Review: The Walking Dead S5E13 “Forget”


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“Because you can tell the good guys from the bad guys.” — Aaron

[spoilers within]

Tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead saw Rick and his people continue to try and assimilate themselves within the safe confines of the Alexandria Safe-Zone. It’s a situation they’ve been hoping to find on their way to Washington, D.C., but also one that seems to have unnerved a good portion of the group when it falls into their lap.

“Forget” is a tough episode to sit through because it highlights both the show’s strength and also one of it’s recurring weaknesses. It’s a well-written episode by series writer Corey Reed with some fine direction from series director David Boyd, but at times the story-arc for certain characters landed with a thud instead of expanding on that character or moving the story forward.

Let’s go with the lowlights before moving onto the highlight of tonight’s episode.

We’ve known that the Alexandria Safe-Zone had time to build itself when the zombie outbreak began. We learn this from Deanna herself during her introduction in last week’s episode. Yet, something about how the writers have done to build-up ASZ (what I shall call Alexandria) as this well-protected haven from Aaron don’t seem to mesh with what they’ve shown on the show, so far. Maybe it’s a slow burn the writers are going for. Maybe we’ll find out how ASZ ultimately survived the lean years since civilization broke down. For now, there’s less a hidden, sinister agenda of how the ASZ has survived this long and more of it’s surprising and lucky they’ve lasted this long.

The next thud would be the story-line for Sasha herself. We see her during the episode’s cold opening unable to sleep in the house Rick had claimed as his. Pictures of it’s previous owners seem to gaze down at her. We later see her venture outside the walls of the ASZ to practice some shooting with those same family portraits as targets. Her behaviors borders on reckless and suicidal. It’s hard to judge the character for this considering she’s lost both her lover and her older brother right after each other. Traumatic experiences will do that to a person, yet when it happens to Sasha it’s hard to sympathize with her. It’s not that she’s a bad person. She just seems to be a badly-written character who doesn’t have her own voice with Bob and Tyreese now gone from the group.

We get description of what sort of character she is from other’s describing her to strangers. Tonight we find out from Maggie that she’s the group’s best shot, but we never really see this skill develop. The rest of the group we find in some way or another how they got to where they are in regards to their skills. With Sasha one day she’s someone who leaned on her older brother for protection then next she’s suddenly the next reincarnation of Annie Oakley.

It’s a weakness in the show’s way of handling such a huge cast of characters. They get rid of characters who were interesting or becoming one, but keeping characters who remain relatively unknowns to the audience. It’s as if the writers can’t find a way to make Sasha become an interesting character without having to repeat themselves in turning her into one (Carol, Maggie and Beth being three who improved over time).

So, while Sasha’s suicidal tendencies could be chalked up to her growing PTSD due to the experiences she has had to deal with recently it’s impact on the story seems to be minimal. It’s not that we as an audience don’t care it’s just that we don’t know Sasha well enough to bother to even care.

That’s not the same when it comes to Rick, Carol and Daryl. These three have begun to form a new sort of triumvirate leadership group. Everyone who has come this far with Rick are survivors in their own right, but it’s these three who have come farthest within the group. They’ve grown from who they’ve were when we first met them. We first met them as the lawman, the housewife and the rebel. They’ve outgrown those initial labels and become complex characters who harbor both positive and negative qualities. They’re not black and white in their behaviors anymore. It’s because of their character growth (most seems to be once Scott M. Gimple took over as headwriter and showrunner) that we’ve come to care what happens to them.

With Carol we see nothing left of the mousy and battered housewife who couldn’t defend herself until pretty much everything had been taken from her. She had gone from victim to survivor in order to never be dependent on others and to protect her new found family. While she has employed a cold logic to how she must survive and protect her people she does seem to be the one in the group who has adjusted best in this new world. She’s able to be the one willing to do the dirty work if it means keeping her group alive another day. Her threat towards Jessie’s young son, Sam, was both hilarious and chilling. Never could we have seen Carol from season 1 through 3 threaten a young boy of death by being zombie bait in order to keep her duplicitous behavior from being outed to the rest of the ASZ community.

There’s Daryl, the rebel loner we first me in season 1, whose lone wolf behavior has become tempered by his realization that he needs Rick and the others to keep himself human and sane. He doesn’t need them as a crutch, but instead sees in them the family he never had growing up and for being the redemption for his past failings. Yes, he still remains sort of an outsider maneuvering his way through the new dynamics that ASZ opened up, but his interaction with Aaron (another one who feels like an outsider despite being a longstanding member of the ASZ community) shows that he’s grown away from his intolerant beginnings in the show and sees in Aaron a kindred spirit. The fact that he’s aired some doubts about their original plan to takeover the ASZ community if they deem it necessary shows that Daryl may still be a badass but he also understands that making something like ASZ work in the end would be to the group’s benefit in the long run.

Then we have Rick. The lawman and father whose personal beliefs and principles have become the fulcrum by which the show has explored varying themes throughout it’s five season on the air. We’ve seen Rick the reluctant leader in the first two season. Finding and protecting his family had been his only concern during those initial seasons, but betrayal and the knowledge that there was no cure for the zombie pandemic unleashed the Ricktatorship which led the group to becoming the hardcore survivalist they’ve become. Yet, even this version of Rick made mistakes that cost him those closest to him. He’s tried to be less a leader and more a provider. We call this Farmer Rick, but we knew it was going to be a temporary reprieve from what we’ve wanted Rick to become and that’s accept his role as leader and take ownership of that role with all the good it brings and all the bad it brings out.

We see Rick take to this role with such a focus that he teeters on the brink of becoming the very thing he despised when he saw the Governor. This Rick is willing to depose those in the ASZ community leadership group if he thought they couldn’t hack it when times got rough. This Rick sees danger everywhere and plans several steps ahead even when we as an audience sees it as a sort of madness creeping to latch onto Rick’s psyche. This Rick seems willing to take what he wants when he wants it even if it means contemplating murder. This is a Rick that seems to be exhibiting the worst qualities of the leaders of three groups who have fallen into the abyss: the Governor, Joe of the Claimers and Gareth of Terminus.

While Rick has learned to become a better leader of the group from having Hershel and Tyreese as his moral compass, they seem to have been pushed to the back of Rick’s mind by the ghosts of the Governor, Joe and Gareth. These three showed Rick that surviving at any cost was the only currency left in this new world. It was all about protecting what was his and that was Carl, Judith and the rest of his group. The people of the ASZ community were strangers to him who he felt were ill-equipped to survive in this new world. He even mentions to Carol and Daryl that this community was lucky to have them as new member because only they could protect them from the bad people beyond the walls. It doesn’t dawn on Rick that he was now acting and behaving in some fashion like those very bad people he warned Deanna about.

“Forget” could easily have become one of the best episodes of the season if it concentrated more on this triumvirate of Rick, Carol and Daryl and just jettisoned the Sasha plotline. Yet, despite Sasha’s role in tonight’s episode we still got a strong foundation on what could be the role of the Power Three for the final three episodes of season 5. Will Carol and Daryl follow Rick if he ever goes too far? We have three more episodes left to find out.

Notes

  • Tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead, “Forget”, was directed by David Boyd and written by series writer Corey Reed.
  • Carol had herself some a breaking Bad moment when she confronted Sam, Jessie’s youngest boy, after he saw her taking guns from the armory. Some have said that her “speech” to Sam was reminiscent of Walt’s “I’m the one who knocks” speech.
  • Deanna’s husband is named Reg. In the comics, Douglas (Deanna in the show) has a wife named Reggie. The show also added Aiden as a second son. We met the other son, Spencer, in tonight’s episode.
  • Interesting choice of a song to end the episode on…Spicks and Specks by the Bee Gees.
  • The shippers of Rick and Michonne seem to have gone insane since they’ve gone on a social media rampage against the actor Alexandra Breckinridge who plays Rick’s potential paramour Jessie in the show.
  • Talking Dead guests tonight are Kevin Smith (writer/director), Ross Marquand (Aaron from The Walking Dead) and Alexandra Breckinridge (Jessie from The Walking Dead)


Season 5

Peering Beneath “The Black Hood”


Trash Film Guru

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You’d think that any character that’s been around since 1940 would be at least a marginal “fan-favorite” — after all, it takes a certain level of popularity just to stick around that long — but in the case of The Black Hood, a super-vigilante from Archie Comics, you’d be wrong.

Not that I’m sure ol’ Hoodie doesn’t have some sort of fan following, mind you — any character that’s been around for over 70 years is bound to pick up at least a few adherents even if it’s entirely by accident — but there aren’t many, and whenever he’s come back to the printed page (most recently in the early ’90s for a 12-issue run as part of DC’s failed !mpact Comics imprint aimed at younger readers, which licensed a good number of Archie-owned properties) it hasn’t been for long. Could that be about to change? I’m sincerely hoping so.

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Say “Yo!” To Drugs With “Neverboy”


Trash Film Guru

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If there’s one thing that sucked most about growing up in the 1980s — among many worthy contenders from that culturally blighted decade — it was the rampant anti-drug hysteria that started with our figurehead “leaders” at the top, Ron n’ Nancy, and filtered its way down until it permeated pretty much every corner of society. Drugs — even essentially risk-free recreational stuff like pot — were considered “bad,” and their users were “bad people.” This stuf’ll kill ya, kids — why, if you don’t believe us, just turn on the TV, because that’s what every single cop show is all about.

Never mind, I suppose, that TV is the most prevalent and most harmful drug of all, or that most of the pseudo-righteous political figures profiting from drug hysteria were either being funded to the tune of millions by Wall Street cokeheads or, in the case of Bush…

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Song of the Day: Stairway to Heaven (by Led Zeppelin)


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The latest in the Song of the Day for the greatest guitar solo series is the power rock ballad of power ballads. Straight from their untitled fourth album, Stairway to Heaven is a mixture of acoustic-folk music and anthemic hard rock. The fact that this power ballads of all power ballads have stood the test of time, ridicule and countless covers (both serious and comedic) says much about the power that Led Zeppelin had over rock music. Even 30 years since they broke up the band still influences musicians to this day.

Stairway to Heaven to me best exemplifies the gradual shift of the band from a down and dirty blues-based hard rock band to the proto-metal/progressive rock which would dominate the band’s sound from the mid-70’s until the band’s break-up after the untimely death of drummer John Bonham in 1980. The song puts to light Jimmy Page’s growing attraction for the esoteric as the song’s lyrics conjures up images of the fairy folk of the Welsh countryside. The acoustic guitar arpeggios which begins the song soothingly brings the listener in. Each section brings in more of the modern to the Renaissance-like intro. This build-up reaches a crescendo at the mid 5-minute mark when Jimmy Page begins a guitar solo which finally leads to a climactic hard rock finish to the song.

The song was the most requested and played track over the radio and became a staple of the band’s sets on their many tours during the 70’s. Like any piece of artistic work extremely popular with the masses the song reached such a popularity that a backlash just as extreme followed as the band broke up in 1980. The fact that this backlash didn’t diminish the song’s appeal to future generations of fans and to the legions before them shows just how important this song has become to rock music history.

While other epic power ballads have come and gone since Stairway to Heaven they will never supplant Led Zeppelin’s epic mystical anthem of fairy folk, magical lands with progressive hard rock. Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven was first and to many will always be First and The One.

Stairway to Heaven

There’s a lady whose sure all that glitters is gold
And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.
When she gets there, she knows if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.

Ooh, ooh, and she’s buying a stairway to heaven.

There’s a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
’Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.
In a tree by the brook, there is a songbird who sings:
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.

Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, it makes me wonder.

Theres a feeling I get when I look to the west,
And my spirit is crying for leaving.
In my thoughts I have seen rings of smoke through the trees,
And the voices of those who standing looking.

Ooh, it makes me wonder,
Ooh, really makes me wonder.

And it’s whispered that soon if we all call the tune
Then the piper will lead us to reason.
And a new day will dawn for those who stand long
And the forests will echo with laughter.

If there’s a bustle in your hedgerow,
Don’t be alarmed now,
Its just a spring clean for the May queen.
Yes, there are two paths you can go by but in the long run
Theres still time to change the road you’re on.

And it makes me wonder.
Ooooooh…

Your head is humming and it won’t go,
In case you don’t know:
The pipers calling you to join him.

Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow,
And did you know:
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind.

(guitar solo)

And as we wind on down the road,
Our shadows taller than our soul,
There walks a lady we all know.
Who shines white light and wants to show…
How everything still turns to gold.
And if you listen very hard the tune will come to you at last.
When all are one and one is all, yeah, to be a rock and not to roll.

And she’s buying a stairway… to heaven.

Great Guitar Solos Series

What Lisa Watched Last Night #116: Watch Your Back (dir by Jason Furukawa)


On Saturday night, I watched the latest Lifetime original film, Watch Your Back!

Watch-Your-Back

AnnaLynne McCord is stalked in Watch Your Back.  I love the old guy trying not to laugh.

 

Why Was I Watching It?

I was not in a very good mood on Saturday night, largely because of the fact that I knew I would be losing an hour later that night.  Seriously, Daylight Savings Time sucks!  What better way to cheer myself up than be watching the latest Lifetime movie?

What Was It About?

Sarah (AnnaLynne McCord) seems as if she has it all.  She has a successful career in advertising and an assistant (Darla Taylor) who views her as being a role model.  She has a new husband named Kurt (Mark Ghanime) who is an aspiring novelist.  Her stepdaughter even calls her “mommy.”

However, one day, Sarah starts to receive photos that someone has been taking of her.  However, since the photos are sent using flashchat (not relation to snapchat), the evidence that she’s being stalked is deleted minutes after she sees it.  Soon, she realizes that someone has been breaking into her house.  Her husband, meanwhile, is tricked into thinking that there’s a bomb in the mailbox.

As Sarah grows more and more paranoid, it starts to become apparent that this is not your average stalking case.  Instead, it all links back to a shadowy organization of professional assassins.  And, from there, the film just gets stranger and stranger…

What Worked?

So, here’s the thing with this movie: For this first 78 minutes or so, nothing about this film seemed to be working.  Sarah came across as being unlikable and stubborn.  Her refusal to call the police made it difficult to have any sympathy for her.  Add to that, she never seemed to be particularly concerned about anyone who got hurt over the course of the film.  At one point, she chased a totally innocent photographer into oncoming traffic.  Needless to say, the photographer ended up getting struck by a car and appeared to be on the verge of death.  Sarah didn’t seem to feel much guilt about this and I found myself thinking, “Are we actually supposed to like her?”  Meanwhile, Kurt came across as being such a wimp that I pretty much found myself not caring about either of them.

But then, during the final 10 minutes of the movie, Watch Your Back goes completely and totally batshit crazy.  The film’s “big” twist is so over-the-top and ludicrous that, in its own strange way, it actually manages to redeem almost the entire film.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that the twist makes any sense but it certainly is memorable.

And, once the twist is revealed, AnnaLynne McCord’s performance actually starts to make sense.  Suddenly, you realize that McCord’s strange performance was actually what was needed to set up the film’s strange ending.

What Did Not Work?

There have been a lot of wimpy husbands in a lot of different Lifetime films but it’s hard to think of any that were as totally wimpy as the character of Kurt.  Kurt was nice and sensitive but he was pretty much useless in a crisis.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love sensitive guys but sometimes, you just need a man to actually be a man.

Also, I could have used an update on what happened to that photographer after Sarah nearly got him killed.  The film just kind of abandoned him.

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Needless to say, I related to Julie (Darla Taylor), the much put upon administrative assistant.  As I watched Julie deal with an increasingly neurotic supervisor, I found myself thinking, “I know that feeling.”  When Julie has to deal with Sarah’s paranoid glances and condescending tone, I nodded and said, “Been there.”  And when, at the end of the film, when Julie got to deliver a kick ass one liner, I thought to myself, “I better remember that, just in case I ever find myself in the exact same situation.”

Lessons Learned

Since Watch Your Back took place in a weird, batshit crazy universe that had absolutely no relation to our real universe, I can honestly say that I didn’t learn a thing from this movie.