TV Review: Fear The Walking Dead 7.1 “The Portrait” (dir by Heather Cappiello)


The latest episode of Fear The Walking Dead featured Morgan taking baby Mo to Strand’s tower, in order to try to find medicine for her.  Normally, Strand would have sent Morgan away and laughed about it but Morgan was lucky enough to show up while Strand was having an existential crisis about his role in the brave new world of the Walking Dead.

In short, Morgan got to enter the tower and he stayed there for a while before Strand ended up having one of his trademark changes of heart.  After nearly tossing Morgan to the Walkers, Strand changed his mind on the condition that Grace and the baby would stay at the tower while Morgan went back out into the apocalyptic wasteland.  Morgan then hooked up with Dwight and his “moral outlaws” and then they all ran into some Stalkers who are apparently different from the other Stalkers who have previously appeared and then there was a big explosion …. or something.

Look, I don’t know.  To be honest, I had a hard time following what was going on after Morgan left the Tower.  That could be because this is the first season of the show that I’ve really watched.  But, I will say that, when Fear the Walking Dead works, it works precisely because it captures the confusion of trying to keep track of who is who in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.  It does a good job of capturing the paranoia that would go along with the end of the world.  If The Walking Dead and Walking Dead: World Beyond is occasionally a bit too neat when it comes to depicting its characters as being good or evil, Fear The Walking Dead is a bit more chaotic.

As for this episode, it kind of reminded me of one of those old episodes of Lost where Jack or Kate would end up spending a week with The Others and you would kind of end up thinking that, regardless of how you felt about The Others as a moral force, you’d really rather live in their little village than in the caves with Jack and the skeletons.  I wouldn’t necessarily want to live under the rule of a dictator prone to arbitrary rages but, at the same time, the Tower does look nice and Strand is keeping people alive (or at least, he is until he randomly decides to them off the top of the Tower).  One could easily imagine the Others living in the Tower and telling a disbelieving Morgan, “We’re the good guys.”

For me, the highlight of this episode was Colman Domingo’s performance of Strand.  Domingo, who has recently gotten some deserved attention for his performances in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Zola, is charismatic enough to be believable as a leader while also frightening enough to be believable as someone who could get his followers to go along with his often contradictory impulses.  I actually felt a bit of sympathy for Strand as he realized that he would always be viewed as a fearsome ruler as opposed to a benevolent monarch.  Of course, the rest of the episode was dedicated to reminding views as to why exactly Strand is so feared.

Anyway, it was a good episode.  Colman Domingo and Lennie James dueling each other to see who could control each scene was entertaining to watch.  The next episode is called Padre, so I guess we’ll finally get some answers as to who exactly is out there.

We’ll see!

TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead 7.6 “Reclamation” (dir by Billie Woodruff)


I just watched the latest episode of Fear The Walking Dead and I have to say that this is probably the first time this season where I really felt lost.   I think that if I had watched the previous seasons, I would have had a better reaction to this particular episode.  But, I have to admit that I had to use Wikipedia to discover who Al was and why Morgan and Grace were looking for her.

I will say that Maggie Grace did give a good performance as Al and it was hard not to get caught up in her joy as she experimented with that cannon.  And I do like the idea of someone trying to travel the country and record people’s experiences for future generations.  Whenever I watch any of the Walking Dead shows, I always wonder what it’s going to be like for the people who were born after the zombie apocalypse and who have no memory of what the world was like before the dead starting walking.  Everything that we take for granted today would be viewed the way that we currently view the Roman Empire, a remote and almost mythological time that sometimes seems to be beyond understanding.

Unfortunately, there were many moments when the latest episode reminded me of one of those old Walking Dead episodes where almost the entire show would just be Rick driving from one location to another, having endless conversations about everything other than what the viewer wanted to hear about.  The episode was bit too slowly paced for me, which has always been a frequent issue when it comes to The Walking Dead and its spin-offs.

That said, it appears that things have worked out well for Al and Isabelle so yay!  And tomorrow night’s episode will apparently feature Strand so an even bigger yay! for that.  Strand is a far more compelling villain that the paramilitary thugs that wandered through this episode (not to mention Walking Dead: World Beyond).

TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead 7.5 “Til Death” (dir by Lennie James)


I can still remember when Fear the Walking Dead first started back in 2015.

The premise, as you may remember, was that the show was going to take place in the “world of The Walking Dead” but that it was going to deal with an entirely new group of characters and follow them through the early days of the zombie apocalypse.  Would there be crossovers with the main show?  While AMC refused to rule them out, it was also said that the world of the Walking Dead was so compelling and fully realized that there really was no real need to bring over Rick, Darryl, Morgan, or anyone else from the original show.  In fact, since Fear the Walking Dead was a prequel, it really wouldn’t make any sense to have any of the original show’s characters show up for anything more than a winking cameo.  Instead, audiences would be thrilled with the new cast of doctors, drug addicts, and city planners.

Well, that didn’t quite work out.  It turned out that audiences didn’t really respond to the entirely new cast and so almost all of them were killed off, Lennie James switched from the main show to the spinoff, and, from season 4 on, Fear the Walking Dead became the Morgan show.

And I’m really not complaining.  I tried to watch the early seasons of Fear The Walking Dead and I was so bored that I gave up on the show fairly quickly.  However, I’ve been mostly entertained by the seventh and final season of Fear The Walking Dead.  Yes, there have been a few pacing issues but, at this point, that’s something that anyone who has ever watched more than a handful of episodes of The Walking Dead and its spin-offs should be used to.  But still, I enjoy Fear the Walking Dead‘s rather surreal landscape.  Colman Domingo’s wonderfully weird performance is always entertaining to watch.  I’m even somewhat interested in discovering who Padre is, even though I know the character probably won’t live up to all the hype.  At this point, unless he turns out to be Rick, there’s no way Padre can meet the expectations that have been set for him.

Last Sunday, Dwight and Sherry joined the search for Padre.  Like Morgan, Dwight and Sherry were originally on The Walking Dead.  Dwight was one of Negan’s lieutenants.  Sherry was his wife.  Now, they’re “ethical outlaws,” riding across the radioactive landscape of Texas and protecting those in need.  During the latest episode, Strand tried to get Dwight and Sherry to join his organization and Dwight was certainly tempted.  But, in the end, they did the right thing and helped a woman named Mickey find and put down her reanimated husband.  They then teamed up with the Stalkers to continue their search for Padre …. okay, so the plot summary sounds a little absurd and, to be honest, the idea of Dwight and Sherry calling themselves the Dark Horses and fighting for the bullied is a little absurd.  But, and this is the secret as to why Fear the Walking Dead‘s final season has been so enjoyable, the show seems to be aware of how absurd it all is.  Whereas The Walking Dead would have taken the whole “ethical outlaw” thing way too seriously, Fear the Walking Dead is willing to have fun with it all.

And this Sunday’s episode was a fun one.  Apparently, with The Walking Dead and its two spin-offs coming to a close with the end of their current seasons, AMC is planning on keeping the franchie alive with an anthology series.  Hopefully, the Dark Horses will appear in more than a few episodes.  As much as I disliked them on The Walking Dead, Dwight and Sherry are a blast on Fear the Waling Dead.  Dark Horses forever!

TV Review: Fear The Walking Dead 7.4 “Breathe With Me” (dir Tara Nicole Weyr)


The latest episode of Fear The Walking Dead really didn’t do much for me.

That’s not necessarily the show’s fault, or at least not entirely.  As I’ve said from my first review, I didn’t start regularly watching this show until the start of the current (and final) season.  As a result, I’m still learning who many of these characters are.  Perhaps if I had watched the earlier seasons, I would have been more emotionally connected to Sarah’s search for her brother, Wendell.  And perhaps I would have been more concerned with Josiah’s need to get revenge on Morgan.

But, even with all that in mind, last Sunday’s episode was punishingly slow.  It felt like a throwback to one of those old episodes of The Walking Dead where some minor character would randomly run into someone and then we’d have to spend 40 minutes listening to them have a conversation about nothing before some random Walkers finally showed up.  For lack of a better term, it was kind of boring.  For all of the trouble that the episode put the viewer through, it needed a better pay off than “Wendell’s here but I’m not going to let you see him.”

Josiah carrying around his brother’s disembodied heard was visually interesting but, from a narrative point of view, it was pretty stupid and it kind of made me wonder how someone who could be dumb enough to carry around a zombie head could possibly manage to survive in the world of the walking dead.  The fact that it all led to Josiah having to euthanize an adorable dog did not help matters.  I get that the whole idea behind The Walking Dead and its spin-offs is that the world is a terrible place where terrible things happen but honestly, Josiah was just an idiot.  He was probably an idiot before the zombie apocalypse and he’s apparently still an idiot afterwards.  My hope is that we’ve seen the last of Josiah because I really don’t want to have to spend another episode listening to him whine about his dead brother.  Instead, I hope future episodes will take us back into The Tower and the world of Strand.  Colman Domingo only appeared for a few minutes in the latest episode but he owned every one of them.

Finally, it appears that there are still some atomic warheads that were not set off during the previous season.  And I guess the Stalkers now have one of them.  That’s probably not a good thing.

TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead 7.3 “Cindy Hawkins” (dir by Ron Underwood)


I finally watched the latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead earlier today and, believe it or not, I’ve actually come to like this show.

Considering that I originally stopped watching Fear the Walking Dead because I got bored with it during its first season, I’m as surprised as anyone to realize that the seventh season of Fear The Walking Dead has won me over.  But what can I say?  The first three episodes of the show’s final season have been so weird that it’s been impossible not to enjoy them.  Everything, from the radiation-scarred landscape to Colman Domingo’s wonderfully odd performance as Strand, has come together to make this show a rather lively look at a world dominated by the walking dead.  It also helps, of course, that most of the boring characters from season one are no longer on the show.  AMC figured out that audiences didn’t care about an emergency room doctor and her drug addict son.  They cared about Morgan and nuclear fallout.

Morgan showed up during the final minutes of the latest episode of Fear the Walking Dead, just long enough to discover that two of his allies had been, depending on how you look at it, either rescued or abducted by Strand.  He and Strand had a little argument over the radio.  Strand says that he’s going to remake the world, something that Morgan could never figure out how to do.  Morgan and Strand both appear to be batshit insane, which is what made the scene so compelling.  Would you want to live in a world created by either of them?

The majority of the episode revolved around John Dorie (Keith Carradine) and his daughter-in-law, June (Jenna Elfman), living in an underground bunker.  (Before I go any further, I should mention that is the first season of Fear the Walking Dead that I’ve regularly watched since the first one.  So, if I misinterpret anything that was established in a previous season, feel free to correct me in the comments but be kind about it.)  The bunker was formerly the lair of Teddy, who I assume was a serial killer who John pursued and framed during his previous life as a cop.  With June insisting that it was too dangerous to leave the bunker and John suffering from DTS, John became very interested in a hidden room that he and June discovered in the bunker.  The room was where Teddy used to embalm his victims and John soon found himself having conversations with the spirit of one of his victims, Cindy Hawkins.  Cindy’s body was never recovered and John became obsessed with finding it.  Apparently, he made a promise to Cindy’s mother,  The fact that Cindy’s mother was probably dead either as a result of zombies or radiation did not seem to matter with John.

The show left it ambiguous as to whether or not Cindy’s spirit was real or just a product of John’s delirious state.  But ultimately, it didn’t matter whether or not Cindy’s spirit was real.  Cindy was a symbol.  Finding Cindy’s body would bring John some sort of peace.  It would be a sign that there was still a place for men like John in the world of the walking dead.  Keith Carradine did a great job of portraying John’s torment and his single-minded determination to find some shred of hope, even while trapped in a combination of a zombie and a nuclear apocalypse.

It was a good episode, full of enjoyably weird imagery and distinguished by fine performance from both Keith Carradine and Jenna Elfman.  Both John and June ended the episode as guests of Strand.  Hopefully, they’ll both survive.  It’d be a shame for either one of them to exit the season early.

Horror TV Review: Fear the Walking Dead 7.2 “Six Hours” (dir by Michael E. Satrazemis)


Earlier today, I finally got around to watching the most recent episode of Fear The Walking Dead.  Before I write this review, I should probably take a minute to remind everyone that this show is somewhat new to me.  Here’s what I know, after watching two episodes.  Strand and Morgan dislike each other.  Someone bombed Texas with nuclear warheads.  Strand is hiding out in an office building.  Morgan is living on a submarine with Grace.  They are caring for an adopted baby named Mo.

This week’s episode focused on Grace and Morgan.  Apparently, due to the fallout, they can only leave the submarine for six hours at a time.  This episode followed them over the course of one such trip, so we got a lot of yellowish fall-out cinematography and all of the usual abandoned stores that always show up in The Walking Dead and its spin-offs.  It all moved fairly slowly, though Grace and Morgan did eventually run into two survivors, Fred and Bea.  Fred and Bea were dying of radiation sickness.  They’re baby was already dead and had turned into one of the undead, which was pretty depressing.  In fact, it was so depressing that it reminded me of why I stopped watching the original Walking Dead in the first place.

That said, as much as I complain about the grim tone of these shows, a real-life zombie apocalypse would be pretty damn grim so, even if I don’t always enjoy the scenes of misery, I do have to respect the shows for saying true to their theme.  The end of civilization is not something that’s going to be fun, especially when you’re having to shoot your loved ones in the head to keep them from reanimating a zombies.

In the end, the most important thing is that Grace and baby Mo finally bonded.  Yay!  Having a baby is already stressful.  Imagine having to take care of one while facing both a zombie and a nuclear apocalypse!

Bea did mention that there is a place called “Padre,” which, since the show is set in Texas, I’m going to assume that she’s referring to South Padre Island, which is a great place to go for Spring Break.  Before Strand tossed him over the side of the wall last week, it was revealed that Will was also somehow connected to Padre.  At the time, I assumed that was just a joking reference to South Padre but apparently, it’s going to be the season’s big destination.  (Spring Break of the Walking Dead!)  I guess the other big revelation of the episode is that Morgan’s got a stalker who is obsessed with trying to kill him.  I’m not ashamed to say that I had to use Wikipedia to find out that the stalker is apparently the brother of someone who Morgan killed previously.  Morgan kills a lot of people, apparently.

It was an okay episode.  A little slow.  A little depressing.  But the fact that Grace and Mo finally bonded made up for a lot of it.  Even at the worst of times, there is still hope.

TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.9 “Honor” (dir by Greg Nicotero)


So, has everyone seen the latest episode of The Walking Dead?  If not, why are you reading this review?  I ask because, on another site that I write for, I’ve got two people bitching at me for revealing too many spoilers about the shows that I review and, as a result, I felt the need to post an apology to those people.  As far as apologies go, it was fairly passive-aggressive and I’d hate to have to be that insincere on this site.  So, in other words, if you haven’t watched the latest episode of The Walking Dead, don’t read this review.  Thanks!

(Okay, I think I’ve rambled on long enough that anyone who didn’t want spoilers should have left by now.)

On Sunday night, the eighth season of AMC’s The Walking Dead resumed and oh my God, I have got such mixed feelings about what I just watched.  Before I go any further, allow me to share something that I tweeted back in April of 2017:

In other words, I can’t say that I’m shocked that Carl’s dead.  In fact, to a certain extent, I kind of respect the show for following through as opposed to coming up with some last-minute contrivance to allow Carl to live.  At the same time, I do think that the death of Carl has robbed the show of some potentially intriguing future storylines.  In the comic, Carl is still alive and he’s even bonded a bit with Negan.  During Season 7, the show seemed to be laying the foundation for that storyline but apparently, Negan’s going to have to bond with some other kid now.  Maybe Henry.  Maybe Judith.

I guess the main thing that bothers me about Carl’s death is that I really do feel that it was mostly due to the fact that the show’s pace has slowed down to such an extent that Chandler Riggs was getting too old to play the role. The Walking Dead has been on the air for 8 seasons but how many years have actually passed in the show?  It’s hard to say but really, it doesn’t seem like Carl should be any older than 14 or maybe 15.  Meanwhile, Chandler Riggs is closing in on 19.  It’s hard not to feel that the show’s producers decided to kill Carl off rather than maybe just wrap up a few storylines and have season 9 open with a “Four years after the defeat of the Saviors” title card.

Myself, I’ve frequently gotten annoyed with Carl as a character, even though I’ve always appreciated Chandler Riggs’s performance.  That said, Carl was one of the few characters left on the show with room to grow.  Rick is never going to change.  If Negan does become the friendly gardener that we saw in Carl’s fantasy, it’s going to have more to do with expedience than anything else.  Carl, though, was still discovering who he was and what he believed.  The majority of the characters have spent the last three or four seasons in a rut.  By virtue of being young, Carl was one of the few characters who actually had a chance of breaking out of that rut.

I mean, to be absolutely honest, I always assumed that the show would end with Carl shooting Rick before he could reanimate.  If you go all the way back to season 1, that’s the ending that the show has appeared to be logically building up to.  Now, I guess Judith will have to do it.

As for the episode itself … again, my feelings were mixed.  This episode was determined to wring every last drop of emotion out of Carl’s passing.  When it worked, it was largely due to the performances of Riggs, Danai Gurira, and the always underrated Andrew Lincoln.  At the same time, there was a part of me that started to resent just how much the show dragged out Carl’s death.  I know that AMC likes to do “super-sized” episodes of The Walking Death but, in this case, I think this episode would have been more effective if it had just been an hour.  Yes, that single gunshot was heart-rendering but, up until I heard it, there was a part of me that feared the show was planning to drag Carl’s death out over the entire rest of the season.

While Carl was dying, Carol, Morgan, and a few other people went off to rescue Ezekiel.  Gavin, who was always one of the most obnoxious of the Saviors, is now dead and yay for that.  Morgan has apparently decided that he’s okay with killing people again.  Morgan also apparently now has Jason Voorhees-style super strength.

It wasn’t a bad episode, though it certainly didn’t carry the power that it would have carried if it had happened during the fourth or fifth season.  On the one hand, I’ve always appreciated the fact that anyone can die on The Walking Dead.  On the other hand, characters die so frequently (and then pop up on the Talking Dead to say goodbye) that it’s now easy to get cynical about the whole thing.

In fact, it may be too early to say whether The Walking Dead handled Carl’s death the right way.  It depends on how this all plays out.  Will the show use Carl’s death as an excuse to go off in an unexpected direction or will we promptly get back to Negan chuckling and Rick giving speeches?  I’m actually looking forward to next week, just because I’m interested in seeing which Rick we’re going to get.  Are we going to get the crazy Rick who appeared after Lori died or are we going to get the catatonic Rick who showed up after Negan executed Abraham and Glenn?  Or maybe it’ll be the return of the Stoic Rick who shot zombie Sophia because he knew he had no other choice.  Which Rick will it be?

We’ll find out next week … hopefully.

 

TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.8 “How It’s Gotta Be” (dir by Michael E. Satrazemis)


SPOILER ALERT!  DO NOT READ THIS REVIEW UNLESS YOU’VE WATCHED THE LATEST EPISODE OF THE WALKING DEAD!  SERIOUSLY, I’M NOT KIDDING!

Right now, I would say that 75% of The Walking Dead fandom is heartbroken.  The end of tonight’s episode has generated some very real angst among some people.

As for me, I’m actually feeling rather proud of myself because I predicted that all this would happen.  I predicted it way back on November 5th and I’ve even got the tweet to prove it.  But, before I go on, I think it might be good to consider the words of a song from 1965.  Here are the Poets with That’s Way It’s Got To Be:

See, it all gets back to what has always been the underlying theme of The Walking Dead.  Nobody is going to get out of this show alive.  It doesn’t matter how good you are.  It doesn’t matter how likable you are.  It doesn’t matter how much the audience loves you.  Everyone on this show is eventually going to die.  The only question is whether someone will be around to keep them from reanimating afterward.  Negan, Rick, Maggie, Carol, Daryl, Michonne, Eugene … none of them are going to get out of this alive.  Death will come for everyone eventually and tonight, it appears that it’s coming for Carl.

As I tweeted on November 5th…

Tonight’s episode featured a lot of Carl.  When Negan and the Saviors showed up at Alexandria and demanded that Rick be given to them, Carl is the one who offered to sacrifice his life so that the rest could live.  (And, of course, we now know why Carl was willing to do that.  He literally had nothing to lose.)  When the Saviors were blowing up Alexandria, we watched as Carl made his way through the flaming wreckage of his former home.  Throughout the show, we got flashbacks of Carl arguing with Rick about Rick’s harsh philosophy.  Tonight, we saw more of Carl then we’ve seen in a while and I spent the whole show assuming that meant that Carl was probably not going to come to a good end…

But still, it’s hard to overstate the emotional impact of seeing Carl there at the end, bitten by a walker and fighting to breathe.  As Chris Hardwick and Khary Payton stated at the start of Talking Dead, Chandler Riggs really did grow up over the past few seasons of The Walking Dead.  It’s always kind of been easy to make jokes at Carl’s expense.  Early on in the show, it always seemed inevitable that he would end up getting lost or picked up the by the wrong people.  Whenever I live tweeted those early seasons of The Walking Dead, I almost always suggested that the ideal solution to almost any problem would be to sacrifice Carl.  But tonight, Chandler Riggs showed why Carl has become a favorite of many fans of this show.  The episode ended with Carl still alive but fading.  Will he die?  I really don’t see how he can’t.  He’s been bitten on his side so it’s not like they can just chop off a limb, like they did with Herschel.  If the show is to have any integrity, Carl has to die and he will be missed.

Up until that final scene with Carl, tonight’s episode could have just as easily been called “Everyone Better Do What Rick Says.”  Darryl took it upon himself to crash that truck into wall of the Sanctuary, which is actually what Rick did not want him to do.  As a result, the Saviors escaped, were able to launch a counter attack, destroy Alexandria, and take over The Kingdom.  Carl, meanwhile, went off on his own, helped out Siddiq, and ended up getting bitten for his trouble.  From now on, everyone better listen to Rick.

Rick got the line of the night when he asked Negan, “Don’t you ever shut the Hell up?”  That’s something that I’ve been wondering for a season and a half now.  Tonight, Negan actually lived up to his fearsome reputation.  As for the other Saviors, Simon made me say, “Oh God, this fucking guy again…” as soon as he got out of that truck and Gavin came across like a teacher trying to control an unruly classroom.  I guess Dwight is officially a part of Rick’s group now.

This was sometimes a hard episode to watch, not because it was bad but because it literally took place in the dark.  All of the action played out at night and the show actually did good job of using the darkness to its advantage.  There was an eerie and horrible beauty to scenes of Alexandria burning to the ground.

But you know what?

In the end, all anyone is going to remember about this episode is that final scene with Carl.

That’s the way it’s got to be.

And with that, The Walking Dead is on hiatus.  Season 8 will resume in 2018 and so will our coverage!

TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.7 “Time For After” (dir by Larry Teng)


This review of the latest episode of The Walking Dead is an example of better late than never.  This episode aired nearly a week ago but I’m only now getting around to watching it.  As I sit here watching and typing this review, it is 2 a.m., Saturday morning.  I’ve just returned from attending two Christmas parties.  I was actually thinking about getting some sleep for once, but then I suddenly realized that I still had an episode of The Walking Dead to watch!

That, of course, wouldn’t have happened in the past.  When The Walking Dead first started, there would have been no way that I would have waited a week to watch the latest episode.  That was before the show settled into its current glacial pace.  At this point, it typically takes this show so long to get from point A to point B that viewers like me spend entire episodes asking, “Are we there yet?”

For example, as I sit here typing this, I am watching Daryl, Michonne, Rosita, and Tara debating about whether or not they should attack the Sanctuary or if they should wait for Rick.  (Rick is currently being held prisoner by the trash people.)  Morgan just walked up and said that he’s tired of talking and he just wants to take action.  YES, MORGAN, YES!  For God’s sake, let’s end the debate and just do something!  No, we don’t need to hear about how Michonne “believes in Rick Grimes.”  We don’t need to hear about how everyone felt when they saw Sasha in that box.  We already know all of this because we’ve spent two seasons listening to everyone have this exact same goddamn conversation over and over again!  Just do something!

The episode is now over and, in all fairness to the show, it should be noted that Daryl did finally do something.  He and Tara crashed a truck through a wall of the Sanctuary, allowing a mass of walkers to enter and chow down on a few Saviors and, even more importantly, it forced the Saviors to waste their bullets defending themselves.  However, since Daryl took this action on his own as opposed to waiting for Rick to get out of the trash prison, the show still had to present it as being some sort of mistake.  The show has too much invested in presenting Rick as being a strategic genius to actually acknowledge that anyone else could actually have a good idea.

Watching the walking dead feast on his new Savior buddies was apparently enough to convince Eugene to (once again) declare his loyalty to Negan.  Despite his recent troubles, Negan still seems to be having fun.  Fortunately, the show’s writers seem to have finally figured out that Negan is more effective the less we see of him.  As for Eugene, well — he’s Eugene.  This episode featured peak Eugene.  If Eugene’s overly convoluted syntax occasionally makes you want to rip your hair out, you were probably bald by the end of this episode.  You have to respect Josh McDermitt’s commitment to the role.  Eugene may be annoying but McDermitt plays the Hell out of him.  Eugene’s ultimate loyalties, of course, still remain questionable.  He knows that Dwight betrayed the Saviors but he still hasn’t told Negan.  He showed some sympathy to Father Gabriel (who is apparently dying because he covered himself with intestines a few episodes ago) but he still declared that he was loyal only to himself.

As for Rick, he did eventually get out of the trash prison and convinced Jadis to join him in his fight against Negan.  Jadis was impressed when Rick killed a walker gladiator.  Jadis also wants to sculpt Rick.  How are the trash people not dead yet?

(Apparently, the trash people prefer to be known as Scavangers.  However, I’m going to continue to call them trash people because they annoy da fug out of me.)

Anyway!  This episode ended with Rick and the trash people rolling up on the Sanctuary.  Oh my God!  There’s a hole in the Sanctuary!  There’s no walkers!  Uh-oh, Daryl did something on his own!  Rick’s never going to let that go…

One more episode before The Walking Dead goes on its mid-season hiatus!  Who will die this Sunday?  My prediction: Father Gabriel.  The show’s never really figured out what to do with Gabriel so now seems like a good time to let him go down as a martyr.

We’ll see what happens!

TV Review: The Walking Dead 8.3 “Monsters” (dir by Greg Nicotero)


Before watching tonight’s episode of The Walking Dead, I was starting to worry that I might be impossible to please.

I spent all last season complaining that The Walking Dead was too talky and slow-paced.  Then last week’s episode was pretty much nonstop action and I ended up getting bored out of my mind, largely because I didn’t feel like I had any sort of emotional stake in any of the characters.  When tonight’s episode started, I was literally wondering if perhaps I’m destined to never be truly satisfied with anything that happens on The Walking Dead.

When the episode started with the attack still going on and Morales and Rick still talking, I was a little bit concerned.  I was really worried that the entire episode was just going to be the two of them discussing what constitutes morality during the zombie apocalypse.  I honestly didn’t remember much about who Morales was so I have to admit that I wasn’t terribly affected by his tales of woe and death.  Morales explained that he lost everyone.  Rick mentioned that he had lost a lot of people that he cared about.  (Rick didn’t mention that most of them died as the result of Rick being a terrible strategist but no mater.)  I was really starting to get concerned that the conversation was never going to end but then Daryl showed up and killed Morales.  Thank you, Daryl.  From now on, whenever a minor character threatens to hijack an episode, Daryl kills them.  That’s the new rule.

The episode definitely picked up after the death of Morales.  In fact, thing got so much better after Morales died that I almost felt as if, by killing Morales, the show’s producers, writers, and directors were specifically telling us, “Don’t worry.  We learned our lesson last season.  We’re not going to let random characters wander in and take over the show this season.”

As for the rest of the episode, I know that many would probably say that the fight between Morgan and Jesus was a highlight and I’ll agree that it was a very well-done sequence.  (It helped that it was combined with scenes of Rick and Daryl fighting their own battle, for once giving us a chance to understand where all of these characters are in relation to each other.)  The scenes with Aaron and Eric were definitely the episode’s emotional high point and the sight of Eric wandering around as a walker served as nice reminder that, before it all became about Negan and Alexandria, The Walking Dead a show about … well, the walking dead.

For me, though, the best part of tonight’s episode was Gregory showing up at Alexandria and begging to be allowed to come back in.  Maggie, of course, immediately noticed that Gregory was driving Father Gabriel’s car.  Gregory lied and said that he had just found the car.  (Of course, we all know that he deserted Gabriel, leaving him with Negan.)  When Maggie said that Kal had told them that Gregory went to see Negan, Gregory announced that Kal couldn’t be trusted.

Suddenly, Kal leaned over the side of the wall.

Gregory looked up at him.  “Kal,” he sad.

Kal gave Gregory the finger.

Now, it may be a case of me being easily amused but that one hand gesture made the entire night for me.  It was so simple and yet so appropriate that it was pure genius.  If Gregory had been caught telling lies about Rick, Rick would have launched into a speech about why no one is allowed to lie in this new world.  If Gregory had been caught telling lies about Negan, we would have had to spend three episodes listening to Negan’s lecture.  Gregory got caught telling lies about Kal and Kal responded quickly, silently, and efficiently.  Everyone on The Walking Dead should try to be more like Kal.

Anyway, Maggie did let Gregory back into the compound.  Rick probably would have shot Gregory in the head.  Maggie does things differently.

Speaking of which, at the end of the show, Rick promised a savior that he would be allowed to escape if he would just tell Rick and Daryl where they could find a case of guns.  The savior told them and Daryl promptly shot him in the head.  I can’t say that I blame Daryl.  That’s just the way things work in the heartless world of The Walking Dead.

Anyway, despite a shaky start, this episode turned out pretty well.  It was certainly a huge improvement on the previous two episodes of this season.

Allow me to end this review with a question and prediction.

First, the question: “Where’s Carl?”

A prediction: The first half of season 8 will end with a zombiefied Carl walking towards Rick.  I know that would be a major departure from the comic book but, honestly, it makes sense.  On the show, only two or three years have passed since Rick woke up from that coma.  In the real world, it’s been nearly 8 years and Chandler Riggs isn’t getting any younger.

We’ll see what happens!