Sunday, March 1, 2015

Walking Dead Recap: The Distance

The past few weeks have generally been a game of ‘follow the leader’, the leader being Rick.  However, this week we saw many members of the gang step up as defacto leaders when an important and complex decision was placed on the table.  Michonne has a lot to say in this episode, but Glenn, Maggie, Daryl, and Carol are also featured as key players in the fate of this group.  

The episode picks up right where last week left off.  Everyone’s kind of just waking up in a daze when Maggie slowly opens the door.  She introduces Aaron and everyone pops up, weapons at the ready.  As Aaron starts to address Rick, Daryl gives him a pat down. 

Sasha explains the situation, saying that Aaron wants them to audition for membership at his camp.  Aaron makes a funny, saying that they’d only need to audition for the dance troupe on Friday nights.

Rick goes through Aaron’s pack and unearths some pictures.  Aaron jumps into a politician-like speech and waxes poetic about the walls of the community.  The phrases ‘pressed steel’ and ‘reinforced concrete’ don’t seem to impress Rick much.  He’s got a one-track mind. Preservation.  So when Aaron delivers a familiar line, “People make us stronger”, that is much like the one Gareth delivered at Terminus, Rick loses his shizz. He strides up to Aaron and cold cocks him in his handsome, clean-shaven face.

Boom.  Credits roll.  Oh, Rick, what have you done?

Rick starts to formulate a plan.  He’s understandably paranoid about the promise of a community due to the horrors that have come before with Woodbury, Terminus, and Grady, and he’s not really open to the possibility of other good people in the world.  Aaron wakes up and they question him to how many people are out there.  Aaron says they won’t trust him and starts rattling off numbers like a bingo caller.

Bingo Tuesdays and Dance Troupe Fridays?! Count me in.
Photo Credit: Golden Hat Bingo
Eventually Aaron tells them that he has one person with him, and that he’s been tracking them for some time.  He admits to leaving the water in the road, and that he sees the group as people.  Honestly, this got me a bit teary because our gang is definitely comprised of good people, pushed to their limit, who have certainly done bad things, but who have also fought to retain their humanity.

Aaron says that he and his partner have two vehicles and that they can take everyone with them back to the community.  Ever skeptical Carol jumps in and says, “and you parked just a couple of miles away, right?” Even though the group is wary, Michonne is optimistic.  She says she’ll go look for the cars, and Glenn and Maggie step up to join her.  For good measure, Rick calls on Abraham and Rosita to go with them, like picking teams for dodge ball.

Don’t even try to tell me that these rules aren’t perfect for the zombie apocalypse.
Photo: Fox
The rest of the crew fans out to protect the perimeter of the barn, and Rick and Aaron are left alone inside.  Aaron speaks up and explains that he used to work for an NGO that went on missions to deliver food and medicine to dangerous regions.  He notes that he can tell that the Grimes gang is good people.  Rick kind of just gives him a side eye and says, “Just because we’re good people doesn’t mean we won’t kill you.  If they’re not back in an hour I’ll put a knife in the base of your skull.”  Daym, Rick. Ice cold.

On the road, the primo dodge ball team treks out to check the cars.  They chat and Michonne starts to make her case for trusting Aaron.  She believes that he saw genuinely good people.  She makes a point of remarking that they saved her, “a crazy lady with a sword.”

Back at the barn, Rick mashes up acorns for Judy with the butt of his gun.  Mmmmm, just like mom used to make. Aaron offers the applesauce from his pack, which makes Rick wary. He pushes a spoonful of applesauce into Aaron’s face, and he refuses, stating that he doesn’t like applesauce because of his mother who fed him foods to make him “more manly”.  Huh?  No matter, Rick eventually gets Aaron to take a spoonful of the applesauce, and then licks it himself for good measure.

On the road, the group hears a rustle in the bushes. Glenn warns, “Not one step further, asshole.”  They group appears relieved when it’s just a walker coming out from the bushes, further illustrating that the living are definitely a bigger threat than the dead now. Rosita and Abe tag team the walker and then make their way into the RV.  There’s canned food galore in the RV, Gorbelli stylez.

The crew brings all the canned food back to the camp, and they start to chat about the decisions they have to make.  Carl’s all aboard with going, and asks why they wouldn’t go.  Michonne breaks it down for him, saying they wouldn’t go if Aaron was lying or wanted to hurt them.  She doesn’t think he is, so she makes the decision for them, bypassing the Ricktator.  Daryl steps up and agrees with her saying, “I’m in.  This barn smells like horseshit.”

After a bit of back and forth with Aaron, they finally get on the road.  Michonne, Glenn, and Rick accompany Aaron in his car.  Rick finds license plates in the glove compartment, and Aaron explains that he’s trying to collect all 50.  Good luck with Alaska and Hawaii, buddy.

The holy grail. Photo: Plate Shack
 As the group chats, Aaron offers Michonne the pictures again.  As she flips through she suddenly notices that there are no people in them.  She gets a brief look of panic on her face and asks Rick if he asked Aaron the ‘Big Three’. He says no, and Michonne immediately starts her interrogation.   Aaron says he’s killed more walkers than he can count, and only two people. Just as the tension starts to ramp up, Glenn runs into a small herd on the road, mowing down a gaggle of walkers.

Glenn tries in vain to start the key, but it won’t start.  Michonne gets out and casually starts removing bloody arms and legs from the cars hood when a flare goes off in the distance, freaking Aaron out.  He kicks out the door and starts running toward the light.  Michonne argues with Rick that they need to follow the flare too.

Somehow Glenn ends up in a cornfield, and gets attacked by a walker from behind.  But, goosh!  He slams the walker’s head on a rock, and it splits open like a gigantic egg. Geez these things are getting super mushy.   In the distance, Aaron tries to fight off a walker with his hands tied behind his back, and Glenn goes in for the assist, proving that his humanity is still in tact. 

In another part of the field, Rick runs out of ammo and blasts a walker in the face with the flare gun, making for a spectacular glow-in-the-dark zombie skull.  Glenn and Aaron arrive just in time to help Rick and Michonne and the foursome makes their way in the direction of a water tower in the distance.

At the water tower, Rick whistles some sort of complicated Mockingjay whistle and Katniss Everdeen busts out of the woods.

No, not really, but Katniss would be an amazing addition to the group.  Maybe she’s at Alexandria... Photo Credit: YouTube
 Aaron goes nuts, screaming, “Eric?! Eric?!” over and over again.  He races inside the building, and finds a guy sitting on a chair with with bandages on his ankle.  Aaron looks worried, but swoops in for a passionate kiss.  Oooooo, hello!  Eric and Aaron are a couple!  As they lovingly speak to one another, Rick creeps on their convo.  Eric sees him and introduces himself.  Rick answers back and actually introduces himself as well.

The next morning, the group is road trippin’ it to Alexandria.  The majority of the gang is in the RV, and as the camera pans through the vehicle we see a montage of normalcy.  Eugene deals some cards to a group at the table while Carol and Sasha look on.  Rosita and Abe are up front, and she points into the distance at the DC skyline. Abe gets tears in his eyes.  This was supposed to be their destination.  They made it. Well, almost.  Abe looks down at the console and sees a red warning light.

The next thing we see is the RV broken down in the middle of the road.  Abe gets all hot and bothered but Glenn’s like, calm down dude, here’s the other battery.  He goes and unearths the spare from its hidey-hole underneath the stairs.  Abe asks how he knew it was there, and Glenn just smiles.  TEARS.  Dale saved them.  He’s amazing. Oh man, I miss Dale!

Cut to Michonne, who is actually kind of the fourth or fifth incarnation of Dale on the show.  (Side note - Noooo!  She can’t die.  She has her katana.  She’ll be ok.  Right?  RIGHT!?!)  She is talking to Rick about ‘letting go’ even though his ‘trust no one’ mentality has kept him safe.  Rick sort of gets it, but asks for a moment before they reach their destination.

Twangs of guitar play in the background as Rick hikes a bit into the woods and hides a gun in an old blender.  The gun has a prominent ‘J’ marked on it in Sharpie.  There are many, many theories as to what this gun represents, but one thing I know for sure is that the show must be evoking the Chekov rule.  That gun is coming back, and we will eventually learn the origin of the ‘J’.  Mark my words.

The group pulls up to the gates, and stops their vehicles.  Pan to Rick’s face as he hears the sound of children playing inside.  His gaze softens and Michonne reaches out for his hand.  “You ready?” she asks with a smile.

Rick scoops Judith out of the backseat and starts toward the gates.  Carol delivers only her second line of the episode, but it’s a doozy.  She says, “Even though you were wrong, you’re still right.”  That seems to help Rick a bit, knowing he wasn’t alone in his rationale.  Rick looks at Judith and smiles, saying, “Here we go.”

Random Thoughts Before I Go:

- Aaron calls the walking dead ‘roamers’, which is a nice reference to the comics.  Comic Rick calls them roamers as well, so I wonder if this means we can trust Aaron since he has a kind of kinship with Comic Rick?

- Funniest moment of the episode goes to Daryl when he interrupts Aaron’s apologies about the photo quality.  “Nobody gives a shit.”  True dat, Daryl.

- The can of Gorbelli spaghetti rings that Abe finds in the RV is definitely a callback to the Gorbelli food truck that Tara’s dad drove.  Furthermore, the governor dumped a plate of spaghetti rings right out his window when he first met Tara’s family.

- Abe and Rosita start to mend fences in this episode, and I hope they end up sharing a house together in Alexandria.  They’ll just need to put up some curtains in case Eugene wants to do anymore peeping.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Walking Dead - Them Recap

This episode was a relatively silent, psychological affair.  The main focus here was on Maggie, Daryl and Sasha who were the three characters hit hardest by the deaths of Beth and Tyreese.   The opening sequence briefly showcases each of these characters wallowing in their own personal brand of misery and grief as they search for water.  Maggie sobs up against a tree, Daryl eats worms, and Sasha wanders in a dried up riverbed of dead frogs. 

Empty handed, the trio returns to the group, and they get back into their van, which must be in some desperate need of Febreeze.  Does Febreeze go bad?  I feel like it’s gotta be a must-have essential in this new, shower-less world. Moments later we see the van roll to a stop with a clunk, out of gas. The group decides to hoof it.  

(Side note – It’s kind of weird that the gang is so underprepared for this final 100 mile stretch as they seemed to be incredibly well prepared for their 500 mile journey from Atlanta to the Shire.  Is this an indication that our gang is starting to give up?)

On the road again, Rick carries Judith like a sack of potatoes in a carrier, and tries to give Daryl a pep talk.  Daryl doesn’t want to talk about Daryl, he wants to talk about survival.  He peels off from the group and heads to the woods to search for water, and Carol says she’s going with him.

Since we didn’t get to see Beth’s funeral, this episode acts like her wake, with all the characters lining up to interact with Maggie, offering advice and random presents instead of the usual frozen casseroles and elaborate arrangements from a local florist.  First, Carl gifts Maggie with a clunky yellow and pink music box, saying he found it while looking for water.  Maggie looks a bit surprised but takes it and thanks him. 

Carl lied.  We all know secret music boxes come from Junk Lady in Labyrinth.
Photo Credit: pandora society 
Next up it’s Gabriel’s turn to present Maggie with something.  He says, “Whenever you’re ready, I’m here.”  Maggie sternly rebuffs his approach. She says, “You don’t know shit.  You were there to save your flock, right?  Don’t act like that didn’t happen.”  Damn skippy.

Out in the woods, it’s clear that Carol didn’t come to search for water.  She came to confront Daryl.  She tells him that she thinks Beth saved both of their lives.  She gifts Daryl Beth’s knife and gives him a sweet and direct pep talk, encouraging him to face his grief.  She sweeps Daryl’s grease soaked hair from his face and gently kisses his forehead.  Caryl shippers all over the world rejoice.

Omnious music starts up in the background as our crew realizes they’ve attracted a small horde of walkers.  They move in a slow parade on the road behind our gang, and Sasha mentions to Michonne that she thinks she can take them.  Michonne throws some serious shade at Sasha and tells her no way. 

A bit later, the gang stands in action-hero formation on either side of a small overpass.  They start listlessly tossing the walkers over the decline, in an attempt to conserve their fading energy.  Suddenly Sasha goes rogue, grabbing one of the walkers by the collar and tussling with it for a moment before slamming her knife into its skull.  Don’t anger the beast, Sasha.  And by the beast I mean Michonne, who flips into full Momma Bear mode.  She hisses at Sasha to stop, but Sasha shrugs Michonne off like a sullen teen.

Crisis averted, the gang continues down the road.  They approach a small knot of cars, and Maggie rifles through one of them.  She walks over to the trunk and pops it open.    She finds a gagged walker, hands and legs tightly bound - Fifty Shades Gone Wrong.

Maggie stares at the walker with dead eyes and slams the trunk shut, not wanting to deal.  Thinking twice she goes back to dispose of the walker, but can’t get the trunk open.  She angrily jiggles the keys, gritting her teeth, frustration mounting on her face and she suddenly pulls out her gun.  Aiming the barrel at the lock with a shaky hand, she’s saved by Glenn who places a gentle hand on her shoulder.

Glenn’s presence seems to return her to the world, and she explains the situation to him.  He opens the trunk, quietly takes care of the walker, then turns to Maggie and says, “let’s go.”  Awww they’re such a sweet apocalypse couple.  They just get each other. Glaggie 4Eva.

That night the gang rests on the edge of the road.  Abe unscrews a small bottle of brown liquor and Tara argues that he’s going to make it worse.  Eugene remarks that it can’t get worse, when it totally gets worse.  A pack of snarling feral dogs emerges from the woods, teeth bared, ready to strike.

The gang bristles and barely has time to prepare for the attack when PEW PEW PEW!!  Sasha takes care of them in short order with her gigantic gun.   I'm willing to bet that Sasha wasn’t a fan of ‘Must Love Dogs’. 

To be fair, this movie kind of made me want to shoot something too.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia 
Rick is quiet for a moment, then turns and starts to gather kindling.  A bit later, everyone gathers around a campfire, chewing on greasy dog meat with pained faces.  Maggie watches as Gabriel crumples his priest collar and tosses it in the fire before taking a resigned chomp of juicy dog leg.  This scene marks yet another sign of the groups continued decent from humanity and the world that once was. 

(Side note – Like Bob’s leg the WD props team made the dog look super delicious.  Why would they do this to us?  I wanted to scream “Save me a leg!” while snuggling with my own sweet, beloved dog in front of the TV.  But my dog wouldn’t stand a chance in the apocalypse, so I guess it’s kind of a moot point.)

The next morning the group soldiers on.  Glenn is a smartie and appears to have conserved his water as he’s still got a half bottle remaining.  He offers it to Maggie who says, “I don’t know if I want to fight anymore.”  She’s basically asking herself the same question Tyreese asked in the last episode: Is this life worth living? Glenn says, “We fought to be here, and we have to keep fighting.”  Apparently this is what Maggie needs to hear, because she takes a sip of water.  Again – Glaggie 4EVA.

Down the road, Abe offers Sasha a sip of his hooch.  She says it’ll make things worse, and Abe sagely responds, “The way you’re going, you’re what’s going to make things worse.”  Sasha continues her sullen teen act and snaps, “We’re not friends.”  Abe just shrugs and takes another belt from his bottle.

The sun is high in the sky, beating down our gang, and everyone glistens with sweat, moisture they can’t afford to be losing.

Lucille Bluth would totally be drinking with Abe.
Photo Credit: Netflix screen shot
Daryl breaks off from the group again, saying he’s going to find water, but he does no such thing.  He finds a spot near some trees, and stares out at a barn.  The structure is reminiscent of the moonshine cabin that he and Beth burned to the ground, indicating the resurrection of the detritus from his old life following Beth’s death.  Daryl takes a drag off the stalest cigarette I’ve ever seen, and then slowly puts it out on his hand.  He starts to cry as the sun blinks through the trees.

Once Daryl rejoins the group, he finds everyone puzzling over something in the middle of the road.  A cache of water bottles has been left with a note simply stating ‘FROM A FRIEND’.  Eugene, clearly delusional from thirst, says, “If it’s a trap, we already have to be in it.”  He goes to grab a bottle and Abe takes two big strides and bitch slaps it out of Eugene’s hand without a word.  This is the first time we’ve seen them interact since Abe almost beat Eugene to death, and it serves as the sweetest bitch slap apology maybe in the history of ever.

Just then, a summer rainstorm suddenly materializes in the distance and everyone's all like:

Credit: giphy

The gang is super excited, but the happiness lasts for only a few moments before the wind kicks up and they realize they need to get to shelter ASAP.  Daryl leads them to the barn in the woods.  As the group clears the barn, Carol softly reminds Maggie that they can’t give up.

That night, Carl is adorably curled up on the floor with Judith while the rest of the group has a campfire chat.  Rick gears up for a speech, telling the tale of his grandfather’s experience in the war, and how he approached the experience as if he were dead.  Rick forcefully espouses this philosophy, saying, “This is how we survive.  We tell ourselves that we are the walking dead.”

Hey, that's the name of this episode!
Peter Griffin lives for these moments.
Photo Credit: Netflix screen shot
Rick’s heavy philosophy settles over the group for a few moments, when Daryl has his own teenage rebellion moment.  He echoes Carol’s sentiment from earlier in the episode, and says, “We ain’t dead” before he strides out into the storm.

That night, a walker onslaught rattles the barn doors.  Daryl attempts to keep the doors closed, but it’s not enough.  Starting with Maggie and Sasha, each member of the group wakes up and runs to help.  The wind howls relentlessly outside, and everything seems hopeless but the group stands strong and united as they fight to live.

It’s unclear whether or not the previous sequence was a dream because the next thing we see is Maggie waking up on the floor of the barn.  It appears as if her will to live has been rekindled.  She goes to sit with Daryl who is awake and has isolated himself on the far wall of the barn.  They chat with tenderness about how tough Beth was for a moment, and then she encourages him to get some sleep.

Just as Maggie starts to get up, Daryl hands her the music box from earlier in the episode.  He says, “Your gear box had some grit in it.”  Maggie smiles and takes the fixed music box, simultaneously a relic of the past and a symbol of hope for the future.

Maggie continues to make her rounds, walking over to Sasha and waking her up.   They venture outside and see a field of felled trees and impaled walkers.  They stand agog for a moment, and Maggie says, “It should have torn us apart.”  Sasha responds, “It didn’t.” 

(Side note – Is this supposed to indicate that there’s some divine intervention going on?  Our group was saved for some greater purpose?  Maybe Gabriel’s divinity saved them and he really is worth something to the group.)

The women sit at the edge of an over grown field, a gorgeous sunrise peeking over the distant horizon.  Sasha asks why they’re there, and Maggie simply responds, “For this.”  Maggie gives a short speech, reaffirming her belief in the world and their will to live.  “We’re gonna make it,” she says.  Their eyes well with tears, as they stare off into the distance, absorbing the healing power of the sunrise. 

Maggie brings out the music box, mentioning to Sasha that Daryl fixed it.  She opens it, and nothing happens.  The two women both break into much needed laughter when a handsome, squeaky-clean J. Crew model appears in the clearing.

The women immediately assume Charlie’s Angels stance - suns out, guns out.  How dare this dude interrupt their bonding moment?  Ugh, it’s like when a guy comes up to flirt at a bar when all you want to do is have a drink with a friend, amiright ladies?  Although this guy is totally kind of cute, so the ladies give him a shot.

The guy introduces himself as Aaron, and says, “I’m a friend.  I’d like to talk to the person in charge.  Rick, right?” The duo doesn’t know how to respond.  Maggie says, “How did you know?” and Sasha emits a slow, “Whyyyy…”

Aaron cheerily responds, “I have good news.”  Just then, music begins to tinkle creepily from the music box.

Some thoughts before I go:

- Maggie was so coated with grime in this episode that I couldn’t help but notice her sparkling honker of a wedding ring.  Good job, Glenn!  Not only is it totes gorge, it could also definitely double as an effective sneak attack weapon in a fight. IMHO: everyone should be wearing diamond rings. There’s enough to go around now.

- Daryl is starting to get further away from the gang, retreating to spend time in the woods rather than with the group.  He understands the woods, but isolating and self-harm are not signs of a healthy mental state.  Come back to us, Daryl Dixon. 

- The music box from this week and the grandfather clock from last week remind me of the ‘Museum of Civilization’ from Emily St Martin John’s great novel Station Eleven.  If you haven’t read it, go pick it up ASAP.

- The dogs striking out at humans remind me of the packs of wolves and weasels in Stephen King’s apocalypse classic The Stand.  Are the Walking Dead writers punking us?  If Rick starts to have weird visions of an old black woman and they start to head toward Colorado, all bets are off.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Walking Dead - What's Happening And What's Going On Recap

If this premiere set the tone for the rest of the season, then count me all in.  Aside from setting up a new journey and possible new foe for our gang, this episode was a beautiful meditation on the ephemeral space between life and death.  It emphasized that the struggle for survival in the post-walker world is ever present, and the distance between holding on and letting go is minute.

IMHO, the death of a main character on Walking Dead has never been handled with such respect and reverence. Tyreese’s death marked a bastion of hope.  Yes he died, but he fought valiantly to hold on to his humanity despite the seemingly insurmountable and evil obstacles of the new world.  And in the end it was quite possibly one of the most poetic things I’ve ever seen on TV.

The episode opens on a vague seizure of imagery interspersed with dialogue.  We get flashes of a funeral, Maggie and Noah crying, a slow panning shot of the train tracks, and stills of Woodbury and the prison.  We’re lulled into a false sense of familiarity when BAM!  A bloody Lizzie and Mika pop up, telling us, “It’s better now.”  What?!  What’s with the sudden Shining vibe?!  Come play with us…forever…and ever….

During the creepy dead kid montage, Rick agrees to take the group to Noah’s community, right outside Richmond, VA.  OMG, are we finally going to get out of Georgia?  Yep.

Our gang travels to Virginia pretty quickly because the next time we see them a small scouting crew comprised of Glenn, Tyreese, Rick, Michonne and Noah is approaching the gates of the community.  Noah says it’s not far, five more miles to go.  Rick radios Carol who makes a point of mentioning that they’ve made it a total of five hundred miles.  Cue. The. Music.

“Aaaannnnd we would walk five hundred miles, and we would walk five hundred morrrre just to be the gang who’d walk a thousand miles to live for one day more! Lah da dat dah!  Lah da dat dahhh!!!”

Five hundred miles is, like, really far guys!  Gold stars all around!  As the scouting crew travels the final five miles, Tyreese and Noah chat about their fathers.  Tyreese shares a little nugget that his dad told him that it was their “duty as citizens to keep up with the news.”  Noah doesn’t seem too psyched to accept Tyreese as his new father figure, but he politely nods along with the patter anyway.

As the crew approaches the community, Rick says they’ll stay off the road and go on foot.  Noah must have taken his stupid pills that morning, because he looks at Rick with actual confusion and says, “We don’t need to.”  Rick gives him the ole side-eye and says, “Just in case.” 

They park in the woods near a wrecked truck and station wagon, and peep through the trees at a sign for ‘Shireworth Estates’.  Um, I’m totally calling this place the Shire now.  Where’s Bilbo? Apparently not guarding the gates, because Glenn notes that there are no spotters at the entrance.  (Lesson One: Always have spotters.  Even Bilbo will do.)

They hike up to the gate, passing an old grandfather clock (OMG SOMEONE KILLED COGSWORTH!  NOOOOO!) and Noah runs up to bang on the front gate.  Glenn shimmies up the wall to get a better look, then looks down at Noah and gently shakes his head ‘no’. 

Noah catapults himself over the fence and then starts to break into a gimpy run.  A burned out shell of a barn can be seen in the background, bodies are strewn all over the ground, and a lone walker ambles down the main street.  In the background, a graffiti tag declaring ‘WOLVES NOT FAR’ can be seen emblazoned on a brick wall.

At a crossroads, Noah collapses on the ground, sobbing.  Tyreese and Rick both try to console him, but he’s curled up in a little ball like “lalala I can’t heaaar you!”  Rick goes into survival mode, saying they should do a sweep and then GTFO.  Tyreese offers to stay with Noah.  Tyreese is clearly most comfortable with babysitting.

IMHO A totally reasonable alternate episode title.
Photo Credit: wikipedia
Rick radios back to Carol.  ‘We made it.  It’s gone.” 

Glenn, Rick and Michonne poke around a garage. Rick and Glenn confess some humanity fails– Rick admits to wanting to kill Dawn even though he knows she didn’t mean to kill Beth.  Glenn admits that he wouldn’t stop to open the container at Terminus anymore, he’s lost hope, and yeah, he would’ve killed Dawn too if Daryl hadn’t done it. 

Rick is silent and seems to accept this information, but Michonne’s eyes widen.  “We need to stop.  We can be out here too long.”  She knows.  She’s seen what time on the road did to her, and how long it took to restore her humanity once she stopped.  Rick knows she knows, and gets a look of consideration and confusion on his face.

Meanwhile Tyreese takes the opportunity to give another fatherly speech to Noah.  He tells the tale of the time he stepped into the walker parade and fought his way out.  It was a good thing he did too, because he was around to save Judith later.  Noah starts to get to his feet, and Tyreese is all proud and stuff.  For like one millisecond, because Noah breaks into his gimpy run, leaving Tyreese in the dust.  Why can’t anyone catch this kid? Maybe he was jazzercycling with Dawn back in Slabtown.

Tyreese catches up with Noah on the lawn of his house.  They make their way in, and encounter a mutilated female figure on the floor of the living room.  Presumably this is Noah’s mom. Noah silently walks over to her, and kneels dutifully at her head, covering her with a blanket.  He starts to speak to her, and Tyreese walks down the hall to give him a little privacy.

A walker rattles around behind a door at the end of the hallway, but Tyreese does nothing about it.  He walks into a bedroom, and the small, prone body of one of Noah’s twin brothers lies on the bed.  Tyreese wanders further into the room and is captivated by pictures of Noah’s twin brothers hanging on the wall.  As he’s casually browsing the dead twin gallery, the other twin wanders in and takes a gigantic chomp out of Tyreese’s arm.


Tyreese shouts in pain and falls to the ground.  Noah runs in, and acts on instinct, plucking a model airplane from the sky and piercing the walker in the eyeball before he even has time to realize that it was his brother.  Noah is horrified, but recovers quickly and runs to go get help.  Tyreese lies in a pool of blood, holding his mangled arm, sorrow on his face.

The flashing sequence from the start of the episode begins again, but a super horrifying radio broadcast now accompanies the images.  Perspective shifts to a framed picture of a house on the floor, and then pans up to reveal Martin.

No, not that Martin.
Photo Credit: here
It’s Termite Martin.  He’s chowin’ on his gum while he questions Tyreese’s decisions and derides his penchant for mercy.   Martin says that maybe Bob would still be alive if Tyreese had killed him back at Terminus.  Bob appears and reminds Tyreese that he got bit at the food bank, so his death wasn’t anyone’s fault. 

The Governor pops up, and the room starts to become a Who’s Who of Walking Dead ghosts.  The Governor starts yelling at Tyreese and suddenly morphs into a walker.  Tyreese battles the walker but is at a disadvantage when he fumbles his trusty hammer.  Gnashing, rotting teeth are inches away from his face when he makes the decision to shove his bitten arm into the walker’s mouth as a shield.  He screams and uses a giant geode to Tyreese Smash the walker’s skull in.   Smash complete, he returns to cower under the desk, sobbing to himself.  

This sequence featuring Tyreese in a mentally and physical fight for his life against his demons is a drastic departure from anything else we’ve seen on the show, and it was strikingly emotional.  Grappling with these issues alongside such a sympathetic but strong character lends perspective to the WD world, and what it takes to survive. It also raises the age-old question of the meaning of life in a very significant way on the show for the first time.

While we ponder the meaning of life, Michonne, Rick and Glenn are still heavy on gab, light on grab.  Michonne wants to stop, and she brings the guys out to the broken perimeter of the Shire, trying to prove that it can be rebuilt.  But, no, because limb graveyard.  Michonne is unshakeable.  Her brain wheels spin, and she suddenly declares that Washington is where they need to go.  She believes that Eugene was on to something.  “What if there are people there?  What if it’s somewhere we can be safe?”  Rick agrees with her, and her face immediately softens.  They’re totally the mom and dad of the group. 

Noah starts to yell for help from afar.  Damnit, Noah, you had ONE JOB!  The group sprints over to save him from a small group of walkers.  Michonne swings into a boss-level walker with a metal bar in its neck.  Denied!  Michonne wrestles with the walker, and Rick comes to her aid, wrenching out the bar and slamming it into the walker’s head.   Tag team, back again.  Mom and Dad doin’ it up right. 

Back at the house, Tyreese is in some sort of fevered limbo between life and death.  Static on the radio morphs into Beth singing a song.  Hi Beth!  You have such a sweet, pretty voice.  Her song is played over the montage of flashes – the prison, baby Judith, the twin boys, and the train tracks.  Beth, Lizzie and Mika smile at him, telling him it’s ok.  That he doesn’t have to be a part of it anymore.  Urging him to let go.

Martin begs to differ with the girls, saying, “You didn’t want to be a part of it, but being part of it is being now.” To punctuate this point, the Governor strides in and starts to lecture Tyreese, getting his ire up.  He chides him for forgiving Carol, and admonishes, “THIS IS ALL THERE IS.  THIS IS IT.”

Tyreese struggles to his feet to deliver a tirade against the Governor.  He confronts the demons of this new world, which are not so coincidentally the demons of his own lingering doubt.  He stands for the good in the world because he believes it’s not a losing battle. He’s fighting to live because it’s not over, and he wants to do his part.  As his father was before him, he’s a good civil servant.  He says, “I kept listening to the news so I could do what I could to help.  I’M NOT GIVING UP.  People like me, they can live.”  It’s a heartrending and hopeful monologue, and Chad Coleman nails every single word of it. 

Tyreese falls to the floor, bleeding out.  Lizzie and Mika gently take his blood-soaked hand, and BAM!  We’re abruptly jerked out of Tyreese’s fever dream into reality.  Rick yanks on Tyreese’s arm while Glenn holds him down.  Rick screams, “HOLD HIM! ONE HIT, CLEAN, GO!”  Michonne raises her katana and swings into Tyreese’s arm.  Clean sweep. 

Commercial Break.  Breathe In.  Breathe Out.  Contemplate morality and humanity and the afterlife. Maybe grab a snack.  Hug a loved one.  Replenish tissues. 

Back to the show.  Noah helps hold Tyreese while the rest of the crew takes on the walkers at the gate.  We see the melee from Tyreese’s POV, in soundless slow motion.  Rick takes out a walker, swirls of brain suspended in the air.  Glenn and Rick pick Tyreese up.

Flashbacks of violence and destruction from Tyreese’s POV- Martin telling Tyreese, “it’s definitely going to be you and the kid.” A vision of Carol in the field with Lizzie, a vision of Sasha murdering Martin, a vision of Rick pummeling him from above. 

The crew helps Tyreese through the woods as Beth’s song starts back up in the background.  Rick screams in Tyreese’s face to “HOLD ON!” as Beth’s melodic voice juxtaposes their flight through the forest.

The group loads him into the van, and Rick radios to Carol.  He starts up the van and Rick revs the engine, slamming into a wrecked pickup truck.  Dozens of torsos spill out onto the van, ‘W’s carved into the heads.  Um, what?  Time for that later, our focus is Tyreese here. 

The radio broadcast continues about "an endless war" as Tyreese stares out the window. He whispers, “turn it off.”  As the radio flips off, the passengers in the van change.  Beth is in the drivers seat, smiling back at him.  Bob, Lizzie and Mika smile as well, welcoming him into the afterlife.  Beth assures him, “It’s better now.”

Tyreese fades away.  We see the world from his perspective as the sun shines bright, and then cuts to black. 

The episode comes full circle as we return to the grave digging. It’s Tyreese’s funeral, not Beth’s.  Gabriel is useful for once in his life as he presides over the ritual, reminding us that life is eternal. 

Each person adds a scoop of dirt to the grave.  Sasha, still in Bob’s jacket, takes the shovel with a wobbly hand and dumps her contribution on top.  Rick finishes up and the camera lingers on a shot of Tyreese’s headstone, his trademark skullcap perched on top.

Side Notes:

- I’ve heard this episode described several times as a homage to the films of Terrence Malik.  I have a fleeting familiarity with Malik, having goggled in stoned wonderment at The Tree of Life when it was released a few years ago, but this episode has convinced me that I need more of his films in my life.

- Yes fans, that was Andrew Lincoln’s voice on the radio broadcast.  For curious minds, you can get the full transcript of the horrifying but totally relevant broadcast here

- And since I think we all need a bit of comic relief, I leave you with a hilariously cleansing photo recap of the episode.  Enjoy!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Walking Dead - Coda Recap

So, Beth died. 

Photo credit: twitter
Yes, Joey, Beth dies.  And I’m super torn up about it too.  If I could put my TV in the freezer, I totally would. 

I waited so long to write this recap because I was just feeling too many feels.  The episode thankfully spared Carol but we all knew someone had to go, and it ended up being poor, sweet Beth. 

The episode started with a pre-credits sequence that was possibly the most brutal and heartless cold open we’ve ever seen on the show. 

Rick chases after New Bob, hopping in a police cruiser and speeding through the alleyway.  He repeatedly commands Bob to “STOP” through the speaker system, but New Bob isn’t a good listener.  When he doesn’t stop, Rick stops him.  By bashing into him with the car.

But this is no hit and run. New Bob mewls on the ground, asking for help, and Rick saunters over to him.  We see Rick from New Bob’s perspective.  He’s just a tall, dark, foreboding silhouette. 

Rick says, “It didn’t have to be like this, you just had to stop.”  New Bob pleads with him, and Rick responds, “Can’t go back Bob.”  Eerie, considering these are the exact same words that Gareth said to Old Bob back in the premiere at Terminus.  In short order, Rick executes New Bob, shooting him squarely in his shiny bald forehead. 

DAYM RICK!  That’s cold.  Ice cold.  The new Grimes motto seems to be ‘Live Grimes, Or Die.’  I’m not exactly shocked, but this wasn’t a predictable turn of events either.  Gotta be honest though and say that I’m totally glad New Bob is gone.  That dude was kind of a drag.

Back at the school, Gabriel continues his pointless walkabout.  He’s just so useless.  He putters around, browsing the discarded Termite magazine selection.  His focus eventually shifts to the maggot infested Bob-B-Q.  Listen, I’m no cannibal, but that leg had some serious meat left on it.  Yeah, sure, I’m a terrible person.  While I’m thinking doggie bags, Gabriel is having a little freak out.  He causes such a racket that the walkers bust out of the church and start to pursue him.

Of course Gabriel runs away and leads the horde directly to the church.  Do not pass Go, Do not collect any common sense.  Instead of going in the way he left, he bangs on the door to be let in. Carl starts to immediately dismantle the door barricade showing that he has much more mercy than his father who, let’s be real, probably would’ve left the pitiful priest out there to rot.  Michonne apparently also shares Carl’s penchant for mercy, as she tells him to step aside.  She hacks the door open with an axe, and then proceeds to katana chop an entire parade of walkers.  All with Judith on her back.  Bad.  Ass.  Michonne proves time and time again that she is the momma lion that the Grimes kiddos need. 

The trio retreats to the rectory and Carl shimmies down the escape hatch. Gabriel steps crazily out of character and insists that Michonne go down first.  Gabriel lets go of the door, and as he starts to lower himself down the hole, a walker lunges face first into a strategically placed machete.  The walker’s skull splits open like a ripe cantaloupe, splattering a shocked Gabriel with braaaains. 

Back at the warehouse, Rick lets Daryl know that he killed New Bob using, “he wouldn’t stop” as the reason why.  This seems perfectly reasonable to Daryl, and they immediately start brainstorming a new plan.  Lady Cop overhears and takes the opportunity to contribute.  She deftly spins the story.  She comments on Lamson’s death, saying, “He was a good man.  Attacked by rotters.” She pleads with Rick to let them help.  Baldie cop seems to be cooperative, echoing Lady Cop’s story.  

Over in Slabtown Dawn is sweatin’ to the oldies while Beth putters around her office, cleaning.  They chat about Captain Hansen, Dawn’s predecessor, and Beth starts to ask the hard-hitting questions.  Dawn circumvents the answers, waxing poetic about her job and earning respect and blah blah blah.  It’s all just Charlie Brown ‘wah-wah’ noise from Dawn at this point.  We don’t care.  You’re a horrible person Dawn. Just get over yourself.

We feel your pain Charlie. #JeSuisBored
Photo Credit: dabble in travel
Back at the church, Carl and Michonne regroup outside of the church.  Michonne wanders over to Gabriel and confronts him in a very un-Rick way.  Her cool and collected demeanor is increasingly a counterpoint to Rick’s way of doing things.  She doesn’t get too many answers from Gabriel, but it doesn’t really matter, because what’s done is done.  The walkers start to bust out of the church when the cavalry arrives.

Yay!  The firetruck! Maggie jumps out and hugs Michonne as if she hasn’t seen her in years, even though…didn’t they only leave one day ago?

By way of hello, Glenn simply says, “Eugene lied.  He can’t stop it.  Where is everybody?”  Way to throw Eugene under that fire truck, buddy.

Michonne gets a huge grin on her face and turns to Maggie, saying, “Beth’s alive.”  Maggie responds, “Beth who?” Just kidding - she’s really happy and starts crying.  But honestly she hasn’t cared one iota about Beth since the prison, so I’m pretty surprised that she’s so emotional.

Speaking of Beth, she’s perched on top of the elevator shaft, peering thoughtfully into the darkness.  Of course her bestie Dawn finds her to gabble on some more about her demons.  Honestly, Beth should just tell Dawn to go find a therapist.  Instead, Beth slaps her in the face with a truth bomb.  She lays down the facts for Dawn, saying that the world is different now, and that she needs to accept things the way they are.

As the two women chat, one of the evil officers sidles through the door to confront Dawn.  He says that he thinks she’s cracking, just like Hansen.  Dawn says she’s nothing like Hansen, because she killed Hansen.  While we’re all mulling over how nonsensical this reasoning sounds, evil officer starts to sweet talk Dawn, reminding her of their past as coworkers and friends as he slinks his way closer to her.   Fwack!  He smacks the gun out of her hands, and it goes skittering down into the elevator shaft. 

A pretty awesome fistfight commences.  Most hilarious line of the episode goes to evil officer who tosses Beth off his back and screams, “Stay in your lane, bitch!”  What lane?  The metaphorical lane of wards versus officers I guess? This guy is funny.  Too bad he’s about to die.

Dawn karate chops evil officer in the throat, and he stumbles.  Beth assists and shoves the guy through the elevator shaft.  Evil officer falls through and the croak of walkers can be heard from below as Dawn thanks Beth.  The two women stand in the elevator door frame in silence. 

A bit later, Dawn seeks out Beth yet again, this time armed with a flask and two glasses. Beth is slumped against the wall in Carol’s room, clearly in no mood for company. Dawn pours some liquor into a glass for Beth and tells her it’s ok to cry.  Apparently big girls do cry, because Dawn admits to crying alone sometimes.  Dawn settles down onto Carol’s bed. Dear God, it would be amazing if Carol sprang to life and murdered Dawn right now, but that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. 

Again, the two have what’s become a pretty standard yawnfest about Dawn’s intentions and Beth’s view of those intentions.  She offers for Beth to be “a part of this thing” because she’s touched by Beth’s sweet murdering skillz.  She says she will remember what Beth did.

Outside of the hospital, Tyreese and Sasha have a sibling bonding moment while on sniper patrol.  Tyreese confesses about Martin.  Sasha blinks hard and focuses on him.  Tyreese says that he’s relieved, because he thinks that his inability to kill Termite Martin and Sasha letting her guard down with New Bob are on par, proving that they’re both still tenaciously holding on to their old values.  Sasha disagrees.  She’s glad that Tyreese is still the same, but she thinks she needs to change.  She says this as she adjusts the scope on a high-powered semi-automatic weapon, blatantly underscoring that, yep, if you haven’t noticed, this world is very different than before and that change is probably a good idea.

Down on the ground, the show takes an amazeballs detour into action movie territory.  A cop car pulls up into an abandoned parking lot and two of the officers get out, guns drawn.  Rick holds his hands up.  He says, “I’m here to make a proposal.” 

Rick explains that they want to make an even trade.  They’ll exchange two of the cops in return for Carol and Beth.  A giant walker ambles toward the cop car as one of the officers asks where Rick’s people are.  Pop!  Sasha shoots the giant from her sniper perch, and Rick smirks in response saying, “They’re close.”  Cheeky Rick.   

Dawn accepts the terms, and our crew makes their way into the hospital.  Cut to a shot of Beth getting ready to leave, putting on the same disgusting clothing she came in with.  Like any diligent member of the Grimes gang, she smuggles her purloined scissors away in her cast for good measure. 

Carol is wheeled out in a wheelchair. Apparently even though the world has ended, arcane hospital regulations live on.   

The two groups meet in Western shootout style across a dimly lit hospital corridor.  The shot is at a tilted angle, keeping the viewer a bit off kilter.  Dawn asks, “Where’s Lamson?” The Lady Cop and baldie cop respond as planned:  “Rotters got him.” “We saw it go down.”

They start the exchange, first baldie for wheelchair Carol.  Then, Dawn brings over Beth in exchange for Lady Cop.  Rick encircles Beth with an arm, and gives her a fatherly nuzzle on the head as he guides her toward the door. 

Everything’s totally cool, when Dawn decides to be a total buzz kill and ruins everything.  She calls out, “Now I just need Noah, and then you can leave.”

Lady Cop tries to interject, but Dawn shuts her up.  Daryl and Rick step up and say no, that wasn’t part of the deal.  Noah starts to move back towards Dawn.  Rick argues for a moment, and then gives in when he sees that Noah is willing to go.  Noah makes his way down the hall when Beth yells, “Wait!”  She goes to hug Noah goodbye and Dawn ruins the moment once again by creepily whispering, “I knew you’d be back.”

Beth releases Noah, and turns to Dawn.  She says, “I get it now,” and suddenly stabs Dawn in the shoulder with her concealed scissors. 

BANG!  Dawn reflexively retaliates by shooting Beth DIRECTLY IN THE HEAD.  As Beth crumples to the ground, everyone freezes at this unexpected turn of events.  Everything starts to move in slo-mo.  Everyone’s eyes are wide, jaws slack.  Dawn’s eyes are full of panic and regret, but Daryl doesn’t care.  His face crumples into a sob, and he strides toward Dawn, not hesitating as he puts a cap into her forehead. 

Everyone readies their weapons, and a shootout seems imminent when Lady Cop shouts, “Stand down!  It’s over.  It was just about her.”

Both sides listen, lowering their weapons.  Our gang has teary eyes all around, immobilized with shock.  Lady Cop extends an invitation to stay, but our gang declines.  Rick steps up and offers to take anyone who wants to leave, but doesn’t appear to get any takers.  

As this tragic scene unfolds in the hospital, the fire truck rolls up to the front entrance, literally moments too late.  They clear a path to the front entrance, while Gabriel wanders behind them like a lost puppy.  

The fire truck crew reaches the front door as the rest of our gang exits the hospital with somber faces.  Maggie’s face lights up, but she quickly crumples to the ground when she sees the truth. 

In an iconic moment for the show, Daryl walks out of the hospital, Beth in his arms.  The final scene is a long shot of Daryl slowly carrying Beth towards her grieving sister, a broken Atlanta rising in the background.

Tears.  So many tears.


Following the credits, there’s a shot of one of those mysterious X men symbols in a tree.  The shot pans back to reveal a hooded figure.  IT’S MORGAAANNN!!!  I love the music that’s been accompanying his journey.  It’s peaceful, almost Enya-like.  It makes me feel good about the place that Morgan is in mentally.  He looks like a well-geared superhero as he surveys the damage at the schoolhouse.  The magazines that Gabriel had looked at earlier in the episode have aged, browning and curling at the corners. 

Morgan approaches the altar at the church and creates a small shrine with some curious items.  He carefully lines up a blue rabbits foot, a snack cake, and a single bullet.  He kneels for a moment then raises his head and chuckles to himself a bit.  As he starts to exit the church, he steps on something.  He lifts it up to examine it, and sees the note.  “The new world’s gonna need Rick Grimes.” YES!


- I cannot wait for Morgan to catch up with our gang, but if the aging of those magazines is any indication, it’s going to be awhile until they meet up.

- Why did Beth stab Dawn in the shoulder and not the neck?  She knows better than that.  I was pretty disappointed that Beth’s last moments on the show made her look incapable and stupid. 

- Dawn’s path is definitely serving as a cautionary tale for Rick – Rick is also a cop who killed his old partner when he became unstable.  Like Dawn, Rick is losing some of his humanity, but how much further will he go?  How much further can he go before he loses everything?

- Ummmm, WTF does Slabtown mean?  This was never explained on the show, but I decided to look it up, and it’s actually pretty interesting.  So, if you need a bit of reading material while you wait for tonight’s episode – here you go!