the furnace.  Eugene watches nervously from the catwalk.  In order to get Negan off Sherry's trail, Dwight has lied and said he killed her and then he frames the Saviors' doctor, hiding a piece of Sherry's note - reading "Goodbye, honey" - in the doctor's desk for Negan to find.  Negan assumes that the doctor let Daryl out to please Sherry: "That is some weaselling shit, right there!"  Blah blah blah.  Dwight heats up the iron in the furnace and when it is glowing red, Negan holds it next to the doctor's face.  The doctor wails and blubbers and confesses, saying he did it and he's sorry.  Negan's all, that's all you had to say!  He drops the iron, smiles at the crowd and then suddenly grabs the doctor and shoves him into the open furnace, holding him there until the man's struggles stop.  Negan:  "Never shoulda doubted you, Dwighty-boy.  Sherry was one of my favorites.  I'm sorry."  Dwight:  "I'm not."  Negan: "Ooh! Ice-cold!"  While Eugene cries, hiding his face in his hands.

The two wives come by Eugene's for the suicide pills.  But he's onto them, saying he knows that the pills aren't for their friend, they're for Negan.  And he won't hand them over.  "You're a coward," they sneer.  "That is a correct assessment," drones Eugene.  Sometime later, Negan stops by, saying he's got a question for Eugene, a big one.  Before he can even finish asking "Who are you?" Eugene has blurted out, "Negan! I am Negan.  Utterly, completely, stone cold Negan. I'm Negan."

Through this whole episode, we think we see Dwight having a change of heart, becoming less Negan's man; we watch as Eugene unsurprisingly embraces the protection and relative luxury that Negan can offer him.  The last scene, with Dwight and Eugene standing together, watching the workers in the yard, Eugene intoning "we are Negan" and Dwight just staring at him - it's not clear whether they stand together or not, whether Eugene is running a long con (I'm guessing not.  He needs the security and comfort Negan can give him).  We all know Eugene is a weasel but boy, I would kind of like to see Dwight come around, show a little depth.

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

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Walking Dead S7E10 "New Best Friends" 2/19/17

We start with Ezekiel, Morgan, Richard and some others meeting with the Saviors for their regular hand-off.  Richard can't keep him mouth shut and starts to get manhandled; Morgan steps in to defend him and ends up getting smacked upside the head.  Ezekiel manages to calm things down but the Saviors confiscate Richard's gun and Morgan's staff, along with the regular tribute.  (I'm guessing Morgan will end up fighting the Saviors with Rick and getting his staff back at that point.)  When they return to the Kingdom, Daryl approaches Morgan and is all, WTF, you're bleeding, the Saviors did that to you, why won't you fight?  If Carol was here and knew what happened to Glen and Abraham, she'd fight.  Yes, says Morgan, she would - and that's why she left.  Daryl still thinks Morgan is being a pussy.  He stalks off and finds Richard who is practicing with a bow (since he is now gunless).  Richard hands him a crossbow, noting that he and Daryl seem to have a lot in common.

A little later, Richard brings Daryl into his big plan.  They collect guns and Molotov cocktails from Richard's hidden stash, then walk out to a road where they will ambush Saviors who pass by.  They'll kill and burn them, and then when more Saviors come to investigate, they'll find the trail to Richard's weapons stash, which then will lead them to a cabin "where some loner Ezekiel cares for" lives alone.  The Saviors will kill her and that, Richard thinks, will be just the impetus Ezekiel needs to fight.  Daryl is all, TELL ME HER DAMN NAME.  And finally, Richard does and Daryl is NO I'M OUT AND IF CAROL EVEN GETS A HANGNAIL I WILL KILL YOUR ASS.  They have fisticuffs - as the Saviors drive past unimpeded - and Daryl's like, I'm serious - you leave her alone.  Richard: "I would die for the Kingdom."  Daryl:  "Why don't you?"

On the Rick side of this episode, things are about to get weird.  Rick, Michonne, Rosita, Aaron and Tara have been captured by this insane and ridiculous group/cult, who all dress in grey and black leather and robes, have very strange names (their leader is "Jadis") and speak like bad fantasy fan-fic. Rick is nearly gleeful about it all, though, seeing in their numbers allies against the Saviors.  They bring out Gabriel and after some rough stuff where Rick's group gets slapped around a bit, between Rick and Gabriel they manage to talk fast enough to get Jadis at least interested in what they have to say.  Gabriel is all, tell us what you need and we'll get it for you, right now.

Editorial note:  I didn't pick up on what this new group calls itself but they are ridiculous.  They live in a damn junkyard.  And how long has it been since the zombie apocalypse came to pass?  Two years at most?  And all these people are so weird now?  Would people really change (change their names) like that?  I get that a zombie apocalypse might make you a little crazy but these folks are right the fuck off the deep end.

Jadis considers Gabriel's words and then she and a couple others "show Rick up-up-up," taking him up to the top of a junk heap.  She wants to see how capable he is: she pushes him off and he falls down into a small clearing, surrounded by junk and currently occupied by a very awesome, be-spiked zombie.  After some struggle during which he manages to impale his hand on one of the spikes, Rick offs the zombie.  Seriously: that is a very clever way to rig a walker to inflict maximum damage.  Jadis is enough impressed to bring him back out of that pit.  She tells him that if he gets her guns - lots of guns, right now - she and her people will join the fight.  There's a bit more haggling after that, but that's the deal.  She lets Rick and his group go, warning them that the guns better come quick because her offer has an expiration date.  (The camera lingers on Tara a bit and I'm guessing she'll be hard-pressed to keep her silence about that all-women community on the coast, you remember - the one with all the guns.)  Also, Rick and Gabriel have a heart-to-heart: Gabriel was kidnapped by one of Jadis's people, who forced him to clear out the pantry; Rick's all, thanks to you, the clues you left behind, we now have these new allies.

Back outside of the Kingdom, Ezekiel and some of his men drop by to see Carol (against her wishes) - they've brought her some fruit cobbler.  She shoos them away.  A little later, there's a knock on her door.  Annoyed, she opens it ... and it's Daryl.  The look on her face when she sees him, on his face when he sees her - these two are the best part of this stupid show.  He looks so fragile.  She is in tears and speechless.  "Why'd you go?" he asks, voice cracking.  She explains it to him - how she couldn't stand to lose anyone else, how if she kept killing people she would lose herself.  She asks him if the Saviors came after she left.  Terrified, she forces herself to ask: "Did anyone get hurt?  Is everyone okay?  Did the Saviors [chokes back a sob] - is everybody back home okay?"  He looks at her a long time, really seeing her here, safe and whole, and then replies: "We got them all.  And made a deal, like Ezekiel.  Everyone's all right."  Later, he asks her if Ezekiel is an okay guy.  Yes, Carol replies, I think he is.  Daryl doesn't overstay his welcome but heads back to the Kingdom after giving his friend a huge hug.  Carol watches him go.

Daryl heads straight for Shiva's cage when he gets back to the Kingdom.  Morgan finds him there and marvels, "You're good with her.  Ezekiel will be impressed."  Daryl shrugs, saying that he figures any guy who's got a pet tiger can't be that bad.  He tells Morgan that he found Carol and that he gets it, why she's there.  But they need the Kingdom and he wants Morgan to handle it.  Morgan demurs, saying it can't be him.  Daryl scoffs, saying wake the hell up.  But Morgan is all, I know you get it - you're the same as me because you didn't tell Carol about Glen and Abraham (because if you did, she'd be here right now, gearing up for war), you kept her safe from it.  Shiva takes this moment to purr and lick Daryl's hand through the bars of her cage BECAUSE SHE'S A GIRL AND HE'S DARYL AND OF COURSE SHE LIKES HIM.  ROWR.  Daryl looks down at her almost fondly, then picks up his new crossbow.  He tells Morgan: I'm going back to Hilltop to get ready for war.  And in the morning, the gates of the Kingdom open to let him do just that.

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

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Walking Dead S7E9 "Rock in the Road" 2/12/17

So, here we are again.  Before we start, I just want to state for the record that Santa Clarita Diet is my current favorite zombie show.  But, you know, yay The Walking Dead.

Alexandria.  Father Gabriel is on the wall, taking watch in the middle of the night.   Then he leaves his post, goes to the pantry and cleans it out of all remaining food, and drives off, a slight smile on his face the whole while.  He's up to something - he's not just deserting.

Hilltop.  Maggie, Jesus and the Alexandria group try to convince Gregory to join them in rising up against Negan and his Saviors.  Gregory, slippery, smarmy, cowardly and very entertaining, is all, no, and don't let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.  The Alexandrians are discouraged but fear not!  Enid has been recruiting and there's a group of Hilltoppers (Hilltopians?) waiting for them outside, ready to be trained and willing to rise up.  Rick's all, this is good but it's not enough.  Jesus is all, it's time for you to meet King Ezekiel.  The Alexandrians:  WTF  - there's a king?

The Kingdom.  Jesus brings them to the Kingdom, where Richard walks them in.  He's all about rising up against the Saviors and is hopeful that Alexandria's strength might be enough to convince Ezekiel.  Morgan appears en route to their royal audience.  Hugs all around.  Rick and Daryl ask him about Carol; Morgan, to his credit, keeps her secret, saying that she was here but she left when she was healed from her wound.  Then they go in to meet Ezekiel ... but before any of the talking starts, the Alexandrians are all WTF JESUS YOU DIDN'T MENTION THERE WAS A FUCKING TIGER.  Shiva's all, rowr motherfuckers.  To their credit, Rick follows protocol, playing along with the royal attitude.  Ezekiel hears what they have to say - they took out one Savior outpost but they need more people - and the Kingdom has the people - in order to put them all down for good - and then invites them for dinner and to spend the night.  The Alexandrians are antsy to get back home.  But the king says will make his proclamation in the morning.

In the morning, despite many of his people being on board with joining Rick, Ezekiel declines to participate [for now, because it's pretty obvious that the Kingdom will get sucked in before this is all over].  He does offer Daryl asylum, however, and Rick makes a reluctant Daryl stay, pointing out that if Negan finds him in Alexandria, they will all suffer for it.  [This, of course, sets up a Daryl and Carol reunion at some point in the near future.  Yay!]

On their way home, the Alexandrian contingent finds a trap that the Saviors have set on the highway: cars blocking the on-ramp to funnel any walker herd up the highway, and a cable hung with explosives strung across the highway median.  They clear away the cars and start to take the RPGs and sticks of dynamite off the cable, realizing that they can use this stuff against the Saviors.  As they work, discarding anything damaged or too unstable, a walker herd approaches.  Rick send Jesus and Sasha off on foot back to the Hilltop to keep Maggie informed.  Carl, Rosita and Tara move the cars back onto the ramp.  And Rick and Michonne jump-start the two cars that the cable is strung between - and drive towards the coming herd.  In what is one of the better (and uckier) gimmicks, they totally clothesline hundreds of walkers.  It's gross and awesome and pretty much genius.

Alexandria.  They all survive - without getting eaten and/or blown up - and make back home with just enough time to hide their vehicle with its cargo of explosives before a contingent of Saviors shows up, searching for Daryl.  The Saviors ransack the houses in their search but don't take anything this time.  After they've left, Aaron informs Rick et als. about Gabriel's disappearance.  Rosita is all, that coward ran away, but Rick finds Gabriel and realizes that the reverend didn't just scarper.  They find his notebook with B O A T scrawled on the last page.  Rick and Aaron are all, how did he know about the houseboat?

So they (Rick, Aaron, Tara, Rosita and Michonne) head back out, ostensibly on a scavenging run (since the Saviors warned them that they'd be back soon for their pick-up), and go back to that houseboat.  They don't find Gabriel but they do find a boot print that they think might be his.  They expand their search, making their way towards some warehouses.  And then suddenly they are surrounded by a LOT of people.  People we have never seen before, all carrying guns and axes and knives.  It's pretty tense but Rick just smiles, a big shit-eating grin on his face.  Because he's just found an army to rise up against the Saviors.

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