A badly injured Rick Grimes revisits the past, wondering if he's done the right thing along his path.
The Governor convinces his new group to attack the prison. With grim results.
Glenn & Maggie are broken out of Woodbury. But these troubles are only the beginning of the heartache for Rick & his crew.
Season 1, Episode 8: “Here Is Wisdom”
Directed by Tim Andrew
Written by Sarah Thorp
* For a review of the previous episode, “Abattoir” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Devil You Know” – click here
So many things happening on Glen Mazzara’s excellently macabre series Damien. First, there’s the Antichrist himself, Damien Thorn (Bradley James), whose search for the truth is bringing him further into madness. Then there’s everyone around him.
Simone Baptiste (Megalyn E.K.) is off on her quest for truth, too. After speaking to Sister Greta Fraueva (Robin Weigert) in the last episode, Simone’s further energized to find out exactly what’s going on with Damien. Simone and Greta track down the dagger of Megiddo that the assassin dropped in the sewers. But what does this mean? Will they just have to kill Damien, is that the only way? Surely it is.
Speaking of Damien, he’s in therapy. He picks up a copy of Nausea by Jean-Paul Sartre briefly. Mostly, he feels like he’s “whining“, and his therapist says he’s got PTSD. What’s most fun about this scene, to me, is that we’ve got the actual Antichrist here. That’s part of the premise. Regardless of where things go, how well they get there, Damien is the Antichrist. And here he is, sitting with a therapist and talking about his feelings. Amazing. At once it’s dark and disturbing, as well as darkly hilarious. Damien and his therapist talk about existential crisis, the toughness of making choices, mentions of Sartre.
Meanwhile, Detective James Shay (David Meunier) is getting shit on even though he knows there’s something shady about Damien. Yet there is the fact Charles Powell (Joe Doyle) just murdered a man, on his own (or was it?), and quite brutally at that. So for now, eyes are off Mr. Thorn.
For his part, Damien is dealing with a little boxed up gift left at his door. It contains a bloody little present. A tongue. Inside it, a roll of film. He’s interrupted by Detective Shay – wow, what timing! This is a tense scene, especially when Damien realizes the very person Shay is talking about, Cray Marquand, had his tongue removed. And it’s right there on the table, barely hidden from the cop. Great writing here. Plus, more intrigue concerning Powell. I’m excited to see how his crazy ass is going to play further into Damien’s story from here on out. As if there’s not enough going on for the poor Antichrist.
Cut to Amani (Omid Abtahi). He’s figuring out some things about Damien’s place getting trashed. With a favour from a buddy, he sees Veronica Selvaggio (Melanie Scrofano) outside the apartment. Uh oh.
And then there’s Ann Rutledge (Barbara Hershey). She’s looking to have a dagger of Megiddo destroyed. A friend breaks out his welding torch. Except the dagger is completely resistant. It will not be burned. Those are some powerful blades.
Now Amani is meeting with Simone and Sister Greta. All their heads are put together now. Greta mentions they’ve suspected someone has been looking out for Damien for years, likely now she believes it to be Rutledge. Also, Amani reveals he’s sleeping with Veronica. But going back to try and get information from her? Is that really smart? I doubt it. Because he’s not subtle enough. And if she sniffs out that he knows more than he should it is bye-bye Amani.
Now Damien is developing the film from the tongue of Cray. When he shines the film under his infrared bulb, every frame is the same but for the last: a solid black frame with the word REMEMBER scratched in. Off Damien goes, followed by Shay. But then the detective’s car shuts down. He’s back in the way of evil. The car locks itself. It catches fire, trapping Shay inside. He just barely manages to escape before the whole thing goes up. Narrowly escaping death. Again. Wonder if this guy will end up getting the axe. I hope not because he’s pretty bad ass.
Damien has officially remembered. He goes to see Powell in a little trailer in the woods. They’d cut classes and go down there back in the day. Charlie’s convinced Damien has killed people, intentionally. “I‘ve always believed in you,” says Charles. Of course Damien doesn’t see the burning of Powell the same as the burned man himself. And it turns out there are “others“, “nobodies” that Charles murdered… all for Damien. “So, who should we kill next?” he asks a visibly distraught Damien.
The Antichrist almost fully comes out of Damien when he nearly beats the life completely out of Charles, raging, punching him. Now, he may actually become a murderer.
At the same time, Shay is falling apart at home. His son’s drawing a car fire and that freaks him out, naturally. He’s been lying to his husband, though. That’s not cool. Bigger issues on his plate for the time being. He’s a brave dude, heading out into the dark of the forest after all the creepy events starting to cloud around him. He ends up out at the place where Charles and Damien met. He finds Charlie, beaten and raving: “The Devil did this.”
More and more, Damien falls apart, as well. He lets all the anger inside him out to his therapist. She does her best to convince Damien he’s still a human being, that he has a handle on his life, his choices. But the spiral of Damien’s life and delusions are plummeting faster towards something intense.
Damien: “Is that not our responsibility? When we encounter evil, shouldn‘t we destroy it?”
Amani finally confronts Veronica, about her mother Ann, her boss. He outright threatens her over Damien, saying he’ll kill for his best friend. She says that their relationship is real. How can you trust her? Well, Amani doesn’t know exactly what’s been going on at the top of all this insanity. Either way, he is pretty serious about it all ending. Not just them, but the whole thing. Only now he’s a part of the whole mess.
Back to Ann goes her daughter. Now that’s another secret out in the wind. So now Ann has got to get some work done. “No more carelessness,” she tells her daughter and puts away the dagger of Megiddo she now knows cannot be destroyed simply by fire.
Greta and Simone do a little bit of bonding. Looks like Greta is pretty on the level. Only I fear for both their safety. Problem is a whole lot more good people are going to die before this is all over. I spoke almost too soon.
Veronica is out looking into Greta, following her in the dark, which attracts Simone’s attention. A very suspenseful sequence shot in the shadowy hallways, lit by stained glass windows. Finally, it’s Veronica who ends up with a bullet in her. Yikes! What will Mama Rutledge do about this now? I can only imagine what wrath that’ll unleash.
Over at Damien’s place, Amani comes to lay bare the truth. He was an unwitting pawn in their game. He also lets Damien know about Ann’s daughter. But further than that Damien realizes it’s his fault Amani is even caught up in this entire debacle.
Worse than anything, in jail Charles receives a therapist. The same one as Damien. She lets slip, very purposefully, that Damien wishes he was dead. She’s a part of it clearly. It all upsets Charles, believing Damien loves him. “You‘re not a true servant, you‘re a liar,” she tells Charles before stabbing him in the neck violently, relentlessly, with a nice sharp pen. Blood everywhere. Did not see this coming all around. Great, gory horror for a few moments.
Anybody who didn’t make it past the pilot episode has been missing out on the all the true horror scenes. This one was a doozy. Dig it. And Dt. Shay is too late to save Charlie, but puts a few bullets in the psychotic therapist. The title of the episode? Right on the pad she’d used for scribbling before murdering Mr. Powell.
What a great chapter in this series. Next up is “The Devil You Know” and it’s the penultimate Season 1 episode! Very exciting. Mazzara and Co have only improved since the beginning. I do hope A&E will give this a chance to develop even further. Season 2 is needed.
Season 1, Episode 6: “Temptress”
Directed by Nick Copus
Written by Richard Hatem
* For a review of the previous episode, “Seven Curses” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Abattoir” – click here
After the emotionally devastating “Seven Curses”, Damien Thorn (Bradley James) is being transported to the hospital following his suicide attempt. He wakes to Simone (Megalyn E.K.). She genuinely cares and wants to help. Also kicking around is Ann Rutledge (Barbara Hershey) trying to make things go smoother for the Antichrist.
Except for now he’s under observation. Detective Shay (David Meunier) is on his way. So Damien slips out, nice and quiet. He heads off to meet Amani (Omid Abtahi) in some sketchy alley, heading down into a below ground club. Someone wants to meet Damien. Very secretive. They meet with a tattoo artist who says two men came and roughed him up, asking for a tattoo to be done on someone who’s passed out. Turns out it was Damien. He apparently tattooed the 666 on his scalp. Or so he claims. Is this true? I don’t think it is. Could it really be the case?
This is one of the best openers of any episode yet. Dig it, hard. Makes it all quite exciting.
Love the whole aesthetic of this show. Dark, dreary, though vibrant.
Amani is shown the tattoo. He explains the artist came looking for him, after seeing Damien at the VA hospital. Too convenient. Everything around Damien’s becoming more and more slippery, in terms of reality. He sees people in the distance, a hooded figure. Now all this about his supposed birthmark being faked. He has no way to latch onto anything real, so the world only becomes further confused.
Doesn’t help that John Lyons (Scott Wilson) muddies the waters. He’s in league with Ann, yet there he is telling Damien all about her, the danger he’s in because of her presence. John gives over a big file filled with countless bits of information.
Damien discovers, from a doctor at the hospital, he was given a dose of some incredibly powerful psychedelics. Wild shit. But Lyons is quick to keep things silent. The doctor wants to let police know. Lyons would rather handle it himself. “We don‘t bring in outsiders to clean up our messes,” he tells Damien.
As the unknowing Antichrist walks the streets, a hooded figure hovers not far away. He ends up meeting with Ann who says she wants to chat. With all the belief instilled by Lyons about Ann waging “psychological warfare” on him, Damien has got his back up. If only he knew. He’s being played on all sides. It really is a setup for complete mental breakdown, as well as the possible emergence of a vicious evil. For now, he rips Ann a new one, even going so far as to verbally threaten her. Yikes.
So Damien goes ahead and tosses out all his food. Until Amani arrives. He captured the meeting with Ann as planned. Then he followed her to a meeting with Lyons. Now Damien’s world, his reality, all those truths are slipping even faster. He manages to sneak his way into Lyons’ office under the pretense of a forgotten phone. He locates a file with his name on it and gets it out undiscovered. Inside is everything from pictures to documents and tons of other things. Including pictures of a woman, which intrigue him.
And then he meets her: his mother, Mrs. Thorn (Bess Armstrong). She’d been in hospital when her husband tried to kill Damien, then under the impression they’d both died.
Although, is this all too convenient? Would Lyons really keep a file on Damien with such important, damning evidence right in his desk? All of a sudden, his mother pops up and claims there was nothing ever wrong with him, that she was sucked into thinking all those Antichrist-like things about him by Mrs. Baylock and the like. This feels like an elaborate scheme. Because nothing good can ever come to the Antichrist, can it?
Of course Ann arrives. Then she and Mrs. Thorn have a pretty tense argument. An accident, on Damien’s part, causes his mother to fly down a staircase, cracking her skull along the way. Too good to be true. Ann says she’ll keep his actions a secret, pissing him off enough to strangle her. He ends up having to wrestle her henchmen. We get to see Damien kick some ass here, too. He’s pretty tough when he wants to be, taking them down and getting the hell out of Dodge.
But what did Ann mean when she asked if Damien’s mother would tell him who she really is? Who is she truly? Another ruse on Lyons’ part?
When Damien goes to see Simone, something is not right. Everything feels wrong. He heads back out to the streets, and sees smoething even stranger: Amani meeting with Ann. They sit together at a fancy restaurant outdoors. Or at least that’s what Damien thinks he sees. Detective Shay comes out of nowhere and picks him up, wondering exactly what happened with Damien’s mother, wondering what the hell is going on at all; especially after the events he experienced at home a couple episodes. Pleading to be taken seriously, Damien brings Shay to meet the tattoo artist. Problem being the man is dead, murdered, driven through with a bunch of daggers. The plot thickens.
Things are very complicated for Damien. Everything he says is like a dead end because there are too many questions about his mental health involved. He seems absolutely crazy. Right down to a bit of blood Simone smeared on his shirt, actually from a steak, which does him no favours. At all.
And life only gets stranger. Shay drives Damien in a cop car, they stop in the dark and then Lyons gets in. He doesn’t seem too happy with Damien and what’s been going on. But what is it that’s happening here? Is this reality? Outside, something attacks both Lyons and Shay. A bunch of somethings. They climb inside the car, terrorizing Damien.
Then he wakes up in an ambulance right after his suicide attempt. The EMTs look like the two henchmen from earlier. Was it all a dream?
He’s awake again, for real this time. In the hospital, Ann waits by his side, comforting him. The whole dream crushes him. He’d hoped none of the Antichrist business was real. And he really hoped Ann was actually dead. Too bad, so sad. He drives her away for now. The emerging Antichrist in him is causing everything to crumble. How can he ever be sure what’s real and what isn’t? His waking life is filled with nightmares, so is his sleep.
Solid, creepy episode. Very excited for the next episode to see what’s about to happen, as more revelations, more nightmares, more truths come out of the woodwork. Next up is “Abattoir”, so stay tuned with me!
Season 1, Episode 3: “The Deliverer”
Directed by Guillermo Navarro
Written by Ryan C. Coleman
* For a review of the previous episode, “Second Death” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Number of a Man” – click here
As Ann Rutledge (Barbara Hershey) leads Damien Thorn (Bradley James) back towards his past, the memories, and his seat on the throne as Antichrist, Glen Mazzara’s Damien moves to the next chapter, “The Deliverer”, and one can only hope things get more macabre, more wild from here on in.
After escaping a near stabbing, Damien is really on the radar. Detective James Shay (David Meunier) is also on the case of the dead professor, torn apart by the dogs. Well it’s no secret how it all comes together. Trouble’s around the corner for Shay now, too. The hounds of Hell are lurking around his office. Will he find himself at the wrong end of the Antichrist’s wrath? All the threads of Shay’s investigation lead back to Damien – the deaths, the attempted stabbing. Their paths will crash together soon.
The flood of memories from Damien’s past aren’t coming easy. He recalls essentially killing his mother: “This is a murder weapon,” he says describing his childhood tricycle. He remembers the governess who killed herself, Ms. Baycroft, all of it. All the while, Ann tells him of a group which protects him, and has for quite some time. Damien seems to believe, as far as he was nearly killed because of some mad belief. But it’s all a shock to his system, like it would be for any rational human being. He doesn’t really want anything to do with it, particularly after Ann gets a little creepy on him.
Simone Baptiste (Megalyn E.K.) is seeking out help in regards to the notebook her sister left behind. All the talk of Satan, “the Book of Revelations” and more. A priest only shoos her away by saying there’s nothing to it. As she leaves, Simone sees a statue of the Virgin Mary start bleeding from a heart full of swords. Then, it’s gone again. Yikes. That can’t be any good.
Damien’s diving in deep trying to track down hospital records. Likely hoping to discover the origins of his birth. Then he’s also stuck on Ann, the relics of his childhood, the fact she bought up a ton of his work. Partner Amani Golkar (Omid Abtahi) thinks there’s a ton of weird shit happening, too, but can’t get on board with Ann being a stalker. Furthermore, Damien shows him the pictures of the old Syrian woman in the background of his other pictures. Yet Amani’s only concerned with their work, and Damien’s mental health. He is obviously a good friend. Though, will that thread wear thin?
Finally we’re introduced to John Lyons (Scott Wilson). He and Damien are “old pals” from when the latter was a part of the White House world. We also get bits to fill in story between The Omen and Damien: Omen II; Lyons mentions Damien left the White House simply because it wasn’t a conducive environment to raising a young boy. Makes sense. But that’s part of what’s making this series solid heading into each following episode. They use lots of clips, which started annoying me earlier. But now, with Lyons and his character, they’re adding bits and pieces to the background of this mythology, and that’s interesting. Aside from that, Damien gets clues as to what’s happening around him out of Lyons – particularly, that Ann Rutledge is a scary lady.
Simone is starting to slip. Well, not really. But outwardly, to Amani now, it’s looking like she’s “grasping at straws“, yet we know the truth. She is beginning to see the light; the dark light of the Antichrist.
Well now we’re also seeing Lyons and Rutledge together. Is Lyons a part of this super secret group? Seems that is the case. “I brought you in,” he tells Ann. John wants Damien under lock and key, unimpressed with her work thus far. “Do you know how much blood I‘ve spilled keeping him safe?” Ann questions. Apparently there’s no more room for Ann in Lyons’ plans. I enjoy this angle because it speaks to the nature of the Antichrist, how big corporations and secretive societies might try to use his presence as a way to influence world events, politics, economy, who knows what else. Plus, it gives us more to latch onto other than just Damien; even though he’s interesting enough.
Lyons: “This Damascus woman is the sign we‘ve been waiting for”
I also love the investigative nature of Damien’s storyline so far. He’s digging deep and hard into his origins. So there’s a mystery angle to the whole series here in the first few episodes. But Ann is working her own games on the side, too. She sets up a situation where Damien ends up chasing her successor; right into the street, down to the subway. She plays both sides to create a situation where the Antichrist ends up saving a child, before inadvertently causing death as the man he chases ends up shredded to bits on an escalator. Savage. Nasty. Dig it. A bit of gruesomeness added to this A&E series, after a couple mild horror moments in the previous episodes (aside from the throat chomping at the jaws of dogs). Of course Ann hears of it back at the office, faking sympathy and gloating in her latest victory.
Note: the idea of fate and free will come in here plenty, as Damien fights off his destiny/legacy as the Antichrist while trying to be a good person, saving people, and all the while condemning himself for not saving everybody.
Damien: “It seems wherever I go, death follows.”
Quick enough, Detective Shay meets a hound from Hell. I expected it. Although, wasn’t sure if Shay would make it out alive.
On a lighter note, Ann brings Damien some food and now they’re all buddy-buddy again. She’s incredibly dedicated to him, wanting him to accept his position as Antichrist. She pushes him, lightly, towards it every chance possible. He talks about some of the terrible, hideous things he’s seen; the pictures he took, et cetera, in some of the vicious places of the world. “The fields were filled with the screams of the dying,” he recounts with obvious tears welling around his eyes. The story involves a pregnant woman and a disgusting act, a whopping revelation from his time in the fields as a war photographer. “The evil you felt that night, that you always feel, that you keep running away from – it comes from inside of you,” Ann tells him. An all around spooky scene, with plenty of meaty, unsettling dialogue between Ann and Damien. Crazier is the masochistic weirdness of Ann, sporting cuts in the form of 666 on her inner thigh. Wow, just… wow.
The finale is super unnerving, with Ann feeling Damien’s birthmark right after cutting a fresh 666 into her flesh over the last one. It’s all overwhelming for her, as she nearly orgasms from the thrill.
Damien: “Guess there is a God after all”
Ann: “Not God; something else.”
What an episode. Mazzara’s series is getting better by the episodes. Let’s hope this continues in the next one, “The Number of a Man” – stay with me, friends and fellow fans.
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 2, Episode 13: “Beside the Dying Fire”
Directed by Ernest R. Dickerson
Written by Robert Kirkman & Glen Mazzara
* For a review of the previous episode, “Better Angels” – click here
* For a review of the Season 3 premiere, “Seed” – click here
Here is the Season 2 finale. What will the consequences of Rick’s (Andrew Lincoln) actions in “Better Angels” bring? How will Carl (Chandler Riggs) move on emotionally from this point? Will Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) find a way to hate Rick for what he’s done, or will she stand true to her belief that Shane (Jon Bernthal) was dangerous? Not a whole lot matters with all those zombies moving towards Rick, Carl, and in turn the camp.
This episode begins with a helicopter flying overhead of Atlanta. Walkers look up and start to move towards the noise. They make their way out of the city, into the fields, the wide open spaces of America’s South. Soon, they come up against a fence. After pushing against it a horde of them manage to break it down. They continue on ahead. Into the woods, through the night. Always walking.
It’s then they hear a shot. The one that killed Shane. And now we’re back watching them move towards the farm, as Rick and Carl head back.
At the house, Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Glenn (Steven Yeun) tell the group what they found, in terms of Randall. Daryl tells them about how Shane was walking with him. Lori’s too concerned about Rick, though.
Carl is asking how Shane died, if he was bit. Then Rick is about to tell him, but walkers interrupt their talk. They’re moving in further to the ranch. On the porch, Daryl and Andrea (Laurie Holden) also begin to see them close in. This is the beginning of a wildly chaotic season finale. Hershel (Scott Wilson) starts to get things prepared, as Daryl and the others try to figure out their next move. Meanwhile, Rick and Carl hide in the barn; ironic how now the barn is hiding the living, instead of when it housed the dead. Finally the guns are brought out again, big time. All of them load up.
Glenn and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) take a vehicle, as do T-Dog (Irone Singleton) and the others, then circle around the farm shooting any and all zombies they can. It’s a shootout for a while with Daryl, Glenn, even Jimmy (James Allen McCune) firing off round after round after round. When Carl and Rick light the barn on fire to save themselves, it’s clear the farm will never be the same again. Poor Jimmy ends up getting torn apart, eaten alive, as father and son are rescued from the barn. That’s going to hit poor Beth (Emily Kinney) hard; sad after all she’s seen so far.
The ranch is being abandoned, even with Hershel making a last stand firing a shotgun at the walkers bearing down on his house. Patricia (Jane McNeill) is also ripped to pieces by zombies on her way to try and escape. Maggie and Glenn are forced to leave the farm, not knowing for sure what’s happening to the others. Back with Hershel, he finds himself saved by Rick before a walker bites him. Lori is off in one direction. Rick and Hershel and Carl have to go in another, Daryl finds Carol (Melissa McBride) on his bike heading in another direction. Everyone is separated. Almost epic tragedy to watch Hershel see his ranch in the rear window of the truck, speeding away, fire engulfing almost everything now and the living dead stumbling after them. Insane sequence. Craziest yet: Andrea is left behind. Somehow in the shuffle she never made it to a vehicle, and off everyone went leaving her in the dust with all the zombies.
Awhile later, Carl, Rick and Hershel pull up to where they were on the highway at the end of Season 1 and the beginning of this season. Where they waited for Sophia. The plan is to stay together now. Hershel isn’t as optimistic as Rick, though, even he is pretty tense at the moment. Out on the road, T-Dog, Beth and Lori drive in a truck together, but soon they also head back to the highway. So do Daryl and Carol, too. The group is reunited once more, thankfully. All the remaining survivors are able to survive together a little longer. Handshakes, hugs, kisses. It’s a happy, brief reprieve in a cold and lonely world of death. The one sore spot: Andrea is lost, somewhere behind them. Their plan now is to head out east, somewhere. Anywhere else. They can only hope Andrea is either moving on herself, or passed to a better, less painful place; yeah, right.
Rick: “You‘re a man of God. Have some faith.”
Hershel: “I can‘t profess to understand God‘s plan, Christ promised the resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something a little different in mind.”
Andrea’s alive, at least. She sprints through the forest all on her own, guns and ammo in tow. She will definitely become a better shot, a better all around hunter and fighter and survivor. A bit of time alone in the zombie apocalypse certainly can prove to either be death, or an incredibly brutal regime of survival. Here’s to hoping Andrea can use it as the latter and come out on top.
With gas running low Rick and the crew stop on the road a while. Nobody can seem to agree on a perfect plan. Although, Rick tries his best to lead things keep coming up against him. Then he’s forced to tell the group “We‘re all infected“. This is what Dr. Jenner told him at the CDC before they left. He kept it a secret all this time; everyone carries the virus, it comes on after death. A devastating blow to hear at this point, causing everyone to question Rick’s leadership. Also, Rick tells Lori he killed Shane, which rocks her world a little, too.
In the forest, Andrea is saved by a hooded figure wielding a samurai sword and holding two armless-jawless walkers on chain link leashes. Amazing. Another exciting character arrives. We’ll see her more next season, a ton.
Rick: “I am doing something! I‘m keeping this group together. Alive! I‘ve been doing that all along, no matter what; I didn‘t ask for this! I killed my best friend for you people, for Christ sake! You saw what he was like. How he pushed me, how he compromised us, how he threatened us. He staged the whole Randall thing, led me out to put a bullet in my back. He gave me no choice! He was my friend, but he came after me. My hands are clean. Maybe you people are better off without me. Go ahead. I say there‘s a place for us, but maybe– maybe it‘s just another pipe dream. Maybe– maybe I‘m fooling myself again. Why don‘t– why don’t you go out and find yourself. Send me a postcard! Go on, there‘s the door. You can do better. Let‘s see how far you get. No takers? Fine.”
With Rick ready to lead everyone, he states firmly: “This is not a democracy anymore”
The season finishes, as we see a craning shot of a prison not far from where the group stays the night. Surely, they’ll make their way to it next season. Lots of excitement in store!
Stay tuned for a review of the Season 3 premiere, titled “Seed”.