American Horror Story – Season 7, Episode 7: “Valerie Solanas Died For Your Sins: Scumbag”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 7, Episode 7: “Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag”
Directed by Rachel Goldberg
Written by Crystal Liu

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Mid-Western Assassin” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Winter of Our Discontent” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 12.55.25 AMJune 3rd, 1968. In an alleyway, in a car, Valerie Solanas (Lena Dunham) is having sex with a man for money. “Fuck you, ya little dicked piece of dog shit,” she says after he only has $5 instead of the required $10. Then she’s looking for bullets, to kill Andy Warhol (Evan Peters).
Twenty-four hours prior, we see Andy at the Factory directing one of his films. In bursts Valerie, looking for a script she gave him called Up Your Ass. He says it’s lost. She believes it’s out of misogyny. Particularly because he literally says that women can’t be “serious artists.” Yikes. The patriarchy, alive and well at the Factory.
June 3rd again. Valerie’s got herself a gun. She hides it in a bag and heads up the elevator, but Andy’s not around.
Then they run into one another on the elevator. When they get back upstairs, she pulls the gun on him, firing a couple times and missing. She berates him for his control over her before shouting and shooting: “Down with the patriarchy. Suck my dick, Warhol.” Right in the chest.
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 12.58.20 AMBack to present day, after the mass shooting in which Kai (Evan Peters) was shot by Meadow, who killed herself. Ally (Sarah Paulson) is in custody, too. Harrison (Billy Eichner) tells the media his wife was motivated to get back at Trump supporters, specifically Mr. Anderson. And this leads him to election on the city council. Happy days!
Beverly (Adina Porter) finds someone waiting for her outside the TV station, a hooded woman (Frances Conroy) who calls her out, ranting about the “natural order of things” and the recent assassination. She says she knows about killing men. Interesting. She also tells Beverly how to reach her when she can face the truth.
Things are pretty locked down around Kai now. He’s got a load of blue work shirt wearing dudes kicking around, slapping each other in the face, psyching themselves up, looking after the cult’s fearsome leader. I wonder if power will warp him from what he planned on doing. Seems like “equal power” isn’t on his mind anymore, and a wedge starts dividing him and Bev. So later, she goes to see the mysterious woman from before.
At the Butchery, Ivy (Alison Pill) and Winter (Billie Lourd) sit together talking things through. Soon, Bev shows up with the woman; her name is BB Babbett. She was in love with Valerie Solanas, the woman who attempted to kill Warhol. BB saw it as the start of revolution. She tells the women about the SCUM Manifesto. Valerie made clear to so many how men – “halfapes” – were the real problem of society, the cause of violence, of capitalism, of all that is ill in the world. And boy, was she ever right! Still, violence was the only language men would ever understand.
Talk doesnt work with men
BB helped further the ultimate mission after Valerie shot Warhol, initiating their war. Later, the women of their group found a couple lovers, and shot them to death in the barrens. Better still? These women were the Zodiac, unknowingly. Zodiac was the Society for Cutting Up Men. Then we see more of the Zodiac killings perpetrated through the perspective of the women. An amazing, eerie, brutal sequence. And today, like Warhol, Kai is pushing the women aside and reinstating the boys club; the club that never ever actually went away.
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 1.20.25 AMAfter the asylum, Valerie made it back to the SCUM group. She became wilder, even more radical. Her time inside changed her for the worse. She believes one of her gay members wrote the Zodiac ciphers, so she stabs him in the arm. He admits to it, and then the women take their turns helping to finish him off. You know the first stab from Valerie goes right to the dick. They lay him out in the Zodiac sign, cut to pieces, “dick and balls” stuffed in his mouth.
Valerie tries taking credit for the Zodiac murders. But the cops thought she was insane. Thus, she went insane. Women slowly started leaving, as she got scarier and scarier. Eventually, only BB remained knowing Valerie had gone off the deep end. Valerie truly laments the control of men over women, especially her – whenever people hear her name, to this day, they think of Andy instead. “I am your legacy,” he tells her in a hallucination.
BB warns the women at the Butchery, they’ll be chewed up by the world if they let men keep on ruling. They are expendable to Kai, to other men. Bev’s ready to go hard or go home, hoping the others are with her. Winter goes home to find Kai in their parents’ room, holding his dead mother’s hand. He’s ruminating about the responsibility he took on, if he’ll be worthy. He wants to count on his sister, telling her about his new social media plan, a type of manifesto. She starts seeing the hierarchy of gender in the way he talks, though. Just under the surface.
Screen Shot 2017-10-18 at 1.26.16 AMScreen Shot 2017-10-18 at 1.32.14 AMThe women get Harrison alone down at the Butchery, then they knock him out cold. When he wakes up they’re ready to start cutting him in pieces out back. They question him about Meadow’s death. Followed by slicing through his throat with a saw. Next day, Beverly’s reporting on the pieces of Mr. Wilton dropped in a body of water, covered in a layer of pond scum. So fitting. I wonder how this will split the group apart, and how Kai will now react going forward.
Because he and BB are friends, sitting together, watching everything unfold.
WHOA. I never saw that last one coming! Christ almighty. Can’t wait for more. This was an excellent episode tackling misogyny, coming at it from all angles – how men keep women down, how other women perpetuate it, how gay men can also be misogynistic. Nobody’s safe. Great writing.
“Winter of Our Discontent” is next week. Very excited to see what goes down.


American Horror Story – Season 7, Episode 6: “Mid-Western Assassin”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 7, Episode 6: “Mid-Western Assassin”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Todd Kubrak

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Holes” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 12.57.46 AMAmerica for Americans,” screams Kai Anderson (Evan Peters). “We are the Wall!” his crowd chants. Then a gunshot breaks the celebration. Ivy Mayfair-Richards (Alison Pill) starts running, Harrison Wilton (Billy Eichner) telling her to go. She stops as a police presence walks onto the courtyard.
The shooter is Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson). And on the stage, Kai lies unconscious. Or dead? Oh, we’ll see.
Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 12.58.33 AMCut back to Ally inside her home, Meadow (Leslie Grossman) outside telling her about the cult, that even Ally’s wife is involved, her husband. This surely will make the woman’s paranoia go through the roof, as if it weren’t already. She gets a call from Dr. Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson), saying that Ivy’d called him, they’re worried.
Ally goes across the street, where Harrison and Dt. Jack Samuels (Colton Haynes) are banging. She gets into the garage where Meadow’s hidden, amongst the barrels. She unties the poor wife. Only Meadow makes noise, alerting the men. They manage to get across the street to Ally’s car and speed off. They go to the Butchery, where the alarm’s going off. Why would they go there? Not that Ally’s one to think straight. Although if they go to the cops, they’ll just think she’s insane, plus there’s Dt. Samuels in the mix. So, it does make sense, I guess. And she’s also worried about Oz.
Now, Ally says: “Convince me.” She wants more proof. Meadow tells her intimate details about the cult’s plans. The trucks, that were just holding water. The dead birds, killed via poisoned feeders. All to drive people further into fear. Particularly those who don’t believe in much to begin with, because “if you already believed in something there wouldnt be room for him.” As in Kai, the all powerful cult leader.
Meadow discusses her love for him. Whereas Harrison was her friend, not a true husband, she felt Kai cared for her. He fostered her interests, made her feel special. Just like Manson did with his various women, just as many enigmatic leaders appealed to their followers throughout history. In a way, it liberated her. Of course, all liberation requires violence.
One day, however, Meadow discovered she wasn’t special, that it was all just rhetoric in order to lure her in; she witnesses Kai tell Ivy all the same things. But once you’re in with the cult, you can’t just walk back out. This made her lash out. Followed by retribution for her rebellion. Suddenly Kai ain’t so sweet and nurturing.
All this leads to her being saved when Ally showed up after she got tossed in that grave. The only way forward? Kill Kai.
Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 1.09.55 AMSkip to April 2017, at a city council debate. Kai’s grandstanding about the federal government, local change. Blah, blah, blah. “The boogeyman” nomenclature followed by his rant about illegals, Satanic murder, the fake news he’s been creating himself. A woman named Sally Keffler (Mare Winningham) challenges him, believing he’s, essentially, full of shit. She gives it to him in front of everybody, and quite truthfully. Afterwards, she declares a write-in candidacy for council, too. This does not bode well for her.
Sally: “People like Mr. Anderson and Trump are not the garbage, they are the flies that the garbage has drawn.”
Day after the election. Ivy meets with Winter (Billie Lourd) about their having left Gary Longstreet (Chaz Bono) to a grisly fate, the bloody hand, all that. So Winter takes her to Kai. He chastises her for having done what she did, trying to prevent Gary from exercising his voting rights as a “redblooded American.” They sit down and play the pinky truth game. She admits difficult truths.
This takes us into the history of the Mayfair-Richards clan. Ally was the one to deliver Oz, to breastfeed. This drove a wedge between them, how she seemed to lord the fact of her physical motherhood over Ivy in subtle ways, the resentment because of it. Kai delves deep to the core, uncovering honesty even where it feels revolting to the teller. Thus begins the process of driving Ally insane, so that Ivy can secure custody of Oz.
Back to current affairs. Ally’s gone to the wrong person: Dr. Vincent. She’s also left Meadow there alone. Elsewhere, at home, Ms. Keffler pours a drink and relaxes, as she hears banging at her door. It’s Ally, who saw her on TV. Sally lets her in after a moment, hearing her out. They talk about the “modern day Charles Manson” corroding their city. It all sounds mental, naturally. But the woman understands how this type of thing occurs when the “patriarchys threatened.” She has very definite, intelligent ideas about men, how the gender goes horribly wrong.
But they’re fast intruded upon by the clown cult. Sally goes for her gun while Ally runs. They manage to subdue Ms. Keffler, and then Kai reveals himself. He rants against the “overeducated elites” before sitting down to her open Facebook. He posts a status in his insane worldview voice. All leading to a supposed suicide.
Kai: “Knowing stuff has no value anymore
Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 1.31.48 AMWhen the suicide’s faked, they still have Ally left upstairs. She’s found by the elephant mask wearing clown. She wonders if it’s Ivy, and then she’s left alive. Oh, yes. This gives Ally the time to get back to Dr. Vincent. Except Meadow’s not there, doc says she left. Hmm. He claims there was nothing said about a cult, faking concern, as usual. She shakes him and his bullshit off.
Now we’re back at the beginning, the rally with Kai onstage. He even throws shade at Sally, for abandoning the people. What a pig. Just like his big orange papa. Ally watches nearby, she also sees Meadow in the crowd heading for the stage.
And it’s in fact Meadow who pulls the trigger on Kai. She fires on several people, as Ally pleads with her to stop, grabbing for the gun. Meadow puts a bullet in her own mouth after telling her: “This is the face of true love.”
This is how Ally’s left holding the gun in front of police, no one left to corroborate her story. Likewise, we discover it was all a twisted plan from Kai, using the love Meadow felt for him to elevate him onto a national platform. He enacts his own failed assassination using the power he holds over her.
Screen Shot 2017-10-11 at 1.38.35 AMWow. My favourite episode of American Horror Story yet, as in out of the entire series. This just cuts to the true heart of what the title speaks to, this might be the biggest horror story of all in America, the sociopolitical landscape of the country in 2017. So much going on here. Loved Sally’s bit on the patriarchy, it’s so true, so relevant.
“Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag” is next! Some people hate Lena Dunham, I don’t. If you want to argue, go somewhere else. Because I’m here for this next one. Gimme some Warhol cultish madness.

American Horror Story – Season 7, Episode 5: “Holes”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 7, Episode 5: “Holes”
Directed by Maggie Kiley
Written by Crystal Liu

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “11/9” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Mid-Western Assassin” – click here
Pic 1Beverly Hope (Adina Porter) is reporting on the mayhem in her city, the smiley faces left on walls, a crime wave. She interviews city council candidate Kai Anderson (Evan Peters). But her boss Bob Thompson (Dermot Mulroney) says it’s “fake news” and sensationalism, not reporting. After she gets personal, he fires her, though she leverages him into maybe holding onto her job.
All together, the cult meets. Kai, Winter (Billie Lourd), Beverly, Harrison (Billy Eichner), Detective Samuels (Colton Haynes), and others. The rest don’t think things are going well enough, so Kai thinks they need to step up the fear, just like Beverly believes they need to be seen more widely.
And who else shows up? Ivy Mayfair-Richards (Alison Pill). You knew it was coming. Still a bit of a shock, after all we’ve seen. I wonder how far she’s looking to drive Ally (Sarah Paulson) mad. This is what keeps me curious: what’s her endgame?
Speaking of Ally, her phobias are getting worse. The trypophobia is near killing her. She scratched her neck bloody from visions of holes in it. Wounds open on her skin, a bug crawling out. Hideous. So, Dr. Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson) attempts to talk with her, about where the fear comes from, deep rooted in her psyche. Things are just not good right now for Ally, life is falling apart all around her.
Pic 1AKai: “Because the perception of credibility leads to the perception of power
However, Ally sees, just barely, there was something lurking in Ivy. She doesn’t see the extent, but understands there was almost a plan to how her wife left. Flashback to September 2016, as the Butchery on Main isn’t panning out exactly how they’d hoped. And yet Ally was eternally optimistic while her wife clearly wasn’t happy. Signs. Doesn’t help that she had her brief encounter with Winter, either. Worse still, her and Oz aren’t as close anymore, she feels him slipping away, too.
We know all the angles, so we see the purposeful deception of Ally on the part of Ivy, Winter, the cult. And it’s all about to get heavier with their latest plans for setting America on fire from within.
Bob gets a visit at home from the clowns. They’ve decided on filming this murder. Each of them goes in on the guy when he goes for a knife. They start chanting “Ave Satanas” and prepare to kill when he tells them: “I have a gimp in the attic.” They find a man suspended by hooks from the ceiling. The others debate on what to do with the gimp. Kai just kills him. Because the cult is not a democracy. After all that they take Bob upstairs and finish him off, to instil fear in the public by way of a fake Satanic ritual murder. Y’know, the stuff the media and its mindless audience will devour. Proof of America’s further decline. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Cut to Beverly, innocently reporting on the news of her boss’ murder, showing footage she was supposedly sent anonymously of his death. Ooh, girl. You bad. Later, she and Kai meet at the Butchery. He laments everyone else and their questions, believing she’s his best disciple.
Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 1.14.18 AMFlashback to when the cult were setting up for the couple’s murder, the two white coffins. It’s methodical, like any other group working on a project. We also see Meadow (Leslie Grossman), who’s still… missing. Before the latest work of the cult. Right now, we see Meadow having issues with the disturbing nature of the work, and others, as well. This is why Kai and Beverly decide they must cut out the weak in their ranks.
We now see Ally, watching Harrison’s place. She sees him with a shovel, dragging something out through the garage towards the backyard, those barrels briefly visible. Then she spies Harrison in the window, kissing Dt. Samuels. Her curiosity sends her across the street, foolishly. She goes out back and a hole dug with a semi-conscious Meadow inside nearly knocks her off her feet. Instead of helping, she runs back home. But even if she calls the cops, won’t her story sound absolutely insane? A grave in her neighbour’s yard, his wife in it, a cop in cahoots with him making out in the living room? Instead, she calls Ivy. Yeah, great. Not that her wife believes any of it until there’s loud knocking at the door. It’s Meadow, pleading for help. Someone quickly snags her with a bag over her head. On the other end, Ivy’s with the rest of the cult, as Harrison and Dt. Samuels show up. Hmm, no Meadow, though.
And Kai, he’s worried about dissent in their cult. He gets lively, as cult leaders so often do, instilling his own fear in the pupils beneath him. Therefore, he decides they’ve got to solve one of their problems. This means killing one of their members, R.J. Who must do the deed? Their leader wants Ivy to use the nail gun, to finish their former friend off. As is the case today, an issue seems inherently two-sided, no room for any middle ground, which Kai exploits in order to get what he wants.
Thus we’re given possibly the single most savage death in American Horror Story‘s seven seasons. Yowzahs. Everyone takes a turn on the gun until the guy’s brain dead, bleeding and drooling until Kai has a lick of his wounds, then finishes him off. Quoting Hamlet all the while.
Kai: “Are you with us, or are you against us and all that we stand for?”
Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 1.32.01 AMBeverly and Kai play the pinky truth game. She asks about his parents, if he killed them, where they are; he doesn’t talk about that. She wants truth. He says they died three years prior. In 2014, his dad was in a wheelchair after a motorcycle accident, becoming an angrier man all the time. He hated his son, his life, his wife. This sent him to The Red Pill, other similar places. Where hideous men are trained, these days. One night, he hears a gunshot, another, finding his mother shooting dad before taking her life.
Afterwards, he called his brother: Rudy Vincent. Oh, shit. They decide on not calling the cops, but taking care of things at home. It’s all about the government, the Death Tax, Rudy’s burgeoning practice. They make a pact, to deal with it themselves. This is where the pinky game emerged in Kai’s consciousness. What do the brothers do? They pour lye over the bodies, leaving them in bed to decompose in an amateur mausoleum.
Kai informs his sister Winter later about what happened. This is the start of something insane. All sorts of beginnings for Kai, his warped psyche. America isn’t safe, not with guys like that around.
Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 1.37.17 AMScreen Shot 2017-10-04 at 1.38.44 AMWhat an episode! This is my favourite, so far. Loving this season personally. One of the best, if not THE best to date. Just my opinion. The writing touches on so many different things wrapped up in the sociopolitical spectrum of where America’s at right now. Great, timely stuff.
“Mid-Western Assassin” is next week.

American Horror Story – Season 7, Episode 4: “11/9”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 7
Episode 4: “11/9”
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Written by John J. Gray

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Neighbors from the Hell” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Holes” – click here
Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 1.17.23 AMJump back to Election Night, November 8th, 2016. Beverly Hope (Adina Porter) reports on the early polls, the spirit of the crowds. Then we’re introduced to Serena Belinda (Emma Roberts), someone Beverly’s clearly got no time for, and may give her the green-eyed monster. Outside people chant, Winter Anderson (Billie Lourd) proclaims “Down with the patriarchy.” Ivy and Ally Mayfair-Richards (Alison Pill & Sarah Paulson) head inside to cast their votes, the former making sure there’s no “funny business” from her partner like a Jill Stein protest vote, which we already know she cast. Everybody goes into the booth, marking their respective votes. Meadow Wilton (Lesie Grossman) writes in OPRAH.
We also see Gary Longstreet (Chaz Bono) being dragged in by Kai Anderson (Evan Peters). Gary’s bleeding; remember that wound we saw him with earlier in the grocery store where he works?
Welcome to Trumps America, motherfuckers!” Gary yells before returning his ballot.
Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 1.19.35 AMA day after the election, Kai meets Harrison Wilton (Billy Eichner), his new trainer at the gym. They talk about what “flavour of gay” Harrison is, Kai says he doesn’t care about “leftist” labels. He’s a Plato guy, for the greater good of the community, the state. He says he’s a computer, works in coding. He doesn’t care about money; my guess is, he’s into power. He finds out more about Harrison, how they make him, because he’s gay, go in and hose down the loads in the steam room after guys beat off in there. This – a weak spot – is how cult leaders like Kai operate, they find that spot, then they work their way inside.
Before going home, Harrison finds Kai jerking off in the shower, so he watches for a minute. The beginning of a scary relationship. At the house, he and wife Meadow deal with the immediate foreclosure of their home, their eviction, which she’s been keeping secret. However, there are many other problems in their relationship, too. Least of which is the fact he’s not even straight.
When Harrison starts trying to give Kai the corporate bullshit, out of fear he’ll lose his job if he doesn’t produce at work, the latter of the two cuts him off. He tells him about the house, his money woes, which further brings out the cult leader in the young man: “Pain is essential, just like anger is.” His grandiose speeches prompt Harrison to go hard at his boss, spraying him with cleaning chemicals then crushing his larynx with a barbell. Then, of course, he’s got to finish killing the guy.
Afterwards, Harrison freaks out. We start seeing Kai work his magic, taking care of his new follower. Best of all, he’s a computer guy, he surely knows exactly what he’s doing, and that makes him even scarier than before. He has power, in his words, and in his digital capabilities/reach. Like Charles Manson for the digital age. That night, Meadow walks in on her husband, Kai coaxing him along, sawing apart his boss in the bathtub.
Kai: “You’re a part of something bigly
Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 1.28.32 AMScreen Shot 2017-09-27 at 1.40.59 AMKai starts digging into reporter Beverly Hope. She once reported on an accident where a man pulled a similar event to FHRITP, which happened over and over. Eventually, she kicked the shit out of a skateboarder and lost her shit. Like you can guess, it was remixed across the internet and she became a meme, a joke. Enough to drive anybody insane. So, is this another person for our cult leader to find? Will Serena Belinda become a target for her rage?
Speaking of Serena, she’s essentially sleeping with their boss, Bob (Dermot Mulroney). She was the one who reported on Beverly going into a mental hospital after her incident, as well. An aggravating situation to work in. Hard enough being a woman, she’s a black woman in a white male dominated business.
Finally, Kai comes to her. They talk together. He speaks what she wants to hear; needs to, maybe. He speaks more about fear and “weaponising” it. More than that we find out he served in the Armed Forces, went to Iraq. Claims he studied political science and feminist studies, too. Not so sure I believe him.
Serena’s taping a story, doing her best to pretend she’s personable and not a real bitch. From behind her approaches someone in a clown mask. Several clowns approach; the gang. Not long until she and her cameraman are stabbed, hacked to bloody death.
Meanwhile, the Wiltons are getting to know Kai better. Then Beverly shows up, wondering if it was him who sent the violence for Serena. He admits, wholehearted. As if we didn’t know already, this is confirmation he’s the ringleader of the clowns, they are Kai’s cult. And now, he has a die hard follower in Ms. Hope.
Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 1.54.41 AMThe Mayfair-Richards’ are arguing, the day before election. Ivy is more active, whereas Ally is passive, like many, believing there’s no way a “reality TV” guy like Trump could secure the White House. Yet, we all know what’s happened. Out at a rally, Ivy experiences firsthand all the nonsense, even gets sexually assaulted by Gary, who pulls a Donald and grabs her by the pussy. Winter jumps in, defending her, and running him off. This is where we first witness Winter infiltrate their lives. Ivy takes her to the Butchery on Main, they have a coffee, chat. They bond over battling the patriarchy, getting closer.
After that we cut to Gary at the grocery store, excited for his chance to restore America to its supposed former glory, y’know, before a black guy took over. When he’s closing down, he finds Winter in an aisle, Ivy, too. They knock him out., then tie him up, leaving him by himself chained to a pipe so he won’t get to cast that all important vote.
Winter goes home and tells Kai what happened. Then he goes to see Gary, a saw in hand. Suggesting the only way out in time is to use it; you know where. For the privilege of voting, like so many red blooded Americans, Gary is willing to saw off his forearm. All the while the leader watches his pupil.
Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 2.09.35 AMOne of the best episodes, if not THE best episode yet. Peters is so magnetic, this is some of his better work on American Horror Story. Every season he gets the chance to do something different, he has incredible range. Can’t wait for more, as well as more of Adina Porter, she is the business.
“Holes” comes next week. Gimme more intense spookiness. NOW!

American Horror Story – Season 7, Episode 3: “Neighbors from the Hell”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 7, Episode 3: “Neighbors from the Hell”
Directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton
Written by James Wong

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “11/9” – click here
Pic 1We begin with a woman named Rosie (Laura Allen) talking about her fears to Dr. Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson), discussing her phobias. Her husband Mark (Ron Melendez) supports her. She was locked in a cupboard as a child by an abusive father. Her father is dead now, giving closure. Now she’s “finally free” after a process of desensitisation, breaking down her phobia of coffins, and ultimately of death. All better, right?
At home, Mark has a surprise for Rosie. When he steps out of the room, the clowns arrive. They’ve set up two coffins, one for the husband, the other for the wife. Inside they go. Those deepest fears realised, horribly. Similar to how Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson) is targeted due to her phobias. And now we see a symbol being left at the crime scenes, a crude happy face design.
So, is the doc in on it? Or, is one of the clowns gaining access to his confidential files? Ahh therein lies the mystery. Bring it on, baby.
Pic 1AOf course there’s Ally, who shot Pedro Morales (Jorge-Luis Pallo) on her doorstep, not realising it was him. She feels terrible. Ivy (Alison Pill) and Detective Jack Samuels (Colton Haynes) both assure it was “selfdefence.” The cop reinforces it by referencing the Stand Your Ground law in their state. Beginning to see him as a bit of an ominous character, too. We’ll see where it all goes. But now, Ally’s mental state is the most worrisome thing happening, as we’re left to suss out who’s in on the terror. The detective? The doctor? The wife? All of them?
Now were seeing the collective rage and suspicion of this community has a focus, and its a woman whose critics are calling a lesbian George Zimmerman.”
Oh, damn: we get my man Dermot Mulroney as a news anchor, and MY GIRL, Adina Porter showing up as reporter for Channel 7, Beverly Hope! She’s working on the story about the shooting. Tons of people stand outside chanting “No justice, no peace” in front of the Butchery on Main. And who else shows up? Kai Anderson (Evan Peters). There to assure she did “nothing wrong.” Although you can be sure he’s not doing it out of anything other than his hatred, his xenophobia, his utter racism. Scary to see him on her side.
Back at home, Harrison and Meadow Wilton (Billy Eichner/Leslie Grossman) show up with sombreros on, chastising her for using a gun for the wrong purpose, to murder, so they say. “Youre no progressive,” says Harrison. These two are a great, confused mix of modern liberals and libertarians mashed together, which I find appropriately hilarious. One of my favourite scenes so far. Ally literally has nowhere else to go, she’s surrounded by the far-right, the far-left.
Even better? There’s a weird tanker truck driving down the street at night, underlit by green neon. Maybe the next evolution of the ice cream truck for the clown gang? Either way, a subtly unsettling image.
Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 1.24.44 AMNext morning it gets worse, when Ally and Ivy wake up to a ton of dead birds all over the lawn. The couple calls the city about the truck they saw, naturally Ally’s a bit crazier about the situation. Then Winter Anderson (Billie Lourd) walks back in. Ivy’s willing to give her another chance, convincing her wife that it’s best for Oz (Cooper Dodson) to have her around. She also says there’s a man waiting, she let him in.
They find the guy in the living room, naked, jerking off. Someone posted an ad that lesbians were looking for a “stud.” He gets mad, thinking they’re lying. But Ivy runs him out before anything worse happens. They believe the Wiltons likely posted the ad. Ally talks to Dr. Vincent, as usual, he offers to help with getting the ad taken down, so on. If the Wiltons are the culprits, it’s harassment.
Ally willingly goes down to speak with the protesters, believing she understands where they’re coming from, that she is one of them. They crowd her car, she honks the horn. Suddenly, Kai emerges: “Enough.” One word is all it takes and they disperse. He comes to Ally as someone who cares, someone who can help. Much like the beginning of how a cult leader sways people into servitude. Or how a sociopath lulls someone into complacency before an attack.
We’re seeing more of the Wiltons, such as the fact Dt. Samuels is close friends with the couple. They’ve sent a guinea pig over to Oz, because he needs “some diversity” because he’s “drowning in white privilege and oestrogen” in their home. All this before Ally sees the creepy truck again, falling in the street as it nearly runs her over.
And Meadow, she’s playing the pinky game with Kai. She isn’t serious enough, though. So he smacks her around, speaking of “revolution.” The cult leader in him is strong. He tells her: “You want to matter? Then you make the world wrong.” This is the war cry of the delusional, those who aren’t disenfranchised but believe they are. Do not take responsibility: it’s someone else’s fault.
Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 1.41.18 AMThat night, the Mayfair-Richards family find the smiley face left on their front door, the guinea pig in the microwave, exploding in a spurt of blood. So Ally walks right into the house across the street, punching Harrison in the nose and screaming at the couple. Although it appears they don’t know anything about it, or so they act.
In the meantime, those smiley faces are everywhere on their property. Marked for more terror. That truck is still around. Someone in a suit gets out of it this time, spraying Ally’s lawn, and this sends her into hysterics. When she pulls off their mask, it’s a smiley face underneath. She passes out, then they spray some more.
Harrison is across the table from Kai this time, revealing his first gay experience, similar things. Moreover, he admits he wishes Meadow was dead. His darkest thoughts and desires laid bare for the cult leader to see, to use.
Ally and Ivy get talking to Dt. Samuels, unaware he’s in bed, literally, with the Wiltons; mostly Harrison, surely. He also tells the couple the smiley face is genuine, the mark of the killer(s). Upstairs, Oz has clicked on a link and found something nasty: a video of Winter, next to the tub with her hand in the water while Ally’s lying back relaxing. A further wedge between the couple. Ivy sees it as cheating, a betrayal. This sends her off with their boy, bitter and filled with rage.
Across the street is a commotion. Harrison shows up in the driveway, covered in blood and screaming. Inside the Wilton house Oz finds a large smiley face on the wall.
Nothing, no one is safe.
Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 1.45.06 AMAn intense episode. Really dug the premise from the start, and now it’s starting to get even better. Lots of creepiness, lots of unexpected moments. Good horror! Nothing supernatural this season, which is working out because the disturbing factor feels even higher than ever.
“11/9” is next week.

American Horror Story – Cult, Episode 1: “Election Night”

FX’s American Horror Story
Season 7, Episode 1: “Election Night”
Directed by Bradley Buecker
Written by Brad Falchuk & Ryan Murphy

* For a recap & review of Season 6 My Roanoke Nightmare episodes, click here.
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” – click here
Pic 1We start with clips of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump leading up to the U.S. Election 2016. Including violent events at rallies and protests, clips of the Donald talking about his wall, the Rust Belt, and Hillary fighting back.
Cut to Kai Anderson (Evan Peters) praying in front of the television as the election’s being announced: “The revolution has begun.” He chants USA happily, his hair died blue like part of the American flag, humping the TV. Across town are Ally Mayfair-Richards (Sarah Paulson) and her friends, she literally weeps as the announcement is made while her wife Ivy (Alison Pill) consoles her.
We can tell already just by Kai’s dungeon-like basement, his near worship of the events transpiring, he’s going to be trouble. Afterwards, he blends up a load of cheesies and impersonates his hero in the mirror, complete with the little finger symbol.
And what is wrong with CNN for not giving us a trigger warning before they announce the results. I just, I dont know whats real anymore. She was supposed to win.”
Satire of both left and right is alive and well! Can’t fault Ryan Murphy & Co. for being one-sided, already giving it hard to the liberals, too. We see Winter Anderson (Billie Lourd) lamenting the election results. Kai shows up, Cheeto-faced and Trumpified. Perhaps he’s not so much a Trump fan as he is an anarchist, seeing this new Trumpmerica as an opportunity, to further instil fear in those who are now living afraid in the era of the Orange Menace. We’ll see.
Pic 1AOh, a callback to Season 4 Freak Show! Two people hump out near the lake. They joke about Twisty the Clown (John Carroll Lynch). All of a sudden he shows up. Of course the guy pulls a gun, putting a bullet into the clown. Nothing works. Then, Twisty has his murderous fun, killing the guy, chasing the girl. Soon, he’s back at his old bus, the place is a little grown over with weeds, but still the same ole shack.
But it’s only a comic book. Twisty’s a pop culture icon, y’know. Ivy and Ally’s little boy is reading the comic when he’s meant to be sleeping. When Ally catches him, seeing the clown on the cover, it triggers a near panic attack, anxiety flaring and sending her into fits. Because she coulrophobia, an irrational fear of clowns. You can see where this is headed; a terrifying place for her. Lucky she has an understanding partner who cares for and loves her.
We see Kai dolled up a bit, speaking in front of a group about “fear” and references everything from Trump Tower to rap music in his speech about “freedom of movement” and “fear as currency.” Then this leads into his not wanting more cops, certainly not those needing overtime to watch a Jewish community centre. He’s most certainly an anarchist.
Kai is, essentially, a boiled down version of many far-right bros, believing Trump (and people he’s given legitimacy to, such as Steve Bannon) has given them a green light to create a world of chaos in America, so that when fear reigns people will come running for the supposed strong to protect them, relinquishing rights and whatever else is needed. More than anything Kai is starting to represent the wounded male ego, epitomised in one mad, violent young man.
Kai: “Theres nothing more dangerous in this world than a humiliated man
At her doctor’s office, Dr. Rudy Vincent (Cheyenne Jackson), Ally talks about her phobias. How since the election, that fateful night, everything’s feeling shit, amplified in its awfulness. The world and everything in it is terrible. She also comes from the worldview of a lesbian, speaking of Obama and, for the first time, feeling a part of the American conversation. Vincent prescribes something many of us could all use: anxiety medication and less social media. Truly, though, Ally is symbolic of many people in America who’ve been having a terrible time since Trump won.
Pic 2The dreadfulness of the atmosphere in this season is already palpable. Poor Ally goes to the grocery store, experiencing multiple assaults on her senses. From loud music, creepy people in masks, humping clowns in the aisles. Through the prism of her phobias, we see her general fear of masks, of being unable to see the face of others; a parallel to the idea of her not knowing who may be a Trump supporter, who may oppose her very existence as a lesbian, so on. Later, with Ivy, it’s also a view on how many personal relationships, in various ways, have been altered by the state of America and how the election has divided people.
Also, an idea – Paulson’s character, in a sense, illustrates how many people often won’t people marginalised voices. Yes, she has phobias, many of which are irrational. However, as is sadly the case with LGBTQ voices, black voices and other voices from POC, the Indigenous communites(etc), their fears aren’t always considered.
Now we see the first interaction between Kai and the couple of Ally and Ivy. He tosses coffee on them, most likely on purpose. I wonder, has he been watching her already? Or is that coming next? Well, we already see Winter applying for a position with the couple as a nanny for their boy, worming her way in as the pro-Hillary supporter, the type of person they’d love to have around. Inside access. We cut between her interview and an honesty session with Kai. Ominous.
Out on the street Kai sees a bunch of Mexicans. He pisses in a condom, singing like a racist, then tosses it like a water balloon telling them they’re “not welcome.” While someone records in the background Kai lets the Mexican guys beat the shit out of him. Ah, the ole Breitbart-style journalism! Meanwhile, Winter’s also working on the couple’s kid, showing him creepy shit on the dark web. Like dead bodies.
Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 1.23.33 AMPoor ole Ally continues falling apart, Ivy doing her best to not go insane right along with her. It’s a tragic situation, because partly there’s some genuine mental illness happening, also because she’s spending too much time obsessing. And another part is that it’s understandable, especially as a lesbian, worrying what Pence and Trump will do to her life, her family’s life. There’s genuine concern underneath the obsession.
On the street outside the Mayfair-Richards place an ice cream truck shows up. From out of the back come several clowns, men and women. The same group who were at the grocery store. Welcome to the neighbourhood, Bozo!
When Ally and Ivy arrive the street’s blocked with cops and all sorts of flashing lots, tape blocking the road. A murder at a house nearby. Worst part is that the kid saw the clowns, now nobody else does, so this is going to look to Ivy as if Ally’s influencing their boy negatively with her phobia. Could cause a further divide in the married couple.
Doesn’t help that Winter took the kid over to the house, where he witnessed the murder of the people inside. One of whom happens to be the guy at the municipal council meeting that embarrassed Kai. Yikes. Problem being that Winter negates the story, furthering the tension and pushing the couple farther from the truth.
And Ally, she’ll never escape those clowns. Not even in her own bed.
Screen Shot 2017-09-06 at 1.29.28 AMScreen Shot 2017-09-06 at 1.39.59 AMI don’t give a shit, I love this series. Cult comes out of the gate swinging, not afraid to jab at the left and right of the political spectrum. People will automatically assume this is a Trump hatefest. And sure, part of it is, or at least it’s attempting to show the real world division in America through the lens of the horror genre. I’m excited to see more, because it’s bound to get very fucked up. Judging by the premiere, anyways.
“Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” is next week. Buckle up, snowflakes and deplorables.

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 15: “Something They Need”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 15: “Something They Need”
Directed by Michael Slovis
Written by Corey Reed

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Other Side” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life” – click here
Pic 1ATara (Alanna Masterson) finally tells Rick (Andrew Lincoln) about Oceanside, finally. Unable to keep the promise. She already feels guilty, and worse Rick warns that things could go bad. Because, y’know, nothing’s ever easy. Not in the post-zombie apocalypse landscape. Not for anyone, Rick, Tara, or otherwise.
Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is fast becoming one of the better leaders around. She runs much of the production happening at Hilltop, despite Gregory (Xander Berkeley) playing the figurehead. Meanwhile, Rick and Michonne (Danai Gurira) play their part in the coming plan for Oceanside. Jesus (Tom Payne) and Daryl (Norman Reedus) set up their own part, too.
And now see Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), stuck in that same place where Daryl was at The Saviors compound. In a terrible position. A man tries to play quid pro quo, violently. To which she responds with an excellent headbutt. Before the guy gets to rape level, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) shows up. Rape is “against the rules” as you’d hope it would be, though I think he plays loose with that term when it comes to his own wives. So he puts a knife through the dude’s neck. Then they have a little chat, he and Sasha. About what’s next for her. She’s left in that dark cell with Rapey Davey, to either save herself and join up with Negan, or kill herself, or whatever she chooses.
Negan: “I just want you to understand, we are not monsters.”
Later, Eugene (Josh McDermitt) turns up with a few comforts, like a pillow (not hypoallergenic) and such. He wants her to accept the offer Negan came in with, as he did. He’s given up, on everything. On himself. There was hope he’d change his cowardly ways, now I’m not sure that’ll ever happen. Eugene is yellow, through and through. Not a great way to honour the legacy of Abraham, and Sasha sends him away.

Maggie and Gregory chat while she gardens. He’s such a crabby, impatient man who really does nothing for his people, except give everything over to The Saviors and not fight them. He wants to put up a “united front” in image to those under him at Hilltop, when she’d rather it were real. They plan on talking later, but I just don’t trust the guy. He’s conniving. He actually looks as if considering killing Maggie, even for just a moment. The thought crosses his mind. Then we see his cowardice, not wanting to be saved by Maggie from a walker then having to be saved, then getting attacked by another one in the meantime. What a sad, sad excuse of a leader. Although she treats him with dignity instead of ridicule. Shows what a good heart she has; I wouldn’t be so fucking nice to a guy like that. But she understands, deep down, what it is to be vulnerable. She still has so much humanity.
In Oceanside, Tara infiltrates the leader Tanya’s cabin. Enacting the plan. The women aren’t happy to see her, wishing they’d killed her instead. She offers the women to join them, telling them what happened to her group, all The Saviors have done. Now it’s time to fight. Tara tries convincing them to talk with Rick, only it’s too late. Michonne, Daryl, Jesus, they all storm Oceanside, setting off an explosion, firing shots. Nobody’s hurt. Yet. In the cabin, Tara gets taken down; revealing no bullets in her gone. All a distraction.
Outside the others have things under control. Then they discover Tara’s held hostage. Rick says he’s taking the weapons, one way or another. They try to convince the Oceanside survivors to fight with them against Negan, The Saviors. And the other women, they start to agree fighting might be better than hiding, waiting for more threats to come. As Tanya gets overcome and a truce looks likely, walkers crowd the woods. Rick’s group and the Oceansiders must band together against a horde of waterlogged zombies. And band together they do, aside from Tanya.

Sasha’s killed undead Rapey Davey. She’s one of the gang, at least for now. Negan still doesn’t trust her, not yet. Not fully. He says he’ll try to “make it fun.” Yikes, I don’t like where this is headed. She might become a pawn in his dangerous game in a way she’d never anticipated. Something scary is coming; know that.
At Hilltop, Gregory seems to be having a crisis. More people know now of his cowardice. He’s confronting his ugly self, that he nearly killed a pregnant woman because he doesn’t feel like top man in charge anymore. So it’s back home, to drink and read a map. He has places to go, apparently.
When Eugene goes to talk to Sasha, she makes apparent she won’t let Negan do whatever it is he plans to do. She doesn’t want to be a tool to hurt Rick and the others. “I have to die, its the only way,” she tells Eugene. She wants out. She begs. But is this something devised by Negan, to test her further by testing Eugene? Her reaction makes me wonder. He brings her back a pill full of poison he made. Painless, he says. The one he made for Negan’s wives originally. It appears she does really want to die. Makes me sad.
Pic 4Rick and the gang go back home to Alexandria where the others await.
And someone else. In the cell Morgan made, Rosita (Christian Serratos) has Dwight (Austin Amelio). This sends Daryl into a fit of rage. But Dwight comes wanting to help. Rick’s cool with that, then orders him: “Get on your knees.” Shiiiiiiiieeeet.
Is former Sheriff Grimes going to pull the trigger, send Negan back a body bag message? I don’t think so. Smarter not to. We’ll see.
Pic 5What a great episode. Love how we get a broad look at a lot of characters, from The Saviors and Negan, to Oceanside, to Rick and Sasha and everyone. Such good writing to juggle so many people and keep it interesting, dramatic, tense. Negan becomes a better character and less cartoonish as time goes by, too. Love Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
Season finale “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life” is next. Can’t wait to see what Greg Nicotero has in store for the last episode of Season 7; been a great one!

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 13: “Bury Me Here”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 13: “Bury Me Here”
Directed by Alrick Riley
Written by Scott M. Gimple

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Say Yes” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Other Side” – click here
Pic 1An ominous beginning. Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Jerry (Cooper Andrews), and Richard (Karl Makinen) load a truck, but only with a small crate inside. Is this a ploy to mess with The Saviors? I hope so. If not, we’ll find out eventually, either way.
Note: episodes written by Scott Gimple are usually exciting to me, so I expect a good one!
After the credits we’re back with one of my favourites, Carol (Melissa McBride). She’s having some bad dreams. Even if she hadn’t ever killed anybody, just existing in the post-zombie apocalypse world is enough to make you have nightmares on a regular basis. But she struggles with the choices she’s made. She’s a REAL, GENUINE character, instead of having her be another uncaring clone we’ve seen time and time again. This is why she is one of my favourite characters on The Walking Dead.
Meanwhile, Morgan (Lennie James) – another of my favourites – is teaching more of his martial arts style to kids, making sure they’ve got an alternative to just hacking and slashing. And then there’s Carol, who shows up at the Kingdom, hacking and fucking slashing like a true bad ass. She wants to have a chat with Morgan. She wants to know the truth about what’s happened, to her friends in Alexandria, involving The Saviors, so on. But he won’t answer her questions because they’re not his to answer. THIS is a reason I love Morgan, under all his flaws he has a strict moral code, one from which he doesn’t want to stray. Sometimes he does. Overall, he abides by that code more than anyone else in the series, even to his own detriment at times, and foolishly that of others. Still he is an important character, and one who’s been with us since the very start. He’ll have bigger things to do as time goes on.

At the Kingdom, Ezekiel receives word from a woman named Nabila (Nadine Marissa) that their crops have weevils, some of them. They have to get rid of a certain amount to save the rest. A slight setback, though they all seem to have a positive outlook on life in their little corner of the zombie ridden world. Nevertheless, Ezekiel’s mind weighs heavy, definitely in part due to needing to pony up so much produce for Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Perhaps the weevils are also symbolic, of the world outside never failing to work itself inside their Kingdom. Or in general, The Saviors are like weevils, and should Ezekiel choose not to help stamp out that pest, it may ruin everything.
Richard’s still trying to convince others they need to act, or forever deal with the repercussions. He leans on Morgan. Although Morgan’s trying to abide by that code as always it seems like he could sway. Eventually. Right now they’re headed out on a run. On the way they’re stopped by a blockage on the road, shopping carts lining the street. The crew head in to inspect. Out back of a store, they find a sign reading BURY ME HERE next to a grave waiting to be filled with a corpse.
Ezekiel: “It is mere luck we are not all insane
Benjamin: “It isnt luck, Your Majesty.”
Ezekiel: “Hows that?”
Benjamin: “The world does drive people crazy now. Butyouve made us another world.”
Nothing gets any better when they meet with The Saviors. Funny though, how those guys think they don’t bow to any king, president, prime minister. Yet they all say I AM NEGAN like a cult mantra. A standoff ensues once Ezekiel hasn’t brought enough for Negan’s men. Things get very tense. A lesson needs to be taught apparently. So now, one of The Saviors puts a bullet in Benjamin’s leg and sends them back to the Kingdom.

Carol receives them at her place. They put Ben on a table, but the blood is leaking out of him faster than anyone can move. Watching on, everyone, Morgan especially, fears the worst. Then, he’s dead and gone. This is really going to put Morgan’s worldview to the test. He’s on the brink of madness. He sits in the BURY ME HERE grave and nearly cuts his own wrist open wide. But chooses to live.
Turns out that Richard caused the whole thing, having tried to make a deal with Jared (Joshua Mikel) from The Saviors, backfiring when the guy chose to shoot Ben instead. Richard wasn’t able to put anything together, now he got one of his own killed. He tells Morgan the sad story of his days after the zombies took over. Everyone’s got one, it doesn’t make what he did any more sensible.
Can Morgan sit by idle? Can he let Richard use Ben’s death as a way to mobilise Ezekiel, the Kingdom? It isn’t right. This is something he can’t reconcile with his moral code. There’s just no telling what he’ll do with that in the long run.
When the crew bring their goods to The Saviors again, Morgan attacks Richard in front of everybody, choking him and beating him to death. A brutal, primitive moment from Morgan, the first in such a long, long time. Nobody even tries to intervene, for fear of what could happen. Afterwards, he reveals to them what Richard did, why he killed the man. But things can’t go on as they did before. Not for Morgan. This will irreparably change who he is, and in turn what he’ll do going forward. I can see it changing Ezekiel, too.

Morgan takes Richard’s body to the BURY ME HERE grave and buries him. After that he goes on a spree killing zombies with his staff relentlessly. He takes a detour, as well; down to see Carol. He tells her about killing Richard, about what Richard did to get Benjamin killed. Moreover, he offers to tell Carol the truth about what happened to the people in Alexandria – the vicious deaths of Glenn and Abraham, Spencer, Olivia; how Rick and the Alexandrians only live to satisfy Negan these days. He also reveals that Rick & Co are gearing up to fight Negan and his Saviors.
Morgan: “You wanted to know. Now you do.”
With Morgan on the road again, Carol goes to visit Ezekiel. She wants to live in the Kingdom. To get ready for the coming fight. But even just for a moment they’ll live peacefully. Until the time for more blood comes. And that’s very soon.

Pic 11Great episode! Probably one of my favourites in the back half of this season. I always love Morgan-centred episodes, or anything involving Carol. And I do love to see Ezekiel change, he’s an excellent character worthy of the series.
Excited for “The Other Side” next week!