Monday, February 24, 2014

The Walking Dead S4E11 "Claimed" 2/23/14

Not my favorite episode: kind of talky and jumping around among three groups and no Daryl whatsoever.  Michonne is coming into her own, however, which is great and - amazingly - I didn't hate Carl.  Also, for the comics fans, Abraham!

Glenn and Tara.  Tara, riding alongside an unconscious Glenn in the back of the military truck, takes notes on all the turns Abraham takes.  (Abraham is the badass mofo we met at the end of last episode.)  They stop to clear some wrecks from the road and Tara notices that (1) Abraham is not that efficient a zombie killer, especially when compared to our main heroes and (2) Abraham is happy, smiling even, to be killing zombies.  This is rather different than our heroes' usual grim, fatalistic determination.

Rick, Michonne and Carl.  At the house, Carl and Michonne banter a bit at breakfast, before Carl chokes up a bit, thinking of baby Judith.  Later, Rick thanks Michonne for being his son's friend.  They need more supplies so Michonne says she'll go out scavenging with Carl, leaving Rick behind in the house to recuperate.  He's still in pretty rough shape and can use the rest.  After they go, Rick shoves the couch against the front door and goes upstairs to lie down.

Michonne and Carl.  As they go house to house, Michonne tries to get Carl to laugh and/or open up to her.  He appreciates her efforts.  She lets slip that she once had a son and Carl's interest is piqued.  He starts to ask her questions about her boy.  She pauses, then promises to answer one question for every room they clear, so long as he comes up with something they can use.  Carl starts searching in earnest, eager for information about his friend.

Rick.  There are loud, unintelligible voices and screaming in the background and at first it isn't clear whether this is in Rick's dream.  Then his eyes pop open and we know the voices are coming from in the house, downstairs.  And now begins what was, for me, the least interesting segment of this episode: Rick escaping from home invasion mode.  He's trapped without a weapon, so he hides under the bed.  All we can see are the rough boots and gun muzzles as the men search the house (not very diligently or they'd find him hiding under the bed).  Long story short, he manages to elude capture and subdue one of the ruffians (bikers or just your regular, post-apocalyptic dirtbags) to get his gun.  Rick climbs out the window and hides under the house's porch, listening to the dirtbags.

Michonne and Carl.  Even though it's difficult for her, Michonne answers Carl's questions.  She had one son, Andre Anthony, who was three and fiesty when he died, sometime after the zombie apocalypse.  She says that no one knows about Andre - she's never told anyone until now.  Carl says that her secret is safe with him.  Michonne: "It's not really a secret."  Carl: "It's still safe with me."  As they search the house, Michonne finds a little girl's bedroom in which the entire family is laid out, shriveled corpses.  They're all dead with gunshots to the head, so not zombified, and the body in the rocking chair clearly killed itself with a shotgun blast to the mouth, so apparently that was the last one who took care of the rest of the family.  This disturbs her and she moves out of the room quickly, closing the door behind her.  Carl comes up, sure that there's a dead baby in there that she doesn't want him to see.  No, she says, but it's a dog and it isn't nice, and he leaves it at that.

Glenn and Tara.  Glenn finally regains consciousness and is freaked out to be in the back of the truck.  He asks Tara if they passed the bus and she says yes, three hours ago and they were all dead.  Glenn beats on the window until Abraham stops the truck.  Everyone gets out and Glenn says he's going back to find Maggie.  Abraham asks him to stay with them to complete their "mission" - they need each other.  Glenn's like, and WTF is this "mission" you're talking about?  Abraham introduces Rosita and Dr. Eugene Porter, saying that Eugene is a scientist - despite his ridiculous redneck mullet - whom they're taking to Washington D.C. so he can help fix the zombie apocalypse.  A skeptical Glenn is all, so what caused this and Eugene replies that it's classified.  I don't remember the comics that well but I really don't think Eugene is a scientist.  Glenn and Tara start to walk off and Abraham tries to stop them.  He and Glenn get into fisticuffs and Tara and Rosita try to pull them off each other to no avail.  Eugene, watching from a distance, sees a small herd of walkers lurching out of the cornfield and grabs a semiautomatic gun out of the truck.  He doesn't know how to use it, though, and ends up raking a spray of bullets into the truck as well as into the walkers.  Finally, Glenn, Abraham and the girls notice the gunfire and the zombies and with some focus, put down the herd.  In the aftermath, however, the truck's gas tank is full of bullet holes with the gas pouring out of it.  Glenn and Tara start walking back the way they came; Rosita follows them, saying she doesn't have anything else better to do.  Finally, Abraham and Eugene gather up their gear and tag along as well, Abraham frustrated but realizing that sticking with a group is wise.

Rick.  The apparent leader of said dirtbags - a character actor of some note (the bad warlock that got Willow hooked on magic in S6 of BtVS) (which makes me think we'll see him again before too long) - sits on the porch, eating fruit cocktail out of a can while Rick crouches beneath him.  Rick sees Michonne and Carl heading back to the house and gets ready to shoot the head dirtbag.  Some zombies swarm the other side of the house, however, and Rick is able to run to Michonne and Carl, heading them off before the dirtbags even know they're there.  They head out of town, following the railroad tracks and pausing at another one of those Sanctuary: Arrive and Survive signs.  "Let's go," says Rick.

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

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Walking Dead S4E10 "Inmates" 2/16/14

In which we get to catch up with EVERYBODY else.

As Daryl and Beth tromp through the woods, we are treated to a Beth voice-over, reading from her diary that she started after they found and moved into the prison.  She is happy about having her own room, looking forward to planting gardens with her dad and generally hopeful about living in a safe place for the rest of their lives.  And then the Governor happened, and blew everything up, and cut her dad's head off, and now she's tromping through the woods with Daryl.  They sit by their campfire and Beth is still hopeful, saying that they can - and should - track the others.  Daryl is being rather silent and morose, so Beth says she'll track by herself.  Daryl sighs, stomps out the campfire and follows after her.  They find a trail and follow it (at some point there's a bit of dead-looking something in a fallen log; the camera pauses on it so it's probably important but I can't make out what it is), killing random walkers here and there, tag team style.  They come to a railroad track where there are several zombies munching on some recently dead folks.  Daryl and Beth dispatch the zombies and then Beth catches sight of a child-sized hiking boot.  She bursts into tears, her remaining hope dissipating.  Daryl doesn't quite know what to do to console her, seeing how he doesn't look all that far from despair himself.

A slightly wounded Tyrese has found himself in charge of kindergarten: he has Lizzie, Mika and baby Judith (not dead!) in tow.  He looks exhausted, unable to really rest himself since he has to take care of all these little girls.  Judith is fussy and scared, crying noisily which makes Mika nervous that walkers might hear.  They stop to give Judith her bottle and Lizzie finds two baby rabbits hiding in a fallen log.  While Tyrese and Mika are otherwise engaged, Lizzie kills the bunnies with her knife (the dead-looking things in the log from the Daryl and Beth scene), so we know she's still a little disturbed.  They keep moving, trying to stay ahead of the roaming walkers, until they hear some screams in the distance.  Tyrese hands Judith to Lizzie and his gun to Mika, telling them to watch for walkers and to run to him if they see any.  Mika pleads with him not to leave them but he says he has to try to help whoever is screaming.  After Tyrese goes, Judith starts crying and they hear movement in the underbrush.  Mika starts to panic, telling her big sister to keep the baby quiet.  Lizzie puts her hand over Judith's mouth to quiet her, partially covering her nose.  The baby snuffles and we're supposed to think that Lizzie would kill Judith without a thought.

Tyrese, meanwhile, has made his way to the railroad tracks where several humans are being murdered by several zombies.  Even though Tyrese puts the walkers down, he is too late to keep the people from getting bitten/eaten.  He hears a noise behind him and turns around to find Lizzie and Mika ... with Carol, who is carrying the still-alive Judith.  Thrilled to see a friend (whom he does not know killed his fever-ridden girlfriend), he rushes up to Carol and gives her a huge hug.  She is slightly nonplussed until she realizes that Rick did not [have the chance] to tell Tyrese about her.  The two adults and three little girls keep walking along the tracks until they come to a sign that offers sanctuary to any humans who can make their way there.

Maggie is with Sasha and Bob.  They've found a good location along a small river and while Sasha and Bob want to make camp there.  Maggie says, okay, great, but I'm going to find Glen.  The other two don't want to separate and are forced to follow her.  They find the school bus not too far from the prison.  The bus is full of zombies and Maggie is horrified, then resolves to go through the walkers one by one, to see if her husband (?) is among them.  Sasha and Bob begin by letting the zombies out of the back of the bus one at a time while Maggie takes a look and then puts them down.  But the crush of walkers inside the bus is too great and the zombies come tumbling out.  It's a massacre as Maggie, Sasha and Bob hack, slash and smush the walking dead.  When they're all dead, Maggie forces herself to climb aboard the abbattoir bus to check for Glen's remains.  She finds one other zombie (which she kills) but no sign of Glen.  Streaked with blood and zombie muck, poor Maggie sits down and cry-laughs hysterically.

Glen regains consciousness on a ragged slab of concrete: he is still at the prison, dozens and dozens of zombies milling around, reaching for him.  (When did he get off the bus?)  He shouts for Maggie but of course gets no answer, so he goes back inside the prison, making his way back to the residential cellblock.  There he goes from cell to cell, stocking up with his helmet and riot gear, weapons, ammunition, lighter and food.  Thus outfitted, he goes out into the courtyard.  He is swarmed by walkers but makes his way clear ... until he catches sight of Tara (Lily's lesbian sister from the two Governor-centric episodes), huddled behind some chainlink fence.  He almost leaves her there but has a change of heart and rouses her, making sure that she's sane/not dangerous and handing her a gun.  They make their way out of the prison to the road.  Tara asks him why he would want her help after she followed the Governor.  Glen says he doesn't want her help but he needs it to find his wife.  A bunch of zombies come after them out of the woods and Glen and Tara fight them off.  Afterwards, however, Glen collapses.  Tara tries to shake him awake and then is forced to take out one more zombie.  As she's beating its head in with the stock of Glen's rifle, a Humvee drives up.  Tara finishes the walker and looks up, snarling, "Enjoy the show, assholes?"  Three bad-ass-looking people come out, toting guns.  The baddest ass sneers, "You got a damn mouth on you.  What else ya got?"

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

Friday, February 14, 2014

I am a masochist: finishing the Wheel of Time

The wind blew, across the mountains and the blasted lands, through the canyons and orchards, over the rivers and streams.  The Wheel of Time turned, and Ages came and went, and the saga that Robert Jordan began oh so many years ago came to an end.  It was not the ending we wanted, but it was an ending.

This is what I've been doing: finishing the Wheel of Time series.  The first book, The Eye of the World, came out in 1990 and I've been slogging through ever since - twenty-plus years I've been reading these books and when I decided to finish the series, I went back to the beginning and reread every volume.  I used to love these books, back when Jordan was still alive and writing them and they hadn't devolved into way too many plot lines.  (And before I discovered George R.R. Martin and Joe Abercrombie who quickly became my favorite fantasy authors.)  But Jordan died in 2007 and Brandon Sanderson was brought in to finish the series, writing the last three (out of fourteen) books.  When he took the job, Sanderson stated that he wasn't going to try to mimic Jordan's voice.  I think perhaps he should have as the final volumes are tonally very different from the others.  Characters didn't act the way I expected them too, nor did they speak as they had spoken in prior books.  By the time I got to A Memory of Light, I was skipping huge chunks of the interminable battles, and by the end of the book, it seemed like Sanderson had as well: the ending seems like there are whole paragraphs missing, but I didn't care enough to think much more than, "Huh?" before moving on.  It's been a little disappointing, this ending to a once-beloved series, but at least there is an ending - A Song of Ice and Fire fans are terrified that Martin will die before finishing his books - and now I can put this series to bed.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Walking Dead S4E9 "After" 2/9/14

Well, we had to delete The Walking Dead episode off the DVR to make room for more Olympics (so we can fast-forward through the commercials and figure skating), so I'm going to have to do this one from memory.  I'm pretty confident I can do it, though, as it was pretty light on plot and super light on dialogue.  Some stuff may be out of order but I can get the major points across.

In the immediate aftermath of the last episode, the survivors have scattered and zombies lurch through the ruins of the prison yard.  There's the dead Governor, lying right over there.  Michonne creeps out of the bushes, sword drawn, searching for anyone living.  She finds Herschel's decapitated head which has zombified, moving its mouth mindlessly.  With a grimace, she stabs the head with her sword, putting an end to that travesty.  She looks critically at the milling zombies, picks two out and slices off their arms and lower jaws, then loops some rope around their necks and moves away, into the woods, alone again.

Out on a road somewhere, Rick and Carl trudge along.  Rick is looking bad, bruised, bloodied and staggering.  He calls out to Carl several times to not get too far ahead.  Carl is probably suffering from shock in addition to his pissy teenaged angst, having just had his home destroyed and losing his sister.  They find a roadhouse and go inside to raid for food.  There's a big zombie trapped in there and when Rick can't manage to dispatch it with his hatchet, Carl shoots it.  Rick harangues him for wasting a bullet; Carl's like, you weren't getting the job done.  Taking their haul, they keep on moving on down the road until they find a nice looking, empty town.  They pick out a house, clear it of walkers and barricade themselves in for the night.

Michonne sees some footprints along the road and pauses for a moment, considering, then continues through the woods with her pet zombie protection, unconcerned by the small swarm of walkers moving with her.  She sees a walker that looks slightly like her, which unnerves her a bit, jarring lose a memory of her old life: nice house/apartment, handsome and funny husband/lover, cute baby.  This may be a bit of a dream scene but WOW we're going to get some Michonne backstory, finally.

In the morning, Carl tries to wake his dad up.  But Rick has lapsed into unshakable unconsciousness and doesn't respond, even when Carl shakes him roughly and shouts in his face - things like, you failed me, you failed Judith, you failed everyone!  It's not all snotty teenager stuff - he definitely has a point.  (At Rick's complete lack of response, I allow myself a tiny bit of hope that he might be dead.)  The boy doesn't dwell on this, however, and gets ready to go forage for more food.  But first he has to deal with the two zombies scratching at the front door.  He goes outside and calls to them, teasing them, leading them away from the house.  When he finally gets them far enough away, he raises his gun to shoot them ... and is almost eaten by a stealth zombie who sneaks up behind him.  After some scuffling, he manages to put all three of them down, becoming buried under their rotting bodies in the process.  He drags himself out from under the corpses, vomits his lunch out and then continues with his day.

In another nice house, Carl finds a good supply of food and also a zombie upstairs.  He scuffles with it and it snatches his boot off his foot before he locks in a bedroom.  He finds some chalk and writes on the door: "Zombie inside.  Got my shoe, didn't get me."  Down in the kitchen, he loads up the food and then hits the jackpot with a huge can of chocolate pudding.  He climbs up on the porch roof and eats pudding, enjoying the beautiful day and ignoring the snorts and moans of the zombie in the bedroom.  When he goes back to the house, Rick is still lying unmoving on the couch.  Carl curls up on the floor next to the couch and falls asleep.  He wakes in the middle of the night, however, when Rick's hand starts twitching.  Carl scuttles to the other side of the room, pulling his gun.  Rick twitches and shakes, and moans a little.  Carl is certain that his dad is dead/zombified and the gun in his hand shakes.  Rick flails and falls off the couch, hand groping.  Carl can't do it, can't shoot his dad for all his bravado and earlier zombie kills.  He wails, crying, and Rick reaches out a hand and says his son's name.  He's not dead yet.

Michonne dreams of her old life but parts of her new life intrude: her katana sword, her husband/boyfriend becoming zombified, etc.  She wakes, shaken.  Later, out in the woods with her pet zombies and a small herd, she freaks out a little and takes them ALL out.  One at a time, sword flashing, heads and limbs and blood flying everywhere.  She kills off her pets too and then stands there, head down, surrounded by a circle of dead zombies.  I don't think she wants to be alone anymore.  She goes back to the road and this time follows the footprints, which are, of course, Rick's and Carl's.  She finds the roadhouse, notes the dead walker, keeps moving.  Sometime later, out on the street, she sees an empty pudding can.

When morning comes, Rick is lucid and slightly mobile and Carl is less of a brat.  They talk a little and Carl shares out the food he found, 'fessing up to eating all the pudding himself.  Outside, on porch, a silent Michonne looks in the window and sees the two of them there.  She smiles, bowing her head for a moment and then moves to the door.  Inside, Rick and Carl freeze when there's a knock on the door.  As Carl steps back and draws his gun, Rick takes a wary look through the peephole.  Seeing who's there, he relaxes and smiles, saying to his son, "It's for you."

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

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Olympics trumps zombies every time

I realize that The Walking Dead came back last night - and I even watched it already - but the episode recap will be slightly delayed due to the fact that Mr. Mouse and I are watching lots and lots of Olympics and it's just too late in the evening to delve into zombies right now.  Fair warning: the only regulars we see are Michonne (yay!) and Rick and Carl (ugh).  On the plus side, there isn't a whole lot of dialogue so the recapping, when I get to it, should go quickly.  Patience, my friends, and in the meantime go watch some fit folks sliding around on snow and ice for a while.

Saturday, February 1, 2014


In addition to the snow/water drought that is plaguing the American West right now, there is a definite content drought doing on here.  I'm about halfway through my current library book and oh-my-hell, am I taking one for the team here.  It isn't good, but I'm determined to finish it and I'll write about it when I'm done.  On the visual front, I haven't watched any movies in a while; on t.v., the returned Community is okay but not great; American Horror Story: Coven just imploded and went off the rails (yes, those are mixed metaphors but both of those things metaphorically happened to that disaster of a show); we've got all the Justified episodes just waiting in the DVR for a binge day; and boy-howdy, hasn't Arrow turned out to be WAY better than anyone ever expected?

But never fear:  The Walking Dead starts back up on February 9th.  I wish I could say I was excited about it but I'm really just looking forward to seeing Norman Reedus sweaty and dirty up there on my t.v. screen.