Review: The Walking Dead S4E05 “Internment”


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“If you’re not ready to lose one, then you’ll lose them all.” — Dr. Caleb Subramanian

[some spoilers]

As this season’s of The Walking Dead gets closer and closer to it’s mid-season finale it’s time to take stock on what  has happened, so far. There human-on-human conflict w hich dominated season 3 has now been replaced by a new and more insidious danger: disease outbreak. It’s a concept rarely explored in apocalyptic stories and barely even mentioned in zombie fiction. We’ve seen how the progression of the disease going through the population of the prison community has become an even bigger danger to everyone. Glenn said it best in episode 2. Zombies and raiders they can take on and succeed, but this disease is something that they can’t see until it’s too late. With the state of medical healthcare in the zombie apocalypse being horrendous at best and non-existent for the most part, this new wrinkle in this group’s survival since the world went to hell was a good move and start for new showrunner Scott M. Gimple.

We’ve seen characters we;ve grown to love in the first four episode grow in surprising and, at times, disturbing ways. Carol has become a hardened survivor who will do what it takes to protect the group from dangers both outside and inside the fences. We’ve seen Rick deal with trying to shed the mantle of leadership for the sake of his children, but quickly realizing (with some help from Carol) that it’s what he’s good at and something he needs to rediscover once again to help the group survive.

Even Carl has shown that he’s not just marching straight into sociopathy in this new world order. He’s realized what his father has sacrificed to try and bring him back from the brink of losing his humanity. So far, it has worked and we see more and more of his father in how he’s handling situations  that in the past he would’ve used violence as a solution.

Tonight’s episode, “Internment”, we get to see the opposite image of what Carol has turned into by focusing on the group’s spiritual leader. Hershel Greene has taken over the spiritual and calming guidance that Dale used to provide. Where Dale seemed too entrenched in trying to live life as if the world still operated under the old rules and morality, Hershel has been more flexible. He doesn’t let his idealism get in the way of doing what’s necessary in the end. Yet, he still believes that saving everyone should still be a goal they as a community need to do. He’s willing to sacrifice his own well-being if it means keeping the sick from dying even if it means just providing that calming presence. He’s not just trying to save their lives but give their soul a semblance of hope that things will work out for the best in the end.

The episode played out like a calm before the storm. Some would say that it was unfolding like a throwaway episode that’s trying to give it’s viewers a breather before moving on to the next couple episodes with something more meaty and considerable. But like all slow burns this one exploded into action when we least expected it even though the writers dropped crumbs throughout that something big was about to happen.

Followers of the show won’t be disappointed when that slow-burning fuse finally leads to that gathering explosion. An explosion that once again saw the prison community become smaller and smaller with loses both to the disease that’s overtaken it and the zombies who have awoken inside the prison walls because of it. Showrunner and series writer Scott M. Gimple promised to make the zombies scary once again and in tonight’s episode we finally get the payoff the first four episodes have been working on achieving. Yes, they’re the faceless horde that has made killing them become more a chore than an act of survival, but the way the episode used them tonight made them scary once again. Their numbers will always be legion and this season has shown just how that still remains the scariest part of this show. Human enemies and even diseases are scary as well, but the zombies have once a gain returned as that patient, ever-encroaching symbol for the inevitability of death.

“Internment” has seen one of the more quieter members of the group who was becoming Dale 2.0, but tonight saw Hershel was just as much a badass survivor as Rick, Carl, Carol, Daryl and, his own daughter, Maggie. His faith in whatever plan God has in testing them might have taken a blow, but he still looks to his faith to get him and his friends and family through it all. He hasn’t let his physical handicap slow him and down. He’s even come through the crucible of tonight’s episode with his eyes much more open to the new realities of this new world, but still keeping his faith.

Time to see what the final reveal of tonight’s episode will now mean to the survival of what remains of the prison community.

Notes

  • Tonight’s episode was written and directed by Channing Powell and David Boyd respectively.
  • Interesting opening shot of Rick driving back to the prison with a very serious look on his face. Rick almost looked as if he’s steeling himself for the reaction on the news of what Carol did to Karen and David.
  • Looks like we now know that zombie flesh and blood is not toxic to animals. The two feral dogs feeding on the immobile zombie by the shoulder of the road was a nice detail.
  • Give Scott Wilson the first star for his incredible performance as Hershel tonight. He pretty much carried the episode from start to finish and there wasn’t a fake or boring section with him in it.
  • Great to see Rick finally see Carl as someone who is not just willing to provide help and protection for the group, but one who is more than capable of doing so. Carl looked more capable than Rick tonight.
  • Maggie has been pretty absent this season, but great to see her rush into the teeth of danger just like her father to try and save Glenn and the rest.
  • This is the second episode this week where half the cast doesn’t get any airtime which more than helps the episode’s pacing.
  • I still believe that Carol is protecting the real killer of Karen and David by confessing to Rick about it. My money is on scary-sister Lizzie who has taken on some very disturbing habits of treating zombies like pets and then using blood to make patterns on the floor with her shoe. The creepy-meter on this girl is reaching record levels.
  • Love the use of Ben Howard’s “Oats In The Water” during Hershel’s moment alone after taking down all the zombies in the cellblock and saving Glenn.
  • Talking Dead Guests: Adam Savage of Mythbusters.

Season 4

A Steaming Pile Of Norseshit — “Thor : The Dark World”


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The way I work, I generally try to avoid giving up too much by way of “spoilers” when it comes to reviewing movies that are still playing simply because I’m never sure how much anybody out there who might be reading this stuff wants to know about any given flick before they’ve actually seen it. Call it common courtesy, I guess, if you’re feeling generous, or weak-kneed fear of the always-on-the-alert hordes of internet “spoiler police” if you’re not, but nevertheless, it’s something I try to adhere to, however tough the going may get.

And Thor : The Dark World makes it very tough indeed. The simple fact is, you just can’t heap all the criticism on this film that it so richly deserves without giving away numerous  key plot points, so here’s what I’m gonna do instead : for those of you who want a meticulously-detailed, blow-by-blow analysis of how and why this big-budget boondoggle fails every single logic test known to humankind, I humbly suggest you follow this link to a lengthy review  by the ever-reliable Julian Darius over at  the Sequart website : http://sequart.org/magazine/32555/id-need-a-lobotomy-to-enjoy-thor-the-dark-world/ .  Julian’s one of the more articulate and intelligent writers the web has to offer on all things comic-related, and while his grammar and syntax are occasionally a bit uncharacteristically all over the map in this particular piece, I get it : he had a lot to vent about, and sometimes ya just gotta let off steam. In any case, his analysis is absolutely spot-on here and, if anything, he’s being too kind to this putrid mess of a movie.

For those of you who want a short, “spoiler”- free summation of why this film sucks so badly though, , here’s the bare essentials  — Thor : The Dark World is built on so many glaringly obvious logical inconsistencies, ten-trillion-to-one coincidences, rehashed story elements that worked much better in the first film, plot holes that are big enough for an  entire army of Asgardian warriors to charge though,  and problems brought on by the idiotic actions of the title character himself that it well and truly boggles the imagination. This is, in short, a complete and utter celluloid train wreck that requires such a heaping dose of suspension of disbelief that even people who can accept the most outlandish premises imaginable will have a hard time coming to grips with this one. It also doesn’t help that the characterization of most of the leading players seems to have taken a leap back toward the dark ages, the dialogue is hopelessly inane from start to finish, and that director Alan Taylor (a seasoned TV veteran, and it shows) brings exactly none of the Shakespearean-rooted vision of Kenneth Branagh to the proceedings and opts, instead, to film things in the rapidly-evolving (and hopelessly uniform) Marvel “house style” best exemplified by the likes of Jon Favreau and Joss Whedon. Sure, their Iron Man and Avengers films, respectively, have earned tons of fan accolades (not to mention box office dollars),  but let’s be honest — the directorial work on either of those properties is virtually (okay, who are we kidding, completely) indistinguishable from the other. So, hey, welcome to the lowest-common-denominator club, I guess, Alan.

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On the plus side, the CGI is pretty cool here throughout, though, and since that’s probably what half the audience (at least) for these things is there for, said half (again, at least) of the audience should walk away feeling quite satisfied.

For those of us who like a movie that at least tries to make sense, though (or fails to so earnestly that watching it becomes a kind of sublime pleasure in its own right), there just ain’t much of offer here. Natalie Portman goes from intelligent astrophysicist to love-struck schoolgirl the minute Thor hits the scene (we later learn she’s only continued with her career at all in hopes of running into him again — there goes a few decades’ worth of tepid progress for female characters in genre cinema in about one second flat) and spends the rest of the film making puppy-dog eyes but not doing much else; Chris Hemsworth plays up the dull nobility  of his character with none of the  reckless humanity we saw in the first film (even though he organizes mass treason here — again); Tom Hiddleston wildly accentuates the effeminate qualities of Loki in a way that pretty much screams “you can’t trust this guy, he’s obviously queer“; Anthony Hopkins mails in his performance from behind a shining suit of armor; Rene Russo fulfills her one character requirement by d— whoops, that’s right, “spoliers”! ;  Kat Dennings essentially plays the same character she does on TV’s Two Broke Girls ; and Stellan Skarsgard does his best to make sure we all know nervous breakdowns are nothin’ but harmless fun, his character having gone mad due to the purportedly “traumatic” events he endured in The Avengers (a bit of a reach given that even its most fervent partisans would admit that’s essentially a big-budget “popcorn movie” with little to no actual thematic depth whatsoever — they just think it’s a particularly well done “popcorn movie”). In short, if you’re getting the idea that Thor : The Dark World is risible,  superficial nonsense with some deeply offensive takes on gender roles, (alluded to) homosexuality, and mental illness, then congratulations! You’re exactly correct.

Christopher Eccleston stars as Malekith in Marvel's Thor: The Dark World

Christopher Eccleston does his best, I suppose, considering the mountain of makeup he’s buried beneath, as chief villain Malekith, but given the preposterous nature of the character he’s asked to portray (head of the evil “Dark Elves,” who alone has the power  to track down a mystical force powerful enough to unmake all of creation called the Aether — except for, ya know, that time  he lost sight of it for literally eons when it was purportedly “shielded”  from him  in a wide-open cave — and even if you buy that, you’d have a tough time explaining why he couldn’t trace it while it was being taken right there), I guess there’s only so much the poor guy can do. Still, I give him credit for at least appearing to want to do more than simply go through the motions here. It’s more than I can say for anybody else, apart from Idris Elba, who does inanimate stoicism better than anyone in his role as Heimdall. Not that he’s really got that much to do, mind you, but he stands around with a hell of a lot of conviction.

At the end of the day, though, I dunno — Thor : The Dark World is still a Marvel studios product, which means that it won’t get nearly the critical scrutiny it should and that legions of loyal followers will proclaim their undying love for it even though it is, by any standard of bias-free critical measure, an absolute clusterfuck of a movie. They, like the Asgardians in the film, will still see Thor himself as a heroic figure even though his decision to bring Portman’s Jane Foster character to his mythic home ensures its invasion by enemy hordes, and they’ll no doubtpraise the film for its forced moments of flat, shoehorned-in “humor” (although even I have to admit the cameo-of-sorts by Chris Evans as Captain America is fun) and equally-forced “dark and somber” tone. This will probably be proclaimed as a “mature” and  even “sophisticated” film in many quarters, and needless to say, those of us willing to call bullshit on it will be vilified  by Dinsey’s unpaid internet army.

Thor: The Dark World film still

No matter.  The simple truth is that Thor : The Dark World is a movie that insults it’s audience’s intelligence in ways that even Roger Corman would never dream of, and goes about its dull and tepid business with less interest and heart than Roger and his barely-compensated filmmakers, actors, and crew ever brought to the proceedings. It’s easily and unquestionably one of the absolute worst films of the year — hell, of the last several years —even if only a few of us have the guts to say so in public. Dis/Mar thinks you’e a sucker with no taste or intelligence who will blindly queue up for anything they churn out. They hold their audience in contempt and at this point are openly daring you to keep forking over your cash for their garbage. How long are you willing to prove them right, and keep playing along?

Song of the Day: Oats In The Water (by Ben Howard)


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The Walking Dead may not be what some critics as great television. Hell, it’s been called boring, pandering and badly-written. It’s popularity has eluded detractors and supporters alike. There’s one thing the show has consistently done well and that’s pick licensed songs to help highlight particular episodes.

Tonight’s episode, “Internment”, is another such episode with a perfectly picked song. This time around the song is “Oats In The Water” by British singer-songwriter Ben Howard.

The song enters the episode as part of the calm which followed one of the most tense and terrifying sequences of the season. Whoever is in charge of licensing songs for this song needs to get a raise because it’s definitely been a highlight of each season.

Oats In The Water

Go your way,
I’ll take the long way ’round,
I’ll find my own way down,
As I should.

And hold your gates
There’s coke in the midas touch
A joke in the way that we rust,
And breathe again.

And you’ll find loss
And you’ll fear what you found
When weather comes
Tear him down

There’ll be oats in the water
There’ll be birds on the ground
There’ll be things you never asked her
Oh how they tear at you now

Go your way,
I’ll take the long way ’round,
I’ll find my own way down,
As I should.

And hold your gates
As coke in the midas touch
A joke in the way that we rust,
And breathe again.

And you’ll find loss
And you’ll fear what you found
When weather comes
Tear him down

There’ll be oats in the water
There’ll be birds on the ground
There’ll be things you never asked her
Oh how they tear at you now