Everything changes in this episode, as we go behind the scenes with Sidney James and discover a Season 2 is underway. Only nobody realises how much blood is coming.
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 4: “Chapter 4”
Directed by Marita Grabiak
Written by John J. Gray
* For a review of Chapter 3, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 5, click here.
In the talking head interviews, Matt (André Holland) relates how Shelby (Lily Rabe) was pissed after supposedly seeing him having sex with a woman in the woods. During the reenactments, Shelby (Sarah Paulson) confronts Matt (Cuba Gooding Jr.) until he breaks down: “It‘s like a part of my brain was cut out.” She comforts him, though the real Shelby affirms that she knew there was something not right, at all. What she saw was real.
That night Shelby sees the Pig Man. And he is also very real. Matt wrestles with him briefly before the couple get away. They’re saved by Dr. Elias Cunningham (Denis O’Hare), from out of nowhere. He uses the “Croatoan” spell, shouting it and dispelling the creature. But warns: “He‘ll be back.”
So Dr. Cunningham tells us about Croatoan. How it was left when Roanoke Colony disappeared. Really, it’s blood magic. Spooky. The doctor quickly relays that he’s the so-called guardian of the house, trying to make sure people know about its history. Matt’s eager to kick him out, although Shelby has seen the Pig Man before. Through the craziness, she believes Elias. In the basement, he shows them some of his work: all the “paranormal activity” that’s occurred in and around the house. Essentially, a history of horror and torture concerning various families that were unfortunate enough to have bought the house over the years. Like the Chens, who were taken by surprise once the Pig Man showed up. And once Thomasin “The Butcher” White (Kathy Bates) came by? Shit. Things got much, much worse. Cunningham tells Shelby and Matt about how even those nasty nurses were afraid of the place. The Butcher did them in good, too. Real medieval style. On and on and on the tales go. He mentions the “Dying Grass Moon” as being when the disappearances and murders take place.
Lee (Angela Bassett) is on the hook for her missing daughter, though Matt and Shelby wanted to get to the bottom of the whole Priscilla mystery. Something with which Elias can help. Lots of creepiness when Matt spies the strange woman (Lady Gaga) from afar. Shelby chases her until eventually getting lost and running into some hunters – the ones Dr. Cunningham told her about, who once stayed in the house and turned their guns on each other. Well, they’re still wearing those wounds. Quite graphically; dig it. Shelby didn’t, and tried using the Croatoan spell. Doesn’t work because of the lunar cycle, so says Elias. Then in the middle of the forest they see Flora with a bunch of ghosts (people who’ve died or disappeared in the house), the Pig Man, and of course Ms. Priscilla. A horn begins to blow soon. An arrow, or three, are plugged into the poor doctor. While the couple run off there’s no doubt we’ll see Elias again. I’d bet on it.At the house, Cricket Marlowe (Leslie Jordan) is ready to rock. They’re obviously ready to do whatever they can to get Lee’s daughter back. He tells them about talking to The Butcher. She’s pretty ready to rock, as well. Y’know, with the bloody moon rising and all. “I‘d kill for a Coke Zero right now,” Cricket says as he tries to get psyched up about what to do next. He takes off only to return hours later: “I met the bitch with the real power.” It’s that strange woods woman. She temporarily blinds him, puts a knife to his throat. Tricky lil’ Marlowe’s able to get himself out of it, after discovering a few things first. She shows him a vision. They’re in a cornfield. Hundreds of years ago. At the Lost Colony in Roanoke. This is where they came, to where the house now stands. They did terrible things, such as sacrificing little children; Cricket witnesses The Butcher smash a girl to death with a rock. Yikes. Her own son Ambrose (Wes Bentley) wasn’t pleased with the new path, under tutelage of that strange woman, the woods witch. The Butcher then pretended to repent for her wrongdoings, only to kill everyone. Even her boy. She puts a cleaver right in his chest to boot before slashing anybody not fully dead yet right into the grave. She binds them to their new land with blood. Lots of it. Her own, too. She lets the woods witch cut her throat, “bonding” the whole colony to the land “for all eternity.” Cricket says he’s got the spell to clue everything up.
Yeah, right. In his Uber on the way home Cricket spies Flora running across the road. So he gets out of the car and now you know he’s not getting back to the Millers any time soon.
Matt and Shelby wait for him. But he never comes. Night comes, Matt’s feeling a little creeped out. Foolishly, he heads outside – though with a gun – after hearing things, seeing fleeting images. The sounds they draw him to the cellar out in the woods. He finds the witch there, waiting. “Debts must be paid,” she tells him. Oh, you know what she means! Don’t pretend. A little later Shelby wakes and can’t find her husband. He’s stuck down in the cellar, mesmerised by her story. She was a “descendant of the Druids and their Roman conquerors.” Instead of being a victim, she slaughtered the soldiers keeping her captive. Anyway, Matt was lured into the honey trap. Meanwhile Shelby’s laid siege to by The Butcher and her ghostly hordes, Flora in their grasp. When Matt finally tears himself out of the spell, they get some help from Priscilla; she manages to get Flora away from them.
But poor Flora, she’s frightened. Then outside they all see Cricket. The Butcher rips his guts open while the Millers watch from inside. The colony gets truly medieval on Mr. Marlowe. Absolute savagery.
Things aren’t looking good for Matt and Shelby. We know they survive it. Yet even in the real footage of their interviews – are so sure they’ll be safe in the near future?Love this season so much! Lots of creepiness, a bit of gore. Some strange oddities of various types. Can’t wait for more in the next chapter.
FX’s American Horror Story
Season 6, Episode 2: “Chapter 2”
Directed by Michael Goi
Written by Tim Minear
* For a review of Chapter 1, click here.
* For a review of Chapter 3, click here.
Last we left Matt and Shelby Miller (Cuba Gooding Jr. & Sarah Paulson in the “dramatic re–enactment“; André Holland & Lily Rabe in the documentary-style clips), things were bad. Shelby’s lost in the woods, finding a strange torch wielding cult (including Wes Bentley) and a man whose skull has been… partially removed. The strange woman Shelby thought she’d run over chants in the darkness (Kathy Bates), a group of people surround a man having a pigtail nailed to him. Terribly creepy little cuts.
After running and running, Shelby stops a moment. Only to find more madness. “I never thought about what could be in the wilderness, hiding in the dark,” the real Shelby recounts. We see Bates’ character lead a strange ceremony involving a man put up on a cross, a pig’s head stuck on his shoulders. Shelby takes off again until passing out in the middle of the road, where Matt’s sister Lee (Angela Bassett) finds her. Of course it all sounds mad to the police and everyone else. Poor Shelby. God damn. Ultimately she too believes it’s the “mountain men” trying to drive them out of the house.
A very bad, tragic misunderstanding.
We get to see more about Lee now, she and her ex-husband Mason (Charles Malik Whitfield) exchange their daughter Flora (Saniyya Sidney) for a while. Yeah, that’s a great fucking idea. Bring a little girl into a haunted house, or at the very least a house out in the country being laid siege to by hillbillies. Anyway, things kick off real quick once Lee finds Flora talking to somebody upstairs. Who? Oh, just somebody named Priscilla. Who isn’t there. A ghost? Or something more? Lee does the smart thing and pries a bit. “She said she‘s tired of all the blood,” Flora responds when questioned about Priscilla and her bonnet. When Lee literally finds one laying around, she gets spooked.
The great thing about any haunted house film or show is that part of everything is the human, psychological drama happening. There’s Lee and her girl, as well as Matt and Shelby, everyone with their own issues, taking things in differently.
That night more pig noises come from outside. Shelby takes action and insists on tracking them down, so Matt tags along. In the dark, out amongst the trees, they get separated. As one would expect from any horror. When they find each other, they come across a large stick figure with a pig’s head on top, roasting in fire; the skin and meat hanging below dripping into the flames. “This was beyond having a cross burned on your lawn. There was something demonic about it.” the real Matt speaks through voice-over.
With a bit more evidence this time, the police reluctantly look into what’s happening around the Miller’s place. Then a phone call comes through to Matt in the night. Except the phone’s disconnected. In the shadows, he finds an apparition: mean nurses tending to an old, frail and sickly woman named Margaret (Irene Roseen). They can’t hear Matt, but he watches on as one of the nurses tells their patient “You‘ve been warned” before blowing her brains out with a revolver. Now he’s seeing terrifying things, it isn’t only Shelby anymore.This incident sets things into a frenzy. The police, as suspected, can’t find anything to backup Matt’s story. He starts questioning the integrity of his brain, literally, after the incident in the city. Problem is the cops are gradually getting less interested in helping, which isn’t all that abnormal by real world standards.
When Mason shows up for Flora, they can’t find her. It used to be a game she played with them. This time, not finding her may have something to do with the house. They find Flora in a crawlspace talking to Priscilla, who disappears quickly. Apparently Flora tried to make a trade: a doll for their lives. Seems Priscilla is homicidal. And it’s not just her. Flora warns her parents: “They‘re going to kill us all. And save me for last.” Fuck. That’s eerie. Dad hauls his daughter off and things aren’t looking any better for Lee as a mother. Especially considering she started drinking afterwards, off the wagon again. She broke a few things. Shelby’s not happy to find knives in the ceiling, although we can guess that probably wasn’t Lee. Those nurses are creeping about, too. In her drunken state Lee sees a lot of things from pigtails to pig heads and it’s one bad hangover she’s headed for in the morning.
There’s a little girl hanging around outside to boot, which sends Matt and Shelby outside. They come to a trap door with a ladder leading below ground a ways; hmm. Inside are a number of things including tapes in a camcorder. On them is a man named Dr. Elias Cunningham (Denis O’Hare). He speaks frantically saying things like “I‘m not what I am” and generally in distress over “forces that will not let me sleep.” He speaks of the house and its forces wanting to kill him. He further assures the viewer he’s not crazy. Then Cunningham tells us of his book about two nurses – Miranda and Bridget Jane. Oh yes, you guessed which nurses. Twisted bitches. They killed people with specific names to spell out MURDER. Everything got even wilder as it went on turning into one of those epic, insane tales of true crime.More craziness to set the Millers off. Peeling away wallpaper, Matt finds the unfinished word MURDE written on the wall. Everything gets more real at this point. They keep on listening to Cunningham’s rambling tape. Doesn’t help any, except to frighten the shit out of them further. Scariest yet is when the tormented doctor heads inside the house with only his camcorder, night vision on, to guide him through the silent hallways. “Show yourself,” he yells to whatever’s in the dark. Before something, someone appears and startles him. And downstairs, a butcher’s knife with blood on it is stuck in the front door.
They just wanted to leave. Not so easy, though. No getting out of that mad house. Everything amps up a notch after Lee shows up with Flora again. When she’s clearly not supposed to have here there. More of that impulsive Lee behaviour already. Her brother tries to talk sense into her. Shelby tries talking the ex-husband down from calling the cops.
But can Mason get there to take his daughter away before anything worse happens? The little girl whom I assume to be Priscilla beckons Flora to come outside, out near the trap door in the field. Then she goes missing. The adults start to search frantically.
In a clearing, Lee finds her daughter’s yellow sweater at the top of a thin, ridiculously tall tree, its trunk looking almost stained with blood. They stand below, not sure what to do next.
And what can they do?Very pumped for “Chapter 3” next week. Some people keep complaining, and I have no idea why. I love the re-enactment stuff, it adds a fun twist to the show. I’m still feeling like there’s going to be an angle to all that. Just like My Amityville Horror had its drama, My Roanoke Nightmare is going to bring something with that faux-documentary posing as a real documentary. Mark my words.
Also, did you catch Lady Gaga in her brief appearance? She shows up a couple times early on. Very unnerving look to her character. Can’t wait for more, of everything!
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 5: “Now”
Directed by Avi Youabian
Written by Corey Reed
* For a review of the previous episode, “Here’s Not Here” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Always Accountable” – click here
After a GREAT Morgan (Lennie James) centered episode, the series moves on with Episode 5 of the sixth season – “Now”
We start with Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh). She goes to the place where her husband Reg put up the first panel of Alexandria’s walls. After reminiscing shortly, sadly, she looks out towards the road where the walkers are shambling towards their safe haven. Meanwhile, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) comes barreling through, screaming for the gates to open. One of the more intense slow motion scenes yet on The Walking Dead. Even worse, Deanna looks as if the entire world has collapsed around her. In a sense, it has.
Once the credits clue up, Rick is lining everyone up. He’s saying things to reassure them, trying to keep the morale high. They’re going to band together, seal Alexandria up and make it safe, quiet, subtle. Can they do it? Will the people of Alexandria step up? Aaron (Ross Marquand) puts his hat in the ring for Rick, speaks highly of Daryl (Norman Reedus). He admits to, essentially, not knowing as much as Rick, Daryl and their entire group. But still, Deanna appears to have gone off the edge.
Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge) is busy cleaning up her house. There’s a pile of dead Wolves out in the yard she plans to bury. Though, Rick shows up and tells her: “We don’t bury killers inside these walls.” At the same time, Olivia (Ann Mahoney) has troubles with everyone over at the food dispensary. All the residents say fuck it, taking what they will. Spencer (Austin Nichols) lays down the law and tells them going down that sort of path will make them the type of people they don’t want to become.
I really feel for Aaron. It took me a rewatch of a couple episodes lately to revisit some of his great moments. The fact those pictures ended up in the hands of the Wolves is such a tragic misstep. You can see how horribly it hurts him to have inadvertently played a part in The Wolves’ assault on Alexandria. Maybe redemption is coming for him? He and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) are heading out together in search of Glenn (Steven Yeun), whose fate is still not set in stone.
Then we watch as Deanna scribbles away, noting on a big map places for ALFALFA, BARLEY, all sorts of crops, and buildings for education, et cetera. Furthermore, she jots down an Ovid quote: “dolor hic tibi proderit olim” (Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you). Afterwards, though, she and Spencer have a clash. They’ve got all sorts of rations over at their place, so Spencer only did what he did earlier to make it appear proper. What a snake.
Carl (Chandler Riggs) is hoping to find Enid (Katleyn Nacon). He has a bit of a showdown with Jessie’s son Ron (Austin Abrams). Little Carl has grown up. He knows his shit, while Ron is a dummy who knows nothing only that danger exists out there. Unlike Carl, he’s never had to shoot his mother, who just gave birth to his sister, right in her head.
A very sad yet empowering scene at the same time comes when Jessie finds a neighbour in a house nearby. The woman slit her wrists, trying to escape the zombie apocalypse coming down on their heads. But of course she came back. So it’s a depressing zombie moment, yet Jessie proclaims – after putting the lady zombie down for good: “This is what life looks like now; we have to see it, we have to fight. If we don’t fight, we die.” Excellent moment, which not only gives Jessie more power, she impresses some of the others. Namely Dr. Denise Cloyd (Merritt Wever); she’s been wavering a little, such as in an earlier scene with Tara (Alanna Masterson). A look runs across Denise’s face that speaks volumes.
Back to Aaron and Maggie, making their way out of Alexandria on their quest to try and track down lost Glenn. AMAZING ZOMBIE EFFECTS! In a sewer, they run into a couple soggy living dead specimens. Such perfect makeup works, love the practical work here, as always. Even further, I find Maggie and Aaron have a nice dynamic going already. I’m excited for more of them, they’re both damn tough.
Ron goes to Rick and starts telling him about Enid, who’d sneak out from inside the walls to explore the outside world. The little shithead. He’s not doing this for any other reason than to stir things up. Not sure exactly what is going on with him, but I don’t like the way Ron acts. Rick starts teaching him how to shoot. I just do not like where this kid and his attitude are heading.
Surprise! Dr. Cloyd gives Tara a big smooch for helping out with a patient, giving her the confidence to keep going and push through the fear.
Then we finally get confirmation from Maggie: she is pregnant. At the last moment, she stops Aaron from opening the grate to head out into the wilderness outside Alexandria. Passionate speech from Maggie, great acting by Cohan. This entire scene is so intense and I found myself near tearing up. At the same time, I’m devastated because Maggie doesn’t have much, if any, hope left at all. She’s seen too many people die, especially her own family. No wonder. But she and Aaron embrace, they’ve got a bond. I feel as if he’s going to be a good friend to her from now, watching out, helping where he can. He is a good man who wants to do right by others. Again, their chemistry is awesome.
Deanna stumbles through the streets, hearing voices of past arguments, all sorts of things. Out from under one of the houses comes a Wolf zombie, one Carol (Melissa McBride) couldn’t find after she killed him in the attack. Deanna GOES TO TOWN on the zombie with a broken bottle, stabbing him repeatedly in the chest. Finally, Rick rushes out of the darkness to kill it off. She looks at him dead in the eye and says: “I want to live.” So this episode has really been a turning point. Seeing Rick and his group go through traumatic events alongside them, the Alexandrians have hit a corner, they’re coming through to discover they do have what it takes. At least when it comes down to the nitty gritty of it all.
My favourite scene comes when Maggie hops down off the wall with Aaron. They go to the panel where all the IN MEMORIAL names have been marked – of which Glenn is one, as is Nicholas. While we know the latter is dead, Glenn – I don’t think – is actually finished. But Maggie wipes his name off. In contrast to what I said before, Maggie does have hope. Aaron proves to be that good friend already by adding to her hope, encouraging her.
The finale sees Deanna getting her groove back, as well as Rick and Jessie getting much closer. And a final drip of blood running through a hole in the wall closes things off.
Excited to see the next episode, “Always Accountable”. Stay tuned for another one next week!
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 3: “Thank You”
Directed by Michael Slovis
Written by Angela Kang
* For a review of the previous episode “JSS” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Here’s Not Here” – click here
Back at it again, we’re coming round to see where Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his gang are on their way home to Alexandria from the quarry.
He and Glenn (Steven Yeun), plus a bunch of their crew, run through the woods frightened for what is coming behind them, all the walkers loose from the quarry. Rick radios back out to the road where Daryl (Norman Reedus), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) are slightly unaware of the trouble at hand.
Naturally, former Sheriff Grimes has a plan. He makes it very clear they need to only worry about themselves. Problem is the original Alexandrians are a bit uneasy about things. Michonne (Danai Gurira) does her best to quell the fears, though, Rick is fairly vocal about things and many of the others, such as Heath (Corey Hawkins), are pretty worried for their safety. Off Rick goes on his own like the superhero he is, or wishes to be. Everyone else heads back towards home.
In the woods, Glenn and Michonne try leading everyone back. Unfortunately a couple people are overcome by zombies, bitten or otherwise. An errant shot by a scared group member hits someone else creating more mayhem.
Back out on the road, Daryl has a plan of his own. Always thinking, always ready. He speeds off leaving Abraham and Sasha driving in the car. “I’ll be back,” he yells driving up the road.
It’s too bad David (Jay Huguley) was bitten. He and Michonne talk on the road, he tells her about the woman he’s with – Betsy – and how they met, so on. Touching moment made even worse by the fact we know he’s going to turn, or die before that happens.
Then Glenn tells Michonne how badly he has to get home. I feel bad because something is going to happen, all due to Nicholas (Michael Traynor). Earlier on there’s a moment when he almost goes into shell-shock, PTSD, something; he quakes and his vision went blurry. Each time he comes into the frame I can’t help wonder: how will he fuck the group over this time? I hope he proves me wrong, in the best ways, but I doubt it. Highly.
Super creepy scene when Glenn-Michonne group stumble into a pet store. All the animals are dead in their cages, starved and likely dehydrated. One of those strange hit you in the chest moments. You imagine all the different little situations people (and animals) found themselves in after the zombie apocalypse came raining down. Sad, tragic, chilling.
Glenn has a plan, and I do not like it – he wants to go light a building on fire. Can’t get any worse? Nicholas offers to draw a map to a feed store, something best fit for a blaze. I’m just not at all sure of this guy, I know he’ll eventually either die or cause death because of his messed up mental state. When Glenn pulls out Hershel’s watch, I cringed a bit. A bad, bad omen. Off on his own and everything, like some ritual.
Another lone wolf on the road, Rick meets up with a small crowd of walkers. He pulls out a knife, nonchalant, then the animal Rick is back in his eyes. He takes them down bloodily, easily. I love Rick Grimes.
Heath and Michonne have a confrontation. Out comes the truth for Heath, the hard reality. She impresses on him the fact sometimes you have to do things which “make you afraid of yourself“. And it’s true, Rick and Michonne, most of their group, they’ve all had to terrible things, awful and unspeakable actions that changed the very fiber of their DNA. None of them are the same, and those people in Alexandria have not experienced anything close to that.
Gunfire starts to ring out back in Alexandria. This sends Glenn and Nicholas, who tags along despite my best hopes, on the run a bit faster. Meanwhile, walkers are on the move down the street, so Michonne and everyone in the pet store have to stay put at least for the time being. But soon enough a few zombies appear in a closet, Michonne chops them and causes a bit of noise. Outside, a wall of walkers keeps lurching towards them literally covering the entire street. They begin a fight to move forward, blasting out the doors and heading down the street. One of the girls gets nabbed by the living dead, her guts chomped into and fed off eagerly, zombie after zombie.
Rick made it back to the big camper near one of the sheet metal walls. His intensity is unmatched in “Thank You”. Even when he bit into that man’s neck near the end of the fourth season, even in many of the insane moments he’s found himself, Rick has never been so primal. Each time we see him, he’s getting more and more vicious. Might as well be frothing at the mouth.
The intensity in the episode rises further, as the separate groups – Michonne and friends, Glenn and Nicholas – rally to corners of the small town they’re in, trying to discover some way, any way out.
Glenn and the idiotic Nicholas end up trapped in an alley, backed up against a fence and awaiting the onslaught of walking corpses. They each fire into as many brains as possible, then haul out their knives for close combat. Can it get ANY SWEATIER? Shit, man. The suspense and the tension had my heart racing. Not to mention their moments are inter-cut with Michonne nearly getting swamped and bitten. Though, luckily she makes her way up and over a fence. The already bitten David is eaten alive by the horde and everyone else makes it out alive.
But Glenn and Nicholas have to get up on top of a dumpster in order to keep away from the rabid walkers. It’s at this moment when the PTSD swells up inside Nicholas, everything slowing down, his hearing just about gone – he tells Glenn, “Thank you“, and shoots himself in the head. They both topple into the zombie crowd and immediately find themselves engulfed.
It’s tough to tell exactly because there’s a possibility it was Nicholas… but the scene as it stands makes us see/believe Glenn is being eaten. Blood spurts out, guts are ripped with hungry hands into hungrier mouths, and Glenn screams into the air. Heart wrenching scene. I almost couldn’t take it. Is this truly the end for Glenn? If so, I don’t know… I’m pretty broken, honestly. His character has been great, amazing dynamic with several of the others, and it’ll be sad if this is his fate.
Later on, Rick calls on the walkie back to Glenn, not knowing what’s happened. Of course, he gets no answer. In fact he gets no answer from anyone, except for Daryl and the road crew. He tries instilling them all with more courage, telling them not to be afraid; Abraham confirms over the radio they indeed are not. Tough bunch of people. They basically have to trust, as Rick says, the fact everyone back at Alexandria can handle themselves properly in such a situation.
Out of nowhere Rick is attacked in the camper. Two men are on in him, after wild gunshots he knocks them down, pumping two shots of his own into them respectively. He finds a jar of baby food on one of them in a sort of bittersweet moment. Then up along the side of the camper he spies people sneaking. Firing an assault rifle through the sides he annihilates them, presumably anyways. In the side mirror, it looks to us like at least one of the dead people is a kid. Things get mentally worse for Rick before the vehicle won’t start, and out of the forest come a ton of walkers.
And then, with zombies coming from every which way, an aerial shot shows the scene from way above, we come to an end.
So god damn excited for the next episode, titled “Here’s Not Here”. Head back over here next week and I’ll have a review queued up. Until then, Walking Dead-ites!
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 2: “JSS”
Directed by Jennifer Chambers Lynch
Written by Seth Hoffman
* For a review of the previous episode, “First Time Again” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Thank You” – click here
After the terrifying ending of “First Time Again”, The Walking Dead‘s 6th season moves into its second episode with a devastating bang. A young girl named Enid (Katelyn Nacon) in a van with her parents ends up alone out in the forest and wandering the roads after her parents are obviously taken by the walkers. She continually writes JSS in the dirt on the ground and in dusty car windows. Pretty gnarly scene when she finds a tortoise crossing the road, then smash cut to her ripping it open, feeding on its bloody corpse like a walker would a human. Then, once more, she puts the leftover bones on the ground in front of her – spelling out JSS. Finally coming upon the suburb of Alexandria, she hesitates before approaching the gates and writes JSS once more on the dirt all over the back of her hand.
Honestly, this is one of my favourite openings to an episode in a long while.
Back to present day, Carol (Melissa McBride) is doing more of her cooking. She talks about her old life: Ed, her “spring cleaning casserole“. I love her character, what a woman in every sense of the word – tough, caring, motherly, and so much more. She offers a sense of stability, especially to some of the women in the neighbourhood. She tells them they’re going to learn how to make pasta by hand. Everything she does, even her tough love side is out of a caring place in her heart.
Jessie Anderson (Alexandra Breckenridge) is trying best she can to keep her home in one piece after the death of her husband. Things with her son Ron (Austin Abrams) aren’t going so well. She’s finding it tough and for good reason.
Furthermore, Deanna (Tovah Feldshuh) is also having a rough go of things. Her partner is gone now, things have slightly shifted in beloved Alexandria, so no wonder. But Maggie (Lauren Cohan) lends a comforting shoulder, telling her the people in their town were there because of her. I also love Maggie because she’s another badass female character in the show who is well-rounded – strong, vulnerable at times, caring, and ultimately tough as hell after dealing with so much, the death of Hershel then only just awhile ago Beth; she’s got a hard edge with a sweet heart. Cohan is an excellent actress who really exemplifies all the important aspects of her character.
Panic strikes as an attack comes down on Alexandria!
First, Carol watches as the woman she told not to smoke gets machete’d while smoking on her front lawn. Then, Deanna and Maggie see molotov cocktails start to fly, a watcher on their wall gets burned to death. Absolute and utter chaos has struck. Are these the Wolves? You bet your ass.
Everyone is on high alert. Carol goes to start defending the neighbourhood, as Carl (Chandler Riggs) and Enid lockdown the house with little Judith alongside.
All the while, people are being hacked to bits, stabbed to death. The Wolves mark Ws on their foreheads in blood – same as the zombies were carved up a ways back, starting episodes and episodes ago, remember? Well, either way things are devolving into complete madness.
The horn from “First Time Again”, which leads all the walkers back from the quarry and away from where Rick (Andrew Lincoln) and Co. were funnelling them – starts to sound after a transport truck flies in towards Alexandria’s gate and smashes up against the wall.
Morgan (Lennie James) shows up back in town. Confronting a big Wolf (Lance Tafelski), about to showdown, Carol flies in disguised like a sheep in wolves’ clothing – literally – and stabs the man. Great little scene! Continually I am amazed by Carol, but she is a survivor, has been from the start. Dressed as one of the Wolves, she goes on to do some major killing. What a god damn ass kicker.
Jessie gets her chance to really protect her family when a female Wolf breaks inside their home, attacks her. An incredibly savage stabbing, which her son Ron walks in on, is a favourite out of this episode. Even amongst so much bloodshed, it’s a tense and wild scene.
Morgan has a confrontation with several Wolves. Strangely enough, though, it’s almost like they know Morgan. Have they met before? Was he with the at some point before coming back in contact with Rick? The few Wolves leave and Morgan shuts the gate to Alexandria, a distant look in his eyes. This is intriguing to me. Scary, too. He has another encounter briefly with a Wolf inside his neighbourhood house – the Wolf and Morgan talk for a moment suggesting some kind of former relationship. Did he go back to Rick for devious reasons unknown? We’ll have to wait and see.
Additionally, Aaron (Ross Marquand) finds a satchel while stabbing the dead in the street through the head, to prevent more walkers. Inside the bag there are photos – they shot all the inside workings of Alexandria, the solar panels, the wall, et cetera. Creepy stuff.
This is easily one of the most, if not the top bloodiest sequence in The Walking Dead‘s entire history as a series. Even more than that it was intense. On top of everything, the people in Alexandria aren’t used to this sort of action. They’re not experienced in the real world outside their (relatively) safe walls, not in the way Maggie, Rick, Carol and Morgan have become hardened through their trials and tribulations. Hell, Carl’s turning into a true bad ass, which I thought would never happen (I used to hate him now he’s growing on me). So it’s interesting to see how the different pockets within the major group are reacting to everything that’s happening, it makes for good writing and a nice contrast as opposed to the good vs. evil we had happening most of the time between Rick/his group and The Governor/his group. I’m enjoying where this sixth season is starting to head, even only two episodes in so far. Starting to cook with gas now.
Stay tuned. I’ll be back to review next week’s episode again – titled “Thank You”, directed by Michael Slovis and written by Angela Kang.
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 1: “First Time Again”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple & Matthew Negrete
* For a review of the next episode, “JSS” – click here
Back to Alexandria once more. I’m only now just starting to review The Walking Dead, jumping in on the newest season. So look out: I’ll get back to the first season, as soon as possible.
With this new beginning, Season 6 starts as Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) gives a speech to get everyone prepared – well, after a quick black-and-white flashback to the first time Rick has heard Morgan Jones (Lennie James) in a long time.
Things get dicey pretty quick once a tractor trailer slips off a cliff and throws a wrench into Rick’s whole plan.
Immediately there are hordes and hordes of zombies just pushing their way towards Rick and the crew. Loving the walkers already! Greg Nicotero – legendary makeup artists and effects man alongside partner Howard Berger – directed this season opener, so there’ll be plenty of this to come.
More black-and-white flashbacks to more of what we saw at the end of Season 5, after Rick finally went ahead and fought for him, his group, without worrying for the lives of everyone else, as he so often found himself doing.
Abraham Ford (Michael Cudlitz) pours a little liquor out for the dead man he carries. Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) somehow manages not to kill Nicholas (Michael Traynor), bringing him back safely after all; this plays out more through the episode, showing us the compassion of Glenn and their group, as he’s not willing to totally lose himself in the madness of the zombie apocalypse. Smart, or naive? We’ll see as the season gets into gear. So far, though, so good.
Then we’re able to get a look at Morgan’s return. He sits eating with good ole Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), having another little talk with Rick now that they’re reunited. Of course, Rick has changed a lot since their last meeting; Morgan understands, because so has he, no doubt.
Back in the present, Rick has everyone running like clockwork. They’re systematically working their way down roads, past rows of cars, shooting flares to create diversions for the rows of undead traipsing around.
More black-and-white flashbacks. Rick and Daryl talk about Morgan a little, about what he told them concerning the outside world, the mysterious zombies marked on their foreheads, and so on. We get more and more of a sense Rick is turning cold, colder than ever before. Or maybe he’s simply getting more rational, back to the basics. He and Morgan are slightly at odds simply for the fact Morgan is able to recognize one thing: everyone’s a killer in post-apocalyptica with the walkers.
At the same time, Eugene Porter (Josh McDermitt) gets to meet a few people he and the others haven’t had the chance to meet yet, other Alexandria residents, such as Heath (Corey Hawkins) who seems nice enough; he and Eugene bond awkwardly over hair, kind of.
Morgan: “That’s not who you are. I know.”
Rick: “Hey – you don’t”
There’s a refreshing aspect to having Rick and Morgan back in the same place, at the same time, and more or less on the same page. Because what this allows is a sort of mirror-like reflection of the two men. They’re both very similar, but again – Morgan has a strange type of clarity. Most likely gained after spending so much time alone, withdrawn from the world outside. Unlike Rick, whose entire existence since the fall of civilization has consisted of fighting for others, taking care of others, et cetera. Not to say Morgan hasn’t fought, but Rick has shouldered far too much weight he didn’t necessarily have to to all in the name of being a ‘good man’. Whereas Morgan accepts that part of being a good man sometimes in this new world is also being a bad guy, when necessary; Rick still has a hard time understanding that, reconciling the two sides of himself. Always Sheriff Grimes thinks it can only be one or the other.
Such greatness when Daryl rides his bike up over a hill, so simple: we can see back behind him on the road there are about a hundred or more zombies headed his way, following the sound of his engine rumbling. Incredible little moment! Such a wild and exciting, albeit brief shot.
A big part of this season opener is the quarry – Rick and Morgan stumble across it when they go out to bury the piece of shit Rick killed in the Season 5 finale. This is where Rick’s massive plan goes down, where the episode started. That truck which plummeted off the cliff earlier? It was holding back walkers from pouring into the surrounding area and Alexandria itself. Rick, as well as trusty Carol Peletier (Melissa McBride), tries to tell everyone it’s best to take care of the problem and get it done; only a matter of time before the worst happens. Luckily, most everyone agrees. Carter (Ethan Embry) would prefer to reinforce the wall, having worked on the original structure. Daryl, Abraham and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) are each game for the plan, as well as all the other regulars like Glenn and Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan). Though, Carter seems to be a little apprehensive about Rick, after the incidents of the finale. However, lots of others from Alexandria soon pipe up to offer their help in hopes of banding together to stop an invasion of walkers from tumbling in through the walls. So Rick lays out the plan in detail for Carter and the others, even if not everyone is totally thrilled with it. Luckily, either way, Deanna Monroe (Tovah Feldshuh), head honcho in charge agrees with Rick and almost all of his ideas/plans.
Again, LOTS OF AWESOME ZOMBIE ACTION! Heads crushing, and so on. When Rick and Co. are leading the hordes down the road, Daryl on his bike holding up the front lines, there are a couple excellent bits of nasty gore. Zombies running into the sheet metal, smashing their brains. Others walking through the bits of face and brains and teeth on the ground, slopping through a tiny pool of blood. So, so fun in a gross way! Always love this sort of stuff. Nicotero has mostly only directed on The Walking Dead, including the Webisodes (plus a TV movie and a short), so he usually does some solid work in his episodes when it comes to showing off awesome special makeup effects.
Turns out Carter (Embry) has been talking about mutiny, taking Alexandria back from Rick. They think he’s dangerous, or at the least Carter does, anyways. In a flashback, we see Eugene spy on Carter + others talking about the mutiny; Carter is about to put him away with a shot to the head when Rick, Daryl and Morgan show up. Instead of returning the favour and blasting Carter, Daryl’s appeal to Rick shows mercy. More, we get to see how Morgan is a much more dual-natured soul, while Rick remains one or the other: feast or famine, live or die, good or bad.
In the present, though, Carter and Rick reconcile, as the former admits: “You were right” as the plan plays out properly after all. Well, Carter ends up getting chewed by a walker, but everyone else appears fairly safe as it stands. Too bad, I actually love Ethan Embry and hoped he might be sticking around; not the case.
But can Rick begin to accept his own dual nature instead of leaning too far on one side, or will his inability to do so prove fatal for him/those around him at some point, too? There’s no telling where anything will go in the world of The Walking Dead. I have a feeling something tragic and devastating will happen at some point in this season.
Rick: “I know this sounds insane, but this is an insane world.”
At the finale of “First Time Again”, what sounds like a truck horn sounds in the distance. Everyone stops, their eyes full of fear. The walkers start to move in through the woods, off the roads and where they were being coaxed into going by the crew. A great satirical little moment when the walkers head back towards Alexandria – one of those new sub-division signs pointing towards the little town, saying “You’re almost home”. Amazing final shot pulling back over the highway to reveal the masses and masses, unending, of zombies heading to the quaint little suburb where Rick and the group are fleeing home.
The next episode, titled “JSS” (directed by the amazing Jennifer Chambers Lynch; daughter of David), should be extremely interesting. Stay tuned as I go into Season 6 with you all, Walking Deadites!