Thursday, November 27, 2014

Walking Dead - Crossed Recap

This week served as a Cuisinart for all the story lines we’ve been following this season, blending the diverging storylines together into a big stew of confusion.  Hopefully next week’s episode will be the oven, cooking this mess into a cohesive dish of a narrative.  Sorry about the weird cooking analogy, I just have food on the brain.  Happy Thanksgiving, people!

Before I get into the episode, I wanted to take a minute to step back and look at how time is passing in the WD world.  Time seems to be going in super slo-mo on the show, as a little less than two weeks have passed since the Governors attack on the prison.  Two weeks for them, but it’s been almost exactly one year for us.  In that time, the gang has survived the prison attack, a lonely week of separation on the road, the Terminus outbreak, and the massacre at the church.  Now the hostage exchange at Grady looms large.  Rick and Co has been quite busy kicking ass, and they definitely deserve a little down time.  But I don’t think they’re going to get it without losing some of their crew first.  (Please not Carol, please not Carol, please not Carol….)

The episode starts with small snippets of life back at the church.  Sasha angrily hacks into a church pew with an axe while Tyreese and Daryl dismantle the organ.  Daryl carries an armful of the pipes out to the front of the church, anchoring them in the ground as spikes.  Gabriel asks him snidely if they’re going to take the cross, and Daryl responds matter-of-factly, “if we need it.”

As the rest of the crew board up the windows, Rick and Michonne have a family meeting.  Rick will go to Atlanta because he owes Carol more than anyone else, and Michonne will play stay-at-home-mom with the kiddos.  No one mentions anything about rescuing Beth.

After the church is secure, Rick gives Judith a kiss and hands her over to Michonne.  He hugs Carl and leaves, and Judith promptly starts to wail.  Gabriel notices the Termite bloodstain on the hardwood floor and starts to scratch at it with his nails, and then with his palm, sweat on his brow, crazy in his eyes.

(Side note - There are brief cuts to the church throughout the episode but here’s the brief synopsis of what happens there:  Carl gives Gabriel a machete, Michonne makes flirty eyes at him as she tries to console him, and then he runs away.  Why?  Who knows?  IMHO he’s super annoying and I presently don’t care for his character.  Previews show that we’ll be seeing more of him next week so I won’t spend too much time speculating on what’s going on with him in this episode.)

Back on the road, Tara dubs the group ‘GREATM’ based on the initials on the tops of their water bottles.  Other configurations include TARGEM, MEAGET, and my personal favorite, GR-TEAM.  You can’t spell GREATM without GR-TEAM. 

They'reeee GRRRRREAT-M!!!!
(Sorry, I had to do it.)
Tara tries to keep it light, staying that she’s going to get GREATM tattooed on her knuckles, but in other news, they’re out of drinking water.  They talk about going back to the church, but they fear that moving Eugene may make him worse. 

Rosita tries to force water on Abe and he whacks it out of her hand.  She yells in his face, trying to get him to look at her, when he stands up and starts to come at her.  Just then a click of a gun is heard off screen.  It’s Maggie, doing her best cowgirl impression, aiming a pistol at Abe as she growls, “sit down or I’ll put you down.”  Abe softens his gaze, and silently folds himself back onto the ground.

Elsewhere, the Grimes gang strategizes in an abandoned warehouse in Atlanta.  Rick wants to go in, guns blazing, but Tyreese proposes another option.  He wants to kidnap a few cops and do an even trade.  Rick protests, but Daryl quickly agrees with Tyreese’s way of thinking.  Oddly enough though, the more ‘merciful’ option allows the hospital to remain under Dawn’s oppressive regime, and the rest of the wards would remain prisoners.  I guess Tyreese and Daryl aren’t really thinking of anyone other than their own people.  To be fair, I don’t think Rick is either.

A bit down the road at the hospital, Beth’s mop has given her the power of invisibility.  She rolls her bucket around freely, popping her head into Carol’s room, and then makes her way down the hall where Dawn is having a conversation with another officer.  They discuss sensitive topics such as Noah’s escape and the state of the patients.  When the male officer suggests that they pull the plug on Carol, Beth jumps into action.  She’s super ballsy, getting in the officers face and yelling at him about his selfish priorities.

Not one to be told what to do, Dawn orders that the machines be turned off, and the officer walks out with a smirk.  Once they’re alone, Dawn swivels around to Beth and changes her tune.  She tasks Beth with saving “that woman” and hands her the key to the drug locker.  Beth face is all like “whaaa?” and she asks Dawn why she’s trusting her with the key.  Dawn responds by saying that she thought Beth was weak, but she’s proven otherwise. 
Beth springs into action, and goes to powwow with Doc Stevens.  She consults with him and asks what meds he would give the woman in Room Two.  I have no earthly idea why she’s trusting him at this point because the last time he gave her a prescription it killed a man, but I guess there’s no one else she can trust, and she certainly can’t Google it.  He deduces that Beth has the key, and gives her an order for a 5mg epinephrine drip.  However, before she goes he cryptically refers to Dawn saying, “if she gave [the key] to you, she didn’t do it out of the kindness of her heart.”  What does this mean?  What possible motive could Dawn have to save Carol?  Is she trying to frame Beth for theft?  What is going on?!  Dawn is psycho, that’s what’s going on.

Back with GREATM, Glenn, Rosita and Tara go get water while Maggie volunteers to stay with Abe and Eugene.  She nabs a ladder and blanket from the truck, creating a makeshift shade for Eugene’s lifeless body.  After she secures the blanket, she stalks over to a mute, motionless Abe, snapping at him to get over himself.  She lets him know that he’s “not the only one who lost something today.”

At the creek, the water is murky but Rosita MacGyver’s a filter out of some rocks and a piece of her shirt.  She notes that Eugene showed her this method.  The group chats for a bit about how Rosita met Abe, and Glenn spots a fish downstream. 

The MacGyver spirit continues as Rosita and Glenn strip some windbreakers off a few walkers and tear the netting out.  Tara unearths a backpack and inventories the contents as Glenn and Rosita succeed in catching a pretty large fish with their net.  Rosita shares that she has some pretty sweet fish gutting skillz, and Glenn smiles at her.  He tells her that they’re going to need her, wherever they go.  In a sweet and genuine moment, Glenn steps up as the new leader of GREATM, asking Rosita if she’s “in”.  She gratefully accepts. 

Back in Atlanta, Noah draws the cops out.  He lamely limps around some brick buildings when Dawn’s officers approach and quickly disarm and cuff him. They’ve drastically underestimated Noah, and are not paying one iota of attention when the Grimes gang comes out from hiding and quickly surrounds the two officers.  Rick takes charge of the situation, saying, “you do what we say, we don’t hurt you.”

The officers drop their weapons and dutifully kneel on the ground.  The male officer asks if Rick used to be a cop, and Rick stands there in silence looking nothing like a cop, but definitely like a deranged lumberjack.  But despite his silence, Rick’s mannerisms give him away and the cop has the answer to his question.  Noah identifies the cop as ‘Lamason’ and tells Rick that he’s one of the good ones.  Before he can elaborate, another car races over and scoops up the two officers, guns blazing.  As the vehicle tries to make a getaway, Sasha shoots out one of the tires and the gang turns the corner in hot pursuit.

Just around that corner is a hot mess of destroyed city.  A literal field of walkers, melted to the ground from the Atlanta bombings stretches out before the group.  Our gang fans out, searching for the officers, careful to avoid the charred and goopy skeletons that dot the scorched pavement. Daryl takes point on the disabled car, but no one is in it.  He moves over to a bombed out FEMA trailer, and a bald cop ducks out and tackles him. 

After wrestling for a few moments, the cop pins Daryl to the ground and shoves his head precariously close to one of the melted walkers.  Daryl fumbles around, hands seeking something, and he barely escapes getting his fingers snapped in a walkers deadly chompers.  I gasp and scream at the TV, “What the hell is he doing?!” when his plan becomes clear. 

Daryl wins best DIY weapon of the season, hands down, as he grasps the walkers skull like a bowling ball.  Squishing his fingers into the walkers jello-y eye sockets he wrenches it up and slams the cop squarely in the head.  Steeee-rike!!!  Daryl rolls away to recover as the cop starts to retaliate, but it’s too late for baldy because Officer Grimes steps onto the scene.

This moment is tense, as Rick has his pistol trained on the cops face.  The cop snarls, “you win asshole” to Rick as he gets to his feet.  Rick is about to pull the trigger when Daryl stumbles over.  He stops Rick, making an interesting point as he says, “three is better than two”, and Rick reluctantly drops his gun.  At this moment, I can’t help but think of the immortal words of Pretty Woman – Big mistake.  Huge.

As the crew marches back into the warehouse, the lady cop starts to protest.  She reveals that there’s about to be a regime change in ole Slabtown as most of the cops don’t like the way that Dawn’s been running things.  They want Dawn out, and Lamson in.  Dawn is probably hip to this, so she won’t be too keen to trade for his safety.  Despite the fact that this sounds super logical, Lamson tells lady cop to shut up.  I’m not really loving Lamson, but Noah vouched for him earlier so I give him the benefit of the doubt.  For now.

Lamson lays out his strategy, saying, “you can make this work, but you have to be able to talk to her.”  He says his only interest is “peaceful resolution”, and he divulges that he’s known Dawn for eight years.  Daryl is intrigued and calls Rick over.

Inside the hospital, Beth launches Operation Save Carol.  She palms a few strawberries to a ward who looks like a sad Santa Claus.  Once his prize is in hand, he breaks into a coughing fit to distract attention from Beth.  She sidles over to the drug locker and grabs exactly what she needs.  This seems like a missed opportunity to stock up on some sleeping pills to slip into Dawn’s water or something, but whatever.  She quickly locks the cabinet back up and walks purposefully to Carol’s room.

Beth expertly administers the meds to Carol, and then tenderly squeezes her hand, saying, “It’s Beth.  I just wanted to let you know I was here.”  OMG CAROL PLEASE BE OKAY!!!! I’M HERE FOR YOU TOOOOO!!!!

Outside of the hospital, Tyreese and Sasha work on changing the tire on the officers’ vehicle.  They chat a bit about Bob, and Tyreese croons some choice lyrics from Frozen, telling Sasha to “Let It Goooooo, Let It Gooooo!”  Okay, maybe he doesn’t actually sing, but if Frozen existed in the WD world, he totally would’ve.  Despite the best efforts of her brother, Sasha is inconsolable.  She’s still mad at herself because she couldn’t stab her boyfriend in the head.  Zombie World Problems, amiright?

Before Rick leaves, Lamson is giving him some advice.  He urges him to, “know who you’re talking to.”  I would give anything to hear what Lamson had to say about Dawn, both pre and post apocalypse.  I’m thinking we’ll get a bit more background on her before she (hopefully) meets her demise next week. 

Rick plays the good host, asking if there’s anything Lamson needs before they leave.  Martha Stewart would be proud.  Come to think of it, Martha would totally be alive in the apocalypse.  Lamson says no, but asks them to call him Bob.  Sasha’s eyes go all wide and teary. 

Sasha watches after New Bob (presumably because the group has decided that Dawn won’t want anything to do with him as a hostage) and he starts to bewitch her with a sweet backstory monologue. Back before the Atlanta bombings, New Bob had been a part of a Dawn-led crew, evacuating the survivors from the hospital.  His buddy Tyler had been put in charge of the last van of survivors when the bomb hit.  Tyler has been stuck in the ground, like a “part of the street” since then.  Fully smitten, Sasha offers to help him.

Cut back to the road.  Maggie walks over to Abe and tries to hand him a water bottle.  She gently kneels down, like Margaret Mead approaching a hostile gorilla, and asks Abe if he wanted her to shoot him.  He says, “I thought I did, but I didn’t.”  She tentatively leaves the bottle.  Just then, some walker-like sounds come from the front of the fire truck.  Eugene’s awake!  Maggie jogs over to him, and we linger on a tight shot of the water bottle as Abe’s bandaged and bloody hand swoops down and grabs it.  He’s back.

Back in the warehouse, Lamson leads Sasha to the window and points her in the direction of Tyler’s body. He backs his ass up, and as Sasha goes to aim her rifle he runs into her full speed and rams her head against the glass, knocking her unconscious.  New Bob < Old Bob.

Some thoughts before I go:

- I loved that Tara got so excited by the discovery of a yo-yo.  Also, she’s definitely a welcome breath of positivity and humor on the show, and I hope she sticks around for a bit.

- Upon fleeing the church, Gabriel steps directly on a rusty old nail.  He’s totally going to get tetanus if he doesn’t get to a hospital ASAP.  How ironic.

- Please don’t let Carol die.  Please don’t let Carol die.  Please don’t let Carol die…..

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Walking Dead - Consumed Recap

What was touted as ‘The Adventures of Carol and Daryl’, ultimately turned out to be a relatively slow moving and serious episode focusing on identity and rebirth. Not gonna lie, I thought this episode was a serious bummer.  I'm not blaming it on the lack of action, but given the themes of ‘Consumed’, I now truly believe that something horrible is going to happen to Carol.  Soon.

Fire and smoke became important symbols in this episode, connoting specific life altering moments in Carol’s recent life.  There has been a great deal of focus on Carol in the first half of Season 5, and I can’t help but think that she’s doomed. 

The episode is punctuated with Carol flashbacks, filling in small gaps of time for the viewer.  We begin as Carol drives away from Rick, exiled after killing Karen and David back in the first half of Season 4. (Side note – This happened over a year ago for us, but in WD-time it’s only happened a few weeks ago.)  Carol drives out onto a main road, and allows herself a brief moment of grief, sobbing at her steering wheel.  She collects herself and then drives into a small town, setting up shop at a small law firm.  Settling in for the night, Carol clutches her gun tightly to her chest.

The next morning Carol gets up and sets to work creating a makeshift camp.  As she hangs plastic bags from the windows as rain catchers, she glimpses a plume of black smoke rising in the direction of the prison.  Panic on her face, she hops to it.  She gets in her car and flies down the road.  As she approaches the prison, a blazing inferno is reflected in her windshield.  Damn, they totally could’ve used Carol.  Would she have taken the Governor out?  Probably. There’s a good chance things may have gone another way in that situation if Carol had been there.  Rick has terrible timing. He’s kind of the worst sometimes.

Now we know how and why Carol came back.  Just about a day after the exile.  She wasn’t on her own for very long at all, and even though Rick shut her out she remained loyal to all the people there and rushed to their side when she saw danger.  If Carol’s only thoughts were for self-preservation, she would’ve stayed as far away from that situation as possible.  But she didn’t. 

Back in the present, we pick back up with Carol and Daryl as they pursue the mystery car.  Daryl notes that the car is running low on gas, and Carol suggests that they run the car off the road.  She’s kind of like a wild card here.  She has definitely proven herself to be a bold risk taker, but in this case she’s not thinking too far ahead.  That is what makes her and Daryl such a great team.  

As the duo soldiers on, the camera pans back to show us a brief shot of Atlanta at night.  It is eerily black, silent, and foreboding in the distance. 

The white cross car stops at an intersection, and Carol and Daryl park their car and watch from a distance.  A passenger gets out, and Daryl asks, “Is that a cop?” with a bit of surprise in his voice.  (Side note – its interesting to note that Daryl doesn’t say its someone ‘dressed like a cop’, he immediately assumes that the person is a cop because of the uniform.  Those societal mores are powerful, and Dawn of the Walking Dead knows it.)

A walker starts to claw at the car window, potentially giving up their position.  Both Carol and Daryl stare at it with disgusted indifference, like “be cool, dude, just be cool.”  

After pulling what appeared to be random debris off the road, the cop passenger gets back in the car, and the car drives away.  Daryl tries to turn the key, but it’s a no go.  Carol says she knows a place they can “hole up”.

They make their way into a building as a small contingent of walkers starts to wobble down the city street like the lamest Thriller video knockoff ever.  As they make their way into the building, Carol finds a key ring on a body lying in the hall.  They barricade the door and make themselves at home.  Daryl asks Carol what the place is, and she explains that it’s temporary housing.  She and Sophia came there before the world fell apart, but they didn’t stay. 

Carol flops on the bed next to Daryl and the two have a heart-to-heart about their lives and what it means to have an identity in this new world.  They both seem to agree that they’re trying to start over, and trying to still believe that what they’re doing matters.   Daryl asks Carol what she would’ve done if he hadn’t shown up at the car earlier, and Carol says she doesn’t know.  But we know.  Gareth and the Termites would’ve grabbed her and made a delicious feast out of her lady leg.  (Side note - It’s kind of interesting that as this conversation takes place, the rest of our gang is hard at work taking out the Termites.)

There’s a noise out in the hallway, and they go to investigate.  Two walkers press up against the frosted glass.  A large, adult sized body appears next to a smaller body, presumably a child.  Carol goes to take care of it, but Daryl stops her, telling her she doesn’t have to do it.  The next morning Carol wakes up to see a fire burning outside.  Daryl has covered the bodies with sheets (definitely Beth’s influence) and is burning them.  Carol gets a sad but hopeful look on her face, and thanks Daryl as they watch the curls of black smoke rise into the sky.

In many ways, this scene echoes the themes of not only this episode, but Daryl’s trajectory on the show as well.  It’s no coincidence that following the scene at the shelter, the episode cuts to a flashback of Carol blankly staring at a cloud of white smoke in the distance as she and Tyreese bury Mika and Lizzie’s bodies.  Recall that that smoke is from the moonshine shack that Daryl and Beth burned down so that Daryl could leave his life as an abused and neglected child in the past.  In burning the bodies at the shelter, Daryl is very likely trying to help Carol move on from her abusive past much in the same way Beth helped him.

Ever since Mika taught Carol how to identify if a fire is still burning from afar in The Grove, white versus black smoke has been a recurring and symbolic theme in Carol’s life.  The white smoke from the shack is the only smoke in the episode from a fire that has burned itself out, indicating something is over, done, reborn.  Daryl has been reborn, but the smoke from the fires started in Carol’s past is never seen as ‘white’, indicating that she has been unable to resolve her issues and move on.  The black smoke from her past, via the flashbacks, clearly haunts her and her self-doubt is definitely still burning.

After the walker bonfire, the duo leaves the shelter and stalks the deserted streets of Atlanta.  For some reason, the streets have an overwhelming amount of loose cardboard strewn about.  They make their way through an open parking garage into the ‘Skybridge’.  Someone is watching from the garage.

They get up to the bridge, and encounter an odd tableau.  The hallway seems to have been a camping site for a small group of survivors.  It appears as if they were all stabbed to death, and then entombed in sleeping bags and tents in order to immobilize the bodies once they reanimated.  Is it a trap?  A deterrent? Or maybe it’s just a gigantic piece of performance art?  Is Banksy still alive in the apocalypse?  Maybe Daryl is Banksy.  Woah.  Anything is possible in the WD world I guess.

They make it to the end of the hall, but the door is loosely bolted.  Carol and Daryl both shimmy through the small opening to find an upscale office that looks to be untouched.  They look out onto a scorched landscape, surveying the territory.  Again, they have a cryptic conversation about evolution of self, and starting over.  Carol seems to want to tell Daryl about what happened with the girls, but then thinks better of it. 

Daryl spies something in the distance.  It’s a van, marked with a distinctive white cross, stuck in the safety rails of an overpass.  They load up on water, and take a moment to look at the piece of art in the office.  Daryl says the abstract piece looks like, “a dog sat in paint and wiped his ass all over the place.”  Carol disagrees, and says she likes it.  I’d hate to think what Daryl might say about a Pollock painting.  Yikes. 

Care Bear vomit?  Liquefied walker?  P.S. I want Daryl Dixon to interpret all abstract paintings forever and ever please and thank you. P.P.S. There should be a web series, ‘Carol And Daryl Go To MoMA’.  I’d totally watch that. 
As they shimmy back out of the bolted door, Noah grabs Carol’s rifle and holds them at gunpoint.  He asks Daryl to lay down his crossbow, and apologizes to them.  As he escapes, he says, “I’m sorry about this.  You look tough, you’ll be alright.”  Noah slashes into the tents, releasing the walkers from their vinyl cages.  Carol reacts immediately, shooting a walker, and then takes aim at Noah as he flees down the hall.  Daryl sees this and quickly whacks Carol’s arm down toward the floor. 

They start to exit the building, and Carol quickly scrambles to justify what she did. She sums up her motto of self-preservation as she says, “If I’m going to hell I’m making damn sure I’m holding it off as long as I can.” Daryl protests a bit, frustrated with her outlook on the situation.  Carol grabs Daryl’s bag, and a book titled ‘Treating Survivors of Childhood Abuse’ falls out.  They lock eyes for a moment, and Daryl snatches the book away. 

Unlike Carol, Daryl is trying to deal with his past, instead of using it to fuel his future.  He is taking the opportunity for rebirth seriously, as a chance to evolve emotionally and spiritually, and not just survive. 

On the other hand, Carol is simply trying to survive and help those close to her survive as time passes.  This is illustrated with a flashback to the prison.  Carol stands over Karen and David’s bodies as they burn.  Columns of black smoke pour into the air.  What Carol has done in episodes past seems to be in the service of protecting others, not necessarily herself.  She’s still carrying the regret of inaction from her previous life, and is constantly in fight mode, counting only on herself, not permitting herself to rest even when she has others to support her.  She hasn’t learned how to balance the fight with flight yet, and this is causing her some serious stress.

We return to the present as Carol and Daryl approach the abandoned van with the white cross.  Carol wants to go in first because she’s lighter and the van is unstable, front end dangling off the side of the bridge, but Daryl shrugs her off and hops in.  They successfully ID a stretcher in the van as originating from Grady Memorial Hospital, but a horde approaches, boxing them in.  They wordlessly slide into the two front seats and as they brace for impact, Carol reaches for Daryl’s hand on the dashboard.

In defiance of physics, the van lands squarely on all four tires, like a cat.  Walkers begin to rain from the sky, landing with hard thunks on the windshield and roof of the van.  As they walk away, Carol is clearly injured, and Daryl holds her up. 

They continue their mission, staking out the situation from an abandoned building adjacent to the hospital.  As they munch on a lunch of stale chips, Daryl strikes up a conversation.  He presses Carol for information on how he’s changed since they met.  She says, “It’s like you were a kid.  Now you’re a man.”  Daryl then asks her to assess herself, and how she’s changed.  Even though Daryl did her a solid and tried to burn away her past at the shelter, Carol can’t seem to shake who she was ‘before’.  She ruminates on her life with Ed, saying that she kept praying for something to happen, and it didn’t. 

Carol goes on and talks about her life since then, speaking about her metamorphosis in stages, seeming to reference the things we’ve seen in the flashbacks of the episode and how they’ve changed the core of who she is.  “Who I was…she got burned away, and I was happy about that.  And at the prison I got to be who I always should have been, and then she got burned away...everything now just consumes you.”  Daryl looks at her with kindness in his eyes and reminds her, “we ain’t ashes.”

Just then, Noah fumbles with something down the hall.  Seriously, kid?  Out of all the buildings in all of Atlanta, you pick this one?  The one CLOSER to the place you’re trying to run away from?!  But I digress….Noah is battling a walker as Carol and Daryl approach.  He tosses the walker at Carol and she falls to the ground.  Daryl helps Carol and then pursues Noah, tackling him and trapping him under a gigantic bookcase as a walker starts to wriggle in through the door.  Noah pleads for help as Daryl shakes a stale cigarette out of a found pack and coolly lights it. 

Daryl refuses to help, saying, “Nah, I already helped you once.  It ain’t happenin’ again.”  Noah’s probably pretty confused here, as he didn’t know that Carol had a bullet with his name on it, but no matter.  For some reason Carol’s on his side now.  As the walker gets closer, she joins in asking for Daryl's assistance.  As the walker lunges for Noah’s throat, Carol grabs her knife.  She’s about to stab the walker when an arrow slices through the air, piercing the walker’s skull. 

Back in the past, Terminus burns, thick black smoke swirling in the distance as Carol sheds her camouflage. 

Carol and Daryl help lift the bookcase, and Noah thanks them profusely once he’s free.  He goes to the window, and says he has to go because the people at the hospital are following him.  Daryl’s eyes widen at the mention of the hospital.  “You see a blonde girl there?!” Noah’s eyes widen in kind, “Beth? You know her?!  She helped me get out, but she’s still there.”

The trio starts to exit the building when Noah trips and falls.  Daryl stops to help him up, and Carol sprints ahead into the road.  A station wagon screeches up, slamming into Carol.  Her body flies up onto the windshield and then crumples to the ground.  Daryl has a freak out, as Noah holds him back, explaining that the people at the hospital “have machines” and that they will help her.  As the cops load Carol onto a stretcher, Noah says, “We can get her back.  We can get Beth back.”

Daryl asks, “What’s it going to take?”  Noah notes that the group at the hospital has guns and people, and Daryl responds, “So do we.”

Noah and Daryl escape the city in a truck.  Noah looks at Daryl with an odd look on his face.  Daryl stares, determined, into the distance, the face of a man on a mission.

Some ramblings:

- I just simply couldn't care less about the scene where Carol and Daryl are lying on the bed.  They’re just close, ok?  They’re never going to make out, and I don’t want them to.  This is my final and only thought.  They're soulmates at a deeper level.  Also, no one ever seems to brush their teeth.  Gross. 

- Daryl’s actually one of the gentlest souls on the show at this point, and by being here with Carol he was spared from being a part of the Termite Massacre back at the church.  I can't help but think that his separation from the group at this point in time was intentional.  Same with Carol, but I think that her method of killing would be more akin to Michonne's rather than Sasha, Rick or Abe's.  She's a gentle soul too, only capable of fight when something is at stake.  Unlike some of the others, she's not in it for vengeance. 

- Obligatory Biblical reference of the episode seems to be the Mary on the dash of the van.  Very glad we didn't have to listen to any scripture this week. Thanks for that, WD writers. 

- The last two episodes reminded me of the storytelling on LOST.  Flashbacks focusing on a single character within a larger episode for the sake of character building.

- I really do think that something terrible is going to happen to Carol by the mid-season finale.  For some reason I'm holding out hope that it's amnesia, and not her death.  She got whacked pretty hard by that car, and an amnesiac episode followed by a 'rebirth' may possibly be what this episode is pointing towards.  I don't care if it's too 'Days of Our Lives', any story line that lets Carol Peletier live is okay in my book.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Walking Dead - Self Help Recap

So guys, this was pretty much a snoozefest of an episode.  Sure, we had the big ‘reveal’ at the end, but if you’re a fan of the comics, or just someone who saw through Eugene’s mullet to his constant line of BS, the most shocking part of this episode was the birth of the term ‘dolphin smooth’. 

In flashbacks interspersed throughout the episode we learned about Abe’s past.  The Basics - He brutally murdered four men who had attacked his family.  By smashing their heads in with canned goods. Um, yeah, Abe is a badass.  His family, however, is not so impressed.  They are truly wigged out by his actions and the next morning he finds them gone.  His wife left a note saying simply, “Don’t try to find us”.  WTF lady?!  In the zombie apocalypse, Abe is the one you WANT to find!  Not the one you want to get away from!  Remember, it’s a whole new world (...cue Aladdin theme song in your head….) and survival is paramount.  Abe is despondent upon finding his family chomped to smithereens just around the corner (they didn’t get far without Abe, duh), and he responds to this horror by putting a loaded gun in his mouth.  Cue Eugene.  But we’ll get to that at the end.

In present time, the church bus travels down the road with Abe at the helm.  Rosita strokes Abe’s hair and they banter about her giving him a trim.  In an effort to be suave, he says, “maybe I’ll let you shave me down all over.  Dolphin smooth.”  Ew. In the back of the bus, where the cool kids sit, Tara ribs Eugene about his own trademark coif.  “The party’s getting a little long in the back.  Or is it your source of power?”  Eugene shrugs off these comments, saying he’s thinking about what Gabriel did.  Ok Eugene, weird thing to be thinking about, but whatever, you’re a weird guy. 

(Side note – By the end of the episode, we all know why Eugene is thinking about Gabriel.  This is a new side of WD, introduction of spineless characters who rely on their wits to survive.  Eugene, Gabriel, and Doc Steve from Slabtown are all men who rarely/never actually get their hands dirty and are basically just surviving by throwing themselves on the mercy of others.  It will be interesting to see how many of these men survive the season.)

A bit further down the road, the bus encounters a few stopped cars in the road.  Abe expertly slaloms around the first car, but then slams into a second car.  The bus flies into the air and lands squarely on its side. First the school bus of deathly ill people at the prison, and now the church bus flips its lid.  Nothing good happens in busses on the Walking Dead. Moral of the story: Stay away from busses in the apocalypse, people.

As the group recovers from the crash, Glenn quickly formulates an exit plan. As the two couples clear a path, Tara will cover Eugene.  Glaggie and Abrosita (Rosabraham?  Their couple name isn’t as clear-cut as Glaggie…) execute the walkers with an almost ballet-like precision.

Tara and Eugene evacuate the bus and Tara takes on a few walkers while Eugene cringes like a brat in the background.  Seriously, Eugene?  Scientist or no scientist, nut up dude.  And he kind of does.  Just as a walker starts to grab Tara from behind, he stabs it in the neck.  Not enough to kill it, but he does buy Tara enough time to take care of it herself.   

Abe barks at the crew, telling them to check Eugene, even though Eugene claims he’s fine.  Abe’s a testy old bulldog in this episode, growling and barking his way to D.C.  They’ve gotta scavenge him up some anti-depressants or something.  Just as Maggie mentions that the First Aid kit is on the bus, it bursts into flames. Womp womp. 

Eugene suggests that they head back to the church because it’s only 15 miles away. Sounds like a good idea, but crazy Abe has other plans.  He’s going forward, at all costs.  Surprisingly, everyone is pretty ok with this.  Maggie even makes a joke.  LOL Mags, life’s totally a blast, especially when pseudo-cops are sexually assaulting your sister; it’s a regular old laugh riot.

The crew finds an abandoned bookstore and goes about making it camp for the evening.  Bonus Points to the whole crew for useful Survival Tips all around.  Tara grabs some water from a toilet tank and goes about boiling it over a small ‘stove’ made of wire hangers and a trash can.  Eugene fashions a lighter out of a small piece of tinfoil and a battery, and Maggie and Rosita remove small lengths of string from a book binding to serve as stitches for Abe’s hand.

Illuminated by a full moon, Abe stands watch.  As Glenn comes to chat with him, a walker smooshes up against the picture window like a toddler at an aquarium.  After the walker passes, the two men have a chat that may have well been a podcast because the scene is so dimly lit I can’t see a damn thing.  Abe shares his basic philosophy with Glenn.  Kill the individuals that threaten you.  And he’s kind of ok with that.  He says, “I want to say it’s never easy, but that’s not the truth.  It’s the easiest thing in the world now.”  Abe has gotten a little too far away from what is ‘acceptable’, even in this world.  In terms of the moral, emotional and societal repercussions of murder he’s definitely a bit further off the reservation than Rick, Michonne, or even Carol. 

Abe’s definitely a man of primal pleasures.  He ends his heart-to-heart with Glenn with a little TMI moment by saying, “I really need some ass.” 

Rosita and Abraham have some sexy fun times in the middle of the bookstore, and we get to see dolphin smooth in action.  Eugene’s mullet peeks out from the self-help section s he spies on them, sort of like a pervy Wilson from Home Improvement.  Rosita giggles as she spots his bobbing head.   The couple keeps at it though because, you know, apocalypse sex. 

Tara catches Eugene peeping, and quietly scolds him.  She thanks him for saving her life, and he responds by telling her that he put crushed glass in the bus’s fuel line because he’s afraid of what’s going to happen when they reach DC and he outlives his usefulness.  Tara is taken aback, but she assures Eugene that the group would protect him no matter what because they’re totally BFF’s now.  She’s actually very sweet and genuine with him during this exchange, and treats him almost like a little brother. 

(Side note – Whoever placed the ‘Romance’ section sign right at Tara’s shoulder during this scene, certainly has a sense of irony and humor.  I giggled a bit because Tara and Eugene have my vote for least romantic relationship on the show hands down.  Not only does Tara like the ladies, but that mullet is definitely a mood killer.)

Maggie and Glenn have a snuggle bunny sesh on the floor of the bookstore.  Maggie says it’s nice having a purpose, looking toward the future.  WHAT ABOUT YOUR SISTERS FUTURE?!?!  Seriously, Maggie, what is your deal?  (Truth time – I’m not even looking forward to their reunion because I know how little Maggie cares about Beth.  I am, however, looking forward to ‘The Adventures of Daryl and Carol’ as they attempt to bust Beth outta Slabtown next week.  That episode looks sick.  #CantWaitForNextWeek)

Thankfully dawn breaks, and everything becomes visible again.  Praise be to Daylight Savings Time!  Rosita and Abe talk, and she tries to convince him to stay for a day, rest and gather supplies.  Abe gives her a harsh and firm ‘no’.  Maggie wanders in and gently makes a suggestion that they stay to sweep the area, but Rosita echoes Abe’s sentiment and says no.  Tara chimes in, noting that they should really replenish their water supply at a nearby river, when Abe reveals that he has other plans.

The crew travels across the street to a fire station.  Tell us what they’ve won, Johnny!!!!!  A lifetime supply of water!!!!  On a gigantic fire truck!  Awesome, but, um, wouldn’t that thing be god awful on gas?  Abe doesn’t care.  He tries the starter and the thing sputters to life.  The truck rolls forward about 10 feet and then chokes to a stop.  As Abe starts to make some repairs, walkers start to stream out of the fire station.  Flesh eating monsters were not a part of the prize package, Johnny.  We demand another spin at the big wheel. 

Our crew starts to take the walkers down, but the unexpected glut of bodies starts to become overwhelming.  It seems hopeless until Eugene puts those big brains of his to work, using the fire hose (and that lifetime supply of water) to blast the walkers away, Wicked Witch of the West style.  They’re mellllting!  Melllting!!!!  

Maybe the Wicked Witch was just a zombie with a penchant for sparkly footwear?
Once the truck is fixed, the crew heads back on the road, but is quickly stopped once again as the truck breaks down.  Damn truck is a lemon.   Eugene does a little light reading, and Maggie comes over to make friends.  She says, “You’re not the person people think you are.”  Oh, Mags, you don’t know the half of it.

As Abe struggles to fix the truck, Glenn catches a whiff of something nasty in the air.  Glennnnn, you know the rule.  You smelt it, so you are probably responsible for the gross smell.  That’s how that saying goes, right?  But Glenn’s off the hook because it’s actually a gigantic swarming horde of walkers a mile or so in the distance. 

Glenn turns back, whispering, “we gotta go, we gotta go.”  The rest of the crew is with him, and they all start back until they see a muttering Abe staring into the distance.  Abe refuses to give up.  He screams at all of them, bouncing their criticisms off one by one with his faulty, crazed logic.  (Side note – Abe was probably a pretty awful soldier.  He doesn’t really listen to reason, and he’s also really super visible with that blinding red hair.)

Abe marches back and roughly grabs Eugene’s arm.  Tara tries to stop him, and Glenn and Rosita join in trying to slow the big guy down.  As the melee continues, Eugene starts to freak out.  He screams, “I’M NOT A SCIENTIST!!!” 

Boom.  Yes, Eugene you are totally full of shit.

Everyone stops, horrified looks on their faces.  Eugene goes on to explain himself in full detail.  “I know I’m smarter than most people.  I know I’m a very good liar and I knew I needed to get to DC.”  Rosita breathlessly reminds Eugene of all the people that died for him, and Eugene immediately rattles off all the names.  He seems genuinely upset about these losses, and it’s probably why he relates to Gabriel (and would likely also relate to Doc Steve).  Eugene is a coward whose only survival skills are manipulation and deceit.    

Eugene then turns to Abe and says, “I am smarter than you” which seems to prove that he’s definitely not that smart, because, well, dumb move.  You don’t poke the beast, Eugene.  Abe wails on Eugene’s face, slamming him unconscious against the side of the fire truck.  Eugene face plants onto the concrete, and Rosita steps in, blocking Abe, and he takes a beat.  His face crumples in despair, and he wanders away from the group, sinking to the ground on his knees, staring blankly at the sky.

A final flashback scene shows us the moment that Eugene’s secret was born.  Just as Abe puts the gun to his mouth, Eugene stumbles toward him, pursued by three walkers.  Eugene screams, “Help me!!”  Abe makes quick work of the walkers, but then turns and marches away.  Eugene asks him to stop, saying, “You can’t leave!  I have a very important mission.”

Ok, so, Eugene did save Abe’s life.  There’s that.  But Abe and the rest of the group no longer have a purpose.  Will they continue on to DC despite having no solid reason to travel there?  Especially when they’re probably only 30 or so miles away from the church?  We probably won’t get the answer to this for another few weeks as next week is the Carol and Daryl Show (YESSSSS!!!!) but it’s fun to speculate.  I, for one, think they will continue on to D.C.  Also, I think Eugene is alive, because how could you kill the best hairstyle on the show?

Some final thoughts:

- Best line of the week: ‘Ive been to eight county fairs, and one goat rodeo, and I’ve never seen anything like that.”  Um, what’s a goat rodeo?

This in no way explains what a Goat Rodeo is, but I happen to think that it's awesome..
- Eugene spits on a walker. Gross.  Lame.  

- Judging by the cuts on his left hand, and the continued use of this hand despite the fact that it’s broken open like a bloody piñata, Abe appears to be a leftie.  I know this is pretty useless information but give me a break, it was a slow episode.  Did I say I can’t wait for next week???