Fear the Walking Dead – Season 3, Episode 4: “100”

AMC’s Fear the Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 4: “100”
Directed by Alex Garcia Lopez
Written by Alan Page

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, TEOTWAWKI”” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame” – click here
Pic 1We see the journey of Daniel Salazar (Rubén Blades), after escaping from the massive fire where he and the group were staying awhile back. So glad to see him back. Although not without struggle and pain. He didn’t simply escape the fire, he barely made it out. His hands and neck and legs burned. Walking through the streets, he winds up stalked by one of the dead. He barely makes it away from it when a dog draws the thing away.
One thing I fail to mention each episode is how much I love the low-key, subdued opening. I also dig the original series’ opening sequence, the music. But something about this series is more unsettling, very creepy, an ominous sound leading us into every episode.
Pic 1ADaniel comes across a man named Efrain (Jesse Borrego), he seems like a bit of a religious man. He kills the dead like an old school vampire hunter, only putting his version of the stake – a long nail – through the zombies’ heads. Either way, it’s another human to help Daniel, at least for now. He aids the old man in getting someplace safe; our friend isn’t well, and definitely parched. They get a bit of water from a nearby fountain, it looks like it only comes on at certain times a day. Each Tuesday, 5 PM. Ah, the water wars we saw last episode, a situation into which Strand (Colman Domingo) has put himself. Looks like Daniel may wind up there, too.
Daniel: “What are you?”
Efrain: “Me? Im the fifth Beatle. You?”
Efrain is a wild dude. He bottles water when he can, then heads out on a bicycle cart with a speaker shouting AGUA in the streets to alert the thirsty people. At the same time men patrol the streets in vehicles with guns, not wanting a black market on water to crop up.
Our water dealer takes Daniel to a woman named Lola Guerrero (Lisandra Tena). She assess his leg, that it’s starting to rot. Either scrape away the pants burned into the wound, or it’s possible he’ll lose it. Poor old lad, he’s got to take the pain in order not to draw out the dead too much. He and Lola sing a song together in Spanish, as she goes about scraping out the wound. Lucky for him it works, and he’s only relegated to a crutch for awhile until it heals.
Pic 2Something is rotting in you far worse than your leg
When Efrain and Daniel bond, the former learns more about the latter. Mainly the fact Daniel has killed “ninetysix” people, that he feels he isn’t a good man and has to pay a debt, to redeem himself for his sins. He tells Efrain about leaving El Salvador, coming to Los Angeles to become a barber. He also cuts his new friend’s hair; an intimate and powerful gesture in its own right.
Now the old guy’s biggest worry is for his daughter Ofelia (Mercedes Mason), wondering where she is, how she is, if she’s safe, or what is the case. Even after nearly burning alive he’s still hard on himself. Because he believes he possibly burned his own daughter to death in that fire. He seeks forgiveness, but Efrain isn’t the one to give it to him.
I only hope Daniel doesn’t push himself too far. He’s determined to find redemption. So he prays. And out from the sky comes a lightning bolt, crashing into the head of a walker that nearly chomps down on him. A sign, if there ever were one. Still, Daniel ends up washing away in flood waters with the zombie. He winds up at the Gonzalez Dam, and by a stroke of luck he’s located by Lola. Dante Esquivel (Jason Manuel Olazabal) runs the operation, “distributing water” in his own fashion. A man named J.C. (Ricardo Chacon) confronts Lola when she brings the old guy around, though they cover, saying he was desperate for work. They put him out around the drainage area, hauling bodies. Where he’s able to get a good look at the dam’s entrance, where Strand soon winds up.
Daniel starts to see what daily life is like there, a far cry from where he once was and yet troubling. Everyone stands for Dante as he walks into the lunch hall, except for our man. It’s like a cult, ruled by authoritarian hand. This guy J.C. has got it in for Daniel, too. A fight breaks out when he tries acting like an asshole a bit too much. This gets the boss’ attention. Turns out, Dante knows a bit about Daniel, at least what he can gather from knowing the old man lived in El Salvador, the capital in fact.
He’s got a lip tattoo which reads SN, prompting the boss to speak the words “Sombra Negra“; in reference to the Black Shadow, a death squad in Salvador that targeted criminals and gang-bangers for execution in a form of government-backed vigilante justice. Now we see more of why Officer Salazar feels how he does about himself, why he’s in a sort of moral prison in his mind. He’s done some seriously bad fucking shit.
Pic 3With this revelation, Daniel’s ingratiated himself into the inner circle of the dam. Dante wants him on their team. Although our guy is mostly just concerned with finding a way to search for his daughter. So he’s out on patrols with the boss’ boys, they’re looking for sneaky people stealing water where they shouldn’t be. Daniel watches the clock, worried Efrain will show himself at 5 PM. Afterwards he leads them right to his new friend. What a cold move. He tries telling Lola that it was to protect her, that they’d find out sooner than later. Same kind of bullshit he used to convince himself while working on a Salvadoran death squad years earlier.
Lola: “This place is perfect for you. You are a thug. Go get your prize, thug.”
Finally, Daniel watches Strand stroll past the gates. Taken to see the boss. And later when Victor is placed in a cell, Daniel goes to see him with water. A meeting after so long apart. He hears that Ofelia made it out, she’s alive. This gives him hope, for the first time in forever. However, the old guy won’t believe him, believing this is all lies. Oh, christ. He’s going off the deep end. This is not good, at all.
Not to mention Daniel’s called int to torture information out of Efrain. This is ugly. Maybe some of the ugliest stuff we’ve seen so far on Fear the Walking Dead. As if he didn’t have any farther down to fall, after the death squad reveal. He’s being pulled back into that old, hideous life he fled in Salvador. If he even does make it back to Ofelia, he’ll never be the same person. And redemption can’t ever really come.
For Efrain’s sake, Lola throws herself on him. Before Daniel can kill him. Just a tragic situation altogether. You know where they’re being taken, too. Out to the damn, to face a fall. Strand, Lola, Efrain, and more are faced with execution for their crimes against Dante. Instead of tossing them all over, Daniel turns on Dante, pulling a gun and putting a bullet in his head. Saving the remainder of the people from a nasty fate. This is a start to redeeming what he’s done. He offers Lola a gun, a chance to do him in; he begs forgiveness. And it’s that she gives him.
Pic 4WOW, this is a stunner of an episode! One of my absolute favourites. Because Daniel Salazar was always interesting to me, this only upped the stakes. His backstory, his history is vile, and with the fall of society, the fall of civilised men comes another moment where he must face the ugliness of his past.
“Burning in Water, Drowning in Flame” is next week. Haven’t been this excited for a new episode in awhile.


The Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 6: “Live Bait”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 4, Episode 6: “Live Bait”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Nichole Beattie

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Internment” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Dead Weight” – click here
IMG_0142The Governor (David Morrissey) is left with only a few men at his side, after the massacre following their failed attempt at taking the prison. He wakes in the morning to find they’ve left him now. He’s all alone in the wasteland. Rightfully so, considering they might’ve been next after a little bit of time.
He goes back to Woodbury, burning the place and watching it fall. He goes on the road for months by himself. Then he runs into others, to whom he tells his story; the abridged and heavily edited version.
Something’s changed in the man. Perhaps realising how much he needs others to survive, in more ways than one. What he sees ahead of him now is the possibility to start another life, to become another person.
IMG_0144The people he meets are the Chamblers – Lilly, Tara (Alanna Masterson), David, and Meghan. They reluctantly take him in and find he’s not huge on talking. Tara’s done some service in the army, this is clear. She does not fuck around having a new man kicking around, particularly a scruffy one with an eye patch.
He’s no longer the Governor, or Phillip. He’s Brian Heriot; new identity, fresh new life.
The Chamblers have been getting by well enough. They live in the little apartment, scavenging food, staying safe as possible. Lots of cured meat on hand after they raided an Italian food truck. Although their father David has medical problems – respiratory. And there’s only so long his oxygen tanks can last before a refill’s needed.
David asks Brian for a favour – a backgammon set upstairs. He wants his granddaughter Meghan to talk again, to feel normal. This strikes a chord with the former Governor; thoughts of Penny. So upstairs he heads to an apartment where a neighbour of David’s supposedly keeps a set under his bed. Brian also finds the old fella who owns the place, nothing but a living corpse in the bathtub waiting to be put down.
IMG_0145Returning with the backgammon set, he’s a hero to the Chamblers. Maybe not Tara, who remains suspicious. Really though, deep down there’s a sadness in this man. He’s done terrible things, for which he can never be forgiven. Yet there’s still something awfully tragic about his story. He can’t even look at his face in a family picture anymore, folding the corner over himself.
The next day Brian’s getting ready to head out. However, Lilly wants another bit of help – they need more supplies for her father, to keep him going until the last possible moment; if only for her daughter. Brian heads out to an old folk’s home nearby in search. He stumbles onto a cart of oxygen tanks. They make too much noise, and when walkers come for him he only gets away with one. Better than nothing!
Alone together, Brian and Meghan bond a bit. They do a “pink swear” and talk a bit. Telling secrets. Despite his being a monster as the Governor, this side of him is tender. Being around a little girl again like when he was with his daughter, ages ago. He decides on teaching the girl chess. He’s even decided to shave his beard, getting back to a more clean look, no longer a homeless man roaming the world.
Then the worst happens – David slips away into death, no longer able to fight the cancer. You know what has to be done, so that the man doesn’t turn. Can’t take long to mourn. He comes back fast, prompting Brian to smash his head in with an oxygen tank in front of the women.
IMG_0148Brian turns his back on is old life, even the memory of his wife and daughter. He burns the picture he’s been keeping. Now, he decides to leave the apartment building. But the Chambler sisters want to go with him, they don’t want him to go on his own.
When they do go on the road, all of them, Brian and Lilly begin getting closer. In the night, they hug close to one another. And they become intimate.
He also becomes an impromptu father again, to Meghan. He saves her from walkers, then they fall into a pit in a field full of them. Where he again saves her, brutally. But wait – we’ve seen this type of pit before. Oh yes, you guessed it. He’s come across his old friend Caesar (Jose Pablo Cantillo). Whoa.
IMG_0149I don’t like the Governor, though I dig seeing his story. Gives a humanity to his otherwise despicable character. He’s found himself in quite an interesting situation here. Next episode is “Dead Weight” and we’ll see how he plays things off now that he’s found Caesar.

The Walking Dead – Season 4, Episode 1: “30 Days Without An Accident”

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 4, Episode 1: “30 Days Without An Accident”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple

* For a recap & review of the Season 3 finale, “Welcome to the Tombs” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Infected” – click here
IMG_0123Season 4’s premiere starts several months on from the finale of Season 3 when all hell broke loose, and the group lost Andrea. They’re still in the prison, still together. Trying to live whatever kind of normalcy is available to them. Rick (Andrew Lincoln) spends his day out in the garden tending to the crops. He finds a gun buried deep in the soil, like he’s tried to bury the violence with it. Is he just kidding himself? Yeah, I think so. If you’ve watched the series all the way to where it’s currently at, as of the time of this writing (end of Season 7), then you know pretending violence isn’t part of the equation is merely fooling oneself.
IMG_0124One thing that’s improved since last we left the group is the relationship between Rick and his boy Carl (Chandler Riggs). They do the farming together, looking after the field and their pig, Violet. Dad gives out an important lesson, though: don’t name the animals they’re preparing to slaughter for food.
Everyone else is doing well, a bigger family at the prison now with those they saved from Woodbury. Funny to see how people look up to Daryl (Norman Reedus), thanking him for the food he hunts, et cetera; he’s like a folk hero in their community. Carol (Melissa McBride) is taking on more and more responsibility, an active role in looking after their home. Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) become further attached after their engagement; he worries worse than ever about her safety, the stakes somehow higher for the now. And new people like Karen (Melissa Ponzio), they’re adjusting to life and being productive members of the prison community. A man named Bob (Lawrence Gilliard Jr) ingratiates himself to the group, Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) particularly. Trying to make himself useful to them for giving him shelter.
Also, Tyreese (Chad Coleman) and Karen are clearly a full-on item, plus Beth (Emily Kinney) and Zach (Kyle Gallner) are together. Exciting to see because it means different stories for the group as a whole. One story I’m glad is continuing? That of Michonne (Danai Gurira). She comes back from a run on her own with comic books for Carl; she’s definitely staying as part of the prison crew. And as always, there’s a ton of work to do. Everybody has their thing, their chores, various responsibilities to make their tight-knit community work. Hershel (Scott Wilson) keeps assuring Rick that transitioning into a more farmer-like existence isn’t a bad thing. Although people worry he doesn’t carry a gun anymore: “We want you to be safe.” He doesn’t listen, and it’s because – as I mentioned – he is literally trying to bury the violence inside him, or at least he’s trying to pretend it doesn’t exist; out of sight, out of mind.
IMG_0128Later, out past the walls of the prison, Rick comes across a hungry woman in the woods. She’s found a deer carcass. She needs to get food back to her husband, they’ve been starving for days on end. Rick offers up food he has with him. Her name is Clara (Kerry Condon), she wants to know if he has a camp. Life’s been rough for her, it’s obvious by the layers of dirt caked onto her skin. Rick also mentions “three” questions he needs to ask the couple before they can possibly come back to his people. So she leads him on to wherever her husband is waiting.
Kids at the prison fence are naming the walkers. Carl finds some of them doing it, he chastises them as his father did when he was naming the pig. Moreover, we see the difference between him and the others. He’s grown in a way they aren’t yet. They’ve been relatively shielded from the horror of the world, while he’s had to shoot his own mother to prevent her from turning.
Daryl leads a group of people in town. One fun thing is watching Zach try guessing what Daryl “did before the turn.” Today, he guesses homicide cop, which gives Michonne a damn good kick. The group get into a store, only they don’t realise up on top of the building an army helicopter’s already crashed. And I’d be willing to bet that’ll cause a bit of shit. Doesn’t look like the roof is too stable.
Clara leads Rick on through the trees, explaining where she was when the apocalypse began and how she got herself to that moment. She talks of her husband, how he saved her life, so on. She talks of survival, by any means necessary.
IMG_0129In the store, Bob and others load up on supplies. He goes to the wine section. Above him, the ceiling leaks. Then a rack of wine tips over on top of him. Walkers on the roof notice the sound, walking further towards the helicopter. They start sinking through the weakened structure, falling inside one by one. A terrifying sequence, very unique! Lots of good blood and guts, too. An absolute shitshow. Bob nearly gets the chomp before Daryl saves him. Unfortunately, young Zach gets bitten and chowed down on by a nibbling zombie.
When Rick gets back to Clara’s husband, he finds something incredibly disturbing. First, she attacks him with a knife. After that she stabs herself in the gut, demanding to become undead. Like the husband she couldn’t bear to let go. She finds out the three questions, as well: 1) How many walkers have you killed? 2) How many people have you killed? and 3) Why? And we don’t see it, but the husband’s decapitated zombie head lays not far from the dying wife.
Carl finds that there’s not really any reading time for the kids. It’s a ruse, so that Carol can teach the kids how to use knives, to defend themselves. We also see one of them is feeling sick. Carl isn’t happy when he sees what Carol is up to, though she begs him not to tell his father.
IMG_0130Another taste of unhappiness comes to Beth, more loss as she finds out that Zach has died. “I dont cry anymore,” she tells Daryl. Glad for the time she had with him, rather than sad for not having him around. The two bond over loss, as he mentions he hates losing people. Something that won’t ever change in this new world.
Worse things are brewing in the prison’s darkness. That sick boy, he’s got something bad. And he ain’t doing so hot. As in death, and once he comes back there’s no telling how many others will get bitten, infected, sick, or who knows what.
IMG_0131Stellar episode. Love this one because it’s a solid season premiere, as well as the fact it leads into more stories, more intensity and emotion, more action, MORE EVERYTHING for the beginning bits of Season 4. Next is “Infected” and, you guessed it: there’s trouble!

Banshee – Season 4, Episode 1: “Something Out of the Bible”

Cinemax’s Banshee
Season 4, Episode 1: “Something Out of the Bible”
Directed by Ole Christian Madsen
Written by Jonathan Tropper

* For a review of the next episode, “The Burden of Beauty” – click here
Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 1.49.52 AM After the tense and volatile ending of Season 3, Cinemax’s Banshee enters into its swan song fourth season. I’ve watched the series up to now, but only recently decided to start reviewing. So let’s get to the ass kicking, shall we?
In the woods is new Sheriff Brock Lotus (Matt Servitto). He’s got a GPS monitor and tracks through a path, eventually coming to an abandoned cabin. He heads in to find a ragged looking Lucas Hood (Antony Starr). Clearly it’s been awhile.
Following the events of the Season 3 finale, where will we find Job (Hoon Lee) now? Not to mention Carrie Hopewell (Ivana Milicevic) and Sugar Bates (Frankie Faison). Well, we’re about to find all that out, too.
Hood is bearded, his hair long. He’s been hiding for two whole years like “some kind of mountain man,” as Brock puts it. On back to the station goes Hood with the new Sheriff. Things aren’t the way they once were, though. Station’s not in the Caddy anymore, the whole place is a much more fancy, professional-looking place. Kurt Bunker (Tom Pelphrey) is still around, a new Deputy named Nina Cruz (Ana Ayora) is there, as well. What a change from the old way.
Turns out that Rebecca Bowman (Lili Simmons), niece to Kai Proctor (Ulrich Thomsen), is dead. What a tragic death. Maybe a serial killer afoot. Apparently, the final coordinates on the GPS Brock was using led him to the cabin where he ran into Hood. Even wilder, the land belongs to Proctor. Hmm.
I enjoy that we’re seeing Hood now not as the Sheriff any longer. We’re so used to watching him in that position, having power, so it gives him an almost superhuman quality that’s still totally human. Now, that’s gone, and he’s just a guy. A guy who can fight well. The world is filled with them.

Proctor is now the Mayor of Banshee. Inevitable. So the crooked ways of his dealings worm their way into office. Along with muscle man Clay Burton (Matthew Rauch). Mayor Proctor gives a press conference concerning Rebecca’s death, and you can only imagine what Kai’s got in store. Meanwhile, Kai breaks down, too. To make matters worse, he didn’t only love his niece, he had a creepy thing going on for her. So who knows what’s happening in his brain.
Kai is another favourite of mine in this series. Not only is Thomsen an incredible actor, one who brings a real authenticity to the character, the whole story of Proctor’s character is amazing. Having him involved with the Amish community was always an interesting aspect of the series as a whole. Having him as a gangster, even better. He’s mayor now, so how could get it any better?
Finally, we see Carrie, and how the fallout of last season, Gordon’s death, haunts her. “Then there are days when I can distract myself,” she says. We all knew Carrie wouldn’t go too long without kicking a whole ton of ass. She’s one of the truly bad motherfuckers of television. Nowadays she’s beating men up in the streets at night. Badly. I love that she’s allowed the same quality of character as the men in the show; she is amazing and flawed all at once, as is Hood. That’s why Banshee, for all its excess, has a lot to offer. The male and female characters are equally well written, and honest, raw.
Hood is tortured by the death of Rebecca. As well as the recent past. Seventeenth months before he wasted away in a hotel room, drinking, staring down his gun and pondering the point to life. In the aftermath of what happened to Job, to Gordon, to everyone. Who wouldn’t go insane? Well Rebecca came to him; ahh, the point of the memory! She took him out of the dingy hotel room, to that old cabin on Kai’s land. Seeing them together, knowing the present and seeing Hood in the state he’s in, the whole situation is brutally tragic.
Having had his tattoo burned off Kurt’s got a hardcore scar. He’s also got a wonderful woman at his side, but she’s worried. As any woman would be for her man who was once involved in the nefarious White Power movement. Calvin (Chris Coy) is still trying to be friends with his brother Kurt. Although Kurt, like anyone in his position, wants nothing to do with him, or the Nazi crew.
Another favourite of mine, Clay, is out knocking skulls. He’s got to take care of the drug territory beefs with the Natives.
Calvin, who works a normal day job while repping white supremacy at night and whose boss is not white, he daydreams of bloody murder. He’s also got other plans happening. Such as dealing with Clay, and a man with his head in a vice. This is one nasty little scene. But as much as Calvin is a terrifying man, Clay is far more horrific.
And the woman Kurt was having sex with earlier? His brother’s wife, Maggie (Casey LaBow). Wow. Now that is something I did not expect.  That only adds another layer to all Kurt’s problems.

After so long, Hood shows up at Sugar’s bar. Very nonchalant. “Like somethinout of the Bible,” Sugar claims. Their friendship’s obviously in the shitter. He up and disappeared for such an extensive period of time. And following such a massacre and a blow-up of a situation. Nevertheless, Sugar’s willing to help Hood a little going forward.
Deputy Cruz is already proving to be a tough customer. She’ll hopefully be another strong female presence in the series, at least for this final season anyways. Looking forward to more of her.
Hood and Proctor end up coming across one another. They catch up, chat, in their usually stand-off fashion. Except now they’ve almost switched sides, though, Proctor’s clearly still living his gangster ways; he has the protection of official office.
This season is really interesting because of the different juxtapositions of power now. How everything is jumbled, from Lotus to Hood, to Carrie completely on her own now. Everything is so starkly different from where we last left everyone. Another time jump puts us back eighteen months, with Carrie and Hood on a job together. Hood’s tracked down the infamous Dalton (David Harbour), the man who kept him, tortured him, supposedly for the military all those years ago. Either way, Hood wanted to track down Job. But Dalton says he’s dead: “You know it, and I know it.”
Back to the present. Carrie still worries about Job, too. Like any true friend would. Is he still alive, though? Or is Dalton right? Cutting back between present and eighteen months ago, we see the night Hood effectively gave up. On Job. On life. On his fake life. Amazing sequence, as we witness Hood literally watch everything slip through his fingers. Heavy.
Hood cuts his hair, shaves down the beard. He goes from Grizzly Adams back to something closer to his former Sheriff haircut, only a little longer. Further than that we’re also seeing him unburdened of the law. Sure, he doesn’t have it on his side anymore. But it cuts both ways. Nothing’s holding him back now. Nothing at all. For now, he’s investigating the murder of Rebecca on his own.
Where does it all go from here? We get a glimpse of Rebecca only a few days before her body is found. She looks in, unknown, on Hood, then elsewhere someone takes her in the night.
Screen Shot 2016-04-02 at 2.48.27 AM We’ll see, together.