Trailer: Chappie (2nd Official)


Chappie

Chappie will be the third film from Neill Blomkamp and with the release of it’s second trailer there already seems to be a sort of negative buzz surrounding the film. The first trailer made Chappie look like a modern remake of the 80’s “robot come to life” film Short Circuit. For many this is not a good comparison.

This second trailer pulls back on the cutesy Chappie robot stuff and takes a much more ominous and serious tone. The film seems like it’s all about the danger of artificial intelligence and how Chappie may be the key behind what can make A.I. work or fail.

Yet, despite taking a much more action direct approach the negative buzz is still there. Maybe people are not as quick to embrace Chappie after the underwhelming (some say heavy-handed) result of Blomkamp’s follow-up to District 9 with Elysium. It’s an understandable reaction considering how high Blomkamp reached and succeeded with his very first feature film.

Chappie (and Neil Blomkamp) has between now and March 6, 2015 to convince people that it will not be another Icarus-like release.

Trailer: Chappie (Official)


Chappie

District 9 introduced Neill Blomkamp to the world. People bought into that film hardcore and were soon wondering what he would be doing next. Some fans of Blomkamp who have been following his career since he was first chosen by Peter Jackson to helm the now defunct Halo film thought he now had the leverage to get the film made. This was never going to happen.

The follow-up to District 9 was Elysium and the visuals that was slowly released for the film and having Matt Damon star in it gave it some major buzz and hype. The finished product was more than just a tad disappointing.

Was Elysium a hiccup?

People will find out on March 6, 2015 if this was indeed just a blip on the rising career of Neill Blomkamp as his third feature film, Chappie, will arrive in theaters.

Review: The Walking Dead S3E16 “Welcome to the Tombs”


TheWalkingDeadS3E16

“In this life now you kill or you die…or you die and you kill.” — Philip “The Governor” Blake

[some spoilers within]

We’ve finally made it to the finale of season 3 of The Walking Dead.

There’s something about tonight’s episode that was both good and bad. It had the hallmarks of this season’s showrunner, Glen Mazzara, who wanted the series to get back down to basics after a season 2 where there had been too much philosophizing and existential angst. Mazzara delivered on bringing more action to the show. The first couple episodes of this season and the mid-season finale episode showed just how action-packed the show could be and fans responded enthusiastically about this change in the show’s narrative.

Yet, with a 16-episode season there was bound to be some break in the action and it’s here that Mazzara still fell in the same trap that got Darabont removed as the showrunner and what I think got Mazzara removed from the position as well. While Mazzara’s leadership of the show’s writers weren’t as bad when it came to the more slower and introspective part of the season he still couldn’t get rid of the meandering and wheel-spinning in some of the less-action episodes. It didn’t help that while most of the characters in the show had made some great strides in characterization the one main lead who remained an enigma and a problem: Andrea.

“Welcome to the Tombs” was suppose to be the main battle that would determine who would come up as winner between Team Prison and Team Woodbury. The assault on the prison by the Governor’s larger force was fast and loud. It was sort of a “shock and awe” tactic that was meant to disorient and put the fear of God in Rick and his people. We see from the episode’s cold opening that the group looked to have voted to leave the prison before the attack and the empty cellblocks seemed to reinforce this point. It sure didn’t make for a battle that was meant to give Mazzara a climactic sendoff as showrunner this season. yet, when things were about to get real disappointing with the empty prison and the Governor and his people entering an even more silent and empty Tombs we finally saw that things were not as they appear to be.

It was a nice change that the prison group decided to stay and fight as a group even when given the chance to vote on their fate. The fact that they knew there were going to be outnumbered and outgunned also forced their hand to be more creative and sneaky in how they would counter the attack on their hard-earned home. It’s a fine and noisy welcome the Governor and his people get while in the Tombs and showed just how amateurish his army really is (with small exceptions to his small cadre of minions) when stacked up against the more veteran and hardened smaller prison group. It’s not a wonder that this supposed battle between the two groups felt more anticlimactic than explosive.

The episode itself was more character-driven than action when one got down to its basic. We learn more of the Governor, Carl and Tyreese than see explosions, gore and action during the episode’s running time. For some this was made for a so-so finale while others probably saw it as a good finale that finished off the troubled character arc for one of the show’s most hated and difficult characters to work with: Andrea.

It was her episode in the end as we finally see the reasoning for some of the ridiculously maddening decisions she’s made this season. While it’s still not easy to forgive the character (or even the actor in the role) we do get a definite answer to the question of why is Andrea so stupid (in the extreme) or naive (when one is more forgiving) in a world that eats up such sentimentality. We saw how Rick had had to adjust his personality and decision making to not allow sentiments to rule his every act and decision and we saw how successful the group became, but also distanced him from everyone else. Andrea was almost an attempt to balance out the craziness that was both Rick and the Governor, but Mazzara and his writers were never able to pull off that job. In the end, she remained a lost chance to creating a very complex character that one could sympathize instead of hating even when her actions were well-meaning and logical.

“Welcome to the Tombs” saw the ending of a third season that went a long way into fixing the show’s problems under Darabont’s guidance, but the added episodes from 13 to 16 also meant that Mazzara’s vision for the show began to run out of steam by the finale thus the more subdued (despite an explosive opening) and pensive finale. While the show’s slogging towards the finale can’t be fully laid at Mazzara’s feet as showrunner one cannot just say that his legacy was righting the troubled ship that was The Walking Dead, but also failing to finally find the right balance between zombie mayhem and action with the drama that comes with people trying to survive in a world irrevocably changed for the worst.

The Mazzara Era of The Walking Dead has come to an end. The show has become even more popular under his guidance, but it has also remained a show which remained quite uneven in how it told it’s story and wrote it’s characters. Mazzara’s leadership went a long way into fixing most of it, but time ran out for him and his vision and tonight’s finale showed that attempts to do stand-alone and more character-driven episodes during the season as a way to fill-up a 16-episode schedule should’ve been set aside for doing a finale that went just one episode. Mazzara had the right idea, but in the end he ran out of things to do to pull it off. Now it’s up to incoming showrunner Scott Gimple to continue the improvements done under Mazzara and see about fixing the rest of the problems the show has with him in charge. Maybe fourth time is the charm.

Yet, despite all this I have a feeling The Walking Dead will remain the most popular thing on TV and will continue to do so whether Gimple succeeds or not. Such is the power of the zombie genre over the imagination of people everywhere.

Notes

  • Tonight’s episode, “Welcome to the Tombs”, was directed by series veteran Ernest Dickerson and written by season showrunner Glen Mazzara.
  • Well, it looks like we didn’t have to wait too long to find out if the Governor will confront Milton about being the traitor. The same goes as to whether Daryl was going to make it back to the prison after the vents of last week’s episode.
  • The Woodbury attack on the prison was quite an operation that pretty much forgoes any sort of siege that played out in the comics. Instead the writers decided to go for a more aggressive tactic.
  • Nice to see Ma Deuce in action and where the hell did Martinez get his hands on a Milkor 40mm MGL. Weapon laws in Georgia must be much more lax in Georgia than everyone else. It’s either that or he came across a group of dead Marines.
  • We finally get to the meaning of the season finale title as the Woodbury group moves deep inside the prison and into the less than secured area that Rick and his people have begun calling the Tombs.
  • Some nice trickery from Team Prison to scare and rout Team Woodbury once they were inside the Tombs.
  • Once again, it looks like Team Prison needs a lesson in how to kill living people as opposed to zombies. I don’t think they killed anyone from Team Woodbury, except for Carl, once they were running for their lives in the prison yard.
  • Governor has gone bye-bye and even his two most loyal mions in Martinez and Bowman could see it with his work on the Woodbury Army.
  • Carl has definitely turned into a badass. Quite the boss move (or dick move depending on your stance on Lil Grimes) on the Woodbury teen trying to trick Carl into grabbing the shotgun.
  • Tense moments between Milton and Andrea back at Woodbury and the pay off was something that should please Andrea-haters.
  • Carl looks to be channeling his inner-Shane or Governor with the little speech about doing what needs to be done to his own father. It should make for an interesting season 4 now that Carl looks to be heading towards amoral territory.
  • Love how there’s now a growing rift forming between Carl and Rick. It’s something that was explored in the comic book, but never to a degree that really went anywhere. Here’s to hoping incoming showrunner Scott Gimple does a better job in exploring the father-son relationship in season 4.
  • With Andrea’s passing The Walking Dead now has just one member left from the Darabont acting troupe and that’s Melissa McBride.
  • Zombie Kill Count of tonight’s episode: Too much to count.

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”
  8. Episode 8: “Made to Suffer”
  9. Episode 9: “The Suicide King”
  10. Episode 10: “Home”
  11. Episode 11: “I Ain’t a Judas”
  12. Episode 12: “Clear”
  13. Episode 13: “Arrow on the Doorpost”
  14. Episode 14: “Prey”
  15. Episode 15: “This Sorrowful Life”

Review: The Walking Dead S3E15 “This Sorrowful Life”


TheWalkingDeadS3E15“I can’t…GO BACK. Don’t you understand that. I can’t” — Merle Dixon

[some spoilers within]

We are now in the penultimate episode before The Walking Dead reaches it’s season finale on March 31. Last week we saw preparations and turmoil inside Woodbury as the Governor has to deal with Andrea finally making the decision to pick Rick and her friends at the prison as her side in the coming conflict. He also has to deal with a potential traitor within his own inner circle. The episode was good in certain aspects, but also did nothing to move the story along. It was an episode that definitely put some viewers into wondering if the season had enough gas to make it to the promised explosive end.

“This Sorrowful Life” switches things over to the prison with Rick having made the decision to sacrifice Michonne to the Governor if it means a chance at avoiding the conflict he knows he and his people has a good chance of losing. He knows the numbers and firepower are against him. While he and his people may be more seasoned and veterans of being on the road killing zombies as a team it won’t be enough against a force that could afford a battle of attrition. It’s a decision that Rick’s inner circle doesn’t agree with (Hershel and Daryl), but they’re willing to support his decision as they have in the past. Rick has kept them alive this long and has earned their trust even if it’s a choice that goes against everything they believe in.

Tonight’s episode is another one that focuses on the choices the survivors in this zombie apocalyptic world have had to make and continue to make to survive another day, week and, the fates willing, another month. It’s also an episode that uses the dark horse in Rick’s group to highlight just how the choices people have made in this new world has changed people and most of it not for the good. I would like to think that tonight’s episode was an exploration of what made Merle Dixon such a character full of contradictions.

Merle Dixon was introduced way over in episode 2 of the first season and he came across as a cartoonish, one-note racist redneck who the audience were suppose to love to hate. But something changed in the time from his last appearance in season 1 and to his reappearance this season. That change wasn’t anything done by the character but how his younger brother, Daryl Dixon, viewed him and how this helped audiences want to learn and know more about a character who seemed to have earned Daryl’s undying trust and love.

We get some side stories in tonight’s episode with Glenn asking Hershel for Maggie’s hand in marriage and then Maggie in turn accepting his offer. We also see Rick finally realizing his error in judgement in trying to use Michonne as a sacrificial offering to the Governor. While this latter was brought on by another hallucinatory episode of him seeing Lori it happens for the briefest of moment. Unfortunately, this change of heart from Rick comes a little too late to stop Merle from going through on the plan to hand over Michonne.

Again we get back to Merle. A character hated by most everyone in the prison outside of his brother (who I believe also harbors somoe fraternal hate for the man even if just a little), but one they want to have on their side even if it means to do the dirty work. Rick knows this which is why he picked him instead of the younger Dixon to fool, capture and bring Michonne to the Governor. Everyone understands that choosing Merle to stay with them was one of necessity and not one born out of the goodness of their own hearts. Even Daryl knows this and even when he tries to convince his older brother to be more amenable towards Rick and the others it comes off as hollow. Daryl knows his brother and trying to change the man now after what he had to go through after season 1 would be a monumental, if not, an impossible task. This is why Merle decision to go on a mission of redemption was such a suprising twist to the episode, if not, the character himself.

It was some great writing by the upcoming season 4’s newest showrunner in Scott M. Gimple in tonight’s episode. We didn’t get a huge dose of exposition from the main leads and the one that we get finally resets the decision Rick made at the end of season 2. The Ricktatorship is now over. It was good and necessary when they were out, alone and desperate after leaving the farm, but now that everyone has learned the skills to survive it was time to rescind the writ of dictator and bring the group back to being a democracy, albeit one that’s now smaller than before.

Gimple also does a great job in making Merle one of the most tragic characters on the show. While Merle may have begun as a cartoonish, racist buffoon he went out a character that we were finally able to understand. He knew his faults and didn’t apologize for them. It was his love for his brother that kept him from going over the edge the way that the Governor has and we see it in his decision to take on Woodbury by himself.

Yet, for all the great writing Gimple did for tonight’s episode (which could be why he was chosen to be the show’s new leader after Mazzara’s exit everything hinged on whether Michael Rooker would be able to put on a performance worthy of tonight’s script. To say that Rooker hit it out of the park would be an understatement. There so much subtle hints in his performance that gave us a peek inside his gruff, outsider attitude towards everyone not named Daryl Dixon. His resigned acceptance at his new role in this new world as the man willing to do the dirty work for others. Be the bad guy so others can remain untainted with having to do the right, but immoral decisions. Rooker kept tonight’s episode from just being another good, but still throwaway until the season finale to one of the best in the show’s life, so far.

It goes to show how much potential this show has to be great. To go beyond it’s horror and grindhouse foundations. We saw it just a few episodes back with the Morgan-centric episode and we saw it even earlier with the episode where Lori redeems herself and exits the show on a high note. When it comes down to it the show shines when it balances all the horror and action with some deep character exploration. It’s a shame that Rooker has to leave the show to make this point, but he did leave it the only way he could and that’s to redeem the character of Merle. To give Merle the chance to choose for himself what he wanted to do and not have others (whether it was the Governor or Rick or even Daryl) dictate what he should or should not be doing. In the end, Merle chose for the love of his baby brother and while the end result would bring heartache and loss to the only person he loved it was his choice and he made it himself.

“This Sorrowful Life” goes down as another major highlight in The Walking Dead and finally lays down the final piece to what looks like an ending that will be another shift in the show’s cast of characters. Whether everyone makes it out alive after the season finale we as the audience will have to wait another week to find out.

Notes

  • Tonight’s episode, “This Sorrowful Life”, was directed by Greg Nicotero and written by next season’s showrunner Scott M. Gimple.
  • The episode’s title comes from the 6th volume of the comic book the show is based on. It was also the volume that dealt with the Governor’s final assault on the prison.
  • I think having Merle become so prominent a character in tonight’s episode should’ve been a clue that his time was numbered.
  • Tonight’s episode was quite a redemptory one for Merle and once again showed how far gone the Governor has towards the darkside.
  • Michonne really got Merle to a “T” and he knows it which seem to trigger the decision he made to let her go and attempt a mission to help out Daryl (it always comes down to his baby brother) and the people in the prison.
  • nice little interlude between Hershel and Glenn and then Glenn and Maggie. It’s one of the few things on this show that doesn’t involve death, violence and zombies and it’s a welcoming respite.
  • Like the character or not, Merle definitely has found himself the most useful person in this new world. It’s no wonder the Governor kept him on as one he trusted (to a point) and why Hershel and Rick was willing to take him back despite what he did to both Glenn and Maggie.
  • Just call Merle Dixon the Pied Piper of Zombies.
  • I think he should’ve taken a bit more time and attracted a bigger herd back to Woodbury.
  • Merle, even one-handed, sure caused a lot of damage against the Governor’s men. Makes one wonder how much more effective he would’ve been on his one-man mission if he had both hands to work with.
  • Greg Nicotero puts in another easter egg in tonight’s episode straight from the original Dawn of the Dead with the bald zombie in the red flannel shirt. The zombie approaches Merle while he’s in the car with the music blaring. dawnofthedeadzombie
  • Ben, we hardly knew you, but what we did know tells us you were a douchebag like you father Allen. I don’t think many people was going to shed a tear for this character’s demise tonight.
  • Not just killed by Merle but also became a meal in a scene that was horrific and sad.
  • The Governor has done gone past the darkside and into something worse.
  • Fight between Merle and the Governor as brutal as the one between Michonne and the Governor. Just goes to show just how primal fighters get when it comes to taking on someone they hate very much.
  • I felt a great disturbance in The Walking Dead fandom, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in anguish.
  • Another great episode of work from Greg Nicotero (both as director and special effects man) and his FX magicians over at KNB EFX.
  • Zombie Kill Count of tonight’s episode: 26 onscreen.

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”
  8. Episode 8: “Made to Suffer”
  9. Episode 9: “The Suicide King”
  10. Episode 10: “Home”
  11. Episode 11: “I Ain’t a Judas”
  12. Episode 12: “Clear”
  13. Episode 13: “Arrow on the Doorpost”
  14. Episode 14: “Prey”

Review: The Walking Dead S3E14 “Prey”


TheWalkingDeadS3E14

“Killing the Governor doesn’t save your friends.” — Milton Mamet

[some spoilers within]

Last week we saw what would amount as a sort of UN Summit between two warring parties in AMC’s The Walking Dead. Just like other peace summits the two parties involve would agree on something then turn around and do the opposite once they were away from each other. It neatly set-sup the last three remaining episodes this season to finally getting this war between Rick’s group and the Governor’s into full gear.

Yet, three whole episodes of just the two groups shooting it out might sound exciting but could quickly become repetitive. I mean there’s only so many people on both sides to kill and that’s only in one full episode of nonstop battle. No, what we get with the first of the final three is an episode wholly dedicated to the Governor and Woodbury preparing for what they think will be their first and only strike necessary to deal with Rick and the prison group. It’s an episode that looks to be a throwaway that literally ends right where it began.

“Prey” is probably going to be an episode that many will not look too kindly at. For one thing, it’s an Andrea-centric episode and it’s been a worst kept secret that many fans of the show have no love for the Andrea character. Yet, this episode goes a long way in helping re-establish the character as the badass that she was originally created as in the comic book. There’s no hesitation in the character to finally make the decision to abandon Woodbury and try and make her way back to the prison. She does this while alone and armed with only the small pocket knife she carries at all times. It’s a situation that most characters on the show would find daunting yet Andrea proceeds anyway if just to warn Rick and the others in the prison what the Governor has planned for them.

Of all the episodes in this series, so far, this one really relied heavily on the horror tropes of the zombie genre. Yes, the episodes actually included a lot of zombies to really heighten the danger Andrea finds herself in as she treks her way back through the Georgia wilderness alone. Yet, it’s not the zombies themselves who really make this episode a truly horror and tension-filled one. It’s the appearance of the Governor who has found out about Andrea’s plans to warn Rick and must now hunt her down to prevent this from happening. It’s what gives the episode it’s title.

The cat-and-mouse game between Andrea and the Governor had some very nice moments when the two maneuvered their way through the abandoned warehouse which was chosen as the location of their one-on-one face-off. We get to see more of the Governor’s growing sociopathic tendencies (something the show has begun to ramp up in the last couple episodes). There’s a great moment when we think Andrea has finally run out of luck and cornered between a stairwell full of zombies in one end and the Governor on the other end when she turns the tables on her pursuer. It’s a move that we might see from Rick, Daryl or, even, Glenn, but something that most fans of the show couldn’t imagine this hated character in pulling off.

The episode did well for Andrea, but overall it did have it’s drawbacks. By concentrating so much on the Governor and Andrea and very little on the growing discontent from one of the Governor’s most trusted lieutenants back in Woodbury we don’t get too excited over the apparent sabotage of the pit zombies being gathered for the next meeting with Rick. The suprise gotcha moment when Andrea was almost home was another bit of storytelling that looked to be more lazy than shocking. It detracted from the strength showed by Andrea in outwitting the Governor, but also made the latter seem like he was some sort of unkillable slasher villain who has the many lives of a cat.

It’s not surprising to see that the episode had two writers in showrunner Glen Mazzara and Evan Reilly. Most of the show’s episodes tend to stick to one writer and let them run with that particular episode’s narrative. By having two writers in this time around could be a clue in the behind-the-scenes issues producers of the show had with Mazzara to the point that he was replaced for the upcoming season. The episode had both the good and bad that has saddled the series since it’s inception. The good being more zombie action and less standing around and just talking. It had the worst things as well with letting a story lead to nowhere which this one seems to have in a narrative sense though in terms of fleshing out certain characters it did it quite well.

The final two episodes this season will tell if season 3 was an unqualified success or still a series that had flaws to work out. So far, reactions to this season is leaning to the former, but if Mazzara had lost control of the story he wanted to tell this season then the climax of the season may be more of a fizzle than a sizzle.

Notes

  • Tonight’s episode was written by Evan Reilly and season 3’s showrunner Glen Mazzara w/ series newcomer Stefan Schwartz directing.
  • From the sound of it the backstory of Michonne’s pet zombies in the series looks to be very different from the comic book. It definitely adds to some subtle hints during the season that Michonne doesn’t like to be touched in an aggressive manner by men.
  • Another change we see in this episode’s cold opening is the Governor prepping the chains he must have made specifically for Michonne. In the comic book series the set-up was already there and hinted at being used by the Governor.
  • Milton looks to be regretting the fact more and more that he has attached himself to someone who has gone over the deep end and never returning.
  • Yet, he still seems willing to protect the Governor despite all of it.
  • Tyrese may be a beast with the clawhammer but he’s awful with a firearm.
  • Andrea could easily have convinced Tyrese better if she just described what the Governor has done and plans to do instead of being all cryptic.
  • Tyrese is just too damn reasonable. I guess not spending an extended amount of time with Rick hasn’t made him cynical.
  • Wow, Allen is such a douche. I repeat, Allen is such a douche.
  • Hate the character or not, Andrea looks to h ave become very self-sufficient and a badass in her own right since the end of season 2.
  • There’s the Tyrese fans of the comic book should remember and love.
  • Andrea definitely did a lot to help repair whatever character-flaws she had that made fans of the show hate her so much. It wasn’t a full recovery but it was in the right step.
  • It was a nice homage scene with the zombies in the stairs that Andrea lets in to a scene in the original Dawn of the Dead in the tenement building where zombies in the basement breakthrough to attack the National Guardsmen and police. One can see it at the 4:57 mark
  • Seems Andrea has taken the place in the torture room that had been reserved for Michonne in the comic books.
  • Another great work by KNB EFX with the zombie make-up and kill gags. Special mention goes to the burned zombies in the pit who were still animated but looking like some very well-smoked brisket ready to be sliced and served.
  • Milton really has no skill whatsoever of being a good liar, at all.
  • Tonight might have been one of the more horror-centric episodes of the series. This is surprising considering it’s suppose to be a horror tv series. From the slasher-like way the sequence between the Governor and Andrea in the abandoned warehouse to the final gotcha moment before Andrea could make it into the safety of the prison this was an episode that worked all your typical horror genre tropes to the hilt.
  • Zombie Kill Count of tonight’s episode: 25 or more seen (another 20+ off-screen). Tonight definitely had a huge kill count.

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”
  8. Episode 8: Made to Suffer
  9. Episode 9: The Suicide King
  10. Episode 10: Home
  11. Episode 11: I Ain’t a Judas
  12. Episode 12: Clear
  13. Episode 13: Arrow on the Doorpost

Review: The Walking Dead S3E13 “Arrow on the Doorpost”


TheWalkingDeadS3E13

“If we choose to destroy everything we fought for over the past year.” — Philip “The Governor” Blake

Tonight’s episode, simply titled “Arrow on the Doorpost”, looks to be the final calm before the storm that’s been brewing since the start of this third season for AMC’s The Walking Dead. It’s not a very action-oriented entry in what has been a season full of action, but it really looks to set the tone for what should be an explosive final stretch run that should see the two armed camps in the Prison and Woodbury fighting a war that everyone knows no one really comes out a winner.

We begin the episode with Rick, Daryl and Hershel (one leg and all) arriving at a secluded spot in what turns out to be a sort of zombie apocalypse UN Summit where Rick and the Governor can sit down and talk about things which looks to be leading them both into a violent confrontation. It’s interesting to note how the very person who planned and organized this summit would be none other than Andrea who has become Lori’s replacement as “most hated” character on the show. Even when she’s trying to be a productive character on the show the way she has been written and protrayed just ends up making her seem naive and overly cocksure of her situation when in reality she’s clueless.

It showed during the early parts of this episode when Andrea tries to mediate between the smug Governor and the barely constrained Rick and both men dismiss and ask her to leave the meeting. It’s almost darkly comical how two men who have a vested interest in killing the other would find such common ground and it’s the one character who continues to elude the show’s writers.

As for the meeting itself, for a set-up episode it’s certainly one that I’d consider one of the better ones. What the episode lacked in action (though it did have it’s small share involving a male-bonding sequence between Daryl and the Governor’s henchman Martinez) it made up for in some very tense back and forth between Rick and the Governor. This was the moment that could easily break the season if the meeting between these two alpha males didn’t come off well. The writing was quite good as we see the two men quietly manuever the meeting to their advantage. The Governor poking at Rick with secrets learned from Andrea about his relationship with Shane to Rick sitting there taking it all in and knowing that the Governor was trying his utmost to snow him and failing.

Daryl and Martinez got it right during their bonding session outside that the meeting was pointless. The two leaders would talk and make propositions and counters, but in the end both sides will send out word to their respective people that war was the only thing to do. It’s not idle speculation on Daryl’s and Martinez’s part either. Once the two sides part ways to make their decisions it’s not a huge surprise that the Governor would plan to ambush Rick and his people for a future meet he thinks Rick has agreed to while Rick has plainly lied to his people that the Governor just wants to take what they have and kill everyone. The offer to leave the group alone as long as Rick gives up Michonne doesn’t even get mentioned which just goes to show how much the katana-wielding lonewolf has suddenly become a part of the Rick Grimes Clan.

Some would consider “Arrow on the Doorpost” as one of the weakest episode of the season because it was too talky and lacked the action that the season has been known for, but it did serve a purpose. It finally introduced the two men whose decisions will put the two groups at war with each other. It showed the differences between the two leaders and the similarities between the people who followed them. In fact, the show did more than subtly hint that if the Governor wasn’t such a sociopath and Rick wasn’t such an emotional and psychological mess the Prison group and the people of Woodbury could easily pool resources and skills together to make a better life for everyone. But that’s not the case in this zombie apocalypse world where suspicion, megalomania and broken psyches rule the land.

There’s just three ore episodes left in season 3 and it looks like it’s nothing but action, blood, brains and sorrow left for the survivors of The Walking Dead.

Notes

  • Tonight’s episode, “Arrow on the Doorstop”, was written and directed by two newcomers to the series, Ryan C. Coleman and David Boyd respectively.
  • I think I might not have been the only one who thought that Rick should’ve just shot the Governor the moment he appeared for the meeting and end the problem between the two groups right then and there.
  • Andrea was much better as a character in this episode, but only just (I do believe that if the current producers of the show had to recast the show again I think Laurie Holden would be replaced by someone else).
  • Glenn back in prison is channeling his inner Ricktator and it’s not coming off well. he sounds more like a scared kid playing at being leader especially when it came to dealing with the rabble-rousing Merle Dixon. It’s a relief that Glenn later pulls his head out of his ass by apologizing to Maggie for how he’s been acting.
  • Which led to a surprisingly steamy sex scene between the two love birds that one would see as common on HBO but not on basic cable. The Walking Dead has definitely pushed the boundaries of whats to be expected and accepted when it came to violence and, now, sex on basic cable.
  • I did think that something bad was going to happen during or after that sex scene, but the writers seem to genuinely want to give these two lovebirds a chance at some normalcy and not fuck it up by having a zombie interrupt them.
  • Merle Dixon may not be an ideal member of the Rick Grimes group, but he does seem like he’s picked the role of redneck Devil’s advocate whose more than willing to air out the bad news and possibilities to the group clinging to a semblance of hope that they have a chance of winning the coming war.
  • Hershel looks to have found a kindred spirit in Milton (who looks like he’s realizing that he may be backing the wrong horse in the Governor).
  • I think everyone would agree that a spin-off show starring Daryl Dixon and Martinez as the Odd Couple of the zombie apocalypse would be an instant hit.
  • Zombie Kill Count of tonight’s episode: 5.

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”
  8. Episode 8: Made to Suffer
  9. Episode 9: The Suicide King
  10. Episode 10: Home
  11. Episode 11: I Ain’t a Judas
  12. Episode 12: Clear

Review: The Walking Dead S3E12 “Clear”


TheWalkingDeadS3E12

“The good people, like you, die. The bad people too. But weak people, like me, we have inherited the Earth.” — Morgan Jones

Tonight’s episode marks the halfway point of this second half of this third season. This second half has been all about setting up the war that’s brewing between the Woodbury and Prison camps. We’ve seen some unsuccessful attempts to defuse the explosive situation between the two groups (mostly Andrea being her usual clueless self) and some interesting group additions on both sides. Last week’s episode saw Merle trying to build bridges and make nice with the people in Rick’s group he had a part in torturing and trying to kill. The surprising part of the episode was seeing a huge departure from the comic book narrative: Tyrese and his small group making it into Woodbury and seeming to side with the Governor (well, at least Allen and his son Ben) in his war against Rick and his people. This change looks to be one of the this season’s gamechangers. With Tyrese in the Governor’s camp the chance of him and Rick ever finding a common bond looks to have been made quite difficult.

“Clear” looks to be one of this season’s somewhat standalone episodes. The interesting thing about tonight’s episode is that it brings Rick right back to where he started when the series first began. His town looks to have seen better times as it looks like someone has turned Main Street into some sort of zombie trap with sharpened stakes, triplines and cages with live birds as bait. The scene looks like a set-up for what Max brooks has termed the LaMOE scenario.

What is LaMOE you ask?

It means Last Man On Earth and that Main Street and then the sinper on the roof of the building that starts shooting at Rick, Michonne and Carl look like a prime example of one. Yes, the unknown gunman was a LaMOE but as soon as they incapacitate him Rick finds to his surprise that this crazed gunman was someone he knows well from a year ago when he first came out of his pre-zombie apocalypse coma.

One of the characters from season 1 which many have been wanting to make a return was the first person Rick meets for the first time: Morgan Jones. It was this man who gave Rick the lay of this new zombie land and gave him the rules on how to survive. It was Morgan Jones and his young son Duane who was this show’s last symbol of normalcy before everything turned into a living hell for Rick even after he found his family. It’s now been a year since Rick last spoke with Morgan and the time since hasn’t been good for the latter.

The sequence where he finally recognizes Rick as someone he knows who is still alive was one of this show’s more emotional scenes. Then an even stronger scene follows it as we find out from Morgan’s emotional monologue of what happened since Rick left. His retelling of Duane’s fate was an emotional rollercoaster not just for Morgan who had to relive the awful memory but also for Rick who sees in Morgan someone he’s on the path to becoming since he lost Lori earlier this season. This made Rick’s attempt to bring Morgan back from the brink and join them at the prison even more telling. The fact that Morgan refuses almost destroys the last hope Rick has in seeing himself redeemed. This realization was then tempered by a revelation from Michonne that she understand what Rick is going through emotionally and mentally and that it was ok.

“Clear” shows Rick seeing a mirror-image of himself in Morgan and despite the latter’s fatalistic look on what life he has left it leaves Rick with both a sense of melancholy that the future will not be as bright as he hopes it will be, but also some hope that he’s seen what could happen to  him if he gives up all hope. It helped that Lennie James returning as Morgan Jones was such a standout in not just tonight’s episode but also the whole series as a whole. James’ heartbreaking performance as Morgan truly made tonight’s episode one of the strongest this season, if not, one of the best in this show’s three year span, so far. It definitely brought out a great performance from Andrew Lincoln who reacted to Morgan’s circumstance with equal parts horror, pity and compassion. The fact that Rick doesn’t get to redeem (hopefully a temporary thing) Morgan (and in some small part his own self) only adds to the notion that Rick can’t save them all and that when he can’t that he needs to move on instead of internalizing the hurt of failure.

The other subplot in tonight’s episode saw Carl look both a badass and a young, reckless kid. On the one hand, Carl looks to be more stable than his father Rick, but his mission to retrieve a personal item from one of the cafe’s in town shows just how much a child Carl still is. It was during this part of tonight’s episode that we finally get to see Michonne become a much more fully-realized character instead of just glowering in the background.

Michonne’s character looked like she was going to be similar to Morgan’s character in tonight’s episode in that she worked best as a lone wolf. While it looked like she never reached LaMOE status as Morgan, there was a sense that she felt more at ease when just worrying about herself. She’s seen what happens when she finally cares for someone and it bites her in the ass (Andrea), but tonight we also saw how Rick’s group is actually one that she could truly belong even if it means opening herself up more to them and risking being hurt again.

“Clear” was clearly one of this show’s strongest episodes and the fact that it had Lennie James in the cast list was no accident. His only other appearance on The Walking Dead all the way back in the extended pilot is also considred one of this show’s best. While it looks like tonight might’ve been a one-off Morgan appearance there’s always hope that Rick and his people will run into this LaMOE when things become desperate for them. I sure hope that tonight’s episode was not the last time we see Morgan Jones as played by the great Lennie James.

Notes

  • Tonight’s episode, “Clear”, was written by next season’s new showrunner in Scott M. Gimple w/ series newcomer Tricia Brock in the director’s chair.
  • That was some coldhearted shit that Rick w/ Michonne and Carl pulled on that lone hiker on the road. Considering all the issues these people have had with strangers I think most people would agree with just driving past the guy.
  • Looked like the makeshift sign telling one Erin that her people were going to Stone Mountain didn’t end up going well for this Erin as the zombie with Erin wristband showed in the cold opening.
  • Oh shit on a cracker! news that Lennie James would return as Morgan Jones was received well by fans of the show, but the fact that he shows up in tonight’s episode should be a delight to fans all-around.
  • Love the different looks given by Rick and Michonne after seeing Carl gun down Morgan. From Rick it was that look that he can’t believe his son just did what he did. Michonne’s expression was more of respect like seeing Carl was truly turning into a true badass.
  • That is some very inventive booby traps laid out by Morgan.
  • That is also a lot of guns. I am envious.
  • Makes one wonder how Morgan got a hold of all those guns.
  • Rick and Morgan seem to have more in common. They’ve both lost people they love but where Morgan’s son Duane was unable to defend himself the same turned out differently for Carl who seems to be turning out a better survivor in this new world that his father.
  • Stupid actions by Carl to retrieve something for Judith, but it was a nice moment which helps both Carl and Michonne bond together. Plus, it was a nice, compassionate gesture Carl wanted to give his baby sister.
  • Chandler Riggs’ performance during his scenes with Michonne was up and down, but it was mostly up and it was nice to see that realization on Rigg’s performance that Michonne was someone he could trust.
  • Michonne actually smiled in tonight’s episode which helped opened up the character to something other than a glowering badass.
  • Will this be the last we see of Lennie James as Morgan on this show? After tonight’s episode I’m hoping the answer is no.
  • Hitchhiker looks like he should’ve been more quiet after trying to catch up to Rick and his group.
  • Zombie Kill Count of tonight’s episode: 9 (6-8 more off-screen)

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”
  8. Episode 8: Made to Suffer
  9. Episode 9: The Suicide King
  10. Episode 10: Home
  11. Episode 11: I Ain’t a Judas