Tagged Danai Gurira

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

Beautiful Black Cinema in Mother of George

Mother of George. 2013. Directed by Andrew Dosunmu. Screenplay by Darci Picoult.
Starring Danai Gurira, Isaac de Bankolé, Anthony Okungbowa, Bukky Ajayi, Yaya DaCosta, Klarissa Jackson, Ishmael Omolade, Roslyn Ruff, Chinaza Uche, Florence Egbuchulam, Mutiyat Ade-Salu, Atibon Nazaire, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, & Susan Heyward. Parts and Labor/Loveless/Maybach Film Productions/SimonSays Entertainment/Fried Alligator Films.
Rated R 107 minutes.
Drama

★★★★1/2
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We all – meaning those of us with any sense – know that the mainstream Hollywood system largely ignores stories about people of colour, apart from the civil rights pictures and slave narratives. It’s obvious, if you take the time to look at it. Rarely do we just simply get to look inside the culture of others aside from the perspective of white people, at least when it comes to the mainstream films in the West. Even more rare is a film starring solely black people.
So Mother of George is a unique piece of cinema for a film set in the U.S. Although, it is most certainly a Nigerian film. The story is all about the cultural expectations within a Nigerian neighbourhood in Brooklyn, involving a married couple. Plus, Nigerian director Andrew Dosunmu leads the movie, as well as adds his unusual style to the mix. It is a refreshing story, Dosunmu presents it gorgeously with the added help of cinematographer Bradford Young, and the main performances of Danai Gurira and Isaac de Bankolé root the drama in such a wonderful yet tragic humanity.
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Ayodele (Isaac de Bankolé) and Adenike (Danai Gurira) are married in a grand traditional Nigerian ceremony. Ayodele has been in America a little while, whereas Nike is newer. She’s still trying to adjust, stuck in the old school role of wife at home her husband works during the day. She tries to get a job cleaning, though, this angers Ayodele whose culture demands of him masculinity; part and parcel of which is providing for his wife and not needing her to work. Between the culture clash and her marriage, Nike has a million different things on her plate.
Meanwhile, her mother-in-law is pressuring her – in their culture it is proper for a woman to get pregnant soon after the marriage, and unfortunately Nike and Ayodele can’t seem to get pregnant, though. When the situation becomes more and more dire, with Ayodele refusing to go against traditional, conventional methods, and his mother insisting he take another woman, Nike soon makes a decision which will have huge repercussions for her, her husband, and everyone around them.
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The first thing you’ll notice is the extremely rich, vibrant colour palette of the film. Bradford Young brings a unique and beautiful look to Mother of George. Some of his other work includes Pariah, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, as well as most recently A Most Violent Year and Pawn Sacrifice. Young’s visual flair through the lens adds a true gorgeous quality to every single frame of the film. Added to that, Dosunmu has a different style of direction, which I’ve seen some people say detracts from the performances and the screenplay. Not at all, I say. In fact, the way Dosunmu and Young capture everything together in their respective ways it draws me tight. I felt as if I were right next to Nike (Gurira), going through the motions. The tight frames on the characters helps their world absorb into you, the colours reach out and touch you. There’s never a moment where I felt outside of the story, or the characters, even if the film moves at a slow pace much of the time.
Brings me to another portion of the movie I love: the screenplay. The script doesn’t have much dialogue throughout, which places a special significance on the performances. At the same time, the lack of massive pieces of dialogue lends itself to a film with a main concern for aesthetic and tone. With a lot of subtle, quiet scenes, the actors are left carrying so much of the weight – like a complete counterbalance between style and performance.
Isaac de Bankolé, whom I knew originally from Jim Jarmusch films specifically (as well as the impressive White Material from director Clair Denis), plays a very strong, if not fairly flawed character in Ayodele. He portrays the vulnerability and masculinity, both tied together most of the time, with such an ease. You feel for the man while also wishing he might let go of a little of his boisterous pride, instead it pushes his wife to a point of no return. Bankolé is a reserved and thoughtful actor whose presence is large in this film.
But mainly, it is Danai Gurira I love here. She is a strong and powerful actor. Her presence is equally enormous, if not more so than Bankolé. Gurira is tough, she is also flawed, but above all she bears the weight of a relationship on her shoulders. The way she has to navigate the trappings of her Nigerian culture, stuck between what she wants and what is expected of her, it is a difficult life. Gurira brings out Nike’s pain, her desire, everything with such a subdued and commanding performance. She and Bankolé work very well as a couple onscreen, their chemistry helped their relationship seem natural. Further than that, Gurira presents a woman who struggles to both adapt to living in America and adapt to marriage, plus its requirements, all the while – even in her rash decisions – making us feel for her every step of the journey.
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There are not enough films set in the U.S. which celebrate the other cultures among Western culture. It is a melting pot, even if the cities become, at times, broken into ethnic enclaves. Still, this is a beautiful and heartbreaking story of two worlds coming together, as one woman tries to hold her own together. A 4&1/2-star film that succeeds because of Bankolé and Gurira acting their hearts out, as well as the combo of director Dosunmu and Young’s cinematography. Everything in this film speaks volumes, from the wonderfully sparse screenplay to the vibrancy of the visual style. All these elements are so important to Mother of George. This is not the conventional black narrative we’re offered in mainstream Western films, but as I said, this is totally a Nigerian film regardless of its Brooklyn, New York setting. We need to see more of this, and hopefully with all the talk of diversity re: Oscars in 2016 we may see a shift; somehow, some way. Studios need to take the chance and tell more stories like this one, affording different cultures a look, giving them an avenue to touch peoples hearts and minds. This is a piece of art, not simply a movie. Mother of George should be seen by everyone, especially those who love powerhouse acting and a unique sense of visual storytelling; all of which you’ll find here, in spades.

The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 6: “Hounded”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 6: “Hounded”
Directed by Daniel Attias
Written by Scott M. Gimple

* For a review of the previous episode, “Say the Word” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “When the Dead Come Knocking” – click here
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Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) is leading the charge searching for Michonne (Danai Gurira). He’s got a couple people from Woodbury with him, including a young guy he calls Neil (Dave Davis). Out of the woods Michonne comes killing the others, leaving Merle and Neil alive. After the confrontation, Merle stands defiant: “Are we having fun yet?” he calls out into the forest, as she slips away after their fight.
Back to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in the tombs of the prison, among the dead walkers, in the place where his wife dead. He received a phone call from someone who won’t say where they are, who they, who is with them. Rick pleads with them for help, but the woman on the other hangs up. Meanwhile, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Hershel (Scott Wilson) and the others eat together. When they do see Rick again he’s slightly better. But not near well. Glenn (Steven Yeun) talks about making a run for supplies, Daryl gives Rick an update on other plans. Yet off Sheriff Grimes goes again, by himself. Into the tombs.
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In Woodbury there’s a better relationship brewing between Andrea (Laurie Holden) and The Governor (David Morrissey). She wasn’t impressed with their big show the night before, having Merle give off a big three-ring circus style act with walkers. Although, she wants to stay, and to contribute. The Governor agrees to have her.
Rick continues to talk to other voices on the phone. This time, a man. Again he gets hung up after a bit of conversation. Frustrating, no? Or is it all in Rick’s head?
Andrea proves her worth in the new town by taking down a walker, jumping over the Woodbury wall to get it. Only the girl she’s on guard with doesn’t seem too impressed. “This isnt a game,” she tells Andrea, who only looks confused. And she ought to be, having turned the world outside into just as much of a game, a “release” as she put it, as the circus Merle was putting off the night before.
Hershel finds Rick in the prison tombs. He tries to talk with the distraught father and widower. Rick reveals the call he received and Hershel tries listening to the phone; we don’t hear any dial tone, does he? Either way, Rick sends Hershel off and wants to stay alone.


Coming across Michonne, the team of Merle and Neil find Michonne. Then a zombie attack breaks out. Everyone fends for themselves, as poor Michonne slices one walker open and its guts pour onto her stomach, chest, face. Nasty, and amazing makeup effects done by the KNB wizards.
At the prison, Daryl talks with Carl (Chandler Riggs), as he and a couple others explore the tomb-like tunnels. We get the story of Mama Dixon burning herself to death in bed after falling asleep with a cigarette. Then Carl tells Daryl about having to kill his mom: “I ended it. It was real. Sorry about your mom.” “Im sorry about yours,” replies Daryl.
Meeting with The Governor, we hear Andrea admit to enjoying the fights, as opposed to her earlier sentiments. He seems to have her pegged, to know what she’s all about. He also believes he’s “growing” on her. In other news, Merle is trying to get Neil back to Woodbury. The younger guy is giving Merle a bit of hell over what they have to tell The Governor re: Michonne. She’s been shot by Merle, and he’s sure she’ll die. Nevertheless, the oldest Dixon puts a bullet between Neil’s eyes and leaves it at that. Always a survivor.
Michonne is covered in the walker guts after crossing paths with Merle. Lucky for her: the zombies don’t even notice her.


While on their run, Glenn and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) end up being watched from afar by Michonne. For her part, Andrea’s lounging in a lush green garden drinking booze with The Governor. They’re becoming closer and closer with each passing scene.
The most interesting is when Merle shows up where Glenn and Maggie are scavenging, Michonne still waiting in the wings. When Merle starts a fight things get tense. He makes Glenn drop his gun, Maggie at gunpoint in his own grip, all with Michonne watching. When they drive off she’s left alone, shot, and wondering what to do next.
Another call for Sheriff Grimes. He picks up the receiver and hears a familiar voice – Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies). The whole time he’s been talking to Amy, Jim, Jacqui. All their dead friends. This is a devastating scene for Rick, as he sort of compounds all his failures, crying and telling Lori: “I couldnt put it back together.” His breakdown is tough to witness. He’s meant to be that never-wavering alpha leader. But that’s also why Rick is a well written character, whose faults and stumbles are present, always. Yet further he soldiers on in the hardest, most trying times of this new life in the post-zombie apocalypse world.


With Andrea in bed, The Governor’s successfully conned her into his life. Sad, as she’s one smart character. Usually. At the door Merle tells his boss about losing the three people in his search party, or, he lies about what happened. He says Michonne is dead, claiming the head and her sword were “torn up” in the scuffle. Things are lightened when The Governor is made aware of the new hostages, Glenn and Maggie. Merle is apparently getting ready to extract a little info.
Finally, Rick goes back to his son, his daughter, and the rest of the group. He looks long at his new child before picking her up out of Hershel’s arms. The light slowly returns to his eyes and brightens his soul a bit. We can sense a change in that moment, more of the incredible acting talent Andrew Lincoln brings to the role.
In the tombs, Daryl holds the knife belonging to Carol (Melissa McBride). He gets angrier and angrier, opening the door they’d noticed earlier was pushing open slightly and finds Carol herself, right there. A happy reunion in all of the bitter brutality. Outside, Rick notices something off in the distance. He gives the baby to Carl and heads down to the fence where he finds Michonne, carrying formula in a small handcart Maggie and Glenn were stocking up. They lock eyes before the episode cuts to back.


Next up is “When the Dead Come Knocking”. Stay with me.

The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 5: “Say the Word”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 5: “Say the Word”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Angela Kang

* For a review of the previous episode, “Killer Within” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Hounded” – click here
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We start by seeing The Governor (David Morrissey) with a small girl, a walker. Her name is Penny. He’s obviously caring for his daughter even after death has come for her, then brought her back. It is a creepy, unsettling sight. Then, from his window, he sees Michonne (Danai Gurira). She is always watching now, waiting. She knows something is rotten in the town of Woodbury.
Over at the prison, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) is having a tough time dealing with the loss of his wife. Carl (Chandler Riggs) handles it like a tough young man. Everyone else is trying to help the new baby. Hershel (Scott Wilson) says they need baby formula soon, so Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) agree to go on a run. Glenn (Steven Yeun) tries his best to take charge.
But Rick goes back inside the prison on a warpath, chopping down zombie after zombie. He is loosening at the seams, no doubt. And who wouldn’t be at that point?

 


The Governor’s busy not worrying much about other things in the new post-apocalypse life. He toasts his town on the doorstep, reminiscing on times of “Spam and saltine crackers“. Upstairs, though, Michonne slips into his apartment to get her samurai sword back. She finds a book with a bunch of names marked down. The final one? Penny, underlined. Followed by pages of small ink strokes. By the hundreds. She has to hide away before slipping out of the apartment as Merle (Michael Rooker), Milton (Dallas Roberts) and The Governor come in to grab a few supplies. Seems there’s a big party of some sort planned for that night, although Milton isn’t impressed; his experiments need power these little shindigs are leeching.
We see Michonne out investigating other areas of Woodbury. She finds a big cage locked up and full of walkers. Letting them out, one by one they fall by her sword. A bad motherfucker. This puts her in trouble with The Governor, as he scolds her for “poking around other peoplesthings“. Their moments get tense after she brings up Penny, nearly stopping his heart cold. Only that leadership attitude and demeanour comes out, he fawns like some zombie apocalypse Ronald Reagan, smiling for the cameras and doing quite another thing behind closed doors. Maybe even more like a Nixon. Or any number of nasty U.S. Presidents. Either way, he is a politician. Just a different kind in the new wasteland. He and Michonne have their confrontation, which puts strain not only on her whole existence but also her friendship with Andrea (Laurie Holden), who still remains consistently blind to what The Governor is underneath it all.

 


Digging graves, Glenn is busy working. He and Hershel mourn the life of T-Dog. They also worry for Maggie sharing a beautiful moment together, embracing hands through the prison yard’s fence. It is sad to see them always having to lose someone. The new life of the wasteland is unfair and cruel.
Andrea and The Governor are having a few words now. She doesn’t necessarily see eye to eye with the man, but there is a part of her which doesn’t fully trust Michonne either. Even though Andrea owes her life to that woman, for saving her among the vast loneliness of the forest. Michonne knows there is something else behind the facade of Woodbury, and Andrea won’t simply leave. She says “I think we need this“. “This place is not what they say it is,” replies Michonne.
In the tomb-like tunnels of the prison Glenn searches for Rick. Only walker bodies lay strewn along the floor. He finds Rick standing in the dark, bloody axe by his side. Blood everywhere. Rick looks terrifying. Glenn tries talking to him, reasoning, to save the man from any further grief. But when Glenn touches his arm Rick loses it for a second and throws him against a wall. Actually frightened me for a second. He tosses Glenn aside before heading back into the dark hallway nearby.
Merle has Milton out hunting for new walker specimens. They take one down, then start pulling out its teeth. What’s the deal here? Are these just for experiments, or what were all those “captive biters” for earlier – the ones Michonne found?

 


On the road, Maggie and Daryl find a nursery with some supplies: bottles, diapers, all sorts of things. Even a possum for dinner.
In Woodbury, we watch as Michonne and Andrea begin to leave. Only they aren’t on the same page. Then there’s Merle trying to sweet talk them into staying. Andrea says she’s tired, she doesn’t want to go out on the run surviving like they did. Their dream once upon a time was “a refuge”, but Michonne knows there are hideous things lurking beyond the periphery there in that makeshift town. The Governor is a dangerous man. Michonne leaves saying “Youd just slow me down anyway“.
When Daryl and Maggie return to the prison they bring formula, which calms the baby down. He even cradles the child, feeding her. Carl suggests naming her Sophia, maybe Andrea, Jacqui, Patricia. Only Daryl suggests “LilAss Kicker” sounds better.
At the same time Rick is down in the spot where Lori died. His mind is unraveling. He finds a a walker, shoves his gun in its mouth and pulls the trigger. It’s a real visceral, nasty kill.

 


Finally, some of the dirty undercurrent of Woodbury comes out when The Governor takes Andrea to a large arena style show they’ve got going on. Music is playing, fire blazes and everyone is sitting in stands clapping, yelling. Then the lights come up on several chained walkers. Out comes Cesar Martinez (Jose Pablo Cantillo) and Merle Dixon. They’re fighting, surrounded by the zombies. In the stands a man hoists his little boy up on his shoulders to watch the show. Merle and Cesar square off in the ring looking like they’re having the time of their lives. When Andrea is sickened by the spectacle The Governor says it’s how they “blow off steam” in Woodbury. He reveals it’s all staged – that is what the teeth pulling earlier was, as if ‘sports entertainment’ is a required part of their camp. Maybe it is, but the whole thing seems a tad morbid to me.
In the boiler room where Rick sits by the dead walker he brutalized, a phone begins to ring. It’s sitting nearby and Rick goes to it, confused. “Hello?” he answers, as the episode cuts to black.

 


Interesting development. Next up is “Hounded” where we’ll see Michonne more, as well as the new state of mind in which Rick finds himself.

The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 4: “Killer Within”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 4: “Killer Within”
Directed by Guy Ferland
Written by Sang Kyu Kim

* For a review of the previous episode, “Walk with Me” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Say the Word” – click here
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This episode starts with a dead deer carcass being dragged off by someone also holding a jerrycan. Two walkers end up coming across bits and pieces of the deer. Then across the concrete someone runs, axe in hand. They chop the lock from a gate then lay a fresh heart on the ground before running off. Mysterious, eerie. Foreboding.
Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride) and T-Dog (Irone Singleton) are doing some work in the prison yard. They need help, but Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) are busy having sex up in the guard tower. Lighthearted moment when Daryl calls out to them, breaking up their little time alone. But things get back to seriousness, as prisoners Axel (Lew Temple) and Oscar (Vincent Ward) come outside. This breaks their previous pact. But the two men are sick of being stuck inside with all their dead former friends. It’s tough with bodies everywhere, blood, guts. People they were locked up with in there for years. Most of them don’t want to let the prisoners in with them. Although, T-Dog is a little more willing to work on it instead of essentially letting these men die. A bit of talk happens before things are settled.


Back at Woodbury, we find Michonne (Danai Gurira) checking the place out. She investigates everything. Including one of the National Guard vehicles, which still has blood on it. The Governor (David Morrissey) appears, constantly trying to sell the place: “We could use a soldier like you.” She is not at all impressed or convinced. Further than that, she’s suspicious already of what exactly happened with the National Guardsmen. Also, Michonne points out the bullet holes in the vehicle. Of course The Governor has an answer for everything. He’s a sly, greasy man. We know that there’s something wrong, underneath it all, having seen his virtual wall of floating walker heads. Nasty stuff. He’s all about the surface – appearance, identity. Whatever works is The Governor’s game.
The prison is stable for the time being. And so is Hershel (Scott Wilson). Inside, Carl (Chandler Riggs), Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Beth (Emily Kinney) try to help the older fella adjust to his new situation on one leg. Things aren’t exactly peachy, though, they could be far worse. That group, Rick, Daryl, all of them, they are a special breed of survivor.
At the same time, Andrea and Michonne are both survivors in their own right. It seems like Andrea is sliding into believing Woodbury might be a good place to stay after all. Michonne does not agree. Are they going to reach an agreement somehow? They’re better together, not apart.


Rick, Daryl and Glenn are leading some improvements on the prison yard. The plan is to, someday soon, plants crops in the soil; first, the bodies must be cleared. Getting fresh air Hershel admires their latest home. This is a refreshing sight to see. Not only does Maggie enjoy watching her father up on his own, there’s also a reaffirming look between Lori and Rick.
Then behind Carl and his mother, Hershel and Beth, a pack of walkers appear. Out by the fences, Daryl, Rick and Glenn rush fast as they can to help the others. All of a sudden, as is in the new zombie wasteland, a normal day has turned into the savage fight to survive we see now. Never can a day just go by without having to fight for your life, which is a brutal lesson these people are learning all over again. Worst of all? T-Dog gets bitten in the shoulder trying to secure a fence. His fate is sealed.
Meanwhile, there’s Merle trying to get information out of Andrea. He makes The Governor and Woodbury out to be the be-all end-all of human civilization, of course, but that’s to be expected. He rags on Daryl for becoming a part of the other group, following Rick, yet there Merle is sucking up to The Governor every chance he gets, to his face or to someone else.


The prison’s become a mess. Chaos and tragedy. In the tomb-like tunnels, T-Dog shuffles along bit promising to get Carol out of there, one way or another. Simultaneously, Carl manages to protect his mother for a little while with Maggie helping. But Lori’s pregnancy is about to make things fairly difficult.
Stark contrast with The Governor back at Woodbury, up on one of the walls cracking golf balls into the road down the way. One ball smacks a zombie in the face. Merle admires The Governor’s drive, again puckering up. Merle also suggests a scouting mission: he wants, needs, to find Daryl. Only the leader doesn’t find it that attractive of a plan. He doesn’t want to spare the men, nor does he want Merle gone either when a solo trip is suggested. Is this really under the guise of protecting Merle? Or is it selfish? The Governor feels threatened, thinking maybe Merle would run off and leave Woodbury. Shows how fragile of a leadership there is in him. A little later, The Governor meets privately with Andrea. Though she says they’re leaving, definitely. Goodbyes are said. Only I don’t feel like the two women are going anywhere. Not Andrea, anyways.
Rick is trying to track down his family. Him, Daryl, Glenn and the two prisoners rush through the prison to look for a way to shut down the alarm, ringing loud, drawing walkers from out of the woods towards the building. And Lori is stuck in a boiler room, Maggie and her son alongside, ready to give birth. The oldest Greene daughter is now tasked with helping to deliver a baby, a partially traumatized Carl trying his best to stay strong, on watch with his gun in hand. This is one of the most intense and rough scenes in The Walking Dead history. Quickly, things start to go wrong.
A sacrifice is made by T-Dog as he and Carol try getting through the prison tunnels. He suppresses several walkers, taking bite after bite in the arms, then the neck, all for Carol to run free and make it back outside. Always tragic character deaths in this series. Sad. I loved T-Dog; Irone Singleton does a great job with him, even if he doesn’t always get enough time onscreen. Either way, too bad to see him go.


Rick finally tracks down the culprit of all the mayhem in the prison – the prisoner he’d told to run after their confrontation with Tomas ended bloodily. After a bit of wrestling and fighting, Oscar ends up with the gun. Instead of shooting Rick, he shoots his former friend then hands the gun over to Sheriff Grimes. Unexpected, yet excellent. They’ve developed at least a tenuous bond to stay alive, as long as they’re in the same walls.
Troubled times ahead for the Grimes family, though.
Things aren’t going well for Lori and her birth. She needs the baby saved, there are complications, and insists on it, to Maggie’s dismay. It looks as if the mother may not necessarily make it out of this alive. She tells Carl “you take care of your daddy for me“, telling him he’s “so brave“. An emotionally terrifying scene to watch a young son and his mother in this situation. The advice she gives him breaks my heart. I don’t actually love Lori as a character, but these moments will kill you, unless you’re dead inside. Their goodbye is tender, full of tears. Lori doesn’t want Rick to have to kill her when everything is over, as she once said to Hershel; she asks Maggie to do the deed. And then Maggie cuts into her stomach, opening it up to get the baby out. It is a bloody, visceral minute or so before the baby starts to cry, alive and well.
Even worse is afterward when Carl has to shoot his mom in the head. He flashes back to when Rick told him about death, and “no more kid stuff“. The shot rings out while Maggie is around the corner, then Carl walks away emotionless. Such a savage world in which to grow up.


The mangled body of T-Dog is found by Rick and Daryl. They find Hershel and Beth safely, assuming Carol might have been killed, as well. And just as they stop talking, Rick hears a baby crying. Out Maggie and Carl come with the newborn child. No Lori. This prompts one of the most emotionally devastating scenes in the entire series; to date. Rick breaks down, literally crumpling on the ground. Everyone is shocked to their core. The end, for another chapter.


Next episode is “Say the Word”. More blood, death, despair. And what else?

The Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 3: “Walk With Me”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 3: “Walk With Me”
Directed by Guy Ferland
Written by Evan T. Reilly

* For a review of the previous episode, “Sick” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Killer Within” – click here
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We start out with a military helicopter chopping through the sky; it’s in trouble. The serious kind. With soldiers inside the thing goes down hard into the forest.
Cut to Andrea (Laurie Holden) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) on the road, miles away. They see it crash, then begin to make their way into a field out towards the site. Of course, Michonne has her two pet zombies on a leash with them. When they get to the crash, Andrea has to rest a minute, still not feeling top notch after her bout of the flu, or whatever. Michonne goes to see if there are any survivors, but mostly it’s just death. One soldier is cut in half completely by the chopper’s remaining blade.
And then in the road a little further comes a truck. Michonne and Andrea hide, checking out the people who emerge from the vehicles. They’re a crew of men there to investigate the crash, as well as see if there’s anything worth scavenging. A few walkers come out of the forest and are quickly dispatched by this new group, with bow and arrows, baseball bats. The men discover a soldier in the helicopter is still breathing, so they get him out. They only end up killing more people, the dead coming back. Essentially putting people out of their misery, yet there’s still something about these guys that feels… military. Strongly so, and in the wrong sense.


But out of the woods behind Michonne and Andrea comes a familiar face, to us, and Andrea, too. It is “your old pal Merle” – Mr. Michael Rooker himself. After all he’s been through, the older Dixon brother survived. He now has a nice little rig on his arm, extending out into a blade. Good for the post-zombie apocalypse.
Now the two women are being shuffled off, blindfolded in the night. Brought to some place where they have no idea how to get, or get back from. Although, once they’re in this new camp Andrea’s being cared for with medicine. Merle shows up and explains a few things. Shows off his bloody, nasty stump. He has a few choice words, particularly about Rick Grimes (Andrea Lincoln). Their reunion is not exactly cheery, but Andrea doesn’t seem in danger. For now.
The man who runs the community is called The Governor (David Morrissey). He also gives Andrea and Michonne some knowledge – no matter how people die, they turn. Shocking for these two to learn it, especially from a man neither of them know. But either way for the time being they’re welcomed into the quaint, walled little town named Woodbury.
The place is almost too good to be true. Neither Andrea nor Michonne is too keen on staying, though, eventually they’re convinced to stay a while. Their streets are protected, men always on guard and others making runs for supplies, et cetera. A few people with obvious medical experience take care of the sick and unhealthy. Walkers never make it inside the town walls, but are shot by lookouts posted around Woodbury. Seems as if The Governor has everything all figured out, right?


In a makeshift laboratory, Milton Mamet (Dallas Roberts) is doing a few experiments. He and Merle aren’t really pals, they don’t work well together. But Milton gets on with his tests. The Governor is interested in the previous relationship between Merle and Andrea, from their old group; he wants more information, specifically asking if Andrea knew anything about his brother Daryl (Norman Reedus).
Milton dissects and studies the walkers Michonne was hauling along with her on the leashes. Turns out, if you take away the zombie’s ability to eat eventually it stops wanting to, or caring for food. As we know they were used as repellent, to help Michonne walk among the dead without much attention paid to her. The Governor has Milton fairly wrapped around his finger, as it seems the rest of Woodbury’s citizens are, too.
The next morning, Andrea and Michonne have breakfast with Milton and The Governor. Not totally without unease. Michonne eyes her samurai sword placed in a cabinet in the apartment where they sit. All the while, tea is served and things are as if nothing ever changed. Except every single thing has changed. Personally, the idea of Woodbury and trying to make things seem normal is almost too forward a step. Too forward thinking, at least for the time being. While most of the world is overrun with living corpses.
The soldier saved earlier gives The Governor a location for the rest of his men, a National Guard convoy. He heads out to meet them waving a white flag to make sure they don’t take it as an assault. He tells the men about their survivor, but soon things turn into a bloodbath. The Governor initiates an all-out one sided gunfight, kill the soldiers and commandeering all their guns, ammo, vehicles. It is a chilling moment. To watch this Governor go from being a friendly leader welcoming new citizens into his safe haven suburb, to a cold blooded killer who takes down a bunch of military men who were probably willing to become part of their larger group, perhaps help with keeping things safe. A very defining scene, which will resonate further.
So back to town goes The Governor and his men, new vehicles and other goods in tow. Just another day out scavenging the wastelands. He boldfaced lies to everyone in Woodbury, saying the National Guard soldiers were taken down by “biters”, as they call them in this camp. Is this how things usually go, will always go? Probably. He seems like a two-faced sort already within the first episode of his appearance. Those who’ve read the comics know all about his danger.
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Andrea: “So whats your real name? If its not asking too much.”
Governor: “I never tell
Andrea: “Never say never
Governor: “Never


But it’s the final couple minutes of the episode which tell the full tale. The Governor, with a naked woman splayed on his bed sleeping, slips into a secret room he keeps. He drinks and sits in his big leather chair, thinking. Watching. In front of him stands a large encasement of aquarium tanks, all of them holding dead walker heads, including the National Guard soldier who survived; at least until he arrived in Woodbury. More will come. Let’s see how this new town affects both Andrea and Michonne.
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Stay tuned. Next episode is titled “Killer Within”.