Review: The Walking Dead S3E08 “Made to Suffer”


TheWalkingDeadS3E08

“I’m afraid of terrorists who want what we have.” — Philip “The Governor” Blake

[spoilers within]

We’ve finally reached the mid-season finale of season 3 of The Walking Dead. It’s one that changes the dynamics on both groups we’ve come to know through this season’s first half. The season has been a tale of two cities. We have the one with the imposing prison where Rick and his people have chosen to use as their safe haven though losing a couple of their own in the process of doing so. On the other side is the almost-idyllic town of Woodbury where it’s leader in the Governor plots to keep his charges safe but also unaware of what truly transpires before his charming smile. It’s not just about the differences between the two groups of survivors but between the men who lead them.

“Made to Suffer” begins with a new group of survivors in a forest being attacked by a number of zombies. It’s a small group of five and we learn quickly enough the name of the group’s leader. It’s a name that’s been speculated on since the start of the show over two year ago. There were rumors that the writers had decided that the character might not ever make it to the show since it was already starting to bulge around the edges with some many names both main and supporting. While the secret about this character (who was an integral part of the comic book for almost five years) appearing on the show was revealed a couple weeks ago tonight saw the first appearance of Tyreese to the merry band of survivors.

The introduction of Tyreese should make for an interesting second half to this season as we get another Alpha Male to compete for the leadership role on the show that already has Rick and the Governor. For the moment Tyreese and his small group of survivors must contend with a much more resourceful leader-in-training in Carl who has been left behind to protect the other half of the group in the prison while Rick and his group went onto Woodbury.

Tonight’s episode was all about the confrontation between Prison vs Woodbury that’s been building up all throughout this first half of the third season. The fact that the writers made this confrontation not last through most of the third season is another sign that this season is more about keeping the story on the move instead of stopping to contemplate on the nature of the new world and its affect on those left behind. This narrative style of less is more has done wonders in making the show regain the tension that was built during the truncated first season, but was almost wasted in the sophomore effort.

With the Rick group sneaking into Woodbury to rescue Maggie and Glenn we get to finally see how the two competing groups would stack up when put up against each other. To say that Rick and his people look to be the better survivors would be an understatement. As we’ve learned throughout this first half of season 3 Rick has honed his band of survivors into an efficient group of killing machines. They move in precise, military-like manner to the point that even the Governor could see it and knew they were outclassed despite his group’s numerical superiority. It’s a testament to the hardship Rick and his people had to go through during the months between season 2 and 3 out in the wilderness in a day-to-day survival mode. It’s made his group hardened veterans with no weak links. On the other hand, the Governor has kept such a tight grip on power and information flow with the survivors in Woodbury that most were ill-equipped to deal with any attack of sufficient force.

One cannot say that Rick’s own methods were better than the Governor’s but the difference between the two seem to be that where the former sheriff’s deputy acted like a dictator in his own way he also kept everyone in the loop with what he wanted to do. The same couldn’t be said about the Governor who seemed to keep most everyone except for a handful of confederates at arm’s length. Even one of his most trusted lieutenant’s in Merle he didn’t fully trust. This differences between these two leaders meant a successful, albeit a costly one, rescue operation by episode’s end.

By the end of the episode we also find out that things might not be right with Rick mentally as we were led to believe after his bout with the prison telephone. The weight of leadership looks to be creating strains on Rick that could prove detrimental to the survival of those he cares about as we await the season’s return in a couple months. We also learn that the Governor doesn’t stand betrayal too easily as we see his reaction to the return of Michonne and the aftermath of that return. Both leaders are now set to suffer the consequences of their two groups meeting up. Rick losing two of his people (though as we see at the cliffhanger ending to the episode that there’s still hope for a fan favorite to survive) and the Governor losing whatever grip on humanity he might have had with the true death to his zombie daughter Penny.

This mid-season finale has been everything the season has been remaking the show to be. It’s been fast, thrilling and bare bones. We still don’t know too much about some of the side characters on the show, but we get glimpses to their changes through actions rather than long-winded expository scenes that weighted down the second season. Tonight’s episode shed a light on characters and their motivations and most of it through dialogue-free sequences. Even the speech made by the Governor in the end showed a lot about this man’s personality and done so without making it sound like it was for the audiences benefit and not to move the story forward.

It’s going to be a long two month wait, but as we’ve seen with the show’s fans even during a maddening and frustrating season 2 it’s a fan-base that will come back and come back hungry for more of The Walking Dead. The question now is whether this prison vs Woodbury story arc will finish this second half of the season or will we continue to see the prison as a setting for the show beyond season 3.

Notes

  • Tonight’s episode was directed by series regular Billy Gierhart and written by series producer and creator of the comic book, Robert Kirkman.
  • Welcome Tyreese and his ever-present claw-hammer.
  • A name from the comics but used on a throwaway character (same as the comic) appear in the cold opening: Donna.
  • Now we have an idea why the prison doesn’t seem to be running out of zombies even after the initial clear out by Rick and his people then after Rick’s Killpocalypse rampage during episode 5.
  • Glenn definitely is made of sterner stuff this season and has a MacGuyver streak in him by creating makeshft shivs out of a zombies splintered forearm bones.
  • Axel is still an unknown factor on the show despite helping Rick and his group earlier in the season, but his interaction with both Beth and Carol was both creepy and hilarious.
  • Carl doesn’t like Axel making the moves on his woman.
  • Nice move by Mazzara and the producers to bring back Jon Bernthal to make a brief, but important cameo, in tonight’s episode as Shane.
  • Despite being outnumbered it’s really interesting to note how much more dangerous Rick’s group when compared to the Governor and his Woodbury Bunch. Even the Governor admits that his people are survivors and not military who he thinks Rick and his people are.
  • Carl is becoming more and more like Rick: Taking charge though he doesn’t seem to want to and looking at the world through a pragmatist’s eyes.
  • Even Tyreese can see that Carl is more man than boy now. Carl has improved and gotten a major reset this season while another character like Andrea just continues to stump the writers.
  • Fight between Michonne and the Governor was even better than the one between Rick and Shane from season 2 and that’s saying something considering those two’s fight was one brutal of a fight.
  • We end the episode with a side profile view of the Governor’s face that’s literally a cover artwork from the comic book.
  • Zombie Kill Count of tonight’s episode: 12.

Past Season 3 Episode Review

  1. Episode 1: “Seed”
  2. Episode 2: “Sick”
  3. Episode 3: “Walk With Me”
  4. Episode 4: “Killer Within”
  5. Episode 5: “Say the Word”
  6. Episode 6: “Hounded”
  7. Episode 7: “When the Dead Come Knocking”

Finally! It’s the return of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film Trailers!


I am very proud to announce the return of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film trailers!

Yes, the feature took a short break in November while I was busy plotting my escape to Canada.  However, after giving it a lot of thought, I’ve decided to give America another chance.

(Or, at the very least, to wait until after the 2014 elections to decide whether or not to stay here in Texas or to move to Degrassi street in Toronto, Canada.)

Anyway, without further delay, here are this week’s 6 trailers!

(One thing will always remain the same.  Whether a Canadian or a Texan, Lisa does not do odd numbers.)

1) Texas Adios (1976)

This film stars my Facebook friend, Franco Nero.

2) City of the Living Dead (1980)

This zombie classic was directed by Lucio Fulci and features Giovanni Lombardo Radice, who recently liked a cute cat picture that I shared on Facebook.  Merci, Johnny!

3) Starcrash (1978)

If this trailer looks familiar, it may be because I previously included it in another one of my trailer posts.  But no matter!  I love this trailer and I’m sure that a lot of our readers here at TSL will enjoy it as well.  Next Halloween, I’m going to be Stella Starr.  (Starcrash, incidentally, was directed by my Facebook friend, Luigi Cozzi.)

4) Far From Home (1989)

This film, which stars Drew Barrymore, was made by a bunch of people who are not friends with me on Facebook.

5) The Astounding She Monster (1957)

One reason I love 50s B-movies is because the monsters were always astounding.

6) Malibu Beach (1978)

And finally, let’s end things on a positive note!

What do you think, Trailer Kitties?

 No, don't look!

What Lisa Marie Watched Last Night #57: Dragon Wasps (dir by Joe Knee)


Last night, I turned on the SyFy Network and, along with about 50 other people on twitter, I watched a little film called Dragon Wasps.

Dragon WaspsWhy Was I Watching It?

The movie was on the SyFy network and it was called Dragon Wasps.  Speaking for myself, I hate and fear wasps but I love dragons and I’ve got several kimonos to prove it.   Seriously, how could I not watch this film?

What Was It About?

A scientist named Gina (Dominika Juillet) goes to Brazil to search for her missing father and manages to convince a group of soldiers led by Corin Nemec to help her look.  This, of course, eventually leads to everyone getting captured by a bunch of drug smugglers led by a guy named Jaguar.  Eventually, about halfway through the film, the Dragon Wasps finally show up and it turns out that the best way to protect yourself from a giant, fire-breathing wasp is to rub cocaine all over your skin.

Oh, and did you know that baby dragon wasps can climb into your ear and make your head explode?  Because they so totally can!

It’s kind of a weird movie.

What Worked?

The dragon wasps were pretty neat and whenever they were buzzing across the screen and breathing fire on the people below, the film worked.

What Did Not Work?

Unfortunately, the dragon wasps only got about 15 minutes of screen time.  The rest of the movie dealt with the Gina and her friend Rhonda wandering through the jungles of Brazil in their Ugg boots and claiming that the best way to repel an insect is to smell like a dead insect.  We were dubious about that claim on twitter so I did a Google search and it turns out that is actually true.  It says a lot of about this film that I originally assumed that it must be false just because I heard about it from Gina and Rhonda.

“OH MY GOD!  Just like me!” Moment

At one point, Corin Nemec orders Gina to steal a lot of explosives from Jaguar’s drug compound.  Gina does so but once they get to the Dragon Wasp Nest, they discover that Gina accidentally grabbed several packets of cocaine.

“It’s not my fault!” Gina exclaims, “C4 and cocaine look exactly alike!”

A lot of people might make fun of this scene but I have a feeling that I would do the exact same thing.

Lessons Learned

C4 and cocaine look exactly alike.

Anime You Should Be Watching: Sword Art Online


The title I’m writing about today has been featured in an AMV of the Day post by site founder Arleigh in the past, and it’s one that I’ve been meaning to write about ever since its licensing announcement back in October.  But with that month being a horror-centric month, and last month…well, I was just really lazy last month.  However, today I’d like to give my personal recommendation to one of the current biggest hits to come out of Japan, Sword Art Online.

swordartonlineThe premise of the show is this:  In the future gaming is done by immersing your consciousness completely into the game with a headset that’s pretty much the kind of virtual reality that some of us dearly dream was real.  All senses are simulated so you can even eat food in the game and it tastes and feels like you’re eating real food.  The newest, most sought after game in this time period is an MMO called Sword Art Online (what a coincidence, because there’s this anime with the same name that’s really good too!  They should watch it.) and it’s a very exclusive game.  Only 10,000 copies are released to the general public so getting the privilege to own a copy is like a status symbol.  The main protagonist in the series, Kazuto Kirigaya or Kirito as he names himself in the game, is not only one of the lucky few who got a copy, but he was also a beta tester for the game.  When the game goes live, he and the rest of the 10,000 log in and begin playing.  I’ll admit it’s kind of amazing that all 10,000 supposedly all logged in at roughly the same time, but this show does require a few suspensions of belief.  Anyways, after playing for a few hours and training another person on how to play, Kirito attempts to log out only to find that there is no option to log out of the game.  Then all players are force transported to the square of the starting town where they are stripped of their avatars and their true selves are shown to be in the game.  Then the creator appears via hologram announcing to them all that they are now trapped in the game until someone manages to clear all 100 levels.  The real downside to this?  If you die in the game, you die in real life.  If your NervGear (the headgear that brings the virtual world to life) is forcibly removed, you will die.  The only way to get out of the game alive is to clear it.  And thus starts the adventure for Kirito and the people trapped in SAO.

The first thing to say about SAO is that the backgrounds are absolutely gorgeous.  This was obviously meant to be a big budget hit, and from character designs to backgrounds it sure doesn’t seem as if they went the cheap route.  The boss battles are particularly noteworthy.  This is one of the later boss battles, and this should give you an idea of the quality of the show, since often times the longer a show runs, the more likely the animators are to start cutting corners since their budget might be running low.  This has not happened with SAO.  (The subs are in spanish since I couldn’t find what I wanted in English, but you don’t really need to know what’s being said to appreciate the action)

Now I’m not big on playing MMOs myself.  That whole teamwork thing isn’t for me, but this does give a good representation on what some of the tougher boss battles in MMOs are like.  Now just imagine that your life was actually on the line and you can get a sense of the intensity in the battle.

Now, for the characters, your mileage may vary.  Personally, I’ve liked the majority of them, even the “bad guys” so to speak, as they’ve done a good job of keeping them interesting.  The main two are Kirito and Asuna, the girl in the picture and in that video, but there are others that make regular appearances, and then we also have one time showings from characters that become fan favorites like Silica Fett.  Ok, she’s just called Silica, but she has the Boba Fett syndrome where she makes a lone appearance yet becomes a huge fan favorite.  A couple seem like they were pointless additions, but mostly they’re there to show Kirito’s progression from uncaring loner to basically the hero of the game.  This has led some detractors to label him as an MMO Jesus, in that he goes around saving people for no real reason other than to perhaps make himself feel better for past failings, but I liked seeing him grow up as it were and actually become a better person through the game.

As I write this, the show is still ongoing, so I’m taking a risk in recommending it.  The show has switched gears a bit, and while I’m fine with where it’s going, since I haven’t read the light novels that this is based on, which I think are still ongoing themselves, the ending could very well shit the bed.  At the very least it’s likely that the animation staff will have to make up their own ending, and even when that has the approval of the original creator, it tends to have mixed results.  The tonal shift from the first season to the second is a bit jarring, and it kind of takes you out of the world that it worked hard to craft, but from what I’ve seen of the second season thus far it should transition well.

The musical score is also quite fantastic.  It is largely composed by Yuki Kajiura, whom Arleigh and I had the pleasure to see in concert with Fiction Junction at this year’s Anime Expo.  Each piece is well crafted to fit the mood of the scenes, from grand epic pieces to fit major battles, to slow paced, gentler sounds to complement quiet, everyday life.  Music is essential in setting the proper mood in shows, and this is done beautifully here.

A major concern I have is from the licensing side.  It’s been announced for release in the US & Canadia by Aniplex of America, and their prices tend to run a bit on the high side.  I recently purchased Bakemonogatari from them, and that cost $150 for half as many episodes as SAO is going to be.  The only comparable release that they’ve done as far as episode count would be their Blue Exorcist release, and that was only released on 4 DVDs which can be had for $100 now.  But, at the risk of sounding like a video snob, this is a release that demands a blu-ray version.  With Japan constantly crying about reverse importation, either it’s going to be a DVD only release or it will be an incredibly expensive BD release, possibly even along the lines of the infamous $700 Fate Zero release.  Only time will tell on this, but fans will just have to cross their fingers that our Japanese overlords will be reasonable.  Regardless, if the show can keep up the kind of energy and drama that it presented in its first half, then I’ll be hard pressed to pass by the eventual release.