Review: The Walking Dead S5E09 “What Happened and What’s Going On”


“Paying the high cost of living.” — Tyreese

[spoilers within]

The Walking Dead returns tonight after taking a weeks-long hiatus. We left the group as down as we’ve ever seen them after having lost another one of their people. This particular loss seem to have hit the group even harder than their previous losses. Beth Greene had become a symbol of hope for the group and, to a degree, for the audience who needed someone else other than the hardened killers most of the survivors have become.

If the show has been consistent about one thing it is that good-natured people tend to not last long in the zombie apocalypse. It’s a new world where one’s humanity will forever be at war with one’s will to survive at all cost. There are no more police or military to protect you from harm. No more hospitals to treat one’s wounds and sickness. No firefighters to call on in case of emergency. It’s a world where one must learn to do what goes against one’s nature if one is to survive.

We saw Dale as one of the first of those “good people” to die. His stubborn need to remain civilized and stick to his principles of always doing the right and moral thing made him unable to cope of what Rick and the rest of the group were willing to do to keep on going. Next to go was Hershel last season. While he finally was able to understand that the necessity of doing awful things to survive doesn’t really mean abandoning one’s true nature, but he never truly got the chance to put that into practice as he was soon dispatched by the Governor.

Then there’s Beth Greene. Sweet, innocent Beth who many saw as a sort of singing albatross that could only lead to getting some of the more capable members of the group killed by her very lack of survival skills. The show was able to redeem Beth’s character by having her spend some quality time with one of it’s ultimate survivors in Daryl Dixon. This showed in her growth as a character and a survivor. Yet, just like her father Hershel, what she’s learned became too little too late as her need to stick up for those seen as weak led to her own demise.

Tonight saw the exit of one of the last few principled and moral centers of the show. Tyreese has always been a sort of mystery. He’s this big, hulking man who could escape a mob of zombies with just a hammer and come out of it unscathed. Yet, this is also a man who hesitates in killing another human even if it means doing so was the logical and safest thing to do. We saw this in full detail when he refused to kill Martin from Terminus who had threatened to kill baby Judith in this season’s premiere episode. Killing Martin would’ve mean tying up a loose end that might’ve kept the group safer from Gareth and his hunters. It wasn’t in Tyreese to kill another person even one who would’ve killed him and those he cared for without hesitation.

Tonight’s episode saw Rick and a handpicked group taking Noah back to the gated community that he had called home in hopes of reuniting the young man with his people and also finding a new place to call home. This wouldn’t be the Walking Dead if everything turned out peaches and cream. During Noah’s internment with Dawn at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, his home at Shirewilt Estates (a nice shout out to the Wiltshire Estates from the comic book) had fallen to the zombies due to some unknown group of raiders that had breached their walls.

It’s during Noah’s attempt to learn the fate of his family that Tyreese would meet his inevitable end. Some would say that Tyreese’s character wasn’t as well-established and well-written to elicit sympathy the way Hershel’s and Merle’s death meant so much to the show. Yet, his very death symbolized the death of hope and optimism the group began to have once they had gotten back together after Terminus. His death meant another person who could’ve kept Rick and the rest of the group from tipping over into the darkside. He was the symbol of forgiveness for the group which has begun to show lack of empathy.

Chad Coleman was always a welcome addition to the cast. Maybe the problems previous showrunners had in creating fully-realized characters had limited his character’s growth, but it’s to the new-found focus of current showrunner Scott M. Gimple that we finally get to know Tyreese and what made him tick. It’s just a shame that just when we’re really getting to know the character he was taken away in a heartbreaking manner.

The series hasn’t even dealt with the after-effect of Beth’s death to the group and now they will have to find a way to cope with the death of Tyreese as well. If the group truly does go on forward just trying to survive towards the next day will all these important deaths wear away on their humanity.

Will some in the group just give up and let it all end? Or will it spur them even more to try and find a new safe place to call home? We have seven more episodes left in this season and if Washington really is the goal then we may just get both.


  • Tonight’s episode, “What Happened and What’s Going On”, was directed by Greg Nicotero and written by series showrunner Scott M. Gimple.
  • Glenn picking up the baseball bat could either be a throwaway moment or an ominous foreshadowing of things to come. Readers of the comics will understand.
  • I was half-expecting to see every character who died to show up during Tyreese’s hallucination.
  • There was almost a sense that Tyreese might pull through and take the place of Rick as the one-handed man (which Rick was in the comics), but the way the episode unfolded it was inevitable that he wasn’t going to live.
  • The radio reports (BBC Radio, I think) that Tyreese was hearing during his hallucination made for a nice parallel to the events that Tyreese had seen during his time on the series.
  • The song being sung by Ghost Beth is “Struggling Man” by Jimmy Cliff. A song about a man struggling with grief and the need to move on. Very appropriate for what became Tyreese’s swan song episode.
  • It seems like Tyler James Williams’ character Noah going to get a rep as being the grim reaper of the group. He’s already been the cause for the death of two of Rick’s group: Beth and Tyreese.
  • Talking Dead returns with guests series producer/director Greg Nicotero and Tyreese’s own Chad Coleman (in a way to keep viewers from thinking a cast member was leaving the show due to character death it was announced that Ron Perlman of Pacific Rim and Hellboy fame was going to be one of the guests)

Season 5

“The Town That Dreaded Sundown” (2014) : Everything Old Is New Again — Or Is It?

Trash Film Guru


We may as well be clear about one thing right off the bat — director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s 2014 film The Town That Dreaded Sundown (now available via instant streaming on both Netflix and Amazon Prime — before it’s even out on Blu-ray or DVD!) isn’t so much a remake of Charles B. Pierce’s 1976 “true-crime slasher” of the same name as it is an updated take on more or less the same material (to such an extent that original screenwriter Earl E. Smith is even given a story credit here) that semi-cleverly incorporates its cinematic progenitor into the proceedings as a “metafictional” trope in a way that almost makes the new flick closer to a sequel than anything else — but not quite.

For the sake of those who absolutely must categorize this in some way, shape, or form, let’s just call it an “extension” of Pierce’s movie and leave…

View original post 1,116 more words

Birdman wins at the DGA!

Need to kill some time?  Look through all the posts since November and count up how many times this picture has appeared on the site!

For those of you following the Oscar race, Birdman‘s director, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, won the Director’s Guild Award last night.  Over the past few weeks, Birdman has pretty much swept the guild awards, also winning the PGA and the SAG awards.

(Interestingly enough, Michael Keaton was not named Best Actor at SAG.  That award went to Eddie Redmayne for The Theory Of Everything.)

So, it would appear that — as far as 2014 was concerned — Boyhood was the critics favorite and Birdman was the industry’s favorite.  And, since it’s the industry who votes on the Oscars, Birdman has to be considered the Oscar front-runner as well.  For all the talk about how the Oscar race is wide-open this year, it’s actually proving to be pretty predictable.

(Unless, of course, those rumors of a sudden surge for American Sniper prove to be true…)

Myself, I prefer Boyhood to Birdman and I think that future film students will agree with me.  But, I can understand why the industry would embrace Birdman.  After all, it’s about an artist who is unfairly targeted by a vindictive critic and who is still suffering because he was forced to appear in a mindless blockbuster.  I imagine that’s the way that a lot of Academy voters probably think of themselves.  There’s really not much going on underneath the surface of Birdman but never doubt the value of appealing to the industry’s ego.


Shattered Politics #82: An American Affair (dir by William Olsson)


Though the names may have been changed, the 2008 film An American Affair is clearly based on the true story of Mary Pinchot Meyer.

In the early 60s, Mary Pinchot Meyer was a celebrated member of the Washington D.C. social scene.  A talented painter, Meyer was also the ex-wife of CIA officer Cord Meyer and was an early proponent of LSD.  She also happened to the mistress of John F. Kennedy and reportedly use to smoke weed with him in the Oval Office.  It’s also been reported that she kept a diary, which mysteriously disappeared after Mary’s still unsolved murder in 1964.  Needless to say, many a JFK assassination conspiracy theory has featured Mary Pinchot Meyer as a supporting character.

In An American Affair, Meyer is renamed Catherine Caswell (Gretchen Mol) and she lives across the street from 13 year-old Adam Stafford (Cameron Bright).  While Catherine has secret meetings with the President and deals with her alcoholic ex-husband (played, quite well, by Mark Pellegrino), Adam watches from his bedroom window.  Eventually, Adam goes across the street and offers to work in Catherine’s garden.  Realizing that Adam has a crush on her, an amused Catherine agrees.  While the future of America is being determined all around him, Adam learns about life, love, and art from Catherine.

An American Affair is an odd mix of conspiracy film and coming-of-age dramedy but it actually work pretty well.  Gretchen Mol gives a good performance as the poignantly unstable Catherine and, despite the fact that Adam is kind of a creep at times, Cameron Bright manages to make the character sympathetic.  However, the film’s best performances come from James Rebhorn and Pellegrino, playing two menacing figures who always seem to hovering in the shadows.

An American Affair is a surprisingly good film.  I saw it on Netflix and so should you.

Shattered Politics #81: Charlie Wilson’s War (dir by Mike Nichols)


I hate to say it but Charlie Wilson’s War did not do much for me.

I hate to say that because this 2007 film is fairly well-acted, well-directed, and well-written (by Aaron Sorkin, whose scripts usually get on my last nerve).  And it deals with an important subject.  Taking place in the 80s, the film details how a Texas congressman (Tom Hanks), working with a profane CIA agent (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and an eccentric socialite (Julia Roberts), managed to create popular and political support for giving weapons to the Afghan rebels who were fighting the Soviet invasion of their country.  By doing so, Wilson helps to weaken the Soviet Union but, when his efforts to provide humanitarian aide to Afghanistan are less successful, he also contributes to the subsequent rise of the Taliban.

It should have been a film that I would normally rave about but … I don’t know.

I watched Charlie Wilson’s War.  I laughed at some of Tom Hanks’s facial reactions.  (Hanks is playing a womanizer here who may, or may not, have been high on cocaine when he first learned about the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and it’s obvious that Hanks really enjoyed getting to play someone who wasn’t a traditionally upright hero.)  As I watched, I again considered what a loss we suffered when the brilliant Philip Seymour Hoffman died.  And, as I watched Julia Roberts, I again wonder why, despite the fact that she’s from Georgia, it is apparently impossible for Julia to sound authentically Southern.

(Of course, I’m sure some would argue that Julia wasn’t playing Southern here.  She was playing a Texan.  Well, I’m a Texan and I’ve never heard anyone down here sound like that.  Tom Hanks, meanwhile, actually managed to come up with a decent accent.  Wisely, he underplayed the accent, whereas I don’t think that Julia has ever underplayed anything in her life.)

And, at the end of Charlie Wilson’s War, I knew I had watched a good film but it was also a film that left me feeling curious detached.  To be honest, I almost think the film would have been better if Hoffman’s CIA agent had been the main character, as opposed to Hanks’s congressman.  Hoffman’s character, after all, is the one who nearly lost his job over his belief that the Afghan rebels should be armed.  All Hanks really has to worry about is whether or not he’s going to be indicted for using cocaine in Vegas.

However, I do think that Charlie Wilson’s War does deserve praise for one very specific reason.  Excluding the films made by native filmmakers like Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson, Charlie Wilson’s War is one of the few films that I’ve ever seen that actually portrays anyone from Texas in a positive light.  Even more shockingly, it’s a positive portrayal of a Texas politician!

(I know it must have been tempting to change history and pretend that Charlie Wilson was originally elected from somewhere up north…)

But, overall, Charlie Wilson’s War didn’t do much for me.  But, if you’re into military history and all that, you might enjoy the film more than I did.

(Plus, all you boys will probably enjoy Emily Blunt’s scenes….)

At the very least, you can watch it for Philip Seymour Hoffman.