TV Review: The Walking Dead 11.12 “The Lucky Ones” (dir by Tawnia McKiernan)

It’s confession time!

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I was never a regular Walking Dead viewer in the past.  And, after Carl Grimes died, I actually stopped watching the show all together.  It was not until this current season started that I once started to regularly watch The Walking Dead.  So, I have to admit that I had actually forgotten that Hillside and Alexandria were separate locations, with separate leaders and separate governing philosophies.  I guess I just assumed that Hillside was a particularly trashy party of Alexandria.  But, no …. I was wrong!  It turns out that Alexandria, Hillside, and Oceanside are three separate communities.

Go ahead.  Take a moment to laugh at me and then we’ll move on.


Well, we’re moving on anyways!

This week’s episode found Governor Milton and Lance Hornsby visiting each of the three communities and trying to bring them into the Commonwealth.  Milton offered security and access to better goods.  Alexandria saw that this was a good idea and signed up.  Oceanside, on the other hand, said, “We’ll do whatever Hillside does.”  Well, why don’t you just become a part of Hillside then!?

Not surprisingly, Maggie didn’t want to join up with the Commonwealth.  Maggie was indeed tempted but, when she saw the difference between how the leaders of the Commonwealth lived as opposed to how the community’s workers and soldiers lived, Maggie said no deal.  Or, at least, that’s what Maggie claims happened.  Personally, I think it has more to do with Maggie not wanting to surrender any of her power.  For all of her concerns about the way the Commonwealth treats its citizens, it’s not exactly as if Maggie is running a democracy herself.  After Maggie refused to enter into an alliance with the Commonwealth, a few members of Hillside left the community and, quite frankly, I don’t blame them.  Hillside’s a dump!  Not even Negan is willing to live there.

Anyway, at the end of the episode, we learned that Gov. Milton isn’t as bad as everyone tends to assume.  She was okay with not being able to bring Hillside and Oceanside into the Commonwealth, even saying that she expected that Maggie would ultimately refuse.  Not okay with Maggie’s decision was Lance Hornsby, who not only takes a disturbingly sadistic glee in shooting walkers but who also is apparently obsessed with controlling everyone.  Honestly, I don’t think anyone was really shocked to discover that Lance was not to be trusted. Josh Hamilton hasn’t exactly been giving a subtle performance in the role.  Actually, just the fact that Lance was being played by Josh Hamilton should have been our first clue about not trusting him.

Meanwhile, Ezekiel was operated on and Eugene and Max got to know each other.  Needless to say, Eugene was not happy to discover that Stephanie didn’t actually exist and he was also a bit freaked out to to discover that Max is Mercer’s sister.  By the end of the episode, though, Eugene and Max seemed to be growing close.  Max offered Eugene some advice on his novel.  Eugene admitted that he had destroyed his only copy.  WHY DID YOU DO THAT, EUGENE!?  Eugene is never going to succeed as an author with that attitude.

This episode felt like the calm before the storm.  While I don’t know if we needed to spend as much time on Gov. Milton’s travel as we did, at least the show managed to get to all three communities in one episode as opposed to stretching it out over six episodes, like they used to do back in the Rick Grimes era.  It seems obvious that there’s an invasion coming, it’s just a question of who is going to strike the first blow.

The Domino Principle (1977, directed by Stanley Kramer)

Roy Tucker (Gene Hackman) loyally served his country as a part of a “search and destroy” team in Vietnam but when he returned home, he discovered that America didn’t appreciate his sacrifice.  When he was convicted of murdering his wife’s abusive first husband, he was tossed in prison.  But now, two mysterious men (Richard Widmark and Edward Albert) have offered Tucker a chance to escape from prison and reunite with his wife (Candice Bergen) in Costa Rica.  The only catch is that they also expect Tucker to do a job for “the Organization” and assassinate an unidentified target.  As Tucker discovers, The Organization has been watching and manipulating him entire life, setting him up for this very moment.  Every small event in Tucker’s life led to another event that eventually sent him to both the war and to prison.  It’s almost like a game of dominos.  And we have a title!

The Domino Principle gets off to a good start, with a black-and-white montage of actual assassinations and then an opening credit sequence that features someone placing dominos over pictures of Roy Tucker at different ages.  (I am guessing that actual childhood photos of Gene Hackman were used because even the baby pictures feature the Hackman squint.)  However, the scene immediately following the credits features Gene Hackman and Mickey Rooney as cellmates and the film never really recovers.  Though they were both talented actors, Gene Hackman and Mickey Rooney don’t seem as if they belong on the same planet together, let alone sharing a prison cell in a grim and downbeat political thriller.  Hackman is his usual surly self, while Mickey seems like he’s going to try to get the entire prison to put on a show.  The film tries to do some unexpected things with Mickey’s character but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s Mickey Rooney and he just doesn’t belong here.

As for the rest of The Domino Principle, it’s slow and ponderous.  Best known for earnest social issue films like The Defiant Ones and Guess Whos’ Coming To Dinner, Stanley Kramer is the wrong director for a film that aspires to duplicate the conspiracy-themed atmosphere of other 70s thrillers like The Parallax View and Three Days of the Condor.  For all the time that film takes to build to its obvious conclusion, Kramer doesn’t even bother to identify who Tucker is supposed to kill or why the Organization wants him dead.  Though he seems like he should be a good choice for the lead role, Gene Hackman goes through the movie on autopilot.  Perhaps he was overwhelmed to be sharing a prison cell with Mickey Rooney or to be playing the husband of Candice Bergen, who the film unsuccessfully attempts to deglamorize.

Sadly, this would be one of Kramer’s last films.  He followed it up with The Runner Stumbles, which starred Dick Van Dyke (!) as a conflicted priest, and then went into semi-retirement.  (A few attempts to return to directing failed.)  Kramer spent his twilight years writing about movies for The Seattle Times.  Before his death in 2001, he also published a very entertaining autobiography, A Mad Mad Mad Mad World: A Life in Hollywood, which I recommend to anyone interested in the history of Hollywood.

Music Video of the Day: Don’t Be Shy by Tiesto & Karol G (2021, dir by Christian Breslauer)


people say
I’m not gonna change
not gonna change
I know that you like that
you know where my mind’s at
can’t be tamed
I’m not gonna play
not gonna play
oh no I ain’t like that
fug ‘em i’m a wild cat

baby break my heart
give me all you got
don’t ask why why why
don’t be shy shy shy
is it love or lust
i can’t get enough
don’t ask why why why
don’t be shy shy shy

la la la la la
la la la la la
la la la la la
Ta da da da da
la la la la la
la la la la la
la la la la la
Ta da da da da

show yourself beautiful
wanna get emotional oh-oh-oh
follow me, easy now
we could work a miracle