Sunday, February 28, 2016

Jesus Makes a Surprise Post-Apocalyptic Visit

“The New World”: Episode the Ninth

A new day is dawning in Alexandria. Which can mean only one thing: Time to blast 70s music. Michonne looks quite domestic in a terrycloth robe and her wet hair wrapped in a towel. Rick is playing with baby Judith, whilst Karl is sharpening his visual acuity (he was shot in the eye last week by pasty teenager Ron) by playing handball inside the house. Quick recap: Rick is down a girlfriend; Ron and Sam are also dead; and many, many zombies have been killed.

Daryl is planning to go on a supply run. The psych Denise is giving him a list. Eugene has agricultural needs: sorghum! Daryl and Rick drive off, no doubt with visions of sorghum, whatever that is, dancing in their head.

Perhaps they’ll run into some non-crazy, non-psychopathic humans on their trip? Daryl rides shotgun, so Rick gets to choose the music. Daryl is no fan of honky tonk bluesy crap, and guess what? Neither are we, Rick. Neither are we.

Maggie approaches Enid. Where the heck you been? I must say Maggie has lost her pregnancy glow. She’s looking kind of drab, washed out. Being stuck on a scaffold that’s being shaken by the walking dead will do that to you. She offers a sympathetic ear to Enid, who has pretty much retreated into pensive diary writing and deep examination of her bellybutton.

Rick & Daryl come across a warehouse labeled “SORGHUM.” It seems to be filled with other stuff, but it’s dark and I can’t tell what’s in there. They drive a large white truck to a gas station. The only background noise is a lot of southern bugs. They hitch the truck to a junky vending machine, when suddenly a long-haired hippie wearing a scarf as a mask ambushes them. He doesn’t have a gun or any other weapon, but Daryl & Rick draw their guns on him quickly. Damn hippies! Or is it a hipster?

The hipster has a story about being chased by walkers. R & D are understandably skeptical. They let hipster go, but before he leaves quick intros are exchanged. His friends used to call him “Jesus,” which isn’t disturbing at all. His hair and beard are awfully klean and kempt for the New World, as Rick astutely observes. “Jesus” has swiped their keys and taken off in the white truck. “Sorry!” he yells apologetically as he drives away. Jesus, it turns out, is a douchebag.

Would you trust this man? Yes, if he was a waiter in a vegan restaurant.

The dead mayor’s shiftless son is wandering the woods with a shovel strapped to his back. Michonne has followed him and offers to come with.

Karl with a K is enjoying a stroll with Enid through the woods. Enid is a little complainey about the whole thing. Totally unlike her to whine.

Rick and Daryl are running down a road, looking awful sweaty. They stop for a “pop” from the vending machine that has been left at the side of the road.

Enid and Karl, who is armed with a gun, see Michonne and Spencer from a short distance. Karl resumes reading his girlie magazine. Enid says she doesn’t want to come out here anymore. She’s not whining, just sad. A zombie ambles close by, and Karl wants to kill it. Or does he? Enid is the one who wants to kill the thing, but Karl says no. Huh?

Back to Rick and Daryl running down the road, presumably tracking Jesus. Uh oh, our Lord and Savior has a flat tire? Rick surprises him. However, Jesus knows martial arts. A struggle ensues. Jesus is flat on his back, but still negotiating with Rick and Daryl as they point their guns on him. They tie him up and leave him by the side of the road. Back in the truck with their supplies, Daryl flips Jesus the bird.

Daryl’s blood sugar must be running low, cause he’s gorging himself on chocolate candy bars. Someone is on the roof of the truck. Hey, it’s the Son of God! Wearing a black leather trench coat and watchman’s cap. A bunch of really old walkers slowly, slowly approach. Jesus saves—Daryl, that is. He shoots a walker about to grab Daryl. Someone forgot to engage the emergency brake, and the truck rolls into the river. Jesus is out cold but breathing. The truck and the precious supplies sink. Rick feels sorry for Jesus and they move him to higher ground.

Spencer, the errant son of the expired mayor, is still walking with Michonne. They see Karl dart by, and then—guess who? The zombified Mayor herself, who appears as dessicated as ever, a bit greener around the gills, and generally quite nasty. I suppose that’s why Karl didn’t want to kill her. Spencer draws his knife. Can he do it? Michonne holds the Mayor. He buries his knife in the back of her skull. Yes, he is sad. Holds mom in his arms for a bit. All in all, a model of compassionate killing.

The Mayor finally gets a proper burial. Michonne reassures Spencer that because he loved his family, he “knows his way,” although he’s feeling fairly lost right now. Who would have thought that Michonne could have ever abandoned her cold exterior to embrace her former self, someone who genuinely cares about other people and is not afraid to express it?

Daryl, Rick, and Jesus are in a truck. Not the one in the creek, of course, but one just as good. Jesus keeps tipping over onto Daryl’s shoulder. He’s still a little out of it. They are bringing him back to Alexandria.

Michonne admonishes Karl for not killing or leaving the Mayor, the only two sensible choices. He thought that a member of her family should have done it, not little old him. Michonne embraces Karl after he tells her he’d do it for her if she ever got zombified. Awww. Touching.

Road trip in the dark…with Jesus! Christ, this episode is tedious. Acquainting myself with the interior of moving vehicles is NOT why I watch this show. Something scary better happen soon. Jesus is still out, or so it seems. They reach the gate and signal to be let in. Creeeeeeek. The door goes up. They bring Jesus to Denise for a quick physical examination. When he wakes up, they may have a better idea of who he really is and what his intentions might be.

Michonne sits down next to Rick, who is sitting slumped on a real cozy couch. Is that a VIDEO BABY MONITOR she’s holding??? What the hell. I’ve never lived through a zombie apocalypse and I have never had such a luxury. Rick tells her about Jesus. What a wacky day I’ve had, Michonne! How about you? Michonne doesn’t mention the Mayor. Rick presents her with a present; breath mints. Michonne and Rick are now holding hands. They move in towards each other for a kiss. This was inevitable, eh? They definitely have a lot in common, and they are both highly attractive. Are they going to DO IT right on the sofa? No. Time lapse! They have moved to a mattress, but whilst they are sleeping, a voice in the darkness awakens them. It’s the voice of God—his son, to be exact. “We should talk.”

NOTE FOR INTERESTED READERS & VIEWERS: Fear the Walking Dead will be returning soon to AMC! I will be resuming my blogging about this spinoff, while I simultaneously blog about the original show that started it all. At the risk of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, I will be double-blogging it, as it were. This daring feat has been attempted by only a handful of the most intrepid bloggers. I hope to join their ranks. Thank you!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

When All Hell Breaks Loose, Kount on Karl

"No Way Out"

A brief recap from last we left our forlorn troop of humans: Daryl and Co. have been asked by another group representing a shadowy stranger referred to only as “Nique” (according to the Internet, however, the name is actually “Neegan”) to surrender all of the pathetic hard-won crap they’ve cobbled together. Rick and Co. have shmeared themselves in zombie guts as they prepare to leave the relative safety of the home in which they were holed up. The Mayor of Alexandria is dead. The lesbian psychiatrist has been kidnapped by the hairy, wounded Wolf (the human, psychopathic variety, not the cute wild animal), and Carol and Morgan have knocked each other senseless and silly a la The Jerky Boys and are lying on a cold, concrete floor.

The motorcycle gang representing Neegan asks Daryl and Co. to surrender their weapons. Ginge does not readily comply, but eventually relents. The gang does not seem to be wolves; they talk too much. They want all of their stuff, and say that they will escort them back to Alexandria, which is currently overrun with zombies. The leader then addresses the Ginge as “Ginger” (!) and threatens to shoot him for asking too many questions. Sasha objects, as she has a huge crush on the Ginge (who wouldn’t?). It looks like Sasha and the Ginge are going to die.

Then, friends, something marvelous happens. The entire phalanx of bikers blows up—poof—in an expansive ball of glorious fire! Body and bike parts alike fly through the air. Wouldn’t you know that Daryl somehow managed to get his hands on a weapon from the truck of some sort that burns people to bits and blows things up. Has the danger passed? For now, yes. That was quite an opener for the show’s mid-winter return.

Meanwhile, back in Alexandria, zombies stagger through the streets, sniffing the air for a tasty bit of human flesh. I would imagine that zombies, like dogs, have a keen sense of smell. What they lack in coordination, good looks, and adequate hygiene they make up for in the olfactory department! Ironically, they themselves probably smell horrible. Rick leads his pack of gutsy (heh) acolytes through the hordes. So far, the plan seems to be working. Little Sam of the unfortunate bowl cut and the deplorable taste in music (“Tiptoe through the Tulips”) is holding his shizzle together as well.

Rick comes up with a new plan that I don’t quite understand. I’m a visual person, so if I were there I’d probably suggest that he show us what he means on a white board, or at least a piece of scrap paper. Rick suggests that they return to the quarry and retrieve their vehicles because there are simply too many darn walkers. Blonde Hot Dead Doc’s wife (a.k.a. Rick’s new g-friend) gets it right away, but expresses concern that baby Judith lacks the stamina. Lazy babies!! Always slowing us down. Luckily, Father Gabe volunteers to take Judith to his church to keep her safe until they can re-group.

Sam is slated to go with Father Gabe as well, but he insists on staying with his Hot Mom. The priest pledges to keep Judith safe, and one is impressed by the fact that he means it. Gabe wanders off with Judith safely covered by his bloody cloak.

Tara, Rosita, Eugene, Carol and Morgan are all conscious in the unfinished garage. Morgan has a nasty headache. Enid and Glenn have made it to the church. The Wolf and his captor are still outside, trying to stay hidden. Glenn is rushing around the church like a busy mouse gathering nuts and seeds for the winter. He talks breathlessly about having only two bullets left, using bibles as shields, and starting a fire. Enid is captivated by an inscription on the wall that I can’t read. She’s not really listening. She waxes philosophical about life and death. Glenn urges her to continue living to maintain what’s left of all the people she has lost. He affirms that his dead family and dear friends live on through him. Reconnecting with her parents is important to Enid. Their conversation restores her.

Denise the psych is clearly in shock. The Wolf talks her down from her bad zombie trip. He likes her, he really likes her! In a sick, sick way. His tone is comforting, but his words are poisonous. Enid and Glenn continue to debate. She wants to help Maggie too, who is stuck on the platform being pawed by hungry walkers. Enid convinces Glenn to let her come.

Night falls in Alexandria. The zombies have not abandoned their relentless, plodding pace. Rick and Co. hold hands so as not to lose each other in the crowds. I guess navigating in the dark makes it infinitely harder. Karl with a K has managed to hang on to his studley sheriff’s hat, so that’s something. Surly Teenager Ron sneers as he surveys the snarling, growling dead. Little Sam, however, hears Kindly Carol’s words of warning in his head regarding hungry monsters that will tear him apart and eat him up. Carol! She always knows the feel-good words that kids need to hear.

Sam freaks out. He stops walking. Ron tries to comfort him. Mom tries. They are all whispering and trying to comfort him. Sam has hesitated too long. He is attacked and eaten. Hot Mom is understandably grief stricken. She surrenders herself to the zombies who tear her apart. Poor Ron looks on in horror. And Rick has lost yet another romantic prospect! It is harder than ever to develop and maintain a romantic relationship in the post-apocalyptic world! Hot chicks are few and far between. Also, Rick is now responsible for RON, who is very much alone.

Rick hacks away at an arm and hand that are still clutching Karl’s. I guess it is Hot Mom, but it’s so dark one can’t be sure. What is clear is that Karl or Rick’s handgun falls to the ground after the chopping, and I think you can surmise who grabs said firearm…quick-thinking Ron, who as you may recall repeatedly expressed his fondness and abuse of firearms during the last few episodes. Ron cocks the gun, but Michonne manages to katana his ass. Ron falls backwards into the ever-reaching, sinewy arms of the waiting zombies and is eaten. Rick is now officially off the hook for having to pretend to care about pasty-faced, ungrateful teenager RON. Another family completely wiped out.

Play it again, Sam. Then again, don't: Not a huge fan of hits from the 1920s.

However, was Ron able to commit one more dastardly deed before his death? Karl with a K seems to have been shot in the eye! A frantic Michonne paves the way with her katana sword for Rick as he cradles and carries a stricken Karl through the hordes. This episode is shaping up to be a complete and total bummer. It began so promisingly with Daryl’s big explosion.

Morgan is dejectedly slumped up against a wall. Eugene mumbles what passes for a pep talk. Rosita questions his manhood; Eugene, “fight” his way out? No way, she says, having seen his halting cowardice in action. Zing! The Wolf and the psych are still in the same place, only now it’s totally dark and spooky. He’s bored and wants to get moving. There’s a slight zombie lapse in the forward, plodding action, so they make a dash for it. Wolf saves the psych from a walker but ends up getting his arm bitten for his trouble. She pledges to save his life if he can get them to the infirmary. Time to practice those amputation skillz.

Carol stares out the window. Morgan commits mistakes number one when he brings up Carol’s past: her child and husband. She regrets letting Morgan live. He slips out of the darkened room.

The psych is determined to aid the Wolf, but Carol with a C has other plans: she shoots down the kidnapper from a balcony as he and the psych clumsily hustle their way toward the infirmary. The psych makes it in, though, and is welcomed by a group of survivors. They all peer outside as Michonne and Rick karrying poor Karl run toward them. The psych springs up: time to put all that medical school learning into action! I wonder if psychiatrists in training are really paying all that much attention in most of their classes. We are about to find out!

Rick leaves the infirmary armed only with an axe, ready to rustle himself up some revenge, which is best served smelly, with a side of rotting walker brains. Does he have a death wish, or does he simply wish to burn off some steam? Michonne is assisting the psych, but she is itching to come to Rick’s aid. The rest of the humans hiding in the infirmary also leave to help Rick.

Father Gabriel is in the church with Judith and a handful of others. He arms himself with what looks like a large machete and stands by the door, readying himself to step out and fight. “God will save Alexandria,” he proclaims, “Because God has given us the courage to save it ourselves.” Well said, Father! Eugene, Rosita, Carol, Morgan, and Glenn take to the streets—and little Enid, too! Seems like just yesterday she was munching hard-shelled reptiles for kicks. Maggie is still pregnant and still stuck up on that durn scaffold. Glenn is desperately trying to lure zombies away from the platform. The Ginge and Sasha come to the rescue at the 23rd hour with their handy submachine guns, saving Glenn and the proverbial day.

Daryl and Glenn are reunited, and it feels so good. Rosita and Eugene are armed with knives only. Daryl opens the gas tank to the fuel truck he absconded with earlier. He ignites a wall of fire with the delightful weapon he used earlier to toast Neegan’s bikers. I can barely see anything or anyone. Zombies stagger into the fire. Survivors hack away, fueled by adrenaline. What bullets remain? A montage of chopping down walkers ensues.

Daylight settles in a smoky haze over the streets of Alexandria. The psych tends to Daryl’s wounds in the infirmary. Karl is still unconscious. Thank you, Ron, for bequeathing a destructive legacy that the men in your family are known for.

If Karl with a K makes it, he will be known as “One-Eyed Karl,” which will exponentially increase his bad-assery. Rick babbles about the New World that he wants to make a reality for his son. Karl lies in the bed looking very young and small, vulnerable. His fingers close around Rick’s hand. Karl with a K lives to fight another day, and, perhaps, to consume another oversized can of expired chocolate pudding!