Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Walking Dead S5E12 "Remember" 3/1/15

How would you do, suddenly thrust back into society after struggling to survive outside in the zombie apocalypse?  In this episode, they'll talk about it a lot.

Rick's group, with Aaron and the limping Eric, slowly enter Alexandria's gates.  They are all wary, skittish.  Darryl's got a dead possum, carrying it by the tail, "dinner."  As the shields close over the gates, Rick tells Sasha to take out an approaching walker.  She's a great shot and nails the thing at distance.  As the Alexandrian gate guard watches, agog, Rick mutters, "Good thing we're here."

Aaron takes them to meet Deanna, the de facto leader of Alexandria.  She's a former Congresswoman and very good at reading people.  She sits down with each (or most) of the group one on one, filming the sessions for future reference.  Rick goes in to see her first.  He looks so sketchy, feral even.  He leaves a rancid handprint on a wall as he roams the room.  She tells him that her people have been hunkered down here basically since the zombie apocalypse started.  It's got a solar grid, cisterns, gardens and orchards, very nice houses tucked behind solid walls.  Rick is all, you need to keep your gates shut because people on the outside will come in and take what you've got.  He wants to know what Deanna wants from him and his people.  She wants them to help her community survive and thrive.

The group has to turn in their weapons if they're going to stay.  Taking their cue from Rick, they unload, Carol fumbling sheepishly with getting the strap from her huge rifle over her head.  Then Aaron takes them to two big houses, side by side, and tells them that they can stay in either or both.  These places are spotless, furnished in country-chic Restoration Hardware.  Because they are suspicious, they all hunker down in one, making beds in the living room.  They take hot showers (nearly ecstatic at being able to do so) and Rick shaves off his nasty-ass beard.  There's a knock on the door and it's a friendly neighbor lady, Jessie.  She works at the pantry and has brought food and supplies.  She also used to be a beautician before the zombie apocalypse and she offers to cut Rick's hair.  He acquiesces, but as she chats innocuously with him, he struggles with trying to accept gracious help from a perfect stranger, with trying to remember how civilized people behave.   "It's okay if you're not okay with all of this yet," she tells him.

Darryl's interview with Deanna: He walks around her living room, still carrying that damn possum.  She asks him if he wants to be here and he replies, "The boy and the baby - they deserve a roof, I guess."  He won't sit down and is clearly uncomfortable being inside.  Afterwards,
Darryl sits on the porch, cleaning his possum (not a euphemism), and when he's done, he doesn't bother to wipe up the blood and guts.  He is clearly NOT HAVING ANY OF THIS.  It took him so long to build relationships with the people in his group, to cast off his past and carve out his place, to earn their respect.  Being back in civilization puts him off balance - even if the Alexandrians are on the level.  Perhaps especially if the Alexandrians are on the level.

Deanna stops by their house that evening to check on the newcomers.  It looks so weird to see them all sitting in a living room with electric lights.  Rick says that he heard she gave them all jobs.  She says yes, and she's got something in mind for him and Michonne, and she's closing in on something for Sasha, and she's "just trying to figure Mr. Dixon out."  She bids them goodnight and leaves.  That night, unsurprisingly, Rick can't sleep.

Michonne's interview:  Michonne says that if this [place] is what [Deanna] says it is, then it's what they've been looking for.  "We're ready for this."  Deanna asks, "All of you?"  Michonne pauses for a moment, then answers, "All of us."

The next day, some of the group goes exploring.  Rick loses sight of Carl and Judith for a moment and panics.  Jessie finds him and calms him and takes him to some older neighbors who are thrilled to see a baby again.  Then Carl goes to meet Jessie's son Ron and two other teenagers, Mikey and Enid.  Enid is pretty defensive: she just came in "from outside" recently too and doesn't seem to trust anyone yet.  Ron and Mikey ask Carl if he wants to play video games, or go to Mikey's house to play pool.  Carl is taken aback a bit at all this normal teenager stuff.  The other boys are sensitive to it, seeing his discomfiture; Enid just snarls, "Pull it together, sport."  Carl pulls it together and says, yeah, let's play some video games.

Carl and Judith's interview:  He remarks that this is the kind of place his mom would have liked.  When Deanna probes, he tells her that not only did his mom die but he was the one who had to kill her afterwards.  "It had to be me."

Later, when Rick asks his son how Ron's was, Carl asks him what he thinks of Alexandria.  They agree that it seems like it's a nice place.  Carl likes the people too, but thinks "they're weak.  And I don't want us to get weak too."  That night, neither Rick nor Michonne can sleep.  She tells him that she is willing to sign on to whatever Deanna's got for them.  Rick seems to be leaning in that direction but hasn't made a final decision.  He goes out for a walk.  The streets are quiet in the middle of the night but there's a man smoking on a front porch.  The man speaks, "You're Rick."  Rick stops, nods.  The man, not introducing himself or coming into the light, says, "My wife cut your hair." Rick nods again.  The man, with a bitter twist to his voice, "Welcome to Alexandria."  Rick keeps walking.

Carol's interview:  Carol sits, smiling sweetly at Deanna.  "I did laundry, gardened, always had dinner on the table for Ed every night when he came home. [pause] I miss that stupid, wonderful man every day." OMIGOD CAROL IS SUCH A BAD ASS - SHE DOESN'T TRUST THIS PLACE AT ALL.  She goes on to say that she really hasn't had much to offer her group - they've just been nice enough to protect her. HAHAHAHAHA.  When Deanna asks her where she thinks she'll fit in, she chirps, "Do you have anything like Junior League? I'm a real people person!" Oh dear god I love Carol.

Afterwards, Carol comes out of their house, dressed in tan pants, an oxford shirt and a periwinkle blue cardigan.  She grins at Darryl, off to her new job making food for the older folks.  Her goals is to meet as many folks as possible.  His look of disbelief is fantastic.  She stares at him, "Have you taken a shower yet?"  He very clearly has not.  Carol: "Take a shower.  We need to keep up appearances, even you."  As she walks off down the sidewalk, he calls after her, "You look ridiculous!"

Glen's interview:  "We need to make this work ... because we were almost out there too long."

Rick leaves Alexandria, walking around its walls, checking them out.  Back inside, Carl catches a glimpse of Enid climbing over the walls.  Intrigued, he follows her but she disappears into the woods and he loses her.  Good job, Carl.  Rick has found his way back to the derelict house where he hid that pistol.  He runs into a couple of walkers but doesn't really care ... until he discovers that someone has taken the gun he hid.  Someone was watching.  The walkers close in and Rick pulls out a knife.  Carl joins him and they turn to face the threat calmly.  They put down the zombies one by one, helping each other, using whatever is handy for stabbing the creatures in the head.  They are professional and efficient.  They are determined not to become weak.

Meanwhile, Glen, Tara and Noah have been recruited by Deanna's son Aidan as a potential supply run crew.  Those four, plus the gate guard Nicholas, head outside the gates on a trial run.  Aidan is a self-proclaimed douchebag, handing out handguns and insisting that the crew follows his instructions precisely.  However, Aidan and Nicholas have tied up a zombie that killed four of their people last month and are torturing it, picking away at it for revenge, a "pre-game ritual" to remind them what they're up against.  Glenn: WTF?  But the zombie has gotten loose and the two douchebags are upset about it.  They whistle and call for it, drawing it closer, but tell Glen et als. not to kill it: they want to chain it back up.  While Glen and Noah watch in disbelief, the zombie breaks away from Aidan and Nicholas, lurching at Tara.  She grapples with it, its skin PEELING OFF IN HER HANDS OH YUCK, but unable to either get away from it or kill it.  Glen charges in, burying his knife in its head.  Aidan is pissed that he lost his plaything.  Tara, having nearly been bitten, is more pissed (rightfully so).

When they get back inside Alexandria's walls, Aidan gets in Glen's face, saying that the three of them will have to get new jobs as they clearly aren't cut out to do runs.  What an asshole.  Glen does his utmost best to stay calm and keep the situation from escalating.  As they argue and push each other, our group members and Alexandrians draw near, including Deanna.  Aidan snipes to his mom, "Why'd you let these people in?"  Glen can't help himself: "Because we actually know what we're doing out there."  Aidan takes a swing, which Glen easily ducks; then Glen drops him with one punch.  Nicholas charges in and Darryl grabs him, dropping him.  Rick races up and pulls Darryl off the other guy before he can hurt him - which is probably good timing because Darryl looks like he's a little pent up.  Aidan climbs to his feet and Michonne gets in his face: "You want to end up on your ass again?" Heh.  Deanna stares angrily at her son.  "Rick and his people are part of this community now.  In all ways.  As equals."  She orders Aidan and Nicholas to come talk to her after they turn in their weapons.  As the crowd disperses, Deanna asks Rick and Michonne to be Alexandria's constables.  They accept.  Darryl sniffs loudly and stalks off.  Then Deanna thanks Glen for knocking Aidan on his ass.

That night, Rick slowly walks in front of his group wearing a sheriff's uniform.  They all stare.  Darryl is outside smoking and Rick asks if they're good.  Darryl says yeah.  Carol, in her cardigan, comes out on the porch and asks if they're staying.  Rick says yes, and they can probably all start sleeping in their own beds.  Carol is concerned that if they stay they'll get weak.  Rick nods, saying that Carl said the same thing.  But, he says, "We won't get weak.  That's not in us anymore.  We'll make it work.  And if they can't make it, then we'll just take this place."  He smiles a little, and Carol and Darryl exchange an ambivalent look behind his back.

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

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.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mini movie review: Under the Skin

To say that the recent movie Under the Skin is based on Michel Faber's novel of the same name is not quite accurate; "very loosely based on" would be more accurate.  Scarlett Johansson drives around Glasgow, picking up men, finding out if there is anyone who will miss them and then taking them back to her place.  She is not quite human, ScarJo's character, and there are nefarious ends for the men she picks up.  (And that is where the "very loosely based on" changes to "a whole different story, really.")

Divergence from the source material aside, Under the Skin is a wonderful little genre movie, beautiful and slow and creepy.  There is hardly any dialogue.  The music is atonal and alien, as though filtered through the main character's not-quite-human senses.  There is very little plot, although there is a clear beginning, middle and end to the story.  It is tense in parts, melancholy in others, awful and squicky in a couple more.  It appears that Scotland is a very grey and rainy place. And yes, this is the movie where ScarJo goes completely bare nekkid.  It is unmomentous and not played for titillation.  She has a very real woman's body: beautiful, yes, but hardly unrealistic.  And the way she wears this body, carefully, awkwardly, as though it doesn't exactly fit, is part and parcel of this role.

With Les Revenants, this movie is the second bit of visual media that is classified as genre but doesn't line up exactly as horror/science fiction/fantasy.  You don't need to have read the original novel to enjoy the movie version of Under the Skin but it is my recommendation that you do both, since the two make good companions, different as they are.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Just finished watching: Les Revenants

I just finished watching S1 of the French television series Les Revenants or, in subtitles (thank goodness because my French pretty much ended when I graduated from high school), The Returned.  I am of two minds about this horror-tinged show.  On the one hand, I found it interesting, well-acted, beautifully shot and gorgeously atmospheric.  On the other hand, I kept falling asleep.

In a nutshell, The Returned is set in a small town in the French Alps.  All of a sudden one day, some previously deceased townsfolk come back.  With as few spoilers as possible, they are: Camille, a fourteen year old girl who died with her classmates in a school bus crash four years ago; Simon, a sexy young rock-n-roller, who died ten years ago on his wedding day; Victor, a young boy who won't or can't say anything about his past; a local teacher's wife; and Serge, whose many issues have carried over from his life into his death.  These people all look just like they did when they died and don't remember anything about their deaths.  They are all ravenously hungry too - for regular people food, not tasty brains - and don't seem to sleep.  They return to their homes, or what used to be their homes, where the people they left behind are surprised to see them.  As you might imagine.

The series unfolds its stories slowly, taking its time with the characters.  It is wonderfully done, but it also asks all sorts of questions that it has no intention of answering and we as viewers just have to accept the open-endedness. Why these people?  Why not the rest of Camille's classmates?  Why do they look the same?  Why is the reservoir going down?  What do the returned want?  Even by the end of the first season, much remains unanswered.

There's apparently an American remake (of course there is) premiering on A&E in March.  I may have to check it out to see how it varies from what I just watched.  But don't shy away from the French original just because it has subtitles.  Les Revenants/The Returned is both haunting and frightening - two different things - and worth a watch.  Just don't doze off - the subtitles don't do much good that way.  (And if you stick around long enough, there's even a little bit of nicely icky body horror.  Fun!)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Mini book review: Under the Skin by Michel Faber

I haven't seen the Scarlett Johansson movie, Under the Skin, yet but when I learned that it was based on a novel of the same name by Michel Faber, I immediately pounced on the book.  SLIGHT SPOILERS AHEAD.

Out in the Scottish Highlands, not far from Inverness, Isserley cruises the roads, looking for hitchhikers.  English is not her native language.  She's scarred and stiff, big eyes magnified behind thick glasses.  She drives like an old lady and keeps the heat cranked high.  She's tiny, with uncomfortably stiff posture and big, voluptuous breasts.  She's choosy about whom she picks up: no women, nobody too skinny or too old or too young.  When she does pick up a hitchhiker, she talks to them, trying to discern if they have anyone at home, if anyone will miss them.  The men usually open up to her and most of them can't stop staring at her breasts.  Once she has learned enough about them, Isserley either drops the hitchhikers off, closer to their destinations, or drugs them into unconsciousness.

I'm not going to tell you what happens to the men after Isserley captures them - reading about it is all part of the [disturbing] fun of Under the Skin.  I will say that Faber does a wonderful job introducing his main character.  Even if you go into this novel not knowing anything, you know something is not quite right with Isserley.  But what is off is subtle: odd phrasing, her awkwardness, strange vocabulary.  I knew about Isserley from what little I know about the movie, but when it was finally stated outright, it was still a surprise.

There's not that much plot to follow in Under the Skin - it's more of following along on Isserley's journey with grotesqueries and some social commentary.  I haven't read anything by Faber since The Crimson Petal and the White, which I quite enjoyed as well.  Having read Under the Skin (book) and given what I know about the film, it is my understanding the movie is apparently "loosely based" on the source material.  I'm fine with that because I really liked the book and will be interested to see how they adapted it.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Mini book review: The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, his Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess and Sundry Other Magical Persons Besides by Ben Tripp

The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, his Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Other Magical Persons Besides, by Ben Tripp, is as entertaining a YA fantasy as its title is long.  Kit Bristol, former orphan, is in the employ of one Master James Rattle, also known as - as in a secret identity - Whistling Jack, the notorious 18th century English highwayman.  When Whistling Jack is killed, Kit takes his outfit, his bulldog Demon and his horse Midnight, and finds himself on an adventure beyond his wildest imaginings.

A witch, to whom Kit has been tasked to deliver Demon, assigns to Kit the quest his master had been on: to rescue the faerie princess Morgana from an arranged marriage with the human King George III of England.  Not only must Kit revamp his world view to include the presence of magical beings, he must now contend with those beings: feyin, pixies, goblings, ogres, gryphons, enchanted mirrors and maps and the like.  In addition, the human Captain Sterne, is convinced that Kit is actually Whistling Jack, and is pursuing him singlemindedly, determined to hang him for the thief and rascal he is.

The best word I can think of to describe TAH:BtToKPhHMaMPaSOMPB is swashbuckling.  Kit surprises himself with his bravery and loyalty, charging into his exciting adventures wholeheartedly to support the Princess Morgana and his new faerie friends.  The story moves right along, the writing lighthearted and clever, annotated with footnotes.  This volume is the first in a planned trilogy of Kit and Morgana's adventures - I have no doubt that the subsequent books will be as much fun as this first one.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Year end

It's like a ghost town around here ...

I dunno, y'all.  I don't really have anything to share.  I've been watching SyFy's three night Ascension which, meh, is a poor, pale imitation of SyFy's BSG, despite Tricia Helfer's best efforts.  I'm getting into the original French The Returned (or, Les Revenants), which I really like - moody, atmospheric, creepy and subtitled - but it is not fast paced and I've fallen asleep twice (two out of the three episodes I've watched).  The Flash, Arrow and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had strong mid-season finishes; I'm not dropping Gotham yet but things do seem a little heavy on the comic book side, especially when you factor The Walking Dead in too.  And while I'm looking forward to Cougar Town's return for one more season (although I hope they don't focus on Trav and Laurie's upcoming baby too much), I'm not sure if I'll bother trying to track down Yahoo's season of Community when it appears.  that ship may have sailed.

Bookswise, I'll be picking up a couple volumes from the library in the next day or so - The Accidental Highwayman: Being the Tale of Kit Bristol, His Horse Midnight, a Mysterious Princess, and Sundry Magical Persons Besides by Ben Tripp and Michael Faber's Under the Skin - and am looking forward to both of those.  In the meantime, I'm reading Mr. Mouse's copy of It's So Easy: and Other Lies by Duff McKagan, former Guns 'N Roses bassist.  Suffice it to say, Mr. McKagan has led a much more exciting life than I have.

And now the holidays are upon us.  Hopefully I'll be able to do some solid page turning and bring you some reviews.  Until then, may everything be merry, happy and healthy from the Mouse house to yours.