The Walking Dead – Season 5, Episode 3: “Four Walls and a Roof”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 5, Episode 3: “Four Walls and a Roof”
Directed by Jeffrey F. January
Written by Angela Kang & Corey Reed

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Strangers” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Slabtown” – click here
IMG_0259The Terminus cannibals are juxtaposed well visually with the zombies, tearing human flesh between their teeth. These people were essentially just waiting for the world to end, so that they could become who they were; I don’t care what happened to them at Terminus, they didn’t have to eat anybody. It’s just how they chose to deal with the post-apocalypse landscape. They weren’t strong enough, they’re weak and nasty people.
Gareth: “You join us, or feed us.”
Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr) is minus a leg from the knee down. He has to listen to Gareth (Andrew J. West) go on about what type of people he likes to eat; most people like women best. Gross. “I think pretty people taste better, too.”
But suddenly Bob erupts in laughter at them, cackling in mockery. He’s officially getting the last laugh in this situation. Back at the food back last episode, he was in fact bitten. They’ve been eating his “tainted meat.” And this evacuates some of their stomachs pretty fast. Whoa.
IMG_0260Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) worries about her man, so she goes looking. Tyreese (Chad Coleman) and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) meet up with her, also worried about wherever Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Carol (Melissa McBride) took off. They go back to have a talk with Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), wondering if he has something to do with the disappearances. They want to know what he did, what secrets he’s hiding. Turns out he wouldn’t let people from his congregation inside, leaving them to the walkers outside his door.
Then they find Bob, leg gone, lying out in the grass, left alone. He tells them of the cannibals. As well as shows them his bite. More tragedy. Meanwhile, Abraham wants to get gone, to get Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) to Washington. Rick and the rest won’t go, not yet. It’s a bit of a clash between the two, until Glenn (Steven Yeun) negotiates a bit more time for them to stay together.
Sad to see Sasha having to let go of Bob already, as he’s one foot in the grave. They were only starting to get into their relationship, falling for one another. While the others are preparing to go out, she wants to go. But Tyreese suggests she stay, take what time she has left with Bob. Except she tasks him with staying, putting Bob out of his misery when the time comes. I tell ya, poor Ty gets roped into some shit, man. He’s expected to be tougher than others, simply because they know he can; that he is tougher.
IMG_0261So off goes Rick & Co, looking for the cannibals to dole out revenge, some real justice. However, Gareth and his people are watching closely, and they slink out of the forest when the crew leaves. Oh, fuck me. Only a few people remain, one of which is Carl, along with Rosita (Christian Serratos) and a couple more.
Judith’s crying alerts Gareth, but quickly Rick and the others are back. Silenced pistol shots blasting through heads, before he commands the cannibals to drop their guns and kneel. “We used to help people,” Gareth pleads like any cowardly monster would in his position; blaming his transformation on others. A couple seconds later Rick and Abraham and Sasha are murdering the cannibals, viciously, taking out what revenge they can in a few strokes of gun handles and machetes. Oh, and Michonne (Danai Gurira) gets her sword back! Yeah, girl.
On his deathbed, Bob thanks Rick for assuring him there are good people remaining in the world. Thankful for being taken into the group. Terminus offered salvation and sanctuary, whereas Rick and his people genuinely deliver survival. Afterwards, Sasha must watch Bob slip away. Then her brother offers to put him down, so that she doesn’t have to be responsible.
IMG_0262Abraham, Rosita, Eugene, Maggie, Glenn – they’re heading out on the bus for Washington. Although Rick and the rest confirm they’ll meet them again. Somewhere down the road. For now it’s a goodbye, or a see you later.
One important look at the humanity remaining in the survivors is how Rick and Tyreese dig graves outside for the dead. They’re still keeping to tradition, to the old way of things. And I think within these small rituals there’s a way to remain in touch with oneself, hopefully something that will help these people retain their humanity for a long while.
That night, Daryl comes back. Without Carol, or so it seems. Where is she? What’s happened?
IMG_0264Another great episode, especially seeing as how we’re privy to the revenge against the Terminus cannibals. That’s a refreshing thing to see, instead of any further terrorising. Makes that villain plot quick, succinct, rather than dragging it out too far. Perfectly written, this arc.
“Slabtown” is next, where we get a glimpse of a familiar face we haven’t seen for some time. And we get the scoop on whatever’s going on with Daryl and Carol.

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The Walking Dead – Season 5, Episode 2: “Strangers”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 5, Episode 2: “Strangers”
Directed by David Boyd
Written by Robert Kirkman

* For a recap & review of the Season 5 premiere, “No Sanctuary” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Four Walls and a Roof” – click here
IMG_0251Terminus has fallen. Our survivors are out on the road like before, though they’ve certainly discovered some things about themselves. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is back in the saddle, he and Carl (Chandler Riggs) reunited with Judith. Tara (Alanna Masterson) ends up talking with Rick, who says he talked to her at the prison because he knew she didn’t want to be there. So the group’s getting bigger, more cosy. Trusting one another better. Carol (Melissa McBride) and Tyreese (Chad Coleman) bond further, as he pushes for everyone to accept what she did to Karen and David at the prison. But they decide on not saying anything about Lizzie, Mika, what happened at that cabin: “I need to forget it,” Tyreese says.
Moreover, Rick tells Carol he owes her his life. All the same he admits not totally liking what she did, likewise admitting she knew things he didn’t at the time. Plus she’s proved herself as one of the ultimate survivors, she was out there alone for a long while with only herself to rely on. Daryl’s (Norman Reedus) glad to have her back. They share an intimate connection, both the victims of abuse in their own right. It’s nice to see them sharing the same space again.
The group doesn’t realise, though… someone is nearby, watching them.
IMG_0252Daryl picks up on this and tells Rick in the morning while they move onward. This pleases Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), he’d like to get back to the streets and out of the woods. When they get further they come across a priest, Father Gabriel Stokes (Seth Gilliam), being attacked by a group of walkers. They dispatch the dead and save him. He’s scared out of his wits, even pukes a good one. Not armed: “Word of God is the only protection I need.”
They’re all naturally sceptical of the priest. Although he has a church; something that could prove useful, for shelter at least. Rick gives him the three questions, it appears Father Gabriel follows the Bible to the letter and hasn’t killed anyone; or anything.
When they make it to the church the group inspect the place, finding no one else. Nothing but scripture, the holy word in its various books transcribed by hand. THOU SHALT NOT KILL in boldest of letters. There’s something strange about it all. They’ve got one particularly good thing to use – a short bus to fix. Plan is to gather food, water, any ammunition possible. Abraham’s itching to leave, except for the fact most everyone else would rather follow Rick.
The priest tells everyone about a place nearby where there may still be supplies. A group, along with Father Gabriel, are heading out; dad leaves Carl behind with Tyreese to look after Judith. He explains to his boy that he is “not safe” despite wherever they may be, whoever’s there, any of that. There’s never safety in this new world.
IMG_0253At their destination, Rick & Co discover a building and its storage area flooded, zombies water logged and bloated. The gang get down into the flooded area to scavenge, using shelves to block the dead. Father Gabriel panics when one of them come for him, freezing. Rick manages to get to him before he’s chomped. Poor Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr.) nearly gets a bite, too. Barely coming out unscathed. All in all, they make off with a bunch of goods.
Back at the church, Carl’s found scratches on the outside windows. Somebody trying to get inside. He also found found a message left for the priest by some angry people. That night they’ve all got full bellies, eating better than they have in a long, long time. The Sarge makes a toast to “the survivors” leading into a speech about going to Washington.  Will they all go? Or choose to stay and take their chances long as they can in that church? “Were in,” Rick says after Judith leads.
IMG_0255 Afterwards, the former sheriff speaks with Father Gabriel. He knows the priest is hiding something. He doesn’t want his secrets to hurt their group. At the same time, Carol and Daryl run into each other. They wind up seeing the car that took Beth (Emily Kinney), so off they rush in a vehicle to give chase.
Worst is that Bob is knocked out while in the woods by himself. He wakes to Gareth (Andrew J. West), a still living Martin (Chris Coy), and a few others. They’re still eating people. This time, they’ve taken a portion of Bob’s leg. A good campfire meal.
Gareth: “If it makes you feel any better, you taste much better than we thought you would.”
IMG_0258This was a solid follow-up to the premiere, a deafening blow. Lingering on the Terminus cannibals, now out in the wild, is a treat. Because it’s some of the most vicious stuff we’ve seen the survivors up against.
“Four Walls and a Roof” is next, continuing the stories of the cannibals, our survivors, and the new addition Father Gabriel.

The Walking Dead – Season 5, Episode 1: “No Sanctuary”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 5, Episode 1: “No Sanctuary”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple

* For a recap & review of the Season 4 finale, “A” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Strangers” – click here
IMG_0236In that railway car where last we saw Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and the gang, we see Gareth (Andrew J. West) and his own friends. They hear the sounds of screams outside somewhere. Obviously, their standing changed. Drastically.
Now we hear our survivors talking, Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) telling of what happened when they arrived at Terminus, Daryl (Norman Reedus) speaking of the car which abducted Beth (Emily Kinney). As they prepare with anything possible – belts, a scrap of metal, whatever’s near – to fight off the people who’ve taken them captive.
But they’re ambushed, taken into a building where bodies are being cut up. Bins marked FEED, BURN, WASH. Blood. They’re cannibals. Rick and his people are lined up on their knees in front of a trough. This is where they crack people in the head with a baseball bat before slitting their throats, draining the bodies. The first? The young man, Sam (Robin Lord Taylor), who Rick ran into while he and Carol (Melissa McBride) were scavenging together.
Before Glenn (Steven Yeun) can meet his comic book death, Gareth interrupts with menial numbers, counting shells they’ve used up. Then he questions Rick about the bag he buried. The former sheriff tells him straight: “Theres guns in it.” He even lists the various weapons in there, too. Telling Gareth there’s a machete in there with his name on it. Terminus runs on a tight schedule, in order to appear welcoming, as sanctuary. So the killing needs to be finished.
Only it doesn’t get done. An explosion sounds outside, the building shakes. Somebody’s attacking Terminus.
IMG_0238Carol and Tyreese (Chad Coleman) are on their way up the tracks with Judith. We see how much more used to surviving Carol is juxtaposed with everyone else, simply because she had to survive an abusive husband. Although I’d argue she and Tyreese are a good pair; he’s had to survive being black in America, now all this shit. Soon, they hear gunfire up ahead, which luckily draws away a horde of walkers that was heading for them.
They bump into a man named Martin (Chris Coy) and take him hostage, he says they’ve got the “boy and the samurai” and the group attacked their people. Carol is prepared to go killing while Tyreese is left with Judith, watching over their captive. She prepares to head on by covering herself in a zombie’s guts. Meanwhile, Martin chips away at Tyreese, taunting that he and the baby are “going to die today.” But I wouldn’t be so sure about that, despite the guy making a couple good points. No reason to keep him around, and that’s the difference between Tyreese and these people at Terminus. He’s not willing to kill indiscriminately. Not yet.
At the Terminus fence, Carol sees Rick and the others bound, carted off elsewhere. She readies her rifle, scoping out the surroundings. Locating a large propane tank, a group of walkers closing in on the compound. She blows a hole in the tank, then sets off a firework to light the blaze. This was the explosion we heard.
Now the fence is open, walkers are headed inside, and she’s given her friends a fighting chance. Carol moves in, covered in guts, like a goddamn bad ass.
IMG_0240Terminus is falling, fast. Inside, Rick cuts himself free then opens up the remaining men. He gets the others loose, though in the railway car the rest of the gang are worried, hearing the madness just beyond the doors. Although Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) assure the group they’ll be okay, long as they’re ready to fight when the time comes. And Michonne (Danai Gurira), she looks ready as ever!
Glenn makes clear to Rick they have to save people locked in a shipping container in the yard: “Thats still who we are. It has to be.” They do, and only one insane man is left inside. He ends up bitten by walkers. Seeing Glenn insist on keeping their humanity, coupled with Tyreese’s mindset, there’s rays of hope throughout the violence and the insanity. To know human beings CAN keep themselves, despite it being a hard battle.
Rick commandeers an assault rifle, as he and Daryl make their way across the yard to Glenn and Bob at the container. In the compound, Carol finds Daryl’s crossbow and other items, as well as the shrine-like room with all the names of the dead written in a circle. As well as one of the leaders, Mary (Denise Crosby). The two women end up fighting tooth and nail, until Carol gets the drop on her; Mary tries explaining herself, but fuck that. She’s left with a bullet in her and some zombie friends.
Mary: “Youre the butcher, or youre the cattle.”
IMG_0241At the cabin, Martin gets his hands on Judith while Tyreese looks out the window at a pack of walkers. He forces Tyreese to go outside. Holy fuck. Soon enough our man busts open the front door, crawling on top of his captive with a knife. Choosing to beat him brutally instead. To death.
Those left in the railway car prepare, and they’re also curious about Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt), his information about the possible cure. He says he was involved with the Human Genome Project, knows how to take out “every last dead one ofem.” And this gives them all a boost, a feeling of wanting to survive. Just as Rick opens the door for them to lead the escape. They get themselves over the fence, into the woods. Safety not guaranteed anymore, as if it ever were before. Rick wants to kill the remaining people at Terminus, though the others want to leave; I say kill anyone still breathing.
Then, a reunion – Carol comes out of the trees, into the arms of Daryl. She and Rick making amends for all that’s behind them. And the best one of all? Rick and Carl find Judith again with Tyreese, who has his own moment with Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) after so long. More of the beautiful light left in this ugly, new world.
Now it’s on the road again, onto the tracks. Anywhere but there. Before they go Rick makes sure to write NO SANCTUARY for anyone who might happen to pass. We also get another look at long ago, when Gareth and Mary and their people were surviving the monsters at Terminus; the people who turned them into the monsters they later became.
IMG_0243Intense episode, a great way to start off Season 5. Assures that along with the character growth and the tense plots we’re also going to witness more of the gruesome side of the post-zombie apocalypse, again exemplifying how the humans are worse than the walkers.
“Strangers” is next and moves us into the next phase for Rick & Co.

The Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 15: “Us”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 4, Episode 15: “Us”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Nichole Beattie & Seth Hoffman

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Grove” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 4 finale, “A” – click here
IMG_0206Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) rambles on about how you never know if the zombie apocalypse is what actually did the dinosaurs in; very strange comment from a scientific man. He and Tara (Alanna Masterson) bond a bit, chatting. She also talks later that night with Sgt. Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz), he’s a man dedicated on getting the doc to the capital. He figures out that Tara likes ladies, too. He’s keen. She’s also dedicated, to proving herself after falling for the Governor’s shit and being part of what went on at the prison. She needs her own personal redemption.
Tara: “What do you do when the missions over?”
Glenn (Steven Yeun) gets more hope when they find the GO TO TERMINUS sign left by Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr). But fools rush in, and he’d rather run straight the whole way without much more thought.
IMG_0208Ah, we see the Claimers once more at one of their makeshift camps. They’re a rough n’ tumble bunch. They’ve got a new member in Daryl (Norman Reedus), too. At least for the time being, as he reels after the loss of Beth (Emily Kinney), taken in the night by some stranger. We see Daryl adjusting to life with the Claimers, they must speak the word “claimed” in order to secure what goods they want in this new world. Either way, he clashes with one of the men before Joe (Jeff Kober), the leader, on the “rules of the road” within their ranks.
Daryl: “Aint no rules no more
Carl (Chandler Riggs), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) are making their own way along the train tracks. And things are well, for the first time in so long. Being back together is a nice feeling. No telling how long it’ll actually last.
With Glenn tearing off to Terminus, Abraham decides the group needs to stop. Tara winds up hurting her leg when the Sarge pushes her out of the way to save Eugene from a walker. So, Glenn makes a deal to pad the doc with his riot gear, then they head out sooner than later.
More of Joe and Daryl, as the latter doesn’t jive with a group whose rules are antagonistic. All the same he’s breaking down. He wants to be with a group, and fearing the worst, fearing everyone will eventually leave or die, he’s staying currently with this bunch. No matter if they don’t seem right.
IMG_0209Abraham, Glenn, and their crew come upon a dark tunnel, filled with walkers. The husband wants to go on through, to find his wife, though the Sarge can’t go in there with the uncertainty of what’s inside. It’s an amicable split, with Abraham giving over a few supplies, including a nice, big flashlight.
Goodbye. Or, see you later? Sarge takes his remaining crew on to try finding themselves another vehicle, leaving Glenn and Tara for the tunnel. When they do, Eugene pulls a tricky one on Abraham and Rosita (Christian Serratos) by getting them to stop at an entrance to the tunnel further down the tracks.
Glenn: “Im sorry I hit you in the face
Abraham: “Im not. I like to fight.”
Further on inside, Tara and Glenn find a blockage near the end of the tunnel, full of boulders and walkers everywhere. It was a collapse, only recently. The two move carefully around the zombies, the debris, silently killing the ones they can. And Glenn checks to make sure neither of them is his wife. Once they get over the blocked entry they find walkers swarming the tunnel. No place to go. There’s even a Bub-like zombie calling to mind Day of the Dead; Greg Nicotero directs this episode, and of course he was in the film.
The whole CLAIMED thing isn’t sitting so well with Daryl, he doesn’t like their system. He sleeps on the floor while they stop for the night as the rest of the men claim themselves a more comfortable bunk. He has more problems with the same guy from earlier, when he’s accused of taking the rest of a rabbit they were made to halve. Turns out the dude planted the thing to get Daryl in trouble, backfiring. Makes Daryl look better in the eyes of the Claimers, for not lying.
IMG_0210When Tara gets her leg stuck between a rock and the tunnel wall, she tells Glenn to leave her when they can’t force it off her. He refuses, unwilling to let his humanity go to get himself out. He fires his gun, killing the walkers he can.
And just as they’re nearly chomped to bits, a vehicle pulls up, Sgt. Ford and his crew unleash bullets, taking out the rest of the horde. Someone else is there, too: Maggie. Along with Bob and Sasha. Together again! Now, rather than head to Washington, everybody decides on going to Terminus, at least first. When they get up to the end of the tracks, they find the fabled place. They’re welcomed in with smiles, good intentions. Could this be sanctuary after all this time?
On the road again, Daryl heads forward with the Claimers. But it’s obvious he’s different from these men, and they’ve killed one of their own over something not exactly that bad; even if the guy WAS a dick. The Claimers are heading someplace special, to find a man who killed one of their men and escaped. They’re headed for Terminus, only because they’re on the man’s tracks.
We know who he is; they’re looking for Rick.
IMG_0211Great episode leading into one of the wildest of the series. The Claimers and Rick are headed for a confrontation. Boy, it is ever something. “A” – the season finale – is next.

The Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 13: “Alone”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 4, Episode 13: “Alone”
Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson
Written by Curtis Gwinn

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Still” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Grove” – click here
IMG_0188Here we get a look at Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr) on the road before he met the big group. He was all by himself, wandering the wasteland in search of food, the next place to stay and rest. It went this way a long time. He’d stop and hole up someplace where the walkers couldn’t get him, drink a bit of cough syrup or whatever booze he could scavenge. A hard existence in the zombie apocalypse, being an alcoholic. Easy to try and block it all out with the aid of booze. Easy to get lost in your own head then, too.
Then came the day he met Daryl (Norman Reedus), riding on his bike down the road, Glenn (Steven Yeun) in a truck. They ask how long he’s been by himself, though he can’t exactly keep track. They ask him the “three questions” and Bob answers honestly. Daryl offers for him to come along, he gladly accepts. Because this, in a way, is saving him from himself. Even if he has a few alcoholism-related bumps over time.
IMG_0189In the present, Bob is with his Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), but they’re definitely not in a safe place. Walkers come from out the fog, unseen until so near. The three friends fight against them, taking each down. Except Bob winds up getting bitten. But lucky enough it didn’t pierce the bandage he already has on his previous wound.
Beth (Emily Kinney) and Daryl are doing better. He’s teaching her to track in the woods, to shoot the crossbow, all those sort of things. She ends up stepping in a trap. It doesn’t hobble her, though it isn’t helpful. No injury in this new world is helpful because you never know if you’ll find the medicine/First Aid materials to fix it, if it can even be fixed.
First mention of the word Terminus, the place up the tracks. Signs everywhere point to its direction. Sasha worries it’s “too good to be true” but both Bob and Maggie believe it’s worth the chance, the latter knowing Glenn would go there in search of her if he saw one of those signs.
Across a field Daryl and Beth find themselves a nice plantation-style home. Nobody inside, no walkers. Although they notice how clean it is there, that someone’s been staying. In fact, it’s a funeral home. There are bodies laid out, dressed, makeup done for a showing. Beth finds it’s beautiful, that somebody still cares about the dead.
IMG_0191In conversation together, Bob and Sasha talk about what’s best going forward. She wants to find a place to stick it out awhile; higher ground someplace. He’d rather go on, hoping there’s community at Terminus for them. A destination, a goal to reach. We see that Bob doesn’t like being on his own, nor does he like isolation, of any kind; even in a group. He’d rather be tight knit with others, Sasha doesn’t yet understand how low he sank by himself.
Beth: “Its like I said, theres still good people.”
Beth and Daryl settle in at the funeral home, even though it seems someone’s been staying there before. She plays a bit of piano by candlelight, he lays down in a coffin for a little relaxation. They’re comforted, even if only for the time being. Like life is normal, as it was once. You’ve got to take the little things when they come.
In the morning, Bob and Sasha wake to find Maggie’s gone on her own, not wanting them to risk their lives for her cause. He wants to run on, find her; Sasha feels otherwise. Regardless, they go together. Maggie’s on up the tracks, she finds another Terminus sign and decides on leaving a note for Glenn, in case he happens to come by the same route.
IMG_0193Suddenly, Daryl and Beth are crowded by a horde of zombies in the funeral home, breaking through the door. They run for outside quickly, teeth gnashing at their heels. He gets locked into the room downstairs, facing a load of the dead, but gets himself out with a bit of quick thinking.
But it’s too late. Someone’s taken Beth away in a car, her things scattered in the road; a black car, with either a cross or a First Aid symbol in the window. Leaving the last Dixon brother on his own once more. And he’s devastated, already feeling the people he lost were partly his fault. Now another one gone. Heartbreaking.
IMG_0194Sasha decides she doesn’t want to go on to Terminus. Then Bob lays a kiss on her, not wanting them to split on their journey. He heads off on his own like before and refuses to let Maggie go forward without him. Sasha looks for a place to stay, for however long she can. Funny enough, she comes across Maggie, who’s hiding from the dead. Noise wakes them up.
The women are back together, fighting off a group of walkers. When they’re done Maggie tells Sashs she’s needed, that they must stay as one. Not far up the tracks they find Bob again, too.
Along the road, Daryl comes across a familiar face: Joe (Jeff Kober), the one Rick (Andrew Lincoln) almost ran into in the house a ways back. These boys are the Claimers, a group who take what they can amongst themselves, claiming what’s theirs along the way. These are rough dudes, but right now Daryl would probably go on with anybody, if only to feel a part of something again.
IMG_0196Lots going on in this episode. We’re seeing the beginning of many things, from Terminus to the Claimers and their whole racket. Can’t wait to watch them all come together more. “The Grove” is next.

The Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 12: “Still”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 4, Episode 12: “Still”
Directed by Julius Ramsay
Written by Angela Kang

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Claimed” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Alone” – click here
IMG_0179On the road together, just the two of them, Beth (Emily Kinney) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) face harder times than a lot of their friends. They seek refuge wherever and whenever they can, walkers everywhere outside. It’s never easy, though this is a new level even for them.
Beth is giving it her all. She’s come a long way from the girl who once wanted to kill herself and be done with the world. She starts her own fires, rigs a line of hubcaps to use as a signal for intruders. Daryl kills a rattlesnake for them to eat for dinner; he’s a bit more eager to chow down than she is, and I don’t blame her.
She’s getting restless. She wants to go have a drink, like in a bar. He doesn’t pay much mind to it, believing she’s just rambling. But she’s serious, and she is going with or without his help. He tries bringing her back to their camp. She just won’t have it, sitting around doing nothing except surviving. It’s hard to take, especially for young people who’ve barely lived their lives outside a farm.
Beth: “Im not staying in this suck ass camp!”
IMG_0180They find a golf course and head into the country club attached. Inside is dark and full of walkers. Beth is almost chomped by one before she stabs it in the head. Daryl scavenges anything and everything he can find. In the pro shop they find new clothes among other things, including a female zombie, bloody, dressed in clothes with a sign reading RICH BITCH across her chest. Beth insists they cover her up, for dignity’s sake. Long after dingnity has ceased to walk the Earth.
Further on they run into a grandfather clock that starts sounding; not a good sign, as it draws walkers to their position. They move on, fighting off a few of the dead while they go. Daryl messes up Beth’s brand new white t-shirt when he whacks a head to bits all over her. They manage to get to the bar, where she finds a bottle of peach Schnapps. Shitty booze, but you take what you can get! Daryl says fuck that, they need to find a better drink for her first one.
IMG_0183He knows the backwoods, he’s a hunting, tracking machine. They head out into the woods in search of a cabin, one Daryl found before with Michonne. Inside he knows there’ll be moonshine, somewhere. Just like back home with daddy. This is where things start to take a little turn. Because we already know Daryl Dixon didn’t have it easy, we’ve sen the lash marks on his back, dug deep in his skin. He’s been to a terrible place as a boy, lucky to have escaped, I imagine. Being in a place reminiscent of home, drinking shine, it brings up emotions he probably didn’t plan on experiencing.
Before Daryl can go over the edge as their drinking game goes wrong, he sees himself clearly. He takes pleasure in killing the already dead. Then she points out that not everybody is like him, they can’t shrug it all off. She doesn’t think he cares about those they’ve lost.
He doesn’t want to be that man. He feels responsible for what happened at the prison, for Hershel’s death, for the place going to ruin, and he feels that their friends are all dead. And Beth can only think to hug him, hold him close.
Beth: “Killing them is not supposed to be fun
IMG_0184 The two of them get closer, they talk more about life before the turn. Daryl talks about a stupid situation with Merle at a tweaker’s house, and he reveals he didn’t have a job before everything went to hell. He and his older brother were drifters, essentially. He was just “some redneck asshole with an even bigger asshole for a brother.”
Their bonding helps them feel better about the world. And they’re becoming better friends, as well. Later, they decide to burn the little cabin down. To leave the bad memories with it, to start fresh and let the fire signal a new beginning. In a way, it’s Daryl leaving part of his ugly past behind, a way to symbolically tear down that part of his life that’s useless to keep around even in memory. They head onto the road, again, and the cabin burns behind them. Flipping the bird as they go.
IMG_0186A quiet, more subdued episode. I did enjoy it. First time I saw this one I didn’t find it as engaging. This time around, I pick out more nuance than before. It’s a great look at Daryl, as it is Beth, too. They’re both on show in their own respects. Love it.
“Alone” is next and we’ll see more of our survivors trying to get down the road in one piece.

The Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 2: “Infected”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 4, Episode 2: “Infected”
Directed by Guy Ferland
Written by Angela Kang

* For a recap & review of the Season 4 premiere, “30 Days Without An Accident” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Isolation” – click here
IMG_0132Someone is feeding rats to the walkers by the fence. My bet? The empathetic little girl from last episode who believes the zombies are “just different.” Elsewhere, there’s romance. With Karen (Melissa Ponzio) and Tyreese (Chad Coleman) spending time together, falling in love. They take it slow, even in this post-apocalypse life; a really romantic gesture, if there ever were one.
And in the darkness of the bathrooms that sick, dead boy from the Season 4 premiere comes back from the dead. Ready to walk the open halls of the prison, ready to infect everyone else. He stumbles into one of the cells and starts feeding on an unprotected neck. Uh oh. It has begun!
IMG_0133Before the terror begins we get more romance. Glenn (Steven Yeun) takes a mini Polaroid of Maggie (Lauren Cohan), the morning after in their little tower together. She doesn’t like the photograph, of course. But he cherishes it, and will for a long time. Something tangible in this fucked up world to hold onto, to help remember the good in the times of bad.
Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Carl (Chandler Riggs), Michonne (Danai Gurira) – everyone’s going on with their regular day, none the wiser of what’s started happening inside the prison. Part of Rick’s not using his gun isn’t just for him, it’s for his boy. He wants him to be someone else, to not become a hardened killer.
Then everything inside goes to shit in the cell block. Gunfire blazes, people start running. Carl winds up taking a gun out to help Michonne when she’s in trouble; he’s a damn fine shot, too. She ends up injuring a leg, but no bites. And walkers are seriously crowding the fence with all the noise. The integrity of their home is starting to waver. Daryl, Rick, Carol, everyone tries protecting the kids and those in trouble. However, they can’t stop those already bitten. All that’s left for them is mercy.
In the aftermath there’s nothing but loss. Some people turn, others mourn. It’s a brutal experience for all involved. The two little girls – Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino) and Mika (Kyla Kenedy) – they lose their father, who asks Carol to look out for them: “Like theyre yours.” She promises to guard them. Such a heartbreaking moment. The girls are called to their father’s side to say goodbye, before Carol has to put him down before he turns.
IMG_0136Rick and the others find the young kid who died, which started everything in the cell block. They discover it’s a bad strain of flu, as Dr. Caleb Subramanian (Sunkrish Bala) and Hershel (Scott Wilson) ruminate on the cause, its effects, and what they need to do next to prevent a full-scale outbreak.
Right now all they know is those possibly exposed must be quarantined from the rest. A separation of the sick and possibly infected. The main crew aren’t showing any symptoms; yet. Precautions must be taken. So, they decide on putting the quarantined individuals in the death row cell block.
But there are other issues, such as the fence nearly caving in with the wall of zombies pushing up against it. Everybody’s got more work to do than normal. It’s nice to at least see Rick in ass kicking mode again, even if just for the moment. At the fence, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) notices the dead rats someone’s been feeding to the walkers.
Beth: “When you care about people, hurt is kinda part of the package.”
IMG_0137Inside, we also see more about Michonne, that she has a sensitivity to the crying of children. There’s absolutely a reluctance in her to be near a baby, to hold one. With Judith in her arms she all but breaks down, then finally hugs the child against her. A sad story lies in Michonne’s past.
We start seeing the two worlds of Rick collide. He has to reconcile wanting to be a peaceful farmer with the other part of life in post-apocalypse living, the death and the killing. He puts a plan into effect, using his pigs to lure the walkers away. As they feed on the helpless animals, it’s like a metaphor for what needs to be done in this nasty world. That it isn’t about growing plants, nor is it about raising livestock and breeding new life; it’s about death, sacrifice, doing whatever they have to do in order to keep living another day. And the sacrifice of the pigs gives the others enough time to reinforce the fence.
Meanwhile, Carol is trying to prepare Lizzie and Mika for the real world, trying to get through to them about the realities they face going forward. She does so in an honest yet touching way.
IMG_0139Carl also tells his dad about what Carol’s been doing under his nose; dad isn’t mad, he’s beginning to realise the kids need to face things head on. He knows this for his own son, too. He can’t shield Carl from reality, or else it will eat him alive. So he gives him a gun again. Then he puts his holster back on, gun at his side. A new dawn for the Grimes family and the crew at the prison. Not that there aren’t tough times coming with the sickness lingering.
When Tyreese goes to find his lady, he only discovers blood. Trails of it leading into the halls. Out in the prison yard, he finds burned corpses. One of which is Karen. Who killed them? Who burned their corpses? All I know is Tyreese is going to rage.
IMG_0141Such a solid follow-up to the premiere of this season. Everything is messed up, and in the same vein there’s more hope again. Also, mystery when it comes to whoever’s burned Karen and the other dead body next to her. “Isolation” is the next episode. Lots of intrigue to come, many intense moments will happen.

The Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 1: “30 Days Without An Accident”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 4, Episode 1: “30 Days Without An Accident”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple

* For a recap & review of the Season 3 finale, “Welcome to the Tombs” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Infected” – click here
IMG_0123Season 4’s premiere starts several months on from the finale of Season 3 when all hell broke loose, and the group lost Andrea. They’re still in the prison, still together. Trying to live whatever kind of normalcy is available to them. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) spends his day out in the garden tending to the crops. He finds a gun buried deep in the soil, like he’s tried to bury the violence with it. Is he just kidding himself? Yeah, I think so. If you’ve watched the series all the way to where it’s currently at, as of the time of this writing (end of Season 7), then you know pretending violence isn’t part of the equation is merely fooling oneself.
IMG_0124One thing that’s improved since last we left the group is the relationship between Rick and his boy Carl (Chandler Riggs). They do the farming together, looking after the field and their pig, Violet. Dad gives out an important lesson, though: don’t name the animals they’re preparing to slaughter for food.
Everyone else is doing well, a bigger family at the prison now with those they saved from Woodbury. Funny to see how people look up to Daryl (Norman Reedus), thanking him for the food he hunts, et cetera; he’s like a folk hero in their community. Carol (Melissa McBride) is taking on more and more responsibility, an active role in looking after their home. Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) become further attached after their engagement; he worries worse than ever about her safety, the stakes somehow higher for the now. And new people like Karen (Melissa Ponzio), they’re adjusting to life and being productive members of the prison community. A man named Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr) ingratiates himself to the group, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) particularly. Trying to make himself useful to them for giving him shelter.
Also, Tyreese (Chad Coleman) and Karen are clearly a full-on item, plus Beth (Emily Kinney) and Zach (Kyle Gallner) are together. Exciting to see because it means different stories for the group as a whole. One story I’m glad is continuing? That of Michonne (Danai Gurira). She comes back from a run on her own with comic books for Carl; she’s definitely staying as part of the prison crew. And as always, there’s a ton of work to do. Everybody has their thing, their chores, various responsibilities to make their tight-knit community work. Hershel (Scott Wilson) keeps assuring Rick that transitioning into a more farmer-like existence isn’t a bad thing. Although people worry he doesn’t carry a gun anymore: “We want you to be safe.” He doesn’t listen, and it’s because – as I mentioned – he is literally trying to bury the violence inside him, or at least he’s trying to pretend it doesn’t exist; out of sight, out of mind.
IMG_0128Later, out past the walls of the prison, Rick comes across a hungry woman in the woods. She’s found a deer carcass. She needs to get food back to her husband, they’ve been starving for days on end. Rick offers up food he has with him. Her name is Clara (Kerry Condon), she wants to know if he has a camp. Life’s been rough for her, it’s obvious by the layers of dirt caked onto her skin. Rick also mentions “three” questions he needs to ask the couple before they can possibly come back to his people. So she leads him on to wherever her husband is waiting.
Kids at the prison fence are naming the walkers. Carl finds some of them doing it, he chastises them as his father did when he was naming the pig. Moreover, we see the difference between him and the others. He’s grown in a way they aren’t yet. They’ve been relatively shielded from the horror of the world, while he’s had to shoot his own mother to prevent her from turning.
Daryl leads a group of people in town. One fun thing is watching Zach try guessing what Daryl “did before the turn.” Today, he guesses homicide cop, which gives Michonne a damn good kick. The group get into a store, only they don’t realise up on top of the building an army helicopter’s already crashed. And I’d be willing to bet that’ll cause a bit of shit. Doesn’t look like the roof is too stable.
Clara leads Rick on through the trees, explaining where she was when the apocalypse began and how she got herself to that moment. She talks of her husband, how he saved her life, so on. She talks of survival, by any means necessary.
IMG_0129In the store, Bob and others load up on supplies. He goes to the wine section. Above him, the ceiling leaks. Then a rack of wine tips over on top of him. Walkers on the roof notice the sound, walking further towards the helicopter. They start sinking through the weakened structure, falling inside one by one. A terrifying sequence, very unique! Lots of good blood and guts, too. An absolute shitshow. Bob nearly gets the chomp before Daryl saves him. Unfortunately, young Zach gets bitten and chowed down on by a nibbling zombie.
When Rick gets back to Clara’s husband, he finds something incredibly disturbing. First, she attacks him with a knife. After that she stabs herself in the gut, demanding to become undead. Like the husband she couldn’t bear to let go. She finds out the three questions, as well: 1) How many walkers have you killed? 2) How many people have you killed? and 3) Why? And we don’t see it, but the husband’s decapitated zombie head lays not far from the dying wife.
Carl finds that there’s not really any reading time for the kids. It’s a ruse, so that Carol can teach the kids how to use knives, to defend themselves. We also see one of them is feeling sick. Carl isn’t happy when he sees what Carol is up to, though she begs him not to tell his father.
IMG_0130Another taste of unhappiness comes to Beth, more loss as she finds out that Zach has died. “I dont cry anymore,” she tells Daryl. Glad for the time she had with him, rather than sad for not having him around. The two bond over loss, as he mentions he hates losing people. Something that won’t ever change in this new world.
Worse things are brewing in the prison’s darkness. That sick boy, he’s got something bad. And he ain’t doing so hot. As in death, and once he comes back there’s no telling how many others will get bitten, infected, sick, or who knows what.
IMG_0131Stellar episode. Love this one because it’s a solid season premiere, as well as the fact it leads into more stories, more intensity and emotion, more action, MORE EVERYTHING for the beginning bits of Season 4. Next is “Infected” and, you guessed it: there’s trouble!

The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 11: “I Ain’t A Judas”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 11: “I Ain’t A Judas”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Angela Kang

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Home” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Clear” – click here
IMG_0047Rick (Andrew Lincoln) won’t run, neither with Glenn (Steven Yeun) or Daryl (Norman Reedus). But Merle (Michael Rooker) advises of the power of the Governor (David Morrissey). They could get starved out if they try staying. Then Hershel (Scott Wilson) finally lays down the line. Rick once said their group was “not a democracy” and that also comes with the responsibilities of said leadership implied.
Outside, trying to get his head right, Rick runs into his son Carl (Chandler Riggs), who says that he has to stop leading the group. He deserves to have a break, to rest. Not just body; his mind, most importantly. Perhaps out of anything this is what comes through to the man – from the mouths of babes.
IMG_0048For his part, the Governor is still brutal. Amongst his own people, as well. He says that “adolescence” is a “20th century invention” and why? Because he needs MEN and WOMEN to FIGHT. There’s a great parallel to be made between him and other likewise heartless modern Republicans. Willing to send anyone with a heartbeat and cognitive abilities to war. Milton (Dallas Roberts) clearly has reservations, and Andrea (Laurie Holden), well she is going to raise hell over the fact he’s planning to do more at the prison.
Over at the old building there’s trouble. Glenn and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) obviously don’t want Merle around, though Rick won’t offend Daryl by kicking his brother out. Surprisingly, Hershel says they shouldn’t underestimate Merle’s loyalty to Daryl. The old man talks with him, equally surprising is the fact the eldest Dixon knows the Bible, quoting scripture and finishing sentences for Hershel.
Carol (Melissa McBride) and Daryl continue to get closer. She has an optimistic point of view, glad that he’s back. He believes the prison is a “tomb.” Carol only wants him to make sure he doesn’t fall prey to Merle’s bad influence. Daryl’s a good man, she knows it; they all do.
At Woodbury, Andrea asks Milton about the plans at the prison. Then reveals she’s going there to talk to her friends. She wants him to help her out, to prevent other deaths by talking with Rick. Will he aid her? Or is he too far under the thumb of his master? I’d say the latter for now. Meanwhile, we always get these tiny glimpse into the Governor’s psychosis. They’re terrifying moments, often brief. Here we see him hold a lit match close to the bare, wounded eye, as if he’s about to cauterise the thing. Nasty. Great makeup effects work to boot!
IMG_0052Milton, of course, caves and tells the Governor. He’s asked to help her, to keep up the charade. He does, which requires having to help Andrea make a zombie on a leash like Michonne once did. They go at the dirty work, and it is DIRTY! Love it. Shows off some of the excellent effects, giving us a nice taste of zombie blood and gore. Certainly in part due to Greg Nicotero of KNB fame directing this episode.
Then they run into Tyrese (Chad L. Coleman), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) and their crew – who look surprised at what they’re seeing, like you would. The new crew are happier to hear that Woodbury isn’t far, and Milton opts to bring them back while Andrea heads onward to her old pals.
In the prison there’s still tough times ahead. For instance, between Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Merle. He tries to clear the air, not necessarily apologising though relating it wasn’t anything personal. “Let bygones be bygones,” he hopes. This woman does not play that shit.
When Andrea arrives Rick & Co. come out to greet her at the gate, ready for anything. Weapons trained. They’re all worried, and Michonne is shocked to see Andrea, not exactly happy. She’s been in bed, literally, with a murderous animal.
Others receive her a little better, but Rick especially is hostile. Andrea’s caught up on the latest tragedies, who died, who’s lost limbs, so on. She also discovers more of the Governor’s lies. Still, they’re all fed up. “Were gonna kill him,” Rick tells her plainly. Whatever it takes. At the same time she’s sweet on him, calling him Phillip.
Back at Woodbury, Tyrese and his group relate they met a crazy man in a prison. This intrigues the Governor. Others in the group are keen to help with Rick. Although Tyrese and Sasha aren’t entirely comfortable, you can tell just by the look in their eyes.
IMG_0053When Andrea goes back to Woodbury she meets with the Governor, telling him they’re in squalor, that Michonne is there, too. He’s drinking, looking definitively sinister in the shadows of his apartment. I wonder, has the visit with her first post-apocalypse friends changed her mind? It doesn’t seem so, not right away. She falls right back into his arms again.
Beth (Emily Kinney) tries to keep spirits up, singing in the darkness of the prison. Giving the place a light bigger than any fire. It’s a teeny ray of hope. A ray of hope nonetheless. Meanwhile, Rick, Daryl, and Hershel weigh their options of what to do about their coming war. The leader says he’s going on a run, and also lays down the law about Merle; Daryl, the good man he is, understands. Everyone is at different places right now, stuck in the same location. Andrea could make a decision to kill the Governor, and doesn’t do it. It could end right there. Instead she allows more destruction to follow.
IMG_0057Always loved this episode. Such a juxtaposition of awful positions everyone is stuck in, from Rick and his mind, to Tyrese and Sasha hoping to fit in with a community, to Michonne and Merle in that prison, and so much more. Great writing from Angela Kang.
Next is “Clear” and there are many things poised to go down. But will they? Will the tension finally snap? Soon, my friends.

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 16: “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 16: “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple, Angela Kang, & Matthew Negrete

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Something They Need” – click here
Pic 1Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) is on the edge of life and death. I only hope she holds on. Will she? Or has she decided to choose death, once and for all? She has a dream, of being back with Abraham (Michael Cudlitz). In their home at Alexandria. Quickly, she’s back with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). He’s brought her something to eat. And he has plans to use her to get things “back on track” – whatever that means, we’ll soon find out. She even gets a blueberry, smiley face pancake with eggs and fruit for breakfast. Yum. The sinister plot of Negan begins.
Pic 1ABack at Alexandria, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) has his gun on Dwight (Austin Amelio), who says he only wants things with Negan and The Saviors to end. It’s all pretty tough, Daryl (Norman Reedus) doesn’t like it, neither does Tara (Alanna Masterson). Nobody really trusts him, even though he gives a passionate speech about why he’s done what he’s done. Except Daryl does know more than the others about him, about his wife, what happened with Negan. They also worry about Sasha, that Dwight may be their only lifeline to getting her back, as well as their best way to infiltrate the Sanctuary and end the reign of terror.
So they must prepare, one way or another, for Negan and his Saviors coming soon.
Poor Sasha, she keeps flashing back to Abraham. Not sure which existence is a dream. Flashing to Negan and his plan, his breakfast. Her mind is being absolutely tortured. She sees, more and more, there is no way forward with Negan other than “punishment” and death by Lucille. He wants three to die, but would settle for just one. And for now Sasha agrees: only one.
Negan (to Sasha): “Youve got me wrapped around your little finger, yknow that? And its not a man-woman thing. I mean, if you had a dick I would still have these feelings.”
Pic 2Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is figuring out what to do with Hilltop, with Gregory (Xander Berkeley) off elsewhere, and Jesus (Tom Payne) happy to help her with anything, glad to have her leading the place. What to do? They need to fight. Just depends on how, what they can contribute to help Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira) and the rest at Alexandria in taking the fight to The Saviors and Negan. I have faith that Maggie can play a big part, she’s a force.
Then there’s another force of fucking nature – Carol (Melissa McBride). She and Ezekiel (Khary Peyton) and Morgan (Lennie James), her pals from the Kingdom are on the road together. Well, Morgan likes to go it alone, but they’re together in one sense. Ezekiel wants Morgan with them. Once again, the man cannot forgive himself or get past things long enough to help those around him. A trouble dude in troubled times. At least he has Carol and his pals from the Kingdom, and Shiva!
Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) and her people arrive, garbage trucks and all. They’re an odd bunch; Jadis says she wants to bang Rick later, which neither he nor Michonne like to hear. In other news, Daryl, Rosita (Christian Serratos), and Aaron (Ross Marquand) are wiring an explosive they’ll put to good use soon enough. At the same time, Negan and Co are held up in the road, coming across the downed trees knocked over by Dwight.


Sasha’s decided not to take that pill after all. What she’ll decide in the end ought to be interesting. In the meantime, her friends at Alexandria have readied for the coming fight, even Carl (Chandler Riggs) has himself an assault rifle. Everybody’s braced for war. As The Saviors and Negan arrive, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) is up in front with a megaphone greeting his old friends. Nobody’s impressed with that, particularly after he tells them: “Im Negan.” Rather than suffer any fools, they opt to set off their explosive. Instead nothing happens. Jadis and her crew turn their weapons on the Alexandrians, Dwight hops from the truck with Negan. No explosions. No surprise assault. Oh, fuck.
We win
The tables have turned, drastically. Rick is not happy, as Negan gloats with everyone on his side. He lays it on thick while the Alexandrians await whatever comes next. Then, Dwight and Simon (Steven Ogg) wheel out a casket. Inside is Sasha, says Negan. He’s going to take all the guns, whatever food they can get. Rick also much choose a victim for Lucille. Plus, Daryl and the pool table go, too. Or else Sasha and a few others die.


Rick demands to see her first. So, Negan opens the casket – we get another flash of Sasha and Abraham: “Its always for someone else,” he tells her; a resonant point about The Walking Dead as a series as a whole. We also see Eugene give Sasha an iPod for her ride in the casket. She still has that pill, too. And she takes Abraham’s words to heart, in the worst way possible. She swallows the pill.
When the door comes open, a zombie Sasha appears! She lunges at Negan, then Carl takes the first shot initiating total chaos amongst the crowds. Bullets fly everywhere. Michonne wrestles with the other sniper on the rooftop. Rosita takes a bullet as Tara helps her away from the action. Jadis and Rick face one another down at the wall’s top, then she fires a shot into his side, tossing him over.
With gunfire everywhere, the Alexandrians struggle to stay alive. Jadis brings Rick to Negan, dead bodies litter the streets. The Saviors have Carl, and it seems as if he’s the next target for Lucille. Furthermore, he wants to use the bat on Rick’s hands. “I guess I gotta start all over again,” he taunts Rick. In the distance he also believes he hears Michonne dying. Somehow he stands against the tide, strong: “Youre all already dead,” Rick tells Negan.
But before any more death can come, Shiva leaps in behind them and takes down a man, scaring The Saviors and Negan away. Ezekiel, Carol, Morgan, Maggie, they all appear to push back the villains. And though the biggest baddie’s run off, he’s taken aback by the tiger, the living widow of Glenn “guns blazin‘” and sent packing with his tail between his legs. Nice to see Morgan and Rick together again, as well. Fighting side by side.
Once the smoke clears, Alexandria still remains standing, though the threats likewise live on. And Michonne, she made it out alive, if not a bit worse for the wear. She hasn’t given up, either. Not one bit.
Pic 5Back at the Sanctuary, Negan’s wondering how Sasha actually died. Eugene bullshits saying it was probably suffocation in that casket, but the boss ain’t sold. Nevertheless, he’s prepared for war. Things in Season 8 will get fucking ugly.
Although with the force of The Saviors coming down upon them, Rick and Maggie and the rest are also prepared for war. They slipped this time, managing to regain their footing. Next time, I don’t think they’ll go in trusting another group. It’s all on them now. Alexandria is full of life, with all the groups in one place for a while, each ready to fight for the person next to them.


A great season. Loved this season finale, because we ended last season and began this one on a devastating note, a weak one for Rick and everyone around him. At the end of Season 7, they’ve all regained a strength, and some they didn’t know they had, which will serve them well. We needed this progression, and as Maggie points out in her ending monologue this all began so long ago, at the beginning when Rick and each of them decided to stand for the other, to help, to love, to protect, to fight on the one side

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 14: “The Other Side”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 14: “The Other Side”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by Angela Kang

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Bury Me Here” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Something They Need” – click here
Pic 1So what about Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his search for escapee Daryl (Norman Reedus)? That fruit will come to bear soon enough. Right now at Hilltop, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is teaching everyone, Enid (Katelyn Nacon) included how to defend themselves properly. At home Enid and Maggie are like buddies, or almost a mother-daughter relationship. And Jesus (Tom Payne), he’s both a help to Maggie, as well as to others.
Because we can’t forget about Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), she’s preparing to go find Negan, to kill him. Jesus, he helps by drawing a map to show her what The Saviors’ compound looks like.
Note: The beauty of this opening sequence is that there’s not a word spoke, only the sound of breathing, if that, and the images telling a story. Really beautiful stuff. Powerful technical filmmaking on television.
Then Rosita (Christian Serrators) arrives, like the end of last episode. Now she and Sasha have a mission, together. But it’s very, very dangerous.
Pic 1AWe also discover that Jesus is gay. Or at least that’s how it sounds. He and Maggie have a heart to heart, which as usual, as any conversation in this new world does, leads to more of what’s next to do, in order to survive.
Jesus finds Sasha, looking for ammo. He and Enid both realise Rosita’s not there to train anyone. They’re going to kill Negan. But the other two try helping, they want Sasha to stick around and help. She’s a strong person, an asset to anyone she’s helping. Jesus also likes having her around, for many reasons not least of which is her strength and determination. Sasha is a great character. And so is Rosita.
This is why I get worried. When characters get a close focus, those other than Rick and Carl and a couple other key players, it’s often right before they’re killed. I hope this isn’t the case. I love Sasha and Rosita. They’re tough, smart.
Jesus: “‘Cause its a long life, and then it isnt.”
The Saviors show up unexpectedly. This sends the two women off on their escape. Likewise, Daryl and Maggie are hidden in a cellar as the men come invading Hilltop. Gregory (Xander Berkeley) does his duty, doing the dance when Simon (Steven Ogg) comes with, you guessed it, no good news. They’re only there to find somebody for Negan. In the meantime, Rosita and Sasha are on the road again, an unlikely yet understandable duo. They’re equally stubborn about the way forward. Each of them want revenge, and I get that. They just have to focus, otherwise it’s more and more likely they won’t make it; together or not. For now they kill zombies, going back and forth with what they think is best to do.


At Hilltop, Enid gets worried when one of The Saviors discovers the cellar. She does her best to keep him away. It’s no use. Except he doesn’t find anyone, only some fruit.
So it seems Simon and his boys have come to collect Dr. Harlan Carson. They’ve been sent by Negan to bring him back. “Congratulations, youre movinup in the world,” Simon says in that ugly charm of his, and then we realise that Dr. Carson’s brother is the one who was killed so violently as of late by Negan. Yikes. So on he goes, to the land of “cardamom gelato” and other delights. However, Gregory isn’t pleased with being so powerless. He tries currying favour with Simon, only getting a deal that he can come see the man at the compound; name at the gate and everything. Not exactly what he wanted. Then again, Gregory doesn’t have much of a spine. I wonder, will that change down the road?
Back to the man in the fruit cellar, Maggie stops Daryl from killing him, and then on he goes. They’re safe and sound. Only Daryl would rather kill every last one of them instead of waiting for the perfect time. He and Maggie wind up talking about Glenn’s death; he feels entirely responsible, apologising to her. She wants to kill The Saviors, just like Daryl. Only she wants to make sure they win.
Maggie (to Daryl): “Youre one of the good things in this world. Thats what Glenn thought. And he would know, ‘cause he was one of the good things, too.
Meanwhile, Hilltop’s left without a doctor. Not a good prospect in the post-zombie apocalypse world.


Rosita and Sasha start enacting a plan to get past a crowd of walkers and to another car. Lighting a separate car on fire, they draw a group of them away and hot wire the vehicle. It starts and they’ve got at least a drop of luck on their side. Rosita’s a bad ass driver to boot.
At The Saviors compound, Sasha and Rosita set up in an adjacent, abandoned building with the sniper rifle. They can see Eugene (Josh McDermitt) doing work. For the time being the two women actually bond over a bit of rigging while Sasha learns to tie knots on a piece of rope. They, of course, talk about Abraham soon enough. And Rosita admits to initially hating Sasha, though it was probably because he “figured his shit out first.” This is a great scene of dialogue between them, as the characters have all these unresolved issues with Abraham after his tragic death. After they come to terms with everything, it only makes their new bond stronger. If anything for the memory of their dead friend and lover who was struck down so cowardly by Negan, without a fighting chance.
Then Sasha sees that Dr. Carson, who was taking care of Maggie, has been taken to the compound. Just as Negan comes out to greet their newest addition. No clean shot with the sniper, particularly with the doc too near. The women hear Eugene over the radio; he mentions Negan will be in his room for a while, so this prompts them to want to head inside.


At Hilltop, Gregory calls Jesus in for a chat. Says he’s slacking, and there are too many people in his trailer. Everyone’s got to pull their weight now. Jesus sees through their fearful leader, which draws a perceived threat from Gregory. He makes clear they aren’t friendly anymore. Uh oh. I don’t like the dude’s ‘tude. And I love Jesus, so I’d hate to see anything uncool happen to him. But no matter – Daryl’s figured out that Sasha and Rosita have taken off, alerting Jesus.
Speaking of the kick ass ladies, they pop a guy in the head who’s out working with Eugene. They want to break him out. “Im not goinwith you,” he tells them. He’s brainwashed, willingly. Too full of cowardice to do anything for himself, or help those that once helped him so much.
The women go in. Well, Sasha does. She closes the fence behind her and goes on, telling Rosita it isn’t her time – the same said earlier of Abraham. So Rosita goes running away, as Sasha works her way violently into the compound. And in the shadows waiting for her is Daryl.
I wonder if he and Rosita will follow Sasha. And is it definitely Daryl? Could it be Dwight?
Pic 5What a great chapter in the last bit of Season 7! I can’t wait to see whatever excitement comes in the last couple episodes. So tense. So many sacrifices for Rick, Rosita, Sasha, Maggie, Daryl, all of them. Will they gain any ground? Or will the end of Season 7 provoke more devastation? You know someone’s dying, but who knows who’ll that be, either.

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 9: “Rock in the Road”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 9: “Rock in the Road”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Angela Kang

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Hearts Still Beating” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “New Best Friends” – click here
screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-1-46-30-amHere it is – the mid-season premiere!
Open on Alexandria. Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) stands on watch at the top of the gate, everything is dark. He passes time reading the Bible. But it’s getting harder to read, you can tell by the look on his face. Soon he goes back to one of the houses, starts piling canned food into a box and looking through the inventory, most of which is going to The Saviors. He packs what he can into a car, gasses up, then heads out into the night.
Is he bringing things to them? No, I think he wants to hide things from them. That could turn things awful tricky.
screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-1-49-37-amBack at Hilltop things aren’t so easy, either. Gregory (Xander Berkeley) argues with Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his people, he isn’t so convinced the group can do what they say and take out Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) or his Saviors. Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Tara (Alanna Masterson), and the rest try convincing Gregory, but he’s simply not buying it. “Youre either with us or you aint,” Daryl (Norman Reedus) reminds him.
After they’ve gotten nowhere with the fearful leader, Enid (Katelyn Nacon) brings a few people to speak with Rick and the group. One woman named Bertie (Karen Ceesay) tells Maggie that they’re willing to fight, long as they’re shown how to fight and defend themselves properly. This is a good turn of events, they don’t need Gregory when the people at Hilltop are ready to be part of the resistance. Jesus (Tom Payne) also says it’s time that the gang meets King Ezekiel (Khary Payton). Yes!
They go to the Kingdom – Jesus, Rick, Daryl, as well as Michonne (Danai Gurira), Carl (Chandler Riggs), Tara, Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green). And there they meet a couple guys on horses, one of whom is Richard (Karl Makinen).
It’s amazing to see Rick and the group when they witness the Kingdom. Even better once Morgan (Lennie James) strolls out to see greet them. He tells Rick and Daryl about Carol (Melissa McBride) wanting to be left alone, too. Afterwards they meet the King and Shiva, and it’s a big of a culture shock. Although Rick jumps on in for a chat. He brings up The Saviors, wanting to band together and bring them down. Everybody discusses Negan, his brutality, why he must be stopped. Jesus also chimes in to say that he once thought their deal was something they could all “live with” but that’s all quickly, horribly changed. On top of that we already know Richard doesn’t like The Saviors, he’s on board to get shit done.
Ezekiel: “And what plans have you, Rick Grimes of Alexandria?”
What comes out is Rick talks about his mother telling him a story when he was a boy, about a road to a kingdom. A little girl and her family went along the road, losing all they had after their wagon hit a rock in the road. The girl, determined never to let the rock hurt another, dug at it until eventually finding a bag of gold. Negan is the rock in the road, and if they’re able to dig him out then at the end of the line is their gold: a world at peace.


Out on his own, Benjamin (Logan Miller) runs into a gun-toting Carol. They talk about general badassery. They also talk about Ezekiel, a little. In this brief exchange, Benjamin instils a tiny smidgen of hope in Carol, somewhere deep down. The fact that this young man still holds hope for mankind, wanting to help others, it sort of goes against everything she’s started believing about the new world.
I love that we get a guy like King Ezekiel, too. Because for so long we went from either Rick’s group and their various people, some good and some bad in the end, then there’s The Governor, all those battles, and then it was Terminus, and so on. Once Negan turned it up you start to wonder, if you haven’t read the comics like many of us, if only the big baddies are kicking around. Finally, we get a guy who’s pure, or at least his intentions are of the purest sort. A little later Benjamin actually becomes the voice of reason for the King, in regards to helping the people of Alexandria: “My dad always said that if youre asked to be the hero, be a hero.”
We find out that Ezekiel has regrets about once sending some of his people into battle, which yielded many dead, many children orphaned. So this is part of why he’s so altruistic at this point in time. He wants to right his wrongs. But Rick has been there, as well. We’ve seen all that. He has demons, he also isn’t a total saint. In the end, Ezekiel won’t agree to help, though offers Daryl asylum from The Saviors. Hmm. Something needs to happen to change the King’s mind. Richard’s on the side of Rick and his friends. That’s not enough. At the moment Daryl’s left at the Kingdom with Rick asking him to try his best on swaying Ezekiel.
screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-2-19-34-amOver the radio Negan’s voice is heard eulogising Fat Joey. Meanwhile, Rick and Co head onto the highway where they find a bunch of cars blocking the way. They move them with their vehicle while Michonne keeps her eye on the horizon; she spots a strange device. It’s a rope across the road rigged to an explosive device. Now, they’ve got to disarm the thing. Rosita has her hands into the trap’s inner workings, as they hear Negan call out over the radio for men to go searching for Daryl. Following that, Rosita gets the main component of the trap disarmed, and they all go about carefully unwrapping the dynamite and other explosives, watching the road for Saviors or walkers.
And sooner than later the undead come shambling from a distance. The group packs up what explosives are in good condition, scrambling to put the cars back in place on the road. A massive horde of zombies works its way up the highway faster than expected, forcing Michonne and Rick into a quick plan.
We get one of the coolest zombie killing scenes EVER, as Michonne and Rick use the wire between the cars from the trap to clothesline tons and tons of the walkers before climbing in with the rest of the crew and scooting to safety. Behind them an explosion goes off blasting more meat into the sky.
Michonne: “Were the ones who live


Once Rick makes it back to Alexandria they’re greeted by a Saviors convoy. Simon (Steven Ogg) arrives, coy as ever. They’re trying to find Daryl, of course. Simon wants to search the entire place and they go about their business, all the while trashing everything like pigs. The Saviors also come across the empty shelves in the storage garage, the stuff we saw Father Gabriel take in the opener. But they don’t care, not until pickup day. When the group is left on their own again people believe Gabriel ran off with their supplies. But what’s the truth? Rick, Tara, some of them don’t believe he’d do that to them.
Turns out they were left a message: BOAT. Mysterious how he knew where Aaron (Ross Marquand) and Rick had gone. So, another journey is at hand. When the crew make out for the boat on the lake they find footprints. They follow them to an old factory in a field where they encounter people with guns, many others with weapons; MANY.
But Rick smiles in the face of it all. Literally. A big shit-eating grin. Is it a ‘bring it on’ smile, or a ‘these people can help us’ grin?screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-2-41-24-amA great mid-season opener after the break. So many things to look forward to, and lots of character development going on, especially when we get a conversation between Aaron and his partner Eric (Jordan Woods-Robinson). We see that everyone has issues, everyone has worries. This will only continue in the next episode “New Best Friends” and I’m excited.

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 7: “Sing Me a Song”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 7: “Sing Me a Song”
Directed by Rosemary Rodriguez
Written by Angela Kang & Corey Reed

* For a review of the previous episode, “Swear” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Hearts Still Beating” – click here
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I’m worried about Michonne (Danai Gurira). She found all those mattresses the Saviors burned on them and now she just can’t bring herself to believe what Rick (Andrew Lincoln) does about the way forward. And now, she’s beginning to revert to a few of her old ways again.
And Rick, he’s with Aaron (Ross Marquand), wondering about Michonne.
At the same time a few greasers sit along the road, driving the truck Jesus (Tom Payne) and Carl (Chandler Riggs) are hiding inside. This is an interesting pair. Jesus is a young guy, though experienced, and a bad ass. I used to hate Carl and then he grew up, got a bit bad ass himself. They might be good together. Except Carl ditches him, very clever, and heads on by himself. This kid’s balls are too big for his own good.
When the Saviors roll into Negantown and Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) comes out to inspect the latest haul, Carl opens fire with an assault rifle. “I only want Negan, he killed my friends; no one else needs to die.” The man himself is impressed: “You are adorable,” says Negan. He is a saucy, mouthy bastard. They disarm the boy, but then the leader welcomes him as a guest. As Daryl (Norman Reedus) watches nearby. Fuck, this is maybe one of the most intense openers of any episode, at least in a long while. Plus we see how big Negan’s home is, and it’s massive.
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Carl is brought inside to see what things are like on Negan’s side. The kid’s also schooled in how to be a bad ass by maybe the ultimate bad ass himself; like him or not. Everyone in there kneels before him. Gross. It’s like he gives a sermon. Or a speech in the way of a dictator.
Back in Alexandria, Rosita (Christian Serratos) doesn’t want to give things over to Negan and his Saviors. She doesn’t like Spencer (Austin Nichols) and his bullshit, either. So she and Eugene (Josh McDermitt) are going to head out. You know where: to find bullet making materials.
We see how Negan is trying to corrupt Carl. He wants to corrupt everyone he comes in contact with, and especially anybody he perceives as more helpless to his violence, such as women and children. He is really one disgusting man. He uses increments of violence to ensure further cooperation just by threat later, like reading straight out of portions of Machiavelli’s The Prince.
Did you notice Carl lean in quick while Negan turned for a second? Definitely said something. Either way, at this point I’m not willing to count out anything when it comes to Carl; whether it’s him getting killed tragically somehow, or doing something wild to get himself free.


We see more of Spencer literally hating Rick. He admits it to Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam). He has a lot of strong feelings. And I can see Spencer going the way of his character in the comics. For those who read them, you know what I’m talking about. Gabriel, though – he has faith in Rick. The priest holds onto Rick’s leadership, while Spencer all but wishes for his death.
Gabriel: “What youre saying doesnt make you a sinner. But it does make you a tremendous shit. Just for now. It doesnt have to be terminal.”
Negan likes the cut of Carl’s jib. He likes that the kid is smart, a bit ruthless. He also wants to see the hole in the kid’s face where that eye used to sit. “Its like talkinto a birthday present,” he taunts. Then Carl shows him. He shames the boy, asking to touch it. Being an all around piece of shit until Carl weeps a little. And this actually provokes a response in the man. He apologises, forgetting he’s been talking to a kid. Wow. Afterwards the title of the episode comes when Negan asks for Carl to sing him a tune. In return for the men he mowed down. And the kid sings “You Are My Sunshine” for the evil nutcase, as he swings Lucille wildly in the background. “Lucille loves beinsung to.”
Oh, my. Now comes something awful. There’s an iron in the fire, and somebody’s due to get branded. Negan preaches another sermon about The Saviors, out there to supposedly save the world. Right on, dude. Someone in their crew has gone against the pack; more so against Negan. So he must be branded for his transgressions. Just like Dwight (Austin Amelio). God, that’s vicious. At least they have a doctor to tend to the burn.


Already with supplies, Rosita and Eugene get back to the bullet making factory. But he doesn’t feel good being there. The memories of Abraham lingering at that place, as well as the fact he isn’t sure about barrelling into Rosita’s half-cocked plan. However, she is damn convincing.
We see Dwight and his former wife Sherry (Christine Evangelista), they obviously still care for each other and are only apart because of Negan. The nasty leader is up trying to “break” Carl, as he does with Daryl. The kid, like Daryl, is strong. He doesn’t give the motherfucker an inch. How will Negan deal with him? Especially when Carl threatens to kill him. So instead of anything else, Negan opts to go for a ride out to take Carl home. He doesn’t notice Jesus on top of their vehicle, nor that Jesus disappears quickly. He does notice that Daryl is ready to kill him if Carl is hurt.
Underneath the door in his closet, tucked in the dark, Daryl gets a message: GO NOW. Is it from Sherry? I’d bet on it. She is a good woman, forced into unimaginable horror.
On a road lays a pile of walkers blocking access any further. This is a pile Michonne has made. She disarms a woman and orders: “Take me to Negan.” Man, everybody is just out for going after the guy alone. Instead of listening to Rick – even though he’s not perfect – they all want to go try taking Negan out by themselves.

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In Alexandria, Negan strolls through with Carl. He wants to wait for Rick to come home. He goes on to insult Olivia and her weight, then trying to have sex with her; she slaps his face, though. Good woman! Fuck that guy and his bullshit. Luckily he just decides to sit there and wait. And drink a bit of lemonade.
What follows is a hilariously soundtracked montage of Negan settling in around the house, playing darts, feeling the carpet between his toes. He discovers Judith in her crib, despite Carl trying to prevent it. Weird seeing such a horrific pig like Negan holding an innocent child.
While her dad Rick and uncle Aaron are out on their own. They come across a sign, stating a man lives past that sign and he’s ready to kill anybody getting too close. Is he dead? Or is he still somewhere out there lurking? Nearby on the lake is a boat, supplies likely still aboard.
When Spencer, Eugene, and Rosita return to Alexandria they find Negan already there obviously. He’s taken up in the neighbourhood. “Oh, I like it here,” he says with a menacing smile, still holding Carl’s little sister. Thinking about whether he’ll murder Carl and his father.

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Fuck, this was an intense episode in places. A couple slow parts, but I can see they’re setting a few things up. Lots to look forward to in “Hearts Still Beating” next.

Whatcha Gonna Do When THE BOONDOCK SAINTS Come For You?

The Boondock Saints. 1999. Directed & Written by Troy Duffy.
Starring Willem Dafoe, Sean Patrick Flanery, Norman Reedus, David Della Rocco, Billy Connolly, Brian Mahoney, Bob Marley, Dot-Marie Jones, Scott Griffith, Layton Morrison, Gerard Parkes, & Carlo Rota.
Franchise Pictures/Fried Films/Brood Syndicate.
Rated R. 108 minutes.
Action/Crime/Thriller

★★★★
POSTER Certain films are built on heart. A ton of it.
I remember when this originally came out. I saw this when I was about 14, so there’s a lot of nostalgia having not really watched this movie much in the past decade at least. One of those movies I did enjoy a great deal. Especially for a young teenage dude there’s a ton of testosterone, in a fun, action sort of way. Yet there’s a smart side, which also includes an interestingly written character that director-writer Troy Duffy wound up getting Willem Dafoe to play. If you’ve ever seen the documentary from 2003, Overnight, you may understand why I phrase it that way. Not because the material isn’t worthy, but because Duffy is an insufferable type of personality. The fact he managed to make this wonderful little slice of action cinema is beyond me. Mixed with doses of comedy, crime, and quite a few thrills, The Boondock Saints struck a chord. In a day and age where justice seems few and far between for victims the world could do worse than the MacManus brothers. 17 years ago as of this writing, the catharsis of watching two men take vigilante justice for their city on the evil men within took people by surprise. I can’t say exactly why the movie became a big success and gained a following of highly loving, devoted fans. Of which I’d consider myself one. Although I can’t stand the sequel. This one has a few blemishes, I can’t pretend it doesn’t. That doesn’t matter to me. The Boondock Saints is too much fun and joyfully quirky without going overboard. The entire movie is full of heart. If you find yourself bored we might not have been watching the same film.
Pic1 The tone is pretty much set in the credits when the MacManus brothers get in a fight with a big, butch woman at work. You know these guys are foolish, at the same time there’s no telling at all what they’ll do, or of what they may be capable.
Quickly things get exciting. Soon as Agent Smecker (Willem Dafoe) gets into the interrogation room with Connor (Sean Patrick Flanery) and Murphy (Norman Reedus) MacManus we flashback to what Duffy previously set up. This an overall trend in the film that works to his advantage. He creates a situation, starts out showing us how things begin, then defers the action slightly. Afterwards, he goes back and tells the story while also moving the plot along. It’s honestly great writing. Another sequence I love in that fashion is when they go for the Russians at the hotel, coming in from the ceiling; this one works the best, I believe. Intense, funny, wild action. Can’t forget Rocco’s “catch you on the flipside” sequence. That one’s fairly bad ass. Fairly good for a chuckle here and there, too.
Pic2 Maybe some of the dialogue isn’t as great as it ought to be, some a bit cheesy – there are a couple moments that cheese it up, as well, such as when they each wake up on the cots in the jail, water dripping on them. Bit too much. Despite any of its faults, for the most part the screenplay is absolutely well written. The plot and the story are good fun. Even if Duffy never makes any other movies he can pride himself on knowing this is a fucking awesome script. As a director, Duffy mostly knows what he’s doing. Or, he knows what he wants to do. Not always successful. This movie’s a wild ride even in its weakest moments. A bit too much music in places where it wasn’t necessary. Certain scenes work perfectly, especially with classical stuff. Others, Duffy could have kept things without the little snippets of crap music – for instance, when Smecker stumbles out of a gay bar in the morning and heads to the Roman Catholic Church nearby, there’s a piece that plays, it’s awful, on top of the fact there’s no need. So these small portions take away from the good stuff, only in a slight way. Nothing too major.
Pic2 Characters like Rocco (David Della Rocco) and Agent Smecker don’t come along too often. While I do love the MacManus brothers, these other two are gold. When Rocco has to tell Yakavetta (Carlo Rota) the joke, it’s a perfect scene on paper, but Della Rocco plays the whole thing so well it’s hard to believe he’s not a regular actor. Maybe it’s a one time hit for him. Christ, though, you can’t not laugh at this guy. Not even just after the intimidating Yakavetta starts to laugh, finally. The whole thing is a riot. Then end of the scene is actually perfection, along with a well edited cut. That’s not the end for Rocco in terms of his time to shine. He gets a few moments to excel, and does he ever.
The star of the show for me is Willem Dafoe. I’d enjoyed him before seeing this, after catching Platoon late on television one night, uncut; might have been 10 or 11 then. So after experiencing his performance in this he automatically became one of my favourites, still to this day. He’s a versatile actor, one whose abilities lie in all kinds of eccentric roles. Agent Paul Smecker is a goldmine for a guy like him. Dafoe all but bounces off the walls, giving life to a totally atypical gay character, as well as an atypical FBI Agent character opposed to what we’re used to (one of my favourite FBI Agents in fiction next to Special Agent Dale Cooper), so refreshing to see.
Pic3 This is an unforgettable film. Even with the missteps and a couple bad directorial choices, Troy Duffy does a solid job in the chair. The Boondock Saints came along at a perfect time. It filled the gap for indie cinema (started out indie anyway), as other, bigger movies in 1999 came pumping out of Hollywood: The Matrix, Fight Club, American Beauty, Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace, The Mummy, Toy Story 2, The Sixth Sense, The Green Mile. Same year Stanley Kubrick finished his final film, Eyes Wide Shut. The Blair Witch Project put horror back on the radar in a big way, launching a renewed interested in found footage (one that continues almost ad nauseam).
So it’s no stretch to say Duffy and his movie were up against big competition. A huge year for film, even aside from just the big names I mentioned. This smaller budget film (yes in Hollywood $7-million is still considered as such compared to the big productions) proved you didn’t need the groundbreaking effects, nor did you require ‘bankable’ stars. If a script is good enough, the director energetic and in this case brash, willing to get what he wants no matter the cost, perhaps the movie can find its legs. Naturally, it didn’t help that a movie featuring plenty gun play ended up coming out right after Columbine’s massacre, and Duffy himself clashed with producers, among other things. Still, you watch this and sticks with you. Forget its little negatives. There aren’t many. The positives are a resounding fresh breath of crime-thriller air, filled with action, and best of all this one will make you laugh. If you can’t have some fun with a flick like this, there’s no telling what you need. To me, The Boondock Saints is just damn good fun.

The Tense Line Between Cops and Criminals in John Hillcoat’s Triple 9

Triple 9. 2016. Directed by John Hillcoat. Screenplay by Matt Cook.
Starring Casey Afflec, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Anthony Mackie, Woody Harrelson, Aaron Paul, Kate Winslet, Gal Gadot, Norman Reedus, Teresa Palmer, Michael Kenneth Williams, Clifton Collins Jr, Michelle Ang, Terence Rosemore, Terri Abney, & Alexander Babara. Worldview Entertainment/Anonymous Content/MadRiver Pictures.
Rated 14A. 110 minutes.
Action/Crime/Drama

★★★★
POSTER Ever since I saw Ghosts… of the Civil Dead, director John Hillcoat was someone I found interesting. 17 years later, he made The Proposition, which is my personal favourite Western ever, and definitely one of the best contemporary Westerns of the past 20 years. Since then he pulled out a near perfect adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and also did the solid, fun Prohibition dramatic thriller Lawless. He is an interesting talent as a director, whose talent lies in getting down to the nitty gritty of his subject matter, whether that be prison, the end of the world, Prohibition heroes, or even the law.
Which is where Triple 9 comes in. Tackling a lot of different subplots at once, this is a pretty solid crime movie. Although, there are definitely a few faults. For one, the usually wonderful Kate Winslet is present giving us a Russian-American accent that is once or twice solid, then for the rest of the picture a truly abysmal element. But even with the few missteps, the screenplay from newcomer-screenwriter Matt Cook is interesting, it is suspenseful, and above all the world of dirty cops feels impressively real. The terror of being in the midst of renegade lawmen is very real in Triple 9. A good cop flick for our current times.
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A gang of corrupt cops and criminals including Michael Atwood (Chiwetel Ejiofor), Marcus Belmont (Anthony Mackie), Gabe Welch (Aaron Paul), Russell Welch (Norman Reedus), & Franco Rodriguez (Clifton Collins Jr) all find themselves indebted to the Russian mob. Particularly, because of Michael’s son with Elena Vlaslov (Gal Gadot), he’s stuck with her sister Irina (Kate Winslet), big time mobster, over his shoulder. After a bit of a botched heist, they’re expected to do one more job. A high stakes job, which will require them to pull a Triple Nine; code for when an officer is down. This will pull all units away, allowing others in the crew to infiltrate their target.
With a new cop in his precinct and as his partner, Marcus offers him up as the one to take down – Chris Allen (Casey Affleck). Only problem is that his uncle Jeffrey (Woody Harrelson) is a big name around the city in the Police Department. And with too many loose threads, a plan, no matter how good, is bound to go wrong somewhere down the line.
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The action sequences are absolutely the film’s highlight. Right from the start, the opening robbery is super exciting. Especially after you see things going wrong for these guys, then figure out they’re cops. It’s a real whopper to start off the movie. Halfway through there’s a nice sequence where the police raid a Mexican gang and the action is stellar. Lots of great shots, very kinetic. On top of that, I love the film’s score from an awesome team including Bobby Krlic, Atticus Ross, Leopold Ross, and Claudia Sarne. A nice electronic, subtle score that bubbles and boils up, bouncing around just like the action. Fits things well.
The cinematography overall is fantastic, from action sequences to the lower key scenes in various locations, all framed so beautifully, so dark and vibrant. Cinematographer Nicolas Karakatsanis is a favourite of mine. He is responsible for the look of a top film in my books, Bullhead, as well as The Drop and recent horror Cub. His eye is good, and the texture of his camerawork is so rich. Whereas the action scenes are definitely best, some of the others where the camera is very still, exquisitely framed, fill out the other portions of the film in a nice tapestry that takes us from the dangerous streets to dingy strip clubs, secret meetings under overpasses, to alleys and crack houses, and everywhere in between. The whole movie is atmospheric. It has a dark tone, a deep moodiness about it, most of which comes from Karakatsanis and how he captures everything. As the film wears on and we hit the climax, the cinematography is much more personal, close-up, and it hones tight on everything. Whittling down much like the characters do in number.
For the most part, Cook’s screenplay is good. There’s a hole or two now and then, which is fine. Nobody’s ever made an objectively perfect movie, and even the greatest screenplays all have little messes in them. But best of all, the plot and story come together with all their various threads nicely. For a film that has a lot of focus in different directions, Cook manages to keep our attention in the right spots. Never does one subplot ever overtake the whole film’s main plot because the whole thing shifts from one act to the next until we’re left with the aftermath of these cops and their decisions. Things weave around quite a bit at times. Without spoiling anything, the cops find their plans don’t exactly work out as they’d hoped. And once things begin spinning out of control there’s no turning back – the plot will whisk you away towards a violent finale.
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Triple 9 is able to stay so interesting despite its few flaws due in large part to the well rounded cast. Someone I’m huge on is Woody Harrelson, so to see him here in a nice little supporting role is great. Even his voice is fun, but the character itself is great; he is kind of sleazy, yet he’s one of the better of the lot. Just little bits make him so fun: meeting with a transsexual, played wonderfully by Michael K. Williams, and slapping her ass; picking a joint out of the garbage; snorting some drugs in the backseat of a cruiser.
Someone I love while not actually loving a whole of the movies he’s in is Anthony Mackie. I’m always rooting for him to get better roles. Here, he plays a dirty, dirty police officer. All the same, he’s not completely worthless, as his character’s at least partly conflicted sometimes. You can see him wanting to like Affleck’s character, they bond a little, and Mackie plays that role so right, with faint hesitation and plenty of emotion. On the other side is Casey Affleck, another actor I personally enjoy. He has this laid back sensibility about him, some take it as disaffected or boring, but to me it’s just his attitude. His behaviour works proper here because he’s supposed to feel apart from the other cops in the film; he’s sort of cocky, but not in a disingenuous way. Him and Mackie have nice chemistry together, as well as with Harrleson in their few scenes.
Aaron Paul is great, too. Part of his character is similar to Jesse Pinkman from Breaking Bad, but not the entirety. This character, Gabe, was a cop who fell off the track, like crazy. He’s a hardcore addict. And still, there’s a tiny drop of humanity in him. Paul is the perfect casting for this role because he’s able to be a dirtbag drug head and simultaneously play the character as sympathetic, honest, raw.
In addition to these solid performances, the cast is filled up with other great actors. Ejiofor gives an uncharacteristically menacing performance, proving he is not only a nice guy actor. In his brief performance, Reedus is, as usual, charismatic in his rough and rugged way. Clifton Collins Jr is another guy I always love seeing, and here he puts off his gangster cop persona just the right amount. And yes, Williams as Sweet Pea, the glamorous transsexual, is a welcomed addition even if he’s only onscreen for about a single minute. The cast makes this movie what it is. Kate Winslet adds nothing with her bad accent because she doesn’t feel menacing to me – not like Ejiofor, who strikes the right amount of scary bastard. But if it weren’t for the rest of these actors, Triple 9 would be highly mediocre crime-thriller fare.FILM Triple 9 093414
Some reviews I’ve seen are unfair. This is definitely not one of the best crime-thrillers I’ve seen as of late. At the same time, this is still solid. The action is exciting, it will push your adrenaline in certain scenes. It is tense and rarely, if ever, lets up. Also, you have to admire some of the methods these criminals/cops use in their robberies. A few nice, innovative little pieces to add into the movie lexicon. Any decent movie about criminals, especially ones where the criminals are cops and ex-military, so on, is going to have some nice tidbits of criminal activity. For instance, just some of the small moments where they tried covering their tracks, even the fact they spoke Spanish during the first heist and those types of things were nice inclusions. One absolute positive – Hillcoat does a fine job directing here and offers up more with this feature than others will have you believe. Don’t expect the next Heat, but don’t write this off as mediocre. It’s better than that. For all its mistakes, Triple 9 is dark and engaging. Maybe in a day and age where dirty cops are all too prevalent in real life some don’t want for this type of movie. Doesn’t change the fact it’s enjoyable.

The Walking Dead – Season 6, Episode 16: “Last Day on Earth”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 16: “Last Day on Earth”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple & Matthew Negrete

* For a review of the previous episode, “East” – click here
* For a review of the Season 7 premiere, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” – click hereScreen Shot 2016-04-04 at 1.21.10 AM
So we’ve arrived at the end of Season 6.
Open on Morgan (Lennie James). He comes across a horse in a field. Towards him walks the man who survived Carol (Melissa McBride) previously.
Back at Alexandria, Carl (Chandler Riggs) is getting ready to roll, as Enid (Kately Nacon) doesn’t quite believe in what they’re all doing. Meanwhile, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is saddling up. Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) are going, too. Everyone wants to go, no matter what. Aaron (Ross Marquand) is game, as well. In other news, Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) is proving himself a proper savior in his own right. His character development is some of my favourite, honestly, outside of the very main cast.
Out in the woods people are whistling, unseen, and a man runs away, scared. They track him down and beat him. The Saviors? You bet. The tension of this opening, score and all, is impressive. Starts to set up an epic showdown.


On the road in the RV, Rick and crew are heading to Hilltop. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is having big time pregnancy troubles, and obviously worries. But Rick assures: “Everything weve done, weve done together.” No matter how bad things get he can always at least put a little faith in people, he’s a charming, charismatic leader. Can he save them all from what comes next?
Morgan tends to a wounded Carol. She’s in need of stitches. He wants to help more, though, she isn’t readily allowing any of that. She doesn’t want to go back.
Along the road, Rick and Abraham see The Saviors with the man they’re holding. Uh oh. It’s already starting. Out they go to meet in the middle of nowhere. The Saviors aren’t joking around and make it clear someone’s got to die. Instead, Rick has other ideas. They all slowly back off. For now, things are fine.
For now.


Rick: “You wanna make today your last day on earth?
Savior: “No, but that is a good thing to bring up. Think about it, what if its the last day on earth for you? For someone you love? What if thats true? Maybe  you should be extra nice to those people in that RV because you never knowjust like that. Be kind to each other. Like you said, like it was your last day on earth.”
Rick: “You do the same
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Morgan and Carol are alike, yet still at odds. She has to school him on how things are: we must kill if there are people around us. You don’t get to have people and have a normal life. You either get to be with people and kill, or be on your own and not have your hand forced. She pleads with Morgan to leave. “If you care about anyone theres a price, Morgan, and youre gonna have to pay it,” Carol tells him.
The most tense and unnerving part about what’s happening so far is that we know a big, tragic finale is coming, some way. Right now, they’re building up the happy moments, the emotional bits and pieces. Up until the moment The Saviors appear, once more, in the middle of the road. Always waiting, watching. Now the survivors are preparing to do whatever’s necessary. Very eerie atmosphere, as the group tries to figure out how best to get down the road.
Under his nose, Morgan finds himself deserted. Because Carol is adamant about not going back, she’s sick and tired of the new world and how it is to worry, care, love if another person is involved. I understand, sadly. Can’t be easy for anyone to exist. Aside from trying not to get bitten by zombies you’ve got to worry about all of the rest of ordinary life, too.


Another ways down the road the RV encounters a ton of walkers. They’re chained and left in the middle of the road – “a Red Rover,” as Eugene puts it. They discover things belonging to Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) attached to the zombies. Out of nowhere gunfire explodes at them from the hills. They respond and things get real tense. Luckily, they clear the road and get through. Heading deeper into the belly of the beast.
Rick is already dying with anticipation. Now he knows they’re being led in a particular direction. Worse, Maggie doesn’t seem to be doing too well. Then more trouble on the road – Saviors, everywhere. They’ve got nowhere else to really turn. At every last corner there The Saviors are, waiting for their arrival.
Morgan finds rosary beads in the street. Will there be a showdown between him and the Savior left after Carol’s massacre? Will the man find Carol? I’m terrified to find out. Not a second later does he show up. Carol finds herself at the mercy of this man. He puts one in her arm, planning to watch her die on the pavement.


Again and again we’ve been getting views of someone stuck inside a box, or somethng similar. Likely Michonne and Daryl? Who knows. Glenn? We’ll see.
The hardest part about the Maggie situation, for Rick, is watching another pregnant woman go through the post-apocalypse world. Even worse, she’s having a rough time. Hopefully she’ll last. Too many tragedies have fallen upon their group, and they’re no saints, but they don’t deserve all their hardships.
But for Carol’s part, she wants to die. Done with the world, she hopes to leave. Might come sooner than later, as the man puts yet another shot through her leg. Still, she keeps up her sarcasm under duress. Soon enough Morgan arrives. He shoots the man dead, going against his precious life philosophy. Although, it’s for a good purpose.
Afterwards, some armoured folk come out of the forest. They actually own the horse Morgan rode. The men agree to help them. Is this all it seems? Can’t trust anyone right off the bat.
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Carol: “The world doesnt decide, you decide. You dont get to walk away and get what you want.”


Through the forest stride Rick and his crew. A tree roadblock keeps them from going further, and then they witness the man from the road earlier being hung. He dies brutally in front of them before a fire starts in the roadblock. Such ominous stuff, as the Savior from earlier speaks from behind the slowly building fire, warning of the last days on earth and such. Spooky.
Everybody’s worried, obviously. I would be. At each turn they’ve encountered a literal roadblock. They decide to ditch the RV and head onward. Eugene first gives over a bullet “recipe“, one that will help them in the future. It’s a very goodbye-type moment. Touching. Plus, there’s a better one with Abraham and Eugene, an honest and beautiful moment between two friends. Definitely touches the heart, and scares me about what will happen in the last ten or fifteen minutes.
So Rick and the crew head out with Maggie, leaving the RV in the hands of Eugene. The score even tugs at the heartstrings, more than ever before on the series. It’s real epic sort of stuff. Again, this worries me. A strong setup for brutal tragedies.


In the woods, Rick and the group hear the whistles. It sends them deeper into the forest. Some of the creepiest stuff EVER on the show. When they run out into a massive gang of Saviors, things turn around quickly. The creep factor goes up, so does the pulse. Rick looks devastated already, as Eugene is seen kneeling on the ground nearby.
Welcome to where youre goin‘,” the Savior from earlier greets them all. For the first time in a long time, Rick is in a position of absolute weakness. Totally castrated, effectively. The games are about to begin. Last time Rick was made to get on his knees, he bit out a man’s throat. What will happen this time?
The light inside the box was the others, after all – Daryl, Michonne, Glenn, Rosita (Christian Serratos). The gang is all back together. Lined up for the big entrance. He has arrived – Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) walks out to see them all. He taunts them about “pee pee pants” and other juvenile phrases. Then he chats with Rick. Tides are about to turn, drastically. “You are so gonna regret crossinme in a few minutes,” Negan says plainly to Rick. The law is laid down.


Negan: “You ruled the roost. You built something. You thought you were safe, I get it. But, the word is out: you are not safe. Not even close.”
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In the end, there is punishment. Negan selects himself a victim, introducing everybody to Lucille, his barbed bat, using more juvenile phrases – this time some Eenie Meenie Minie Moe. The whole sequence is so intense you’ll find yourself racing, heart pumping, pulse ready to leap out of your body. The tension is drawn out perfectly.
Only problem is AMC has decided to stick a thumb in the viewer’s eye by not letting us in on who Negan decides to kill. We’re given POV that simply lets us in on the savagery of Negan, the bloody brutality he brings to this world. Not impressed, I must say.


Stay along for the ride. Or don’t. Many say they’ll stop watching because of the ending. Me, I fucking hate it. I do. But I’ll keep watching because I have to know. Although, that being said: Season 7 has to pick up and do some different things, take different routes, figure out a fresh new formula, because after this finale I’m starting to get sick of the predictability of the series. Much as I dig the show there are serious flaws. Here’s to hoping the writers start listening to the roar of fans and switching things up. Maybe that’s what Negan will do overall. We’ll have to wait and find out in October.

The Walking Dead – Season 6, Episode 15: “East”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 15: “East
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by Channing Powell

* For a review of the last episode, “Twice As Far” – click here
* For a review of the Season 6 finale, “Last Day on Earth” – click here
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After the events of last episode, we’re given what seems like a brief flash forward. An ominous one.
Then we’re back to Carol (Melissa McBride), preparing to leave Alexandria. Tobin (Jason Douglas) comes to see her, talking about the recent death of Dr. Denise. As we know what’s happened already, Carol leaving, it’s obvious this death was yet another to take her by surprise, and a tough one.
So in the middle of the night, Carol slips away, off on her own. In the morning, everyone’s up to their usual routine. Glenn and Maggie (Steven Yeun/Lauren Cohan) shower together. Carl (Chandler Riggs) eyes the guns. Daryl (Norman Reedus) is very upset over Denise, obviously taking it to heart. Everybody’s doing their thing. All the while Johnny Cash croons that “It’s All Over” and it makes you wonder.
Up in bed, Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Rick (Andrew Lincoln) wake up together, sharing an apple together, being much too adorable for a couple in the post-zombie world. They also share their thoughts, their worries. A great pair.


Rick: “The worlds ours. And we know how to take it. Everything we need is right here inside these walls. And were not losing any of it again. Im not.”
Michonne: “No youre not. Im not.”


Daryl takes off, as Michonne and Glenn head off to try find her. Afterwards, Tobin lets everyone know about Carol. This prompts Morgan and Rick to go looking for her. Uh oh. Divided up, heading in different directions.
Meanwhile, on the open road Carol gets her car shot at by some men in a vehicle headed her way. She ends up talking to a man named Jiro (Rich Ceraulo). He tries his best to get information out of her. The men even know about Alexandria down the road. Carol starts to freak out like she did when taken captive alongside Maggie. But she pulls a fast one and guns the men to death, having hidden one in her sleeve. Except one guy, whom Carol stabs through the heart. Wow. I guess Carol had no choice, though, it certainly goes against wanting to not kill people anymore.
This brings us back to the episode opener. Carol guns down Jiro, as he tries to stab her.


Heading towards anywhere Carol may be, Rick and Morgan are buddy-buddy again. At least by necessity. Morgan tries to get cryptic with Rick, and gets straight to the point simultaneously. He basically points out Carol didn’t want to go “West” and instead went the titular “East” because of a difference in opinion. Never have Rick and Morgan been so far apart in the sense of morality. Sure, Morgan’s done things to survive. He hasn’t infiltrated another group’s home and cut their throats while they sleep; Rick has, though. Either way, Rick could learn something right about now from Morgan and his philosophy.
They come across Carol’s massacre. Yet she is nowhere to be found. In other news, one of The Saviors survived her, and wanders off through the fields, likely back to home; to Negan.
Michonne, Glenn and Rosita (Christian Serratos) try their best to find Daryl. When they track him down he’s intent on doing what he ought to have done long before, to kill Dwight (Austin Amelio). It ends up with Rosita heading off, too. Everybody is splitting apart, going their own ways, different directions again.
Glenn and Michonne? They end up found by Dwight. Looks like he really should’ve been killed. One of Daryl’s few mistakes.


Morgan: “People can come back, Rick.”
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On their journey, Rick and Morgan come across a man at a farm. He runs off when walkers crowd the place. As Rick takes a shot at him, Morgan knocks him off balance, so that the shot hits a walker instead. “I dont take chances anymore,” Rick says after they have a little argument. Morgan talks about the Wolf he met on the road, the one who lived and showed up in Alexandria. He spouts more “all life is precious” and Rick is fairly pissed at first. But then there’s a sort of understanding between them. Morgan decides to head off on his own looking for Carol, and reluctantly Rick lets him go. More and more, they separate.
In Alexandria, the group are still scattered, with Glenn and Michonne obviously still out on the road. Not by choice. For the time being, Rick and Abraham bond over having someone to love, that it scares them going into the hordes of zombies, but also makes them stronger in a way. Then Maggie starts to have pains, bad ones. Nothing’s good in Alexandria for too long.


When Daryl and Rosita find Michonne and Glenn, they walk directly into a trap.
Then, it appears as if Dwight, who steps out behind the two would-be rescuers, pulls the trigger on Daryl, a load of blood spurting out into the camera’s eye: “Youll be all right,” says Dwight, as the camera then goes to black. Wow. Is Daryl dead? Or will it just be a wound to match the one he likely has on his dick from Eugene’s chomp? We’ll have to see.
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Come back with me for the season finale, “Last Day on Earth”, so stay tuned.

The Walking Dead – Season 6, Episode 14: “Twice as Far”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 14: “Twice as Far”
Directed by Alrick Riley
Written by Matthew Negrete

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Same Boat” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “East” – click here
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With only two episodes after this left to Season 6, we’re all left wondering: when will Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) rear his terrifying head?
Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) and the rest of the gang are still holding on. After the tense episode last week, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Carol (Melissa McBride) are safe and sound. But how long are any of them safe, after massacring members of The Saviors in the past couple episodes?
In Alexandria, though, things are going on normally. Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), everyone else goes about their business. Whereas Morgan (Lennie James) is doing cement work; he’s made a nice jail cell. When he and Rick talk again, the latter simply asks: “Why?” Morgan believes it’ll give them “some choices next time“, instead of flat out murder. But Rick doesn’t seem particularly interested. We watch the daily routine go on. Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) watches the wall, Carol still holds her rosary beads. Rosita (Christian Serratos) and Spencer (Austin Nichols) are sleeping together. So, certain things change, others stay the same.
At least Daryl’s got his bike again. That’s one shining bit of light. He and Carol have a little chat together, and Daryl make it clear he’s not above killing, not anymore. This doesn’t sit well with the new woman Carol seems to be becoming.


Daryl: “Whatd they do to you?”
Carol: “To us? They didnt do anything.”
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Dr. Denise Cloyd (Merritt Wever) knows of a possible apothecary near Alexandria. She wants to check things out, seeing as how there are drugs likely there. Denise asks Daryl and Rosita to check it out on a run. They don’t want her to go, but she says it’s happening; with or without them. On the way, Denise criticizes Daryl’s standard shifting techniques – a hilarious little scene between a couple characters we don’t really see interact. We also see the difference in those from Alexandria who still aren’t perfectly independent and those from Rick’s group/Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and his little crew. Yet Denise is a hard ass and wants to push her limits. On she goes with Daryl, as Rosita bucks their plan and heads down some railroad tracks.
Meanwhile, we get a bit of Abraham and Eugene together. The first time in a long while. “Ive changed, adapted,” says Eugene: “Im a survivor.” For his part, Abraham isn’t exactly sold on that fact yet. Soon enough, Eugene finds the perfect place to “manufacture bullets” – this brings us into a real life situation people might find themselves in after a zombie apocalypse. We know that after so long, to have any weaponry useful, survivors would have to find a way to do just that: make bullets, or die. Or y’know, something with a little less hyperbole. Still, people would need to discover a way to find or produce bullets, else they be left with sticks and sharpened blades and the like. Between all this, Eugene lets Abraham know his “services are no longer required” and tries to take the reins of his own life. Doesn’t fly too hot with Abe. Right after he saved Eugene from a zombie with molten metal on top of his skull; one of the creepiest walkers in a good long time.


Abraham: “That son is some damn fine genuine outsidethebox thinking


Denise, Daryl and Rosita find the apothecary, and inside a pharmacy. The jackpot – tons of medication, pills, et cetera. Daryl decides they’ll “take it all” and they go about packing things up. Only the sound of walker comes nearby; Rosita and Daryl pass it off, but Denise is curious, perhaps too much so.
When Denise goes to investigate, she finds a zombie, emaciated on the floor with a cast on its leg; on the wall the word HUSH written over and over. In a sink sits a drowned baby, bloody water and all, with a cute little foot stuck out. This event really does Denise in, and though she tries putting up a tough front it obviously affects her deeply. The other two are gentle with her, but Rosita’s kind of raw. Daryl and Denise chat a bit and we glean she likely had a brother named Dennis. Something about him lingers with her.
I dig this episode because we get bits of the other characters, instead of constant focus on only Rick, Carol, the main survivor group. Denise is an interesting character who deserves more attention and recognition, which she gets here. Except often on this series, characters who get too much focus end up in a bad place, either dead or injured. She forbids Daryl and Rosita to help, instead stabbing a zombie when it nearly gets her. She wants to be bad ass, and does anything she can to prove it. Then she pukes a little.


Denise: “You wanna live, you take chances; thats how it works. Thats what I did.”


Out of nowhere Denise takes a arrow through the back of her head. From the woods come a group of people who have Eugene hostage – the one who stole Daryl’s bike all those days ago, Dwight (Austin Amelio). He’s still got that crossbow, too. His face is a little worse for wear, but he’s alive. They’re looking to make a trade, or do something, as they’ve got Eugene in tow. Along the fringes of the forest is Abraham. Yet Dwight wants “whatever and whoever” they want from inside Alexandria.


Daryl: “I shouldve killed you.”
Dwight: “Yeah, you probably should have.”


But Eugene pulls out a wild move, biting Dwight in the dick and balls; harder than hell. This allows Abraham a shot, as well as gives Daryl and Rosita a chance to grab some guns. A firefight ensues, and walkers emerge from out the forest.
The survivors walk away. Some of them. With Eugene injured, the remaining trio tries to pick him up and make off back home. Luckily Eugene’s not dead, but he’ll have a bit of an infection. “I apologize for doubting your skills,” Abraham says to him: “You know how to bite a dick.”
The episode finale sees Abraham admit his feelings for Sasha, deciding that even 30 years would be “too short.” At the same time, Carol and Daryl bury Denise near the wall; another death that has affected Daryl deeply, even while he tries not to show it. This episode has been all about the human relationships of Alexandria, as well as the routine of this life – threat, defend, threat, defend. Furthermore, Carol’s finally crumbling under it all and doesn’t want to have to kill for anyone, not anymore. And it seems she’s headed elsewhere. Will that same sentiment take Morgan away, too? The pacifists are coming out, most surprisingly in Carol. So is the choice stay and keep killing, or leave and take your chances? If so, that’s a tough one. For anyone.


Carol: “I cant love anyone because I cant kill for anyone. So Im going like I always should have. Dont come after me please.”
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Only two episodes left. The next one is titled “East”, and brings us one step closer to the finale. And also towards the ultimate threat: Negan.

The Walking Dead – Season 6, Episode 11: “Knots Untie”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 11: “Knots Untie”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by Matthew Negrete & Channing Powell

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Next World” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Not Tomorrow Yet” – click here


Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) give us a bit of enjoyable banter to start this new episode. Their relationship is a whole lot of fun, two very different yet like-minded individuals. A new watch post is starting, with Eugene (Josh McDermitt) taking Sasha’s place alongside Abraham. He doesn’t appear to want that at all. Then we cut to him waking up next to Rosita (Christian Serratos). Everything with the zombies going on, and then they’re all still dealing with real life issues from before: love, relationships, jealousy, falling out of love. The zombie apocalypse makes life shit, but even worse is the fact that humans are the worst part about it all, deep down.
In the garden, Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) do some gardening. They’re hoping crops will grow. Meanwhile, there’s a panic on the street.
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Cut to Jesus (Tom Payne) sitting on the steps outside Rick and Michonne’s (Andrew Lincoln/Danai Gurira) room. Then Carl (Chandler Riggs) pulls a gun on him. The kid also learns about his “mom and dad” hooking up. Uh oh. Well, everyone shows up now, Rick shirtless, Michonne, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and the rest arrive.
We find out now that Jesus is from a settlement. They grow crops, and they’re a lot like Rick’s group. Turns out they trade… with other people.
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Jesus: “Your worlds about to get a whole lot bigger
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Preparing to head out and see what Jesus has to offer, Rick tells Carl about him and Michonne, that he would have said something regardless, only it literally “just happened” that night. But Carl’s fine, like any understanding young fella.
On the ride out, Abraham asks Glenn, roundabout, whether or not him and Maggie were intending to make babies. Glenn tells him: “Were trying to build something.” Along the road, the crew find an overturned car, zombified corpses already hanging out the side, screaming. Rick immediately holds Jesus at gunpoint. Nobody is playing around at this point, not in any given situation. They’re always on guard. Although, Jesus looks worried for his people; Maggie stays behind holding a gun on him, hands tied behind his back, as the others investigate further inside a nearby building.
Inside, Rick, Abraham, Glenn, Daryl and Michonne find several people who they help out and into the R.V. The people have medication which they’re bringing back. One of them happens to be a doctor. This group also has their sad stories. Soon enough, though, Jesus brings them to their community: Hilltop. The perimeter is lined by large wooden posts, almost like an old pre-18th century settlement. Very cool.
Except at the gates, those guarding it get antsy about Rick’s group having weapons. Jesus calms the situation. Even convinces Rick to trust them, allowing them to keep their weapons rather than giving them over. Inside, it’s very much like a 1700s settlement, with a few modern touches. Supplies from a power company made things a little easier. Barrington House sits in the middle of it all, a historic house preserved, which they built Hilltop around. They’ve also got trailers on the land. We meet Gregory (Xander Berkeley), the boss of the whole operation. He tells them to wash up, then they’ll meet. On the way to get clean, Rick tells Maggie to go first then talk with Gregory – when she asks why, he advises: “I shouldnt.”


When Maggie does meet with Gregory, he talks about the museum, the historic site of the house. She grills him about how they’ve managed to survive. Jesus told Gregory about the group’s situation. Gregory comes on a little too strong, treating her like she’s got nothing to offer. Unfortunately, it seems like Gregory doesn’t want what they’re offering – mostly ammunition.
Jesus hopes to help the group. He wants “a few days“, which they agree to.
Then there’s problems with Negan. Gregory’s people come back, without a couple friends. Then one of them stabs Gregory. Hell breaks loose. Daryl breaks an arm. Abraham is almost choked to death. Rick has a knife to is throat, but manages to stab the guy holding it through his neck. More guns are drawn on Rick. Yet Jesus diffuses the situation.
Later Rick asks more about Negan – head of “The Saviors” and a nasty dude. Appears there’s no messing with Negan, a man who beat a 16-year-old kid to death in front of Jesus and their group, to make them “understand” immediately. Hilltop is forced to give half of their supplies (et cetera) over to Negan. Daryl is more than willing to go find and kill Negan, after meeting some of those bikers on the road. If done, Jesus agrees they’ll strike an agreement with their group.
In his bed, Gregory calls for Maggie. She tries to convince him they’re fit to do the job on Negan. He isn’t so hot on making a deal with them. But Maggie stress they’re “willing to work for it” and Gregory finally decides to go for it. She wants half, though, which Gregory wasn’t prepared to hear. She’s got him figured out.


Gregory: “You want anything else? Kidney, maybe?”
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Rick and the others seem to be taking this lightly. They feel invincible, almost. They’re willing to go up against a man about whom they’ve got no idea. Anyone who’s read the comics is aware. For those uninitiated, Negan is a terrifying individual. Michonne knows “its gonna be a fight” – Rick assuages her doubts: “Well win,” he tells her.
At the same time, Maggie and Glenn have Dr. Carson (R. Keith Harris) do an ultrasound. They see their baby for the first time. A rare gift in the post-zombie world. Everyone gets a glimpse as it’s passed around the R.V. There’s a certain light in Abraham’s eyes, looking to Glenn in understanding now.
Everyone drives off into the sunset. But rest assured, their world will not be sunny much longer. The approach of Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan is coming. And there will be blood, no doubt. Plenty.
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Next episode up, getting closer and closer to the end of the 6th season, is titled “Not Tomorrow Yet” and I cannot wait.

The Walking Dead – Season 6, Episode 10: “The Next World”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 10: “The Next World”
Directed by Kari Scogland
Written by Angela Kang & Corey Reed

* For a review of the previous episode, “No Way Out” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Knots Untie”  – click here
Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 10.01.21 PM
This episode begins with everything settled in Alexandria. Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) are getting ready for the day. Carl (Chandler Riggs) is up on his feet, bandage over the new hole in his right eye. Outside, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) is preparing for a run, while Dr. Denise Cloyd (Merritt Wever) asks him to pick up a few things.
Off go Daryl and Rick, as they hit the road in a nice car. “Todays the day,” says Rick. They’re going to find food, maybe people, too. For his part, Daryl isn’t so sure finding people is a great thing. For now Rick throws on a bit of Ronnie Dee and they travel.


Daryl and Rick go to look at an agricultural depot that Eugene (Josh McDermitt) marked on the map for them. The “law of averages” works out after Daryl and Rick find a truck filled with supplies, which they then head back with towards Alexandria. They stop at a rundown gas station where they find a vending machine tipped on its front. After they turn it over, a man runs out of nowhere and slams into Rick. Guns are drawn. The man says he was “running from the dead“. He introduces himself as Paul Rovia a.k.a Jesus (Tom Payne), asking if they’ve got a camp somewhere. But he doesn’t seem interested in them, taking off behind the station. When Jesus creates a distraction, they realize he’s leaving with the truck. Now, Rick and Daryl are left with no supplies, as well as no wheels to get themselves back home.
Spencer Monroe (Austin Nichols) is out in the woods walking, shovel in hand. Michonne notices him from the lookout and follows. She helps him discard of a walker coming at him. They talk of his mother a little, but Michonne mostly wants to know why he’s out there. So she keeps on going. Meanwhile, Carl and Enid (Katelyn Nacon) are out in the woods, too. It seems Carl is going back to wanting to be a kid, after his injury. Although, Enid scoffs: “Were not kids.” She knows the difference.
But kids they are, at least for a moment, eating and reading comics. Enid says she doesn’t want to go out to what looks like their own little spot anymore. Carl agrees and walks off back towards town. On their way, they come across a zombie Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) in the trees. A terribly unfortunate turn of events.


On the road, Daryl and Rick finally catch up to Jesus, who stops to fix a tire. They sneak around flanking him then Jesus breaks some mad karate out on them. After a brief fight, Rick and Daryl both draw their guns. They tie Jesus up and get the keys back. Then they plan on leaving him in the road, heading for Alexandria again; finally.
A ways down the road, they discover Jesus made it onto the roof of the vehicle. They toss him off when Rick stops hard, then Daryl chases him down through a field. One thing leads to another and the truck ends up in a lake, sinking to the bottom. However, interesting to note Jesus saves Daryl from an oncoming walker, before he gets himself knocked out by the truck’s door. Daryl doesn’t want to help him, but Rick suggests they ought, seeing as how Jesus never drew a weapon on either of them the whole time.
Michonne is still busy following Spencer, who wants to have a new life in Alexandria yet has things to do first. In the woods, Michonne ends up spotting Carl being pursued by the undead Deanna. This is what Spencer came out there to do, he needs to put her to rest. A difficult, emotional scene, as Spencer puts a knife into her brain. He only wants to bury his mother, which is obviously why he brought a long a shovel for his walk. Michonne helps carve a D on a nearby tree where Spencer buries her in the soil.


Daryl and Rick go home. With Jesus in their care. Rick says he “finally listened” to what Daryl, Michonne, all of them were saying as they first reached Alexandria, so it’s only natural he now wants to try faith instead of fight at every turn. For those of us who’ve read the comics, you’ll know who Jesus turns out to be, but for those who haven’t? Stay guessing for now.
Michonne scolds Carl for not leaving or killing Deanna. He doesn’t like that, though. He says it had to be someone close to her who killed her once and for all, a person who loved her. For all that’s happened to him, to his mother and his family, Carl still has a lot of humanity. He tells Michonne: “Id do it for you.”
In Alexandria, Rick and Daryl bring Jesus in to be cared for, leaving him a little note and a glass of water. Lots of comedic bits here in this episode, which is fun after the intensity of “No Way Out“.
Perhaps most interesting of all is the final scene. Michonne and Rick sit together in the lamplight on the couch, chatting about their day like normal people might; like a family. Their relationship has progressed a ton since first they met, back when Rick almost sent her to The Governor, to a certain death. Now here they are together – and I mean together. They embrace one another, holding hands and kissing passionately. Maybe they’re exactly what the other needs, especially at this point in time.


Jesus has gotten out and broken into Rick’s place. He says he needs to talk.
Excited for the next episode and what will come after. Jesus is going to prove to be an interesting character, hopefully leading us further and further towards our date with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).