Review: The Walking Dead S3E05 “Say the Word”


 

“People need entertainment.” — Phillip “The Governor” Blake

Wow has been the most heard, read and seen word regarding last week’s episode of The Walking Dead. While “Killer Within” had some flaws the episode overall continued season 3’s streak of quality tv since the season premiere. Gone, but still not forgotten, were the long philosophical debates about humanity and civilization in the face of overwhelming horror. In its place has been what fans and critics had been waiting for. A show that really showed the dangers and dog eat dog world of a zombie apocalypse.

It’s always been a criticism that the show had unlimited potential to explore just how people would react and be changed (or not) in a world overrun by the living dead. The show this season still asks those questions, but lets the behavior of the characters and the situation they’re in speak for themselves. This season has minimized extended expositional scenes while improving on the show’s pacing. The change in the show’s pace has been the highlight of the season as the show just continues to propel forward at breakneck speed though there’s now fear that new showrunner Mazzara and his writers might not be able to sustain such a pace with still 12 episodes left in the season. Sooner or later the show might have to slow down if just to give fans a breather.

Things don’t seem to look like they’ll be slowing down anytime soon as we find Rick unable to cope with his wife’s death and knowing it was his son, Carl, who had to make sure Lori didn’t come back. It’s not a good place we see Rick go into both literally and figuratively as he takes his trusty hatchet and enters the prison to take out his grief on whatever zombies might be still left inside. The refuge the prison was suppose to be for him and his people haven’t turned out to b safe. With two of the group’s people gone and a third missing it falls on Rick’s right-hand man in Daryl to take charge of the situation to make sure they don’t lose anyone else.

Over at Woodsbury we find Michonne finding more and more hints that the town and the Governor are not what they seem. It doesn’t help that the episode’s opening sequence has the unquestioned leader of the town keeping what looks like his undead daughter as if she’s still alive and he can’t let her go. We’re getting a sense of the insanity lurking behind the charismatic facade the Governor puts up in front of his people yet the episode also subtly brings up the question whether the people in Woodsbury even care if their leader is batshit insane as long as they’re kept safe. The scene close to the end of the episode inside the town as the Governor provides entertainment for his people shows just how much a scared population will tolerate as long as they’re kept safe.

Even though we don’t hear one word uttered by Rick in tonight’s episode (ironic considering the episode’s title) we’re able to get a glimpse into the path Rick is treading right now. People have been wondering whether Rick will turn out to be just like the Governor. Become a leader who will abandon whatever humanity and moral principles he has left to keep his people safe. Tonight we’re close to seeing just how much Rick has gone through to try and keep his family safe yet the realization that his best (which at times means doing the worst things) was not good enough. He’s snapped and his trip inside the prison was very Kurtz-like. He’s now entered the proverbial abyss and the audience gets to see Rick prowling those dark hallways in an attempt to exorcise the demons he’s now been saddled with.

While tonight’s episode lacked some of the heavy action we’ve seen from this season, so far, it more than made it up casting a light on the mental state of the show’s two leaders. The episode ends with the two leaders now seen in better light. The Governor looks to have already gone through what Rick is going through now and come out on the other side not just amoral but with a functioning insanity that allows him to keep control of his town and it’s people. Rick looks to still be on that path that could turn him into something like the Governor. Time and the rest of the season will tell whether Rick can come out of the other side of his grief-induced insanity devoid of any humanity or finding himself back out of the wilderness and into the light, so to speak.

NOTES

  • I understand AMC wants to make money off the show especially since it looks like they’ve upped the show’s budget (two locations and all), but the channel is close to the tipping point (if they haven’t already gone past it) of having way too many commercials.
  • Tonight’s episode has Greg Nicotero back in the director’s chair with Angela Kang writing.
  • The cold opening of the episode could easily have been a flashback to better times until Andrea showed up. With Lori gone it looks like Andrea will now have to bear the brunt of most-hated character on the show.
  • Enter the Governor’s young daughter. Things really are not fine in Woodsbury or with the Governor.
  • Great to see how Daryl was able to take charge of the group for the sake of the baby when he noticed Rick was still not in his right mind. In the past two seasons this situation could easily have extended for far too long as people tried to decide what to do.
  • Rick is on a killtacular killing spree and who can blame the guy.
  • Andrea has definitely tasted the Governor’s kool-aid while Michonne just wants her sword back and out of what she suspects and believes is one fucked up situation.
  • Scene with the Governor’s notebook had a nice touch a la The Shining.
  • Michonne looked like she needed a cigarette after that little exercise in the yard.
  • Nice quite moment between Maggie’s men.
  • One could almost sense how Andrea is pretty much working on Michonne’s last good nerve and doesn’t even know it.
  • Rick looks to be in a very bad place, but he seems to be clearing things out in the hallways quite nicely.
  • Mazzara must’ve made his writers watch Day of the Dead because we get another homage to that classic Romero with the wrangling scene.
  • Daryl Dixon: Badass Nanny on top of everything else.
  • Lori’s body seem to have disappeared. Whether it’s in the stomach of the zombie in the room Rick comes across or is now walking in the prison is the question.
  • The Governor must be a student of history because he knows exactly what the mob wants and it’s games.
  • Andrea always seem to have the bad habit of realizing things too late.
  • The telephone (something fans of the comics will know well) makes its appearance sooner than expected but after seeing what Rick goes through in lately it’s understandable.
  • Zombie Kill Count of tonight’s episode: 12.

Hottie of the Day: Bérénice Marlohe


BÉRÉNICE MARLOHE

The latest “Hottie of the Day” comes courtesy of the latest Bond Girl and making her appearance on the latest James Bond film: Skyfall.

Bérénice Marlohe is a French actress of French, Khmer and Chinese heritage. It’s a powerful combination that truly makes her one of the most exotic Bond Girls (Kissy Suzuki doesn’t count). Prior to landing the role of the femme fatale Bond Girl, Ms. Marlohe spent much of her acting career in small roles for French tv. The disadvantage of her exotic looks which kept her from getting roles outside of TV has now made her an almost perfect choice to play Severine. I think she has more than earned her spot in many “best of…” lists for Bond Girls with not just her looks but her acting skills as well.

PAST HOTTIES

James Bond Review: Skyfall (dir. by Sam Mendes)


For almost a month, starting in mid-October and almost two weeks into November, we here at Through the Shattered Lens have watched and shared our reviews and thoughts on the 25 James Bond films (22 official EON productions with 3 non-official ones) which preceded this week’s release of the latest James Bond entry with Skyfall. We’ve shared which were our personal favorites of the series. Some preferred the Connery-era of the Bond franchise while some were in the Moore-era. What we here have all come to realize is just how timeless this franchise has become despite it having celebrated it’s 50th anniversary just last month.

The James Bond film franchise has gone beyond what Ian Fleming had imagined when he first came up with a literary character that would become a global pop icon and remain one of cinemas most successful franchises in history. There have been low points in the franchise (usually when the actor whohas been performing the role has outlived their stay) but then there have been some great highs. In the end, there’s always been one constant and that’s the character of James Bond — British secret agent 007 with a license to kill.

A franchise which began with on Sean Connery in the title role has now seen a return to prominence with the role now in the care of British actor Daniel Craig. The Craig-era began with the critically-acclaimed Casino Royalewhich also became popular with the mass audience. The sequel to this reboot would set the franchise back a step or two, but still became the second highest grossing Bond film in the franchise. We now come to the third Bond film in the Craig-era with 2012’s Skyfall and the question of whether the James Bond franchise can still remain relevant in this age of hyper-kinetic and ultra-violent action films remain to be answered.

Skyfall begins with Bond already in the middle of a mission to recover a computer hard-drive which stores the names of hundreds of NATO agents deep undercover within the many terrorist organizations around the world. Things are not going well for Bond and his fellow MI6 agents. He finds many of them already dead or dying and it’s up to him and another agent named Eve (played by Naomie Harris) to chase after the mercenary who has taken off with the hard-drive.

One thing we’ve come to expect with the more recent James Bond films (especially the Daniel Craig ones) are the action sequences which make up the opening section of the film. Even before we get to the recognizable Bond opening credit sequence this opening of the film using a very thrilling and elaborate action sequence tend to set the tone for the rest of the film. Skyfall was no different as Bond chases the mercenary Patrice through the rooftops of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar right up to a one-on-one fight on top of a moving train. Through an unfortunate stroke of luck and a command decision by “M” back in MI6 headquarters in London we segue ito the always popular opening credits sequence with Bond having been shot by accident and left for dead.

The plot of Skyfall was somewhat similar to Goldeneye which saw Pierce Brosnan introduced as the new James Bond. James Bond finds himself racing against time and a former MI6 agent who feels betrayed not just by the country and organization he loyally served but by “M” herself. Raoul Silva (played with a sociopathic flair and panache by Javier Bardem) knows the in’s and out’s of MI6 and this allows him to penetrate both their physical and cyber defenses which puts the entire national security of Great Britain and the Commonwealth in extreme peril. It also puts “M” on the proverbial political hot seat as civilian oversight committees look to find a scapegoat for dead MI6 agents and Silva’s continuing assault on Britain’s intelligence apparatus.

To say anymore about the plot of Skyfall would ruin the biggest joy about this film. Mendes would’ve been one of the last people I saw being picked to direct a James Bond film, but he proves himself more than just capable, but also brings his own character-driven narrative sensibilities to raise the bar for future James Bond film. His handling of the quieter moments during the film shows that particular skill of his that has made him an Academy Award-winning filmmaker. It was on the action scenes that Mendes’ skill as a filmmaker would remain in doubt, but with the help of second unit director Alexander Witt, Skyfall manages to create action scenes that weren’t created for the sake of putting action on the screen but to move the story forward.

In the past, James Bond films rarely moved into introspection on it’s main character’s personal and professional motivations. This began to change when Daniel Craig was picked to help reboot the franchise. The first two films with Craig as Bond showed a much grittier and emotionally complex 007 than in years past. We also got a Bond who was still new to the role of being a 00-agent so we saw the character grow into the role. With Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace we got a Bond who moved from newly minted secret agent then to an agent going off the reservation and following his emotions to finish a mission (both official and personal). The one thing those two films didn’t do was give us a Bond that was fully capable and confident in his abilities to get the job done through the biggest odds. But before we finally get that Bond in Skyfall we see him go through personal doubts about whether he still has the skill to be 007 in a world that sees him and his kind of espionage a relic of the Cold War. By the time the film finishes to a close we find ourselves seeing this new modern, complex Bond finally meeting the old-school traditional Bond who delighted our parents and grandparents in the past.

There’s so much more to be said about this film which brings to the table the best of 50 years this franchise has been on the silver screen. The film pays homage to it’s cinematic history, but not so much that the film becomes a “Can you spot a past Bond reference” exercise. Each and every reference seemed to flow naturally into every scene it showed up in and some even got a nice ovation and reaction (classic Aston Martin DB for example). We even got to see the film poke a bit of cheeky fun at some of the franchises more over-the-top plot devices and all of it in good fun.

Then even with a strong story, great performances from the film’s principal cast members there’s still the question that always get asked whenever a new Bond film hits the screen. That question being how were the latest new Bond Girls.

While Naomie Harris’ Eve was a nice partner to Craig’s Bond their chemistry just didn’t flare up like most of the classic pairings in the franchise. That honor goes to Bond’s short, brief time with the character Severine (played by the ridiculously beautiful Bérénice Lim Marlohe). The scenes the two share in the Macau gambling house was one of the highlights of the film with Marlohe conveying both the femme fatale and damsel in distress in the same scene with the most subtle of acting touches. There’s a good chance that whenever “best of…” lists about Bond girls get made each and every year Marlohe as Severine would be on the top of most lists.

It took two films and six years of exploring, deconstructing and analyzing the character of James Bond through the performance of Daniel Craig. Through that time we’ve gotten to see a new side to James Bond without dismissing and forgetting about the character’s suave and deadly efficiency of past Bond films. While I still lean towards Sean Connery as the gold standard of all James Bond performances after seeing Craig as Bond for the third time in Skyfall the gap has shrunk considerably and I wouldn’t argue if some have Craig matching and/or surpassing Connery in the role. It’s a title that would be well-earned and with how the film ends a chance to see how Craig moves forward as Bond not just in the updated modern sense but the traditional that has made the character one of the most iconic figures in cinema history.

A last note, we get a return to old-school James Bond songs with Adele performing the film’s song which actually has the film’s title in it. The song also harkens back to the days of Shirley Bassey and If I had a choice in the matter I would just let Adele sing all future Bond songs for as long as she wants to.

Thus end Through the Shattered Lens’ retrospective on the James Bond franchise both past and present. It’s been a great ride and all thanks to the drive and organization of co-founder Lisa Marie Bowman who styles herself as the site’s resident Bond Girl.