Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Post-Apocalyptic Nookie (Everybody Gets Some)

“Now”: Or, Rick (Finally!) Gets His Groove Back

From the story of Morgan’s spiritual and moral journey, we return back to the once idyllic housing complex of Alexandria. The haggard mayor surveys the aftermath of the senseless carnage, and evidently she has aged about ten years. She sets her sights on the long road that leads to Alexandria, and guess what’s coming down the pike? Rick and Co., being followed by the hordes of zombies drawn by that dang truck horn. Yikes. The gates are strong, but is the mayor’s resolve? What a cornball intro! I can do no better.

The citizens check the walls. Rick is looking as sexy as ever, covered in an irresistible mixture of blood, sweat, and other bodily fluids. He delivers a pep talk to all: the rest of the crew will return from battle victorious; Sasha and the Ginger will lead the walkers away from our walls; we will be okay. One man steps up for Rick and points out that the original plan to draw all the walkers from the quarry to out of town worked. People are still understandably doubtful.

Man who steps up admits bravely that he was the one who inadvertently led the Wolves to Alexandria, in some convoluted way I didn’t quite catch. Ooops. Silence. His bad, I suppose. The mayor shuffles off, clearly in shock. Hairdresser Mom begins to clean house; recall that she has a dead female wolf in her foyer. Bust out the mop and bucket!

After she drags her vanquished Wolf to the dead pile o’murderers—I presume they plan to unceremoniously cremate them in the spirit of Morgan’s zombie-rid scheme—Rick sidles over to talk her up. Poor Rick has not had sex since his wife died in childbirth, so we really cannot fault him for trying to score. His timing, however, is questionable.

The rather large, bespectacled young woman who runs the commissary tries to ration the food out. It does not go over well. People start raiding the pantry. A young man intervenes and points out that the chubby older guys hoarding the canned corn sat on their butts when crap went down. I think he’s the mayor’s son. Way to go, mayor’s remaining son! Your shell-shocked mom needs you know. Perhaps I misjudged the millenials in the show. So what if he lives in his parents’ basement?

Man who stepped up for Rick and messed up majorly reviews the list of the dead, which a few people have painted on the steel walls. Maggie is in the armory, preparing to go out. In search of Glenn, perhaps? Honest Man wants to help her.

Alone in her living room, the mayor feverishly draws a map with cryptic scribbles. She finds her son in the kitchen with a small collection of hoarded food. Hmm. Spencer is the one who stopped people from hoarding earlier. Hey, we’re going to die soon anyway, so may as well eat and drink now. He yells at his mom, it’s all he fault, we were never safe here, you suck. Forget my kind words about Millennials earlier! They still suck balls.

Disaffected Ron and Kalm Karl exchange words. Where the heck is Enid? She was Ron’s g-friend. She was totally sweet on Karl with a K, though. Karl pushes Ron down when he advises him not to be rash and go beyond the walls in search of the lovely, tortoise-munching Enid, who no doubt is getting peckish about now. By the way, remember Enid writing “JSS” on anything and everything a couple eps ago? It stands for “Just Survive Somehow.” That is what she wrote on the note she left for Karl. Yep, even if you have to eat hard-shelled amphibians in the raw, Just Survive Somehow.

The psychiatrist is boning up on her anatomy, regretting that she did not pay closer attention in med school. Tara checks in on her. She ends up having to give her a pep talk, as the psych is filled with self-doubt. In particular, she’s fretting about a patient hooked up to a beeping monitor.

Hairdresser Mom finds a zombie locked in a house. It looks like she slit her wrists, died, and then turned. A neighbor. Mom opens the door a crack and stabs her in the head. Then, she delivers a speech to her grossed out citizens. “If we don’t fight, we die,” she proclaims. A woman after Rick’s own heart! I see a future for these two crazy kids.

Honest Man shows Maggie a safer way out: an old sewer. He insists on accompanying her, essentially out of guilt. What disgusting creatures await them? What smelly horrors? Ah, yes, not one but TWO skeletonized, slimy walkers. Honest Aaron is largely useless after bloodying his head on a metal ladder. Maggie and he are both attacked, and Aaron saves her. Is he getting in the way, or can she use his help? He wants to make himself indispensible, so looks like she is stuck with him.

Back to the Psych, trying to save her patient. He’s a large, beefy fellow. Would NOT want to have to stab him in the head. He responds favorably to the bolus she injects into his IV. A look of relief washes over her face. God only knows what it was! Learning on the job.

Ron and Rick have a convo. Do not trust Ron, Rick! A) You killed his dad. B) He’s a teenager. Rick does not hear me, of course, so he gives Ron a large revolver with which to defend himself and his family.

Psych finds Tara and plants a big, juicy kiss on her lips. Guess we know who the other lesbian is.

Maggie and Honest Aaron are trapped. Did Maggie just reveal that she is PREGNANT? They have to go back. She fears Glenn is never coming back.

Hairdresser Mom needs to re-style her younger son’s hair. He’s afraid to come downstairs, but Mom has a plate of tempting cookies, most likely held together by hair, lint, and dust.

Night. The mayor wanders Alexandria’s streets. She pauses upon hearing what sounds like a couple arguing inside a house. Nosy! A walker surprises her. She grabs shards of broken glass and starts stabbing him—in the chest. Have you learned NOTHING, Mayor? The head, go for the HEAD! Naturally, blood squirts out all over de place, right into the mayor’s eye. One would think that getting zombie blood in your eyeball would infect you, but so far in the series one must be bitten to make this so. She knocks him down and goes for the head.

Our beleaguered Mayor is covered in zombie guts and blood, which is a definite improvement from her previously worn-out state. There’s nothing like an adrenaline rush to really make you feel alive, is there? Rick intervenes to help. This is the first time we have seen her defend herself. Resigned, she tells Rick that Alexandria needs his leadership, not hers. They gather up the basket of hoarded food she was on her way to returning. Is it unrealistic to try to rebuild community in the face of such seemingly insurmountable obstacles? Zombies, Wolves, food shortages, Ron’s crappy attitude and numerous unhelpful Millennials? No, responds Rick. It is totally worth it.

Maggie and Aaron stand watch atop the walls. Maggie steps down to try and erase Glenn’s name from the wall. Aaron assists her, and lets it be known that naming her progeny “Aaron” or “Erin” would be totally cool with him! WTF??? Talk about your ill-timed suggestions.

Spencer and a comely young lady (I think it’s the Ginge’s former partner) chat. Spencer distractedly munches on some water biscuits that he stole from the pantry. From experience, I can say that these crackers are of the most tasteless variety. If Spencer is not careful, he’s going to start coughing on the dry crumbs.

Rick and the Hairdresser discuss the fate of the missing others. She shares that she has accepted life for what it is. He agrees. There’s talk of the future. “Tell me there’s more,” she implores. They kiss. Rick is going to have sex with the wife of the man he killed but a few weeks earlier. Don’t judge.

The Mayor angrily slams her hand on the buckling fence. As she walks away, the camera reveals what appears to be a crack in the wall. Blood is dribbling in. Someone should definitely take a look at that.





Sunday, November 15, 2015

Holy Crap, There's A Goat Up In There

Episode the Fourth: "Here's Not Here," a.k.a. "I'm Not Very Good with a Gun" but I Wield a Mean Broomstick

I’ve got a feeling…that this ep is All Morgan (M). We know a little about what happened to him: his wife unfortunately joined the walking dead; she killed their son because M lacked the fortitude to kill her when he had the chance; M then promptly lost his shizzle.  He holed up in a second-floor walk-up apartment rigged with zombie booby traps. Cryptic writings about going “clear” adorned the walls of his charming abode. Morgan seemed like a badass to Rick when he and Michonne caught up with him, but Michonne rightly views him as an unhinged, unpredictable loose cannon who should not be trusted.

We now see Morgan through a Vaseline-smeared lense (petroleum jelly=Flashback), fending off zombies in the forest and then neatly piling them up in a smelly heap. Evidently, killing the undead is okay, because well, they are already dead. His pacifist stance only applies to humans, even murderous ones. Morgan burns the bodies until crispy. The following morning, he fashions pointy stakes, which he uses to stab more zombies in the head, and drag onto said heap of bodies…ad so on and so on. I’m beginning to question Morgan’s business model. Does he have an end goal? Is he simply warming up—so to speak—or practicing?

Morgan bumps into some actual humans running frantically through the forest. He promptly kills them. Ah so! What we are seeing now precedes the mushy version of Morgan. In this flashback, he is actually deranged and capable of senseless violence. We return to the burning body heap. Zombies are impaling themselves on his pointy stakes. Morgan gets creative with zombie guts and blood—zombie chum?—by using it to write on trees.

The countryside of rural Georgia remains quite lovely, notwithstanding the zombies. Morgan prances around a bit with a pointy stick. He encounters a goat, a real live goat, near a rural cabin. A voice calls out, offering falafel and talking about goat cheese. Of course, Morgan’s not in a mood to visit or eat Middle Eastern food; he shoots off his automatic. The voice is serious now: Step down, or else. Morgan gets clocked in the head by a tall, robed man when he refuses to join him for lunch. Maybe he should have listened.

Morgan wakes up in a small cell, with a plate of tasty looking food. “Kill me,” he implores to his burly captor, who wears a mustard-yellow baseball cap. Morgan munches on a red, ripe tomato slice. Has he calmed down? The goat, Tabitha, bleats in the distance. The man has left Morgan a little yellow book, entitled something about the Art of Peace.

Bald captor guy is named Eastman. He makes terrible goat cheese. He reveals more about himself. As a forensic psychiatrist, he evaluated offenders. Morgan shares that he kills everyone, and that’s why he’s still alive. Bald guy is not buying this logic.

Morgan soon plots his escape. No doubt he will kill the man and the goat, a scene I’m dreading. Bald forensic guy diagnoses Morgan: post-traumatic stress disorder. He points out that Morgan probably saved people, too, in addition to his random killing. Bald guy talks too much; Morgan’s not much for analysis or conversation. He just wants to get out of that cage, and kill Eastman. Bald guy claims Morgan can heal, with his help. Oh, and by the way: bald guy threw away the key to the cell. Morgan is free to leave, but he’s not doing any murdering of any bald guy or any goats, not today!

Morgan lunges, but bald guy is quite handy with the broomstick. Morgan tries to strangle him, but bald gets the upper hand and flips Morgan over into a submissive pose; back flat on the floor. I do this with my Jack Russell puppy, albeit in a more gentle manner, when he tries to steal my coffee, lick the sofa, nip my hand, etc.

Aikido is what “redirected” him, claims bald, and it’s just the cure for Morgan, too! Although this is a non-lethal form of martial arts, I suppose you could mess someone up pretty badly with it.

Bald is making progress with his goat cheese. He chats with Morgan as if they are old friends. Take a shower, please friend! You’re a bit ripe. Aikido is what made Morgan hate killing, we see.

Morgan leaves the cabin in a rush to kill some zombies. Whew. The goat is safe. Bald is off scavenging for supplies. Morgan approaches the goat and leads her back to the cabin. He resumes his little pile o’zombies, off in a clearing. He comes across a makeshift cemetery, which we can assume was created by Eastman.

Bald finds Morgan burying zombies; what’s the point? He thanks him for saving the goat’s ass. Silent Morgan carries on. He seems to be getting the hang of things!

Bald hands him a broomstick…ooh, shivers down the spine! Broomstick is to Morgan as a katana sword is to Michonne. The dawn of a new era in badassery. But life is not all about aikido. They garden, too. And bald and Morgan discuss the value of life, that it is precious. It’s nice to be reminded in the face of overwhelming death and loneliness that some people in the post-apocalyptic world are not in it solely for themselves.

This is bald’s credo: All life is precious. An escaped psychopath whom Bald had tried (unsuccessfully) to keep behind bars murdered his wife and two children. Instead of seeking vengeance, he became a vegan and adopted this belief. All life is precious. Hard to apply to the most degenerate, the morally bankrupt among us. It’s significant, though, that bald shared his story with Morgan, who also lost everything and everyone. Bald hopes to gather supplies and venture out further toward the coastal islands off of Georgia.

Morgan finally opens up about his wife and son. In manly fashion, the two start an impromptu aikido! Form (session). Bald gently corrects Morgan’s stance. The two bow to each other, but not before a stinky zombie staggers by to mess—uh oh, the zombie in question just happens to be one of the dudes Morgan killed a while back (formerly human). Morgan then gets a case of the freezes. Bald intervenes but is bit. Yes, technically Morgan’s fault, yet Morgan blames bald. You don’t just step in, he says. They fight, right after bald encourages Morgan to continue his journey of hope rather than hate (corny, no? But inspiring!).

Bald goes about his business as if nothing really bad just transpired. Yes, he’s bit, but life goes on. Another zombie has to be buried. What’s going to happen to the goat, for God’s sake? I can’t see Morgan leading a goat around; there’s very little return on a goat. A horse, maybe—you can ride them. Cows give milk, and they make pleasant “moos.” Goats are cute, but they smell horrible and aren’t really useful unless you have a number of them in a milk/cheese/soap producing scheme.

Morgan’s in the forest again. He kills a walker who was about to snack on two terrified backpackers, who offer him a can of food as a peace offering-thank you. He returns to the cabin. A zombie has killed the goat. Oh, well. A goat is not long for this post-apocalyptic world! Bald is already feeling the effects of the bite. Morgan offers him a sit-down while he buries the goat.

Along the way, Morgan sees a curious “headstone” (sticks and a flat piece of wood) with the name of the killer of bald’s wife and kids. So, bald is not immune to revenge? He lied to Morgan about ALL life being precious? Well, yeah.  I’m a vegan, but there was this ONE time when I inflicted pain, suffering and death on a fellow human. Let’s give bald a break, shall we? He put the killer in the cell, where it took 47 days for the monster to starve to death. It brought him no long-term relief (except maybe a little?), so he decided to never kill again.

Morgan affirms that the world is very much here. It remains a vibrant place, where it is still okay to express one’s humanity. Perhaps it is now even more important to hope. “Everything is about people,” says bald, who is now sweating profusely and ill. He passes along a rabbit’s foot keychain his small daughter gave him in another life. Morgan leaves the cabin after dawn. His existence has meaning again. He’s far from whole, but he is grounded, brought down to earth.

All this time Morgan has been addressing a Wolf whom he tied up in a home in Alexandria. The Wolf heard Morgan’s whole story, but he is unmoved. He is a committed murderer who claims he is compelled to kill every last person in the housing complex…if he survives the zombie bite he received. That’s his “code,” he brags. Morgan calculates: What will his next move be? He stands, leaves the chained Wolf, and locks him inside the house.  

We are NOT all capable of change, due to one obstacle or another. Bald brought Morgan back from the brink, but so much of his success was Morgan’s doing. He is a good man, and he had it in him all the time. It simply needed to be cultivated and strengthened. Wolves have no redeeming qualities. They were probably all assholes before the former world ended, and now they have the perfect venue to become even bigger assholes.

How do we contend with unrepentant murderers who prey on innocent people? We put them down, according to Carol. Morgan, on the other hand, simply shares his inspirational story, locks the door, and walks away. In today’s world, I want more Carols. Morgans are fine, but isn’t his philosophy more convenient if you are not under siege? You cannot afford to walk away. Sometimes, as Ruben Blades the Mad Barber is quick to remind us, doing the “right” thing will get you killed.




Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Limping Our Way Across a Zombie-Filled Landscape

“Thank You”: Or, Most Depressing Ep Ever?

Glenn is running through the woods with Rick as that annoying horn blares in the distance. Daryl is still leading the zombie hordes in a slow ride, but a few zombies broke off to heed the siren call (the horn). Dissension among the ranks! Michonne tries to calm a potential defector who blames Rick for everything. It’s a thankless job to be the boss.

Rick has a new plan. He does love strategy. He’s ready to strike out on his own. Rick reminds Michonne that not everyone in the group will make it. One man, perhaps it was the complainey guy, is killed by a zombie. He was apart from the group. Like sharks, zombies prefer to attack lone individuals. It’s harder to do the same with a cohesive bunch. But do any of the Alexandrian newbies listen to Rick? No, and that is why they will continue to end up as zombie snacks.

Michonne stabs the dying man in the head. Then, the horn stops! Little do Rick and Co. know that a bloodbath is taking place back home while they are attempting to devise and implement plans to divert the undead.

Glenn tries to pacify the group, which in fact is made up of nebbishes rather than badasses. Woody Allen would feel right at home in this cohort. Some of them are carrying guns, whereas Michonne and Glenn prefer knives. They meet up with a lot of zombies. One man is bitten. Uh oh. However, though infected, he can still walk. The show must go on! What a trooper.

Sascha and Ginger cruise along in their automobile. Daryl zooms ahead of them. One woman limps along on a sprained ankle. Sprained ankles are de rigeur injuries when running away from zombies or serial killers. The bitten man presses on. Michonne chats with him about the past. He’s a newlywed. Michonne seems sympathetic but still keeps her keen eyes on the road ahead. He knows he is going to die.

Nicholas the former traitor is still being good: he hasn’t finked out once or betrayed anyone yet. Glenn affirms to Michonne that he doesn’t share the Ranger’s callousness regarding the others in the group if they can’t keep up. Rick sees a sprained ankle, his attitude is, leave the deadweight behind and save the healthy ones that can run. Glenn, as we know, is a softie. He’s no pacifist like Morgan, but he’s more of an idealist than Rick. They are halfway home. Nicholas finds the hat of a guy who broke off from the group earlier. Aaaaaand they find Sturges, who is now zombie lunchmeat.

Michonne’s group ducks into a darkened store to evade the walkers, who are blocking their way home. It’s hard managing Millennials! Glenn wants the group to separate. Nicholas is helpful. Herschel’s pocket watch makes a brief appearance.

Girl with a sprain offers to be left behind. “We don’t leave people behind,” declares serious black guy with glasses and funky hair. Michonne seconds that. She confronts glasses. He doesn’t like Rick’s attitude. Glasses just doesn’t want a strong woman in charge! She points out he’s had it relatively easy, whereas she and Rick have been through a Vitamix of various horrors.

Glenn and Nicholas find a zombie. He used to be in Nicholas’ crew, and Nick abandoned him (naturally). Glenn reminds him that he’s a changed man. Nicholas does the right thing and stabs his former compatriot in the head, which in many cases is indeed the most humane option.

Rick is running really fast. He reaches a small RV and zooms away. Meanwhile, Michonne and Co. are still in the store. Bit guy and Michonne exchange notes. Something is rattling the back door. Looks like the dead owners, or customers. More zombies hear the noises and descend upon the store. The gang is trapped.

They make it out of the store but are trailed by zombies. Sprained girl is toast. She trips and shoots valiantly, but there are just too many of the darn things. Glenn and Nicholas are boxed in by zombies. Glenn cannot die! He has not impregnated Maggie yet.

Michonne and Co. also are in trouble. One by one, they scale a tall gate to get the heck out of there. Glenn and Nicholas desperately search for a way out. This seems to be the end for them. Glenn shoots at the wall of zombies again and again, and Nicholas stabs a few in the head.

Bit guy falls into the pit of zombies. Unfortunately, he dies slowly. They grab at Michonne’s legs, but she makes it over. They watch in horror as bit guy is eaten, but there’s nothing left to do.

Glenn and Nicolas are on top of a dumpster. Nicholas seems to experience a bit of a brain fart. He stares blankly down into the mosh pit of zombies as they wave their hands to and fro, their dirty chompers snapping. Glenn tries to snap him out of the shock. Nicholas shoots himself in the head and takes down Glenn with him, into the mosh pit. I don’t think this was purposeful, but Glenn reached out to stop Nicholas from falling. You know why? Because Glenn is a good person. Glenn dies. This is horrible. Glenn was a sweet, sweet man whom we have loved since season one. Maggie has now lost the last, loved person in her life. I’m feeling quite nauseated right now.

Of course, Michonne is not aware of their fate. She trudges through the forest as tall bald black guy leans on her and Glasses guy for support. Tall bald is injured from before.

Rick radios Glenn. No answer. He does get Daryl, and we see that Sascha and Ginger are still buzzing along at my favorite safe driving speed, about 10 mph.

Rick is suddenly ambushed in the RV. Attacked by wolves? His radio goes dead. He manages to kill both assailants. In one of the man’s pockets he finds a jar of…baby food. In the side window of the vehicle he sees more invaders, whom he peppers with automatic gunfire through the side of the RV.

Daryl and Ginger’s car meet up again, followed by a bazillion zombies. Rick tries to start the RV, but to no avail. Zombies begin to stumble out of the forest, bumbling towards the RV. Why the hell was this episode entitled “Thank You”??

I just watched the terrible Nicholas suicide scene again, and right before he pulls the trigger he tells Glenn, “thank you.” Glenn gave him a second chance. When everyone else dismissed Nicholas as an eternal douche, Glenn put his fingers in his ears and refused to listen.

But look what doing the right thing got him; a violent end. Who said a few episodes back, “Do the right thing, and see where it gets you” (something to that effect). That was Ruben Blades, the Mad Barber (Fear the Walking Dead) who was trying to shake some sense into no-balls, all-heart Travis. Maybe Ruben was right. If you want to live in the crappy post-apocalyptic world, you look out for your immediate family (if you are lucky enough to have anyone left) or yourself (see: Carol). No room for Morgans or Glenns.