Monday, October 28, 2013

Carol's Been A Bad, Bad Girl


“Isolation”
All I could think about during this show was how much funnier it would be if Benny Hill music was being played in a continuous loop in the background. Zombies staggering in fast motion forwards and then backwards, or Michonne repeatedly stabbing a walker in the head! Also, Carl and Carol—separated by one letter, “O.” Significant? Hardly. Yet interesting nonetheless.

Tyreese is understandably very, very upset about Karen’s death. David is a loss, too, but mostly Karen, whom as you recall was his BFF. Tyreese loses his shizzle a bit and has to be schooled by Rick. That is, Rick responds to Tyreese’s blows by opening a can of whoop ass on him, because, well, Rick is the boss. He can’t tolerate insubordination. He’s under a lot of stress. Rick, being Rick, instantly regrets what he’s done. The person who killed Karen and David and set them alight is still at large; Tyreese is out for bloody vengeance, while Rick, Carol, and Daryl take a more balanced, wait-and-see approach.
Hershel bandages Rick’s hand as he waxes philosophical on the internal threat that imperils the camp, namely the outbreak of disease as well as the Patrick Attack. He advises Rick to keep it together, comparing it to his personal struggle to get sober all those years ago. Tyreese takes his aggression out on a shovel as he digs graves for David and Karen. There are a lot of holes being dug on the grounds due to the swine flu’s spread. Sasha, the pretty lady who was in Tyreese’s original group, has come down with it. She staggers into quarantine.
A snapshot from the good old days!

A group meeting occurs, with Hershel, Daryl, Carol, Glenn, and Michonne in attendance. Hershel says that they need antibiotics. It just so happens that he knows of a veterinary college that could have the stash they need. It’s 50 miles away. Time for a bad-ass run!
Rick and Tyreese kiss and make up. Tyreese looks a little worse for the wear, as one of his eyes is swollen shut from his violent encounter with Rick. Tyreese comments that the epidemiological experiment failed; killing the two infected individuals did not halt the spread of the infection. He reaffirms his personal commitment to finding Karen and David’s killer. When Rick says he has the rest of the camp to worry about, Tyreese responds, “You worry about that. I’ll worry about what’s right.”
Bad-ass in training (BAT) Carl is excited to have his weapon back, the gun with the nifty homemade silencer. You can tell he’s itching to use it, but Father Rick advises him to fire only when absolutely necessary. Carl’s definition of “absolutely necessary” is decidedly more fluid than his dad’s. Between the walkers within and without, it seems there’s always an occasion to fire a gun, so Carl should be kept pretty busy.
Hershel sits in a former administrative office as he muses over a coffee mug with a pithy saying on it (“JAVA SAVES”) before venturing outside. Carl volunteers to accompany him. Rather, he imposes himself on Hershel. Meanwhile, Carol is shepherding sick people into Cell Block A. One of her young charges, Lizzie (dead bearded man’s daughter from the last episode), has come down with the flu. Carol can only take her as far as the door where she bids a tearful farewell to the little girl. Beth is locked in a room with Judith, a sort of mini quarantine for babies. She tries to impart her stoic wisdom to her teary sister (now Glenn is ill) Maggie: “We all have a job to do.”
As Hershel collects medicinal plants, Carl stands watch. They come across an abandoned campsite. Upon investigation, they happen upon a walker who has nearly become one with the vegetation he fell upon, as if he is growing out of the tree roots. Another female walker stumbles by, her ankle hobbled by the metal teeth of an animal trap. Carl cocks his gun to fire on her, but Hershel warns him against doing so. What’s the point? They’re not in any danger. Here we see Carl getting advice from another male authority figure besides his dad, a grandfatherly figure. Carl definitely needs some reining in. Recall last season when he shot a young kid from the Governor’s camp in cold blood as Hershel looked on in horror. In the immortal words of Kenny Rodgers, you have to know when to hold ‘em, and when to show ‘em. Or something like that.
If only it were this simple.

Initially Tyreese planned to stand vigil over Cell Block A to ensure the safety of the infected, but at the last minute he joins Michonne, Daryl, and Bob Stookey (Bald Black Guy). It’s a confederacy of bad-asses in one automobile!
The water supply is dwindling. Carol notes that the supply hoses are gummed up with mud. Rick already said that that’s a problem to be dealt with later. Something is bothering Carol. She even kicks over one of the water barrels in anger. Usually she doesn’t lose her shizz like this; what could be up? (WARNING: OVERT FORESHADOWING!!)
Certified bad-ass (CBA) Hershel volunteers to minister to the infected. He brews up a natural flu remedy with the leaves he gathered in the forest. Rick and Maggie warn him that he’s susceptible, but he defends his actions by stating that every action they take now is a risk, so what the heck? Back off. End of story.
Seeing Baby Judith being locked up with Beth and sitting on her lap so peacefully makes me wonder: Is Judith that easy going of a baby? My kids would have been going stir crazy. Maybe Judith is not so mobile yet. Maybe Beth is sedating her.
BAT Carol takes matters into her own hands to de-gum the water supply source. A crowd of walkers hovers nearby but is captivated by the noise of the pump. Rick happens to be around. After seeing that Carol is in danger, he has to intervene to defend her. Carol recklessly waits until the last minute to flee. It could have been a real cluster-eff. Rick is pissed.
Back to the bad-ass run! Is that a late-model Mustang they’re driving? Trouble ensues when everyone thinks they hear a voice over the crackling static on the radio. Driver Daryl is so distracted he hits a walker, losing control of the vehicle. Then, dear reader, there’s nothing but walkers for as far as the eye can see. Not sure how far Daryl can see but it’s a veritable Woodstock, a Lollapalooza, a Burning Man’s worth of endless, stumbling walkers. He backs up the car in a hurry but the tires get stuck on a pile of run-over zombies. Michonne, Daryl and his other brother Daryl (ha ha, 1980s television show reference to see if you are still paying attention)—I mean, the BBG waste no time in getting out of the car, weapons drawn, where they slay walkers like there’s no tomorrow. All except Tyreese, that is, who remains in the car, brooding. BBG is like, “TY!!!!!” Eventually, Tyreese exits the vehicle, guns blazing (so to speak) with his sword drawn. All the anger and loss he experienced after Karen’s death goes into slaughtering zombies; that’s a good thing, because he’s surrounded by them!
As the bad-ass clan flees from the roadside into the dense forest, Tyreese emerges, like a phoenix from the ashes, into a small clearing, preceded by two zombies but unfortunately pursued by a butt-load more. For now, they are safe, as long as they keep running.
Hershel visits Dr. S, who thanks him by hacking up blood on Hershel’s face. Nice. BA Hershel simply wipes the blood spatter off. He also spends some time with Glenn, who’s faring rather badly. Hershel repeats the notion of Beth’s that every one has a job to do, even the sick. Not sure what that job is exactly, but whatever.
Rick meets up with Carol, who’s ferrying water to the camp, to criticize her for her stupidity. He has an inkling of who killed Karen and David, coming right out with it: “Did you kill Karen and David?” She responds in the affirmative. Clearly she did it to protect the camp. However, with this single, terrible, bloody act Carol has crossed the line from bad-ass in training to murderer!


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Anxiety Is My Bread and Butter



Some necessary housekeeping and clarifications from last week’s episode summary, “Infected.” I misspelled “Hershel,” adding a “c” where there should have been none. Also, the young doctor who correctly identified the nature of the outbreak is known as Dr. Subramanian, or Dr. S for short.
Just when you thought the visuals on The Walking Dead couldn’t get any more disgusting, they have. Every week our eyes are subject to rotting corpses in varying states of decomposition, and now we have to watch live subjects hacking up blood and sputum. Which is more disgusting, you ask? My bet is on the swine flu victims. As long as they stay away from actual puking, I’ll be fine.
I spend a lot of time thinking about why I am both drawn to and repelled by The Walking Dead. Recall that I watch it with the sound on only very reluctantly. For the longest time I stayed away from the show, because although I am infinitely intrigued by zombies, I am deathly afraid of what they represent: the end of civilization as we know it. Now that I have viewed seasons one through three (twice), however, I am obsessed. 
In Ranger Rick’s world, there is no insulin, no doctors, and no health care system (save for Dr. S). Before I could get bitten, my diabetes would kill me. I suppose that’s a small comfort. Still, my children and husband would survive the zombie apocalypse without me. Tim is highly capable; I trust him implicitly to weather the food shortages, harsh weather, and a life constantly fought for. He’s a stoic, after all. Hopefully, the kids won’t whine too much about having to walk long distances. That would drive Tim absolutely bananas; the undead he can deal with. Whining kids—not so much. My daughter Ayla would develop new anxieties about “walkers” biting her after abandoning her long-held grudge against bees, flies, and mosquitoes. David would take it all in stride, acting as a leveling influence. I picture him fleeing the undead in a wobbly manner, shrieking.
Do you see what this show has done? With its realistic depictions post-zombie apocalypse, it has rendered the entire scenario more plausible and thus more horrifying. Every worthy vestige of human culture would be obliterated, and replaced with a void. There’s no such thing as “zombie culture.” Their society is driven by the desire for blood. They don’t produce anything of value, merely consuming the living—not to mention the cute baby pigs from the last episode.
I suppose we are all attracted to what we fear the most. Thankfully, there is no virus that turns people into mindless, flesh-craving zombies, but unfortunately our world is threatened by other forces that can consciously and unconsciously transform our lives as we know them. Terrorists, tsunamis, the Kardashians, all are terrible forces that have already exerted negative influences upon us. Yet we bear on against the tide, hoping all will be well for ourselves and our offspring, as we simply wait for the next episode. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Patient Zero Is a Zombie



As per my habit, my first viewing was with the sound off and my second with the sound on, during the merciful daytime. First, this week I’d like to provide my readers with a handy glossary. BIT is a bad-ass in training. Most of the kids in the colony fit into this category, including first and foremost Carl. CB is a certified bad-ass. Most characters have evolved into CBs, or get killed aspiring to do so. A few were like this from the beginning, like Merle (R.I.P.), Daryl, and Herschel. Ranger Rick is by default a CB, because he’s the leader. It’s cool to think of a senior citizen like Herschel as a CB. I’ll revisit this notion of bad-assdom later.
Yea! Karen and Tyreese are a veritable couple! They’re in love. I just hope these two crazy kids can make it in this kooky big blue marble overrun with the undead and people eating canned dog food. Or are they destined to become star-crossed lovers? Only time will tell. As Karen washes up after her late-night assignation with Tyreese, Patrick is just beginning his own staggering foray into the darkness. This can’t be good; now the entire camp is vulnerable! Patrick chooses a random, unknown mustachioed victim for his inaugural meal. He’s not a main character. Naturally, Patrick does not stop there.
Daylight descends upon the camp. Glenn playfully takes pictures of Maggie whilst in their sleeping quarters in the lookout tower. Rick is bidding goodbye to CB Michonne, who seems to prefer traveling via horseback these days, as she takes off on a run. Or, perhaps she is still scouting the woods for a sight of the elusive Governor, whom we said goodbye to (for now) in season three. Rick feeds the wittle baby pigs and chats with Carl. The rest of the camp is asleep or fighting off Patrick and his zombie minions. All is calm for about one minute, and then all hell breaks loose. The camp has never had to ward off an internal zombie attack before. Michonne quickly returns to pitch in with her mighty (Samurai!) sword as some random walkers try to attack her. She’s injured in the process. Inside all is chaos. Luckily Rick and the others are able to rescue most of the children. Karen is okay. Carol, a CB in training, aids an injured bearded man and is about to amputate his affected arm until she notes that he has a neck wound as well. The entire ordeal is over within a minute.
An astute medical student/fellow/doctor identifies the illness that killed Patrick as a highly contagious strain of pneumococcus (just a theory, but hey, it’s worth a shot). Carol brings in bearded man’s two young daughters. The older one volunteers to kill her father, essentially stabbing him in the head. She can’t act, faltering. Carol steps in instead. The girls are understandably devastated. Nothing to see here, folks, so move along! Sniff. Sometimes there’s nothing funny about a zombie apocalypse, m’kay!!
Rick explains to Maggie, Michonne and Carl what happened inside. He reveals that a mysterious sickness has afflicted the camp. Good thing Herschel is a vet. They decide to quarantine the potentially affected to death row, Cell Block A. Karen walks by with Tyreese as they meet, coughing. She says that another member, David, is also feeling poorly. She agrees to be quarantined.
Meanwhile, the prison fences keeping out walkers are not holding up so well. I suppose girding them will be fodder for an upcoming episode, what with the new illness to contend with and the aftermath of the dreadful internal attack. Due to the Patrick diversion, no one is poking the zombies in the eyes to keep them from piling up, which spells t-r-o-u-b-l-e for everyone. There are dead rats littering the fence; is someone feeding them? Are sympathetic and well-meaning kids doing it? In the premiere Carl had to set some of them straight regarding the fact that walkers are indeed the enemy and not to be identified with in any way. In past seasons there have been saboteurs lurking in the background; could that be happening again? So far, the colony is facing external and internal threats to their survival.
Michonne is recovering from what appears to be a sprained ankle. She talks with Beth as Baby Judith plays nearby. Judy starts howling when she senses Michonne’s tension, and the crying gets on Michonne’s nerves. She may wield a mean sword and guide pet walkers, but can’t handle the piercing cry of an infant, God bless her! When Beth asks her to hold Judy a bit Michonne flinches, but then when she gets a look at that cute wittle baby face and smells that delicious sweet clean baby smell, she melts, crying. Perhaps her maternal instincts are kicking in after all.
Glenn, Maggie, Tyreese’s lady friend with the now less puffy but still pretty hair and Rick try to stave off walkers using their body weight. Rick has a bright idea. He has Daryl fetch the truck. He takes the baby pigs (Violet’s brethren are not going to end up in a good place, so if you’re very attached to cute baby animals like me, STOP reading now!) I can’t believe the producers took us from one cute baby scene to a horrifying one in one fell swoop. Rick and Daryl use the baby pigs as bait to lure the walkers away from the fence. I guess this is good epidemiological sense given that the pigs may be the source of the outbreak (see: dead Violet), but pleeese! The cute baby pigs never hurt anyone. He’s also seriously reduced the camp’s bacon supply. It’s some small comfort to know that no animals were actually harmed in the filming of this scene. Hopefully the pigs are enjoying a nice life as companion animals on a ranch somewhere in rural Georgia, where the series is filmed. I mean, I know human life is supposed to be more precious than animal lives, but this was a tough one to watch.
Rick burns down the pigsty in a primitive attempt at disinfection. Carl looks on and reveals to his dad that Carol is teaching the kids mad knife skillz on the sly, unbeknownst to their parents. Rick seems pretty nonchalant about this revelation. For good measure, Rick throws his bloody shirt into the fire as well.
On a romantic note, Tyreese is bringing a handmade bouquet to his girlfriend Karen, but she’s not in her cell. Only a bloody trail leads to the outside courtyard, where Tyreese discovers a gasoline can and two charred bodies, burnt to a crisp. Uh-oh…Looks like someone has gone rogue epidemiologist all over Karen and David’s asses!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

You Wouldn't Like Me When I'm Zombie


Aaah, fall is in the air. Starbucks’ feature flavor is pumpkin, school is back in session, and season four of The Walking Dead began on Sunday! Once more we can get our zombie-survivalist fix from the safety of our living rooms. Of course, I am still so consistently terrified by the unrelenting suspense and horror of this series that I watch each episode twice—first with the sound off, and then with the sound on, after I’ve had a chance to digest the latest deaths and tribulations of Ranger Rick’s thriving but constantly threatened colony. Naturally this recap contains spoilers galore, so if you are not caught up, go and watch it right now, you culturally deprived individual!
"30 Days Without an Accident" opens with Farmer Rick toiling away in the soil. As the undead plod against the prison fences, Rick cultivates more than tomatoes and arugula; he unearths a handgun! Not sure what type of fertilizer he’s using, but whatever it is, keep it up, Rick. Judging by the increasing number of walkers, you will need all the firepower you can find. Rick’s son Carl, the bad-ass in training, joins him and notes that a pig named Violet isn’t doing too hot. She’s laying on the ground and panting. The two muse what could me wrong with her.
Some of the camp is enjoying breakfast. We find out that certified crossbow- wielding bad-ass Daryl caught a deer yesterday. Daryl and Carol flirt over his allotted bowl of gruel. Carol hands the culinary reins over to a bespectacled young man we’ve never met before, Patrick. He effusively thanks Daryl for the tasty deer.
A select number of the group is preparing to make a run. When these are routine, we aren’t usually privy to the specific happenings therein, so the fact that much is made of who goes on the run and other details signify that things will go very badly indeed for all involved.
Meanwhile, Rick meets a zombie-like woman who is not a walker whilst traipsing through the forest. She implores him for help, revealing that she and her husband—who is not present—are starving. Rick offers her a bundle of food wrapped in foil, no doubt banana bread or a roasted chicken or whatnot. The ever-suspicious Rick frisks her before agreeing to accompany her back to her campsite. He discovers that she’s carrying a knife and admonishes her, saying no funny business or else he will smite her.
The intrepid group of Michonne, Daryl, Tyreese, new young guy (sorry, I forget his name, which is just as well because his role here is short-lived), Tyreese’s lady friend from season 3 with the puffy pretty hair and a bald black guy also new to the group venture to a big box store (think Costco or Walmart) to load up on Vitamixes, thigh masters, and other luxuries. Little do they know that a horde of the undead are aimlessly roaming around above their heads! The soon-to-collapse roof of the store also has a crashed helicopter on top of it. While bald black guy contemplates the vintage of a certain bottle of red, the entire shelf falls on him, pinning him to the floor. Where did he think he was, Total Wine and Liquor?? The implication is that he is a reformed drinker who should not be in the alcohol section of this store anyway OR that he is considering taking the wine on the sly without sharing it with the others. Anyhoo, this is decidedly NOT a good time to become immobilized. Also, the huge noise from the crash attracts the attention of the undead above, who start crashing through the ceiling into the store as Daryl and the others are trying to free BBG (bald black guy). They get distracted from this mini-mission by the zombies they have to kill, and BBG is stuck alone to fend for himself. Just in time, Daryl swoops in and saves BBG’s ass. You owe him big time, BBG! Things are not as sanguine—actually, they are, if you think about it—for young college guy who said “see you later” to his girlfriend Beth before the run. He gets bitten and eaten right before the entire store collapses in on itself. Luckily, everyone else makes it out in time. The question we are left with, would the mission have gone more smoothly if BBG hadn’t taken the wine and collapsed the shelving? The zombies, after all, were drawn to the noise and headed right for it, which happened to be situated under the weakest parts of the roof. He was warned right before they left that on a run you have to do what’s best for the group and not yourself, or else you put everyone at risk.
Rick continues to follow the not-zombie chick back to her lair. Like most chicks, she wants to talk: blah, blah, blah, I did things I never thought I’d do, my husband saved my life multiple times, etc. They walk for what feels like a really long time. When they reach her campsite, Rick comes the sick realization that not-zombie chick’s husband IS a very real zombie whom she is keeping alive with animal carcasses. Rick was supposed to end up as a tasty treat for said husband! Luckily he evades her attack and pulls a gun on her. Despondent and disappointed, not-zombie chick commits hari-kari to join her husband, who is living a fine life in a semi-underground holding pen. Rick feels just awful for her. Note that he doesn’t shoot her in the head after she passes away, which may mean he is letting her become a walker and join her husband per her final wish. My main feeling about this incident is that I kept wishing Carl was around; his “shoot first” approach would have gotten rid of this annoying woman a lot sooner than his dad’s attitude.
Young Patrick isn’t feeling well at children’s story time hour in the prison library. Carol leads a half story, half knife instruction class there for some of the kids in the camp. Young Patrick leaves just as the class gets interesting because he feels barfy. (Warning: OVERT FORESHADOWING!!!)
Beth doesn’t seem too upset that her boyfriend got killed on the run. It’s all par for the course in this new world where life is cheap and death is knocking on your door everyday. Speaking of death, Patrick wakes up in the middle of the night all feverish and sweaty. He goes to cool off in the showers and collapses, hemorrhaging on the tiled floor, where he dies. How do we know he is dead? Because his eyes turn all spooky-like. He’s ready to lurch around, but hopefully Carl will get to him first with that nifty gun of his with the homemade silencer.