The Walking Dead – Season 5, Episode 4: “Slabtown”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 5, Episode 4: “Slabtown”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by Matthew Negrete & Channing Powell

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Four Walls and a Roof” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Self Help” – click here
IMG_0265A change of pace in this episode, as we segue into where Beth (Emily Kinney) was taken after she and Daryl (Norman Reedus) were holed up in the funeral home. She wakes up in a clean room. An actual working clock counts through the hours. Although she’s locked inside, unable to get out. A woman named Officer Dawn Lerner (Christine Woods) and a man called Dr. Steven Edwards (Erik Jensen) show up, saying some of the other police came across her on the road; “surrounded by rotters” and now in the debt of these people, supposedly.
Yikes, I don’t like the look of this place one bit. Don’t dig that officer, either.
Note: One of my favourite minor things about the series is how everyone has their own term for zombies, such as walkers, biters, now rotters. Some people think it’s dumb to not say the word zombies. I think it’s perfect, because this doesn’t take place in a world where zombie movies are part of the zeitgeist, as many films usually don’t. So shut up complaining, dummies.
IMG_0266The hospital still runs with power, machines pumping, clocks running. They’re taking care of people. But there’s also a sinister undercurrent. The remaining police force in the city seem to be running the place, under commander of Lerner, of course. There are other normal people, too. Such as Noah (Tyler James Williams), mopping floors and doing various jobs; other patients in rooms, none of them seemingly eager to say much about their life in the hospital.
Beth: “If you feel safe enough to be bored, youre lucky.”
Beth’s finding out that living at the hospital is a give and take situation, of the worst kind. Eating food, you’ve got to pay in work; or worse, if some of those male officers had their way, I bet. I fucking hope nothing nasty happens. Else there’s hell to pay.
That’s the last of things. Officer Lerner and Dr. Edwards have a contentious relationship at times. He takes pity on Beth in private, though plays the part in front of the boss. He’s also more stable than her. When he knows he can’t save an injured man she slaps Beth across the face drawing blood, like a psychopath.
In general the hospital’s not a nice place. Other than Noah, who leaves Beth a lollipop and tries explaining how things work there. It’s not exactly how Officer Lerner paints the picture. You’ve got to escape to get free. Right now our girl is feeling the pressure from Dawn as she acts like the saviour only doing good for others.
IMG_0267Later, Joan – a woman who’s had an arm amputated after a bite – makes clear to Beth there are bad things going on. The men there, they are devious. Scary. And the boss lady feels it’s easier not to keep them on too tight a leash. Officer Gorman starts harassing Beth, clearly an animal, and Dr. Edwards steps in. This cop is doing awful shit.
The doc tells Beth about a guy named Hanson, Dawn’s previous boss; he went a bit nuts, before she took things over. Beth can’t accept that staying there is better than anything else. She’d rather be on her own than in that hell, especially if she could find her sister and the others again.
Beth gives a patient an injection, helping Dr. Edwards. The guy ODs, after which Dawn has to put him down for good. Noah covers, saying he accidentally unplugged a machine. Beth gave him the wrong drug – did she? – but he took a beating for it. Dawn knows, either way. This woman is over the edge, though. She thinks they’re going to rebuild the world while many others are merely trying to survive the next day.
Dawn: “Some people just arent meant for this life
Now, Noah and Beth are planning on leaving together, getting away from the hospital. They start enacting their plan to leave. But she gets found by Officer Gorman as she sneaks where she shouldn’t be sneaking in Dawn’s office. Looks like the cop wants to get nasty, he’s a true predator. She pretends momentarily, as Joan – lying dead on the floor behind the desk – reanimates and chews into his throat. CHRIST! Great practical makeup effects here.
IMG_0269Beth sends Dawn unknowing to her office while she and Noah head for the elevator shaft to flee. He lowers her down; at the bottom in the basement is a pile of corpses. Both of them reach the floor, though he does so with a fall. On through the darkness the pair goes, slow and steady. They finally make it outside, only to find more of the dead wandering free.
As Noah manages to get away, Beth’s take back by Officer O’Donnell (Ricky Wayne). They’ve, of course, found Gorman, gutted in the office. Beth calls out Dawn for letting bad things happen while she pretends things are fine, like they’ll all be saved soon. All for nothing, these horrors. This woman is fucking insane, too.
How long can Beth last here? How long can she stay alive?
Well, there’s a familiar face that just came in on a stretcher: Carol (Melissa McBride), of all people.
IMG_0270Nice to catch up with Beth, I can’t imagine what’ll happen next. If Noah somehow comes across her people, it might lead them to the hospital. “Self Help” is the following episode, hopefully showing us more of Beth’s situation, as well as pointing towards a way out for her, somehow, some way.

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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.

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 16: “A”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 4, Episode 16: “A”
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by Scott M. Gimple & Angela Kang

* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 4 episode, “Us” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 5 premiere, “No Sanctuary” – click here
IMG_0212Flashback to the prison, when Hershel (Scott Wilson) was still alive. Glenn (Steven Yeun), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Rick (Andrew Lincoln) return from a run out on the road. This is where we see a softer, more gentle Rick, as he was when trying to live the live of a farmer, moving away from all the violence. At least as far as possible.
Flash-forward to Rick after some brutal moment, his face and hands stained in blood. All by himself on a road, sitting against a vehicle. What’s happened to him? This opener is a juxtaposition of Rick in a safe place, to Rick on the road, unsure, unsafe, not knowing what’s coming next.
IMG_0214Flash just a little back from the current moment. Rick, Michonne (Danai Gurira), and Carl (Chandler Riggs) are at their latest camp. They go out hunting, looking for something to fill their empty stomachs. Still on the way to Terminus.
Suddenly they hear screams in the forest. Without thinking, Carl rushes toward them. It’s a man in the middle of a pack of walkers. Rick stops his boy from shooting, they can’t save him. The man’s eaten alive, though not before a couple of the walkers notice the trio nearby. They rush away, finding nothing but walkers. After they kill them, they’re further on down the road. Where they come across that truck against which Rick sits in the opening.
IMG_0215 That night they camp on the road, using the truck to sleep. Rick and Michonne sit by a fire, talking together, planning on the last leg of their journey. Then come noises in the dark. Soon, men are upon them – The Claimers, Joe (Jeff Kober) leading them. Now the trio are in a terrifying place, at the end of guns belonging to men looking for revenge against Rick, for their dead friend. When Daryl turns up with them, Rick’s surprised. Of course he doesn’t want his old friends hurt; he offers himself up to them for “blood.”
But the Claimers don’t care. They beat the shit out of Daryl, planning ugly things for both Carl and Michonne while forcing Rick to watch. However, our trusty sheriff will not let this violence pass. When pushed to the limit, he bites out Jeff’s throat – raw, primal, vicious. Blood everywhere. Our survivors turn the tables fast, killing the rest. Except for the man who was about to rape Carl, for whom a special stabbing is in order. The son watches as his father guts and slices the guy to sloppy pieces right there.
THIS IS THE EVOLUTION OF RICK GRIMES! He realises that being a farmer can never be his identity, no matter how safe the world can feel. He must retain all sides of himself, particularly that brutality. In order to survive in a world full of primitive cavemen.
IMG_0217Flashback to Hershel, taking Rick out to the yard. He’s showing them where they’ll build a farm, raising pigs and farming the land, planting seeds, growing crops. This is when Rick decided on giving up his gun, for so long. Before now, realising that – unfortunately – the war isn’t over, not like then with Hershel. The time of the old man is over, which is sad. But it is, and it’s a lesson Rick nearly learned at the price of his boy’s life.
Current day, we’re back to the opener. Rick sitting by the truck, stained in blood; inside Carl sleeps after all the terror, Michonne soothing him. Daryl explains to Rick what happened on the road, losing Beth (Emily Kinney) to a kidnapping, falling in with the Claimers, et cetera. “I didnt know what they were,” he tells Rick.
The gang keep heading for Terminus, though they cut through the forest instead of going straight on. To get themselves a sneaky look into the place, unsure of what they’ll find. Alone together, Michonne tells Carl about her little boy died; her boyfriend Mike and his friend Terry got high as the refugee camp fell, getting bitten, so she let them turn and turned them into dogs on leashes: “It was insane. It was sick. It felt like what I deserved, dragginthem around so Id always know.” She credits Andrea, Rick, and Carl for each bringing her back from becoming a monster.
Heading into Terminus, Rick buries guns. Just in case. They go forward and their initial impression isn’t totally warm. They surprise the locals by walking on into the main building, meeting a man named Gareth (Andrew J. West) and another named Alex (Tate Ellington). They welcomes them, they introduce themselves. But then trust is the issue. They want to see the group’s guns. Things go well, no weapons are taken only inspected.
When they’re shown the rest of the place, Rick notices items which seem familiar – a poncho, riot gear, a watch like that belonging to Hershel and after that Glenn, among other belongings. Rick pulls his gun, not wanting his group to eat any of the food or do anything until they’ve figured the place out wholly.
IMG_0219Flash to the prison once more. Rick sees the difference between Carl and the other kids; he cleans and takes apart a gun while another plays with Lego. This is where he tried to show Carl how to be another way, to farm, to live a less violent life. Leaving their guns while they garden.
A great cut goes right to Carl, holding his gun trained on the people of Terminus, following his dad’s lead. Rick demands to know about the watch, the riot gear, so on. Eventually, a gunfight erupts, but they’re outnumbered and definitely outgunned. Coming to a point where they negotiate for their lives, which puts them in a railway car in the Terminus lot. A defeat.
But inside the car they find more familiarity – Glenn and the rest of the survivors and Abraham’s people. Back in the one place, everybody in solidarity. No longer a defeat, a strength that will build to the next season.
Rick: “Theyre gonna feel pretty stupid when they find out
Abraham
: “Find out what?”
Rick
: “Theyre fuckin with the wrong people
IMG_0220Season 4 is one of my favourites, because we move out into wider territory, as well as see that evolution in Rick from where he’s been to the person he realises he must be/become to survive the post-apocalypse landscape. That last line by Rick, unedited on the home release Blu ray/DVD, is perfect. Genuinely awesome writing, a pumped up way to close out the season.
Season 5 is great, too. Lots of intensity, character development, and more ahead.

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 14: “The Grove”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 4, Episode 14: “The Grove”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by Scott M. Gimple

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Alone” – click here
* For a recap & review of the penultimate Season 4 episode, “Us” – click here
IMG_0197Even though Carol (Melissa McBride), Tyreese (Chad Coleman), baby Judith, Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino), and Mika (Kyla Kenedy) are together, things aren’t well. There’s something decidedly wrong about Lizzie, whose treatment of the walkers is something beyond misunderstanding. She is fundamentally flawed, in some way. Mika understands the walkers, but her sister doesn’t seem to see the world in the same light.
For now they’re headed for Terminus, wondering what they’ll find at the end of the tracks. Hope is what it gives them at the moment. Poor Tyreese needs it, he can barely get a proper night’s sleep. Luckily he has Carol around to tend to his wound with some tree sap, help his fever. Still doesn’t know what she did, though. Could cause incredible problems later on.
IMG_0200Carol compares herself to “the Widow Douglas” from Tom Sawyer, as the girls debate which one of them is Tom, which is Huck. A sweet scene in the midst of all that ugliness. Love when the writers toss that in. Maybe some people feel it’s like a soap opera with zombies. Fuck those people; this is a great character study of humanity, that’s what this show does best.
When they’re alone, Carol and Mika talk about being able to kill. The little girl knows her sister is “messed up.” She just doesn’t want to have to kill people; she gets the walkers, but her morality won’t let her, under any circumstances, commit murder. Not ever, not in retaliation or anything else. What Mika illustrates to us is how humanity has changed. She recognises people who murder, for whatever reason now in the post-zombie apocalypse, many of them “werent like that before.”
The group come across a cabin in the woods. Carol suggests they rest a couple days before heading on the road longer to Terminus. On the horizon they see smoke rising, far away, some kind of fire. So they play it safe, checking the grounds thoroughly to make sure they can stay there a bit. Outside the cabin Mika puts down a zombie to save her sister and Judith, sort of proving herself. Meanwhile, Lizzie’s falling deeper into her own mind. And everyone around her, Mika included, can see it getting so much worse.
Mika: “Just look at the flowers like youre supposed to
IMG_0201At night they all settle down, in an actual house, in a warm living room. Even a doll for Mika to play with, a comfy chair where Tyreese can relax, as Lizzie helps Carol shell pecans. Could be longer of a stay than just a few days the way it looks.
The opening scene returns now, in context, with Lizzie shambling around in the yard with a zombie. “She wanted a friend,” the girl screams when Carol puts it down. The girl’s mind can’t handle this world. She’s all but broken in two psychologically. It’s actually horrifying to watch, some of the more emotionally straining moments of The Walking Dead as a whole. So different from the experiences of others we’ve seen thus far.
Tyreese talks about the trust he has in Carol, wanting to live in that cabin the four of them. But you can just see the look in her eyes, she knows that without telling him what she did to Karen then later on it will only be worse if it comes out.
Also, we finally discover – for certain, anyways – Lizzie is the one who was feeding the walkers the rats at the prison. We see more of the girl breaking down, her sister Mika trying to snap her out of it. Then a horde of burned up walkers breaks through the trees, roaming from wherever the fire’s raging. The group fight them off with guns, and even Lizzie starts shooting them. Although afterwards she has a bit of a cry. Maybe a turning point?
IMG_0202Lizzie: “I know what I have to do now
Later on, Carol and Tyreese bond together on a walk. When they get back to the cabin they find a shocking mess – Lizzie has killed her sister, leaving the brain untouched. She wants her to reanimate. To show the adults what she’s been talking about this whole time. Such a disturbing thing to watch, especially considering Judith is lying feet away. One of the most hardcore things we’ve seen on the series to date.
Tyreese and Carol discuss their options. She says maybe she ought to take Lizzie and leave. They can’t keep her around Judith. Tyreese doesn’t want that. Then they realise “she cant be around other people.” There’s only one way out of this predicament.
Out into the woods, Carol takes Lizzie to pick some flowers, for when Mika comes back. And she tells the young girl to look at the flowers, as her sister did before. She raises her gun, firing, putting the girl out of her misery while Tyreese watches tearfully from the window. Definitely the hardest thing Carol’s ever had to do, even above suffering through her marriage to an abuser. Her character is amazing, put through so much and she continues to survive, to thrive.
That night Carol and Tyreese sit quietly in the cabin together, and she reveals to him she killed Karen and David. She slides him the gun, telling him to do what he must. Instead, he forgives, choosing not to forget. But he knows she feels the guilt: “Its a part of you now. Me, too.” Then they decide it’s time to leave that place, to go on towards Terminus.
IMG_0204What a spectacular episode. So intense and emotional all around. One of my favourites of the series, definitely. A chilling chapter in the whole journey. “Us” is next and we’re coming up on another one of the most tense, brutally thrilling episodes of the whole show.

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 11: “Claimed”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 4, Episode 11: “Claimed”
Directed by Seith Mann
Written by Nichole Beattie & Seth Hoffman

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Inmates” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Still” – click here
IMG_0169Sergeant Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) and his people have picked up Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) on the road; they’ve got a large military truck. The Sarge is a tough motherfucker, a real slick talker, too. Tara finds it strange that he was smiling while he killed. His response? “Well, Im the luckiest guy in the world.”
Oh, he’s a treat! Not only is Abraham a solid character, Michael Cudlitz is a fantastic actor whose role on Southland is one of the all-time greats on television. A welcomed addition on The Walking Dead.
IMG_0170In a house together, Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) sit together at a table eating cereal. They have a nice morning, until he remembers Judith, imagining the worst. Nice that we know the truth, though painful to watch them not know.
Michonne is more committed to staying with people, she knows the depths of depravity to which her own mind sinks when she’s isolated; as we saw recently. At the same time, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is worried, faltering in his own confidence. He doesn’t know what the best pay forward is anymore. This is perhaps his lowest point yet, and he’s seen some shit. But there’s much more at play at this juncture, after the war with the Governor, the fall of the prison. He’s got some personal development to do. And Season 4 takes him to an extraordinary place. Starting with his day at home alone while Carl and Michonne go out scavenging together.
The pair head off through the neighbourhood, they get to know one another more than before. I like seeing them together because they’re friends. He also sees her, slightly at times, like a mother figure. She’s super bad ass, so it’s only naturally he feels comfort in being around her. She agrees to answer questions about her old life after they’ve cleared a room in the house; on they go, as he discovers her boy’s name was Andre, among other tidbits. They also stumble upon an ugly end to a once happy family in their home.
IMG_0176Then suddenly Rick wakes in his bed to voices downstairs. A bunch of men. Dangerous sounds. WHO ARE THEY? He can’t find his gun, so he rolls out of bed and hides underneath it. A man with a gun walks through the upstairs hallway, searching the rooms. Then into Rick’s room. The man lays down on the bed.
How the fuck is our sheriff getting out of this one? The man falls asleep and another one comes in, angry, wanting to lie down. They fight, the man in the bed sees Rick under it but is choked out by the other. Still not getting anywhere fast.
Once Glenn wakes up, again, he’s riding on the truck with Tara and their new friends. He isn’t exactly thrilled, he wants to be searching for Maggie (Lauren Cohan). Abraham is on his own mission. He doesn’t particularly want to let Glenn leave, either. He says they’re on a mission to get Dr. Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) to Washington, he knows what started the zombie plague. They want Glenn’s help, he’s a fighter. But he needs to find his wife. They wind up having a proper fist fight before anything else happens. Like walkers coming out of the trees. We also see Dr. Porter’s uselessness, too. He puts a hole in the gas tank firing at walkers.
More importantly, back to Rick – he waits until the latest man in the bed sleeps, then crawls out slowly. He makes it to another room before Joe (Jeff Kober) walks by, tossing a tennis ball around leisurely. Rick tries to find a way out, hearing that they’ve found evidence a woman’s been staying in the house. The men start gathering downstairs. In the bathroom, Rick runs into a man on the toilet, whom he strangles to death.
IMG_0173Abraham can’t figure out how to fix the truck, the tank is busted. Rather than stick around Glenn leaves, and Tara can’t leave his side. The Sarge doesn’t want to leave, though his friend Rosita (Christian Serratos) decides they’ll go, as well. Nowhere else to be, right? A destination is a destination, you can’t stop for long on the road in the post-apocalypse world.
Rick gets himself out the window before anyone can find him in the house, down to the ground and in time to meet with Michonne and Carl, so they don’t walk into a house of horrors. They get away without anyone knowing they were there. Except, is the gang’s dead buddy in the bathroom reanimating? Yikes, that’s brutal. Could mean trouble if they were able to track Rick.
On the train tracks, Rick, Carl, and Michonne come across a sign pointing to a destination further down the road. A sanctuary, a community, directions on a map. They decide to head onward. Will it be what they hope?
IMG_0178A great episode, introducing more stories and characters. As well as sets up a few different things we’ll find coming back into play the more we get towards the end of Season 4. “Still” is next.

The Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 8: “Too Far Gone”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 4, Episode 8: “Too Far Gone”
Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson
Written by Seth Hoffman

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Dead Weight” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “After” – click here
IMG_0162The Governor (David Morrissey) is bringing his vengeance to the new group which he’s been leading. He tells them all about the prison, that they’ve got to go and get themselves a new place to live. Mostly, he wants to kill Michonne (Danai Gurira), to take everything Rick (Andrew Lincoln) has done for his own. He makes the group out to be monstrous. Like it’s their duty to go and take the place.
We also see the Governor get a jump on Michonne and Hershel (Scott Wilson), taking them hostage. People get worried when he tells his group, this is all very new to them. He makes clear: there are no rules anymore, not in this war to which they’re headed.
IMG_0164The Governor makes himself out to be a saint, mutilated and ruined by those people at the prison. He talks a good game. Although Tara (Alanna Masterson), Alisha (Juliana Harkavy), they’re reluctant at first, they all come around fast. Ready to follow him into a battle of which they know nothing. Lilly (Audrey Marie Anderson) doesn’t like this side of the man she knows as Brian. He’s blinded by both vengeance and a want to relive his old life anew with a defacto wife and child.
Lilly: “Killing people?”
The Governor: “Killing killers
Michonne only threatens to kill the Governor, not willing to talk with him like a regular chat. For his part, Hershel offers to work together. To live as communities side by side. This is not an option, though. This man is set in his ways, he will not back down.
At the prison, the flu has finally passed. Glenn (Steven Yeun) is doing well, nursed back to health by Maggie (Lauren Cohan). They have no idea what’s coming. They’re merely living their lives, one day at a time. Daryl (Norman Reedus) is livid with Rick over what he did, without consulting anyone, with Carol (Melissa McBride). I knew this would cause grief between them. Except I agree with Rick on what he did. Then they’ve got to talk to Tyreese (Chad Coleman) and tell him, though he’s got other worries – he’s found a disturbing scene, an animal torn open and displayed in a dark hallway. Psycho shit.
Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr) sees Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) for the first time since getting back. There’s a connection between the two. She thanks him for helping with the medicine. But Bob doesn’t feel worthy, for having put people in danger over the booze he wanted so badly. Maybe he’ll get a chance to prove himself soon.
IMG_0165Bigger fish to fry now for all of them. The Governor’s arrived with reinforcements, and that tank is just waiting to tear the walls down if things go wrong. When Rick sees his nemesis has Michonne and Hershel, he’s pissed. Everybody is, they don’t want anything nasty to happen. Meanwhile, the one-eyed bastard is leading people into a battle they never started, never were a part of, and the consequences will be dire.
Rick goes down to talk with the Governor, as Daryl rallies the others on their side. The sheriff asks for his people to be released, his enemy states they must leave. Or else die. “We need this prison,” he tells Rick. The other people with him slowly start wondering if the monsters they heard of were mere fiction created by their new leader.
Waiting for her people to come back, Lilly sits watching the woods letting Meghan play nearby. A walker starts making its way across the river towards them making mom nervous. It falls into the undertow and washes away. Soon, her little girl digs up a walker in the ground where she’s playing. And you can guess what’s coming next… a big chomp!
IMG_0166So what will happen at the prison? Rick pleads for them to “live together” in harmony, no matter what went on before that moment. But that’s not going to fly. Rick tries giving them a good speech, explaining they took in people from Woodbury who’ve become leaders in the prison. The Governor decides on a different course of action than he’d originally planned – he slice Hershel’s neck open wide. This begins an all-out battle.
Michonne runs for cover, as does Rick, and bullets fly every which way. Hershel crawls for cover, but doesn’t get far until the Governor hacks his head clean off like a neanderthal. Right then is when Lilly shows up, dead daughter in her arms. There’s no human left in this man now. Tara throws down her gun, unwilling to fight anymore, and the others charge the prison, tank leading the way.
Rick’s crew start retreating a little while the Governor gains ground. People head for the busses to start fleeing. Everyone gets split up – Glenn, Maggie, Beth, Bob, Sasha; all separated. Tyreese ends up with Lizzie and Mika after they save him from certain death.
Out on the fields, Rick fights with his nemesis, fist to fist. They beat the living shit out of one another, headbutts and punches and kicks and all. As the Governor gains the upper hand, Michonne puts a sword right through his heart helping Rick to his feet.
IMG_0167Beth and Daryl take off together. Rick looks all over for his boy, finding Carl (Chandler Riggs) safe and sound with a gun in his hands. But what about their little girl? Where’s Judith? They find her car seat on the ground empty, fearing the worst. However, last we saw Lil’ Ass Kicker she was with Lizzie and Mika, so there’s hope yet that she made it through with them. For now, the Grimes’ mourn her as if she’s gone forever. Enough to break your fucking heart in pieces. And on they go, headed away from the prison.
Fittingly enough, the Governor is shot in the head by Lilly instead of left to die in the field. We see a familiar face, Clara (Kerry Condon), wandering through the field; the one Rick left with her husband. A sort of sad testament of the dead taking over the prison, just as they do with the rest of the world.
IMG_0168What an impressive mid-season finale! Such an intense bunch of moments, particularly with the death of Hershel, and in such brutal fashion.
The season returns with “After” next. And boy, have things ever changed.