Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 6: “Sunset”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 6: “Sunset”
Directed & Written
by John Shiban

* For a review of the previous episode, “Más” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “One Minute” – click here
IMG_0039Near the border a police officer checks on a family’s property. Inside is a shrine, the statue with a skull face and holding a scythe. At its base is a drawn picture of Heisenberg’s face. Outside are suits hanging on the line. Very suspicious, indeed. And when the officer heads out back he finds the fly ridden corpse to complete the scene. Inside is one of the Salamanca brothers. The other sinks an axe into the officer from behind.
No one is safe. Least of which is Walter White (Bryan Cranston).
IMG_0041He’s busy working over the divorce with Skyler (Anna Gunn), deciding on what to do with Walt Jr (RJ Mitte), explaining it to him and justifying everything so that they don’t have to tell him dad cooks meth. At the same time our anti-hero’s hubris is off the charts, bleeding from his professional life right into the personal.
Those Salamancas! They show up at Los Pollos Hermanos to see Gus. They sit in terrifying silence in the midst of the restaurant.
Over at the Pinkman residence, Jesse (Aaron Paul) shows off his Jolly Rancher-sized crystals to Badger (Matt Jones) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker), who get high on the product while he watches on. Surrounded by addicts he’s only being given their junkie opinion. He doesn’t realise it isn’t as perfect as Walt’s, which isn’t REALLY that big of a deal. But in his own way a hubris develops. Now, even after the death of Combo, he wants to put his friends back out on the street, in the line of fire.
The whole time Hank (Dean Norris) watches from down the street, his eyes on the house after tracking down Combo’s mom and the RV. Uh oh. And Walt is going about his business as usual, getting into more of it with Gus and the super lab. He has no idea how close his own brother-in-law is to figuring out his drug dealing identity. They’re so near in that criminal v. cop parallel, in so many ways, it’s an exercise in brutal tension at times.


One of the other perks of the lab is having an assistant, a proper one with chemistry experience and training. Walt now has Gale Boetticher (David Costabile) at his side; an enthusiastic soul who’s prepared to learn from his journeyman chemist. Even brought a resume. Has an MA and specialised in “xray crystallography” and he makes a sweet cup of coffee with his elaborately refined method. They get to cooking, like a match made in heaven. They have fun, they play chess between processes. Very different in comparison to Walt and Jesse, in every way imaginable from the lab itself to how they work together. Gale genuinely cares about the chemistry.
So, in a sense, we’re seeing Walt’s genuine love for the chemistry behind the drug dealing, for the first REAL time. Also, it’s nice to see someone like Gale admittedly talking about how he got into that shady business. Basically he’s “definitely a Libertarian,” with an intent on giving people a clean product. They talk a bit more, of chemistry and Walt Whitman; this wonderful poet will come back into play later in the series, take note!
Hank sits waiting for Jesse to do something stupid, to lead him to the RV and break the case wide open. He’s been sitting in his car for what seems like days, fast food wrappers and containers and cups piled in the passenger side. Things work out for Walt, though. He gets a call from Hank wanting to know if he knows anything about Jesse’s RV, setting off alarm bells and whistles like FUCKING CRAZY. The game is on. Walt’s got to do something about their “rolling lab” before his brother-in-law actually finds the damn thing. He calls Jesse and they’ve got to start figuring out their problems.
IMG_0044Saul suggests getting rid of the RV altogether. The boys have no plan. It’s back to Badger and his cousin who owns the junkyard. They’ve got work to do. When Walt doesn’t include Jesse in the mix Badger calls him up. Ah, so many things happening.
The shittiest? Jesse’s leading Hank right to the RV.
Saul: “The Starship Enterprise had a selfdestruct button, Im just sayin‘!”
Preparing to get rid of the vehicle Walt has a walk down memory lane. So weird. Then Jesse shows up, pissed. With Hank on his tail. This is it: either he finds them, together, in that RV, or they manage to get themselves out of hot water.
When the chips are down, Walt gets Saul in the mix to pull them out of the boil. He has a call made saying Marie is in the hospital after a horrible car crash. Hank rushes off immediately, leaving the boys free to get out of there. After his wife calls he figures out the whole thing was a ruse it’s too late because the RV is destroyed.
At sunset Gus meets the Salamancas in the desert. He says Walter will not be killed. He says that if they must kill someone for what happened to Tuco, then they can have Agent Schrader. Whoa.
IMG_0046The green light is lit.
Next is “One Minute” and there are many things about to change. Very quickly.

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Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 5: “Más”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 5: “Más”
Directed by Johan Renck
Written by Moira Walley-Beckett

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Green Light” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Sunset” – click here
IMG_0030We start on a flashback to Walt (Bryan Cranston) when he gave Jesse (Aaron Paul) the money to buy an RV for them to cook. So, Jesse does the smart thing: he takes Combo (Rodney Rush) and Skinny Pete (Charles Baker) out to the strip club, for lap dances and “Don Perignom,” as he calls the champagne.
After the night’s over Jesse feels a bit shitty. Well Combo has the fix. His mom owns an RV. He takes the rest of Mr. Pinkman’s cash, after the funds were drained the night prior down to $1,400, and lets him take the RV off their hands. Without permission, naturally.
Ah, even the trusty meth lab has its backstory!
IMG_0031Skyler (Anna Gunn) still enjoys her getaways with Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins) at his place. He has money, he doesn’t cook meth. What we see though isn’t all rosy. I don’t think that Skyler is as bad as most make her out. However, she’s still cheating on Walt. And her husband’s a bag of shit in his own way, he isn’t such a righteous guy. Remember that Mr. White could’ve swallowed his pride over Gretchen, he didn’t have to make meth. He chose this, and unfortunately cheating on him was the only way to truly get back at Walt right now.
Then there’s the situation with Jesse and Walt, the halved money for the recent deal. Saul (Bob Odenkirk) tries keeping the peace, stuck in the middle, as Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) plays a game pitting the two former partners against one another.
If the boys aren’t careful, they’ve got other problems, as well. Hank (Dean Norris) and Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) are scoping out RVs, narrowing down a list of vehicles. They mostly run in to people who aren’t, at all, cooking meth. Making things less and less credible all the time for poor Hank. Worst part is that we the audience know better, so it’s really agonising (in the right ways). At home, Marie (Betsy Brandt) can’t get anything out of her husband, either. Makes theirs a strained relationship, as he’s bottled up tighter than a pressed Mason jar.


Walt finally gets talking with Gus about his “ploy” to get him back cooking. But the thing which is clear is the fact Walt can’t let go of the business. He can’t help ragging on Jesse, for not cooking the product as good as himself. What Gus does is use the man’s hubris against him. Smart as he is, Walt is so full of it that he can’t resist falling into the trap. Because what’s waiting for him is the opportunity of a lifetime.
He’s taken to an industrial laundromat Gus owns. There, behind a piece of machinery, they go downstairs to a lab that’s been setup, top of the line and state of the art equipment. Like Christmas for the chemistry nerd. Walt gets an instant science-erection. Not just the lab. There’s no way to trace the chemicals, as they’re ordered in for the laundry service, employees are trustworthy and trained, chemicals are filtered out with the laundromat steam.
Walt still refuses. What will make him break?
At home things aren’t as bad, though not good. Love the imagery in one shot at the dinner table: Walt on one end of the table and Skyler at the other, a wall between them literally dividing them as is the wall of their own choices, their mistakes, so on. One great thing about Breaking Bad is the use of visuals, in many forms. This being one fine example. Something so simple becomes powerfully resonant in terms of themes.
IMG_0035At the office Steve’s being celebrated as he prepares to take the place of Hank in El Paso. Poor Agent Schrader. He looks crazy to others, and in some ways weak. I can’t blame him not wanting to go back after seeing what he saw, a head on a tortoise exploding and maiming, killing people? That’s fucked up. All the same law enforcement is what he chose, DEA at that. Furthermore, Hank’s inability to deal with his problems and talk, to anybody let alone a doctor of any kind makes it the hardest. Although he’s validated when getting himself closer to that RV. Baby steps.
In other news, Walt is granting Skyler the divorce for which she asked. But does she still want it?
Back to Jesse and Saul, who’ve got a meeting on the books with Mr. White. They have to talk about the halved cash and what’s to be done. No love between the two former partners, that’s a definite. Rather than comply with any of what Jesse wants, Walt has decided otherwise. He gives back the half of the money and he’s going back in business with Gus. $3 million dollars for three months of work with only 5% going to Saul.
Walt (to Jesse): “Im in, youre out.”
When Hank goes to see a Mrs. Ortega about her RV, we see it’s the same place where Combo took the one he gave to Jesse. From his dear ole mama. Closer and closer we see our man Hank getting nearer to Jesse. In turn, he gets closer to Heisenberg, his own brother-in-law.
IMG_0037Another damn good episode. Lots of tension building between Jesse and Walt, which isn’t anything new. The steam is getting ready to release, and things will implode eventually. One way or another.
Next episode is “Sunset” and we’re also getting closer to another implosion, or explosion, in Hank Schrader.

Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 4: “Green Light”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 4: “Green Light”
Directed by Scott Winant
Written by Sam Catlin

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “I.F.T.” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Más” – click here
IMG_0005At a gas station, Jesse (Aaron Paul) stops and fills up the RV. He doesn’t have enough cash to pay, then offers all he can: the blue meth. Takes a bit of convincing, especially with a cop lurking around. The worst part of it is that Jesse is pulling more people into the unclean web he’s been living in for the better part of the past few years. He wants to get away from that person he was, though as long as he’s in that world it’ll never happen.
Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) receives a visit from Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) about the situation between Walter White (Bryan Cranston) and his wife Skyler (Anna Gunn), who’s just banged her boss Ted Beneke (Christopher Cousins).
Worst is the jilted husband’s headed for the office, to pay him a visit. Something Mike and Saul would rather keep contained, if possible. Bad news for everybody any time Heisenberg’s true identity shows up noticed by any authorities. Also, Walt looks pretty foolish in his, albeit justified, bruised masculinity trying to break the window at the office before security shows up. Everyone in there knows exactly what’s going on, too. Real awkward for them, Ted, and Skyler.
Before anything gets too crazy Mike arrives to cart him off to their mutual lawyer. Saul tries to talk some sense into him. But it isn’t long before Walt figures out he’s business partner is keeping tabs on him, real close. “Thats just my meticulousness,” Saul explains. After a bit they wrestle. The relationship’s begun to sour. What our anti-hero needs to remember is that he’s got other people watching him, and a sinister chalk marking on the street outside his house is a grim reminder for the audience, as well.
Saul: “Oh, boo hoo, ‘I wont cook meth anymore.’ Youre a crybaby, who needs you?”
IMG_0006Walt has troubles at school, then tries putting the moves on Carmen (Carmen Serano) when they meet in her office to talk. He is out of sorts, taking the betrayal of Skyler in their marriage in strange ways. He isn’t the only one feeling strange, either. Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) and wife Marie (Betsy Brandt) are at odds over his going to El Paso. Particularly after the last brush with death. Before he can go into the airport he gets a call: more blue meth. He decides to stay; both as a way to further his vendetta against the mysterious Heisenberg and as an excuse not to go, because of the fear inside he won’t talk to anyone about.
After Walt takes a sabbatical from school – “indefinite,” he says – Jesse turns up outside the school to chat. He wants to meet the distributor, to get back into the business. He’s sober, but won’t give up the meth money dreams. His former partner wants no part of it, though Jesse has his heart set on it. He’s cooked his own blue stuff. Only Walt calls it inferior, “my formula” and “mine” are the words he uses. Suddenly he becomes full of anger, resentment. Another relationship going sour; more like already there, long ago.
Meanwhile, Skyler faces backlash in the office over the affair with Ted. They keep having one, despite that. And there’s a spark, too. They have chemistry, which makes matters worse.


Over at DEA headquarters Hank and partner Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada) keep chasing the blue meth connection. Problem is they’re all too often getting information from idiot junkies. Aside from that Gomez isn’t thrilled with what they’re doing lately, feeling that his partner’s reaching for a case.
At his office Saul’s visited by Jesse with his bag of blue. He wants a meet with the distributor. However, something tells us it won’t be easy for him to get a meet on his own. Speaking of the man himself, Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) gets a full report on Walter White’s cancer, his mental state, et cetera, from Mike. Plus he lets him know the Salamanca brothers marked the house with a chalk scythe. Moreover, Gus agrees to do a deal with Pinkman. Because he wants to get to Heinseberg, to motivate. He wants to do business, and bad.
Hank finds himself at the gas station where we saw Jesse in the beginning. He questions the girl who took the meth. Agent Schrader gets what he wants, eventually. She tells him about the guy who came in, trading for gas. But there’s not much to tell, outside a basic description. Add that to the fact she remembers the RV. Nothing to really go on. Not until Hank discovers an ATM outside; one with a camera inside. This will give him a picture of the vehicle. Uh oh.
Later, Jesse receives money from Victor (Jeremiah Bitsui). Only half. Why? “Thats your half,” he’s told. You know where the rest is headed.
IMG_0010There’s now a choice on the table for Hank: go to El Paso, or stay. He puts it off, saying it’s about the Heisenberg case. Finally, he has to make the choice. He decides to stay and keep chasing the blue meth, despite how it looks to anyone else. His boss knows there’s something up, everyone does. It’s up to Hank to sort that out for himself.
Walter heads on down the road and hears that Donald Margolis, father of Jane, has shot himself. Then he stops at a red light. Victor pulls up quick, tosses him a bag full of cash: “Your half.” This confuses Walt, but we understand. He will too. Soon enough.
IMG_0012Another excellent episode. Further down the rabbit hole we go.
Up next is another solid chapter called “Más” and that means MORE in Spanish.

The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 9: “The Suicide King”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 9: “The Suicide King”
Directed by Lesli Linka Glatter
Written by Evan Reilly

* For a review of the previous episode, “Made to Suffer” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Home” – click here
IMG_0013And so the fight between Daryl and Merle Dixon (Norman Reedus & Michael Rooker) is ready to happen. The Governor (David Morrissey) sees fit to that. With Andrea (Laurie Holden) pleading for him not to have them fight “to the death” and cause more brutality.
Merle seems to initiate things. It’s just a ploy to start an escape with his brother. He’d do anything for him and that’s more than obvious time and time again.
It’s then that Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and the others push forward in their assault. The whole place is a mess of smoke, gunfire, screams. No longer are the streets of Woodbury safe, as once they were. People are killed, injured. Safety isn’t guaranteed, not when there are warring factions against one another. The mad Governor stalks through the place like a man now completely soulless. If he ever were anything different.
IMG_0014Rick and his crew gather up Merle and Daryl, then they all head off on the road again. Further up along that road in the morning, they meet Michonne (Danai Gurira) and Glenn (Steven Yeun), neither of whom are too happy to see ole Merle with their friends. Things definitely aren’t going to go easy from here on in. Plus, Rick learns more about Michonne from Merle, who lets slip about her leashed walkers, et cetera. It isn’t until Rick pistol whips him does Merle shut his mouth.
In the prison, Hershel (Scott Wilson) helps patch up Tyreese (Chad L. Coleman) and his friends. Beth (Emily Kinney) looks after baby Judith, Carl (Chandler Riggs) watches over the cell block. The new group makes friends with Hershel and Co. but it’ll be a different story once Rick gets back. For damn sure. Not because Hershel or any of the others are stupid. It’s due to the fact former Sheriff Grimes has his lawman instinct still kicking, as well as the fact he’s sort of half insane at this moment in time.
The rest of them move their way back to home. Daryl decides he and Merle have to head off on their own, as the others obviously are conflicted over the oldest brother. Rick doesn’t want to see it happen. Although there isn’t a whole lot he can do to stop Daryl once his mind’s made up. Sad to see him go for now. Not so sure he’s all that well off with Merle. But he’s his own man.


Tyreese and his group are making their own decisions, too. They’ve got to figure out how to navigate the situation at the prison. He and his sister Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) try to impress, as well as keep their own people on the right path. Nothing’s ever easy.
On the road, Glenn and Rick are at each other. Nobody can get on the same page. At the same time, Woodbury is gone to the dogs, as well. Andrea roams the streets putting down walkers after everything goes south. She realizes the citizens are not like her, she is not like them. Unfortunately, she’s more like The Governor. Although even he’s not like her. He is another beast altogether.
Andrea soon finds out more than she can handle. The reality of who she’s dealing with, who The Governor is, finally comes to light. For her part, Andrea tries to keep the rest of Woodbury on the same side, giving them hope and a little strength.
At the prison, Rick arrives in one piece. Physically. His mental state is still not great, not after losing Lori tragically in the prison’s tombs. He’s got the baby crying, everything descending on him. How long can he keep it together?
Others are doing their best to keep it together, too. Hershel and Glenn talk about things; personal stuff. The father inspires his daughter’s man, even with only a few casual words. That’s how good the old man is for everybody. He cares about those around him: “Youre like my own son, Glenn.” He also talks to Maggie, encouraging her not to let silence rule between them. No good for any relationship, not before the zombie apocalypse, and not after, either.
IMG_0018Rick wants to get Michonne up and running again, though she isn’t quite ready to travel. They need more hands to help in the fight at Woodbury. So our fearless leader is introduced to Tyrese and Sasha, the rest of their group. He wants to know about them, how they “got this far.” He’s not entirely pleased they’re even in the building. They try to make themselves useful to Rick. He isn’t having it, even with Hershel pleading the case. He’s slowly losing part of himself, his humanity. By turning away others this is what happens, regardless of the situation, the worry of more mouths to feed and people to protect and ways to get infected.
Hershel: “Youve got to start givinpeople a chance
It all gets really tricky once Rick starts seeing dead Lori standing on the walkway, and he’s talking to himself. This worries everybody. When his gun comes out, they’re all scared, and Tyrese leaves with his people. Not a good sign.
IMG_0019What an intense episode. The end always gives me chills. Rick’s losing his grip and someone has to pull him back in.
Next up is “Home” and it promises big, exciting developments.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 4: “Sabrosito”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 4: “Sabrosito”
Directed by Thomas Schnauz
Written by Jonathan Glatzer

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Sunk Costs” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Chicanery” – click here
Pic 1We get a glimpse of Hector Salamanca (Mark Margolis) visiting the big boss man of the cartel, Don Eladio; you know the guy. We’ve been here before, those of us who so loved Breaking Bad. Hector’s there with a man named Ximenez (Manuel Uriza), who chose not to run away with money and did the right thing for his boss(es). They also bring news of an ice cream shop, The Winking Greek, named for him. Bolsa turns up, too. He has a Los Pollos Hermanos shirt, and the Don enjoys it. Although Hector says they ought to be called the “Butt Brothers” which suggests more about Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). Long have we believed him to be gay, which is fine! But these old school gangsters obviously feel different, at least some of them. He certainly makes big, big money for Don Eladio, who’s happy to humiliate Hector in front of everyone while comparing his meagre pile of money to that of the Los Pollos Hermanos delivery.
I love that this series is providing us a better look at many characters, not only Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk). Because this world is populated with a lot of different people, many of whom were already worthy of more interest on Breaking Bad.
Pic 1AAfter a look into Hector’s past, we see the present. Where Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) sits in his car watching the groceteria from which Salamanca and his crew work.  He also gets an update on his granddaughter and her mom, that they’re settled in at their new place doing well. This is where we also see the start of Mike’s other life bumping up against the one he loves so much, his family; or what’s left. He chooses the right thing, for now. But the interesting thing about this compelling prequel is knowing where the characters are headed, watching that fate spell out in front of us/them.
Finally, we see Nacho Varga (Michael Mando) again. He and Hector roll into Los Pollos Hermanos to see the old man’s old pal. Only Gus isn’t around, so things get kind of tense. The whole place is on edge, especially with sketchy Arturo (Vincent Fuentes) and Nacho mean mugging on the perimeter of the store. Hector walks in behind the counter, nobody stopping him. Displaying a scary level of authority in front of everyone.
Meanwhile, upstanding citizen Gustavo Fring, local business owner, is over at the fire department delivering chicken and a kind word. Before he has to take an urgent call, alerted to the situation in his restaurant. When he returns his staff is waiting, under watch. Gus lets his employees go, full pay for the day and back to work tomorrow. Then he heads back to his office to chat with Don Hector. The old man says Gus will be his “mule” to bring product north, as well as uses a pen to clean his shoes on the desk like a rotten bastard. A nasty power play. We know how it all comes out in the end, but the trick is there’s a long, hard road to go before getting there. As always, Mr. Fring has a way of doing things. And I can’t wait to see how Hector ends up how he is in Breaking Bad, barely a shell of a man.
Pic 2Victor tries to drop off a package of money to Mike at his toll booth. Only the old fella won’t take it, refusing all that cash. Then off Victor goes again. Right now, Mike’s still resisting the temptation of a wholly criminal life, if only for the sake of his family.
In the meantime, Gus also has to explain the previous day to his staff; they’re all, naturally, very concerned. He apologises, offering them counselling, extra pay. One of the employees asks who the men were, so their boss says he once paid them money for protection, back when he first opened a restaurant. We see, more than ever, the act that this man puts on in his daily life. It was only just touched upon during the original series. Better Call Saul allows us a look at the deception in a much deeper sense, as well as the additional back story we receive makes for some of the best character development on television.
Gus: “This is America. Here, the righteous have no reason to fear.”
Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is calling around to find out about any appointments Chuck (Michael McKean) has made for repairs. She discovers the place, after many calls, then cancels it. At the same time, Jimmy’s doing work on his case to make everything in court go smooth as possible.
Then over at Chuck’s, instead of a repair guy Mike shows up with his toolbox; ahhh, tricky, tricky! He drives the older McGill away with the use of power tools, so much so Chuck has to go upstairs. One of my favourite scenes this season. Our sly handyman runs the drill then takes snaps of the house from all angles. He brings the pictures and other tidbits to Jimmy for leverage. This won’t be the last time they meet, though. Just a seeya later for now.
Jimmy: “You, my friend, are the Ansel Adams of covert photography.”


That night, Gus goes to see Mike about Hector’s driver(s), the money he wouldn’t take. He makes an offer, to work for him. That’s a choice Mike isn’t willing to make blindly: “Thatd depend on the work,” he tells him. What follows is Gus making clear the reason he wants Hector alive, for now, is that a “bullet to the head would be far too humane.” What I can’t wait to see more of is how Mike slips further into deciding to work for the man.
On to a meeting with Chuck, Howard Hamlin (Patrick Fabian), and Kim and Jimmy, in the dark of course. Everyone is so concerned about the oldest McGill, his electrical sensitivity. Poor guy. The agreement for Jimmy’s confession is community service, et cetera, then Howard and Chuck nitpick the language on paper to their liking. Then the prosecutor wants an apology, one of a sincere nature. So the younger brother lays bare his regret. He also owes restitution; a little over $300, down to cents for the cassette tape. Yes, Chuck is cheap. In every way.
Kim knows there must be a duplicate of the tape; Chuck reveals it was the duplicate his brother smashed. He also tries to intimidate, but she is not one to back down. Not to mention the fact she and Jimmy are always hunting.
When Kim meets him downstairs, all she says is: “Bingo
Pic 4Yeah, baby! Love Kim. Need more of her, all the time. This was a solid episode, and next week is “Chicanery” which I know will be an exciting one again. Dig the flashback to Don Eladio and Hector, as well as more Hector in general. He is a wild old dude. Can’t wait to see what’ll happen next in all the different plots running through this series.

Better Call Saul – Season 3, Episode 3: “Sunk Costs”

AMC’s Better Call Saul
Season 3, Episode 3: “Sunk Costs”
Directed by John Shiban
Written by Gennifer Hutchison

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Witness” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Sabrosito” – click here
Pic 1We start in familiar desert territory. A Los Pollos Hermanos delivery truck drives down a desolate road. As if signifying what’s in the truck, as if we didn’t know, and how long this has been going on, the sneakers on an electrical wire above drop from their perch to the ground.
Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) gets a call from Gustavo Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) on the cell he’s found on top of a gas tank cap in the middle of a road. He’s told to “expect two cars momentarily.” The man himself arrives in sombre, black attire. Mike wants to know why he received the DON’T note. Gus relates that Hector Salamanca needs to stick around; at least for a while. But the problem is there have been threats, nasty business. What the owner of Los Pollos Hermanos explains is that, as long as the “hurt” Mike doles out to Hector is kept on a business level rather than a physical, fatal one, then he won’t interfere. Well, we know there’s more to Mike and Gus’ eventual relationship, so it’ll be interesting to watch it all play out. Now, Mr. Ehrmantraut makes clear he’s “not done” with Salamanca, and that he understands Fring wants to disrupt the guy’s business because they’re in drug competition.
It’s excellent to see the back story of these characters coming together.
Note: love how the camera frames Mike and Gus in positions of power; they’re on a flat, straight road, yet the shot shows them on an angle which puts Gus higher up on the plane than Mike. Very interesting, great filmmaking techniques are often used in this series (as it was on Breaking Bad) and that’s a huge reason why this is GREAT TELEVISION!
Pic 1AIn other news, Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) must deal with the fallout from rushing in on brother Chuck (Michael McKean), smashing the tape recorder in a rage. He’s having a cigarette, finding the number he has for a bail bondsman. To see the brothers fall further into despair is ugly, considering the older brother’s planning on pressing charges. All under the guise of being for his younger brother’s benefit. I’m not sure if he’s being honest, or if it’s because he never wanted to see Jimmy succeed in the beginning. For his part, Jimmy tells Chuck that he’ll die alone.
Then it’s off to jail in a montage for the unlucky lawyer, the man we’ll someday know as Saul Goodman, lawyer to Walter White and Jesse Pinkman.
What about Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn)? She’s busy, as usual. Doing the tough job of living life in the same hemisphere as the McGills. Ernesto (Brandon K. Hampton) arrives to tell her he’s been fired, and worrying about Jimmy. And now she knows that her good buddy is sitting in lockup, clad in orange. In court he pleads Not Guilty; Kim turns up as his attorney, though he’d rather represent himself. He refuses to let her have any part, then he’s bonded out at $2,500 and gets back to the office to plead his case to Kim, to let her know he’ll fix things. Somehow.
Jimmy: “I fucked up
At a doctor’s office, Mike – or, Mr. Clark – goes in to see a “mutual acquaintance” to retrieve a package. He tucks it away in his trunk with the sniper rifle he’s carrying. Hmm, ominous. More trouble is certainly headed Hector Salamanca’s way.
Pic 2Jimmy’s trying to get an old law buddy to help with his case. Looks like it won’t pan out, seeing as how they’ve worked closely in the past. This takes the wind out of his sails a bit. More scheming ahead, just wait. Meanwhile, Chuck is meeting with an attorney about what’s happening next in his brother’s case. She isn’t going to take it easy on him, wanting to make sure lawyers aren’t held to a lesser standard. I only wonder: will his condition make it difficult, or cause issues, in court? Should be fun to watch.
Back to Mike, in the desert again. A place we Breaking Bad lovers realise he knows all too well by the time Walter enters his life. The old fella is out putting drugs in a pair of red sneakers, tossing them up on a nearby wire; the worn out shoes we see finally snap off the line some time down the road, as evidenced by the ALTO sign without the bullet holes shot through it yet.
He then sets up camp on a hill with his rifle, watching through binoculars to see who’s approaching on the road. A pair of men come to look under a sort of trap door in the desert floor; is this the same one Mike later goes to in Breaking Bad when he and Jesse make collections? Either way, Mike plays a game with the men. Then he shoots one of the shoes as the truck passes, letting a thin powder flow over the truck, catching on its rear step. Whoa. That’s fucking sneaky, dude. When the truck is stopped for inspection, a drug dog picks up on the scent, and voila! Another Salamanca plot foiled, another plus for Fring’s business. I can see already how the meth kingpin will come to find Mike and his services invaluable.
Going back to the opening scene, we understand this as being an illustration of how Gus now owns the route, that it’s a sign of his, for a long while, undisputed power. Where Hector’s trucks once ran, the opener shows us that Los Pollos Hermanos takes that route, well into the future, and the bullet-riddled ALTO sign shows that there are many wars to come.
While everything else is going on, Kim and Jimmy are dealing with the “boxed in” situation he finds himself in with Chuck. So, what next? She suggests he isn’t alone, that he needs her. But I can’t help feel this is a one-way ticket to the nail in the coffin for their relationship. Maybe not next week, or the week after. Just sooner than later.


Another great episode. Many say this show is slow. Part of why I dig the series is because it burns, slowly, and if you don’t dig it that’s fine. Don’t say the show isn’t good, because it is, it lays out the groundwork for great characters and compelling, well-written plot. Good on the writers and producers. Next week is “Sabrosito” and I know we’re seeing more of Mr. Fring, too.

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 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!

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 12: “Say Yes”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 12: “Say Yes”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Matthew Negrete

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Hostiles and Calamities” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Bury Me Here” – click here
Pic 1Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) are a great team, both in intimate relationship terms and also on physical ass kicking (etc) terms. They’re out on the road, finding supplies, scavenging what and where they can.
Michonne: “We gonna win today?”
Rick: “Oh yeah
Although they don’t find much there’s a positivity in them that didn’t exist before. Then they come across a couple guys whacking golf balls, making away with their stuff. Afterwards, Michonne wants to go back to Alexandria after being gone two days already. But Rick wants to stay on the road a little longer.
Pic 2At home in Alexandria, Rosita (Christian Serratos) stitches up a cut while Tara (Alanna Masterson) tries convincing her things will turn out fine. Rosita doesn’t buy that, she feels like it’s a losing battle. And who knows? Maybe it is, for some of them.
In the meantime, Rick and Michonne keep searching in the wilds of the apocalypse. They come across a deer in the woods, but it runs off before they can kill it. They track it and find an old high school. There also a military man, with a military gun and a bit of ammo. More than that a crazy event went down some time ago on those same grounds. Perhaps there’s “serious” guns and ammo laying around elsewhere. They get up on top of the school and discover a field out back, a carnival setup. Tons of walkers, as well as guns, lying in wait. Then Rick and Michonne have a few laughs, from falling through a roof to shooting down cans on a carny’s attraction.
But when they go through the roof, they stumble onto a few pallets of wrapped food. Score!
Note: Nicotero slips in a nice Creepshow reference with the zombie in the CASH ONLY ticket booth.

Pic 5Rosita can’t let go of all the people dead. She blames it all on listening to Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam). He doesn’t have much time for her chastising. I don’t feel that it’s fair she takes it out on him. He’s come a long way compared to many of those in the group, having done a 180-degree turn from who he was in the beginning; no longer a coward, now a noble man and one who does whatever he can in his power to help the people around him.
Gabriel: “Anythings possible until your heart stops beating
Over a little dinner, Michonne asks Rick about what next – after they kill Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), take their world back. She believes they’ll have to put the world back into order then, once Negan’s rule is finished. She also thinks Rick is the man to do it. He’d rather be “reordering things together.” And she’s just fine with that.
More and more, Tara struggles with telling Rick about Oceanside, all those guns. A tough decision. Based on the greater good.
In the field behind the school, Rick and Michonne go about clearing a path through all the walkers. She takes the bulk of the walkers, as he commandeers a nearby car to help with their plan. When a military zombie’s gun starts firing, she hops into the trunk of the car while Rick hides up front, and the vehicle is swarmed by the dead. They manage to crawl out through a sunroof, which gives them a few moments to kill a few until the fence they’re inside caves. Further they’re backed up, then ingenuity strikes, as it does so often. They go about slicing and slashing and crushing more heads; the fucking Dream Team, baby! What an awesomely edited sequence, just quick cuts between each of them killing, one after another.
Out of nowhere, the deer. Rick spies it feeding on some grass. Before he can shoot it, a bunch of zombies move toward it. Not before he takes a spill and lands right in their midst. Michonne runs to him, as his gun clicks dry. Then she thinks they’ve eaten Rick. But it’s the deer. Thus begins a beastly round of killing by the ever excellent duo.


They collect a bunch of guns from the field, racking up a nice little collection, too. Then it’s on back to Alexandria. Poor Michonne’s been through a lot. I think it’s scared her, how devastating it’d be to lose Rick. She went through the emotions already in that moment. Then he admits to not sleeping lately, thinking of “everything we lost” such as Glenn, who saved him in the beginning and who he couldn’t save in the end. He reassures Michonne they’re going to fight Negan and his Saviors. He knows they’ll lose people, possibly even each other. “Even then itd be worth it,” he says. She doesn’t want to lose him. Although Rick makes clear they’re going to live from now on, not worry about just themselves, and that if he dies she’ll be the one to carry them all forward: “Its about our future.” A truly sweet, tender moment for them together.
Rick heads to see Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) with the guns – sixty-three, to be precise. She isn’t satisfied. They need more, about twice as much. A bit of haggling, then Jadis and Rick come to an agreement. Even if she and those garbage people are fucking weird as hell. I think they’ll prove to be helpful, ultimately.
Pic 10At Alexandria, Tara says she has something to tell Rick. Will she let on about Oceanside?
Meanwhile, Rosita is on a mission. She goes to Hilltop, to see Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green). She wants her help: to kill Negan. Seems like everyone’s on the same page, some are just turning their pages to get there faster.
Sasha: “One conditionI get to take the shot.”


Whoa, man. I’m afraid one of them will get killed, though I’m simultaneously happy the women are taking charge. Not that I don’t feel Rick and Michonne have a good plan, they do. It’s simply nice to see a couple female characters taking the fight to Negan. He deserves it, and so much more!
Next up is “Bury Me Here” and I anticipate an intense chapter.

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 10: “New Best Friends”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 10: “New Best Friends”
Directed by Jeffrey F. January
Written by Channing Powell

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Rock in the Road” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Hostiles and Calamities” – click here
pic-1After the Kingdom, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and his fellow Alexandrians searched for Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam). Only to come across another group entirely.
Meanwhile, King Ezekiel (Khary Payton), Morgan (Lennie James), Richard (Karl Makinen) and some others meet with a few of The Saviors for a pickup. Although the men from Negan’s (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) camp make a fuss, the King assures them all is well. Then a standoff between Richard and one of the idiot Saviors breaks out of nowhere.
Where do we go from here?” asks Richard. To which his King replies to hand over his gun. A little bit more violence breaks out when the man oversteps his boundaries, then Morgan and Benjamin (Logan Miller) step in until things even out.
Expect things to get more “visceral” eventually, though. On top of everything Morgan’s lost his staff. Back at the Kingdom, Daryl (Norman Reedus) isn’t happy staying cooped up, particularly with everybody just laying down for the Saviors. “You know what they are,” he scolds Morgan, and wishes Carol (Melissa McBride) knew about Glenn and Abraham. Because if so they’d be headed for Negan to kill them all.
And damn, if that isn’t the truth.
One thing I love is that we’ve got guys using bow and arrow, which is only a step from the crossbow Daryl so excellently wielded. Richard and Daryl could prove to become an exciting team.
pic-2See, Richard has a plan, and he’s looking for help from Daryl. In his trailer he has weapons. They grab some things then head out to the open road. Note: I don’t say it enough, though everyone who loves the series knows it – the production is all around spectacular, the locations and the props and the cars off the road, they make everything look damn believable.
Turns out that Richard is leading Daryl right to Carol. He’s gone insane wanting to try and turn Ezekiel towards fighting. He wanted to go out there, kill her, use that as a catalyst. Seriously, man? Whoa. In general that’d be horrific, even worse that they had a brief thing together, too. At least Daryl’s there to protect her, while she sits unsuspecting in that cabin.
Daryl: “Anything happens to her, Ill kill ya.”
Richard: “Id die for the Kingdom
Daryl: “Then why dont you?”
Returning to Rick & Co, they’ve wound up in an odd place. Just as strange as the Kingdom. The Alexandrians are surrounded by people. Led by Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh). So, she goes back and forth with Rick. Although allowing them to see Gabriel, who looks frightened but no worse for wear. Rick tells Jadis and her group of The Saviors, asking for help to fight. She flat out refuses with a simple, direct “no.” Shit goes sideways. Soon, Gabriel has a woman named Tamiel (Sabrina Gennarino) at knife point. All is well once the former priest talks his, and the Alexandrians’, way out of their predicament. He talks up Rick, the group, their abilities. After awhile they take Rick to the “up up up” where Jadis explains their community, a tad, offering their help if he’s worth their time.
pic-3Which means Rick gets tossed into a pit of filthy garbage. Suddenly an insanely medieval-looking walker appears, blades coming out of it everywhere, in the skull and through the torso. He fights against it with whatever he can. And to stop it he has to pierce his own hand with one of the blades. Then, his foot. As Rick struggles, Michonne (Danai Gurira) tells him to use the walls. When he does he gets the zombie down and stabs its brains in with a shard of glass. HARDCORE, BABY! Rick Grimes. All day.
Rick (to Jadis): “Believe us now?”
Their leader wants guns. A bunch. Then they’ll all rally together, fight the good fight.
And as quick as the community gathered, they disappear. Leaving the Alexandrians to their work ahead. There’s a bit of that old cocky Rick still kicking. I think as much as it helps him to be confident, Michonne and the others feel better when they can see he’s level-headed and fighting instead of spaced out and near insane after some of the more devastating moments in their history. Right now, the team are ready for anything.
Carol receives a visit from King Ezekiel and a few of the Kingdom’s residents; even a cobbler from Jerry (Cooper Andrews). She reluctantly takes the delicious treats, beckoning for them all to leave. She’s busy reading, trying to get on with… life. Not long passes and Daryl comes to the door. A crazy emotional moment. The one person she does want to open the door to see, even if Daryl’s sad that she left, to be on her own.
Later on, Rick tells Gabriel “enemies can become friends” (as they themselves did once) and that’s why, in a world with The Saviors pushing their will onto others, he knew that finding Jadis and their community was more an opportunity to find the enemy of my enemy, that kind of thing, y’know? Regardless, this strange community warns that they better receive guns. Soon. Or else.


Over in the cabin, Carol tells Daryl she couldn’t kill anyone else, she couldn’t watch anyone else be killed. She then asks if everyone’s okay, if they’re hurt. She almost knows the answer without a word. Only Daryl lies: “Everyones all right.” Oh, Carol’s gonna be mad when she finds out the truth. She will, down the road, because you know she’s not staying out of everything permanently. For the time being, she and Daryl sit together as he eats soup, and life is normal life.
That never lasts long. They know it, so when they get those normal minutes in the day they take them, cherish them. Afterwards, Daryl plans on heading for Hilltop, which he does the next morning. To prepare.
Will the Kingdom come to its senses? Will the addition of another community and the power Jadis wields help convince Ezekiel? Will Rick even get the guns for her?
pic-10pic-11An awesome chapter in the back half of Season 7! Really loved this episode. Fun, gnarly zombie, Rick being a bad ass, Pollyanna fucking McIntosh! Doesn’t get much better.
Next up is “Hostiles and Calamities” and I bet Negan will return. With a bang.

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

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

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


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


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

Breaking Bad – Season 3, Episode 3: “I.F.T.”

AMC’s Breaking Bad
Season 3, Episode 3: “I.F.T.”
Directed by Michelle MacLaren
Written by George Mastras

* For a review of the previous episode, “Caballo sin Nombre” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Green Light” – click here
img_4034 We start on Tortuga (Danny Trejo). He sits in a little bar drinking, being an asshole, as usual. Then Juan Bolsa (Javier Grajeda) shows up. They chat, drink. The boss man has a present for Tortuga, he missed the man’s birthday. Only the present is a tortoise, that Juan paints HOLA DEA on before the Salamanca twins cut Tortuga’s head off.
The prequel to Hank and his run-in with the head-bearing tortoise.
img_4037 In the present day, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks) is still watching Walter White (Bryan Cranston), checking in with whom I can only assume is Gus Fring (Giancarloa Esposito). All the while Walt scrapes the pizza off the roof. Not to mention now Skyler (Anna Gunn) is on her way home discovering her estranged husband has moved back in. Things aren’t pretty for the Whites, that’s for sure. Walt won’t budge, so she threatens calling the police. He’s willing to call her bluff. She does call, although when the police arrive they discover no evidence of him having forced his way in. He’s acting calm, rational, eating grilled cheese and potato chips with Walt Jr (RJ Mitte). As they’re not legally separated, the police have their hands tied. And by all outward appearances Walt isn’t a violent or bad man. Nobody else, aside from Skyler, knows what he’s been up to in his spare time. She’s not willing to come out and tell the police, or anyone, about Walt’s crimes.
Skyler: “Welcome home
Poor Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) reels from the death of his girlfriend Jane. He’s a bit of a broken man. In his new house he looks like a shattered soul, lost and lonely. Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) pops by to try talking him into getting in touch with Walt. Right now Jesse would rather be by himself.
Then there’s big Hank Schrader (Dean Norris) and his partner Steve Gomez (Steven Michael Quezada), they’re out doing their thing. Hank gets a call about going back to El Paso. He acts excited, to his boss, to his partner. It isn’t hard to tell he’s not one bit excited in reality.
And those creepy Salamancas, they’re looking for a handicap van. You can guess why – papa Tio (Mark Margolis) has somewhere to go. They’re meeting with boss Juan Bolsa and Gustavo. All about Heisenberg and the near hit on him. Problem is that Tio loved Tuco like a son, and Walt betrayed him supposedly; Juan believes the Salamancas have a “right to exact revenge.” But Gus won’t have that. Business must be completed with Walt, then they can have their revenge. This may lead to a much more devastating proposition for the time being.


Continually, Jesse calls Jane’s phone to hear her voice. He dials over and over, unable to let go. And how can he? Worst of all is the fact that Walt let it happen; he could’ve tried saving her and chose not to in an effort to save his own skin. At home, Walt suffers in karmic ways: unable to sleep in his own bed, in the same house as his wife yet on another planet altogether, pissing in the sink since Skyler won’t let him into their own. Privately with her divorce lawyer, Skyler reveals that her husband cooks meth.
At a bar, Hank and Steve have some beers. Except that Hank is distracted. He sees a little drug deal action going on at one of the tables. So, to try proving his own faux-masculinity to himself, he decides on going the hard knocks route; he leaves his gun in the car before they leave, heads back in, and throws some fists with a couple tough guys. He kicks the absolute shit out of them, though it’s clear Hank has some serious shit going on in his head. Later, Steve calls him out for leaving the gun in the car, clearly understanding his partner’s fucked up.
When Jane’s line finally goes dead, this is a real blow to Jesse. The last remnant of her voice is gone, never to return. And the real world, the life after Jane now officially begins as the pain breaks through further. Thus Pinkman goes back out to the desert in the Winnebago to start cooking. Because it’s all he has left.
Skyler prepares to leave then finds Walt in the living room, a bag of money at their feet filled to the brim. He gives what he considers his explanation: “That is college tuition for Walter Jr, and Holly, eighteen years down the road. And its health insurance for you and the kids, for Jrs physical therapy, his SAT tutor. Its money for groceries, and gas, for birthdays and graduation partiesThis money, I didnt steal it, it doesnt belong to anyone else; I earned it. The things Ive done to earn it, theythe things Ive had to doIve got to live with them.”


What will she do? Not long after she rushes into the arms of Ted. When she gets back to the house later, dinner’s ready and Walt is playing the adoring husband, doing his best to make things nice. A pot roast is in the oven, a salad made.
So after her husband rattles on like nothing’s ever happened, Skyler leans in and tells him: “I fucked Ted.”
img_4049 Wow! The reaction of Bryan Cranston in the end after Anna Gunn speaks those words is fantastic. Utterly perfect. They’re both quality actors and they play so well off one another, one of the greatest television couples in any series.
Next episode is “Green Light” and plenty’s poised to go down.

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 8: “Hearts Still Beating”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 8: “Hearts Still Beating”
Directed by Michael E. Satrazemis
Written by Matthew Negrete & Channing Powell

* For a review of the previous episode, “Sing Me a Song” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Rock in the Road” – click here
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Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is still reeling from the death of her husband, obviously. You can’t expect she’ll get over that quick, if ever. Especially not in this new post-zombie apocalypse world. At the Hilltop community, she’s getting by, as well as expected. Gregory (Xander Berkeley) is being a real dick, though. He doesn’t like anybody else looking like the big dog around his backyard, y’know.
Back at Alexandria, Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) taunts Carl (Chandler Riggs) and baby Judith, then cooks a bit of pasta and suace for dinner. Most interesting is at the Savior’s compound, where Daryl (Norman Reedus) is more and more on the verge of getting himself free; hopefully.
Nobody in Alexandria is happy, not with Negan around. Olivia (Ann Mahoney) tries her best to keep it together with a bit of help from Tara (Alanna Masterson). But Olivia’s the one who has to sit down to dinner with Negan. Pretending like they’re a happy family. She only does it to keep a promise to Rick (Andrew Lincoln), that she’d look after the baby.
We keep seeing that Morse code in Rick’s place, as well. You think that means something? I do. But we’ll see.
Of course Rick is still out and about with Aaron (Ross Marquand), attempting to get out to the boat on the lake where the place is probably loaded with supplies. At home, Rick’s son has to “pass the rolls” to the man who smashed Abraham and Glenn into bloody chunks. Because “Lucille is hungry” and so is Negan.
Possibly the most sinister opening to any episode yet, honestly. Loved it.

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Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Spencer (Austin Nichols), and Rosita (Christian Serratos) bring their latest finds to the Saviors. One of whom, a lady, hits on Spencer: “Maybe Ill buy you a sandwich.” He plays along, for the time being.
We can’t forget about Carol (Melissa McBride), in her house just outside the Kingdom. And Morgan (Lennie James), he leaves a little something on her doorstep – fruits from the garden. She likes to be on her own, she’s got plenty. Ezekiel keeps on bringing her fresh produce. But she’d rather be alone. Then Richard (Karl Makinen) shows up, too. He has something the three of them need to discuss.
Morgan: “I think youre goinsoft.”
Carol: “I think youre going.”
Out on the lake Aaron and Rick come into trouble, though they fight off the water zombies to get to a canoe in good shape. Only more walkers swarm, and Aaron’s hauled into the water. Dead? No, sir. He’s just a damn good swimmer. They both make it to the boat, in one piece. Barely. They find lots of guns. As usual, not much ammo. Rick and Aaron talk about the deal with Negan – Aaron understands, he was present for the brutality of the man. “What were doing is gonna keep people living. We get to do that. Doesnt matter what happens to us.” The title of the episode comes from Aaron’s talk about keeping people alive, taking what they can. Across the lake, someone watches them both.
At the Saviors’ compound, Daryl runs through the dark halls and ends up in somebody’s bedroom. He searches for a way out, getting some peanut butter on the way and a new shirt. Please, Daryl: get the fuck out of there. He sits first, listening to nearby voices, and then gets on the move.

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Enid (Katelyn Nacon), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), and Maggie hang out together, talk it up. Maggie’s pregnant stomach keeps her eating constantly. Everyone in Hilltop, aside from Gregory, is a fan of her, as well as the other two. But while the expectant mother leaves, Enid confronts Sasha about a lie concerning Jesus (Tom Payne). It’s because Sasha wants to get Negan. And Enid wants in. They just want to keep Maggie out of the equation because she’s too headstrong, even with a baby growing inside her. Yet Sasha tells Enid she has to keep Maggie safe.
Back with Richard, he tells Morgan and Carol about when he came to the Kingdom, about the terrible threat of the Saviors. He wants Carol and Morgan to help him convince Ezekiel they need to take action against Negan, because “things will go bad; and when they do, the Kingdom will fall.” Thing is, he’s come across Carol at a point in time where she wants to let go of everything – the killing, the people, all of it: “I dont want anything to do with your lives, or your deaths.” Interesting to see someone like her, and particularly Morgan, turned away from violence now being forced to maybe turn back; the never ending plague of this new world.
Oh, Spencer – will you die tonight? He gets back to his once nice, well kept home, to find it in complete disarray. Negan and his crew have tossed the place. He cleans the place up, he cleans up, practises his best introduction and leaves with a bottle of liquor. Will he actually dare try something against Negan on his own? Yikes.
In Savior territory, Daryl makes it to the motorcycle lot where a guy finds him. He agrees to let Daryl go. Rather than go on, Daryl beats the man to death, as Jesus shows up just in time. Now they’ve got themselves a gun to boot.


Were all Negan
With Michonne (Danai Gurira) still holding one woman at gunpoint, she finds where she’s headed. Furthermore, we see how people are willing to die rather than go back to Negan, as the woman essentially asks to be put down. And Michonne obliges the request.
In Alexandria, Rick and Aaron get back with supplies. Over on the porch Spencer shares a glass of liquor with Negan. Something bad’s brewing in their little town. When one of the Saviors gets rough with Aaron, this leaves Rick helpless, watching on. Spencer gets a pool table into the street for him and Negan, then brings up the dissent with his leader in Alexandria. Great editing takes us from the pool balls knocking together over to Aaron’s beating, as Rick must stand there, doing nothing. Such an amazing build, between editing, dialogue, action, score. “You should know Rick Grimes has a history of not working well with others.” This takes Spencer into talking about how he believes Rick brought their town down, his family now dead. Then he offers to lead Alexandria.
Does Negan take the bait? Well, he isn’t exactly impressed that Spencer’s not out gathering things, like Rick, who’s “swallowing his hate and gettinshit done.” As he says, that “takes guts.” Oh, is that the cue? If so, pitch perfect line.
What follows is straight from the comics: Negan plays on the word guts again, then plunges a knife deep into his stomach, letting those guts fall right out, horrifying everyone watching on. Another vulgar display of power. Out of nowhere, Rosita fires a bullet at Negan and it digs right into Lucille. HOLY FUCKING SHIT, ROSITA! YOU BAD ASS MOTHERFUCKER. Wow. Did not expect that. Neither did the man himself. Plus, now he’s discovered their homemade bullets. Uh oh. “You may be stupid, darlin‘, but you showed some real ingenuity here.” It’s either give up the secret of the bullets, or get a new carved up face. Rather than carve her up when she refuses to give it up, Negan has Arat (Elizabeth Ludlow) shoot somebody at random: Olivia. Fuck, man.
None of that sits well with Rick. Except Negan wants a thank you, for not killing Carl, for taking Spencer down when he was crying mutiny. All for you, Sheriff Grimes. And Negan isn’t leaving until he figures out who mad the bullets. Eugene doesn’t let anyone else take the fall this time, he confesses. Bad news for him: he’s now Savior property. Alexandria is left devastated, without another couple members, and “in the hole” with Negan worse than ever.

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As always, Rick blames himself. For everything. Like he asked to be the leader of their group, to be the one to make all the tough decisions. He never asked for that, it was heaped upon him. Then everyone blames him when things go sideways. He doesn’t always make the best or right decisions, yet he always does the best he can.
When Michonne gets back, she tells Rick that she doesn’t want to go it alone. She wants them to go it together, to fight alongside one another. And she won’t give up hope.
At Hilltop, Maggie gets one nice gift: she gets her friends back. Rick embraces her, glad to see her again, and he gets to see she’s safe, healthy. Rick is ready to fight. He’s ready to do what’s necessary. Oh, and Daryl is at Hilltop, too. The whole gang reunited. A heartwarming scene after so much devastation and blood and hurt. One fantastic mid-season finale. Rick even gets his gun back, a figurative recharging of his will to live and to fight for a better life.


I’m so pumped for the back half of Season 7! I don’t care what anyone says, I’ve enjoyed all these episodes. Lots of fun and the show is picking up steam from a few lacklustre moves over the course of the past couple seasons. Great to see them pushing ahead.

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 3: “The Cell”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 3: “The Cell”
Directed by Alrick Riley
Written by Angela Kang

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Well” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Service” – click here
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This week, we’re back with Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his captive, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus). Will we see a confrontation? Doubtful. I worry mostly for Daryl because he cares too much. Seeing as how, technically, he’s the reason Glenn took a barbed wire bat to the dome – over and over until his brains were mush – I feel as if Daryl’s going to take that on heavily, and psychologically he might never be the same again. It’ll be most interesting because Daryl’s not a comic book character, so his reaction to and involvement with Glenn dying comes totally from the writers here on the series. Let’s hope they do him right.
With Daryl in the clutches of Negan’s Saviors he witnesses how they live, which involves alcohol, lots of fresh food, even watching old tapes of Who’s the Boss? or at least that’s how it is for Dwight (Austin Amelio). Not everyone is so privileged. The Saviors have free run of everything within their grasp. Everyone in sight kneels for Negan, though. What a sad, sorry lot. Dwight pillages food to make himself a sandwich, as Daryl gets fed dog food between two buns. He’s already been down to eating dog chow. Stuck in a dark hole he’ll take what he can get. No less humiliating.
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Poor Daryl, he has to listen to awful music, tortured how they liked to do in Guantanamo. He’s fed dog food, woken up constantly by the same song. No idea how much time is passing. They’re trying to break him down. The want to make him a Savior, from what I can tell. At one point he’s brought – wearing a sweatshirt bearing a large orange A – to a room where Dr. Carson (Tim Parati) checks him out. They run into Sherry (Christine Evangelista), who’s recently tested negative for pregnancy. Hmm, interesting. Does she belong to Negan? Or are she and Dwight an item? Hard to tell. But you can be sure women are probably closet to second class citizens in this type of society. The doctor has nothing for Daryl other than: “Negan will take care of you.” They run into the man himself. He wants to chat with Dwight. The saddest is seeing Daryl stare at a real room, one with a bed, a chair, books, so on.
Meanwhile, he’s brought outside where a ton of walkers are behind a chain link fence. Other men with sweatshirts, numbers spray painted on them, are in the pen. Dwight threatens Daryl, as if he’s not aware of the danger around him already. Then he gets tossed back in the dark little room to rot. “I aint ever gonna kneel,” Daryl tells his captor. If he doesn’t though, what exactly will happen? Dwight seems to think he’ll kneel. Sooner or later. And the music starts all over again. Enough to drive any normal person totally insane. Negan’s happy with the progress, all said. We get a bit of saucy talk from the leader, mentioning “you know who” – I assume that’s Sherry. I can see somewhere down the line somebody will take inspiration from the coming rebellion against Negan, and one of his own men is someday going to be part of his downfall. That’s my take. One thing’s for sure: Negan has Dwight wrapped around his fist, not even just a finger.

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Daryl gets himself out of the dark closet and makes it down one of the equally dark hallways nearby. At the same time, Dwight is on the road headed somewhere, trying to move through a crowd of zombies left splattered along the highway. Parts are caked with guts, and then Dwight is nearly taken out once a walker comes flying down off the overpass. Whoa.
In the hallways Sherry finds Daryl. She warns him: “Theres always more. You wont get away. And when youre back, itll be worse.” Negan and his boys find him, too. They crowd around our hero. “Who are you?” Negan asks the guys around him: “Negan,” they all reply in creepy cult fashion. “I am everywhere,” he explains to Daryl. He makes clear that there is no way forward, alive, except to follow him. He even throws back to the bat, about to smash another head. Daryl flinches not even an inch. That doesn’t impress Lucille, though it does Negan. He’s one sick bastard, this guy. The Saviors beat Daryl down on their own like a bunch of bitches. Once he’s put back in the hole, Sherry comes to talk. About the last time she saw Daryl, when they stole his bike. And she admits to being sorry, finally.
On his way home Dwight looks rough. He happens across a man being attacked by a walker, he tackles him. It’s a stray from the flock. He doesn’t want to be a part of what Negan has going on there, not anymore. We discover that Dwight had a wife – Sherry – and that Negan did something bad, to them both; did he claim Sherry as his own? I think so. Either way, being on Negan’s side doesn’t always guarantee safety. Not fully. That’s what we’re coming to understand gradually. Isn’t that the general rule for cults? Because make no mistake: his commune is a cult. This man isn’t allowed to walk away, though. Dwight makes sure of it.

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More dog food sandwiches for Daryl, more mental abuse. He’s left with one of those Polaroids, y’know, the ones we saw Glenn looking at near the end of last season when they came upon The Saviors’ lair. Sadly, this one is of Glenn’s smashed brains. Daryl gets left in the dark with having to see what he, accidentally, caused for his friend. It is horrific, and breaks his heart into pieces. Plus, more music to drive him mad (Roy Orbison’s “Crying” I believe).
Note: a silently amazing performance in this episode out of Reedus; an actor’s actor right now.
Later, Daryl’s brought to see Negan in that nice room the former stared into earlier. The fearful leader tells the tale of Dwight, his former wife, her ill sister. Seems that Negan wanted to make her his wife, then Dwight ran off with the ladies and stolen medication. We further discover Lucille had to take a victim. Then Sherry agreed to marry Negan, in order to save her husband. Dwight still had to take his punishment, all the same. Yikes, what a fucking horrorshow.
He finally asks Daryl: “Who are you?” No reply.
Will he break?
He asks once again and the nearly broken man replies: “Daryl.” So into the hole, more torture. They won’t kill him. Yet. But before Dwight leaves him alone, Daryl appeals to any bit of humanity left inside the guy. He makes clear that it isn’t only about him. He can’t give up. Not for Negan; not for anybody. I can see a glimmer of hope left deep in Dwight, I’d like to think he can change. However, it’s unclear if that can ever happen. If he could ever live through it. What’s interesting is he wears the old biker cut Daryl wore, wings and all. Sort of speaks hope in itself.


I am loving Season 7! They are stepping up, in big ways. Lot of different avenues for storytelling and different plots from various characters, many angles. Negan allows for plenty of that, as does the opening up of communities in the zombie apocalypse.
Next episode is titled “Service” and I believe we’ll begin to see the communities interact more. Will we see Rick Grimes and the crew, as well?

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 2: “The Well”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 2: “The Well”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Matthew Negrete

* For a review of the Season 7 premiere, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Cell” – click here
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Morgan (Lennie James) and Carol (Melissa McBride) are being led to safety by a couple men in body armour, the ones they last met in the end of Season 6. On the road they’re overrun by walkers. Injured Carol is toppled off a cart they were carrying her on, though in her usual style she doesn’t stay down long, stumbling off through the nearby woods. Where the fuck are you going, Carol? She sees a woman in a window calling her. Only it’s not a woman, it’s a zombie. Luckily more people on horses show up to clear out the walkers. However, Carol’s only able to see them as people. Oh, man. Her apocalypse has been an absolute nightmare compared to that of others. Morgan keeps marking their way, so that there’s a possibility of heading back. Although I don’t see that happening any time soon.
Finally Morgan and Carol get to take a rest, in a real place again. She lies recuperating in an actual bed. Wind chimes in the window. A sort of surreal moment. Plus, she’s been sleeping a couple days. Only natural. They’ve been brought to a true community, with a bunch of crops, what looks like a schoolhouse, and clearly a clinic of sorts. They’re in the Kingdom, as the locals call it.
Then Carol gets to meet the leader of this place, King Ezekiel (Khary Payton). He’s got a nice pet tiger, too. Named Shiva.
Shit’s about to get real, mama.

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Ezekiel talks like he’s in a Renaissance Fair, referring to their home as “the realm” and y’know, having a tiger around on a big chain, sitting on a throne. He’s definitely a bit much to take in at first. Definitely quite the character, in all sense of the word. No bullshit Carol tells him “I dont know whats going on in the most wonderful way.” The King lays it out that everyone does their part to earn their keep, and anything the Kingdom reaps is theirs to enjoy. This episode’s title comes from Ezekiel’s analogy of having to take from the well and also replenish the well. For the time being Carol plays into the whole medieval nonsense this guy has going on. I can’t help but wonder, as a man with his own mental illness duo: is this guy okay? Morgan wants to believe, so god damn bad that he’s willing to follow along. Of course we know Carol has no time to deal with this kind of shit, even before she makes it known.
A few of the Kingdom’s members rally together some pigs that went running lose. Side note: lot of great zombie makeup effects that could easily go unnoticed, if you take a second and pause there’s magnificent work to appreciate. On their outing Morgan proves to be a friend of the Kingdom, helping out a younger man surprised by a walker. Ezekiel enjoys Morgan’s skills with the staff; real recognises real and bad motherfuckers know one when they see one. He even gets Morgan to agree to train the kid he helped out, Ben.
Yes, the Kingdom is a place to behold. A local choir group sings a rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right.” Carol has a look around, nabbing herself a knife on the sly and pretending to be a good little citizen, excited over “cobbler” and other yummy foods compared to possum and the nasty shit they survived on. She’s tricky, man. Dig it. Snags a set of clothes, as well. Looking forward to her getaway.
Some of the Kingdom’s secrets are revealed to Morgan, as we see they hand over their well-fed pigs – full with walker guts – to whom I can only assume are The Saviors.

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Morgan eventually finds Carol gone in the wind. She runs into Ezekiel, though. They end up having a private conversation, as he talks a little straight with her. He knows her game. They speak of the Saviors, about her survival tactics. I love how straight shooting Carol is, not afraid to call Ezekiel a straight up “joke” to his face. She questions his motives for acting like a King, let alone all the semi-medieval speak (he’s just talking fancy he isn’t even talking Middle English or anything). But finally he drops the whole thing, levelling with Carol about how people simply want someone to follow. It’s all a cult of personality. But what if that cult of personality served a good purpose, such as the Kingdom? Sure, he has his ass kissed like Carol calls him out, although they’ve built themselves a community. “I faked ittill I made it,” he admits. We find out that Shiva had a near fatal injury. Ezekiel saved her life, which bonded them together eternally. There’s also the fact Ezekiel once did community theatre, so he has them acting chops. At first I thought he was a bit of a nob. Now I actually really like him.
So will Carol stay, or will she (should she) go?
She’s decided to leave, it seems. More effective and happier on her own. Morgan rides with her out onto a nearby road. They say their goodbyes and she heads up to a house where she’d seen the woman earlier. She buries her in the front lawn then makes a fire inside. At the door comes knocking Ezekiel, apple in hand. I have a feeling these two are going to become better friends. Maybe he’ll convince her to come back to the Kingdom. I hope so.


This was a solid episode. Nothing crazy, just bringing us into the world of the Kingdom.
Excited for next week. Following episode is titled “The Cell” and I’m wondering who the focus will be on this time.

The Walking Dead – Season 7, Episode 1: “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 1: “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple

* For a review of the Season 6 finale, “Last Day on Earth” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Well” – click here
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Our episode’s title comes from Dr. Jenner at the CDC, way back when Rick said he was thankful for all the man had done for them. To which the doc replied: “The day will come when you wont be.”
Today is that day.
We start on Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), his face spattered with blood. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) taunts him. But Rick replies: “Im gonna kill you.” The nastiness of Negan’s demeanour is so perfectly awful. He digs into Rick, already having taken his victim from the group. He takes the hatchet Rick arrived with and brings Rick into the RV with him nearby. Behind them, a pile of blood and gore.
Who was killed?
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Inside the RV, Rick cowers like we’ve never seen him do before. Hiding in the shadows. And Negan tries to clue him into the new rule of things. He challenges Rick to take the axe and do him in. But you know it ain’t going down like that. He knocks Rick to the ground, dominating him. Proving a point. “Think about what happened, and think about what can still happen,” Negan all but cackles in the driver’s seat, taking Rick for a ride somewhere.
Then we flash throuh Rick’s mind, as he sees memories of everyone in their group. Glenn (Steven Yeun), Enid (Kately Nacon), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Aaron (Ross Marquand), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Daryl (Norman Reedus) , Michonne (Danai Gurira) – while Negan throws his axe from the RV into a foggy road of walkers, beckoning Rick to go get it. Our trusty leader, the onetime Sheriff Grimes, manages to get on top of the RV, hatchet and all. Although as he stares into the distance either way you can see the hope starting to fade. For the first real time, he’s a broken man. “I bet you thought you were all gonna grow old together,” Negan pokes at him more from inside.


Now we’re back to the eenie meanie miney moe. Negan goes around the line. We watch Rick’s eyes. We see the terror in the eyes of every single person. The taunting of Negan and his bat land on: Abraham. He savagely beats the brains out of Abraham’s head, smashing him over and over. Everyone watches in sickly disgust, as nothing is left of the skull and brains. Nothing. “Look at my dirty girl,” Negan calls to them horrifically. He even taunts Rosita (Christian Serratos) with the bloody end of Lucille. Then Daryl breaks loose, punching Negan.
Will he get the bat, too? No. Even Dwight (Austin Ameli) rushes in to try putting an arrow in Daryl’s skull. Negan won’t allow that. Not right yet: “Thats not how it works.” No, no, no. Another victim for Lucille comes next.
Glenn’s head is smashed in. The front caves. So suddenly. Everybody is brutalised by the sight of Glenn, his eye popping out, trying to speak to Maggie in his last moments. Negan goes on whacking away until there’s only blood and hair left on the end of Lucille. The group is left devastated.
Rick lies on top of the RV, remembering what’s happened. All to well. This is the worst and most wounded we’ve ever seen him.

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In a crazy moment, Rick jumps from the RV, using the hanged man from the bridge as a grip. With zombies clawing at him, walkers of all kinds trying to rip him apart, Negan pops them all off and saves him. He urges Rick: “Think about what can still happen.” And Rick does. He sees the rest of his group smashed by Lucille, one by one.
Back in the RV, hatched in hand, Rick makes it to Negan. A real sick game, all around. The man with the bat continues his cerebral assault, in such a villainous, nonchalant way that it’s sickening how good Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the role. When they get back to the group, Negan has Rick kneeling in the middle of his remaining friends. The Saviors put guns to the back of their heads and the wretched Lucille-holding monster calls Carl (Chandler Riggs) to the centre. He wraps a belt around the boy’s arm, puts him to the ground next to dad. Negan proceeds to mark off a spot on Carl’s arm with a marker.
Rick has to cut an arm off his son. With his hatchet. Or else everyone dies.
So, what does Sheriff Grimes do? It’s all a psyche out. Rick has been broken, in front of everyone – The Saviors, his own people, his son. He’s torn every bit of Rick apart, his soul, his manhood, his power. What a vicious cycle. Because you know it’s a cycle. Broken as he is, Rick will be coming back. He will not let this rest, not forever. For now, sure. But not forever.
Things have changed. Whatever you had going for you, that is over now,” says Negan to the crowd. He takes Daryl in the back of their van. Property of Negan. They’ve got a week to start getting supplies together for him. A new day. A new deal. Minus two strong people from their crew. People they’ll never get back, ever again. Literally left in Negan’s dust, the rest of the survivors struggle to figure out how to move on from there.

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Maggie’s the first to get up. She wants to keep fighting, even if Rick is beaten to a pulp emotionally. He also understands how bad things are right now, she isn’t acting or thinking rationally. But sadly, Rick has also lost control. He has no more power. And Maggie, she’s in a depression spiral, unable to accept that they’ve just got to go back home, pick up the pieces. Now, they take their dead friends with them and do what they can for them.
In a vision, we see all the group, happy, healthy, a baby on Glenn’s lap. As if there weren’t enough tears shed. Negan’s voice rings in the ears of Rick as they load up the RV to leave. He thought they’d all be sitting around, as in the vision, that dreamy world. These days that vision is a far cry, and Rick is realising it. Around him he’s also watching the walkers die off. Everything is dying. Everyone and everything dies.
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What a savage episode. Completely numbing. I expected Glenn’s death, but didn’t anticipate such a wildly effective execution. Love how the power dynamics are shifting. No longer is Rick the big, tough guy he was once. Although he’ll get back there it’s going to take a major event, or series of them.
Looking forward to the next episode “The Well” and what it’ll bring!

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 14: “Wrath”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 14: “Wrath”
Directed by Stefan Schwartz
Written by Kate Barnow

* For a review of the previous episode, “Date of Death” – click here
* For a review of the Season 2 finale, “North” – click here
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Here we are at the penultimate episode of Season 2! Can’t believe it’s here so quick, honestly.
Ofelia (Mercedes Mason) is off on her own still, only the truck she’s driving breaks down on the road. As she takes care of it a couple walkers sneak up on her. She manages to get out of a jam, but now she finds herself on foot, walking down across a long wall in the middle of the desert. Is she headed back into the U.S. or what is the plan? I only hope she doesn’t get eaten alive.
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Nick (Frank Dillane) and Luciana (Danay Garcia) lay in bed together, having gotten closer with each episode as of late. Except he and his buddy Reynaldo (Cuauhtli Jiménez) are sneaking around under the nose of Alejandro (Paul Calderon) trying to make sure things go smoothly for the colonia.
At the hotel, Madison (Kim Dickens) watches over her newly returned husband Travis (Cliff Curtis) sleeping. They’re not doing well since his fateful last moments with Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) before he callously left his father behind. “Hes safer with people who understand him,” Madison tries to explain. Not going to fly right now. It’s hard, no matter how shitty of a person they are, to let go of someone you love, especially a child.
At the overtaken supermarket, Nick and Reynaldo head in with the oxy. Not only that, they want to see Marco (Alejandro Edda). They offer him oxy, every week, for a promise to be left alone to their own devices. Turns out Marco doesn’t need them any longer, and that spells trouble for their little colonia. ‘Cause this Marco, he’s fucking ruthless.
Serving up a bit of breakfast, Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) tries to bond a bit with Travis. She feels as if she pushed his son away because of his behaviour. Rightfully so, which he readily admits, too. “Hes sick,” Travis tells her. He knows, it’s just a damn hard thing to accept as a father. He further apologises not for protecting her when Chris went haywire on them.
Worse than anything is the fact Brandon (Kelly Blatz) and Derek (Kenny Wormald) have wound up in the hotel. And when Madison asks about how they got there, they make it sound like their friend driving, who we assume is Chris, didn’t make it. Shit. That’s going to devastate Travis if and when he finds out. Madison goes to tell Strand (Colman Domingo) about what she’s discovered. He thinks they’ve got to try and keep it from Travis, at least until they can figure out what to do from here. He worries that if Travis finds out Chris is gone for good, it may do terrible and irreparable harm. “Hes already broken, thatll kill him,” confirms Madison.

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Back at the colonia, Nick lets Luciana know about their new predicament, advising they tell Alejandro. The head honcho isn’t pleased; not about the whole thing, nor about Nick going out on his own. There’s a bit of zombie trouble first, though. A walker stumbles in, about to bite Nick, and Alejandro takes a CHOMP right in his forearm. Nick tumbles over a railing with the living corpse, and this puts it right in the hospital bed of unsuspecting patient – whose nose gets bits off – then a nurse gets her fingers eaten. All before Nick puts an end to the zombie by pushing his fingers into its eyeballs until POP! What a god damn mess, every bit. Tragic, yet an awesome scene of chaos.
Along the border fence, Ofelia finds a hole cut, and starts in through the desert on the other side. At the same time in the colonia, those bitten – excluding Alejandro – head through the bus, into the wall of undead. Now Nick is worried that soon the “shooting starts” and he knows “faith is not gonna protect us.” He wants Luciana to go, although she isn’t as willing. Until Alejandro reveals to her he isn’t immune, that he was bitten by an addict, then the story went wild. She won’t leave with Nick, no matter the lie.
The hotel turns into chaos, as well. Refugees there in the parking garage aren’t happy that Brandon and Derek are being treated first. Little do they know this is a ploy for Madison to get them out of there without Travis knowing. Only he sees this from upstairs, spying the men who were with Chris. He manages to get down there before they’re tossed out.
Out of nowhere Ofelia gets bullets fired near her feet. She takes off to find what little cover she can. A man (Dayton Callie) with a rifle stalks her down, removing her knife: “Welcome to America.”

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Travis has Brandon and Derek taken back inside. He wants to know about Chris. Things get very, very tense. They tell him how it all went on the road. When Chris volunteered to drive, he dozed off and flipped their truck. Instant death through the windshield. Or is it really how things went down? Travis starts noticing their stories don’t add up. Little slips of the tongue. So he locks everyone outside, then starts in on beating the two young men. He kicks the living shit out of them before Brandon confesses: “We killed him.” His injuries were too bad and they decided to put him down. No surprise there. And that’s all Travis needed to hear. He cranks Brandon’s arm back out of its socket. Derek tries to fight him off, but Travis lets the beast out and demolishes what’s left of them both. Even stomps Brandon’s head in leaving him dead like Chris was on the road. Savage.

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What a whopper of a penultimate episode. Can’t wait for “North” up next.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 13: “Date of Death”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 13: “Date of Death”
Directed by Christoph Schrewe
Written by Brian Buckner

* For a review of the previous episode, “Pillar of Salt” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Wrath” – click here
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Swarms of bodies are at the gates of the hotel. But not walkers: people. They’re refugees trying to find safe haven. Madison (Kim Dickens), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), Elena (Karen Bethzabe), they all stand there not knowing how to turn people away, yet having to do just that.
Then in the crowd Madison sees a face – it’s Travis (Cliff Curtis). He’s finally come back to her.
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We switch back to some time before with Chris (Lorenzo James Henrie) standing over the dead man he shot. This is the moment which ultimately devastates his father. For the time being, Travis sticks around to try helping James (Israel Broussard) got shot in the process, doing a bit of stitching to the best of his ability. The humanity of Travis is still there; he digs a grave for the man who owned the farm, even makes a cross to go on top: “I dont even know your name,” he laments over the closed up grave afterwards. Later that night everyone sits by the fire and eats chicken, enjoying the farm’s commodities, except Travis. He has no time for the way his son’s acting after having murdered a man in cold blood. I genuinely don’t like Chris. He is a “savage” just like his father says.
Cut to Travis at the gates of the hotel. Alicia asks him outright where Chris is, and the look on his face certainly does nothing to assuage any fears she might have in her heart. But again, I can’t stand Chris. He deserves whatever he gets.
Madison and Travis talk about Nick (Frank Dillane) a little. Inevitably, Chris comes up. Travis tells her “I had no choice.” And so we’re back to the farm again. The chicken is gone, then the crew are ready to move out after a week; heading to San Diego. Feeling it isn’t the right choice, Travis does his own thing around the farm a while. He searches the house to try and find the owner’s name. After finding a wallet, he’s able to carve out the name in his cross: Elias Suarez. Soon they all board the truck and leave. Not long and they have to stop because James isn’t healed enough to travel. And you know what that means – Travis is at odds with the group again, as they’re ready to leave James behind to die.

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Guns are drawn and shit gets serious. Travis waits it out with James to try protecting him from the group. Chris ends up coming in and tricking his father, they hold him down and then James is murdered in mid sentence. “Your way doesn’t work,” Chris tells his father before leaving with the other two men: “Im better off without you.” He believes that who he’s becoming is right. He has actually become a sociopath. Much as I hate him, seeing Travis have to watch him drive off is heartbreaking.
At the hotel, Travis at least feels lucky to be at the hotel with Madison. He still feels guilt for what’s happened to his son. “I left him,” he tells Madison. She tries to reassure him things will be okay, but sadly too much has happened and right now Travis is profoundly wounded. His morality is all mixed up for having lost his boy.
Meanwhile, there’s all the refugees. They were let in because the people at the hotel haven’t become hardened, they still want to help others as much as they can. Alicia is checking people out in a makeshift medical tent, although her mother comes to get her – Madison reveals the truth about her father’s death not being an accident, and in fact a suicide. His note simply stated: I LOVE YOU ALL BUT ENOUGH’S ENOUGH. This, of course, rocks Alicia. The honest openness of Madison is enough to keep mother and daughter from any hurt feelings, even if it’s tough to digest. Alicia is strong, though, and together these women can get through anything. At the same time I can see there’ll likely be fallout from this decision of Madison’s because Alicia still feels upset deep down. And who wouldn’t be?

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They’ve got worse things to worry about right now. Because at the gates, up turn the group Travis left behind. You know he can’t be in the same place as them. Will Chris pull Travis back in and will they be let past the gates? Or will someone let them through unknowingly? Is Chris even with them??
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Can’t wait for next episode – “Wrath” – and I’m hoping for a big, angry confrontation! This was a nice episode. I’ve seen reviews already saying it was boring, nothing happened, same old stuff. This is the episode I’ve waited for, to see a rift open up between father and son. Again, that’s also paralleled in the troubles Madison has with her own kids, albeit less intense than Travis and Chris.
Either way, pumped for the next chapter in Season 2.

Fear the Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 12: “Pillar of Salt”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 12: “Pillar of Salt”
Directed by Gerardo Naranjo
Written by Carla Ching

* For a review of the previous episode, “Pablo & Jessica” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Date of Death” – click here
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In the villa, a family of three – mother, father, daughter – looks to be escaping. They quietly make their way through, past the empty streets and sleeping people, to try getting through the wall of zombies. Papa cuts open a walker and they all paint themselves, trying to make it through the wall like that. This opening sequence is chilling. An aerial shot craning upwards, wide on the ground, shows us how many of the zombies stumble around in the fenced off area. The family, luckily, gets out alive.
Then out of nowhere comes a vehicle. Some men confront the father. Marco Rodriguez (Alejandro Edda) pulls his gun on them, eventually forcing them into the vehicle, too. And off they go.
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Ofelia Salazar (Mercedes Mason) is off on her own. She’s doing fine. Killing zombies, taking care of business. A lot easier just to watch one person’s back. But then again, there’s nobody to watch yours except you. That isn’t always easy. For now, Ofelia finds herself near the ocean on the beach in a little house. She remembers life, before the fall and the zombie apocalypse. Her fiancee, their plans. All that’s long gone, painful memories at this point.
Back at the hotel everybody does their part to get things going. They’re locking the gates, making sure the electrical systems and generators are running to the best of their abilities. A garden’s being planted. Madison (Kim Dickens), Strand (Colman Domingo), Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey), they’re actually enjoying themselves for the first time in so long. Although Alicia worries for her brother, Nick (Frank Dillane). Speaking of Nick, he’s spent the night with Luciana (Danay Garcia). They’ve found about the family taking off in the night; the father was the one who helped get water for the villa. So Nick and Luciana have to take charge.
Tragedy strikes when the mother of the bride stabs Strand for having dispatched her daughter. Some of the hotel survivors try helping Victor, as do Madison and Alicia. One of the survivors studied in med school. He works to keep Strand alive.
When Alejandro (Paul Calderon) discovers the family missing from their villa, he isn’t happy. Mostly he feels slighted, so it seems. There’s something more here. Something boiling. I feel like Alejandro is wearing a mask, or at the very least hiding something.
Problem at the hotel is Ilene (Brenda Strong), the grieving bride’s mother. Madison lays down the law: “If anyone raises a hand to another, theyre out. Any of us; gone. Thats how it has to be. Thats the only way this works.” And such is the grounds for a new, primitive society in the hotel.
Nick is starting to wonder about Alejandro, who, for his part, doesn’t exactly appear calm and collected like he did once. He and Luciana want to head out to take care of their business. Except now Alejandro says nobody leaves their villa, for as long as he says. Hmm. That’s definitely sketchy.

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Elena (Karen Bethzabe) and Madison are on the road to seek out medication and supplies to help Strand. They bond a bit, as Elena tells her own personal story, more than we’ve heard yet. And just so happens it involves drug addiction, or someone of hers addicted to them. Something Madison knows too well. Her own son was lost in the drugs. At the same time, he’s lost in Mexico. Stuck in Alejandro’s little “colonia” (a creepy word if you think of this) – the villa he’s ruling over.
But the villa and the hotel are connected. Madison and Elena head to that big supermarket the gang controls, that’s where they go for the medical supplies necessary to treat Strand. Will this soon bring Nick and his mother together? Alejandro’s kept Nick from going anywhere today, so the reunion will have to wait. While Madison and Elena do their shopping, Marco is upstairs questioning the escapee father about the colonia from which he ran in the night. When Madison gets wind, via Elena, that an American came with Luciana about the drugs, things get tense. She flips, wanting to find her boy. Before Elena has to get them out fast.
Well, Nick is worrying more by the minute. Alejandro is gone paranoid, to the extreme. Acting like he’s been burdened with everything. He requires faith. “So you want me to just follow you blindly?” Nick finally outright inquires. However, it’s only more control Alejandro wants. That’s how it seems to me. Either way Nick doesn’t want to be under anybody’s thumb. He’s worried most about people going without water, and that Alejandro keeps pressing people not to leave, under any circumstances. You know the former junkie won’t have that. His philanthropist side has emerged larger with every episode he’s in. Simultaneously, he softens the hardened exterior of Luciana slowly.

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Everything’s slipping. On the rooftops, Nick spies Marco and his henchmen with binoculars: looks like they’ve found Alejandro’s colonia. Uh oh.
Back to Ofelia – she flashes to memories of her mother Griselda (Patricia Reyes Spíndola), talking about men and how you find the right one, et cetera. All those things she’d be thinking on the edge of a marriage. Her mother also talks about the violence of where they lived, and that leaving their original home wasn’t a struggle; they had to leave. They did not want to “live in fear” everyday. Griselda says she’d do anything on Earth for her family: “That is love.” On her own in the zombie apocalypse, heading back towards the USA, Ofelia understands her parents more than ever.
At the hotel, everybody’s going a little crazy. Elena isn’t pleased with the way Madison is acting after possibly hearing of Nick. She turns on the hotel lights, she’s made everything difficult with Marco and their crew. Madison is letting her head get clouded and Alicia doesn’t see things the way her mother does; not about the new world, not about Nick and what he did or where he’s been. Lot of tension between these two.
Although, out in the darkness Travis (Cliff Curtis) can see the hotel lights. When they shut off, he walks in their direction; alone. His son is nowhere to be seen.
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This was a stellar episode! Loved the twisting  bits wondering if Madison will finally find Nick, the intrigue about Alejandro and his paranoia. And now Travis is on his way back to his wife, hopefully having either put his son down or left him with those crazy dudes.
Next episode is titled “Date of Death” and I have a feeling we may see a cast member depart. Will it be Strand? I hope not. Someone else, please. I dig Victor. We’ll just have to wait and see.