Monday, September 28, 2015

Travis Hearts the Government, and Countless Other Potentially Fatal Errors in Judgment

EPISODE QUATRO

Someone is having a pool party! Is that Nick languishing on a full-size floatie in an unclean swimming pool? Mayhaps. Travis is jogging, because a deadly zombie virus invasion should NEVER get in the way of cardiovascular fitness. Houses are being burned to control the infection. Travis’ son is highly resentful of the military presence, as he sits perched atop a rooftop creating a pretentious little movie.

Thank god this ep is not called “The Baby,” or “The Cute Little Jack Russell Puppy,” because I don’t think I can take any more. Susan the grouchy old Asian neighbor didn’t really get to me, but animals and babies—that’s a different kettle of fish altogether.

MM is pissed. She has to do it all while Travis goes out and hangs with the military. His son is still on the rooftop, communicating with someone in a distant building. Travis thinks he’s fooling around up there, which indeed he was, making his little movies.

Nick is having a pool party for one. He heroically refuses the oxycodone his mom offers him, and soon we will discover the reason behind his newly embraced abstemiousness.

The military is proud to announce that Travis’ neighborhood is now infection free! Yet, people are still unhappy. Negative Nancys! Where’s our food, our electricity, where is everyone else? They are the lucky ones. Complainey Pants!

Daughter Blades is flirting with the men in uniform. Travis does what Travis does and consults with the military, which needs help getting a man to cooperate with the screening process. What’s he hiding? Might he be ill? “Doug” is holed up in his room and has been acting strangely since last night. I’m thinking that maybe Travis is not the right man for this job. Doug is a portly fellow, bearded and round. Doug is at a loss. He can’t step up to the plate on this one. Everything is going to shit, and Doug can’t sugarcoat it for his family. All he has to do is submit to a brief screening.

Alicia roams the neighborhood. Not sure what she’s looking for. Maybe Matt, her boyfriend? His house, however, was in a cooler suburb. I think this is her house, which was already cordoned off. She picks up a few items of memorabilia, and a letter. We can’t read it, of course.

Doug is okay! I think. He finally agrees to be screened.

Nick exits the pool in a hurry to spy on the neighbors.

Travis’ son insists that someone is trying to communicate with him.

Nick is siphoning off morphine from a bedridden neighbor; stay classy, Nick!

Turns out Ruben’s daughter was flirting for a good reason; she is more than friendly with one of the national guardsmen.

What’s this, are Travis and MM having sex in the midst of all this? The proximity of the military must somehow be exciting for Travis, a real aphrodisiac. Travis busts out the hard liquor. MM can’t stop herself. She brings up his son’s movie making discovery. She also complains that nothing good is happening and that the government is not making good on their promises of medical care, electricity, and cell phone towers that work. Travis sez, honey, stop being paranoid.

Uh oh, turns out the gutless wonder Doug has fled in his car. Zombies can’t drive, so we can safely assume that Doug is merely a pussy and not a member of the undead—yet…

So jealous right now of MM! She’s enjoying a cigarette on a rooftop. Wait, that’s a very big cigarette. Right, it’s actually a flashlight, and she’s trying to flash-communicate with the mysterious stranger across the hills. Meanwhile, Travis may have found Doug’s treasured automobile, and all the doors are open. Turns out, however, that the military found Doug first, deemed him a “head case,” and removed him, without telling Mrs. Doug, of course. Travis informs the commando that his son saw something in the hills; guy responds, fuggeda bout it, there’s no one there.

A doctor shows up. Hector the patient from whom Nick was stealing morphine is gone; the government took him? A doctor from the government shows up to speak to Travis’ ex, who has been passing herself off as a nurse. I thought she was one. But hey, times are tough. The doc wants her to keep up the pretense just a bit longer…?

MM is making a run for the fence. Is she in search of the unknown signaler? What she does find are posters of the missing, and a lot of garbage. This may not have been the smartest move. The smell becomes unbearable. There are dead people lying in the streets. A tank rolls through and some men with guns get out. Hiding under a car from the feds, she finds herself face to face with a dead woman,

The doc visits Ruben’s wife, who needs surgical care for her injured foot. Are they innocently suggesting medical care, or is there something sinister behind the doctor’s helpful attitude? They find Nick, who needs methadone, in addition to a bar of soap and running water. Ruben watches them suspiciously from the window, and rightly so. He asks MM what she saw beyond the fences. Ruben recounts an incident from his youth involving the military or the police in his home country. People were taken away, and they came home, but returned dead. He warns MM that he may not return, and if he doesn’t he wants her to take care of his daughter Ophelia. Why can’t Travis be smart like Rubes?

Nick is foraging for drugs in abandoned houses. MM is pretty mad and starts beating him up. Is this really the right time, Nick? Doesn’t mom have enough to deal with? He doesn’t seem to have absorbed the gravity entailing the end of human civilization as we know it (He feels fine.)

Nick has barricaded himself in his room. Alicia tries to reason with him through threats. Nick did indeed deserve the mild beating he sustained. MM consoles her guilt with a cup of…coffee? Ruben’s wife is leaving for the hospital. Ruben accompanies her, but is told to wait. It’s Nick they want. It’s hard to tell what’s going on cause the lights don’t work. Nick is led away and hauled off. The doctor implores Travis’ ex to leave with her, as she is needed at the hospital. She hops in the convoy. MM is left to wonder where the heck Nick is going, and also accuses Travis’ ex Liza for ratting Nick out to the feds. Everyone is left to wallow in his own loneliness as Alicia reads the cryptic letter she recovered.


"Paging Travis' Balls, Come In, Balls. Over!"

EPISODE THE THIRD

Riots. L.A., or at least the really grubby looking part, is under siege. Travis, his son, and his ex wife (dream team!) are still with Ruben Blades the happy barber. Mad Momster and kids are holed up in their house. Nick is grinding his oxycodone into a powder for easy and quick nasal ingestion. Don’t worry, MM, he knows what he’s doing.

The building next door to the barbershop is on fire; nice work, Angelenos! Way to pull together in a crisis. The occupants escape just in time, but for what? Cops are eating each other. People are running desperately through the streets. No, the Lakers didn’t just win the championship…It’s Zombietime!

Did I mention that this ep is ominously titled “The Dog”? The producers did not get the memo that we never, EVER want to see bad things happen to innocent animals or babies, which is why baby Judith is still alive in TWD.

MM and kids are playing Monopoly to pass the time, while Travis and his former family are fighting for their lives. Nice juxtaposition. Where will they go? Ruben Blades’ wife is partially crushed by a falling scaffold. Travis finds a car—I guess it is his vintage truck, and drives away in a hurry. The woman is ok but badly wounded.

Meanwhile, the board game of dirty capitalism continues. MM hears a noise and sombers up quickly.  Nick is still stylin’ the Beetlegeuse look. It helps that he hasn’t showered or brushed his teeth in two weeks.

Looks like the cops have their hands full. Travis drives slowly through the streets, whilst the cops shoot at what look like zombies. They must be entering a zombie-free zone, because it suddenly gets real quiet. Everyone wants to crash at Travis’ house. As they view the city from the hills, it very rapidly goes dark, neighborhood by neighborhood.

Time to put that friggin board game away! Meanwhile, life in the once friendly neighborhood is going down the tubes. Or going to the dogs, down the terlit, etc., depending on how you want to look at it. A German shepherd enters the house, briefly, with bloody paws, and then leaves, barking wildly. The three leave the house toting a flashlight, to look for neighbors. Very creepy. Lots of wood paneling in Susan and Patrick’s house. Too much, for my liking. No one seems to be home? Well, let’s just leave then. But, of course we can’t do that, that would be sensible.

The dog barks in the distance. Alicia notes that someone went into their house, across the street. Maybe it was Travis? The barking sounds frenzied, and then stops. Well, it was not Travis, he’s just pulling up. This is quite the cluster eff.

Travis is in da house, which of course is pitch black. I’m feeling a bit nauseated from all this excitement and anticipation. Something is feeding on the dog, and Travis finds it, apparently trying to reason with the zombie neighbor. MM has a shotgun, I believe, so T may not get bitten after all. One shot in the head from Ruben Blades doesn’t do it? No, but blowing it open with yet another shot does quite nicely, thank you! And to think Travis wanted them to put the gun down. Alicia gets snagged by a zombie as she runs through the neighborhood. Is this the end of her illustrious career at Berkeley? Heavens, no, she’ll live to attend another student sit-in.

They find “Susan,” whom everyone feels sorry for, but Nick declares her “dead.” For a hopeless drug addict, Nick is pretty smart, and everyone else comes off kinda dumb. Susan is “sick”? She’s making scary rasping noises, her eyes are clouded over, and she’s pawing at Alicia: she’s just sick?

So, yeah, the poor dog met a horrific end, but at least none of the human characters none of us care about are okay, right? Ugh.

MM says something sane, and wants to leave, NOW. So does Alicia, but Travis thinks it’s best to hunker down until the morning. Travis drags a body, presumably the canine muncher, and Ruben offers a great idea: burn the body to prevent the spread of infection. Travis sez, aw shucks, “he didn’t deserve this,” so cremation isn’t good enough for his former neighbor.

Mrs. Blades’ foot is in very bad shape. She needs a doctor, but there’s none to be found. Daughter Blades wants to leave with Travis and co. in the morning, but Ruben says they aren’t family, so he wants to stay put to wait for his cousin coming in the AM. However, the daughter is insistent.

Travis and MM share a private moment. A tender little momentito. I think Travis’ ex is a little on the expendable side, as far as characters go; she’s a little bitter, not very fleshed out—pardon the expression. Apparently Susan was a good neighbor, until she went bad. MM shares with the ex her way out in case she ends up like Sue; take me out, so Travis doesn’t have to.

Morning has broken! And the ever delightful Susan is awake, too. Top of the mornin’ to you Suzie! Travis buries a body.

Ruben schools the younger generation in the fine and delicate ways of the shotgun. It’s actually more complicated than you think. Travis, of course, is miffed that Blades is showing his son how to protect himself. Travis is anti-gun. I give that stance about 24 hours more.

MM wants to off Susan with a hammer. It’s the right thing to do. Susan is done, but Travis thinks that with a little medical help, she’ll be just fine. Ruben thinks Travis has no cojones, and he’s right. No balls Travis.

Everyone’s ready to get the hell out of dodge. Nick needs some more oxy, which is running low because MM has been sharing them with Mrs. Blades. Hey, Betelgeuse needs his meds, man.

Ruben is still intent on staying, in spite of sharing a backyard with that total downer Susan. His daughter is still adamant about leaving. She senses that MM and Travis and co. are good people, whereas Ruben points out that “good people are the first ones to die.” You may as well add “and so are black people,” because so far in this series they too are the first to be bit. This is in contrast to TWD, in which we have several well-developed and beloved black characters like Michonne that have real lasting power.

Uh oh, Susan’s husband is home, and she is hungry. MM tries to intervene, but it’s too late. She gets shot by commandos. MM should not have returned, methinks. I have never felt much affection for any of my neighbors, which I hope will serve me well when the apocalypse happens.

The feds are taking a human inventory of the occupants. They seem to know what’s up. Nick is wandering around, probably looking for an unlocked bathroom window through which he can score some prescription meds. He’s breaking in, which seems unwise to do when one’s neighborhood is crawling with commandos, but we pass no judgment, right?

Travis thinks things will get better now because the government is involved. Because whatever the government gets involved in turns out soooo well. Oh, Travis. Poor, dumb Travis.


Ruben Blades is still in the house. Guess his cousin isn’t coming.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

It's Episode Deux; Do You Care Yet?

EPISODE DEUX

Nick’s sister looks for her missing boyfriend. We can’t see, but he sounds like he has a virus, and not just any ol’ bug, but THE virus, ya know, the one that turns you into a zombie. MM and step dad are buzzing around in the truck with Nick. Alicia can’t help him; he has a high fever. We fans of TWD know that he is a goner, but they don’t. Turns out he has a bite. They profess their love for each other, and he tells her she needs to leave; he’ll be fine.

L.A. looks pretty gritty, because what we’re seeing is the grimy downtown, which I hear has been cleaned up a lot, but still. Out of the dirty downtown and into the innocuous suburban landscape of friendly neighbors and quaint mailboxes. The neighbors are having a party! Yay. Zombie themed. Not many kids coming ‘cause of “that bug going around.” Is it time to start nailing boards across the doors and windows? The only worried people we see so far are Militant Mad Mom and English Tr Dad and their drug-addled son Nick, who is about to go into withdrawal. Travis  (I got a name) leaves in the charmed truck and MMM stays behind. I don’t know her name, except the aptly named Mrs. C, and does it really matter?

Travis tries to warn his ex and wants to know where his son is, but she thinks he’s just dicking around about their custody agreement. He drives right into another traffic jam, which is not, I hear, uncommon for the L.A. area, but there are also an awful lot of police and ambulance sirens going off.

It sounds as if Nick has been in and out of withdrawal several times. There’s talk of a bucket, I guess for him to puke in, and he’s cold. The doctor isn’t calling in the prescription he needs, too busy tending to feverish patients about to turn zombie. MMM goes to school? No one else is there. The halls are eerily quiet as her high-heeled boots that I imagine she wears click on the linoleum floors. Perhaps, indeed, she is NOT alone. Desperate to help Nick, she appears to be breaking into the nurse’s medicine cabinet, but it’s kind of dark and I can’t quite tell. Tobias startles her. What the heck is he doing here? He wants his frigging knife back, the one from the pilot.

A bunch of angry citizens surround a couple of cops who may or may not have shot a homeless man. He’s down on the ground, for now.

MMM is softening; she returns Tobias’ knife! Does he know that helpful dictum about stabbing the undead in da head? Let’s hope so.

Alicia is leaving Nick to be with her sick boyfriend Matt, although Nick is pretty darn emphatic about Matt killing her. Then Nick has a seizure when Alicia turns around and returns.

Travis’ son is all into the protest, impulsive youth and the like. He wants to stay at the protest, unaware that the dead homeless guy is probably contemplating biting his cheeks off right this minute.

Tobias and MMM scan through the school for supplies. Tobias has stocked up supplies at school, you know, just in case things go south.

Alicia is scrubbing the stains of Nick’s vomit from the floor, reluctantly. “I hate you,” she calmly shares.

Boy, does this show jump around or what? How many mini paragraphs can I create?

Tobias is prescient re impending doom. He has it all wrapped up. Leave it to the pimply faced, slightly chubby nerdy high school student to have it all in the bag! They hear a zombie over the intercom, and make a run for it posthaste. MMM sees Artie, but he’s already a goner, and MMM thinks she can help him! Tobias meanwhile valiantly struggles with him, and what does MMM do? Butkus, until it’s almost too late. Then, I think she brains him. Hooray! Tobias is safe. Not sure if I care about MMM at this point. She’s a little dim.

So, everyone is a little dazed, and by everyone I mean Tobias and MMM. Travis is looking for his son at the lame protest. Christopher’s mom says listen to your father. A zombie chick is felled by the cops, but for how long, forsooth? People scatter like roaches, roaches who like to loot, of course, because that’s what douchebags do when things get bad. A kindly barber and his wife let Travis, his ex, and son in. Travis is one smart cookie; he immediately establishes a lookout from the shop. Tobias and MMM part ways, for now, but one suspects that their paths will cross again.

Travis and his former family are hunkered down in the barbershop. Travis notes that the dead come back. Doy, Travis. Doy.

MMM returns home to a darkened home. Nick has perked up. Alicia is sullen. MMM knows not of Travis’ barbershop getaway. She gives Nick some oxycodone. Yummy! He seems pleased. Alicia, being a teenager, is of course on her cell phone. MMM cleans Principal Artie’s blood off her clothes and cries. Travis calls. He’s stuck. They engage in a bit of chit-chat. Then a loud boom happens. The plan is to go to the desert, because everyone knows that zombies don’t like dry heat; it makes them super thirsty! MMM is kind of in shock.

And for your listening pleasure, a soulful musical interlude that is very annoying. A brief, slo-mo montage of cars burning accompanies.

For the first time, we see self-preservation kick in when Alicia and MMM witness a zombie neighbor attacking people. MMM slams the door shut. Don’t look. Don’t get involved. Stay alive! End of episode!




Sunday, September 13, 2015

Welcome Back, Beetches!


PILOT

Just a few words of intro to my few but faithful fans. The long hiatus has ended. Not only will I be blogging about Fear the Walking Dead (spin-off, anyone? We like, we like!), but also sharing my random thoughts about the new season of The Walking Dead, that favorite old chestnut, starting in mid-October. So, please enjoy. A lot has happened to me since November 2014, and I'll probably be sharing a post that condenses my not very exciting life since then. Now, on to the show.

The scene opens on a squalid setting, a young man awakening perhaps from a drug induced haze, an all-night debauched binge? But there is a church like quality to the lighting as well, and stained glass windows to boot. He calls out a woman’s name, entering a darkened room. We know we are in LA, because we have been eagerly reading all the press concerning this spinoff of our fave show.

The artist as a disheveled young man stumbles upon a bloodied corpse. Now amidst the pews, perhaps he finds Gloria, munching on yet another unfortunate African-American character. Young man flees the scene, his Seinfeld parody white poet shirt flapping in the breeze. He has an awfully nice physique for a drug addict. Aaaaand he is hit by a car. Oh don’t worry, he’s okay, you’re in LA, baby!

I don’t care for the opening theme, for what it is, just some discordant sounds and what sounds like static.

Life is as normal as it can be in La-La Land. Clearly no one has a clue yet that zombies are about to rule the earth, because they are eating their gluten-free bread and busily fixing sinks. Turns out also that the young drug addict is in the hospital, getting a psych counsel because he was ranting about “flesh, blood and viscera.” Hey, we’ve all been there. The cops are grilling him lightly about what drugs might be behind this delightful rant. Mom marches in all militant and tells the cops to scram, because after all, what do they know? Authority and lawful figures be damned; obviously mom is doing a bang up job with him—I’ve forgotten his name already—if he’s spending his nights stoned out of his gourd from heroin and hanging out with a zombie named Gloria.

Dad has issues of his own (this is a blended family). He gets a phone call from his angry ex-wife who is pressing him to spend time with his son. Whose kid is whose here? Totally confused already about the parental lineage and related progeny. There’s a pretty teenaged girl who appears to be Nick’s sister. I know, I know it’s not mom’s fault. The monkey on the back is mighty strong, etc. etc.

Militant mom greets black principal Artie. I mention his race for a specific reason that will become clear later. She works as a teacher, or guidance counselor, in a high school. Looks like kind of a typically crappy one, with bitter teachers who have seniority and pissed off students with lousy home lives. She stops Tobias, who was caught my MM with a “whittling” knife. Why? He is smart to carry around a knife. He’s on to the spreading virus, which has already affected five states, and he mentions people are killing. The unfortunately named “Miss C” (oops; perhaps a nickname?) locks his only protection in her drawer, which is probably filled with candy bars, stale chewing gum, and a confiscated sex toy covered in cat hair.

Nick bears an uncanny resemblance to any one of the messy looking young male actors that grace the TV and movie screens today. Somehow the bluish lighting of the hospital makes him look even greasier and dirtier than he is in real life. He recounts to his dad (?) how he found everyone dead and Gloria eating human flesh, you know, no big deal, just another night in Heroin City.
Stepdad goes to investigate the church of sin, blood, and yummy flesh to which Nick referred to. He’s very brave as he marches through the building. Mom returns home. Nick is sleeping peacefully in his hospital bed. A highly disturbed young guy wearing a hoodie pops out of a closet, which was actually not all that scary (picture the Muppet Animal busting out of a closet and you’ll have the idea), and surprises stepdad, who then calls out to see if anyone will come out. But no, all is quiet on this zombie front. He does find a lot of, and I mean a TON of guts and slippery blood on the floor of the church, which to me would be a big flashing neon sign spelling out “LEAVE NOW,” and I do believe that is just what he does!

It doesn’t look good for Nick’s boyfriend. He happens to be black, and black people do not fare well in FWD. In TWD we have several strong black characters that prove that they have lasting power, but I’ve heard in FWD that this so far has not been the case. Turns out step dad is an English teacher. Nick uses a Code Blue, elderly patient in distress, to make a break for it and look for some free drugs! I assume he will leave the hospital against medical advice?

MM convinces English teacher husband to take her to the bloody church, thinking that maybe Nick went back there. The bodies are all cleaned up, but there are some ominous looking stains on the floor. “It’s in the genes,” she says, referring to son Nick’s heroin addiction. She finds a book of his with drug paraphernalia folded up inside of it. Ewwww.

They stop by the house of one of Nick’s friends. Nick, meanwhile, is loping around skid row, resembling a zombie himself. His sister awaits her boyfriend in equally seedy Venice Beach, but he never shows. Militant Mom and Jack London-loving step dad drive on into the night, continuing their search, tooling around in their vintage pickup truck.

Something is amiss on the highway. Not your regular traffic jam, but shots fired, lots of cops, a helicopter’s searching lights. Step dad guns it and weaves his way out of there. Someone of course filmed the entire thing. A zombie getting beaten, pulled off a body, and shot, to no effect. Rumors of a virus, a toxin fill the air. Who will be the first in their circle to go?

Someone is STILL waiting for her boyfriend, and you know the shizz is hitting the fan when the Los Angeles Unified School District announces a half day for students. It’s not the “flu,” it’s an apocalypse of the undead, and Tobias is totally in the know.

Meanwhile, across town in Shadyville, Nick is meeting with his dealer, Cal. Turns out Cal’s helpful, friendly attitude when he was approached by Mad Mom and Jack London Lover was just an act. Nick really wants to know what was in the drugs that Cal gave him. Nick is rocking the Beetle Juice look today. Cal gives him a little ride in his car, down a remote, darkened tunnel tastefully tagged with gang insignia and the like. Okay, Cal is totally going to kill Nick. The cops have talked to him, his parents are looking for him, Cal has a double life going and does not want to be known as a sleazy drug dealer. Nick sees the gun. A brief struggle ensues, and with the brute strength of someone fighting for his survival, Nick resists hard. Cal is accidentally shot in the chest and apparently expires. Understandably freaked out, Nick lopes away wearing only his slouchy borrowed trousers and tan Members Only jacket. He sits, shaking and smoking in a somewhat squirrely fashion, until MM and step dad show up.

Calvin is gone, of course, having been infected with the virus before his death and been turned into a very hungry zombie. Nick runs him over a few times with his parents’ hip vehicle, to no avail. He lives! Cal almost chomped on MM and JLL, but Nick actually saved them with his attempted vehicular homicide.