Archive for Walking Dead

The Walking Dead Recap: “Alone” (Season 4, Episode 13)

After last week’s triumphant final sequence, this week sticks us back in the mud. Nope, none of our folks can catch a break. It’s how they deal with it that keeps us watching (most of the time – I actually watched the finale of True Detective as it aired on Sunday instead. I have thoughts, if you’re interested). In this episode of The Walking Dead, the emphasis is on the original existential crisis: we are all, each and every one of us, alone. This person’s struggle, that one’s loss, is distinct. But by sticking together, perhaps we can lessen our burdens.

Bob The Walking Dead

Nobody here but us chickens: Bob on his own. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

The episode begins with a (slightly confusing) flashback. We met Bob Stookey at the beginning of season 4, but he was already in the mix at the prison; they’d encountered him between seasons 3 and 4, when the prison community was at its safest point. We never got to see why Daryl was so suspicious of Bob, or why Bob risked his and everyone else’s life (and killed Zach in the process) for a bottle of booze. In this glance back a few months, Bob looks every bit the walker himself. He slouches along empty roads, his icy eyes straight ahead, a machete perched on his shoulder. He hides in railroad ditches, gazing dispassionately at the walkers’ futile attempts to eat his face. When Daryl and Glenn find him and ask him Rick’s three questions (How many walkers you killed? How many people you killed? Why?), he’s positively thrilled; in the back of Glenn’s pickup he starts to adopt the faithful, sanguine smile he wears now.

After the credits, we switch back to the present, in which Bob is no longer alone: he, Sasha, and Maggie stand back to back in a foggy woods, surrounded by a herd of walkers. The three of them work together to protect each other, and Bob gets bitten, but says cheerfully, “he got me right on the bandage!” The three of them are happier and more alive than we’ve seen them in a long time. After a walker tackles her to the ground, Maggie discovers her compass is busted. Bob, optimistic as ever, says they don’t need it, because they can watch the sun. He’s so cheery; it’s a little weird.  Read more

The Walking Dead Recap: “Still” (Season 4, Episode 12)

In Sunday’s episode of The Walking Dead, we hop back to Daryl and Beth, with whom we haven’t checked since the mid-season opener. They aren’t doing so hot, it seems. They perform the simple duties of survival wordlessly, climbing silently into the trunk of an abandoned car to hide from a herd, then making their way down the road. This begs the question of how the walkers can sense humans. There was a scene early in the series where Rick and Glenn, trapped in Atlanta, covered themselves in zombie goo so they could walk among the undead, and Michonne has done the same by using her pets. But can the walkers “smell” living flesh? Do they simply respond to movement?

Daryl and Beth at the country club.

Sport coats on hangers. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

There is no dialogue for the first seven minutes of this episode. For a 43-minute piece, that’s a lot of silence. Daryl and Beth make camp, each focusing on different aspects of the process. Daryl’s arrows are becoming brittle; he shoots and misses at a squirrel, and the tree’s bark breaks the arrow in half. Beth uses the reflection of the car’s rearview mirror to start a fire, then rigs up the hubcaps to create a trip wire. She lets a ladybug crawl onto her finger, enjoying the feel and look of the tiny red creature. Meanwhile, Daryl kills a rattler and peels its skin off. Mmmm, snakemeat.

Finally, Beth uses the first words of the episode: “I need a drink.” She wants to find some booze because she’s never had any before. When Daryl gives her the ultimate cold shoulder she leaves by herself, snarling that he should enjoy his snake jerky. Daryl follows her silently, then escorts her back toward their place. “I’m not staying in this suck-ass camp!” she cries. “I’m gonna get a damn drink.” Oh, honey. You certainly are a teenager. She leads them to the overgrown Pine Vista Country Club. Inside, they find two hanging walkers (hangers?) and a bunch of dead folks on the floor. The country clubbers’ wealth is evident in the walkers’ jewelry, their prettily patterned silk shirts (now rife with decay); it’s apparent in the dusty champagne glasses and the black employees who died alongside them. Read more

The Walking Dead Recap: “Claimed” (Season 4, Episode 11)

Last week, we left a passed-out Glenn and a panicked Tara in the clutches of a muscular ginger in military fatigues. This week’s episode opens on Tara riding in the back of the Army truck, writing directions in Sharpie on her hand. When the motley crew encounters walkers, the military gent climbs out and stabs two of the undead through the head, leaving one to smash with the butt of Tara’s gun. He isn’t particularly efficient, but he’s cheerful. When Tara comments on his smile, he tells her, “Well, I’m the luckiest man in the world.”

Abraham shoots

Sergeant Abraham takes a shot. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Back in the suburbs (it’s notable that Rick keeps gravitating toward familiarity), Carl and Michonne joke over breakfast. Just as the laughter is in full swing, Carl says he’d rather drink Judith’s formula than Michonne’s hippie soy milk! Womp womp. Every time these characters begin to find solace in each other, they find new emotional stumbling blocks, raw spots that surprise them. The house in which Michonne, Carl, and Rick are situated is lily-white: Michonne stands in an impeccable, colorless kitchen in a starched men’s dress shirt. The color (or lack thereof, depending on your level of nerd) looks immensely out of place in this apocalypse, especially with these wounded warriors wandering around in it. Rick decides they should just stay here while they figure it out; it feels like home, and it’s as safe a space as any.

When Michonne and Carl decide to go on a food run, Rick offers to come along. Michonne isn’t having that; he’s in no shape to travel after his long bout with unconsciousness. He says goodbye on the front porch of the house, asking how long Carl and Michonne think they’ll be. Rick tells his teenage son to “follow her lead.” The scene, positioned on a comfortable, well-furnished patio, plays very much like a proud/nervous dad sending his kid out on his first date. Rick is both proud of his son’s ability to handle himself, and nervous that he’ll lose him forever, so it works well.

Michonne and Carl

Everybody’s lost somebody. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

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The Walking Dead Recap: “Inmates” (Season 4, Episode 10)

I’ve been alternating The Walking Dead with True Detective and House of Cards (both of which, let’s be frank, are much better). Paired with the rapidly melting eighteen inches of snow that blanketed the east coast last week, this television trio makes for a very…intense February. Of all the shows I’ve recapped, I take the fewest notes on The Walking Dead; I can best guess what’s happening next and I have a sturdy handle on what the writers are doing. No idea if this is because I’ve been paying attention for three years now, or if the teleplays are particularly transparent, or what.

Either way, this week’s “Inmates” tries for an overarching theme about hope, about the prison of the mind. Now that they’re out of the physical prison, the scattered remains of Rick’s crew have to tackle their freedom and reevaluate their respective states of mind. The episode begins with a voiceover from Beth (a character I find immensely boring): she’s reading a journal addressed to her dead mother (R.I.P). You’ve just got to have hope! she’s telling us. Daryl, her sole companion in the escape, isn’t having it. That gent has no time or space for hope. We’re watching these characters revert to their original states – and it’s not very exciting. The key to keeping your audience interested is to move your folks in new directions, not to sweep them back to the beginning again. Beth and Daryl encounter the scene of a massacre, walkers consuming the flesh of some former prison inhabitants. A baby shoe lies abandoned in the center of a pile of viscera. As almost anybody would, Beth totally loses her shit – and Daryl stares impassively. We’ve all got our coping mechanisms.

 Beth and Daryl: hardasses extraordinaire. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

“We can live here for the rest of our lives.” Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

After ten minutes and the reassurance that Daryl made it out (let’s face it, he’s the show’s biggest damn hero at this point), the writers bounce us over to Tyreese, Lizzie, and Mika. Tyreese has Judith, who’s very much alive, as Reddit guessed and I said last week. Let’s just pause this for a moment to give the show (and actor Brighton Sharbino, who also is on this week’s episode of True Detective) some mad props for depicting a child sociopath. When the four of them pause to camp, Lizzie spies two baby bunnies inside a log and stabs them to death with her knife. Her face displays avid curiosity, willful determination, and nothing else.  Read more

The Walking Dead Recap: “After” (Season 4, Episode 9)

When last we left off, Rick’s crew of misfits was scattered in the aftermath of the prison altercation. Last night’s mid-season opener scoops up the shrapnel and slides it around a little. We’re still missing a whole cadre of folks in all states of being (undead, dead, alive but not present), most notably Judith (who I think survived and is with Tyreese). But at least this episode followed up on some of the more frustrating aspects of the season.

Michonne, who killed the Governor and then slunk into the woods with her reclaimed sword, falls immediately back into her old routine: she takes out as many walkers as she sees fit, then lures two of them to the makeshift wood fence. After they impale themselves she renders them jawless and armless. By drawing the walkers near to protect herself, she’s withdrawn back into her previous shell; she’s disappeared once more into herself.

Taming the walkers. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Back to basics. Photo credit Gene Page/AMC.

Meanwhile, Carl and Rick make their agonizingly slow way toward suburbia. Rick’s injuries are great, his face green with infection and pain. Carl won’t speak to him, and it’s pretty clear to everyone (including Rick, I imagine) that he blames his father for all the deaths at the prison. Over the course of the last season, Rick has found himself with a sullen, defiant teenager instead of a little boy. Chandler Riggs’s voice has dropped, his jawline has become more prominent, and he’s taking on all the characteristics of awkward pubescence. Like a lot of dads, Rick doesn’t want to let go of his kid yet. It’s understandable, but unbelievably frustrating when you actually think about their circumstances.

The father and son stumble on a diner conveniently called Joe and Joe Jr’s Barbeque Shack, and investigate to see if there’s any food. They discover only hot sauce – and the walking, decayed corpse of Joe Jr., who begs any passersby, via handwritten note, to “Please do what I couldn’t.” As requested, the Grimes gents put him down. Rick tries to quietly exterminate a cowardly (established by his inability to kill himself) son (evidenced in his moniker) and fails because he’s horribly injured – at which time his own “brave” son comes to the rescue with a pistol. I see what you did there, writers. Read more