Lee Chang-dong's latest film is an existential mystery. Be prepared!
The group struggle individually, and a Glenn meets some new faces.
Glenn is determined to make it to Terminus. Meanwhile, Daryl falls in with a group of men who are searching for revenge.
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 1: “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple
* For a review of the Season 6 finale, “Last Day on Earth” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Well” – click here
Our episode’s title comes from Dr. Jenner at the CDC, way back when Rick said he was thankful for all the man had done for them. To which the doc replied: “The day will come when you won‘t be.”
Today is that day.
We start on Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), his face spattered with blood. Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) taunts him. But Rick replies: “I‘m gonna kill you.” The nastiness of Negan’s demeanour is so perfectly awful. He digs into Rick, already having taken his victim from the group. He takes the hatchet Rick arrived with and brings Rick into the RV with him nearby. Behind them, a pile of blood and gore.
Who was killed?
Inside the RV, Rick cowers like we’ve never seen him do before. Hiding in the shadows. And Negan tries to clue him into the new rule of things. He challenges Rick to take the axe and do him in. But you know it ain’t going down like that. He knocks Rick to the ground, dominating him. Proving a point. “Think about what happened, and think about what can still happen,” Negan all but cackles in the driver’s seat, taking Rick for a ride somewhere.
Then we flash throuh Rick’s mind, as he sees memories of everyone in their group. Glenn (Steven Yeun), Enid (Kately Nacon), Eugene (Josh McDermitt), Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Aaron (Ross Marquand), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Daryl (Norman Reedus) , Michonne (Danai Gurira) – while Negan throws his axe from the RV into a foggy road of walkers, beckoning Rick to go get it. Our trusty leader, the onetime Sheriff Grimes, manages to get on top of the RV, hatchet and all. Although as he stares into the distance either way you can see the hope starting to fade. For the first real time, he’s a broken man. “I bet you thought you were all gonna grow old together,” Negan pokes at him more from inside.
Now we’re back to the eenie meanie miney moe. Negan goes around the line. We watch Rick’s eyes. We see the terror in the eyes of every single person. The taunting of Negan and his bat land on: Abraham. He savagely beats the brains out of Abraham’s head, smashing him over and over. Everyone watches in sickly disgust, as nothing is left of the skull and brains. Nothing. “Look at my dirty girl,” Negan calls to them horrifically. He even taunts Rosita (Christian Serratos) with the bloody end of Lucille. Then Daryl breaks loose, punching Negan.
Will he get the bat, too? No. Even Dwight (Austin Ameli) rushes in to try putting an arrow in Daryl’s skull. Negan won’t allow that. Not right yet: “That‘s not how it works.” No, no, no. Another victim for Lucille comes next.
Glenn’s head is smashed in. The front caves. So suddenly. Everybody is brutalised by the sight of Glenn, his eye popping out, trying to speak to Maggie in his last moments. Negan goes on whacking away until there’s only blood and hair left on the end of Lucille. The group is left devastated.
Rick lies on top of the RV, remembering what’s happened. All to well. This is the worst and most wounded we’ve ever seen him.
In a crazy moment, Rick jumps from the RV, using the hanged man from the bridge as a grip. With zombies clawing at him, walkers of all kinds trying to rip him apart, Negan pops them all off and saves him. He urges Rick: “Think about what can still happen.” And Rick does. He sees the rest of his group smashed by Lucille, one by one.
Back in the RV, hatched in hand, Rick makes it to Negan. A real sick game, all around. The man with the bat continues his cerebral assault, in such a villainous, nonchalant way that it’s sickening how good Jeffrey Dean Morgan plays the role. When they get back to the group, Negan has Rick kneeling in the middle of his remaining friends. The Saviors put guns to the back of their heads and the wretched Lucille-holding monster calls Carl (Chandler Riggs) to the centre. He wraps a belt around the boy’s arm, puts him to the ground next to dad. Negan proceeds to mark off a spot on Carl’s arm with a marker.
Rick has to cut an arm off his son. With his hatchet. Or else everyone dies.
So, what does Sheriff Grimes do? It’s all a psyche out. Rick has been broken, in front of everyone – The Saviors, his own people, his son. He’s torn every bit of Rick apart, his soul, his manhood, his power. What a vicious cycle. Because you know it’s a cycle. Broken as he is, Rick will be coming back. He will not let this rest, not forever. For now, sure. But not forever.
“Things have changed. Whatever you had going for you, that is over now,” says Negan to the crowd. He takes Daryl in the back of their van. Property of Negan. They’ve got a week to start getting supplies together for him. A new day. A new deal. Minus two strong people from their crew. People they’ll never get back, ever again. Literally left in Negan’s dust, the rest of the survivors struggle to figure out how to move on from there.
Maggie’s the first to get up. She wants to keep fighting, even if Rick is beaten to a pulp emotionally. He also understands how bad things are right now, she isn’t acting or thinking rationally. But sadly, Rick has also lost control. He has no more power. And Maggie, she’s in a depression spiral, unable to accept that they’ve just got to go back home, pick up the pieces. Now, they take their dead friends with them and do what they can for them.
In a vision, we see all the group, happy, healthy, a baby on Glenn’s lap. As if there weren’t enough tears shed. Negan’s voice rings in the ears of Rick as they load up the RV to leave. He thought they’d all be sitting around, as in the vision, that dreamy world. These days that vision is a far cry, and Rick is realising it. Around him he’s also watching the walkers die off. Everything is dying. Everyone and everything dies.
What a savage episode. Completely numbing. I expected Glenn’s death, but didn’t anticipate such a wildly effective execution. Love how the power dynamics are shifting. No longer is Rick the big, tough guy he was once. Although he’ll get back there it’s going to take a major event, or series of them.
Looking forward to the next episode “The Well” and what it’ll bring!
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 16: “Last Day on Earth”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Scott M. Gimple & Matthew Negrete
* For a review of the previous episode, “East” – click here
* For a review of the Season 7 premiere, “The Day Will Come When You Won’t Be” – click here
So we’ve arrived at the end of Season 6.
Open on Morgan (Lennie James). He comes across a horse in a field. Towards him walks the man who survived Carol (Melissa McBride) previously.
Back at Alexandria, Carl (Chandler Riggs) is getting ready to roll, as Enid (Kately Nacon) doesn’t quite believe in what they’re all doing. Meanwhile, Rick (Andrew Lincoln) is saddling up. Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), Eugene (Josh McDermitt) and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) are going, too. Everyone wants to go, no matter what. Aaron (Ross Marquand) is game, as well. In other news, Father Gabriel (Seth Gilliam) is proving himself a proper savior in his own right. His character development is some of my favourite, honestly, outside of the very main cast.
Out in the woods people are whistling, unseen, and a man runs away, scared. They track him down and beat him. The Saviors? You bet. The tension of this opening, score and all, is impressive. Starts to set up an epic showdown.
On the road in the RV, Rick and crew are heading to Hilltop. Maggie (Lauren Cohan) is having big time pregnancy troubles, and obviously worries. But Rick assures: “Everything we‘ve done, we‘ve done together.” No matter how bad things get he can always at least put a little faith in people, he’s a charming, charismatic leader. Can he save them all from what comes next?
Morgan tends to a wounded Carol. She’s in need of stitches. He wants to help more, though, she isn’t readily allowing any of that. She doesn’t want to go back.
Along the road, Rick and Abraham see The Saviors with the man they’re holding. Uh oh. It’s already starting. Out they go to meet in the middle of nowhere. The Saviors aren’t joking around and make it clear someone’s got to die. Instead, Rick has other ideas. They all slowly back off. For now, things are fine.
Rick: “You wanna make today your last day on earth?
Savior: “No, but that is a good thing to bring up. Think about it, what if it‘s the last day on earth for you? For someone you love? What if that‘s true? Maybe you should be extra nice to those people in that RV because you never know – just like that. Be kind to each other. Like you said, like it was your last day on earth.”
Rick: “You do the same”
Morgan and Carol are alike, yet still at odds. She has to school him on how things are: we must kill if there are people around us. You don’t get to have people and have a normal life. You either get to be with people and kill, or be on your own and not have your hand forced. She pleads with Morgan to leave. “If you care about anyone there‘s a price, Morgan, and you‘re gonna have to pay it,” Carol tells him.
The most tense and unnerving part about what’s happening so far is that we know a big, tragic finale is coming, some way. Right now, they’re building up the happy moments, the emotional bits and pieces. Up until the moment The Saviors appear, once more, in the middle of the road. Always waiting, watching. Now the survivors are preparing to do whatever’s necessary. Very eerie atmosphere, as the group tries to figure out how best to get down the road.
Under his nose, Morgan finds himself deserted. Because Carol is adamant about not going back, she’s sick and tired of the new world and how it is to worry, care, love if another person is involved. I understand, sadly. Can’t be easy for anyone to exist. Aside from trying not to get bitten by zombies you’ve got to worry about all of the rest of ordinary life, too.
Another ways down the road the RV encounters a ton of walkers. They’re chained and left in the middle of the road – “a Red Rover,” as Eugene puts it. They discover things belonging to Daryl (Norman Reedus) and Michonne (Danai Gurira) attached to the zombies. Out of nowhere gunfire explodes at them from the hills. They respond and things get real tense. Luckily, they clear the road and get through. Heading deeper into the belly of the beast.
Rick is already dying with anticipation. Now he knows they’re being led in a particular direction. Worse, Maggie doesn’t seem to be doing too well. Then more trouble on the road – Saviors, everywhere. They’ve got nowhere else to really turn. At every last corner there The Saviors are, waiting for their arrival.
Morgan finds rosary beads in the street. Will there be a showdown between him and the Savior left after Carol’s massacre? Will the man find Carol? I’m terrified to find out. Not a second later does he show up. Carol finds herself at the mercy of this man. He puts one in her arm, planning to watch her die on the pavement.
Again and again we’ve been getting views of someone stuck inside a box, or somethng similar. Likely Michonne and Daryl? Who knows. Glenn? We’ll see.
The hardest part about the Maggie situation, for Rick, is watching another pregnant woman go through the post-apocalypse world. Even worse, she’s having a rough time. Hopefully she’ll last. Too many tragedies have fallen upon their group, and they’re no saints, but they don’t deserve all their hardships.
But for Carol’s part, she wants to die. Done with the world, she hopes to leave. Might come sooner than later, as the man puts yet another shot through her leg. Still, she keeps up her sarcasm under duress. Soon enough Morgan arrives. He shoots the man dead, going against his precious life philosophy. Although, it’s for a good purpose.
Afterwards, some armoured folk come out of the forest. They actually own the horse Morgan rode. The men agree to help them. Is this all it seems? Can’t trust anyone right off the bat.
Carol: “The world doesn‘t decide, you decide. You don‘t get to walk away and get what you want.”
Through the forest stride Rick and his crew. A tree roadblock keeps them from going further, and then they witness the man from the road earlier being hung. He dies brutally in front of them before a fire starts in the roadblock. Such ominous stuff, as the Savior from earlier speaks from behind the slowly building fire, warning of the last days on earth and such. Spooky.
Everybody’s worried, obviously. I would be. At each turn they’ve encountered a literal roadblock. They decide to ditch the RV and head onward. Eugene first gives over a bullet “recipe“, one that will help them in the future. It’s a very goodbye-type moment. Touching. Plus, there’s a better one with Abraham and Eugene, an honest and beautiful moment between two friends. Definitely touches the heart, and scares me about what will happen in the last ten or fifteen minutes.
So Rick and the crew head out with Maggie, leaving the RV in the hands of Eugene. The score even tugs at the heartstrings, more than ever before on the series. It’s real epic sort of stuff. Again, this worries me. A strong setup for brutal tragedies.
In the woods, Rick and the group hear the whistles. It sends them deeper into the forest. Some of the creepiest stuff EVER on the show. When they run out into a massive gang of Saviors, things turn around quickly. The creep factor goes up, so does the pulse. Rick looks devastated already, as Eugene is seen kneeling on the ground nearby.
“Welcome to where you‘re goin‘,” the Savior from earlier greets them all. For the first time in a long time, Rick is in a position of absolute weakness. Totally castrated, effectively. The games are about to begin. Last time Rick was made to get on his knees, he bit out a man’s throat. What will happen this time?
The light inside the box was the others, after all – Daryl, Michonne, Glenn, Rosita (Christian Serratos). The gang is all back together. Lined up for the big entrance. He has arrived – Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) walks out to see them all. He taunts them about “pee pee pants” and other juvenile phrases. Then he chats with Rick. Tides are about to turn, drastically. “You are so gonna regret crossin‘ me in a few minutes,” Negan says plainly to Rick. The law is laid down.
Negan: “You ruled the roost. You built something. You thought you were safe, I get it. But, the word is out: you are not safe. Not even close.”
In the end, there is punishment. Negan selects himself a victim, introducing everybody to Lucille, his barbed bat, using more juvenile phrases – this time some Eenie Meenie Minie Moe. The whole sequence is so intense you’ll find yourself racing, heart pumping, pulse ready to leap out of your body. The tension is drawn out perfectly.
Only problem is AMC has decided to stick a thumb in the viewer’s eye by not letting us in on who Negan decides to kill. We’re given POV that simply lets us in on the savagery of Negan, the bloody brutality he brings to this world. Not impressed, I must say.
Stay along for the ride. Or don’t. Many say they’ll stop watching because of the ending. Me, I fucking hate it. I do. But I’ll keep watching because I have to know. Although, that being said: Season 7 has to pick up and do some different things, take different routes, figure out a fresh new formula, because after this finale I’m starting to get sick of the predictability of the series. Much as I dig the show there are serious flaws. Here’s to hoping the writers start listening to the roar of fans and switching things up. Maybe that’s what Negan will do overall. We’ll have to wait and find out in October.
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 13: “The Same Boat”
Directed by Billy Gierhart
Written by Angela Kang
* For a review of the previous episode, “Not Tomorrow Yet” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Twice as Far” – click here
This episode opens with Carol (Melissa McBride) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) confronted by members of The Saviors. Then the group calls out to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Glenn Rhee (Steven Yeun) and the others. They command over the radio, essentially opening a hostage negotation for the two women. Off in the distance, Rick says “we‘ll trade” and then needs confirmation Carol and Maggie are fine. Things go on from there, a little rocky on The Saviors’ side, but steady enough. Then The Saviors put bags over Carol and Maggie’s heads for transport.
A nice grim opening leads way to the women being taken to a facility, most likely a slaughter house as we can see KILL FLOOR written on the ground; the only perspective we’re allowed, as Carol and Maggie go through their kidnapping. Impressive directorial choices at the start of this scene, which forces us into their POV until finally inside.
While the others try and plan their next course of action, Carol steadily hyperventilates, looking terrified. McBride is an amazing actor, and the character of Carol’s become one of my favourites of any television series. But one of the leaders of the group, Paula (Alicia Witt) confronts Carol wondering: “Are you actually afraid to die?” They toss Carol rosary beads, which she holds onto tight.
This group, particularly the women, is tough, they seem hardened more than most people. Paula’s slightly scary. Her demeanour is of a broken woman, but one with a lot of power. She and Maggie go back and forth over life, the meaning, babies, et cetera. It’s clear the good faith of Maggie meets its match against Paula, and whatever horrors she’s seen personally along the way.
Paula says a “scout crew” are coming. Meanwhile, their group is breaking down a bit when the man Carol shot before being captured starts to lash out. He hits Polly, then Maggie gets a hit in. Finally, Paula pistol whips him to calm things down. A nice, exciting few moments, also a bit perilous when thinking of Maggie’s unborn child. Carol gets a good few kicks before the pistol whipping then lays there awhile. Something is certainly coming.
Another parallel aside from Carol and Paula is Maggie and Michelle (Jeananne Goossen). Michelle’s got a situation happening with her boyfriend, and so there’s a certain amount of her which resonates with Maggie. Yet they’re on opposing sides, different interests.
More negotiation over the radio. Rick tries his best. Although, Paula’s clearly set in her ways, a determined person. Then there’s Carol who attempts to talk. Instead of her usual fighting nature. Except after a little while, she asks for a cigarette. Paula continues telling Carol she’s “weak” and unable to stick to her “own principles.” Then goes on about her life before as a secretary, her family, and how in the end she had to kill to life; “I stopped counting when I hit double digits,” she says re: her murder record.
Again, we’re seeing Carol and the rest of the group as what they’ve become, like everybody else: killers. Though they’ve definitely got better hearts in certain cases, Rick and the survivors still kill, they did last episode in relentless fashion. So while they think of themselves as better or more moral than others, they’re no better than most of the survivors of the zombie apocalypse.
Paula: “Are you going to kill me?”
Carol: “I hope not”
Once a supposed deal with Rick begins to turn wheels, Paula and her haggard old lady friend head out leaving Carol by herself. Naturally, using the rosary beads, she gets free, and then releases Maggie. “We have to finish this,” says Maggie sternly. Some sort of crisis is happening for Carol in her head. It’s as if she’s lost her nerve. Meanwhile, Maggie is tougher than nails, and she picks up all the slack; even smashing one woman’s head into jam. A bit surprise for Paula when she comes back to find a bloody scene in the room where she’d last left Carol.
The two escapees come across a walker trap left for them. But Paula shows up firing bullets. She taunts Carol: “You have no idea, the things I‘ve done, what I‘ve given up.” This starts a big fight that ends when Carol shoots Michelle in the head for nearly slicing open Maggie’s stomach. Eventually, Carol kills Paula, too; something we knew had to come. The fighting survivor in Carol will only take so much, even if it wounds her inside.
Still, she and Maggie lure more Saviors to the kill floor where they’re lit on fire and locked in a room. Can we really still totally root for Rick, Carol, Maggie and the others? Are they still the good guys? Not according to Michelle from her conversation with Maggie earlier.
Out into the daylight Carol and Maggie go. They meet up with Daryl, Glenn, Rick and the rest. “They‘re all dead,” Maggie says with a fragile shake in her voice.
At the finale, Rick asks Primo (Jimmy Gonzales) to talk. He claims he’s Negan. Then Rick goes ahead and shoots the man in the head, as Carol watches on gripping her rosary beads until her hand drips blood.
An exciting chapter in this sixth season. One that asks more questions about the nature of morality, as well as questions whether we can stay fully on the side of Rick Grimes & Company, while they rip and tear their way through the post-zombie apocalyptic landscape. Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s Negan is sure to be a horrifically savage counter-balance to this group when he comes. Stay tuned with me for “Twice As Far” next week.
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 6, Episode 12: “Not Tomorrow Yet”
Directed by Greg Nicotero
Written by Seth Hoffman
This episode begins with Carol (Melissa McBride) in the civilized society of Hilltop, getting food ready, looking through what food they’ve already got on hand. In the woods, she keeps her killing game strong. When she sprays herself with blood – no worries, there’s a bunch of fresh shirts at home. She brings some cookies to Tobin (Jason Douglas) made from beet and acorn: “They‘re amazing,” he tells her after being coaxed into one.In pulls Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Michonne (Danai Gurira), and the others. When Carol asks what’s happening, Rick only tells her: “We‘re gonna have to fight.”
Out comes Morgan (Lennie James). He and Carol have a chat about what he did, re: the last Wolf. She’s obviously more concerned about what Rick said than anything. The time for baking cookies is over.
Rick holds an Alexandria town meeting. He lays out the problem with The Saviors, including their run-in with Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green), Abraham (Michael Cudlitz), and Daryl (Norman Reedus). Along with him is Jesus (Tom Payne). Rick talks about the deal, the food they’d receive. Nobody seems to object. Yet Morgan alone stands up and asks if Rick is “sure” whether or not they can beat this Negan and The Saviors. Democracy prevails, as Rick says it’s everyone’s choice. Aaron (Ross Marquand) says he’ll do whatever it takes to prevent another massacre in their town.
Carol sits alone with a book she keeps. Recorded with how many people she’s killed; she circles the number 18. We’re starting to see the other side of Carol we’ve not seen in a long time. One who is remorseful and pensive. Carol talks with Tobin who believes her strength comes from being a mother, taking care of others and capable of doing anything necessary; things he says “terrify” him. He cares for her, and they share a kiss.
Rick: “We kill them all”
Abraham and Rosita (Christian Serratos) argue, as he walks out on her. Harshly, he ends their relationship; clearly in love with Sasha. So sad Abraham handled it this way. Meanwhile, Tara (Alanna Masterson) says the three magic words to Dr. Denise Cloyd (Merrit Wever), and they’re simply afraid to lose each other with the upcoming journey and mission towards Negan.
At the same time, Glenn (Steven Yeun), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Daryl and Rick get a map drawn for them into Savior territory. The plan is set. Or is it?
With the group out on the road, little groups are splitting up to canvas the area. Rosita and Carol have a chat about the Wolf situation. But we know Rosita has other issues happening. Glenn and Heat (Corey Hawkins) talk about “killing someone“, getting more of the sense of how humanity changes the further people get into the zombie apocalypse.
Soon, Rick outlines what they’re about to do, and they agree to just have a look, check things out. If things look ripe for the taking, they go: “This is how we eat,” says Rick. To the side, Carol tells Rick that Maggie ought not be out there with them; at all. Probably a good point, Carol.
The plan involves bringing The Saviors the head of Gregory. They find a proper walker head, which Rick has to punch a good deal to make look appropriate. Then they’re off. We get a glimpse of The Saviors. Creepy, intimidating dudes. That is until Daryl slits one of their throats, and the operation really gets underway.
The savagery of this episode is incredible. Between the macabre Johny Depp-mold they used for one of the fake Gregory heads, to the sequence where Rick and the others bust into the territory of The Saviors – tons of knives to the head. Everything is gruesome, yet so much is offscreen horror. Brutal and vicious, but not in the sense of showing everything. Worst of all is seeing Glenn first put a knife through a guy’s head, the look on his face is devastating. But like the man he is, prevents Heath from having to do the same, and takes another one for the team.
Abraham and Sasha get ambushed by a man. They kill him, but not before he throws the switch to an alarm. Out on watch, Carol refuses to let Maggie go and help; is this a different side of Carol emerging? One dedicated to life?
Inside the complex a gun battle erupts. Rick and his crew fight for their lives. Blood and bone flies. People are shot, stabbed, beaten to death. Corpses litter the corridors, blood stains everything.
In Alexandria, Morgan is busy building what looks like a cage. Is he going to do what was done to him? Will he try putting Rick in there? Or is possibly for Negan, intended to be a better alternative to murder? We’ll see.
Once the smoke clears, Michonne wonders “which one was Negan” and Rick sort of shrugs. One last person a motorcycle clues the group into someone watching, talking on a radio. And they’ve got Carol. Maggie, too.
The next episode, “The Same Boat”, is bound to be exciting. There could be some trobles ahead. Some very terrifying troubles at that.
In a twist of fate, the Brothers Dixon wind up in a terrible position against one another.
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 7: “When the Dead Come Knocking”
Directed by Daniel Sackhelm
Written by Frank Renzulli
* For a review of the previous episode, “Hounded” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Made to Suffer” – click here
This vicious entry in the third season starts with Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) interrogating Glenn (Steven Yeun). As Maggie (Lauren Cohan) listens on in the next room, strapped to a chair, her man is being tortured, as Merle looks to find where they’re living. He wants to find his brother Daryl (Norman Reedus), but wouldn’t mind getting his hands on Officer Friendly, Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln).
Speaking of Rick, he’s watching Michonne (Danai Gurira) right outside the fence of the prison. The walkers finally tune in to her being around, so Rick and Carl (Chandler Riggs) stand there as she fends off a group of them. Her wound is getting worse then she passes out, which prompts the Grimes men to intervene finally. Or at least Carl does, anyways, surprising his father. They both head out and clear a path, hauling Michonne to safety and taking in the goods she brought. Best of all, they determine she was shot and not bitten by walkers. They take her inside. At least for now. Rick has her locked out of the cellblock for the time being.
Then, Daryl reveals to them all that Carol (Melissa McBride) is alive. She is happy to see them all, receiving hugs and all sorts of love. But also she discovers the baby without Lori, as she and Rick and Carl each share a few tears. Emotionally charged scene with a whole lot going on, which is something Michonne sees and you can tell it affects her. Perhaps this is a group she might someday be able to belong to, in her own mind.
Slippers and a robe on, The Governor (David Morrissey) receives Milton Mamet (Dallas Roberts) at the door. Apparently Mr. Coleman is ready – whoever that is.
At the prison, Michonne reveals Glenn and Maggie were taken and that’s why she had the formula when she arrived. Nobody trusts her, which is understandable. We do because we’re privileged with all the information. Slowly, she reveals the presence of survivors in the town of Woodbury, talking of The Governor and even calling him a “Jim Jones type“.
Swing back to Merle, who has Glenn’s face beat in, bleeding, purple and puffy. Except Glenn is one tough cookie. He warns of Rick coming to find them, what he’ll do. Merle isn’t afraid, but Glenn says: “We‘ve been on the road. Not hiding in some dungeon.” Problem is he doesn’t know about Andrea, which gives Merle a slight advantage he’ll use in some way.
The plan at the prison is for Rick and a few others to go to Woodbury and find the lost couple. Even the remaining prisoners agree to help, as best they can. Carl and Beth (Emily Kinney) are ready to do their part, too. Everybody is helping and doing what they can. Another brief father-son chat happens between Carl and Rick, starting out surrounding the boy having to finish off his mother; Rick trusts his boy to protect the people at the prison, which is a great thing to see. They end up deciding on a name finally, coming from Carl’s third grade teacher: Judith. A touching moment in between the harshness of their world.
Milton is experimenting in his little lab at Woodbury. The Mr. Coleman he spoke of is a subject they’re using to test where reanimation happens, how it does, and so on. Apparently the older gentleman is doing Woodbury “a great service“, or so The Governor fawns over him. Andrea’s brought in to help things along with Milton, which involves the playing of a record, the slight ringing of a bell and specific commands and statements from Milton. It is all meant to test the boundaries of the zombie virus, the functions of the brain after death and going into the void of the undead. All sorts of scientific stuff Milton hopes to understand. See, Mr. Coleman is dying and they’re trying to figure out more about walkers.
More disturbing things are happening in the room where Glenn is held. Merle lets a walker loose in the room with him. Glenn fights it off, still duct taped to a chair. He manages to bust out slightly and keep the thing from biting him. Very cool scene with an interesting zombie kill, also showing how resourceful Glenn is, and what a survivor he has become over time.
The most disturbing is when The Governor goes to see Maggie, tied to the chair. For a moment I was sure he would inflict some terrible kind of treatment, sexual abuse, on her. It is an ominous few moments between the two, as he puts a terrible fear in Maggie. And us. But she is defiant and refuses to give in to any of his tactics, telling him to do what he wants and to “go to hell“.
Out on the road, Michonne leads Rick and Daryl towards Woodbury. A large horde of walkers comes from the woods to keep everyone busy. With too many bearing down the group slips further into the trees where they find a lodge of some sort. Inside, a rotten dead dog stinks the place up. Better than outside where the dead line every inch of the lodge’s exterior. Rick finds a crazy man sleeping under a blanket on a bed. He threatens everybody’s safety ending in a shot fired and then Michonne putting her sword through the man to prevent walkers getting in. “Remember the Alamo?” quips Daryl looking out at the thicket of walking corpses crowding them inside. They feed the dead man to the walkers out front and sneak through the back, as the distraction works perfectly.
The heat turns up in Woodbury with The Governor threatening death against Glenn in order to illicit a response from Maggie. She obviously gives up the prison, its location, how many survivors are left there, and anything else they need. Sad to hear the information given up, but what else would you do? Maggie clearly doesn’t want to watch the love of her life die, not after everything. And Glenn almost explodes seeing a topless Maggie being treated how she is by The Governor. They’re left alone. Except now things are getting wilder, as The Governor’s paranoia sets in. At the very same time, Rick and his small crew have arrived at the gates of Woodbury. They stand ready to take back their people, to infiltrate.
The episode ends with Andrea strolling back to the new place she seemingly sleeps at night, everything appearing fine, The Governor wringing his hands and worrying about the next step, and just outside Rick Grimes poises to mount his offensive on the sleepy town of Woodbury.
Next episode is titled “Made to Suffer” and is sure to bring plenty of madness, excitement, paranoia, and naturally… death.
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 6: “Hounded”
Directed by Daniel Attias
Written by Scott M. Gimple
* For a review of the previous episode, “Say the Word” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “When the Dead Come Knocking” – click here
Merle Dixon (Michael Rooker) is leading the charge searching for Michonne (Danai Gurira). He’s got a couple people from Woodbury with him, including a young guy he calls Neil (Dave Davis). Out of the woods Michonne comes killing the others, leaving Merle and Neil alive. After the confrontation, Merle stands defiant: “Are we having fun yet?” he calls out into the forest, as she slips away after their fight.
Back to Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) in the tombs of the prison, among the dead walkers, in the place where his wife dead. He received a phone call from someone who won’t say where they are, who they, who is with them. Rick pleads with them for help, but the woman on the other hangs up. Meanwhile, Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus), Hershel (Scott Wilson) and the others eat together. When they do see Rick again he’s slightly better. But not near well. Glenn (Steven Yeun) talks about making a run for supplies, Daryl gives Rick an update on other plans. Yet off Sheriff Grimes goes again, by himself. Into the tombs.
In Woodbury there’s a better relationship brewing between Andrea (Laurie Holden) and The Governor (David Morrissey). She wasn’t impressed with their big show the night before, having Merle give off a big three-ring circus style act with walkers. Although, she wants to stay, and to contribute. The Governor agrees to have her.
Rick continues to talk to other voices on the phone. This time, a man. Again he gets hung up after a bit of conversation. Frustrating, no? Or is it all in Rick’s head?
Andrea proves her worth in the new town by taking down a walker, jumping over the Woodbury wall to get it. Only the girl she’s on guard with doesn’t seem too impressed. “This isn‘t a game,” she tells Andrea, who only looks confused. And she ought to be, having turned the world outside into just as much of a game, a “release” as she put it, as the circus Merle was putting off the night before.
Hershel finds Rick in the prison tombs. He tries to talk with the distraught father and widower. Rick reveals the call he received and Hershel tries listening to the phone; we don’t hear any dial tone, does he? Either way, Rick sends Hershel off and wants to stay alone.
Coming across Michonne, the team of Merle and Neil find Michonne. Then a zombie attack breaks out. Everyone fends for themselves, as poor Michonne slices one walker open and its guts pour onto her stomach, chest, face. Nasty, and amazing makeup effects done by the KNB wizards.
At the prison, Daryl talks with Carl (Chandler Riggs), as he and a couple others explore the tomb-like tunnels. We get the story of Mama Dixon burning herself to death in bed after falling asleep with a cigarette. Then Carl tells Daryl about having to kill his mom: “I ended it. It was real. Sorry about your mom.” “I‘m sorry about yours,” replies Daryl.
Meeting with The Governor, we hear Andrea admit to enjoying the fights, as opposed to her earlier sentiments. He seems to have her pegged, to know what she’s all about. He also believes he’s “growing” on her. In other news, Merle is trying to get Neil back to Woodbury. The younger guy is giving Merle a bit of hell over what they have to tell The Governor re: Michonne. She’s been shot by Merle, and he’s sure she’ll die. Nevertheless, the oldest Dixon puts a bullet between Neil’s eyes and leaves it at that. Always a survivor.
Michonne is covered in the walker guts after crossing paths with Merle. Lucky for her: the zombies don’t even notice her.
While on their run, Glenn and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) end up being watched from afar by Michonne. For her part, Andrea’s lounging in a lush green garden drinking booze with The Governor. They’re becoming closer and closer with each passing scene.
The most interesting is when Merle shows up where Glenn and Maggie are scavenging, Michonne still waiting in the wings. When Merle starts a fight things get tense. He makes Glenn drop his gun, Maggie at gunpoint in his own grip, all with Michonne watching. When they drive off she’s left alone, shot, and wondering what to do next.
Another call for Sheriff Grimes. He picks up the receiver and hears a familiar voice – Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies). The whole time he’s been talking to Amy, Jim, Jacqui. All their dead friends. This is a devastating scene for Rick, as he sort of compounds all his failures, crying and telling Lori: “I couldn‘t put it back together.” His breakdown is tough to witness. He’s meant to be that never-wavering alpha leader. But that’s also why Rick is a well written character, whose faults and stumbles are present, always. Yet further he soldiers on in the hardest, most trying times of this new life in the post-zombie apocalypse world.
With Andrea in bed, The Governor’s successfully conned her into his life. Sad, as she’s one smart character. Usually. At the door Merle tells his boss about losing the three people in his search party, or, he lies about what happened. He says Michonne is dead, claiming the head and her sword were “torn up” in the scuffle. Things are lightened when The Governor is made aware of the new hostages, Glenn and Maggie. Merle is apparently getting ready to extract a little info.
Finally, Rick goes back to his son, his daughter, and the rest of the group. He looks long at his new child before picking her up out of Hershel’s arms. The light slowly returns to his eyes and brightens his soul a bit. We can sense a change in that moment, more of the incredible acting talent Andrew Lincoln brings to the role.
In the tombs, Daryl holds the knife belonging to Carol (Melissa McBride). He gets angrier and angrier, opening the door they’d noticed earlier was pushing open slightly and finds Carol herself, right there. A happy reunion in all of the bitter brutality. Outside, Rick notices something off in the distance. He gives the baby to Carl and heads down to the fence where he finds Michonne, carrying formula in a small handcart Maggie and Glenn were stocking up. They lock eyes before the episode cuts to back.
Next up is “When the Dead Come Knocking”. Stay with me.
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 4: “Killer Within”
Directed by Guy Ferland
Written by Sang Kyu Kim
* For a review of the previous episode, “Walk with Me” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Say the Word” – click here
This episode starts with a dead deer carcass being dragged off by someone also holding a jerrycan. Two walkers end up coming across bits and pieces of the deer. Then across the concrete someone runs, axe in hand. They chop the lock from a gate then lay a fresh heart on the ground before running off. Mysterious, eerie. Foreboding.
Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl (Norman Reedus), Carol (Melissa McBride) and T-Dog (Irone Singleton) are doing some work in the prison yard. They need help, but Glenn (Steven Yeun) and Maggie (Lauren Cohan) are busy having sex up in the guard tower. Lighthearted moment when Daryl calls out to them, breaking up their little time alone. But things get back to seriousness, as prisoners Axel (Lew Temple) and Oscar (Vincent Ward) come outside. This breaks their previous pact. But the two men are sick of being stuck inside with all their dead former friends. It’s tough with bodies everywhere, blood, guts. People they were locked up with in there for years. Most of them don’t want to let the prisoners in with them. Although, T-Dog is a little more willing to work on it instead of essentially letting these men die. A bit of talk happens before things are settled.
Back at Woodbury, we find Michonne (Danai Gurira) checking the place out. She investigates everything. Including one of the National Guard vehicles, which still has blood on it. The Governor (David Morrissey) appears, constantly trying to sell the place: “We could use a soldier like you.” She is not at all impressed or convinced. Further than that, she’s suspicious already of what exactly happened with the National Guardsmen. Also, Michonne points out the bullet holes in the vehicle. Of course The Governor has an answer for everything. He’s a sly, greasy man. We know that there’s something wrong, underneath it all, having seen his virtual wall of floating walker heads. Nasty stuff. He’s all about the surface – appearance, identity. Whatever works is The Governor’s game.
The prison is stable for the time being. And so is Hershel (Scott Wilson). Inside, Carl (Chandler Riggs), Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Beth (Emily Kinney) try to help the older fella adjust to his new situation on one leg. Things aren’t exactly peachy, though, they could be far worse. That group, Rick, Daryl, all of them, they are a special breed of survivor.
At the same time, Andrea and Michonne are both survivors in their own right. It seems like Andrea is sliding into believing Woodbury might be a good place to stay after all. Michonne does not agree. Are they going to reach an agreement somehow? They’re better together, not apart.
Rick, Daryl and Glenn are leading some improvements on the prison yard. The plan is to, someday soon, plants crops in the soil; first, the bodies must be cleared. Getting fresh air Hershel admires their latest home. This is a refreshing sight to see. Not only does Maggie enjoy watching her father up on his own, there’s also a reaffirming look between Lori and Rick.
Then behind Carl and his mother, Hershel and Beth, a pack of walkers appear. Out by the fences, Daryl, Rick and Glenn rush fast as they can to help the others. All of a sudden, as is in the new zombie wasteland, a normal day has turned into the savage fight to survive we see now. Never can a day just go by without having to fight for your life, which is a brutal lesson these people are learning all over again. Worst of all? T-Dog gets bitten in the shoulder trying to secure a fence. His fate is sealed.
Meanwhile, there’s Merle trying to get information out of Andrea. He makes The Governor and Woodbury out to be the be-all end-all of human civilization, of course, but that’s to be expected. He rags on Daryl for becoming a part of the other group, following Rick, yet there Merle is sucking up to The Governor every chance he gets, to his face or to someone else.
The prison’s become a mess. Chaos and tragedy. In the tomb-like tunnels, T-Dog shuffles along bit promising to get Carol out of there, one way or another. Simultaneously, Carl manages to protect his mother for a little while with Maggie helping. But Lori’s pregnancy is about to make things fairly difficult.
Stark contrast with The Governor back at Woodbury, up on one of the walls cracking golf balls into the road down the way. One ball smacks a zombie in the face. Merle admires The Governor’s drive, again puckering up. Merle also suggests a scouting mission: he wants, needs, to find Daryl. Only the leader doesn’t find it that attractive of a plan. He doesn’t want to spare the men, nor does he want Merle gone either when a solo trip is suggested. Is this really under the guise of protecting Merle? Or is it selfish? The Governor feels threatened, thinking maybe Merle would run off and leave Woodbury. Shows how fragile of a leadership there is in him. A little later, The Governor meets privately with Andrea. Though she says they’re leaving, definitely. Goodbyes are said. Only I don’t feel like the two women are going anywhere. Not Andrea, anyways.
Rick is trying to track down his family. Him, Daryl, Glenn and the two prisoners rush through the prison to look for a way to shut down the alarm, ringing loud, drawing walkers from out of the woods towards the building. And Lori is stuck in a boiler room, Maggie and her son alongside, ready to give birth. The oldest Greene daughter is now tasked with helping to deliver a baby, a partially traumatized Carl trying his best to stay strong, on watch with his gun in hand. This is one of the most intense and rough scenes in The Walking Dead history. Quickly, things start to go wrong.
A sacrifice is made by T-Dog as he and Carol try getting through the prison tunnels. He suppresses several walkers, taking bite after bite in the arms, then the neck, all for Carol to run free and make it back outside. Always tragic character deaths in this series. Sad. I loved T-Dog; Irone Singleton does a great job with him, even if he doesn’t always get enough time onscreen. Either way, too bad to see him go.
Rick finally tracks down the culprit of all the mayhem in the prison – the prisoner he’d told to run after their confrontation with Tomas ended bloodily. After a bit of wrestling and fighting, Oscar ends up with the gun. Instead of shooting Rick, he shoots his former friend then hands the gun over to Sheriff Grimes. Unexpected, yet excellent. They’ve developed at least a tenuous bond to stay alive, as long as they’re in the same walls.
Troubled times ahead for the Grimes family, though.
Things aren’t going well for Lori and her birth. She needs the baby saved, there are complications, and insists on it, to Maggie’s dismay. It looks as if the mother may not necessarily make it out of this alive. She tells Carl “you take care of your daddy for me“, telling him he’s “so brave“. An emotionally terrifying scene to watch a young son and his mother in this situation. The advice she gives him breaks my heart. I don’t actually love Lori as a character, but these moments will kill you, unless you’re dead inside. Their goodbye is tender, full of tears. Lori doesn’t want Rick to have to kill her when everything is over, as she once said to Hershel; she asks Maggie to do the deed. And then Maggie cuts into her stomach, opening it up to get the baby out. It is a bloody, visceral minute or so before the baby starts to cry, alive and well.
Even worse is afterward when Carl has to shoot his mom in the head. He flashes back to when Rick told him about death, and “no more kid stuff“. The shot rings out while Maggie is around the corner, then Carl walks away emotionless. Such a savage world in which to grow up.
The mangled body of T-Dog is found by Rick and Daryl. They find Hershel and Beth safely, assuming Carol might have been killed, as well. And just as they stop talking, Rick hears a baby crying. Out Maggie and Carl come with the newborn child. No Lori. This prompts one of the most emotionally devastating scenes in the entire series; to date. Rick breaks down, literally crumpling on the ground. Everyone is shocked to their core. The end, for another chapter.
Next episode is “Say the Word”. More blood, death, despair. And what else?
AMC’s The Walking Dead
Season 3, Episode 2: “Sick”
Directed by Bill Gierhart
Written by Nichole Beattie
* For a review of the Season 3 premiere, “Seed” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Walk With Me” – click here
This second episode of Season 3 starts with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) trying to save Hershel (Scott Wilson), having cut off his leg at the end of the premiere. Everyone works to get him back to a bed, to safety. Carl (Chandler Riggs) lets them back in, where Beth (Emily Kinney), Maggie (Lauren Cohan), Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and Carol (Melissa McBride) try their best to help save the old man. Everyone is, rightfully, in a panic.
At the door, Daryl (Norman Reedus) waits for the prisoners to show up. The ones who appeared in the cafeteria. They’re obviously curious about what’s been happening. Further than that they have no idea about the world has become outside. T-Dog (Irone Singleton) helps keep them at bay, for now. Rick tasks Glenn (Steven Yeun) with being by Hershel’s side, in case the worst happens. Meanwhile, Sheriff Grimes heads to tackle the prisoner problem head-on. He wants to resolve things amicably, though, keeps a tough edge. He has to give the grim news of the post-zombie apocalypse world to these guys. They’ve only heard the crazy rumours and stories, locked in the prison for “294 days“.
Rick allows the prisoners outside, but their leader Tomas (Nick Gomez) isn’t being easy to get along with, in the slightest. Others like Axel (Lew Temple) and Big Tiny (Theodus Crane) are more willing to go along to get along. Even with all the news Rick breaks to them Tomas is bent on doing things his way. Except Rick tells them how things are now in the prison: “We took it, set you free; it‘s ours! We spilled blood.” Soon, Tomas bows down. Reluctantly and for now. A deal is struck – guns and ammo for food, they each take their own cell block. Rick further agrees to help clear another block for them.
The chopped stump of Hershel is stable. He’s passed out, resting. Carol and Lori try their best to get one another through everything, even joking candidly with each other. Rick, Daryl and T-Dog try to settle things with the prisoners, to ensure more safety going forward. They get their hands on some of the food the prisoners had stashed away. At the moment, things are going steady and looking clear. Although, Maggie is worried for her father while Beth even starts preparing a new pair of pants for her father, one with a leg sewn up. Hershel isn’t out of the choppy water yet, but he’s alive. That’s the best they can ask for now.
Things with Rick and Lori aren’t exactly on the up and up. He doesn’t feel supported by Lori, after the way she seemed to handle the situation with Shane. But now she tries to assure him that she is on his side. All the same, Rick doesn’t exactly feel confident in any of that. The two of them are on shaky ground. Worst time to be, as she prepares to have a baby some time down the road, not too far away.
Lori: “I thought, maybe, you were coming out here to talk about us. Maybe there‘s nothing to talk about anymore.”
Rick: “We‘re awful grateful for what you did.”
Maggie says her goodbyes to Hershel with him lying sickly in bed, surely near death. “Be peaceful,” she weeps, “if it‘s time to go that‘s okay.” It is so heartbreaking to watch, not knowing whether or not Hershel will pull through.
Simultaneously, we’re back in the darkened tomb-like halls of the prison. This time it’s with Rick, Daryl, T-Dog and the prisoners. Seeing Rick and his group juxtaposed with other groups is always so striking. Because they were once so innocent and didn’t know what they know now. They stand back and watch as the prisoners go hacking and slashing at the zombies, not doing anything Rick suggested, such as go for the head, the brain. Almost funny, really.
Back to the cell block, Carl strolls in with a ton of supplies. He went on a run himself, even “killed two walkers“. The boy is trying to take on a bigger role, to be the man. Instead he gets no praise and only crap from his mother, even Beth who suggests he shouldn’t talk back to Lori the way he does. Sad, even though I get the concern. He’s only trying his best to grow up in a tough world, trying to take care of his people, and above all else his mother. In the other block, Big Tiny gets attacked by zombies, stabbed by one of their broken boned hands and bitten. Things with the prisoners then start to deteriorate by the second. But Rick and Daryl are prepared.
When things go to shit in the laundry room, Tomas almost takes Rick out. A little conversation afterwards turns quickly into murder when Rick plants a machete directly in the skull of Tomas. The other prisoners soon agree to let bygones be bygones, and a further deal is struck. Luckily, it looks as if the big trouble with the prisoners is over after Tomas bit the dust. One super tense scene has Rick locking a prisoner outside after he runs, advising: “You better run.” The screams from him outside are bloodcurdling.
My favourite scene is actually when Maggie and the others think Hershel is dead, after it appears his breath stops. For a second, you star to think Hershel might actually come back as a zombie. A few moments pass, after Lori tries giving CPR. Then he comes back: as himself. Dear ole Hershel managed to make it through to the other side and survived his injuries. Not without scaring Lori, the ladies and Carl – who points his gun shakily – near to death.
Rick and the others arrive back at their cell block, everyone crowded around Hershel. And then his eyes open slowly. He wakes again and the light in the eyes of everybody else returns. A glimmer of hope appears in them all, even a hardened Rick who unlocks handcuffs they put on Hershel, in case he did turn. Hershel reaches out for Rick’s hand saying nothing, but the look on his face saying everything. He is thankful for a man like Rick Grimes, who went to extreme lengths in order to save his life. A fitting moment between the two characters.
Also, Carol realizes with Hershel temporarily out of the game, child birth falls on her. She is responsible to make sure Lori’s baby is delivered, and appropriately. She takes to using walkers as practice, using the Cesarean section. But then someone watches her from afar, out in the woods; we see only their perspective. Who is it lurking? A new enemy, a threat?
And Lori still won’t stop giving Rick a hard time. He keeps trying his best, she continually second guesses him, even after he took charge and protected his family at all costs. They are clearly having troubles. Yet these aren’t the days of sitting on the couch, talking out problems. They aren’t going to just get past their differences, but still, Lori harps on their relationship too hard, at every turn. She can never let Rick be, let him get on with everything. Their strain will become the group’s, at some point. Now or later.
The next episode is titled “Walk With Me” and it really begins to amp things up, as a community of survivors elsewhere emerges, and we get more of Andrea/Michonne.